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The Future of Content in 2021

What does the 2021 have in store for the industry?

It’s been crisis management for most companies during these trying covid-19 times. With customers being homebound, strict enforcing of social distancing norms and high unpredictability all around, most companies are scrambling to get a foothold and bounce back with stronger content marketing tactics.

Against this backdrop, some companies have done an excellent job of reinventing their content strategies. Using the situation to one’s advantage and coming up with newer ways to connect, engage and convert customers into valuable assets, is truly commendable.

At Word Hatter, we decided to reach out and talk to a few content marketing specialists and ask them about their survival tactics and their future plans.

Our panellists on the webinar were Sonia Notani, CMO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance, Tarun Jha, Head of Marketing, Skoda Auto India and Farshid Master, AVP eBusiness, Thomas Cook India. It was an engaging hour-long session, the gist of which we’d like to share you.

The Challenges of Content Marketing During Covid-19

With all customers ensconced at home, the first point of interaction – the meet-and-greet – took the biggest hit. The context changed, so the medium changed, because of which the platform changed and eventually the content had to, too. Companies had to reach out to customers in far corners of the country, and with nearly everyone connected digitally, the only way was to go multilingual; it was no longer an option but rather a necessity for most brands.

Another challenge faced by numerous brands was the dilemma of selling a product no one was currently in a position to use. While the insurance sector was quick to bounce back simply by virtue of its domain, others, like the automobile and travel sectors, felt the blow the hardest. Communication couldn’t come to a complete halt, even though advertising spends were slashed. The focus shifted from mobility and freedom, to safety and the dream of a better future.

Looking at The Trends of The Future

We don’t really know how long it will take for things to come back to ‘normal’, and that holds true of businesses too. In such a scenario, what parts of the current content strategies will be retained in the future?

There is most definitely a distinct massive shift to digital, accelerated by the pandemic, no less, and most marketers believe it is permanent. Businesses are being forced to adjust their offerings and pivot their strategies to meet these new expectations and opportunities.

But before they launch headlong, it is important to understand the different types of digital customers – the immigrant and the native. Each displays a different behaviour online and requires a different approach. The former thinks through and does a lot of research, and for this type of consumer, brands need to offer content that is informative, detailed and not necessarily pushing towards immediate action. The latter has shorter attention spans, is more open to interaction and engagement, and is willing to make a quick purchase.

Voice and podcasts are big with both audiences too, with Siri and Alexa becoming household names now. Brands must leverage opportunities offered through these platforms to connect with their prospects, and at a hyper-local level – through content and language, both. 

Making the customer journey more engaging via content is more critical than ever. Offering the consumer a truly immersive experience, whether it’s through gamification, OTT platforms, Augmented Reality, AI/ML or voice search, is critical to many businesses, especially those that have been all about experiences so far.

The technologies are all there; it’s just a question of using them effectively.

It’s easy to say brands must use technology, but as most of them are experimental, how does a brand decide where to put its money? Companies will need to run pilot projects and see what worked before rolling out strategies pan-India. There is no need to have the first mover’s advantage in this scenario. Be open to making mistakes, and be ready to learn from what others are doing.

Conclusion

The pandemic has forced marketers to rethink how they connect and engage with their customers. The path to success lies in how well brands can leverage digital, social and established relationships. Every day brings a new lesson and also offers opportunities to create more value for their customers.

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