Content marketing trends for 2021

by Martin MacConnol – Jan 14, 2021

So what does the future hold for content marketers in 2021? This question was the basis of a webinar I took part in today for the Global Voices collective.

The session brought together more than 60 delegates worldwide to listen and discuss ideas with not just me but agency leaders from Imprint in New York, St Joseph Communications in Toronto and Teammagenta in Mumbai.

Of course, it’s a brave person who, after the unexpected tumult of 2020, tries to predict anything. But that said there were key trends which the group identified. Here are some highlights from the session to help you think about your content marketing agenda for the months ahead.

Purpose becoming central to our messaging

At the macro level, we expect social purpose to become more central to content marketing messaging in 2021. Already we are seeing this year a growing number of organisations looking to go to market with messaging that shows they are great corporate citizens. With a new President in the White House who believes in climate change, with COP26 happening in November in Glasgow, and with continuing activism from society and investors, we only expect the social purpose agenda to grow. Our own research in 2020 showed it's now part of the bundle of themes audiences expect to be told about by brands.

A return of the 'roaring twenties;

That doesn't mean we think 2021 will be a 'worthy but dull' year. Far from it, we expect 2021 to become a party year. We are not there yet, but as people become “vaccine confident” we anticipate a massive rise in real world activities: from holidays and hospitality to conferences and business meetings. Marketers need to be geared up for this and content needs to support. In some ways the 2020s are shaping up to be the mirror of the 1920s, the “Roaring Twenties”, as people re-emerge from a time of death and disease wanting fun and pleasure.

Well-being becoming even more important

But the world is a more nuanced place a hundred years on from 1920, and if canny content marketers are preparing for party time, they also need to have an eye on well-being. A lot of people will be heading through 2021 burdened with job uncertainty and Covid fatigue. Showing support to audiences for their well-being, whether that be financial or mental, will be the right thing for brands to be doing. Brands that get messaging right around such themes will prosper.

Digital with added experience

Without doubt Covid has taken us past a digital tipping point. For the really big consumer brands building on the digital transformation that ramped up in 2020 will be key. Advances will surely be made in augmented reality and virtual reality. Better virtual shopping experiences, experiences which truly blend the online with the real world, will be a key change in 2021, and content marketing to support the purchase funnel across these two realms will need to keep pace.

For brands which have smaller budgets or are less in the public eye, digital transformation will still remain pivotal in the months to come. The ripple effect from the big consumer brands will lie at the heart of it. If you have a great online experience with Ikea you will start to expect more as a matter of course from your insurer, bank or legal adviser.

More professionalism

Our expectation at Wardour is that we will see more professionalisation of digital content across the board to keep up with the digital leaders. All brands will need to truly embrace multimedia as a way of communicating and marketing. We expect to see more content marketing focusing on better quality videos (especially after a year of UGC), more professionally crafted podcasts and more useful, interactive content tools and apps that help with decision making and purchasing. Audiences will want and expect more as the digital transformation continues.

But this professionalisation of the content experience should not come at the cost of authenticity and humanity. Some of 2021 should be focused on not forgetting the lessons of the past, and not falling in love with the tech of today because it is shiny and beguiling. Good content marketing should in 2021 come back to tried and tested principles: create news audiences can use, solve problems and make a human connection.

The next Global Voices webinar will take place on March 25. If you would like to attend then please contact me at: Equally, if you would like to watch a video of the trends webinar let me know and I will be happy to send you the link.

Published Jan 14, 2021

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