Take a few minutes to Google “Content Marketing Predictions 2021” and you’ll end up with a plethora of posts and lists to pull from.
You might be asking yourself why I’m writing another one?
- I want to (that should be reason enough, right?)
- The first post that came up was from Content Marketing Institute with 100+ predictions.
No one needs 100+ in any list.
And as much as I love Content Marketing Institute, their site is in dire need of an update. Simply from a users perspective, the site looks dated (it reminds me of sites from about 10 years ago), the posts need more white space, and the sidebar is so packed nothing stands out so I ignore it all.
Moving on, this isn’t about dissing CMI (their content is great and I do like Joe Pulizzi).
A great example of a Content Predictions post worth reading is the updated post on Content Marketing Trends from Breakline Agency.
I also wanted to address this from the entrepreneur/solo and small business perspective.
A lot of these types of posts are directed to large companies that have a team of content creators and a lot more resources to produce and explore different content marketing formats.
I sent a few predictions in my #FtheHustle newsletter last week, so I’m going to reiterate those here but go a little deeper, as well as add a few other predictions.
How I came up with these predictions
These are based on my own research and personal perspective. Obviously predictions can’t really be fact based. They’re literally “what someone thinks will happen.”
O.K., let’s get into it!
Content Marketing Predictions for 2021
1. Social Media content will look different
Obviously social media isn’t going anywhere, but “times they are a changin!” With the current events of the last year and the way 2021 was kicked off (we’ll avoid that discussion here), people are starting to feel weary (myself included).
Businesses are doing everything they can to stay in business (and grow). Is the “be seen everywhere” approach really worth it? In other words, is it delivering results.
I think we’ll continue to see people leaving platforms and focusing on one or a few.
Quality is going to be more important than ever. I don’t mean that you have to be a professional designer or videographer, but you do need to provide quality content (as opposed to quantity of content).
2. Influencer? We’ll see…
The fact that we’re living in a time where someone can be famous just for having a name is, well, interesting. Businesses are going to want tangible results and influencers will need to have the skills to back things up. I know very little about this space (I find it exhausting), but as data and privacy laws get stronger, we’ll see ad platforms shifting.
If businesses can’t get the results with ads and they turn to influencers, they’re going to want measurable results.
Collaborations with companies will continue, but the quality and entertainment value needs to be strong.
3. Old school strategies + new opportunities
Old school strategies are marketing strategies and principles that have stood the test of time and work. I’m not referring to an old internet marketing strategy that worked for a few years. I’m talking about the marketing strategies such as:
- Having the right message
- Understanding your audience pain points
- Knowing how to sell to solve problems
- Putting together the right offer
- Putting your offer in front of the right people
- Less apologizing for selling (this needs to stop)
- Consistently asking for the sale
This is all part of marketing.
It always has been and always will be. The new opportunity is taking these solid strategies and applying them to new channels (these aren’t tactics if you are in it for the long haul).
Example: Podcasting is a channel. Podcasts are hardly new (and there is still plenty of opportunities because many people quit and don’t stick with it). Podcasting is also a long-term strategy that connects you with your audience, so in a way, it’s an old school strategy.
4. Content on a property you own or has SEO value
This ties into my first prediction about social media changing.
I’m going to speak for both Jodi and myself with this prediction and say that we’ve always believed in creating content on our website first, then repurposing it and sharing it on other channels.
Your website is an asset.
It’s something you own.
You have zero control over social media and the algorithms (you have more control if you’re running paid traffic on social).
I mention SEO value because there are obviously opportunities with YouTube and Pinterest (both search engines).
5. Voice and Podcasting continue to grow
I don’t personally do a lot of voice search on my phone, but I know it’s growing (maybe when the world opens up and I can do more I’ll use my phone for more voice search).
DBS interactive has done an in-depth post on voice search statistics and emerging trends, but here’s one that is pretty powerful:
“Google reports that 27% of the online global population is using voice search on mobile.”
As podcast becomes a more common choice for consumption, podcasters are starting to get more creative with marketing of their podcast and different formats (ex: doing seasons as opposed to the same format all the time). Sponsorship will continue and we’re seeing much more direct calls-to-action in podcast content.
6. Google Web Stories
You may not be familiar with Google Web Stories, but it’s time you looked into it (I’m going to go all-in).
Much like stories on Instagram or Facebook, but they pull from your own content and make for a great user experience for your reader (it’s easier to consume a story than read an article).
If you’re on WordPress, there is an official WordPress plugin from Google that makes it easy to create a Google story.
Any time you search something on your phone, pay attention to the ‘visual stories’ that appear in search.
This screenshot shows visual stories when I searched “Washington Post” on my phone. This was the 4th content option (try this on your phone and you’ll see what I mean).
7. Less, but better
I absolutely credit Jodi with helping me see the light on this one, as well as time in the industry and measuring what’s working.
There are only so many hours in the day.
AND… something Jodi literally shared with me this morning based on an article she read from Neil Patel…
Longer content doesn’t always do better in search.
In other words, not everything you create or write has to be a 2000+ word post!
You don’t need to be an SEO expert to understand “search intent.”
What is search intent? Well, our friends over at Google tell us:
Hardly rocket science.
Think of it this way.
If you’re looking for a solution to a specific problem, do you want to read the history of the thing first?
I remember searching for an issue with a garbage disposal years ago… I would have been so frustrated if the first search result was a post telling me about the history of garbage disposals and when they were first invented.
Instead I was served a video showing me what I needed.
If you can solve someone’s problem in a more direct approach, isn’t that the goal?
8. Email and Newsletters are popular again (even though they never stopped working)
This might sound like a broken record, but it’s simply a fact.
I’ve done an entire podcast episode on why I’m doubling down on email marketing so I won’t reiterate that all here.
Your email list is an asset.
Newsletters save your subscribers time AND… most importantly, they’ve essentially raised their hands and told you they want to hear from you.
Email marketing is absolutely a content channel.
You can also repurpose your emails into blog posts, videos, podcast, social posts… it’s no different than any other type of content when it comes to promotion.
And like most other content marketing channels online it’s easy to measure the effectiveness. Not only does it provide data on open rates, click through rates, etc., but you can also measure sales directly from email marketing.
Yes. It’s a content and sales channel.
9. Personalization & The Customer Journey
When it comes to personalization with content I think we’re still a ways off from finding the right way to do this that doesn’t feel creepy, but it’s worth testing (no one wants to see “Hey! I see you’ve come from Facebook” when they click through a link on FB to your site. We already feel like Big Brother is watching).
What you can do is create content that supports where your visitor is (if they’re already a contact) in regards to the customer journey (another hat tip to Jodi for this).
In other words, where should you guide a new subscriber vs. an existing customer? Should they always see the same thing? (the answer is no).
You can also personalize your email marketing with more than the first name merge field. Use conditional content in email to address the specific needs of your list.
10. Video continues to be important
Nothing earth shattering here.
The nice thing is that you have more opportunity than ever to pick which type of video and which platform you want to share it on.
If you don’t want to get into a YouTube channel and prefer Tik Tok or Instagram reels, then have at it.
Just make sure you’re paying attention to what’s working and how you can leverage that into content on properties you own.
AND… that’s all for now.
There are plenty of other predictions based on specific technologies (Artificial Intelligence, paid traffic, etc.), but my goal with this wasn’t to overwhelm you and send you down a rabbit hole.
Again, no one needs a list of 100+ things… on any topic.
Let us know if there’s something you’ve been doing that’s working for you and you see trending up.
Really great insight. I love the part about the control and SEO of an owned website over the randomness of social media. That is such good insight. I run 3 podcasts for a big company. Two internal and one commercial podcast. The internal ones have a built in audience. That’s easy. But the commercial on is always on the hunt for listeners. In an era of instant response, a la clicks and likes, the cultivation process can seem quite grueling. Growing a site has long term value way beyond any social media craze. Thanks so much for that!
Thanks so much, Mark!
You nailed it with the “randomness” of social. Back when organic social worked and drove traffic it was worth more time and energy, now, not so much. It’s obviously not going anywhere but finding how it best works for each individual business is key.
Have a great day (and kudos on 3 podcasts! That’s a lot of work).