12 Content Marketing Trends to Keep an Eye in 2021

Content Marketing continues to be a successful way for marketers to increase lead attraction and conversion. 

And no other year showed how important it is to quickly adapt strategies as 2020.

With the Covid pandemic keeping people at home, the surge of new and competitive ways of connecting with the audience has brought the need for richer and more customized experiences.

This is why 70% of marketing professionals already work with a strategy focused on content production, a key for the next year. As the public changes their preferences, the consumer’s purchasing decision process changes too.

How can you stay ahead of what’s new? What Content Marketing trends in 2021 will follow the changes the previous year brought us? Reading this Content Marketing guide is an excellent way to start.

Throughout this post, we will talk about the growth of interactivity and share data and examples to show how all of this can impact the development of your strategy. Keep reading to see the following 12 trends!

1. Content Experience

2020 may be known in the future as the year in which digital experiences were consolidated as the main channel for connections between brands and their audiences.

Without face-to-face activations and with limited possibilities for physical interactions, all businesses had to look at their Digital Marketing plans with a new perspective.

This becomes clear when we see a report produced by Canaccord Genuity, which estimates that spending on digital media will increase almost 15% by 2024, making it account for three-quarters of all investment made in advertisement.

It is a natural growth following the adoption of online media by the population. But we cannot deny how the field became more competitive and necessary for brands after COVID-19.

Even Gartner published a report urging marketers to get accelerate their plans.

What all of this shows is that just streaming content to the wild won’t do anymore. If everybody is doing it, you need to create your own unique narrative.

Content Experience is a concept that doesn’t consider just what your audience wants to consume, but how they want to do it. It is a strategy that focuses on relevance, convenience, and personalization to deliver engaging, consistent interactions across multiple devices.

The idea is to become a part of your leads’ lives, connecting different kinds of activations with a holistic view about them, making the whole brand experience bigger than the sum of each piece created.

It is the big picture that should be laid out on the drawing board right now. All the following trends will be a part of that search that will probably define 2021 for Digital Marketing.

2. Interactive Content

Any current Content Marketing report should address the growth in the use of interactive content. This is a practice that is gaining more followers, much because of its enormous potential for engagement.

The higher the stimulus to interaction, the easier it becomes to gain your visitor’s attention.

In a study, called The Symphony of Connected Interactive Content Marketing, 87% of over 20,000 participating professionals agreed that using interactive rather than static content optimizes the audience experience and keeps them on the page longer. As an example, think of a landing page.

The page’s goal is to capture data from potential leads, but this only works if it is appropriately engaging and informative.

So forget about traditional models and consider integrating interactive elements, as Sears has done in this example.

As you can see, in addition to providing their data, users can check consumer reviews, discover brand information and, of course, schedule their service in a fast and practical way.

All of this generates a feeling of greater comfort and security in the individual, which increases the potential for conversion.

Although very useful in guiding the customer’s decision making, interactive content offers many other advantages.

The strategy can be applied in the different phases of the consumer’s journey, from attraction to the transformation into a brand advocate. Imagine, for example, that you need to find out if a lead is ready to be approached.

An interesting choice of content for this situation is an interactive quiz. By adopting gamification principles, this feature allows you to generate a fun experience for the audience and also receive insights into their level of knowledge about the problem.

3. Visual Content

One of the keys to success in Content Marketing is the variation of channels and formats used. As you may already know, blog posts remain the specialists’ favorites, as this HubSpot survey points out.

However, those who believe that the strategy can be successful solely by using text are mistaken.

Today, the inclusion of visual content is essential to optimize the audience’s experience and convey the desired information. Why? Human brains are extremely fast in processing images, which makes understanding easier. In fact, a study indicates that people follow visual instructions 323% better than written.

Google study on visual content

This explains the relevance of infographics, which are graphic representations of information, data, or knowledge.

After all, if you produce informative and visually pleasing content, you will easily communicate your message to your audience, creating a more engaging experience.

It is important to emphasize that it is not enough to include images in your posts and expect the results to improve quickly. It is imperative to act strategically, which makes interactive infographics an excellent representation of visual content.

4. Visual Search

Visual search is a rising trend, especially among the younger public: a ViSenze study found that 62% of generation Z and millennial consumers prefer visual search capabilities over any other new technology.

Google has already embraced the idea. The Google Lens tool allows the user to use images to perform searches on the internet.

From the phone’s camera or a photo upload, one can find products such as clothes, accessories, and decorative items, as well as information of various kinds.

Many e-commerces already benefit from visual search. In social media, it is common to see images of products with small tags, which can take the user directly to the online store.

Here, it is worth remembering that, for this to work, the consumer needs to find your website, which requires SEO on images.

5. Augmented Reality

Expanding on visual search, when we talk about the future, we talk about all the new ways content can be delivered to amaze people and make a brand shine among the competition.

AR is one of those technologies that take advantage of our habits — the fact that we all have a smartphone in our pockets — to bring new experiences not possible before.

Some good examples of that are physical objects, like cards and books, that expand what they are capable of showing when pointing the phone camera at it.

Kids’ stories, for example, can bring movement to images. Real Estate businesses can make their brochures display 3D models of houses. Stores can show how furniture will fair in real size in a house and so on.

If we are talking about content experience, this is the kind of novelty that brings a new feeling, a special bond no other brand is offering.

Of course, it needs to make sense within a bigger strategy and connect to other material that wraps and make sense of all of it.

6. Video Marketing

Following the trend of visual content, video marketing is expanding even more.

In a study specifically aimed at the use of the strategy, HubSpot revealed that, among marketers who currently use video, 95% intend to increase their investment in the coming months.

Among those who do not use it, 59% are leaning to start. There are many reasons for this, all linked to the constant search for improvement in the buyer’s journey.

Today, not using videos as a way to attract and engage prospects means giving up opportunities. Just look at this survey published by OptionMonster, which indicates that the annual production of leads can rise by about 66% with the adoption of a video marketing strategy.

It is even more important to focus on video marketing when a company is thinking about its future and getting Gen Z on board.

Think about how TikTok exploded in 2020. The new generations were born accustomed to video interactions and the personalization of that media, so they usually connect quicker to a brand when they can see them in motion, as real persons behind a name.

But how do videos optimize your results? This is an essential question, since using the strategy is as crucial as knowing how to apply it efficiently. The answer depends a lot on your audience’s characteristics and the funnel phase you want to reach.

In general, we can assume that your target audience makes use of videos in the process of searching for solutions; after all, this is what 80% of respondents say in this Google study.

If the client adds content to videos in his own experience, your company must invest in offering this type of resource.

To begin with, it is necessary to define the ideal platform for posting the videos.

Many focus only on YouTube, but the fact is that networks like Facebook and Instagram represent excellent options to engage with this type of content. As we mentioned, it’s crucial to understand which channel your buyer persona is on.

Another factor you should keep in mind is the kind of message you want to deliver. For the top of the funnel, videos should be more comprehensive, subtly engaging with the consumer. At the bottom of the pipe, webinars and more specific content are a better idea.

7. Interactive Videos

Once again, the element of interactivity shows itself to be a major trend, this time in the use of video marketing.

Video content, which is already highly engaging, can provide even better results if it is interactive. Merely including a call to action on the screen can multiply your lead generation.

The reason for this is that, unlike spoken CTAs, interactive ones allow the audience to act simply and quickly, without even opening another tab.

You can also use this resource for other purposes, such as retaining the consumer’s attention, something that is increasingly challenging.

Some brands have already invested successfully in purely interactive videos, letting the actions taken by users dictate the unfolding of the content.

It is the example of this famous Honda Civic advertisement, which dramatically changes the scenario whenever the audience presses the “R” key. The idea has doubled the number of visits to the vehicle’s website and held the audience’s attention for an average of three minutes.

A study by Business Insider indicated that by 2021, 82% of all Internet traffic would be generated by videos. It’s clear that brands that create interactive and engaging content will be at the forefront of this race.

8. Live Experiences

If one kind of interactive experience became a huge hit in 2020, it was the live events on the internet.

The linear growth of that media became exponential: the number of organizations planning a virtual experience doubled this year.

It was sure a forced decision. Artists and brands had to create online versions of their events so they could still promote themselves and reach the public. But what they found out doing it was the power of engagement this kind of interaction brings to the table.

Live experiences can be produced by a company or they can be an opportunity to create relevant content — like when you do live blogging to interact with an audience while the hype is active.

Taking advantage of our natural FOMO, companies understood that these interactions can bring more people to know your brand, create a closer connection with them, and even ramping up revenue while doing it — with a projected 23.2% growth per year until 2027.

The golden rule here is to think about unique ways of making this exchange, especially how to convince your audience to take part.

Webinars are an example of the content that excels for being useful and relevant. Not only that, they stay there for longer periods and can become part of your buyer’s journey.

As Intrado shows in their report, 20% of live experiences attendees watch them on-demand.

9. Podcasts

Video is indeed becoming the preferred way to consume content online, but what about those moments when you can’t look at a screen?

Podcast is a steadily growing media, becoming a great way to convey richer, more detailed information — usually while listeners are doing other activities.

podcast research by google

Spotify included podcasts in its platform, which helped this kind of content to overcome accessibility barriers it had in the past. In 2020, there were 1.9 million titles on the service.

Among the most popular ones are those related to society, culture, entertainment, and education. This list shows how audiences seek meaningful content and engage with the brands that participate more in their lives than just selling products.

10. Personalization

Another fact found in HubSpot’s study, already mentioned in this text, is that message customization is the most used tactic to increase engagement in email marketing campaigns. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Customized experiences are considered crucial to consumer decisions. According to Epsilon, 80% of buyers prefer brands that offer to personalize their journey, and this goes far beyond the use of first names. They require full customization.

Think about product selection, channels used, language employed, and much more. All these points should be structured following the characteristics and preferences of the persona.

Thus, besides increasing the success rate of your strategy, you will create stronger and lasting relationships with your target audience.

It’s a move that goes along with the way marketing expert Philip Kotler defined consumer 4.0. In his view, the era of technology has generated more demanding buyers, who expect to be treated by companies as full human beings, not mere business opportunities.

The question that remains is: how can you gather enough information to personalize your buyer persona’s experience?

Again, interactive content is a brilliant solution. Your company could, for example, invest in the creation of quizzes, which in addition to being an excellent tool to engage and inform the public, also collect data efficiently.

Ready to test it out? Using the Ion Interactive tool, you have access to customizable templates, enabling you to create quizzes quickly and easily, regardless of your goal and target audience.

11. Marketing Automation

We know that customizing communication with your leads is not an easy task, especially if you deal with a large number of them.

That’s why it’s impossible to talk about customization without mentioning the importance of marketing automation.

Investing in automation software is almost imperative for companies that use segmented strategies. This explains the growth of this industry, which, according to a SharpSpring study, became a $6.1 billion market in 2019. Annual growth of 20% or more is expected.

It’s an investment with a high possibility of return. Companies that automate lead management, for example, show a 10% growth in revenue in just six months.

Other than that, all the professionals involved save time and can dedicate themselves to other tasks.

12. Search Engine Optimization

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques remain unchanged as one of the pillars of content marketing, which does not mean it is not evolving.

Search engine algorithms undergo constant updates, always trying to facilitate the user experience.

Thus, it is natural that new trends, such as visual marketing and voice searches, influence the way pages are ranked in SERPs.

While the ranking criteria seem to change frequently, something that remains the same is the importance of your company getting a good ranking on the result pages.

You can understand this fact by looking at a MarTech study, which showed that 70-80% of search engine users pay attention only to organic results.

So, what can you do to enhance your SEO? Well, some criteria do not change. The quality and originality of your content, for example, are always being considered for the ranking.

Moreover, your domain must enjoy proper authority, which you can achieve by utilizing a link building strategy.

For other sites to link to yours, you must create content that is not only engaging but also adds value to the user experience. Want an example? Your brand can offer an interactive calculator to estimate something relevant to the buyer persona, such as savings or ROI.

Take a look at this calculator created by Lasinoh (with Ion Interactive) for a breastfeeding campaign.

Because it’s something that can be extremely useful for a niche and easily operated, it is easier to find sites willing to direct readers to the domain.

As you have seen throughout this Content Marketing guide, one element that is present in all of these trends is interactive marketing.

By adopting these content marketing trends, you optimize the customer experience, maximize their engagement, and gain the opportunity to collect valuable data. Interactivity is the key to building profitable and lasting relationships.

By offering practical and complete solutions in interactive content, Ion helps you engage and convert your leads. Want to know how we can improve your strategy? Contact us!

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