Content Marketing to Continue Explosive Growth In 2021The Content Marketing Institute recently released its B2C content marketing research and the gig is up.

We’re not waking up to our old normal this summer or fall—after most of us presumably have had the vaccine.

According to the report, the pandemic simply accelerated the fundamental changes already underway.

By some estimates, consumer digital behavior jumped ahead five years in just eight weeks.

The events of 2020 hit the warp-speed button on the disruption scale.

For B2C marketers, the imperative to develop direct, digital relationships with customers has become a whole heck of a lot more important.

We’re going to dig more into the findings and what it means for you if you’re into content marketing this year.

And, even if you don’t do consumer work, we all know B2B is just a few months behind.

This will give you a head start.

Content Marketing Has Been Accelerated Because of COVID

The events of 2020 prompted an acceleration of B2C brands developing in-house capabilities to develop content and digital experiences to drive those direct relationships with consumers.

At the end of March of last year, an Association of National Advertisers survey found 55% of its members expected their in-house agency to be the most important resource for producing creative and ads post-COVID-19.

Another 42% responded “other internal teams.”

It’s a safe bet those “other” internal teams are content teams.

In a 2018 version of the same study, ANA found 78% of their members launched agency offerings in-house.

Content marketing was the top “specialty service” offered, with 75% of respondents building in-house teams for the approach.

This year, it’s not enough for content marketers to understand how to create blogs, infographics, or other creative media assets.

They also need to understand how content operations work at scale.

That means understanding technology, governance, and content structure so that it can be reused, repackaged, and leveraged across silos.

Create Job Security In Content Marketing

We’ve seen something similar with many of our clients.

We only do B2B work, but the trends are similar.

We spent all of 2020 and will continue this year helping clients build their internal content marketing processes, data, metrics, and results so they can eventually be transitioned to their internal team.

We’ve found the same challenge—many in-house content marketers are great at one thing and they don’t understand how to wrap it all into the entire organization. 

That’s job security for an agency if I do say so myself!

The content marketers who can help transition from one content tactic to enterprise-wide brand awareness and lead generator will take the lead on content marketing efforts—and it won’t matter if you’re on the agency side or in-house.

You will succeed. 

More Foundational Changes Coming

When comparing content marketing to PP (pre-pandemic) to today, the largest number of marketers reported revising their content targeting and messaging strategy. 

Additionally, more than half of B2C marketers (54%) adjusted their editorial calendar.

Unsurprisingly, there was significantly more use of virtual events and livestreaming events.

Forty-eight percent said their companies have established online communities, which we at Spin Sucks know is a great place to spend time.

While marketers adjusted their content targeting and messaging strategy, very few revisited their customer/buyer personas (18%) or changed their content marketing metrics (13%) in response to the pandemic. 

According to CMI, “These results indicate marketers were working quickly to pivot existing processes and strategies and when and where to publish it rather than to alter foundational strategies.”

Only 26% of respondents say the pandemic had a major effect on their B2C content marketing strategy.

But, more than half (51%) report both short- and long-term adjustments to their B2C content marketing strategy as a result. 

This could mean there are more foundational changes for 2021.

But What Are They?

What those changes might include and, if our client experience in the past year indicates trends, it will likely be that content marketing is going to be expected to drive not just marketing leads, but qualified ones that convert to sales.

I know that’s probably less the case for B2C marketers, but it’s absolutely happening on the B2B front.

The pressure to use content to shift from one of brand awareness to one of sales continues to increase and we find more and more executives no longer allow content to drive brand awareness and search.

This means your content marketing must focus on three things:

  1. community;
  2. data; and
  3. metrics that mean something to the organization. 

As we saw during this past Sunday’s Super Bowl game, the old ways of doing things have completely changed.

Something like 15 or more brands sat out the game, opting instead to release their ads, campaigns, and new products on social media.

When I saw the Chiefs barber had tested positive while he had 20 players in line to get their hair cut, I was convinced the game would not be played.

When you combine that uncertainty with all of the turmoil we went through in 2020 and how much it costs to advertise for only 30 seconds, who can blame them? 

There is going to be an even bigger shift for content marketing this year. I, for one, can’t wait!

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich