5 Content Marketing Trends to Plan Your 2021 Strategy

Get ahead of the content game with these five digital marketing trends that will define 2021

As 2020 comes to an end, we’re looking ahead to the trends that will define content marketing in the new year and beyond. Small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s hard to say what the future holds. But one thing’s for certain—digital content and advertising will continue to play a big role in helping you reach your brand’s audience. Get a jump-start on next year’s editorial calendar with these five new content marketing trends for 2021.

#1: Short-Form Video

With the rise of TikTok and the introduction of Instagram Reels, it’s clear that short video is one of the most popular digital marketing trends to keep watching for 2021. Nearly 40% of Americans spend more than one hour per week watching video clips on social media, and in 2021, it’s projected that people will spend 100 minutes each day watching video content. What’s more, videos lead to positive ROI. So if video marketing isn’t already in your brand’s repertoire, make sure you take advantage of this powerful medium in the year to come (or reach out for help getting started). 

Because successful videos vary in format and length across social networks, you will need to optimize content for each platform. Take Facebook, for example, where the algorithm values videos longer than three minutes. The great news is that you can reuse and repurpose as much of that content as needed by breaking a longer video down into smaller segments and reposting it on Instagram Reels, Facebook and Instagram Stories and even uploading it to TikTok if that makes sense for your brand. 

Both live and animated videos are also expected to continue to their prominence in 2021. With a large section of the workforce expected to continue working from home during the first quarter of the new year, brands will rely on these formats that don’t require filming on location. Remember, users are drawn to content that moves—it’s what catches their eye as they scroll mindlessly through Instagram. On top of your video strategy, continue working GIFs into your content. Social platforms like Twitter and Facebook have integrated native GIF search into their app, allowing for higher visibility on these platforms. 

#2: Keep Up With Google

This 2021 digital marketing trend is a must for success in organic search. Google’s algorithm changes have increasingly rewarded websites with quality content and a positive user experience. With so many users relying on search engines and voice assistants for answers to their most pressing questions, creating high-quality evergreen long-form content with a clear focus is necessary for achieving search visibility and reaching new prospective customers. 

Our advice? Make sure your blog structure revolves around information-rich pillar pages, which group content by topic and link out to multiple resources at the same time. Cut out any “fluff” and make sure to fulfill the reader’s expectations while optimizing for keyword targets that reflect what they’re searching for. One way you can begin implementing this tactic is by going back through old content and blogs and “refreshing” them. Start by researching the keywords you should be targeting for SEO, make sure the content answers the questions these searches bring up and refocus each page to better direct the reader to the resources they’re looking for. The great news is that the quality of your content will help you rank higher—sometimes even over brands with better authority. 

Finally, having quality backlinks pointing to your site still correlates with high page rank. When Google sees you have a lot of backlinks from trustworthy websites, they deem you to be a more credible source, raising your quality and authority scores. When you’re developing new content or refreshing existing content, aim for the kind of quality that other sites would want to link to.

#3: Lead With a Purpose

We’ve talked about the value of being purpose-driven in business—but we truly can’t emphasize it enough as we look forward to 2021. Although this isn’t a brand new marketing trend, it’s only rising in popularity and importance. Brand activism has been a key tactic for big companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and BrewDog throughout 2020, and 2021 promises to continue this trend. 

Why? Because more and more people are looking to interact with businesses that care about the world. Millennial and Gen Z’ers in particular are more likely to connect with brands that have social activism as part of their strategy.

If you haven’t already, as you plan for the new year, figure out a cause that your business can get behind. Then, work it into your brand strategy—whether you’re donating a portion of your proceeds, products or services to those in need, volunteering to support a cause that aligns with your business or elevating another organization’s platform. Not only will it help foster connection with your brand but adopting a value-driven approach benefits your team as well.

#4: Invest in Virtual

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. And it’s not over yet—the truth is, we don’t know what the future holds for big in-person gatherings next year. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to continue investing in making it possible for your company to function as much as possible online. In fact, 82% of company leaders say they plan to still allow employees to work remotely some of the time even after the pandemic subsides. 

So if you haven’t already, sign up for platforms that help your team stay connected on different projects like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and organize your workflows and stay on track with programs like Asana or Trello. And remember, Zoom fatigue is real and while it’s nice to see your teammates’ smiling faces, not every meeting has to be on video. Good old-fashioned phone calls give everyone a chance to get up and stretch their legs.

Finally, invest in virtual events. For businesses and organizations to which events are essential, have a virtual Plan B for any in-person events you may be organizing for 2021. And for other companies, don’t underestimate the value of a virtual event. Webinars, podcasts and Instagram or Facebook Lives can be a great way to engage your audience in a whole new way, and larger profile galas can be an effective tool for fundraising and celebrating accomplishments with a crowd. If you need some tips on putting an event online, here’s a full rundown on hosting a successful virtual event.

#5: Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing promises to take the customer experience to the next level moving forward. Instead of using lead capture forms and email or phone follow-ups, a new digital marketing trend is to communicate directly with consumers by messaging them through intelligent chatbots. This gives the experience of speaking directly with someone as you would in person or by text with a friend. It’s a way to make the business experience more personal and authentic. Plus, the majority of consumers prefer the idea of using instant messaging to communicating with businesses over email or phone calls. 

And considering we’ve officially entered the age of remote work, more people are spending time buying and interacting with businesses online than ever before. By implementing conversational marketing tactics, you’re establishing a strategy that has a future on the digital landscape. 

These are the content marketing trends essential to making 2021 a marketing success. If you’re looking for a marketing partner to strategize with next year, contact us—we’d love to help you tell your story.

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