If you're a B2B marketer who isn't investing in content creation, you're in the minority -- 79% of B2B marketers surveyed by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs said their organization used content marketing to further their goals in 2020.
Developing a sound content marketing strategy is worth it: We found that blogs are among the primary three forms of media used in content strategies today.
In fact, 24% of marketers increased their investment in content marketing last year.
As 2021 is in full swing, we wanted to talk with more B2B content marketers to see what trends they're looking out for in H2.
2021 B2B Content Marketing Trends to Watch
- Content-supported ABM.
- More comprehensive content to support multiple channels.
- Increased reliance on contractors.
- Focusing on original content rather than keywords.
- Emphasizing digital marketing.
- Expanding budgets and expertise.
1. Content-supported ABM.
According to Brooklin Nash, the head of content at Sales Hacker, "B2B brands are getting better about connecting their ABM plays to content that's hyper-relevant to the target account."
For example, Nash says Intricately serves up industry reports with mentions of key accounts.
"ABM ads are starting to point more to content and less to landing pages," Nash adds.
2. More comprehensive content to support multiple channels.
Nash also reports that he's seeing companies focus on providing more comprehensive content that supports multiple channels.
"Repurposing content isn't new, but it definitely seems like there's been an increase (to the benefit of everyone)," he says. "Instead of a blog post on ABM, you can run a survey and turn it into a downloadable asset, social media images, an article, podcast mentions, and a recap webinar."
3. Increased reliance on contractors.
Due to the uncertainty of last year, 29% of content marketers had to decrease their budgets.
Additionally, 49% said their organization outsources at least one content marketing activity, with large companies being the most likely to outsource.
Nash noticed the same thing. He says, "I haven't seen the employment data, but I do know quite a few tech companies that laid off (large) parts of their (large) content teams in the midst of the pandemic."
That means that bringing those full time functions back will probably take time.
"It's going to take more time than content demands will allow for, so freelancers need to be ready," Nash adds.
4. Focusing on original content rather than keywords.
Kelly O'Hara, the founder of Copy Goals, and B2B content marketing specialist, says, "I've seen successful bloggers talk about how they don't optimize some of their content for SEO at all. *Gasp* I know."
This idea might not be as outrageous as you think on first glance.
O'Hara says this might become the norm in the near future.
"We know that readers are demanding greater authenticity from content," O'Hara adds. "It's difficult to be authentic and optimize the heck out of your content at the same time. Plus, I imagine that Google will continue to find ways to give credit to sources that are legit, show their expertise, and genuinely help their readers."
All that to say, don't be surprised if content marketers start to focus more on originality rather than keywords, semantically-linked words, getting H2s in the right place, etc.
5. Emphasizing digital marketing.
This might not sound new since the digital revolution has been happening for the last couple of decades, but content marketing itself is just now starting to boom.
This year, there was an increase in those whose organizations used content creation/collaboration/workflow technologies. This isn't surprising considering the work-from-home world we now live in.
While the type of content (blogs) remained the same, 67% of companies are now focusing on using virtual events, webinars, online courses, and building an online community.
Additionally, the use of livestreaming increased to 29% from 10%.
One of the survey respondents says, "We've had to expand out network via digital marketing strategies such as webinars and podcasts, as we relied mostly on in-person events and conferences for brand awareness and networking."
6. Expanding budgets and expertise.
While there was a decrease in some content marketers budgets in 2020, this year, companies are focusing on increasing expertise with content creation and website enhancements.
Additionally, companies will need to increase their staff to keep up with the demands of the content marketing world.
A survey respondent says, "We'll be looking to increase staff and ramp up our inbound strategy through content marketing."
With expanding budgets and growing content marketing teams, companies are becoming more media fluent and are focused on creating a media brand, on top of their company brand.
Content marketing is in the middle of a huge evolution. From focusing on SEO and blogging to becoming a full-scale media company, brands are seeing huge differences when they scale their content marketing efforts.