If we learned anything in 2020, we should take predictions with a grain of salt.
Not a single op-ed or thought leader could have predicted the upended reality we faced in 2020, short of pandemic experts of course.
One thing we do know, however, is that content marketing is more important than ever. With in-person events screeching to a halt and people spending more time online, the digital content you provide is critical.
Today's buyers have high expectations for your content – and rightfully so. Give your buyers the content experience they expect. Create the content your brand deserves.
What Do Marketers Need to Succeed in Content Marketing Today?
77% of buyers said their last purchase was challenging. Use your content marketing to make their job easier. If you succeed, buyers are three times more likely to close a more significant sale with less regret.
Adaptive Content Experiences
People can sit down and watch entire series like Stranger Things or Fargo on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Your content marketing might not deliver a Netflix series's entertainment value, but it can provide a high level of interest and importance.
AI-driven tools put your content to work with personalized experiences. Algorithms study website visitors' behaviour and offer everyone relevant content based on their vertical or pain point. An adaptive experience lifts the burden of digging through content off visitors. Plus, a personalized experience shows leads that you value their time and energy.
A Dedicated Thought Leadership Strategy
Thought leadership and content marketing aren't the same things. Every brand needs a distinct thought leadership strategy to work alongside their content marketing.
That's likely why 89% of decision-makers say thought leadership helps them evaluate a company.
Thought leadership attaches faces to your brand people can recognize and turn to in times of crisis. It shows that you don't necessarily have all the answers, but you're equipped to research the problem and offer the best solution.
Rather than solving specific pain points or promoting products, your thought leadership content promotes ideas – like journalism. It should focus on current events in your industry akin to op-eds you'd find in the paper. Visitors can then look back through your thought leadership catalogue to see how you approached yesterday's problems so they can decide whether to trust your company for tomorrow's.
Fewer Topics of Higher Quality
Pick the pain points that best apply to your targeted verticals and dig into them—Research the landscape and existing solutions to no end. Stay on top of the latest news and publish relevant content.
Let's use a cybersecurity company, for example. Publishing generic cybersecurity content about corporations, small businesses, and government agencies isn't likely to hit home with any readers. Even focusing solely on attacks targeting small businesses is too generic to resonate with anyone.
Instead, we want to establish ourselves as experts in specific areas such as public schools in a particular state, small e-commerce clothing companies, or healthcare corporations.
Comprehensive Original Research
Nothing gives your content marketing and thought leadership authority and trustworthiness quite like original research.
Original research shows that you're tapped into the inner workings of your niche and genuinely care about what people face each day because you've literally "done the research."
Most companies don't prioritize original research though. That's probably why only 15% of decision-makers say the thought leadership content they come across is up to par.
An Optimized Virtual Event Strategy
Whether we liked it or not, virtual events became the norm this year. Don't expect them to go away anytime soon either. 71% of marketers say they expect virtual conferences and networking events to continue well after the pandemic restrictions subside.
Marketers should look for fresh opportunities beyond their typical conference-style events. Weekly influencer chats, news rundowns, Q&As, and highly targeted webinars all offer better engagement and data opportunities.
Less Promotional Remarketing Content
Remarketing tools offer potent capabilities to reconnect with lost leads, build brand awareness, and demonstrate authority. However, many marketers are still stuck using these innovative tools with their old marketing mindsets.
Remarketing content should focus less on promotion and more on content marketing. Pretend that everyone who sees your remarketing content is someone who will never buy from your brand. What type of content can you give them that will spark their interest enough to share it with a friend who very well could buy?
When marketers focus more on helping/empowering and less on selling, it's always a win-win.
Buyers need transparency from you so they can decide if you're not the best choice for them.
It might sound counterintuitive, but this radical transparency benefits your company too. You don't want someone to convert into a customer only to realize your product doesn't meet their expectations, so they leave a terrible review and abandon ship a month later.
It's no surprise that 65% of buyers say they'd like to see more product comparison content while 67% want to hear more about functionality. It says that buyers ask for more functionality specs because it means companies aren't providing them already through their marketing material.
Run branded keyword research for "Your Company Name vs." and the results will show you precisely what product comparisons you need.
Keep What Works, Forget What Doesn't
No one has time for irrelevant content marketing – least of all, your brand. In 2021, make it a point to evaluate your current strategy for strengths and weaknesses. Make an effort to eliminate the generic waste and focus your energy on high-quality thought leadership instead.
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