In marketing, content is still king. Many elements of the online world actually saw increased activity during the periods of lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we spent more time indoors, buying - as well as consuming content - online became the norm for many. So as we near the start of a new year, what can we expect?
We have curated some of the most interesting predictions from marketing experts, giving their take on content marketing trends for 2021...
The year of live video?
We have already seen how video content - in the form of bitesize videos, GIFs, and longer form - can be effective in engaging the online audience. But will 2021 be the year in which live video will really come to the fore? With social media channels that support live video, such as Snapchat and Tik Tok, having grown in popularity, the immediacy and intrigue of live video could become even more popular in 2021.
Syed Balkhi, content marketing expert and founder of WPBeginner, said: "Although pre-recorded videos offer cleaner and edited experiences, they do not create as much engagement as live videos do. Your audience’s experience of live videos compares to having a personal video call with another person even though you’re broadcasting to a number of people. There are several factors to consider when looking at why and how to develop your live video content strategies."
Encouraging user-generated content
It has been said that your brand's community members can be the ideal marketers. When your brand carries value and 'sharability', your online audience can become ambassadors for it, spreading the word far and wide. In 2021, encouraging user-generated content - from reviews to customer comments and competition entries - looks set to become an even more powerful tool.
Adam Smartschan, Chief Strategy Officer at Altitude Marketing, said: "We live in a world of content producers. Every 15 year old is a content producer. Every one of your buyers is kind of a content producer. People are used to creating things – which is where user-generated content comes in. You don’t have to do it yourself as long as you offer an incentive for users to create something on their own. Whether it’s reviews and testimonials or some photos and a hashtag, if you give people the means, they are willing to create content for you."
The continued growth of voice search
Research shows that 27 per cent of the world's online population is already using voice search on their phone, and this share is set to grow significantly in 2021.
Lauren Wiseman, digital marketing specialist and business consultant, said: "People are expected to start using voice search predominantly, and one-day text searches will even become obsolete. It won’t happen next year or in the next five years, but it’s important to know that voice search is taking over in a big way. With that in mind, one of the pillars of your 2021 content strategy should be to start optimizing all content for voice search."
Podcasts are being tipped to make their mark on the B2B content marketing sphere in 2021. It is thought that ease of access - through popular platforms such as Apple, Acast and Spotify - coupled with the chance to co-create with business partners, can make podcasts an increasingly attractive content choice.
Anu Ramani, managing director of Isoline Communications, said: "For the B2B sphere, podcasts offer a great opportunity for collaboration, whether interviews with leading figures in your industry or in-house expertise from figures within your company. They can also give more of a personalised look inside big corporations, potentially engaging a wealth of new audiences."
The search for the featured snippet
Never has the featured snippet at the top of Google search engine result pages (SERPs) been as highly valued as right now, and in 2021 the battle for this prized piece of online real estate could intensify. Look for content creators to design content especially to claim the SERP space, with obvious rewards in terms of clicks.
Jack Greaves, content writer at Big Leap digital marketing, said: The most obvious benefit of capturing a featured snippet is increased web traffic. If your content is selected for the snippet, it will be front and center on the search result page, and being the top of organic search results is nothing to scoff at. But beyond higher organic traffic, a featured snippet will also give your organisation higher prestige. After all, Google is essentially telling searchers that your content is the most credible source of information."
Making long posts feel shorter
Longer content isn't always necessarily better content. But there is still a belief that good longer content can be of more value than good shorter content, especially in the eyes of Google. This theory is set to maintain its credibility in 2021, when we could see continued efforts to create content that satisfy word count demands - from multi-part or page blogs to white papers and studies, how-to guides and reports. In 2021, content creators may get more creative in their bid to make longer content more digestible.
Tim Brown, owner of the Hook Agency, said: "You can make posts feel shorter (but still give Google the length it loves) by putting bullet points, bigger paragraphs at the beginning, scannable headlines… and then have the post go on afterward. This way, you can achieve both the short and long post."
Say goodbye to third-party cookies
Google Chrome will cease its support for third-party cookies in 2022, and this means there will be a huge change in the way digital advertising, and the content attached to it, is marketed.
Josh Cole, journalist at Ad Week, said: "The coming year will provide a final chance for marketers to educate themselves about the impact of the cookie-less future and to prepare for it. The most important action involves improving access to, and effective use of, their valuable first-party data—and ensure agencies have a clear plan for placing and measuring campaigns after the change."
We hope you enjoyed this wrap up of content marketing predictions for 2021. Enjoy the festive period!