It’s that time of year again. Time to sip on eggnog, wrap presents for your loved ones in sparkly paper, listen to nostalgic Christmas music and make the most out of the holiday season. If that doesn’t keep you busy enough, try to squeeze in some time to plan your content marketing strategy for 2021.

2020 brought hard times to brands. With the pandemic, we saw consumers spending less money which cut into marketing budgets. Now that consumers are a little more used to our world’s current circumstances, they are willing to spend money again. So, it’s time to ramp up your strategy and put your brand in an optimized situation for 2021.

One thing that won’t change in these evolving times is that content marketing is the most powerful tool in a marketer’s toolbox.

In order for you to plan a dynamic strategy in 2021 to impress your boss and gain more consumers, consider the following content marketing trends while you map out your strategy.

Interactive Content Will Keep Potential Consumers Engaged

Consumers prefer an immersive experience when it comes to the content they consume. In fact, 90% of marketers report that interactive content performs better than ordinary content.

The goal with interactive content is to engage consumers instead of having them passively consume it. This type of content builds thought leadership and works for all stages of the buyer’s journey.

Since consumers love interactive content, you can gate it with a lead capture form and use this type of content to generate new leads.

So how can you create interactive content? Here are few ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • Create quizzes and look to BuzzFeed as a good example
  • Offer a customized calculator for consumers to use to see how your brand will financially impact their business like this one from HubSpot
  • Put together a poll for your consumers and utilize their input in a whitepaper
  • Publish an eBook that readers can click through to the sections that resonate most with them
  • Make an infographic instead of a research report so that target consumers can digest data in a visual way

User Generated Content Will Hold Even More Significance

Consumers love proof. When making a purchase decision, they look to reviews and word of mouth recommendations. Since consumers don’t want to hear your brand market with a sales pitch, it’s your job to elicit user generated content and amplify it.

With 2020 being such a whirlwind, consumers crave authentic connections more than ever. User generated content is as authentic as it gets so be sure to prioritize this strategy.

User generated content can be a simple social media post or a product review. Partner with your client services team to uncover your brand’s happiest clients and make a plan to earn content from them.

To get your consumers to post, consider offering a discount on your product or service or even a gift card. Use their quotes on social and a testimonials section on your website. You want that social proof to be easy to find!

Gamification to Lighten Things Up

There is no brand that is too serious for games. We are all human and like to have fun.

Gamification is engaging and sheds a positive light on your brand. Not sure how to implement this strategy? Consider these ideas:

  • Run a giveaway on your social channels and have target consumers enter to win a prize by liking your brand on social or re-sharing your post using Rafflecopter
  • Offer a $50 Amazon gift card to the consumer who posts the most creative Facebook post
  • Survey your customers to gather brand insights and incentivize them to take your survey by putting them in a drawing for free products or services from your brand

Virtual Events Will Become a Necessity

Had to cancel a conference in 2020? That’s not changing so brands are moving their conferences online and are hosting virtual events.

Virtual events are great for thought leadership and lead gen. They even offer space for virtual networking. So, in 2021 you should attend virtual conferences and consider hosting one for your brand.

Out of every lead gen strategy that I’ve ever implemented, virtual conferences have generated the most leads.

If you’re thinking that a virtual event is right for your brand, check out this guide on how to make it happen. When it comes to the software to use, I recommend VConference.

Consumers Will Become Even More Self Sufficient

As consumers spend more time online than ever before, they are becoming more self sufficient when it comes to researching brands. In fact, buyers spend 250% more time researching a product or service than meeting with a brand.

If a potential consumer visits your site, it indicates they’re interested but many of them are looking for testimonials and case studies. Not a self-promotional sales pitch. You should optimize your website so that quotes and posts from third parties are easy for your potential consumers to find.

Consumers will also Google for reviews so be sure to partner with influencers for earned media so that your brand shows up in Google searches.
The bottom line is that consumers prefer to do the research themselves and when they finally reach out to your brand, they’ve already been educated through their own research.

LinkedIn Communities Will Be Essential

The pandemic has led to isolation and being humans, we all crave communities and human interaction more than ever before. Creating a LinkedIn group revolving around a thought leadership topic that aligns with your brand can give consumers that connection they crave.

Your LinkedIn community should foster thoughtful discussion topics and you shouldn’t plug your brand. Ask good questions, post your blog posts and weigh in on posts from your members.

Invite clients and leads to join your LinkedIn group and consider putting ads for it on LinkedIn to grow your community.

AI Will Alleviate Some of the Content Creation Burden

As marketers, we are content producing machines and sometimes it can be overwhelming. From social media posts to blogs to eBooks and more, there is a lot of content to be created.

In fact, 82% of marketers report that they don’t have the time or manpower to create all of the content that needs to be created. This is where AI comes in and can alleviate this pain point.

It sounds futuristic, but AI tools can create some of the simpler forms of content like social media posts.

Since 71% of marketers plan to invest in AI tools in 2021, be sure to implement it in your own content marketing program so that you can keep up with the amount of content your competitors are putting out.

An ideal way to use AI in your content marketing strategy is to use tools to create simpler forms of content like social posts and push notifications. You as a human should work in tandem with your AI tool and create the “meatier” forms of content like blog posts and white papers.

Summing Up Content Marketing Trends for 2021

The biggest takeaway here is that the pandemic has affected business and consumer behavior. Your target consumers are craving a human connection with their peers and brands that they purchase from. So, you need to be social, keep up with content creation and move offline events online.
Make it easy for your target consumers to find third party recommendations about your brand.

Lastly, make marketing fun. We could all use a break from the serious state of the world and gamification and interactive content can speak to a void that your target consumers face.

What do you think the biggest content marketing trend will be in 2021? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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