Content marketing best practices for 2021


Best Practices in Content Marketing

Digital content is the key to engagement in today’s connected marketplace. According to Cision, content marketing exceeded $300 billion in 2019. According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, most successful B2B marketers spend 40 percent of their budgets on content marketing. Meanwhile, the rapid proliferation of digital channels and formats — along with the insatiable appetite of customers in every market for fresh and relevant content — is pushing marketers to invest even more.

The CMO Council’s Content ROI Center is dedicated to advancing the discipline of content marketing. We are a go-to source of thought leadership, insight and services to help marketers more fully leverage the power of content to drive business opportunities, influence purchasing decisions, and grow brand presence.

The Center is working with marketing leaders and experts around the world to develop advanced practices, identify best-in-class tools and resources, and create more compelling and strategic thought leadership and creative content campaigns. The Council offers a variety of strategic consulting, creative and outsourcing services designed to help marketing organizations optimize the way they develop, deliver and promote digital content to engage customer markets. (See here)

According to a new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council report, “Are Garbage Leads Trashing Your Brand?”, marketers are now rethinking their lead generation strategies, techniques and sources to ensure better lead compliance and brand trust. New demands for marketing accountability and responsibility require structured opt-in and permission-based, legally compliant processes from third-party lead gen providers.

According to the CMO Council, the problem with questionable lead sourcing practices is getting worse by the day. A recent study from The Leads Council found that 47.1 percent of marketers believe lead quality from third-party lead gen campaigns is declining. They complain that leads are being oversold, with some questioning the ethics behind lead collection. Even worse, irresponsible lead gen providers can drag unsuspecting brands into legal hot water.

Truth is, B2B marketers rushing to acquire mass leads at the cheapest price have created the problem, notes the CMO Council. They’ve helped spawn a lead gen market full of bad actors, or at least bad practices that mock governance around lead compliance, lead capture, lead verification and lead qualification. As marketers continue to pour dollars into audience data acquisition — the market grew 17.7 percent last year to $11.9 billion — expect more bad behavior.

A survey report by the CMO Council—entitled “Brand Attraction from Enriched Interaction”—reveals marketers still lag in creating multi-channel, digital marketing campaigns that reach and resonate with diverse, micro-audiences worldwide. Only 19 percent said they are extremely good or very good in this area. In contrast, 45 percent gave lackluster grades on their ability to captivate and engage customers, partners and employees through fully integrated mobile, web and social channels. This compares to just 21 percent who said they were very proficient.

The study was designed to assess the degree to which marketers are embracing new digital channels and content management technologies to realize the full value of rich media engagement, crowd-sourced content, and mass-customized commerce through higher levels of personalization and tailored interaction. Most notably, the study reveals that only 5 percent of respondents have highly, or tightly integrated, content and commerce compared to 64 percent who say they have plans or existing programs to improve this.

A second CMO Council study entitled “From Content to Creativity: The Role of Visual Media in Impactful Brand Storytelling,” reveals that marketers believe visual assets — including photography, illustrations, infographics and videos — are core to customer engagement and will increase in usage. Video will most dramatically increase in importance in the near future, according to 79 percent of senior marketers. Infographics (60 percent), photographs (50 percent), and illustrations (41 percent) will also increase in usage.

A detailed study from the CMO Council and the Content ROI Center finds most companies are struggling to originate compelling thought leadership content that engages the right customer decision makers and produces quality lead flow that can advance sales performance. Not only do marketers lack unanimity on what constitutes an actual sales lead, but they also are not teaming effectively with sales and business development groups. In most cases, these internal stakeholders lack synergy and alignment around demand generation strategies, themes and advocacy agendas.

  • Only 12 percent of marketers believe they have high-performance content marketing engines that are strategically programmed to target the right audiences with relevant and persuasive content. They are also not using multiple distribution and syndication channels for maximum reach, impact and return.
  • Most view their content marketing process as ad hoc, decentralized and driven by internal stakeholder interests.
  • Just 21 percent of marketers say they are total partners with their sales and business development counterparts when it comes to developing the strategy and measuring the effectiveness of demand generation programs.
  • Some 22 percent of marketers believe sales teams are too often a roadblock and detractor and are rarely a contributor to the content marketing value chain.

Content marketing best practices for 2021

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year that many of us wish to forget. But while it’s been a challenging one, it’s also been an impactful one. We’ve learned more about humans than ever before; what keeps us motivated, what moves us, and what we can overcome. Many brands were forced to look at the way they work, including their brand presence, and the ways in which they communicate. So as we head into 2021, will we need to change the way in which we view and deliver content?

COVID-19 forced us to spend more time in our homes, so it’s only natural that many people have reached into the digital world to be entertained, be informed, and stay connected. Not only will people be looking for more exciting, fulfilling, and interesting content, but they’re also savvier about what they do and don’t want to see on their social media timelines.

This means it’s paramount that your brand isn’t just coasting through life on social media, but is engaging your audience through authentic and useful content that keeps them coming back, time and time again.

Moreover, our appetite for consuming content at rapid speed has increased, meaning slow and glitchy web pages littered with ads or forms that aren’t optimized for mobile simply won’t fly. Ensure your content across all touchpoints is smooth and user-friendly.

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As new technology, app advancements, and digital marketing trends enter the market each year, businesses have to be ready to adapt and move forward. 2020 has seen the rise of TikTok, Discord, and Instagram Shops to name just a few, with users quickly jumping on them and becoming pros. Brands need to keep up.

One of our top content marketing best practices is the rule of 80/20. 80% should be established content themes you know already work, and 20% of your content marketing activity should involve trying something new and carrying out experiments to see what resonates with your audience. This way, your content will always feel fresh and inviting, but with the comfort that users are familiar with. You never know, you might stumble upon a content goldmine.

Luckily, with multi-channel scheduling tools like ContentCal, it’s never been easier to keep your eye on all of your social media accounts at once, as well as try new content themes and keep track of their progress.

One of the most important social media marketing best practices for 2021 is accessibility. The web should be an accessible place for everyone, and this will be something lots of brands focus on for 2021. Things like including ALT text on all of your web pages, ensuring your video content has subtitles, and captioning your Instagram images; accessibility should be something brands engage with deeply in the coming months.

While live-streaming has always been popular, one of the biggest digital marketing trends of 2020 was going live. We saw a huge increase in the number of celebrities, influencers, and brands tuning in to connect with their followers. Companies who haven’t explored this arena absolutely should, as it can give your followers an insight into the people behind the business – plus its fun content that’s exciting to watch!

We even took events into the virtual sphere this year – and it worked. Music concerts, workshops, even live panels all got the virtual treatment. If budgets, venues, locations, or staffing have held you back before, there are fewer barriers to stop brands from taking their events online for a whole new experience.

One of the key best practices in content marketing is to go as in-depth as possible when researching your ideal customer type in order to create content that is genuinely valuable and giving them what they want. Otherwise, they’ll go elsewhere.

People aren’t just mindlessly scrolling anymore; they’re digital-detoxing, they’re hacking their algorithms, and they’re taking control of their timelines. To make the cut, you have to offer your followers authentic, engaging content that adds value to their life. Our top social media marketing best practices advice? Remember that your followers are humans, not just numbers.

It may have always been at the top of the list of marketing best practices, but make sure to pay attention to when your audience is online to make the most out of your content. If an Instagram post goes up when nobody is there, does anybody hear it flop? Yep, your boss does – so let’s avoid that at all costs.

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45. Content marketing is the same as marketing


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Consulting with Neil Patel


Neil Patel

He is the co-founder of NP Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.


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