Top B2B Content Trends For 2021
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How are marketers evolving their content strategies with the changing consumer behavior? Which types of content and distribution channels are most brands banking their budgets on this year? Which formats remain underused? What kinds of content budgets can you expect in 2021?
Owing to the novel challenges of the pandemic, you might have no clue about those questions. But how much have B2B brands really pivoted their content strategies? Here are the top content trends for 2021 that reveals the same:
Multimedia Content Production Picks Up Steam…
As people will continue to stay at home for most of the year, their content consumption isn’t slowing down. Expect brands to continue creating more content and even outsource it to freelance writers — it’s the number one activity B2B organizations outsource as per the annual Content Marketing Institute survey.
On top of textual content, expect brands to integrate videos and audio in their strategy. Simply put, they are more convenient to consume and could help your website’s engagement and your SEO. Let’s look at three of these multimedia formats brands are warming up to:
Videos And Webinars
Blog posts and email newsletters remain the top content formats as per the CMI report. But owing to the cancellation of physical events, brands are going virtual. They have increased their usage of webinars, live streams, and pre-produced videos.
YouTube might be one of the top destinations brands target for producing these videos. Facebook and Instagram are also among the top channels, as per the Hootsuite 2021 social trends report.
Another related trend to videos is online courses. Google highlighted online education’s role in its blog post on building an inclusive internet for the next billion users. Many brands such as Ahrefs and Moz opened their premium courses around online marketing subjects for free for a limited period.
HubSpot has grown its course, certifications, and education repository on its academy substantially as well. It grew by 115% Y/Y in Q1 2020, driving new leads, improving customer retention, and getting prospects to have prolonged engagement on the company’s site.
If you want to become an authority in your niche, pick one of these online course platforms and build your academy. Pick subjects relevant and helpful for your target audience, helping them level up in the process.
Helpful courses for your audience could establish you as a thought leader in your niche, thereby amping up your E-A-T — the criteria used by Google to rank content. In the graphic below, The Creatives Hour illustrate its parameters:
While they are relatively underused in the B2B niche, podcasts can offer a warmer and more conversational experience to your customers. If you can’t afford to launch and manage a YouTube channel, audio content could add a new dimension to your marketing efforts.
They are also a great relationship-building tool as interview-style episodes are the default format for shows. But you can also consider creating audio versions of your blog posts to your audience, thereby offering convenience in another consumption format.
Fight For The First Page Continues!
Search remains one of the most reliable marketing channels, especially for B2B marketers. It also has compounding returns, so despite Google trying to eat up clicks from the organic listings, brands will continue optimizing their content for SEO in 2021.
The CMI survey found keyword research software as the top editorial tool leveraged by B2B marketers for creating content proving the same.
Specifically, while optimizing content for search engines, these three aspects could play a role:
Core Web Vitals
Google has announced its criteria for quantifying the page experience of visitors on a site — clubbing them under the term core web vitals (CWV). It’s slated to play a role in search rankings starting May 2021.
Here are the benchmark metrics your website should ideally meet:
The Google Search Console offers a report on CWV you can refer to improve your website’s experience. Besides, you can plug your website in Google Pagespeed Insights and Lighthouse to find out the current issues plaguing your site, as well as get actionable tips for fixing them.
Satisfying Search Intent
While CWV will become a search ranking factor, serving the intent for the keywords you target isn’t optional. Indeed pages serving relevant content might get a pass for bad experiences depending on the other search results.
It calls for researching the search results for all the keywords you target. Try to uncover the motivation of the searcher and serve them content that efficiently solves their problems. The five-point checklist on keyword intent research below may come in handy:
Optimizing Existing Content
Being on the first page is prime real estate most brands are elated to reach, but more than 50% of search queries now don’t result in a click. Moreover, the CTR varies incredibly by the position you take on the first page.
More and more B2B brands now have lots of content rotting on their site, but their pages have existing authority. It’s only fair to expect them to pay more attention to optimizing these existing pages.
It is updating the content, redoing on-page SEO aspects, and building links to the page. Most bloggers agreed to have been practicing and getting better results in a survey by Orbit Media by doing the same:
ROI-Driven Content Marketing Becomes Mandatory (Or Not…?)
Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin authored a Slideshare, “Why Content Marketing Fails,” which went viral — garnering over 6M views. While created six years ago, the slide below, unfortunately, aptly summarizes what most companies expect from content marketing even today.
But it’s not only their fault. Attribution of how content is adding value to a business largely begins with parameters such as trust and loyalty. It’s about building brand awareness and educating customers.
Since most of these are qualitative aspects, content marketers struggle with putting numbers and quoting an ROI for the time and budget allocated to content. And as the returns from content marketing are compounding, you might not have sufficient results to show in the first few months, or even up to a year.
What’s the fix?
Well, brands increasingly realize that content is a marketing channel — so they try to serve the middle and bottom of the funnel first. They don’t write content that targets keywords with high search volume. Instead, they prioritize those phrases which have a high buying intent.
Where relevant, brands are even shifting to thought leadership content — which doesn’t even fare well in the favorite channel of marketers: search.
The likes of Animalz, a SaaS marketing agency, and Glossier, a skincare brand, don’t target a keyword for every article they publish. Rather their content strategy is largely driven by what their community asks for — and eventually leads them to buy from Glossier.
It still doesn’t answer whether 2021 will be the year when brands will need to pinpoint the exact ROI from their content marketing?
Not so fast.
For one, accessing data will get increasingly difficult as consumers expect brands to respect their privacy. A majority of people are concerned with the amount of data companies can collect about them.
Also, these are times when qualitative data becomes much more important. The quality of experiences you provide your audience with will determine whom they will buy from when they can — and they want to.
So instead of solely relying on qualitative metrics like trust and relationship building, measure the direct impact on your bottom line through leads and conversions. Adjust your editorial calendar to prioritize the creation of bottom of the funnel content.
2020 was a less than memorable year, but content marketing seems to have picked up steam. And B2B brands pursuing it also continue to thrive. Use the trends we looked at in this article to inform your content strategy, and you’ll be starting on the right foot.
And with all of the madness going on, don’t forget to take special care of your employees. For instance, Buffer pivoted to a 4-day work week in June for the rest of the year. You could earn some workplace appreciation Tweets by acting as a human first.
Are there any other major trends you see unfolding in 2021? Let me know in the comments below.