In 2021, content marketing continues to dominate for one simple reason: Your audience doesn’t want the alternative. They hate popups and disruptive ads with irrelevant marketing messages and no personalization selling things and services they neither want nor need.

Audiences have come to expect and want useful, valuable information about real solutions to their actual problems. That’s why an overwhelming 90% of all companies and other organizations use content in their marketing plans, including 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers.

Top Marketing Stats and Trends

Top content marketing statistics and trends for 2021

Content marketing continues to power digital brand strategies, but what worked yesterday may not be what works best today. Here are the current data points that help you make the most of your content marketing strategy.

Video marketing is still surging with audiences

Video marketing continues to rise in popularity with online audiences. Each day, almost 5 billion videos are viewed on YouTube alone. Every minute, people upload around 300 hours of video to the site.

According to the Cisco Annual Internet Report (updated last in March 2020), video accounts for 82% of trackable web traffic. A HubSpot survey on content trends supports this general trend, reporting that 54% of consumers in the U.S., Germany, Colombia and Mexico prefer to see videos from the brands they support. That’s more than any other kind of content. (Emails and newsletters are second at 46%, with blog articles way down the list at 18%.)

Recent Wyzowl research shows that video continues to represent a priority for most marketers. Motivated by a positive ROI, CMOs and marketing teams are spending increasing amounts of time and money on video — even taking into consideration the budget-slashing that’s taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does this trend mean you should drop everything and put all your resources into video creation and development? Not necessarily, but you should probably at least start to implement a strategy for video marketing, including explainer and demo videos that help tell your brand story and prove your product/service value proposition.

Other content marketing trends to keep an eye on:

More trends in content marketing to watch out for in the second half of 2021 include:

  • A renewed emphasis on building community, both within the targeted audience and with the folks who create the content a brand puts out in the world
  • Testing various AI tools such as Contentyze and Anyword, both of which can generate captions, headlines, and even full bodies of text-based content (such as blog posts)
  • Increased personalization of content for each individual user, going beyond simply calling customers by name in chat or emails (AI tools can help you here, too, by the way, with tailor-made email templates and content based on past purchases — they can even show the customer a version of your e-commerce site that’s based on their past interactions with your site)
  • Building new content and revising existing evergreen content to be more voice-search friendly — a timely strategy, as over 25% of the global consumer population is already using voice search on their smartphones

How well do content marketing strategies perform today?

Measuring the actual return on investment is important to the majority of digital marketers, as 61% say that they measure their content marketing ROI through actual metrics and track their progress towards specific objectives over time.

While getting a clear read on the ROI of content marketing has been a widespread challenge for years, the rise of marketing dashboards that track specific metrics for instant feedback and continued optimization help standardize the process for busy marketing teams.

Perhaps that improving ROI capture is translating to a wider adoption of content marketing in general, as 70% of brand marketers and CMOs are investing company resources into content marketing strategies. Further, 70% of those who are pursuing content marketing strategies report that their efforts were more effective in 2020 than in the previous year.

This makes the statistics on content marketing budgets and anticipated spends even more interesting. During 2020, 54% of marketers expected their content marketing budget to increase either a little (up to 10%) or a medium amount (11 to 25%), while 14% of them expected a more significant increase (over 25%). By the way, that 14% figure is an increase from 2019’s 9% of respondents who answered the same. It would seem that the global pandemic hasn’t depressed content marketing spending, at least.

Video performance and ROI

Video content performance and ROI

Video marketing plays to the strengths of content marketing where your audience is concerned. It’s a medium that lends itself particularly well to storytelling formats that both capture the attention of prospects and evoke an emotional response in your customers.

Marketers are paying attention to their prospects’ increased preferences for video, with 60% of all businesses responding to one Biteable survey on video marketing, saying they spend some of their resources on video marketing. Moreover, 36% of responding marketers aren’t just putting out an occasional video every month or so — they’re creating and promoting videos a few times a week to take advantage of consumers’ desire for fresh video content.

An impressive 94% of marketers participating in the Biteable survey who create video content (or oversee its creation) intend to keep doing so. What’s more, 61% of responding marketers view video marketing as either a very or extremely important component of their brand’s marketing strategy. Just under 75% said that video offered a better ROI than static graphics and images.

Video’s popularity isn’t restricted to YouTube, either. On Facebook, 4 billion video views take place daily, amounting to approximately 100 million hours. Additionally, Twitter states that video is the site’s “fastest-growing advertising tool,” with over 2 billion viewings of video on the platform per day. That’s an increase of 67% YoY.

Blogging content is still effective

To paraphrase a popular misquote of Mark Twain, “The rumors of the death of business blogging are greatly exaggerated.” Blog posts and articles still offer an effective, persuasive way to provide valuable information to your users and prospects.

Overall, blog posts represent the biggest portion of the content brands produce, with 92% of marketers reporting that blogging is a part of their content marketing mix.

Going long with content brings strong results

Longer blog posts may provide a bigger payoff for your brand than shorter pieces. Foundational blog content, which tends to be higher in word count and both broader and deeper in approach, helps improve your content marketing program overall.

In fact, when an article or blog post contains over 3,000 words, it outperforms shorter pieces in the following ways:

  • 3x the traffic
  • 4x the shares and promotion by readers
  • 3.5x the incoming backlinks

That being said, longer isn’t necessarily better. Dense blog posts packed with meaty information aren’t the only kind of content that performs well. In fact, listicle blog posts get an average of 80% more traffic and twice the shares compared to other kinds of posts and articles.

Active blogging improves reach

There’s another benefit to blogging that shouldn’t be overlooked, and that’s its impact on search engines. In fact, active blogging can yield a 434% increase in search-indexed pages, and a 97% increase in indexed links. This boosts your brand’s visibility, enhances its authority, and attracts more prospects to your pages.

These statistics are deeply impressive and show the breadth in diversity when it comes to the content your audience craves from you. Even though you should definitely incorporate video into the mix, it’s also important to pay attention to the written word. In other words, dust off that blog.

Increasing popularity of podcasts

Podcast content is now even more popular

Podcasting is rising in popularity with content marketers, although it’s still at the bottom of the list for now. The number of brands producing podcast episodes rose from 11% in 2019 to 15% in 2020.

Podcasts keep trending upwards

As of April 2021, there are over 2,000,000 podcasts in existence, accounting for over 48 million episodes. In the U.S., 57% of people have listened to at least one episode of a podcast at some point. That’s an increase of a few points from 55% in 2020.

While many people listen to podcasts only occasionally, there are over 16 million self-identified “avid podcast fans” in the U.S. The most popular show genres are comedy, education and news.

Demographically, podcast fans tend to have disposable income, as about 45% of regular monthly listeners report an annual income of $75,000 or more. For 2021, 51% of men and 46% of women are monthly listeners to podcasts.

Younger people are listening more

Approximately 3% identifying as non-binary or other say they regularly listen to podcasts. Podcast listeners trend younger, with 56% of those aged 12 to 34 identifying as regular listeners in 2021, up from 48% the year prior. Older millennials and Gen Xrs who listen regularly dropped one point, from 40% in 2020 to 39% in 2021.

Interestingly, in the U.S., those individuals who identified as weekly podcast listeners averaged eight podcast episodes per week from 5.1 shows. Fans still tend to be mostly white but podcasting is enjoying significant gains among Hispanic/Latino and black listeners.

Try a new content marketing approach in 2021

No matter what business you’re in, no matter what you’re selling, and no matter what kind of audience you’re trying to build, content marketing can work for you and your brand. The key is to identify the optimal mix of content types that mirror your target audience’s interests and preferences. Then, create a strategy that incorporates a mix of content to deliver the information those audience members want and need at each step of the way along the buyer’s journey.

Play to your marketing team’s strengths, but don’t be afraid to try out new approaches and strategies if the data supports such a move.