2021 promises to be another good year for content marketing. However, as with most digital marketing strategies, market saturation and the modern consumer’s refined digital tastes demand a constantly evolving approach.
This does not mean we have to reinvent the wheel. On the contrary, there are content marketing tactics that we’ve been utilizing for years that should still form the solid core of your 2021 strategies.
The key is mostly in the approach, the research, and the actual implementation. Let’s take a look.
First of all, let’s look at some of the dos of present-day content marketing. Don’t forget the usual stipulations: analyze your market before fielding any tactics, monitor your KPIs, and don’t try to shove dozens of tactics into an overcrowded marketing schedule.
You don’t have to stretch an already small budget to breaking point. Sometimes it’s better to have one tactic that has great ROI than dozens that are only draining your resources.
The number one rule of content marketing should be “tailor your content accordingly.”
This means taking into account two factors: who your target audience is, and what stage of the buyer journey they are in.
For example, don’t write a blog post about the best ways to do X with your software solution in a language that assumes your audience is composed of coders if you are trying to attract small business owners who have never used your product.
Even in 2021, many marketers fail to consider this very basic principle. As a result, they end up investing a whole lot of resources in a post or a video that simply won’t have the slightest chance of converting someone.
There are brands that get it right, though. For example, Medical Alert Buyers Guide tailors their articles equally well to their two key audiences: the elderly who are looking for a medical alert system for themselves, and the families and caregivers of the elderly who want to keep them safe.
They don’t use the same voice for these two categories of readers; neither do they target them with the same topics. And if you add to this targeted content creation a bit of targeted content promotion, you’ll have a much better chance of converting your audiences.
Don’t Stick to Just One Format
While blog content creation is certainly an element we don’t see leaving center stage any time soon, we are well aware that video is the more popular content format. On the other hand, video is not always what your audience will want. So again, as long as you align the format with your audience’s preferences, you’ll be off to a good start.
In order to keep your content dynamic, engaging, and interactive, you need to select the most appropriate packaging.
Visual content is a great way to enhance your informative posts. Charts, tables, and infographics can make complex data more palatable and lend that level of dynamics to your pages. Havoc Shield does this very well, and their infographics make even the more mundane cybersecurity topics easier to understand.
On the other hand, how-to videos and online courses are sometimes an even better option, especially when you want to show your audience something you would need 500 words to describe. Ahrefs, for example, has great videos and a couple of courses that help marketers grasp complex subjects that wouldn’t work as well in any other format.
One of the things the pandemic has taught us is that there are people who will believe anything that’s said on the internet. However, it has also taught others not to take anything on the internet for granted, which has made them much more cautious when it comes to the sources of information they trust.
In a post-pandemic world, checking your facts, listing your sources clearly, and having an expert checking your statements will more than ever appeal to a certain audience. And if you’re targeting this audience of critical thinkers, having a review board will definitely help you inspire trust.
Here’s a fantastic example: Transparent Labs relies on a review board to ensure that all their posts are vetted and checked by a subject matter expert. This lends a whole new level of reliability and credibility to their blog, and it’s especially important in their industry, which is often riddled with pseudoscience.
Multi-channel marketing is also becoming more the norm than the exception. Your customers want to have more than one way to engage with a brand, and they want to be able to tune into the same marketing message across multiple channels.
If you have not yet explored this avenue, 2021 might be the perfect time to test it out.
To save some time and other resources, perhaps you want to consider remarketing some of your older content. Maybe you want to change some old content formats into new ones: blogs into podcasts, videos into visuals, and so on. This can help you overcome that initial hurdle of not having enough content for your new and old channels at the same time.
Under Armour does a great job of using several channels. Their presence on social media, on their website, and across different news outlets is exceptional. Plus, they have their own app, which makes for some great user experience.
A community of fans, followers, and leads can be a fantastic course for content distribution, curation, and ideation. You don’t have to look for your audience – you already know where to find it. You also don’t have to worry about a promotion channel, as you have spent the time to create one.
You can find countless content ideas within the community, and this source will be your most lucrative one. After all, there’s nothing better than creating content around the issues you know your audience is interested in. And as they are talking about it in your community, they are clearly interested.
Aura has created a Facebook group for Amazon sellers, which they also advertise on their website. The group itself is home to excellent peer-to-peer advice, and it gives the brand a chance to discern the pulse of its target audience.
Now that we have a clear idea of the best practices in content marketing for 2021, let’s briefly go over some of the don’ts you want to forego this year.
Winging it can work great in certain life situations, and you may even successfully wing a content marketing campaign. However, your best bet is always to have a strategy in place and to use a content calendar to plan your posts.
Of course, you can always stray off the beaten path for a piece or two – as long as you stick to some sort of data-driven strategy most of the time.
Competitor research is an incredibly important aspect of content marketing. However, you don’t want to just be saying the exact same things someone else has already said.
You also don’t want to create one post based on several others. Looking for ideas to make your content better and more relevant is great, but always make sure there is something you improve on: the style, the visuals, the formatting, at least.
Don’t Try to Please Everyone
You’ll never be able to do it, and you’ll just get incredibly frustrated.
Take a stand and adopt a point of view. You don’t have to advocate an extreme one, but you should always have an opinion and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll just be another resource in the sea of resources with nothing new to say.
While you don’t want to write for the robots alone (that approach is certainly outdated), don’t forget that you do want to please the engine, to an extent.
Think about the best way to structure your content for featured snippets and other Google Search widgets. This can help the algorithm rank you higher. Also, make sure you feature catchy titles and visuals for your social media posts – after all, this is what will get you noticed.
Your best bet is to write for both search engines and real people. One or the other alone will not cut it in 2021. You want well-written posts that have meaning, that match a searcher’s intent, and that provide actionable and valuable information. This information needs to be explained well, in line with your target audience’s knowledge and expectations.
You also want it to be easily readable, scannable, and indexable. You don’t want a search engine to have to wonder what the page is really about.
Filecamp writes these kinds of articles well, so that both a reader and a crawler can enjoy the post. Both will be able to take something away from it without having to dive too deep and read every single word.
With a bit of luck and a whole lot of forethought and research, your 2021 content marketing efforts will pay off handsomely. Take our advice into account, and consider how you can apply them in real life, never forgetting who it is you are trying to charm.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.