Content marketing is one of the most important ways for brands to increase online visibility and advance their audience, even as budgets for paid ads might be shrinking. But what types of content will bring consumers to your site? And how can you start cracking that code today?
Semrush’s annual The State of Content Marketing 2023 Global Report highlights six trends and top approaches to creating winning content.
Over 1,700 marketers and business owners in 34 different countries were surveyed as part of the report, with companies ranging in size and vertical from retail and online services to tech and IT. B2B, B2C, and hybrid B2B2C organizations were all included.
So, what did the survey reveal?
Key findings at a glance:
- 97% of the businesses surveyed said they have generated positive results from content marketing — that’s a pretty stunning number, up from 91% last year
- 66% of companies have a defined content marketing strategy, up from 57% last year
- 69% of all companies surveyed plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2023
- The five best-performing content formats were video, short-form articles, success stories, long-form blog posts, and case studies
- Articles with at least one video experienced 70% more organic traffic than those without
- “Everything you need to know” and “comparison” headlines bring in the most traffic
Now we’ll dive into the survey’s biggest content marketing trends for 2023, as shared by industry experts.
Winning content is not created in a vacuum. Brands attempting to improve their SERP rankings or grow organic traffic must first examine their desired audience.
Who is the content intended for, and what might that audience want to see? What information would be most useful to them? This future-facing guessing game calls for constant research and investigation into the trending topics in your industry.
It goes beyond following the biggest news stories and trade publication headlines. What are consumers really struggling with or confused about in areas related to your product or service?
For that kind of deep insight, consider turning to the more conversational corners of the internet. Online public forums like Reddit and social media features like Facebook groups offer visibility into what consumers are really thinking about and seeking more information on, lighting the path to developing more relatable content for your audience.
Interacting with your audience to understand what they need is crucial to producing content that drives genuine connection and provides real value, a goal that plays heavily in Google’s 2022 Helpful Content Update. The guidelines offer some insight into Google’s SERP ranking method, which “aims to better reward content where visitors feel they've had a satisfying experience.”
The only way to figure out what kind of experience will be satisfying to your website visitors is to dig into conversations happening within your audience and industry.
Stay up on topics covered in new books in your space and themes discussed by thought leaders at conferences. And above all else, find your audience online and start interacting with them to figure out how to best help them with your content.
Semrush’s Report found that “customer and audience research” ranked as one of the most-funded arms of content marketing strategies, further highlighting its importance.
The top three areas of content marketing investment are:
- Customer and audience research
- Social media/community building
- Improving content quality
Regardless of your business size, content can help it grow. It all starts with assessing your brand’s identity and understanding what unique knowledge you can share with your audience. From there, you can create content based on deep expertise that offers a valuable perspective, while always tying the message back to your brand.
Content must satisfy your audience’s needs. What are they seeking when they come to your site or page? How can you help answer their questions?
When trying to make your content stand out, authenticity provides a competitive advantage in the race for consumer attention and dollars. Basing your content in real-life experiences will help distinguish it as valuable, unique, and practical, while delivering a human connection to the people who make up your audience.
Google’s 2022 Helpful Content Update also covers the concept of authenticity, asking web creators, “Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge?”
Authenticity means focusing on the topics of your own expertise, sharing original research, and turning to industry subject matter experts for further perspective. What useful information can you or your networks share with your audience?
From small family businesses to Fortune 500 companies, every brand has a story to tell. Wondering how to get started? Semrush’s Report identified the most popular content marketing tools among industry professionals.
The top three areas of content marketing investment include:
- Customer and audience research
- Social media/community building
- Improving content quality
As budgets tighten, proving ROI becomes even more important. Channels without concrete performance metrics get cut, and only the most reliable marketing strategies will remain.
In 2023, economic uncertainty will drive a return to the tried and true: content marketing. But how can you deduce which pieces of content are driving results? And how do you measure those results to work toward continual growth?
When it comes to measuring ROI on content marketing, survey respondents use a few key metrics. The most common indicators that marketers rely on to assess content’s impact are social media engagement and organic traffic, followed by email marketing engagement and search ranking.
These are all great places to look when trying to quantify content marketing’s effect on brand growth.
What’s more, 70% of survey respondents who report being highly successful in content marketing measure their content marketing ROI. This suggests that measuring the channel’s success is closely linked to success itself, as tracking content’s impact can help teams narrow in on the most effective approaches and continually optimize their storytelling.
Organic search traffic will be the ultimate goal for brands and marketers in 2023. To achieve it, companies must focus on combining SEO with creative storytelling and consistent content. Consistent in what way? Survey respondents ranked “publishing more often” as one of the top success tactics for content marketing.
The top three tactics for achieving content marketing success are:
- Publishing more often
- Researching your audience
When it comes to content marketing strategies, putting too much stock in social media means bending to the will of different platforms’ algorithms, which are never designed to serve any one user or brand.
Turning instead to channels you control, like your website, means that your content will never get buried at the bottom of a social media feed.
But what kind of content should you publish on your website, and how can you produce it? If you’re a fan of automation, newcomer ChatGPT is making waves in AI-assisted content production.
But the dawn of ChatGPT and similar AI tools will cause SERPs to crack down further on fluffy or half-baked AI content, rewarding only the most rigorously researched, unique, and experience-informed content in 2023.
Publishing high-quality written content on your own websites will yield leads and sales as the content and traffic grow over time. Wondering what to prioritize when developing human-first content for your website?
The report found that articles with seven or more images get the most backlinks (555% more than those with no images) and the most unique page views (a 259% increase). Additionally, articles with at least one video generate 70% more organic traffic than those without (but at the same time, only 8% of all blog posts analyzed had a video) and articles with three lists per 500 words generate an average of 163% more organic traffic than those without any lists.
Ranking high on a SERP doesn’t mean what it used to. Instead of obsessing over rankings in 2023, brands and marketers will turn to measuring and focusing on what they’re really after: high-converting traffic.
Click-through rates will reign supreme when it comes to content marketing KPIs. SEO agencies will also deprioritize ranking reports as they realize that driving business goes beyond a single ranking. How else can people find the brand?
Are you promoting brand visibility by guest blogging on other people’s high-performing websites? Are you actively growing your email list? Are you promoting conversations related to your brand on tech platforms like LinkedIn, Reddit, and Quora?
The universe of your brand has to go beyond rankings. Generating high-converting, memorable content can drive organic traffic and help scale your business.
How can you promote your website’s memorable content and, ultimately, the brand?
The top three channels for organic content promotion are:
- Sharing on social media
- Optimizing for search
- Facebook groups
Sure, building an audience from scratch is great, and it’s one of our core goals as marketers. But what if your brand’s perfect audience already exists out there? Could you tap into existing networks to find consumers eager for your products or service?
In 2010, L’Oreal purchased the domain makeup.com, instantly plugging into a rich audience of cosmetics lovers and enthusiasts — and potential customers. Instead of spending years building up an inventory of educational content and a high-ranking site, the company took a shortcut by purchasing a property already doing those things.
In 2023, marketers will need to start looking at acquisition as a means of marketing growth and realize that not everything needs to be built internally.
So instead of developing your brand’s next blog, podcast, or YouTube channel from the ground up, take some time to see if what you’re looking for already exists and consider purchasing it as a shortcut to growth.
Start creating winning content today
You made it through 2023’s hottest content marketing trends! Are you ready to scale your brand with the power of content marketing?
Maybe you’re still wondering where to start. Here are a few more helpful findings from Semrush’s annual report to guide the way.
Learn from these industry frontrunners:
- 43% of the most successful content marketing respondents spend over $5,000 monthly on content
- 77% of the most successful content marketing respondents plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2023
- 66% of the most successful content marketing respondents have at least four content specialists on their team
Of note, 44% of all respondents plan to grow their content teams and only 52% of companies reported creating content in-house without any outsourcing. That’s a pretty even split, suggesting a good portion of the industry relies on outsourcing to produce the content they need to grow their brands.
Semrush’s report also digs into content marketing’s hiring landscape for those looking to add talent to their teams or advance their careers.
Here are Semrush Report’s top job-related findings for the content marketing industry:
- The most common job types in the US are content marketing managers (50%), followed by content marketing specialists (26%)
- In job postings, writing is the top marketing skill in demand, followed by analytics, video, and SEO
- On average, job postings for senior positions want candidates with six years of relevant experience, while non-senior roles typically ask for three years
- On average, senior positions have an annual salary of $109,000, while non-senior positions bring in an average salary of $62,000
No matter who you have on your content marketing team, this year’s biggest levers for success will be understanding your audience, using experience to inform content, publishing more on brand-owned sites, measuring ROI and click-through rates, and maybe even buying growth.
Ready to build your content marketing plan?
For more insights and expert advice, you can download the full State of Content Marketing 2023 Global Report.Download Now!