“Start with social listening; see what your customers are saying about your brand — or maybe about your competitors”: That’s one of the most powerful tips coming out of my recent interviews with content marketers in major brands. If you missed the last post, find it here.
Today’s interviewee is Becky Shindell, communications manager at SEMrush. SEMrush is one of the most popular and powerful analytics software companies in the marketing industry, used by brands like eBay, Quora and Booking.com.
I chatted with Shindell via the Slack group, Online Geniuses, and she shared some of the powerful strategies behind her company’s content marketing efforts.
Here they are:
1. What’s the No. 1 tip for brands looking to attract their primary customers via content marketing?
Becky: “You need to first know who your customers actually are and the kinds of content that would benefit them the most. Start with social listening, see what your customers are saying about your brand — or maybe about your competitors, what kinds of questions they’re asking, which products/services of yours are most popular.
“Then, you can build a target audience [whose members want] to read your content, and in turn, help you to meet your goals.”
2. Will content marketing continue to be relevant as technology advances and consumer behavior changes?
Becky: “Absolutely! I think that technology advances are just going to make it easier to see how consumer behavior is changing. Machine-learning and other technology advances will make the entire content-marketing workflow more sophisticated and efficient, and will enable more personalization, and more easily predict upcoming trends.
“However, nothing will ever beat the real emotion, context and semantics that come from actual people-writing. Machine learning is just a machine, and if you want to connect with your audience on an emotional level, you still need humans to write and analyze, in order to be successful.”
3. You don’t believe machines or AIs will snatch jobs from writers, do you?
Becky: “Definitely not. I think that machines and AIs will learn ways to simplify processes or answer questions, but at the end of the day, we will always need writers to write real, meaningful content.”
4. What types of content have you seen perform best for brands?
Becky: “Videos. I recently read that as much as a third of online activity is spent watching videos. A third!! Videos perform well for most brands, and they don’t even have to be high-production grade.
“Whether it’s a live stream on Facebook or Twitter, a how-to video or something as simple as a behind the scenes clip, videos that customers can engage with are a huge win. Plus, there are so many tools that are free or less expensive that make it super easy to create awesome videos for your brand!
5. Yes, videos are huge. Could you share how you’re approaching them at SEMrush?
Becky: “We’re trying to use video as much as we can. Most recently, we’ve been using our data to create cool videos, instead of just writing up a blog post about it or creating an infographic. We’ve found that it’s more engaging and a lot easier to digest that way.”
6. What are the best content-promotion tactics you’d recommend?
Becky: “Start organically. Share it on your company’s social media channels, in relevant Facebook/LinkedIn groups. By doing this, you can get an idea of how it can perform, and if it’s not performing well, then you can learn how you can make it better. Then, once you tweak and fine-tune it, you can put some money behind it and reach a broader audience.”
7. Have any favorite content-marketing tool?
Becky: “I’m going to have to go with SEMrush here. Many people don’t know about all of our content-marketing capabilities and that we’re not just an SEO tool anymore. My favorite currently is the Topic Research tool, which helps you find the most popular topics across the web for a specific keyword, what kinds of questions people are asking about that keyword, and related subtopics.
“It’s really helpful in that beginning content-strategy phase when you’re trying to figure out what to write to attract your target audience.”
8. Anything else you’d like to add, Becky?
Becky: “Brands need to remember to be human. People don’t want to interact with a robot; they want to know that there are real people behind the brand. While emerging technology is going to make it really easy to automate everything, don’t let it get in the way of your building real, meaningful relationships with your customers, they’ll thank you for that.”
One takeaway I’d recommend is: “Brands need to remember to be human. People don’t want to interact with a robot, they want to know that there are real people behind the brand.”
Shinell’s advice mirrors what I preach to my clients all the time at Premium Content Shop. People need more engaging content that relates to them as the humans they are.