Top 12 Content Marketing Trends for 2021

Content marketing trends are ever evolving to keep pace with the advancements in technology and changing consumer behavior. What was considered an important content marketing trend last year may have little or no significance the coming year. On the contrary, some content trends are more sticky than the others, which makes it important for the content marketers to constantly stay in tune with the latest marketing trends.

Consumers have access to a whole world of online content and the competition you face as a content marketer is immense. To stay in the game, and win it, here are some of the top content marketing trends of 2021 to look out for.

1. Content optimized for Voice Search
2. Live streams
3. Writing for featured snippets
4. Podcasts
5. User-generated content
6. Short videos
7. Augmented reality
8. Conversational content
9. Sharing content across channels
10. Brand activism
11. Nostalgia stirring content
12. Social commerce

If you want to compare how the content marketing world has evolved since the beginning of this year, here’s the rundown on the content marketing trends for 2020.

1. Content optimized for Voice Search

Image contains important statistics relating to voice search as in 2019 and future trends

Voice search statistics 2019 (Source: Sayone)

 

With the increasing use of smart speakers, it has become absolutely essential to optimize your content for voice search. A survey by Voicebot.ai revealed that nearly 90 million people in the US alone have been using smart speakers as of January 2020. The popularity of voice search is predicted to increase further in the coming years. For your content to appear in such searches, it has to be created keeping the nuances of voice search in mind. Understanding how voice search works, how the queries are different from text queries and how your content can rank in these searches will be important in 2021.

2. Live streams

Image contains interesting statistics about the growing popularity of live streaming videos

Live stream video statistics 2017 (Source: Livestream.com)

 

Almost every social media channel now allows live streaming. Facebook was one of the first to introduce this feature but Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and even LinkedIn have caught up with this trend. The 11th Annual Content Marketing Survey by the Content Marketing Institute, shows that use of live streaming content has increased from 10% in 2019 to 29% in 2020. The statistics published by GoGlobe suggest that by the end of 2020 itself, live videos will account for nearly 82% of the internet traffic.

The most popular kinds of content in live streams are usually interactive Q&A sessions with experts or candid chats with some popular influencer. This kind of content can be great for engaging your audience in real-time and offering something worthwhile. You can also create behind-the-scenes live videos, short webinars, product demonstrations or similar content that the audience would be willing to consume. It is important, though, to promote your live event and choose your streaming time wisely to get maximum reach.

3. Writing for featured snippets

Image shows an example of a featured snippet in Google’s search results

Featured Snippet in Google (Source: Google Search)

 

The featured snippet in Google search results is a content marketing trend that will continue to keep a coveted spot for all content marketers in 2021. Quite often searchers get the information they’re looking for from the snippet itself and don’t click on the other results. In fact, a URL appearing in the featured snippets can actually steal some of the clicks from the No. 1 search result on the SERP.

A study by Ahrefs showed that without featured snippets on the SERP, the first ranked URL gets 26% of the clicks on average. But when a featured snippet appears, the first ranked URL gets about 19.6% of the clicks while the featured snippet draws 8.6%. So, even if your webpage doesn’t stand at No. 1 in search, you can at least steal some of the attention from the top ranking page with your featured snippet.

To appear in the featured snippets, your content has to answer the search query very clearly. It is usually content like how-to lists or concise summary paragraphs near the top of your page, that make it to this highly sought after position in the search results.

4. Podcasts

Image contains examples of the 6 most popular podcast formats of 2020

Top podcast formats of 2020 (Source: Single Grain)

 

Podcasts, as a content marketing trend, have been continuously gaining popularity as people find less time to read. While many marketers do buy ad space in popular podcasts, few have tried to create content for their own podcasts. Brands like Slack and Shopify have also integrated podcasts into their content marketing strategy to keep up with this trend.

Creating interesting podcasts relevant to your niche and streaming them on popular platforms is going to give you a much wider reach and brand visibility. Talking about a specialized subject from your niche or something that you know your audience would be interested in can be a good way to diversify your content as well.

5. User-generated content

Image contains examples of user-generated content shared by Airbnb on the Instagram page

User-generated content on Airbnb’s Instagram account (Source: Socially Sorted)

 

Word-of-mouth marketing can never go out of relevance. User-generated content may not be a new concept, but with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook it is gaining momentum further. Not only does it give you a break from creating content but also helps build trust in prospective customers as they find the content authentic and reliable.

Say, a digital camera brand posts pictures clicked by customers on its Instagram page. So you get to see the actual picture quality from the photos and the customers get a platform to showcase their photography as well.

6. Short videos

Image contains statistics on the state of video marketing as of November 2020

Video marketing statistics (Source: Wondershare Filmora)

 

Videos are a powerful medium and this content trend is not likely to lose lustre anytime soon. Video content continues to be a popular type of content and is one of the most shared content formats. According to Hubspot, video content has become the most commonly used content format among marketers as of 2020, leaving behind even infographics and blogs.

Videos are easy to consume and can keep your audience engaged for longer. Videos also have the capability to go viral in no time if the audience can connect with the content. Short-form videos, no longer than a minute or two, are a great way to grab attention. Features on social media platforms like Instagram reels can come in handy in sharing short videos.

7. Augmented reality

Image shows a screenshot of the Augmented Reality tool available on beauty brand Sephora's mobile app

AR tool on the Sephora mobile app (Source: Sephora)

 

Augmented reality is quickly picking up pace and changing the content marketing world. Integrating AR in your content marketing strategy can give a meaningful and immersive experience to the audience. These technologies are only going to get better and better over the coming years. Early adoption of such technology will give you an edge over other content creators and marketers.

The picture you see above is an AR tool on beauty brand Sephora’s mobile app, which allows customers to see how a particular product would look on their face. The same technology is being used by many furniture and clothing brands too.

8. Conversational content

 Image is a screenshot of the chatbot on Hubspot’s home page and an example of conversational content

Chatbot on Hubspot’s home page (Source: Hubspot)

 

People today look for personal attention, even when looking to buy a product. Plain and simple FAQs or lead capture forms are no longer enough to get people interested in your business. You need to engage people and answer their queries in real-time if you want some valuable leads. The 2020 State of Conversational Marketing published by Drift says that 34% of respondents in a survey were frustrated because they couldn’t get simple answers to their queries from brands.

Conversational marketing makes the experience much more personal and authentic for the customer. You need to use chats instead of lifeless forms to gather information and engage your customer. Having a bot appear in a pop-up chat to help a visitor taking an action on your page, such as clicking a download or subscribe button, can be a good option too. Even when talking to a chatbot, a conversational tone always makes the chat more productive. Recommend what is best for the customer, lead them to content pieces on your blog that could be useful, use first names for returning customers. Two-way interactions like these will make a big difference to your content marketing output.

9. Sharing content across channels

Image shows icons of multiple social media channels

Cross channel marketing (Source: Pixabay)

 

Focusing on just one marketing channel is neither wise nor profitable. Content marketing trends in 2021 will demand the use of cross channel marketing. When you have so many different platforms to share content on, why would you not explore them all. Cross channel marketing allows you to share the same content on different platforms. For example, sharing screenshots of your Twitter posts on your Instagram page or sharing snippets of your Youtube videos on Instagram reels. Or you can recreate or repurpose the same content in different formats suitable for different channels.

10. Brand activism

Image is an ad posted on Coca Cola Canada’s Twitter page encouraging social distancing during Covid-19

Brand Activism in Coca Cola’s ad encouraging social distancing (Source: Twitter)

 

As more and more people are becoming aware of social, environmental or political issues, capturing these sentiments in your content has become essential. Brand activism is the new big thing in content marketing now. It’s a content marketing trend not to be ignored.

Every brand should ideally be socially responsible and stand for a cause. Your content can reflect this social responsibility your brand takes. Creating content that addresses burning issues or creates awareness, or simply shows solidarity with the people in times of need, speaks of your brand’s values. Content in 2021 should be with a purpose.

11. Nostalgia stirring content

Image contains elements of nostalgia and a result from studies that show nostalgia marketing drives sales

Nostalgia marketing (Source: Brafton)

 

Nothing connects better with people than nostalgia. Many famous brands are already using the nostalgia card to engage their audience. Everyone misses their childhood and the good old days when things were simpler. Nostalgia triggers good memories and people love that, particularly in today’s fast-paced, mechanical lives.

Research says that people tend to be more trusting and confident after recalling a nostalgic experience. Nostalgia marketing can give a sense of familiarity and comfort to your audience and we expect to see many content marketers making use of this tool in 2021. Apple, for instance, made good use of this nostalgia marketing trend and released an ad featuring the Cookie Monster to portray that the tech giant has a fun side too. They were definitely successful in reminding people of their favorite childhood character.

12. Social commerce

Image shows an e-commerce store on Instagram as an example of social commerce

Social commerce on Instagram (Source: TechCrunch)

 

Social media will continue to be king in 2021. Buying and selling on social media is not uncommon anymore and this trend is here to stay. 71% of shoppers are more likely to purchase something if referred by social media. So promoting your products on social media and creating social media content around your brand is extremely important.

Creating quality content for social commerce allows you to optimize the shopping experience for your customers and also rope in customers on different platforms. Particularly during times like these, when shopping at stores has become rare and risky due to the pandemic, shoppable posts on social media can be a boon for both marketers and consumers.

Summing up

The trends in content marketing keep changing every year. While some of these trends may continue, others become obsolete as new technology and platforms come to life. 2021 is going to be a year of massive changes after the Covid-19 pandemic. Every business owner and content marketer will have different challenges to brave.

Digital marketing is set to experience a boom in growth as well as in demand, as everything is going online. Riding the wave of content marketing trends listed above will definitely give you a heads up as you prepare your content marketing strategy for 2021.