Is Your Content Marketing Strategy Ready For 2021?

By Emma-Lily Pendleton, Future Fusion on

2021 is here – is your content marketing strategy ready for the unexpected? 2020 took the world by surprise – some brands pivoted, and thrived in unexpected places, others strived but struggled in depressed sectors. Now we have the benefit of hindsight, but what lessons need to be incorporated into our 2021 content marketing plans?

The constant of London’s Underground was partially stilled in February 2014 in a strike that drove its regular commuters to other means and modes of transport. The disruption had lasting effects: economists studying the data discovered that tens of thousands of commuters did not return to their original routes – presumably having found better or more pleasant alternatives. 

The precedent is there for some of the emergent trends from 2020 to continue into 2021 – here, we reflect on how to incorporate last year’s lessons into this year’s content strategy:

1. Adaptability

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that flexibility is key to continued success in turbulent times – keeping a content strategy under constant review and adapting to the fast-changing marketplace is now more important than ever. For an example of what adapting can look like, CEO Aron Gelbard was candid with the Bloom & Wild community by publicly acknowledging that although flowers are not a necessity, they could be uplifting. Understanding the market need for community solidarity, a campaign to nominate a key worker to win free flowers was launched –  ‘bringing the sunshine inside’ for 10 randomly selected workers every week.

2. Write your content marketing strategy

Don’t confuse a content plan with a content strategy. It’s easy to jump to the creative, where it feels like you’re acting and bringing things to life, but without a robust strategy in place brands risk missing the best opportunities for their content marketing efforts.

3. Read the data 
Great content strategies all start with data, and a lot of it. Look at your website data, social stats, analyse your competitors, do keyword research, look at trends, gather reader insights. At Future Fusion, we also study consumer behaviour within the communities on the relevant Future Publishing websites (LivingEtc. and Good Housekeeping to T3 and GamesRadar) – look at any data that can add insight and understanding.

Don’t make any assumptions. Understand any changes and nuances of the who, where, when, what and why – with these conclusions, married to clear goals, you’ll have the information to write a robust 2021 strategy.
4. Clearly define your reader

You likely already have your consumer profiles, but has their behaviour changed? A recent survey by Bloom, with Jose Maria Barrero and Steven Davis, estimated that remote working in the US will become more than four times as common after the pandemic – we’ve all seen the changes in purchase behaviour and seismic shift to e-commerce… How else has your consumer behaviour changed? Or has a new consumer surfaced?

5. Be unified
Future Plc has become the leading digital publisher for good reason: we understand that customers go through a process before making a purchase, and with content, we know how to speak to them at each phase: 
  1. Awareness – when they realise they have a need
  2. Consideration – when they consider the different solutions available
  3. Decision – when they decide on the solution for them 

Managing social, web, e-comm and CRM in isolation can leave gaps in the communications at each point of this journey. Every piece of content has an objective, and choosing the right platform for the right message is key.

6. Consider SEO
An SEO strategy is akin to investing in sales staff that work around the clock to chaperone the perfect customers to your shop door. It’s an upfront investment that pays dividends with SEO-focussed websites getting as much as 90% of their traffic from search engines. And it doesn’t have to start big… in fact, choosing the right keywords can mean choosing the long tail, lower volume words that are most relevant for your brand. To see how an SEO-first content strategy can transform your paid traffic from Display to Organic Search traffic (in this case 120% month-on-month), check out this SEO case study

7. Consider outside experts 
As we look ahead to market recovery, outsourcing services can bring much-needed fresh perspectives, new and specialised talent. Crucially, it also gives brands the ability to scale and pivot when it’s needed – and adaptability is the thread that runs through all of the above points. 2020 taught us that a brand’s ability to adapt directly correlated with its capacity to succeed in a fast-changing world.

By Emma-Lily Pendleton

I work for Future Fusion, the content marketing arm of Future PLC. We are experts at building communities around people’s passions and in doing so positioning brands at the heart of incredible content that drives transformative results.

We publish a monthly newsletter with the latest trends in content marketing. You can sign up here if you’d like to be kept informed – Future Fusion monthly email.

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