At the time that we recorded our projected content marketing trends for 2020, we did not expect that this year would pan out the way it has.
When – after an already troublesome start of Australian bushfires, tragic airplane crashes in Iran and Pakistan and the impeachment of the American president – the coronavirus pandemic hit, we had to bring all sanitised hands on deck to not only adapt our own work environment, but also the digital strategies for our clients. And the fast-changing and unpredictable environment that we’ve been dealing with is likely to spill over into 2021.
As content marketers, however, we have more responsibility than ever to keep our audiences informed and help them navigate the challenges and opportunities that this changing world throws at them.
We’ve been pretty successful at helping our clients adapt to the coronavirus in 2020, and we’ve learnt some valuable lessons in the process about what is and isn’t important in the context of the ‘new normal’. We plan to take these learnings into the new year and use them to our clients’ advantage.
For now, we’re keen to wave goodbye to 2020 and make a fresh start preparing for the challenges that 2021 will throw at us.
What Lies Ahead in 2021
Despite our greatest efforts to rub up our crystal ball, there’s only so much we can predict about what the new year might bring. However, we can look ahead at a few upcoming events that are likely to impact our clients and their industries:
1. The end of the Brexit transition period
Since the UK ratified the withdrawal agreement from the European Union in January 2020, not much changed for businesses or the public while we were in the transition period. On 31 December 2020, however, the transition period will end. What this means in terms of the international exchange of people, goods and capital is still unclear, but it is likely to cause extra checks and delays at the UK border, affecting travel, imports and exports.
2. Roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine
At a press conference on 21 September 2020, the Chief Scientific Officer for England, Sir Patrick Vallance, announced that several coronavirus vaccines were in the very late stages of clinical testing. In 2021, we’re likely to see the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine amongst more vulnerable members of the population, leading to a lesser need for lockdown restrictions and people going out more.
3. Return of growth in GDP
After an expected contraction in Gross Domestic Product of -11% to -12% in 2020, PWC expects the UK’s GDP to see a growth of 4% to 10% in 2021. According to their ‘contained spread’ scenario, the UK’s economy would return to pre-lockdown levels by the end of 2021, which would be good news for all sectors.
4. A rise in unemployment
The government’s Job Retention Scheme may have been extended to cover the second lockdown, but when it comes to an end both PWC and KPMG expect unemployment to rise. This is expected to lead to an increase in demand for retraining, upskilling, online training and education.
5. Increased WFH culture in certain sectors
The survey by PWC in September 2020 showed that people are now more likely to choose to work from home, especially in the business services sector that has adapted successfully to the digital transition. This opens up opportunities for conferencing platforms, as well as for the furniture and home renovation sector as people want to improve their work from home setups.
6. Potential drop in housing prices
Although PWC’s ‘contained spread’ scenario for 2021 could see the UK’s housing prices rise by 1%, the ‘further outbreak’ scenario could see our house prices fall by 7% – that’s two-thirds of the drop that of the Global Financial Crisis. The housing sector is facing an uncertain time.
7. A general desire to live in lower density areas
In PWC’s September survey, it emerged that around 30% of people who previously wanted to move to a city centre now want to move to suburbs, towns and villages. 45-64 year olds who currently live in London are also increasingly looking to move outside of London. Estate agents should be quick to jump on this bandwagon.
8. Inflation well below 2%
Due to a combination of lower oil prices, temporary tax cuts and weaker demand, inflation is expected to stay well below the Bank of England’s target of 2%. The purchasing power of the pound is therefore expected to stay pretty stable.
9. Base interest rate stays at 0.1% or under
This will help to support the demand in the market, which should benefit all sectors.
2021 Content Trends
So, how will all of this affect our clients’ content marketing strategies for the year to come? Although our fortune telling skills aren’t perfect, we do expect to see a few of the following content trends in 2021:
1. A greater need for research and insight
With government legislation, global market behaviour and consumer needs expected to continue to change significantly, businesses and organisations will have a greater need for research and insight work than ever before. From consumer insights and competitor activity to search trends and buying behaviour, businesses will need to work hard to stay on top of the trends of 2021.
Find out more about our research and insight services.
2. Agile content creation
This year, we’ve already started seeing our clients expecting a much faster content delivery time than ever before. And indeed, in a fast changing global landscape, keeping your audience up-to-date with the latest information is key to your brand credibility.
See how we’ve worked with Teletext Holidays to create an up-to-date travel advice hub for their priority destinations this year.
3. Focus on performance
In volatile times, no organisation will want to risk wasting money on activities that don’t deliver quantifiable value. As a performance-led content marketing agency we are aware of our responsibility to report on the results of our work and extract learnings for how we can improve going forward, so that we can deliver quantifiable value to our clients’ businesses.
Read more about how we report on our content marketing metrics.
4. Personal stories
Although, as a population, we’ll need to distance from each other for a while longer, there is a greater need than ever to talk openly about the effects that the pandemic is having on us. With the internet having become the main medium through which we connect with each other, personal stories are going to play a valuable role in helping people feel less alone, both on a personal and on a professional level.
5. Visual media for light relief
Let’s face it: after a year of job losses and lockdown, we all could do with some light relief. As people are starting to welcome some more positivity into their lives, platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest will open up great opportunities for brands to bring some joy to their followers’ lives.
How do you envision the future of content marketing? What trends do you anticipate for 2021? Let us know in the comments!