This year may have been a mess, but it’ll be 2021 before you know it!

And when it comes to content marketing, there are plenty of predictions and trends to keep an eye on. Here are some of the hottest updates that'll charm the socks off your readers and customers in 2021!

Time to take a look into the content ball!

1. Talking to your customers is a must for content marketing in 2021

To be fair, talking to your customers was always a great idea.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers have been slightly forgetful about that because - data.

But, as Content Marketing Institute’s research found, the pandemic forced us to shift our perspectives. 30% of B2B organizations increased time spent talking with their customers due to the pandemic.

This pandemic showed brands and businesses that they have to be more empathetic. Your business priorities changed, and so did your customers’ priorities.

It’s a good idea to revisit your customer personas and evaluate whether they still have the same pain points, goals, and needs. If their needs have changed, your content marketing strategy needs to change, too.

2. Lead nurturing content is rising on up!

CMI’s report brought another thing to light: 73% of top performers don’t just create content for the-top-of-the-funnel prospects.

They also create lead and audience nurturing content, consistently providing value - even after leads have turned into customers.

This is definitely something to keep an eye on in 2021. Retention is the new growth, especially when you consider the fact that word-of-mouth marketing is cheaper, better, and more successful at driving new business than any other marketing method.

Brands that can create an emotional connection with their customers get 3x more word-of-mouth referrals than brands that don’t.

How to write lead nurturing content

Typically, lead nurturing content means turning cold leads into leads warm enough to purchase your products. However, you should take this holistically and pay attention to warming up your paying customers, too.

Personalization is key.

80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that personalize experiences.

Start by dividing your customers into audience segments based on:

  • Demographic, psychographic, and other standard data types
  • Their behavior, purchasing patterns, and purchase history
  • Their funnel stage

Once you understand what your leads and customers are buying, clicking on, and consuming, you can create content that speaks directly to them.

Not sure you have the time to write all that content yourself? Check out ContentFly.

3. New search engine content types

SEO and content marketing are intricately connected. At the very least, you should optimize for search engines to get more (free) traffic and leads, even if your main content promotion channels are different.

So, what’s hot with search engine content in 2021?

How to optimize for featured snippets

Featured snippets are definitely the most prominent place on a search engine results page. They also help you appear in voice searches (and in 2018, 27% of global users have been using them).

Optimize your content for featured snippets by:

  • Answering questions (Within your content, structure the question as the heading, and then provide an answer directly below)
  • Keep your main answers to 50 words at most
  • Improve your backlink profile and site speed

You can also pay attention to the People Also Ask sections and compete for them.

How to use Schema markup

Don’t forget to make your results stand out in the SERPs by using the right Schema markup codes:

How to optimize for the Local Pack

If you own a brick and mortar business, you’ll want to optimize for the Local Pack in the SERPs:

  • Create your Google My Business profile
  • Fill out your profile, list your services, add all the details
  • Build local citations and get links from local directories
  • Get reviews
  • Share posts to your GMB profile

Pay attention to how the Local Pack is changing because of the pandemic. In the image above, you can see that Google is now showing whether coffee shops and restaurants offer delivery, takeaway, and so on.

SERPs are dynamic, so make sure you check out what they look like for your target keywords regularly. It’s the best way to spot new trends and stay competitive in a shifting landscape.

4. Interactivity is a major 2021 content marketing trend

Using interactive content to add a little spice to your content marketing strategy has never been easier.

You can easily integrate quizzes on your landing pages with tools like ConvertFlow.

Your Drift chatbot can offer a super-specific lead magnet to your cold leads, depending on the article they’re currently reading.

New York Times’ interactive Rent vs Mortgage calculator

Your leads and customers can easily calculate costs, savings, and other figures while consuming your content with interactive calculators.

There are plenty of ways to make your standard content even more interesting. Not to mention that interactive content sends all the right signals to Google, and if your content is particularly valuable, it might even be spread like wildfire on social media.

5. Create authentic content

90% of Millennials want brands to be more authentic.

71% of consumers prefer buying from brands whose values align with their own.

And the entire internet is laughing at brands that are trying to pander to Gen Z and Millennials in a “How do you do, fellow kids?” manner.

Are you picking up what I’m laying down?

It’s all about authenticity, in an actually authentic way that aligns with your business.

But here’s the problem: when businesses want to be authentic, they mainly do it through cringy campaigns.

They forget about putting people front and center.

Since authenticity is a big deal in 2020 (and it will be an even bigger deal in 2021), you can avoid messy campaigns and showcase your authenticity by including your team in your content strategy:

  • Interview your team members when talking about your company’s vision, goals, and mission
  • Let team members come up with anecdotes and personal experiences for content pieces
  • Implement employee advocacy

I mean, just look at our content marketing blog.

You’ll see diverse perspectives from various ContentFly team members and writers.

Everyone’s got a story to tell, and when they do, it resonates with your audience.

This doesn’t mean that you have to put even more on your team members’ plates. You can easily ask them for personal stories and anecdotes, and then hire a ContentFly writer to turn that into an awesome, authentic article.

6. Hotline Bling, or: the rise of direct messaging

Messaging is at the core of social media. In fact, brands like Burberry are actively transitioning towards the so-called conversational commerce.

What does it mean?

It means interacting with customers through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other popular chat clients.

Now, this can’t be your main content marketing strategy.

It’s a great way to engage warm leads, but you still need the “meat” of your strategy - valuable content. But it's an awesome way to leverage your content to create an amazing customer experience.

One simple way to use messaging for your content is to actively keep track of how leads and customers behave, store that information in your CRM tool, and then sync your website chat bot with your CRM data.

This way, you can personalize on-site experiences.

Let’s say your website sells all kinds of clothing, but a few visitors often look specifically for boots. Wouldn’t it be better to offer them a special discount on boots than to offer a discount on shirts?

Similarly, you could be running a SaaS and offering an email marketing tool. What happens if your leads range from SMB owners, to enterprises?

With this messaging strategy, aided by AI and tech, you can give everyone a personalized experience based on their interests.

For example, SMB leads could get case studies featuring other small business owners. Enterprises, on the other hand, could get case studies conducted with other companies like theirs.

How to start chatting with your customers

All you have to do is figure out your strategy. Let your chat bots funnel your leads towards the perfect solution!

7. Use dynamic content to personalize at scale

If you’re coming from an email marketing world, you’re probably saying: Ahhh, I see what you’re doing here!

And you’re right, with one tiiiny little difference:

Dynamic content is no longer just reserved for email marketing.

Nope.

These days, you can use dynamic content to personalize your website content, depending on the visitor’s interests, behavior, and other variables.

Source: OmniConvert

The first thing you need to do is connect your dynamic content tool with your CRM tool.

This way, you can personalize at scale. Your DC tool will automatically detect who’s visiting your website, and serve them content they care about.

The image above shows how one dynamic content tool, Right Message, does it. They have an automation + personalization workflow that chooses which content specific visitors will see.

You can use this kind of content for everything:

  • Display specific offers and CTAs
  • Offer the most helpful content and resources
  • Personalize product recommendations
  • Display smart pop-ups

And more!

It all depends on your business type and needs. But dynamic content personalization works best if you have a plethora of different customer personas, and a huge content library.

8. Evergreen content

This is not exactly a prediction - evergreen content has been steadily on the rise for the past few years.

Why?

Because the internet is chock-full of content, and a lot of it isn’t comprehensive enough to rank.

If you’re dealing with the same problem, this might be the right time to reevaluate your content strategy, take stock of all the articles in your library, and then decide how to restructure them.

Content pillars

If you’ve been covering multiple topics or content types, you should create content pillars.

Outline main topics, and then list all the sub-topics.

From there, create one main article that comprehensively sums up the topic.

When you’re covering specific sub-topics within this article, link out to other articles you’ve written.

Source: Haimat

This keeps visitors on your site longer, and you’re giving them a more valuable resource than if they had to go digging through your archive to find the right article.

It’s a win-win: Google loves it, and so do your leads.

P.S. Yes, you can also create content pillars for different content types. For example, content pillars for blog posts, content pillars for case studies, and so on. It's so intuitive that the majority of us are doing it already, but make sure yours are well-structured, readable, and easy for potential customers to find!

What if I don’t have lots of content?

Totally fine, too!

It’s never too early to start creating evergreen content - especially because it can send you free traffic for years if you update it regularly.

Firstly, you need to conduct topic (and keyword) research: what have been the most popular topics in your niche over the years?

Use Google Trends to find out.

Secondly, figure out your unique angle on the topic.

Sometimes, this means identifying gaps in competitors’ content. You might answer more questions, or provide more anecdotes and real life stories. But whatever it is, make sure it stands out.

Finally, you need to get to writing.

Evergreen content can often reach well beyond 2 or 3,000 words in length. It takes skill to comprehensively sum up the topic and make sure you’ve given your audience all the answers they expect you to have.

You need to educate and convince.

It’s not easy, but it’s what we specialize in.

So submit your first article request to ContentFly today, and let’s make all your 2021 content marketing dreams come true!