The year 2020 was a memorable one for all the wrong reasons. The B2B technology marketers had to pivot and adapt themselves like never before last year to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic stricken world and businesses. The marketing plan went for a toss, and they had to rethink their content strategies, alter messaging as per new reality and find new innovative ways to reach their target audience virtually.
The only thing different about 2021 till now is that we are somewhat used to the new reality and, safe to say, better equipped. While nobody can really claim to see the future, especially so after 2020, we believe the following content marketing trends are likely to dominate this year. These are based on our own interactions with the B2B tech marketers and several industry-leading reports.
Video is the new king
With little opportunity for face-to-face meetings and people holed up in their houses for months, it is not surprising that video traffic saw a boost last year.
Further, the current economic environment led to budget cuts in marketing, forcing marketers to think of the most effective and engaging B2B content strategy. It is here that they seriously started exploring the potential of video to deliver better Return on Investment.
The use of live streaming content increased to 29% last year from 10% in 2019, according to a report by Content Marketing Institute. Further, the Forbes research says that videos are shared 1200% more frequently when compared with links and articles combined.
Nearly 71% of B2B marketers use video as an integral part of their content strategy and 73% have reported a positive impact. This trend is likely to continue even after the pandemic as people are unlikely to revert to pre-COVID habits.
So, be it explainer videos, corporate videos, short video ads, webinars, social media videos, animation videos or CXO interviews, there is going to be a massive increase in the use of videos by marketers to engage with the target audience. At Deepworkz, we witnessed a dramatic surge in the queries for video projects as part of our content marketing services last year.
Long-form text content is here to stay
Even as videos continue to become popular, long-form text B2B content came into its own. Be it blogs, case studies, whitepapers, or e-books, more and more B2B tech marketers now rely on long-form content to engage with their target audience.
The recent Orbit Media’s annual blogging survey says as much. The average word count for a content writing blog is now 1,269, and the bloggers who write 3000+ word articles report `strong results.’ So, you will need to write more and better for better impact. The report further goes on to say that long-form blogs/content needs to be backed by visuals for even better results.
Focus on Community
As more and more enterprises moved to the remote way of working in 2020, there was an increased focus on building online communities and strengthening relationships.
We witnessed several of our clients upping their efforts to build a loyal digital audience. Several enterprises launched podcasts, webinars, and YouTube channels to create and develop a digital community, which is likely to continue this year as well. It is no longer enough to just post on your company blog or social media platforms.
This is backed by the Content Marketing Institute’s report that says that 42% of the survey respondents established an online community last year. B2B content strategy that provides value to the target audience is key to building a loyal online community. The same survey also says that the value provided by their B2B content is the most crucial factor in their success.
It is increasingly becoming tough for the brands to stand out, and original research is emerging as one way to do so. Original research helps cut through the clutter, and if relevant, it will be cited several times, providing you much-coveted backlinks. It also enables you to position yourself as a thought leader. Based on our interactions with several technology brands, we believe more and more firms will spend on original research to stand out from their competitors.
Defining Brand Values
There is definitely a need for the brands to define what they stand for. This is particularly true in the post-COVID-19 era as there is a growing consciousness of the environment we live in and the impact our actions has on it. The end consumer is extremely conscientious now and wants to engage with brands with similar values.
According to Accenture, 65% of consumers are looking to identify themselves in their brands, and more importantly, 43% are switching brands if they don’t align with their beliefs. So, just saying that you believe in sustainability is not enough, but you must demonstrate this in practice and processes. If you haven’t already done so, you will need to define your why to enhance your brand’s emotional appeal.
Digital User Experience
As people conduct more and more tasks online, there is a greater need to provide an exceptional digital user experience. Further, digital consumer demands the best experience now otherwise he/she is willing to shift loyalties. This is true for B2B tech brands as well. Brands increasingly realize that the content needs to be more interactive, fun, engaging, and visually creative to get the maximum Return on Investment (RoI), even in the B2B space.
Content Repurposing / Content Atomization
Brands were always repurposing the content, but now we see them do it more strategically and for a longer period of time.
At Deepworkz, typically, we see B2B tech brands creating one long-form content piece and then leveraging it for a long time by producing several smaller content pieces. For instance, let’s say a company organized a webinar with two industry thought leaders or clients. It can then use this content to produce several shorter videos, social media posts, infographics, blog posts, guest articles and so on. This strategy makes it really easier to scale content production. Our content marketing agency started noticing this last year, which is likely to pick up pace this year.