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February 19, 2021

3 Must-Know B2B Content Marketing Trends for 2021

By Nicky Cappella, Content Specialist

Before 2020, content marketing became a more critical part of B2B marketing strategies across channels and industries. The events of 2020 (including the pandemic) resulted in significant changes to society and how companies do business, increasing the focus on communicating through content to deepen customer relationships and build brand loyalty.

Following four years of sustained growth, the content marketing industry is expected to reach a total industry valuation of more than $400 billion by 2021. This includes work done by companies themselves and by B2B marketing agencies. Uncertainty is still a factor in business, but most companies are moving out of their initial conservative responses to change and focusing on growth again.

Keeping on top of content marketing trends is a critical part of a business’s growth strategy, creating a consistent experience across multiple channels and reinforcing brand messaging. And consistency, according to research from McKinsey & Co., is the key to an exceptional customer experience and improving satisfaction, trust, and loyalty.

Content marketing trends for 2021

Mapping the customer journey

There is no better way to connect to customers than to understand brand interactions. Creating a visual representation of the customer journey is an exercise for the company that helps see things from the customer’s perspective. Once that happens, companies know the questions that buyers are asking at each stage of their journey to identify gaps in current content and tailor new content to respond effectively.

A recent survey of senior digital marketers found that 62% have fully mapped the customer journey and customized content strategies in response. Another 31% of respondents are in the process of doing so.

Gaining a deeper understanding of the customer journey builds trust between buyer and brand and will be one of many significant content marketing trends this year.. And responding directly to questions customers have along the way helps to move them down the funnel to a purchase decision.

Unique research

Conducting industry or company research and sharing that in a visually engaging way is a great tool for connecting with your existing audience and expanding to reach a new one.

Content creators that are working on the same subject are often working from the same pool of research. Every writer is familiar with the experience of running into the same statistic over and over while conducting an initial inquiry. Original research, however, offers the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and provide something that other writers cannot access.

Conducting unique research – through surveys, data analytics, etc. – also allows a business to be a real thought leader, identifying trends and opportunities and speaking from a place of authority. It increases the value of insights, both perceived and actual, and engages an audience on a deeper and more significant level.

Testing, adaptation, and iteration

The world is changing, and customer priorities are changing along with it. New pain points will emerge, while others become less important. B2B content marketing agencies must identify changes and strategize an effective response. But how?

Testing and tracking data will become even more critical to content marketing in the future, because it is an essential tool to identify these changes. Currently, 65% of companies have identified opportunities for testing and learning across all channels. Those that have not begun testing and learning risk addressing outdated concerns, leading to lower engagement and missed opportunities to connect over changing pain points.

Content marketers must seek out these opportunities and create adaptive strategies based on a flexible, agile response to changing parameters.

The result: earned trust, loyalty 

Creating a thoughtful customer journey that demonstrates a deep understanding of the audience is a powerful tool for building trust and loyalty. Mapping the customer journey and creating more valuable insights based on owned research will become more important to content marketers in the future, helping businesses to stand out in a crowded B2B marketplace. However, the most essential trend may be recognizing the value of testing, data, and iteration – having a flexible strategy and putting the tools in place to support it.

Sources

Technavio, Content Marketing Market by Objective, End-User and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2020-2024, 2020.

McKinsey & Co, The Three C’s of Customer Satisfaction: Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, 2014.

Altimeter @Prophet, The 2019 State of Digital Marketing, 2019.