Digital marketing, specifically content marketing, has been receiving a tighter embrace from businesses in a diverse range of industries since the pandemic began. In this rundown for 2021, we look at how content marketing changed through a series of stats from the surveys conducted by various well-known entities in market research.
Global internet usage at the start of 2021
It’s best to start with a big picture of what is happening in the digital world. Datareportal has released its own compilation of relevant statistics on the state of global internet use for 2021.
Here are some of the results:
More people are using the Internet: The pandemic forced more people to spend more time on the Internet.
The amount of time spent on the Internet per day is almost 7 hours.
The number of social media users grew from 3.71 billion to 4.20 billion, a whopping 13.2%.
The main reasons users browse the Internet are finding information (63%), staying in touch with friends and family (56.3%), and keeping up-to-date with news and events (55.6%).
While almost all users use search engines to look for information, almost half of them (44.8%) are now also searching on social media sites for relevant information.
The use of voice search has grown from 43% of Internet users in January 2020 to 45.3% of Internet users in January 2021.
Mobile devices are becoming more common everyday: The further spread of mobile devices is not hampered by the pandemic:
Almost all social media users use mobile devices for access (98.8%).
There are now 5.22 billion mobile users today.
Users spend 4 hrs 10 mins using mobile devices on average. Almost half of this time(44%) is spent on social media. Interestingly, mobile devices account for only half of the daily Internet time.
While a little more than half of total web traffic is via mobile devices (55.7%), laptops and desktop devices remain a close second choice, hosting 41.4% of web traffic. This means that you need to have a responsive web design that can adjust to mobile, desktop, and laptop screens and display the website in its best form. We discussed this topic in a previous post: Beginner's Guide to Making Your eCommerce Site Mobile-Friendly
e-Commerce is here to stay: The pandemic convinced people previously inclined to do physical shopping to shift to e-Commerce.
Around 3 out of 4 Internet users utilize the Internet for e-Commerce. This trend exists in all age groups studied (from 16 years old to 64 years old) and there is no significant difference between males and females.
Mobile devices are the dominant device used for e-Commerce among the younger ages (More than 50% for both males and females among age groups 16-24, 25-34, and 35-44) while desktop devices and laptops are the dominant devices among the 55-64 year-old age group (47.4% for females and 47.7% for males)
More than half of Internet users do online research before making a purchase.
Younger generations prefer doing brand research on social media sites while older generations prefer doing it via search engines.
During the last two months of 2020, Gartner surveyed 350 executives of companies with an annual revenue of at least $500 million. Some of the results are highlighted below:
More and more executives are calling the shots on decisions regarding digital marketing: Gartner identified the following responsibilities of someone leading the company’s thrust to digital marketing:
Establishing key metrics that align digital marketing objectives with the underlying drivers of the business
Identifying, hiring, and nurturing top digital marketing and advertising talent
Managing budget to meet digital marketing strategic priorities
Driving customer acquisition
Selecting and managing relevant advertising and marketing campaign management tools/technologies to support digital marketing strategy
In these categories, Gartner found out that half of the executives call the shots while another one-third of them lead a team that makes decisions. This means that almost 9 out of 10 executives actively make decisions regarding digital marketing. This implies that the majority of the executives now have knowledge of digital marketing, and are actively using it to make their companies grow.
The main focus in 2021 is customer acquisition: Gartner noted that in 2020, companies shifted to securing their existing markets to minimize the disruption due to the pandemic. This year, as conditions are improving in several parts of the world, company executives stated the following as their main digital marketing objectives:
Improve lead quality: 40%
Drive increased sales among identified leads: 38%
Increase general brand awareness: 35%
Acquire new customers: 35%
Increase number of named contacts: 34%
Create and deliver personalized experience to customers: 32%
According to Gartner, 4 of the top 5 objectives directly relate to customer acquisition.
Brand trust remains relevant in 2021: the pandemic has shown that there is an increased need to be agile, and that includes the need to reposition your brand according to the changing business, technology, and social trends. The percentage of executives that have stated brand positioning as a priority has increased from 23% in 2020 to 29% in 2021. We have a guide for brand positioning here: The Effects of COVID-19 on Brand Marketing and Ways to Adapt
Social media marketing remains the king in 2021: Even with all sorts of issues surrounding social media sites, more than half (54%) of the executives say that social media marketing is still their main digital marketing channel. Almost the same number of executives (53%) say that they use digital advertising.
AI/ML technologies are still not prevalent among the companies: Only 17% of the executives surveyed said that their company is using AI (artificial intelligence) / ML (machine learning) technologies. Having said that, 44% of the executives say they are already using these technologies for limited applications. At this point, you can still reap the benefits of early adoption of AI/ML technologies,
The Content Marketing Institute released their annual B2C research report titled B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2021. We will focus on some important observations below:
The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to adjust their content marketing strategies: The disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated changes in the marketing strategies in order to stay relevant. Some statistics below:
Almost all marketers reported an impact to their marketing strategy: 26% reported slight impact, 42% reported moderate impact, and 27% reported major impact.
More than half of the marketers (51%) implemented both short-term and long-term adjustments to their strategy.
The top five changes made by content marketers in response to the pandemic are as follows:
Put more resources toward social media/online communities - 43%
Changed website - 37%
Their adjustment seems to have paid off: 76% of marketers said that they managed to build credibility and trust in their brand, compared to 65% one year ago.
Social media marketing remains the king in 2021, again: Social media networks still remain as the preferred channel for content marketing, both for paid and organic content. Creating an online community is also in the minds of the marketers. Some statistics below:
Three of the top four content types utilized by marketers in 2020 (blog posts/short articles at 83%, pre-recorded videos at 62%, and infographics at 55%) can be shared through social media channels.
Almost half (48%) of the marketers say they have established an online community for the brand. A lot of social media sites allow for establishing such online communities; for instance, Facebook lets you create a group for a certain purpose.
Besides social media platforms (82%), the organization’s website or blog (79%) and email (76%) are the main channels for organic content.
Almost all marketers (97%) use Facebook, but there is also a notable increase in use of the next two social media platforms: Instagram increased from 74% to 81% while YouTube increased from 62% to 72% .
91% of marketers use social media channels for paid content distribution, with Facebook leading the pack again (94%).
Marketers shifted their focus and had tighter budgets: There have been key changes in measured metrics and marketing investments. Some statistics below:
From 80% last year, the percentage of marketers that measure website traffic as one of their main metrics jumped to 87%. Similarly, the percentage of marketers measuring social media analytics jumped from 76% to 81%.
One-third of the marketers said their budget was reduced: the percentage of companies with a content marketing budget less than $100,000 increased from 31% in 2019 to 41% in 2020. Those without a budget increased from 23% to 29%.
Compared to last year, fewer companies outsource their activities: 55% of companies outsourced their digital marketing needs in 2019 while in 2020, it is at 49%. The biggest challenges in outsourcing are budget issues and finding partners with adequate topic expertise (both at 52%).