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The Oscars are over, the fashions are out there, and now you know how to dress for the rest of the year, right? But if you're a content marketer the Oscars were not much help (other than don't do what they did).
Based on conversations we're having with our clients within our content marketing agency, here are the top content marketing trends 2021.
And the winners are...
Google is looking at engagement as an equal indicator to backlinks for relevancy. If you are pushing out 2 or 3 posts every week just to keep publishing, stop, take a step back, and look to write EAT content.
It's the single most important thing you can do for your B2B content marketing strategy in 2021.
You simply can't afford to publish a string of unrelated, smaller blog posts about whatever comes to mind.
Quality is king over quantity.
To start a blog, do keyword research on topics your buyers are actually using in their research and write authoritative content that answers their questions.
Show you are dedicated to helping buyers in their vendor selection journey.
Only publish the highest quality work, or don’t publish
Look at doing more original research. You can get help from sites like AskWonder to do discovery and gather your facts.
Syndicate your best ideas to higher authority websites and participate in like-minded communities on LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit, etc. SparkToro is a great discovery site to show who the influencers are in your industry.
If you are doing content distribution right you can ask your prospects 'where did you find us' and they should answer 'i saw you everywhere'.
When you write a content marketing blog post you should be writing with Engagement, Authority, and Trustworthiness (ACT) (see trend 2). ACT posts solve the problem of how to repurpose content. They present a wealth of ideas on the topic that can be broken down into individual ideas you can share across all your owned and paid channels.
Here are some of the ways you can repurpose ideas:
The ultimate goal of B2B content marketing is to get conversions on your site so sales can follow up. Because so much research is available, buyers are needing to talk to sales less and less. They are also less willing to give up information early in their research cycle.
Your conversion hook of ‘talk to sales’ or 'get a free consultation' may actually repel buyers in the early stages.
If you are putting all your valuable content behind a gate, it's not being seen by Google, and it may be turning off buyers where you only have one chance for a good first impression.
Buyers may consume, on average, 5 pieces of content before they reveal themselves to sales. You need the keyword rankings and traffic to get those touches, but you also need to offer something of value if a buyer is going to give up their identity.
These valuable pieces of upsell content are called ‘lead magnets’. We prefer to call them value magnets. The goal is to offer value to help your buyers do their research.
Add value with as much free content as you can to generate targeted traffic to your site and establish credibility and brand. Then offer visitors something of real value.
Here are examples of lead magnets:
These offers are your value magnet. Buyers are willing to give up information if you are helping them solve their problems.
Productize the value hook so it’s scalable. Airtable’s success and its value hinge on pre-built templates for 100s of use cases that lure users to sign up for a free trial.
They’ve been around for 5 years, but word is getting out that you need to organize your content in a way that Google understands it better. The pillar-cluster model or topic silos are the best way for Google to understand relevancy.
Many companies have a random organizational structure to their blogs and internal linking structure.
Do an internal audit of your blog posts and group blogs that relate to eachoter into topic clusters or silos. Only link between posts that are part of the same silo and try to anchor these posts with an authoritative pillar post.
A pillar page is a longer form (5,000 words+) piece of content links out to other ‘cluster’ topics that relate to the pillar topic.
Google likes this type of organization and will reward your pillar page and cluster posts with more authority and higher rankings.
Be sure to focus on metrics and KPIs that will get the attention of the C-suite.
Especially focus on coordination with sales to set up OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to measure content marketing outcomes that drive leads and revenue.
Senior executives are less interested in browsing metrics like traffic and branding exposure, and more about revenue metrics.
When advocating the C-suite focus on these three areas and put key results behind each one:
Leads/Conversions - For B2B marketers this is the key metric. You need to report that content marketing is directly adding buyers to the funnel.
Try to put in place attribution tracking that gives due credit to content marketing. It can be tricky as summarized by Hubspot:
"An Attribution model lets you apply different (revenue) credit to each interaction according to the model’s rules. For example, some models apply all credit to the first or last interaction in someone’s journey, while others use mathematical rules to weigh credit."
Awareness/Education/Credibility - Content marketing is a great way to get discovered. If buyers don't know who you are, to begin with, there is no sale. Work with sales to put numbers to how many visitors and what organic visitor growth numbers are realistic and meaningful (key results).
Increases in organic traffic - Based on conversion rates and pipeline growth show the relationship between increased organic traffic and leads.
Increases in engagement - Metrics like bounce rate and page/dwell times - EAT content should improve these numbers.
New vs. Returning traffic - A perfect ratio would be 50/50
Show that content is drawing people to the website and keeping them there.
Use a website visitor tracking tool to show who is coming to the site. This is especially helpful for companies with an Account Based Marketing strategy.
Keywords used to generate organic traffic - Show increases in keyword rankings and measure the effect on increases in organic traffic.
Subscribers - If you are producing quality content over an extended period of time you should always be asking for subscribers on all your content pages so you can build your own audience.
Increases in subscriber base
Unusually high churn or unsubscribes as this is an indicator that your content is not resonating as well as in the past
On May 1st, 2021 Google will make page experience an official ranking factor. You can see Google’s view of your vitals in your Google Search Console. On the left navigation area, go down to ‘enhancements’ and then click ‘vitals’.
Here is what they are looking at starting May 1st:
Google has already been looking at:
Page load time - Under 2 seconds is ideal
Engagement - How much time a user spends on a site after they click on a SERP result
Secure - Always try to use HTTPS
Safe - No viruses, malware, etc.
Intrusive interstitials - Interstitials that cover the entire page will hurt your rankings. In general, pop-ups are disruptive and annoying to the user experience. Try to decide if you really need a pop-up or if a persistent call to action on the page, like in a footer, is a better option.
New to vitals are the following:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - Is the largest element, image or text block to load on your page. If you see an LCP pushing site load time over 2 seconds, it needs to be optimized. Some elements are exempt such as SVG and VIDEO.
Talk to your site developer and find out what element is causing the delay. If you can’t get your site developer to help, you can always turn to Upwork or Fiverr and find a well-rated page optimization expert that fits your budget
For B2B marketers with Account Based Marketing (ABM) and intent lists, you can’t control who clicks on a SERP. SEO only helps if you ‘luck out’ and one of your ABM accounts clicks on a page for one of your ranked keywords.
One of the best ways to reach your ABM list with free content offers is through targeted outbound efforts.
Social media and email are crucial tools in this effort. The goal is not to offer 'cold' requests for meetings, but rather to offer answers to their specific problems.
Akin to cold-calling this is a manual effort that requires research and one-to-one communication. Don't cold-blase an offer to a list of 1000s of your targets. You won't get any replies.
The goal is to reach out on a social site like LinkedIn or use one-to-one email and make offers to send your best content, framed to help the entire buying committee at an ABM account solve problems.
Go to each target website, visit LinkedIn, Quora and Reddit groups. Try to discover what problems they are trying to solve.
Frame the outreach in personal terms for what answers you can provide and how you can help directly.
Always lead with answers, not 'can we meet'. If they want to meet, it will be apparent.
If you successfully 'convert' a target buyer to consume your content, your value magnets are available to help convert them.
Offering free content that helps solve problems gets your brand and your authority in front of these buyers. It adds to ‘be everywhere'.
There are also ways to track your ABM companies when they come to your website by adding a website user discovery tool to your martech stack.
When an 'anonymous' user comes to your site, these tools can discover the associated company.
Substack is a newsletter discovery platform for content marketers. It makes it easy for you to set up an email newsletter and build an owned audience.
Most newsletters on B2B sites are passive. They are only as valuable as the number of people who come to your site and sign up.
Substack comes with monthly traffic of over 17 million visitors. These visitors can search for newsletters on any topic like 'cloud security' or 'crm' and Substack will show available subscriptions and manage the delivery and administration of your newsletter.
You just need to feed the newsletter with your content.
Subscriptions can be free or paid. For most B2B marketers the free option should generate additional subscribers beyond the passive sign-up button on your website.
Before You Post, Review This Handy Cheat Sheet to Make Sure You've Covered Everything!
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