Depending on the context, the word “trend” isn’t always a good thing. Trends can be fleeting or insignificant, like the topics on Twitter or the latest in fast fashion.
But if I’ve learned anything in my decade of content marketing, it’s that many of the things touted as “trendy” one day often become staples of our strategy the next.
Many thought blogging was a trend. Others said the same about social media. But looking at the power they both now hold in our marketing and daily lives, you can be sure they are eating their words.
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So, don’t let the snappy headline fool you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a marketing environment like nothing we’ve seen before. The six points I’ve outlined below may seem like trendy outliers of 2021, but tomorrow they could be the crutch of your content marketing strategy.
People wanted to interact with other human beings, and that extended to their interactions with brands and businesses. So, they turned to online means.
In fact, a study by HubSpot about the impact of COVID-19 on businesses found that live-chat volume steadily increased from March to October 2020, and has been trending 90% above the benchmark since September.
Clubhouse allows users to listen in on exclusive live broadcasts from different communities and thought leaders and participate in the discussion.
Consumers are clearly showing a strong preference for conversational marketing. So, what can you do?
Start exploring ways to enable conversations on your website and across social media. If you use HubSpot, take advantage of their free live-chat software that integrates seamlessly into your ecosystem and even records conversations in the CRM.
If you’re not a HubSpot user, robust alternatives Drift and Facebook Messenger can also be incorporated into your website and offer chatbot functionality.
Regardless of the tool you use, start by placing your live chat on the pages where users are likely to have the most questions (i.e., a consultation page, pricing, etc.). This way, users can easily reach out when a question pops into their heads, or you can even initiate a chat, should they stay on the page for an extended period of time.
2. Interactive content
Like conversational content, interactive content is nothing new to marketers but really had a chance to shine during the pandemic.
As the name suggests, interactive content requires users to actively engage with the information before them. It goes beyond passively reading, watching, or listening, prompting users to complete an action or input information in order to get the full value out of a piece.
Tools such as Playbuzz and Qzzr have dozens of templates to help you start building interactive content that can be customized to your brand. Depending on which tool you use (or how it’s built), the information gathered through your interactive content can also be saved in your contact database to be used for marketing and sales later on.
3. Incorporating video into sales
Social distancing has also pushed sales almost exclusively online. This, coupled with our increased need for human connection, means the stage has never been better set for video success than it is right now.
Video content has become an integral part of educating, nurturing and, ultimately, closing leads in the sales process. Unlike static written content, video, with its use of sound, motion and often human faces, is the next best thing to being with someone in the same room.
At IMPACT, we suggest getting started with video content by creating what we call The Selling 7:
Employee bio videos
Landing page videos
Social proof/testimonial videos
“Claims we make” videos
These videos address the most common objections and questions consumers tend to have when researching a purchase, and IMPACT partner and author Marcus Sheridan details them further in this video:
In addition to these seven videos, consider using personalized 1:1 videos in your prospecting and follow-up emails. IMPACT’s Myriah Anderson offers a full breakdown of this and how to use video in sales, in general, in this free pillar.
Yes, times are rough. From health concerns to social and political unrest, there’s no ignoring the many stresses facing the average consumer today — and your content marketing shouldn’t, either.
Ignoring what’s going on in your messaging or content can come off as insensitive and out of touch with your audience’s greater needs. So, lean into the climate.
Pay attention to current events and how your product, service, or brand fits into them, and create content around this.
For example, when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, consider how the use of your product may change when someone is stuck at home. Think about how everything a buyer is experiencing (such as homeschooling, financial woes) may alter their buying behavior.
So, although you may not want to go in for the hard sale, don't go silent, either.
Today, 81% of consumers say they must be able to trust the brand to do what's right, which includes taking action on social and global issues.
If certain social discussions are top-of-mind for your audience and suited to your brand, you may also want to weave those into your strategy. For instance, if you sell a product exclusively for women, don’t ignore developments or concerns around women’s rights. This could make your brand look disingenuous.
5. Inclusion and diversity
After all this talk about social causes, you may have seen this one coming, but even that aside, incorporating diversity and inclusion when it comes to your content marketing just makes good business sense.
Offer content and support in more than one language.
The fact of the matter is, the current climate aside, many people may not be ready or equipped to buy from you right now — but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future.
Modern buyers don’t want to be sold to; they want to work with brands who share their values and that they trust. They want to research their own purchases, gather as much information as possible, and make the best buying decision for themselves when they are good and ready.
The best way to make sure you are top-of-mind when that time comes is by educating them.
Create content thoroughly and honestly answer questions your buyers are asking and searching in Google. This can span a wide range, but a good place to start is with what They Ask, You Answer calls The Big 5:
In our experience, these are the topic areas every buyer considers when making any purchase, and starting with them lays a strong foundation for being seen as a trusted resource and teacher in your space.
Embracing trends with benefits
The content marketing world is always changing. There’s no predicting which trends will be here to stay and which bubbles will burst, but now is the time to start experimenting. Take the six trends mentioned above and slowly incorporate elements of them into your content marketing strategy.
Track their performance and, after a few months, you’ll have solid data to help you determine which to ditch and which may deliver the benefits and results you’re looking for.