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The State of Content Marketing with SEMrush & The Content Show

Phillip Brooks
The State of Content Marketing with SEMrush & The Content Show

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a Google Hangout with Christopher Gaudreau, host of The Content Show. Chris and I had a great conversation about SEMrush, the current state of content marketing, and what might lie ahead for the industry.

Below are some of the questions Chris asked as well as my answers.

Thanks again to Chris for the invitation!

Question: What is your definition of content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute has a pretty good definition.

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing represents a shift in the traditional marketing model. It's a more subtle technique than the typical "in-your-face" approach to attracting potential customers into your sales funnel which has driven customer interaction for so long.

With content marketing, we as marketers, deliver relevant, interesting or controversial content to a targeted audience in order to build a relationship with potential consumers. For this, we need to look at traditional marketing and the use of data.

Segmentation helps you to identify target personas. This is relatively new to digital marketing but has been the norm in the more traditional disciplines for decades. By consistently delivering content with a perceived value to an audience, you build trust in your brand, which ultimately leads to prospects becoming advocates for your brand as well as customers. Content is no longer the backdrop for your marketing campaign. With content marketing, content IS the campaign.

The old axiom that "Content is King" is more relevant than ever, but the meaning has changed dramatically. Yes, the intersection of SEO and content marketing will always affect ranking signals for your web-based content. But with content marketing you're appealing directly to the individual and not to the spiders.

It's playing the long game. You're building trust, which might not pay off right away. It's less of a tactic and more of a strategy.

Effective SEO gives the consumer a path to follow to get to your sales funnel. But, it's still ultimately up to the prospect to find his way to your site. And that's only half the battle. You still need to convert that prospect once they arrive on your page.

This is where SEO and content marketing compliment one another. By delivering content of value to the consumer both within and without the sales funnel, you build higher levels of trust and awareness around your brand. If a prospect arrives on your site and finds content of perceived value, you've already begun establishing your bona fides. It gives them a reason to stay on site and come back for more later on. Traditional SEO gets them onto the site once. And rarely does it give them a reason to return. You also run the risk of higher bounce rates and the ensuing backlash.

Content marketing is one of the best means by which we can create word-of-mouth or viral marketing. Good content sparks engagement and discussion.

Q: How does SEMrush use content marketing?

Content marketing for us is a strategy that's constantly evolving.

In addition to our fantastic blog, run by my colleague Kathleen Garvin (Ed note: Thanks, Phillip!), we've started to branch out into some new territories.

Recently, we collaborated with the fine folks at Hanapin Marketing (and PPC Hero) on an infographic about the AdWords spending habits of the Inc. 5000 list.

I’ve also just finished up my half of a joint whitepaper with Larry Kim of Wordstream about long-term PPC strategy, which I'm hopeful will be released shortly.

We have some really cool infographics in the works about SEMrush that our graphic design teams are polishing up right now.

Finally, we're really taken a deep dive into creating the best webinar content for our customers. We're ramping up the frequency of webinars and casting a wide net for content partners willing to join us. We've really found some high-profile collaborators in recent weeks and I think that will only get better as we keep generating useful content for our users.

As a multinational company, SEMrush also has a very talented team of content marketers working out of our European office creating top-notch content in other languages for over 25 different countries.

Q: How can SEMrush help others with content marketing?

The right way to use keywords in content marketing is to research a relevant keyword list relating to your website. SEMrush can be a critical resource in generating this list.

Keywords are great resources for brainstorming and coming up with new topic ideas. Digging into keyword research as thorough as that which SEMrush provides can spark some new ideas for content that you might not have considered. When it comes to creating content geared toward attracting people searching online, the name of the game is long tail keywords.

Long tail keywords are multiple-keyword phrases. They could include things like questions, for example. They tend to signify searchers that are closer to the end of the funnel, especially when those phrases include sales terms and how-to types of indicators. Although these keyword phrases typically receive a smaller volume of searches, overall, they tend to be more focused and can be much less competitive than broader terms. This means you can potentially rank for them very quickly.

Before coming to work at SEMrush, I often used the Phrases Report within the tool to find what long tail keywords my competitors were and were not ranking for to see what opportunities I could exploit in creating new content.

But that's really just the tip of the iceberg with what you can do with SEMrush as a content marketer.

Q: Now that content marketing has caught on, how can we be heard in all the noise?

I really think the secret to standing out is two-fold:

One, you have to truly understand your audience. That means that you have to put in the work to research exactly what personas your product or service appeals to. Without knowing who your content is meant to appeal to, you're really just grasping at straws. Razor-focused content will help your audience find you.

If you try to speak to everyone, you'll reach no one.

Two, content marketing represents a value-add for most users. You need to solve a problem for them, address a pain point, or hit them with something that will resonate specifically with them. If you know your audience, delivering content that serves a purpose for them becomes much easier. If you’re not delivering targeted content, you're just more noise obscuring the signal.

Q: What is the future of content marketing?

To me, there is no bigger area poised to explode than video. I know I'm hardly alone in making this "prediction," but I think that it can't really be overstated.

Video is the fastest-growing and most highly consumed media channels available to marketers, and as smartphone and penetration continues to rise world-wide, it will continue to become readily available to even larger audiences.

I read somewhere that 60% of C-Level Executives prefer video content over written. Those are the decision makers  —the guys who sign the checks. If you’re going to tailor your content to people who ultimately decide if the purchase of your tool is in the budget, you could do a lot worse.

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Phillip Brooks is SEMrush's Content Marketing Manager.
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