Top 7 Content Experience Trends for 2021
Content marketing has evolved from being just efficient to effective and omnichannel. What used to be just a factory-type content production machinery, needs to now stand the test of comprehensive metrics and revenue-oriented goals.
Typically, content marketing and digital content marketing are used interchangeably and the trends pertaining to 2021 are centered around online marketing.
2020 has been a year of downs with a few ups - that consumers and businesses across the US and world-wide, are today more operationally online than ever before. This is a direct consequence of Covid lockdowns which forced previously hesitant businesses to invest in online marketing and customer acquisition. Similarly, more and more consumers are today online to access products and services due to the same strain of lockdowns. This presents an enormous demand for content marketing and marketers.
- Let us now look at the trends that will seemingly shape content experience trends in 2021.
- 1. Mobile first will get stronger
According to Tech Republic, average internet speed in the US increased by 10 MBPS, from previously 84 to 94 MBPS by August 2020. This is an average of all types of internet sources, including broadband and mobile. A clear indication from this revelation is that more consumers today have access to faster content than ever before.
Now, let's couple this statistic with the fact that 53% of online traffic already came from mobile devices back in 2019. And it's not just the US, even developing countries like India have seen mobile internet use increase by 80-90% during the 2020 lockdowns and this trend is expected to not reverse even as businesses re-open brick and mortar shops and outlets.
This makes the mobile-first approach, to ensure that content and UI are first optimized for mobile device experience, even more critical as an organizational content delivery model. To understand how important mobile-first may be to your specific business, marketers just need to take a look at device traffic data on their monitoring tool, such as Google Analytics. Typically, B2C businesses see atleast 60-70% traffic from mobile devices while B2B business may see about 40-50% share of mobile. However, this share needs to be seen in context with your existing content's mobile device compatibility, and the goal is to tap into more and more mobile consumers of content.
For instance, as stated by Google in April 2016, Google's search engine algorithms gives priority to site pages that are mobile compatible in page ranking decisions - for both organic and paid ads on search queries. More and more platforms give priority (by making them more visible) during content feed. This presents a scope of losing or gaining more users and potential customers, based on mobile-first approach to content delivery for marketing.
- 2. Contextual content experience and personalization
Content marketing is no longer just about being efficient in creating and distributing content. Consumers today demand context and do not have the patience to consume content that is not in line with their stage of buying journey. For example, many brands retarget users with content for a product that they have already bought. This leaves a negative impact on the consumer, who would probably not even click on the ad given its irrelevance.
Similarly, personalization is another level of contextualization which tries to capture and use name, demography, account level activity etc to form coherent content messaging. Any level of contextualization and personalization is driven by a company's capacity to track and access data on the consumer/ customer.
In 2021, the need for contextual content marketing will continue to spike, as larger companies set the default expectations of consumers. For instance, personalization efforts by a large corporation like Amazon that is used regularly by millions of customers, will impact consumer expectations in e-commerce, which will need to be matched, if not bettered, by aspiring companies.
- 3. Content data centralization and management
As we discussed above, contextual content marketing and personalization are dependent on customer data storage and management. But it doesn't just stop at the recipient side - any marketing automation activity by the marketing team will require data to fuel it. In other words, data on user's engagement with the brand on multiple channels and platforms, such as social media, website, online events, newsletter responsiveness etc will be increasingly centrally stored and managed. This is the direction taken by any company that intends to deliver granular personalization to increase customer engagament and purchase.
In 2017 alone, a study by Segment showed that 70% of millenial consumers expressed annoyance and brand detraction due to irrelevant emails from brands. The same study also found that 71% of surveyed consumers at large expressed dissatisfaction with lack of personalization while engaging with brands.
Data centralization is no longer just a nice-to-have investment, for businesses looking to increase their footing in 2021, data centralization is a must. Both, consumer side contextualization and marketing automation needed to deliver it at scale - requires storing and managing relevant data without redundancies, so that any software can tap into clean data to facilitate personalization.
- 4. Increased revenue attribution
With budgets under strain due to Covid lockdowns, 2021 budgets will be tighter and teams will be under greater scrutiny to justify investments. In other words, any team, especially sales and sales-facilitating teams will be under pressure to show direct correlation between activities and their impact on revenue.
Content marketing teams will need to not only show increased traffic and platform-specific engagements (like in social media), but that will now be increasingly supplemented by their impact on.ultimate revenue. This will also increase the call for user/ buyer tracking and data management from every marketing channel, as we discussed in the previous point, to ensure data-backed revenue attribution.
- 5. Social media community building
While traffic from social media is still a key attribution for success in marketing effort on each platform, more and more companies are focusing on community building on each social media site. These groups of customers and potential buyers that form a brand's following are seen as pools that need to be nurtured and kept engaged, only to be used rarely for direct conversions during campaigns.
For example, rather than just trying to get social media followers to click on a link in every other post, brand managers are starting to simply provide posts that engages a reader on the platform itself, largely without any promotional plugins. However, during monthly or quarterly campaigns, this highly engaged pool of audience can be leveraged to hit conversion targets.
This type of community building is effective for product and service companies that do not publish large quantities of news content and rely on informativeness of the content (related to the domain of business) to grow and sustain brand followers. This ensures a niche, yet engaged following where the brand is known for being informative and 'useful' to the people following them.
- 6. Emergence of augmented reality as a new channel
With in-store visits at an all time low during Covid, a secure channel of giving a similar experience that to an extent delivers the product demonstration experience, is increasingly virtual in reality.
While VR and augmented reality gadgets sales have reduced year-on-year due to pressure on middle and low income consumers, industrial products and B2B companies at large see potential in VR communication for marketing engagements, especially for product demonstrations.
- 7. Omnichannel content marketing
Effective content marketing that aims to be contextual to the user- cannot be channel agnostic. In other words, it's no longer about achieving efficiency in the number of channels a team can distribute the content on, it is about.ensuring that each channel has a coherent messeging that is contextual to each-other.
For example, if a buyer has already made a purchase on your website by seeing an advertisement on Facebook, your data management system/ adtech software needs to log and update that engagement so you don't end up targeting the same buyer with the same product's ad on Twitter or an email marketing campaign.