This article was conceptualized by Jordan, written by Bridgett, and edited by Pitsh.
Bridgett is a Pitsh freelance writer from Maine. When she isn’t writing about B2B Marketing, she loves to act, create art, and explore new places.
The end of 2020 is in sight.
Now it’s time to start preparing for next year’s content marketing trends.
If you want to stay relevant, you need to take an inventory of what’s working, and what you need to work on.
Do it now.
What’s coming next?
Recognize what’s trending. But consider what’s coming next, too. If you always chase the market, you’ll never surpass it.
We published this “2021 content marketing trends” post in October of 2020. Why? Because we know that searches for “2021” will soon be popular, and we want our content to compete for search results.
Plus we want to help you get ready:
One of the top results for “2022 content marketing trends” was published all the way back in 2017! It’s never too soon to start.
You can’t predict the future, but you can try to put yourself in a good position to capitalize on it. No one can guarantee what’s coming next. So plan to cast a broad net, and see what you can reel in!
50% of Searches Will Be Voice Searches in 2021
Advances in voice recognition and natural language processing are transferring the power of search from human users to computer algorithms.
What happens when you ask Siri a question, or order Alexa to play your favorite tune? They don’t give you a list of options: They always deliver the top result.
For a Google ranking, #2 is a great result. For a Siri voice search ranking, it’s worthless.
Optimize your online presence to accommodate voice search. Voice searches prefer accessible text and organized content. Voice searches prioritize short sentences with simple structures. Voice searches love exact phrase matches.
Consider including key phrases and headings that answer direct questions. “What percent of searches will be voice searches this year?” The answer is the heading for this article section!
This applies beyond your branded content. Are your job listings optimized? What about your inventory and product descriptions? When a potential customer searches “Where can I buy [your product] in [your town] right now?”, is your business the answer? Or would you miss the opportunity?
Live Content Will Continue to Grow in 2021
The pace of development at the large social networks is faster than ever, and so is the pace of
intellectual property theft converging functionalities.
“Live” is the thing for brands and influencers. It’s “stories” that expire after 24 hours. It’s live video broadcasts. It’s instant chat conversations.
Whereas the “world wide web” was all about creating pages that last, the modern internet likes to be ephemeral. Publishers hide content behind paywalls. Licensing requirements restrict access to certain availability dates. Ads micro-target buyers at certain times of day. And live broadcasts come and go, on YouTube, Twitch, and beyond.
Live is effective because the producer can respond right away. If your audience isn’t interested, you can adjust your tactics. If they have questions, you can answer them. And when they have needs, you can show the value of your expertise.
Over time, these live interactions create an emotional connection—a lasting brand impact that converts to real-life dollars and cents.
In the end, the more visible you are on social media, the better. But don’t just broadcast into the ether! Compliment your content creation strategy with a publishing routine that re-uses the right content at the right time. Then, leverage paid opportunities to increase your reach.
Create choice for your audiences by personalizing experiences for them. Interact and allow them to have a voice. Get to know them, and take requests for topics to go live about. This helps to attract the right audience, engages them, and makes them feel valued.
In 2021, Pillar Content for Google is more important than ever
Audiences can be intimidated by long-form content. A 10,000-word essay will see a lot more users exit part way through than a 15-word joke and a funny picture.
But long-form content also delivers value. And search engines love value.
Over time, unscrupulous marketers have capitalized on this by creating needlessly long keyword-rich pages, which are light on actual substance.
Plenty of serious brands even have single-page websites.
But search engines have responded in this cat-and-mouse game by prioritizing pillars. A pillar is a centralized page on a website that’s dedicated to a specific topic. Information links to and from the central pillar like a canopy off the center of a circus tent.
If you sell sports equipment, create a significant page on your website that’s all about tennis rackets. Where did they come from? How do you use them? How can you differentiate good rackets from bad rackets? Give it substance.
Once you’ve built this central pillar, show search engines that it’s important. Link back to it from every other page on your website that talks about tennis rackets. Create new posts about niche tennis racket topics, and link them back to the main pillar.
But also link back from your central pillar to other pages about tennis rackets. Make it a useful resource. Show that it’s not a dead-end.
Your content management system likely already has automatic pages for Categories or Tags. Those are a great place to get started. But pillar content is more than a pile of links or collection of article previews: The pillar itself needs to have value.
Podcasts aren’t stopping in 2021
Podcasts are increasing in popularity because they’re convenient, informative, and entertaining. But in a screen-focused world, they also give our eyes a break in a way that video (and even books) cannot.
If you want to learn something new, you can put on a podcast and listen while you do the laundry. Or while you drive to work. Or while you run on a treadmill, or hide under the covers and
pray for the year to finally end meditate.
Podcasts are an incredible medium to learn new things, but also to network. Want to be a podcast guest? Work on your interview skills. Want to connect with interesting people? Start a podcast of your own, and offer to have them on as guests.
Because of this networking power, corporate podcasts have become increasingly common.
Believe it or not, many corporate podcasts are actually good.
Getting started doesn’t need to be a big production. Podcasts aren’t expensive or challenging to create.
You can record with the microphone on your headset. And you can do an “episode” that only lasts a few minutes. You can literally just record yourself reading your most recent blog post, and release that, almost like an audiobook.
Or if you don’t already have an audience, volunteer yourself as a podcast guest. Start with small podcasts in your niche, work on being an engaging conversationalist, and then work your way up to podcasts with larger audiences.
Human Interaction matters more in 2021
Have you ever used a “live chat” support tool, because you thought it would be faster than calling? But then you wound up typing keywords at a chatbot, and in the end it just told you to call the phone line?
That’s not a good customer experience.
But let’s be honest: Chatbots are cheap and convenient. They can handle the simple customer inquiries that cause “unexpectedly high call volumes and extended wait times.” And that frees up human agents to handle the more challenging issues that require a personal touch.
In 2020, a lot of companies burned bridges with customers. They left customers waiting on hold for days on end. They forced customers to wait months for refunds, without ever successfully speaking to an agent.
Empathy is more important than ever. And chatbots are incapable of empathy.
Brands that can offer a genuine human interaction will thrive in 2021. It’s what customers want. It makes them feel special, important, and validated. But it also instills trust.
You don’t need to ditch your chatbots. But provide opportunities to leverage the humanity of your team to generate content that resonates with your clients: Avoid using stock photos. Name your writers. Sign your social media posts. Embrace your humanity!
Topic Authority builds businesses in 2021
What you know is not what makes you or your business valuable.
Value comes from knowing what to do and when to do it.
Skills and products have value. Knowledge is cheap. Anyone can learn anything online for free.
So give your knowledge away for free. Prove that you have it. And use that proof to build an audience that will help you find clients who will pay for your skills.
That’s topic authority. It’s not new. But it’s not going away. Capitalize on it.
Give your audience a glimpse into your company operations. Give them articles, videos, and handouts. Be an expert with nothing to hide.
When you build credibility and trust, your audience will keep coming back for more.
Video Video Video Video Video Video Video
Did we mention video? You have a webcam. You have a cellphone. Make videos.
Interview your staff and customers. Record your production workers. Make videos of yourself, talking about the things you’re knowledgeable about.
Video content helps clients visualize the culture and experience of working with and buying from your company. Even a silly video can show that you’re part of a serious business.
Share your videos. Promote your videos. Use your videos to get opportunities to make more videos, so that you can release more videos and win more business.
Augmented and Virtual Reality?
Do you really want to get ahead of the curve? Figure out how to leverage these new technologies in a way that not only reaches consumers, but engages them, too.
Pitsh can’t help you with AR and VR marketing. We honestly wouldn’t know where to begin. But if you want to free up more of your time to get ahead of the trends, Pitsh can help! Our network of freelancers generates and edits marketing content for you, when you need it.
Work smarter. Don’t work harder. That’s a timeless trend for 2021 and beyond.
Pitsh provides edited, optimized, and affordable blog and social media content on demand, from a network of North American freelancers. Get started today to free up more of your time to focus on strategy, not grammar.