Content marketing worth $412 billion by 2021

Here’s some exciting news for content marketers: a November report from Technavio estimates that the global content marketing industry will see a compound annual growth of 16% from $195.58b in 2016 to $412b by 2021. The report highlights a number of key factors including global mobile phone adoption and growth, brand and loyalty objectives, lower cost than traditional advertising and an increased conversion rate as key growth drivers across the period.

Why should we care?

Content marketing isn’t a new thing: it’s been growing in popularity consistently for the past five years. 

And according to a CMI (Content Marketing Institute) study, 87% of brands are now using content marketing and 53% of those surveyed stated that they were looking to increase investment over the next year.  


What will fuel the incremental $217.3bn estimation by 2021?

In my opinion, the strong growth in content marketing is being driven by a few key factors:

  • A shift in consumer behaviour

  • Big data

  • The cost, effectiveness and measurement

1. Consumer Behaviour 

At its heart, content marketing is all about the audience. Therefore it is vital that content inspires, educates and entertains and that this content is delivered at the right time and in the right places to a defined audience. 


But consumer behaviour has changed over the past few years and I believe this has fuelled and will continue to fuel content marketing growth. We now have access to content 24 hours a day, 365 days a year which means that we’re marketing to consumers with more options and distractions than ever before. 


Here’s a great example of how content marketing has evolved in line with this consumer behavioural shift: 


It’s 6:00pm. I’ve just got home, I’m hungry and I want inspiration for dinner. Do I

  1. Look through a recipe book

  2. Scroll through recipes on BBC Good Food 

  3. Find a YouTube Food Channel like Tasty or

  4. Ask my Amazon Alexa for a recommendation 


As you can see, the options are vast and as a result, it’s important that brands find their way to join in on the conversation and build their online communities around the content they are creating. Additionally, the aim should to be ensure that the content aligns with the shift in consumer consumption, behaviour and expectation. Think bigger, better, cross-device, more relevant and personalised. These behaviours and needs will continue to challenge and grow the industry.

2. Data

The growth of the internet and advancements in technology have left us sitting on a wealth of data. We’re able to find out exactly who our consumers are, what they’re buying, when they’re buying it and, in some instances, what they’re doing post-purchase. In fact, we even have access to data that helps us identify how they get to the stage of purchasing, and how they’re interacting with our websites and content across all channels.


This wealth of data is driving decisions and is enabling us to create better, more targeted content that’s more effective and, ultimately, measureable. We’re getting smarter and creating content based on data. 


At iProspect, our Intelligent Content proposition supports current and future clients using the wealth of available data and insight to develop better content that has a purpose. It’s our ability to leverage this data at the beginning and end of the content marketing journey that will contribute significantly towards the 2021 estimation. Our ability to create something based on data and then use that data to show the effectiveness will significantly support continued growth. As we continue to develop our A.I., tools and machine learning algorithms, this will only increase how intelligent our content is and the results that it ultimately yields.

3. Cost, Effectiveness and Measurement 

Quite simply, content marketing is more cost-efficient to plan, promote and report than many other traditional marketing activities. 


It’s no surprise that a third of brands surveyed by the CMI are spending a significant portion of their marketing budget on content marketing, and I’m looking forward to seeing this increase even more over the coming years.


What will we see between now and 2021?

  • More content marketing professionals

  • The wide adoption of content marketing teams within brands, supported by agencies 

  • Bigger, better, more relevant and targeted campaigns

  • Machine Learning and A.I. used more to ensure increased levels of data can be leveraged effectively

  • Higher expectations for better ROI