As we pass the halfway mark in our seven-part prediction series, it’s time to focus our attention on the weird and wonderful world of content strategy.
Will 2021 be the year voice search fulfills its potential, email proves its staying power, and Zoom allows us to buy that gorgeous bookshelf in our coworker’s background? There’s only one way to find out…
All those shiny new channels will become saturated
With COVID-19 inevitably having long-lasting effects, channels like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook (the list goes on) will only become increasingly oversaturated. Over the last several months we’ve seen use of these channels skyrocket and brands begin offering digital services, communicating more on social media, and so much more.
It’s part of a wider trend, with users reporting that their social media consumption (72%) and posting (43%) had increased during the pandemic. At the same time, 86% agreed or strongly agreed that they had seen a shift in the content they see on social media as social and racial justice issues gained traction, especially in the US. Content is now broadly viewed as “political”, “overwhelming”, and “stressful”.
So, the challenge in non-traditional channels is three-fold: content creators are up against unprecedented noise, fierce competition, and a veritable minefield of controversial topics. In 2021, brands will need to consider how they can truly stand out and engage audiences in ways that prevent content fatigue, align with their values, and entice them to come back for more.
It’s time to embrace social responsibility and brand value strategies
Brands will be forced to evolve their values and the way they demonstrate, discuss, and support them with their marketing efforts. Global events in 2020 shed light on brands that were not doing enough (or didn’t understand how) to respond and engage with their audiences around very important matters, such as Black Lives Matter.
The need for social responsibility to be a core component of proactive, long-term strategies has never been clearer. As marketers, we need to ask ourselves:
- Are we actually providing the content users need and want right now?
- What does empathy look like for each brand?
- How can personalized user journeys incorporate brand values?
- How do we know when it’s better to steer clear of certain issues and trends?
The next dimension of voice search
Voice search is no longer limited to just checking the weather or finding the nearest coffee shop (though that type of functionality alone has proven to be hugely lucrative). Innovators are creating Google actions or Alexa skills for some unique, fun, and memorable experiences, such as:
- Patron tequila helping consumers access personalized cocktail recipes
- Tide providing advice about removing stains caused by 200+ different substances
- Campbell’s helping hungry consumers choose and cook recipes
Need a little impetus to get your creative juices flowing? Just know that voice is an increasingly formidable conversion channel, with 51% of people who shop via voice using it to research products, almost 5.5 million US adults regularly making purchases via their smart speakers, and 52% of voice searchers being interested in hearing from relevant brands about deals, sales, and promotions.
Email will continue to be an ROI powerhouse
Email may be the venerable veteran of digital marketing, but 2021 will see it continue to grow, evolve, and drive outrageous ROI for those who know how to wield it. Did you know, for example, that email can generate as much as $41 for every $1 spent—and that email engagement grew 78% over the course of 2020? Indeed, the most compelling argument for email’s ongoing revival is its frugality. While marketing budgets are cut during these difficult economic times, email is still every marketer’s trusty go-to as a proven, low-cost revenue generator.
Economics aside, expect email content to become far more interactive in 2021. Content innovations like polls, animations, and add-to-calendar functions will drive user engagement in another otherwise tried-and-tested environment. These additions will not only add novelty but make the user experience more engaging, potentially doubling conversion rates compared to passive content.
Savvy brands will make user-generated content (UGC) a significant part of these more interactive emails, whether it’s user reviews or original creative. Remember: the overwhelming majority of consumers trust this kind of earned media, and 79% say their purchase decisions are influenced by UGC.
Shoppable media integrations will continue to expand
With the pandemic driving a significant (and most likely permanent) growth in ecommerce, countless brands have had to urgently reimagine their digital offerings—and how to effectively monetize them. This, in turn, has opened up huge opportunities for shoppable platform integrations in almost every sector imaginable.
Will 2021 be the year you’ll be able to purchase the West Elm couch in a coworker’s Zoom background via a West Elm/Zoom shoppable media integration? Stranger things have happened.
Whichever direction the tech takes us, the demand and interest are there. Consider that 90% of Instagram’s 1 billion+ active users follow active shopping brands; that 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products via the platform; and that 70% of Pinterest users say Pinterest helps them find new products.
The ongoing ascent of podcasting
The soaring popularity of podcasts will continue next year, especially as workers start to commute to work again. But with so many podcasts out there already (including our own, tailored especially for marketing decision-makers), why might 2021 be the right year for your brand to get in the game?
It all depends on the nature of your business, of course, but consider that consumers are feeling the financial effect of the pandemic, limiting the effectiveness of ads and discounts. In their place, content that engages and educates is having a greater impact. Moreover, consumers are increasingly choosing brands based on more than products and services alone. Brand ethics are coming to the forefront, and podcasting can be an important part of that enrichment.
Not quite ready to meet the challenge of 2021 head on? Brew yourself a coffee and spend a little time with our full set of predictions, now available in PDF form!