It’s time to unlock.
With the new year comes new agendas, and content marketers should keep one thought front of mind: 2021 is all about “unlocking.”
It’s finally possible to envision the global health pandemic coming under control, and the eagerness for the coming months to show a way out of a crisis that turned lives upside down—and locked them down—for nearly a year is palpable. As a new landscape emerges, content marketers need to prepare for people being “unlocked.” (Managing Partner Andy Seibert predicted that on a Content Marketing list, here.) Audiences will be craving personalization, humanization and a heightened appreciation for the fact that every minute matters. And while on some level we should continue to expect the unexpected, and to embrace the unknown, those cravings will likely mean content consumers will be:
• Seeking out experiences—in person.
If there’s one thing we are certain of, it’s that “unlocked” individuals will gravitate to richly human experiences. On their to-do lists: Live performances, in-person conferences, dining out, club activities, hugs, and travel, to name a few. In a recent travel industry consumer survey, 70% of respondents said they plan to take a holiday in 2021 and 45% of them have already made plans or are starting to do that.
• Taking mobile devices with them.
This is your last chance to be mobile-first. In this unfettered, go-go-go (very near) future, mobile technology looms extra-large. Which isn’t surprising. As we know, COVID-19 simply accelerated impending digitalization. McKinsey research showed that consumer and business digital adoption “vaulted five years forward” last year in a span of just eight weeks. For consumers, there is an expectation of seamless online and in-store experiences. For businesses, what were once local markets are now global.
So what does all this mean for content marketers?
• Be purposeful with the content you create.
Audiences are officially out of patience for content that can’t be seamlessly consumed on their phones. Mobile-ization means complex infographics and long-winded articles take a backseat. In the driver’s seat is audience-first thinking, and that means
- Words (no jargon)
- Tone (we know you)
- Length (concise and engaging)
are top priorities. Quality, not quantity, has never been more imperative. The same goes for accuracy. If you’re not fact-checking, you must start. If you are, double down.
A premium on truth from brands and businesses coincides with increasing concerns of clients and prospects about a company’s long-term impact on the world. An ongoing sense of social purpose remains paramount to staying relevant. Walking the walk isn’t a one-off but a continuing focus—not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it pays dividends.
• Strike a personal chord with your content.
The months ahead will bring added significance about how people will feel content and how it will enable them to get busy and do something, which is what being “unlocked” is all about. Content energizes the senses when we see (video and animation), hear (podcasts or videos in the background as we multitask) and touch (interactive content requiring swipes and taps). Engaging the senses enhances personalization.
Gaming, an industry up by 40% in terms of time people spend playing compared to pre-lockdown, may offer lessons to content marketers about boosting engagement. Similarly, augmented reality can provide exponential returns on getting and grabbing an audience’s attention (see Warby Parker’s virtual glasses try-on and L’Oreal’s virtual makeup try-on for examples of effective use).
The potential impact of cleverness, innovation, or whatever you call what it takes to stand out in a crowd, can’t be overestimated. Take podcasts, whose future has been augured as a mixed bag. On one hand, the space is flooded; getting a listener to consume the entire episode, start to finish, is a daunting challenge. On the other, the value of a candid human voice, opposed to a scripted and vetted one, holds great appeal. If you have something valuable and unique to say that aligns with your audience, and the right people hear it, that can be a boon.
We are not sure exactly where people will head when unlocked in 2021, since each person will have their own journey. What we do know is that their mobile devices will be with them, they have formed new habits and have new, higher expectations. And we know content is the reason they’ll take you along.