Episode 6: How to Tell Engaging Stories

Meet the Guest: Erika Varangouli

Erika is a powerhouse in content marketing, brand marketing, and SEO, with over a decade of experience driving millions in revenue and traffic across industries like SaaS, Fintech, IT, Travel, and Retail.

She rocked the world of organic and brand visibility while at Semrush, leading her teams to massive yearly growth rates. Before that, she worked with big names like Paddle, Capterra, Asics, Symantec, and HSBC, to name a few.

Beyond her day job, Erika is a go-to speaker for webinars and podcasts, loves sharing her marketing wisdom as a tutor, and sits on the judge’s panel for various awards.

She’s also a huge fan of coffee, can’t get enough of Nick Cave’s tunes, and is a die-hard fan of “The Godfather.”

Follow Erika on LinkedIn.

Podcast Episode Notes


Here are some of the biggest takeaways from this episode:

  • Understanding Your Website’s Clarity: Erika highlighted a common issue where even insiders struggle to understand what their company does based on their website. This underlines the importance of clarity and simplicity in communicating your value proposition.
  • The Transition from Traditional to Digital: Erika shared her journey from journalism in Greece to SEO and content marketing in the UK. Her experience underscores the shift from traditional media to digital platforms, reflecting broader changes in the industry.
  • The Importance of Content Strategy: Erika has utilized her background to develop content strategies that not only attract but also engage and build lasting relationships with the audience.
  • SEO as a Multifaceted Skill: She discussed how SEO involves various components—link building, content creation, and technical SEO—and the importance of integrating these elements effectively.
  • Building Trust through Authentic Content: Erika stressed the significance of creating content that resonates with audiences on a human level, which is crucial for building trust and establishing brand credibility.
  • The Role of AI in Content Creation: The conversation also touched on the ethical use and impact of AI in content creation, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach where AI supports human creativity rather than replaces it.
  • Mentioned Tools & Resources:

    These are the tools and resources that were mentioned in the podcast episode:

  • Semrush: Erika’s work at Semrush was instrumental in boosting the company’s organic and brand visibility. Semrush offers tools for improving SEO and content strategy.
  • Content Marketing Institute: For those looking to deepen their understanding of content marketing principles and practices, CMI provides a wealth of resources, including guides, templates, and case studies.
  • Google’s Search Central Blog: For the latest updates on SEO best practices and guidelines, Google’s blog is a go-to resource.
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    Episode Transcript

    Erika Varangouli: The amount of times I’ve seen landing pages, home pages, where, you know, I’ve worked with clients, I’m like, I don’t understand what you do and I’m working with you. So it’s almost impossible for someone else to land on this page and understand what they’re getting.

    Ashley Segura: Welcome back to content in the kitchen, where we gather around the kitchen and chat about content marketing. Today, we’re stirring the pot with Erica, a master chef in the content marketing and SEO world. With over a decade of experience, Erica has crafted and executed content strategies for a diverse range of industries, from SaaS and FinTech to travel and retail, generating millions in revenue and significantly increasing traffic using content.

    Her role at SEMrush saw her spearheading efforts to boost the company’s organic and brand visibility worldwide. Literally across the world. Erika’s expertise isn’t just confined to one sector though. She’s worked with leading names like Paddle, Capterra, and even Virgin Holidays. Beyond her professional achievements, Erica is a passionate public speaker, marketing tutor, award judge, and so much more.

    Today, she’s going to be sharing her knowledge and insights on how you can really get your content and brand seen internationally. So grab your favorite cup and let’s dive into the conversation with Erica.

    Okay. So Erica, when you’re not at your desk and you find yourself in the kitchen, I need to know, what is your go to dish to cook? 

    Erika Varangouli: Oh, okay. I knew this was going to come. It will be a much easier question for me. Like, what is your go to dish to eat. But look, I’m a terrible cook. I’m a notoriously bad cook in the sense that I don’t really cook.

    So I’ve thought about it because you gave me an idea that you would ask me about cooking. Yeah. So recently I’ve started trying some recipes from my mom. So Greek recipes. I have a three year old, the whole guilt part has kicked in. Like other moms do all of this, the healthy snacks, everything. And I was like, Here’s a ready made cake for you.

    You can take it at school. So I’m terrible. I’m sorry. This is not a good start to this podcast. So I will go with, cause I’ve already done it three times successfully with mini cheese pies that we cook in Greece and we bake for like pretty much everyone. Always my favorite as a kid. And even now as an adult, I beg my mom to make them every time I go back.

    So, I have successfully implemented that three times in the kitchen. 

    Ashley Segura: I would definitely call that a win. And if you can cook the same thing three times and it comes out good every single time, that’s officially your go to now. 

    Erika Varangouli: It’s my signature dish. Like after Time is a signature dish. So you add, like, an ingredient and you pretend that you made it your own.

    So that’s my plan for the fifth time. 

    Ashley Segura: Yep. I think you should definitely run with it. And that is your official go to dish. Diving into your journey, switching gears from your go to dish to how the heck you even got into this industry. Your experience is amazing and so in depth. I would love to learn more.

    How you found SEO and content and what sparked that passion for you?

    Erika Varangouli: Okay, 

    I’m going to try to make it like a short version so no one falls asleep, hopefully. But the idea was, it was a mixture of two things, right? I had, I grew up and I was working in Greece. I’m, I’m Greek and I was working as a journalist.

    I studied law. I hated it from the first day I was studying. So I was like, I’ve got I want to write. So I somehow got into journalism and I loved it. But come 2012 and financial crisis hits hard and the press also takes a really big hit. So at that point, I was like looking at how the press was doing globally.

    And I could see was shifting. I could see that whole conversation around like online marketing, social media was becoming a thing, and I was feeling that the future is not necessarily in press in that sense. It was online. Plus. The future was probably, to me at the point, seemed like it wasn’t in Greece and I needed to leave and try something somewhere that would allow me to do it.

    Because also as a market, it was quite small and a bit left behind on that front. So my now husband, then partner, decided to leave Greece and come to the UK. And it was a conscious decision on my side that I would not pursue any kind of roles in journalism or magazines, press. I was going to start From scratch, everything, and try to get into online marketing.

    At the time I didn’t know about SEO. I was like online marketing, social media, publishing online, all that kind of stuff. So thankfully, after three, four months of landing in the UK, someone was crazy enough at an agency to give me a role. It was probably hundreds of applications that I wasn’t getting an answer or hearing back anything.

    But after three, four months, I started at this agency. It was a small agency in a small part of England, but. I took it. I was super excited. And because it was a small agency and the role was like entry level, I was pretty much given everything to do. So something that for someone else would be a bad thing, or I’m going to do it only for a bit for me.

    It was super exciting because it allowed me to work on different clients, different channels, overwork myself, but for a good reason, like I was reading a lot and that’s when I started. I started seeing through practice and reading that actually I feel my skills would be very relevant to content marketing, which was starting to be the talk of the town.

    How many times have we seen 2012 like content is king and how many times since? Uh, so I started to move myself more in that direction. So my next roles at agencies were on the content marketing side or on the SEO side. And for me, SEO, because it’s not one thing. And at the time it was very distinct. It was like link building, content, and then technical SEO.

    And no one, of course, trusted me to do technical SEO, but everyone wanted me to do content marketing because I was doing that a lot and my skills mapped. Again, I started going into agencies, into new roles and not hopping from one to the other, but sometimes the opportunities came to me. We have this role, we think you should be, it would be a good match.

    And that’s how I started getting more into it. But I was very interested in working very closely with like the SEO strategist, tech SEO person, the UX designer, digital PR was a thing in some cases back then it was not just link building. So I was fortunate enough to work the agencies that had digital PR already and were.

    Understanding that connection. So that’s how I started getting into it. I, it’s not magic in a way it’s, I just was fortunate enough to come into it when it was starting to rise, Google was becoming smarter, more sophisticated. I think if I had done that 10 years before. I would have been disappointed. I wouldn’t have liked it because my content marketing more link building were much more less sophisticated.

    And that’s how I got into it. I really loved it. I love the combination of how creative and also how methodical you have to be. So it’s, it was a perfect mix for me and I took it from there. 

    Ashley Segura: I feel like there, there’s definitely a pattern here. I came from a journalist, journalism background. You came from journalism background.

    I’ve talked to so many specifically content marketers who started with print back in the day. And then when print started, there was that big fear of prints dying. What are we going to do? And journalism was, What’s going to happen in journalism in general, the environment was changing and everything was going online.

    And I remember Tumblr coming out and be like, huh, okay, that we could still tell stories this way. And then Facebook was huge. And then blogging, you had to have a million blog posts being published all the time for a site to be found like back in the day of. Quantity versus quality. And so the, that journalism hat really helps equip a lot of content marketers to have this foundation of our job is to tell a story, whether we’re telling a brand story or whether we’re telling a customer story.

    That is our number one role. And then it’s to make sure that those stories get found and read and engaged with and whether we’re using SEO or advertising, whatever that looks like. Have you found yourself using any of your old journalism techniques as you’ve gone from content marketing to SEO and like the, as you said, the methodical approach?

    Erika Varangouli: Yeah. 

    So I used to say this a lot when I was talking with people or meeting people, let’s say at an event. But for many years, what I was saying is that journalism has helped me more in my progress within SEO and digital marketing than anything else I’ve learned on the job. And the reason I was saying that, I think, Ashley, you’re nodding, so you get it, is that journalism has custom foundations.

    that are still true when you’re in, let’s say, content marketing, whether you’re doing it like for organic visibility or for brand visibility, right? Content is the means to, not just to attract audiences, but to engage on and build that affinity between them and you. And press is, actually, publishers are a great example of that.

    They have these huge audiences when they build them. Then go to them, not because they search on Google and they find someone ranking, but because they trust that source for information, right? At least good publishers or established publishers and publishers to do a good job in whatever industry they’re in.

    And in that sense, content or the website is a means to that end is not a means to how many likes I’m going to get on Facebook with this post, or how many people will come to my page then with a successful post. What? position will I rank in? Sure, you can look at that or you can spend your time and set up goals for those things.

    But ultimately, and this is where we’re all led gradually, especially now with the developments in AI and Google everywhere, it’s like, Essentially, what you’re doing is building that trust, is building that in the minds of your audiences. And this is typical marketing, but I would argue also journalism. It also has to do with how well you build your story, how well you engage.

    For publishers as well, for many years, arguably now, a big part of the revenue was ads, was media, advertising, right? That could only happen if they had big audiences, loyal audiences, all of this. So. It is of a similar situation, but for someone who’s a journalist or a writer, what they have on hand to, to contribute towards that end goal is creating content that resonates with that audience, right?

    And that is true. I don’t think we need to talk about the techniques or the ways you can tell a story and be successful or tell it well, but I’ve found myself, a funny thing is I remember Once, during my first months as a journalist, I had turned in a piece of content, and I was feeling so proud. I was like, wow, this is the best thing I’ve ever written, and I’m dying to see people cry when they read it, and I remember those feelings.

    I went to her office, she had a printout, And she was like, that’s terrible. She just throws it out of her desk. And she’s like, how can you read it? Are you just printed it off? Like you could not have read it. She was like, I read the intro. I don’t like it. I don’t like the intro. So I don’t care about the rest for me.

    This was one of the biggest lessons that I still like when managing or editorial teams are working with writers, not necessarily in that abusive tone, but In a sense of like, people’s time is limited and attention span as well. It is. You don’t really have much beyond those first few lines. to make someone tell if they should go on or spend their time on something else.

    And that is like a very big principle that has followed me, especially since that incident. As I remember spending like hours turning back to the intro had changed a thousand times. It was terrible, but it was also like a big lesson that has helped me a lot when progressing into online. 

    Ashley Segura: Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense.

    How like, Something so scarring could really be held through your entire career. And now with what you do with your work and the different industries that you’ve worked in, that’s still playing such a pivotal move in the decisions that you make when we’re talking about creating a piece of content, we’re still fighting and battling to keep people’s attention so that they don’t bounce off and go back to Google and click on a competitor site or just literally any other site to get that information.

    We want to keep them. Have you found anything with, especially with the different industries that you’ve worked in? Have you found anything that actually does draw a hook in a non spammy, non clickbaity way? But what does keep people on the page and invested in the content these days? 

    Erika Varangouli: I think it depends.

    It depends on a few things, but I don’t want to give a vague answer, so I’m going to try to make it as useful as possible. I think we first have to look at the. Type of audience and type of page, right? So how you keep someone who’s top of the funnel, researching how to do something, I think at that point, maybe they don’t even care about the brand.

    They care about the kind of information and the format they find it in. Right? So as brands, we think I want to rank because this is a big term, everyone searches for it and it’s right, but it’s not on the basis of, um, If you have the best piece, then that person is going to buy from you, not necessarily.

    So at that point, I think we have to think more about what is it that they actually are looking to solve? What is their pain point? What is their need? What is the most painless way to give it to them? So they don’t have to try hard to do it because it is what she said before is like we’re all fighting not just for a space in Google, but then now we’re fighting against really bad content, content everywhere.

    Also like where people will search. Why only give it to them on a page? Are we repurposing that? If someone searches for that thing on YouTube or on TikTok, will they find us? Or is it just, we’re still just looking at one place to do this and then just, resharing it on social and thinking, okay, we’ve created it, then we’ve promoted it.

    That’s it. It’s not ads like content. The good thing with content is that it costs, but you can, you have so many options of repurposing it that you can keep like repurposing and building something even almost entirely new by something you’ve already done. So I would say there, it’s about giving them what they need.

    And for me, one thing that works is always think about I don’t like to say journeys because journeys makes us sound like we know exactly the process someone will follow and that we’re predicting that someone who searches for this, then they need that and then they will buy, no. But trying to be in that position of what are the needs, what are the pains they’re trying to solve, what are the relevant pieces of information or pains may they also want to solve.

    And then even simple things like include the right links in that content, make them or help them take that next step. They might not even know that they need more information. Like how many times have you done a search about something that you thought, that’s what I need to search for. And then you read about it and then you found more cool information and websites to, to search for more.

    So it is predicting that kind of need getting into their shoes. To understand how that journey might look like or multiple journeys can look like now we’re talking about more. Let’s say product pages or feature page. Things like that. I feel that there is where we really need to tone up the trust element a lot, right?

    So one thing is to be very clear about what it is that we’re offering. The amount of times I’ve seen landing pages, homepages where, you know, I’ve worked with clients and I’m like, I don’t understand what you do and I’m working with you. So it’s almost impossible for someone else to land on this page and understand what they’re getting.

    And so. This sounds like a basic thing, but the amount of times people don’t get it right, or they’re so much into it that they are assuming too much knowledge on the other side, and they’re missing out, but then I feel it’s also, of course, is their experience all of it, but I want to highlight the element of trust, like people need to be able to trust you if they’re going to invest their money, not just their time now, but their money, Depending on the industry, it may mean going into a long term relation, a subscription or something, or a big amount of money.

    And they may have to convince many people on their side to do it. The element of trust is super important. I feel, especially on those pages. There’s a lot of other things, but I feel those two. are good to emphasize because, because this is what can differentiate brands between them. It’s not so much.

    Sometimes the products may be similar, right? So how we talk about them and how we earn people’s trust is super important. 

    Ashley Segura: Yeah. Just last night I was looking, I’m trying to print a bunch of t shirts for content young for an upcoming conference. And first thing I do go to Google and look for t shirt.

    printers. I go through every single one and I’m trying to figure out what makes them all different. They all say that they use the same material, that the printing time is going to be the same, the printing type and style is going to be the same. The reviews are all fairly equal. So as a consumer, What is it that’s supposed to make this different?

    And one talked about how they come from eco conscious materials and it’s the same price as most of the others. That is important to me. So now I’m trusting this brand that what they say. They actually do in print. And so I decided to go with that brand. And this really comes back to that journalistic approach of knowing your audience, knowing what information that they need out of this piece, out of this story.

    You talked a lot about user intent, and that’s really coming down to is this commercial? Commercial. Is this informational? Is this going to be transactional? What does the person want out of this? And then like you said, sometimes they don’t know past that. And so you need to have your shining value props out there up front and center.

    In every piece of content and finding ways to do that, have you found a certain way to scream with some of the brands that you’ve worked with, Hey, this is what makes us unique in an informational or commercial piece of content that maybe isn’t intended for that? 

    Erika Varangouli: Yeah, sure. There are probably different ways, depending on industries, the type of brand you are as well.

    You’ve seen it as well, some brands do it very differently than others. So you have brands that don’t really scream about their product, but they have this super funny or super engaging personality on social, right? So people then start to dig into it without Putting their product in their face and others, again, maybe depending on the industry or the type of people that work there and the type of brand they’re trying to build is they’re relying a lot more on data and sharing thought leadership content.

    So for me, it’s, it’s different things. I would say it’s not one thing that I’ve found to work every time. Maybe if I think about it too much, I might find it, but I think it’s At the end of the day, there are the trust or getting people to trust you, right? Essentially, this time building that affinity, trusting you and wanting to be.

    using your products or working with you is the things that others say about you. And then there’s the things that you say about you. And I think those two, if they’re not equally important, these definitely look like they’re becoming almost balanced in terms of importance. Because nowadays, yeah, people do look for reviews.

    They do look for information, what is said about you elsewhere. And that is, you know, It’s part of the definition of a brand anyways, not what you say about yourself, it’s what others say about you. I feel that when I started, like, working in this industry, what others say about you was not such a front of mind thought for people, but I feel that nowadays this is shifting.

    It’s the right thing. And then in terms of what you can say about you and still have an impact, I think that also comes from understanding your audience. Because your audience may not want you to just tell them how amazing you are. They may just want to be Given really thorough or good advice on their needs, and that makes them trust your brand.

    Of course, if we’re talking about formats, right, case studies is a basic element of building that trust. Like people who work for companies, byproducts, or on their own, they rely on what they know. Others have done with this and have been successful. We want by nature, we want to reach that stage of success.

    And by seeing how others have done, it strengthens our position. But other than that, there’s a million things, honestly, it’s about how well you want to dive into what your audience needs, how they think, what’s the perception about your brand. This is one element that I feel is. It’s very underutilized right now.

    It’s like qualitative research may be seen as costly, but at some point I feel if someone is serious and intentional about their brand and their company, they should be getting that kind of information. And sometimes they’re just sitting on their phone. A ton of it, like your sales teams, your account management teams, they have tons of data.

    Like many companies use software and AI tools that you can just get all this data and analyze it to understand what is it that makes people not like you, frustrate them, what they’re looking to solve. So I would say before even doing the quantitative analysis, like what kind of information are you sitting on that you’re not using?

    Ashley Segura: That’s a really good point. Check me out. I love that you brought up AI because I feel like as brands and content marketers, we were finally getting to a stage to where we’re able to really build trust with our audiences across the board. We were doing persona modifications and really building out all the different customer profiles in understanding, building content around that, which is really traditional marketing one on one, really journalism one on one, like these are all very basic things.

    And now we’re starting to see. Slip back into kind of those real spammy link building days with all this AI content. And now I’m finding myself as a user. Going through different search results and questioning the content, not because I think it’s written by AI, but because of the company’s approach, using AI to create the content versus using internal resources, like what they’re showing, like you said, like case studies, that’s pretty black and white.

    You can trust that the brand that they partnered with is saying, yes, I actually did work with this company. Or the customer, yes, I did work with this company. This is the results from it. But now with AI, we’re getting into this really weird, fine line of, I don’t know if I can trust everything that your brand is putting out.

    How are you dealing with that from a content marketing perspective, like working with global brands? This has got to be something that’s popping up is where’s the ethical use of AI? How can we use it to help us and to help our content campaigns? But also, where do we draw the line for our consumers? 

    Erika Varangouli: Yeah, for sure.

    At this stage, these are partly philosophical questions because I’m not even clear on what The guidelines and the criteria some of these companies have utilized to train their AI models, right? So we’re all in this, I feel, this first phase post earthquake where no one’s really sure if the building’s going to collapse or not.

    That’s how I feel sometimes. The things I can truthfully say is that I am using AI and I’ve seen good uses of it and I’m reading about use cases that I find interesting and that I might try and try them out. I don’t feel the game nowadays is positioned as, are you pro or against? And then if you’re using it, use it as much as you can.

    If you’re not, you’re falling behind or something. I think the real question Question is closer to what you’re putting is okay. How do we know, or how do we decide that this is what we do with it? This is not what we do with it. Um, also experience or my experience shows that sometimes even if you draw a line somewhere, if the rest of the world or your competitors do something else, you will have again to redefine where you draw the line, right?

    So I feel these are, that’s what like philosophical, but for now I can say that for me, The difference between AI and like human content, I don’t even work myself up so much about like, how good is it? There’s been mediocre and bad content created by humans unknown for a long time. No, not us. Yeah, you don’t know, but like, obviously you do.

    You’re saying about now questioning on Google, for me, it had been a long time where either I would just disregard the top results, because I’m like, these are probably and I could see the pages, I would see the usual suspects. I’m like, they have better SEO than others. Or I would click on them and like the difference between the first, the second and the third would be like minimal.

    So my value when I wanted to really dig into something was not there because I was having to click on many results to get a different aspect, a different angle or something different. So I think the real question is what makes this content human? Because humans trust humans right now. We’re told not to trust AI, even AI alone, like chat GPT, everything says, don’t trust us, it may hallucinate anyway.

    And then what comes into it is, I know lately I’ve seen many discussions around, is it a ranking factor or not? But in reality, double EAT is a good framework for anyone creating content online, building experiences online through content. To assess the quality of that content. And I would say that there are some really good.

    guidance and advice there as to how you would reverse it to give advice and advice to your team or your writers or if you’re writing yourself. Who is talking? How do we know that? It’s very different if someone has written five papers on a topic in, I don’t know, on a medical thing versus someone who’s just employed by a brand to write something.

    Because then it could be just a blogger who Just got this job and then next year he may be employed by a different company. That, a kind of personal element of who is talking, how have they done it, what is their experience, where else do I find them? Do they speak in conferences? Do they post content? Do they have first hand experience?

    Have they published any case studies of their own? Or have they led like any research themselves? And I understand that not everyone can do that, but I’m not just talking about, you know, that one person. It’s like the people that the brand or the company chooses to put at the front, how many other testimonials they can include if they’re reaching out to people who have authority in that industry to incorporate their take or their angle into their content.

    These are all things that matter. It is something that AI cannot do for one. And it’s also like basic human psychology. Like people tend to trust people who know what they’re talking about, uh, or have been successful by doing something. So the closer we get to that model, I think the better it is. Now, it doesn’t mean that 80 percent of that content cannot have been created by AI.

    But then if a super editor and super writer just make it like tone of voice, how they talk, incorporate a brand tone if it’s distinctive. And it does make sense to have a distinctive brand tone as well. And then bring that top leadership element, first party data. These are all things that AI cannot do.

    And they can really tip the scale versus everyone else who will be putting out similar pieces of content as you. 

    Ashley Segura: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense because we’re not. I feel like there, there really is this tug and pull of, if you use ai, that’s a bad thing. Or if you don’t use ai, that’s a bad thing.

    We are really learning how to use AI properly and the depths of how we can use it. I mean, I. Love to talk about it as a coworker, and it’s great for strategizing and making sure that in my content puzzle, I have all of the correct pieces. But when it comes to publishing that puzzle and really executing on, that’s myself and my team who’s doing that.

    And that’s because we know our personas. We know what to say. We have the data and getting testimonials like that is something that I could make up 1000 of them. But when you have that Real human image or when you have that logo from a big corporate company, there’s that trust and it really is that baseline that circles all the way back from trying to get trust from your readers.

    I think a lot of brands, whether they’re new and just starting out or they’re huge and they’re trying to position themselves with new products, this is a step that they fumble on is that you need to establish trust. Even if you’re already an established brand, like you need to, establish that, Hey, we are qualified to produce a product like this or for a brand new brand.

    I am qualified to talk about food recipes under this specific niche because I’ve been gluten free for X amount of years. So I’m experiencing this just like you are. Had you found with any of the brands that you’ve worked with, take that step really well and do a good job of establishing trust from the beginning stage and then executing content from it.

    Or is it usually publishing a lot of content? Seeing, okay, we’re not getting the KPIs that we want. Let’s backpedal a little bit. 

    Erika Varangouli: I would say I’ve seen both. So I wouldn’t be honest if I said, yeah, I’ve seen just this, mostly this or the other, but in many cases it’s also understandable. And especially like smaller companies who have not, there’s that distinction between a company or a website and a brand, like a brand is much more intentional.

    On the other hand, I always argue that. Even if it’s not intentional, if you’ve been around for a while, others will talk about you. So by definition, you have some kind of brand, you just don’t do anything about it. So I’ve seen both. Um, and again, like for me, the biggest disappointments were when Um, you know, I could tell, arguably I could be wrong, but I could tell that the time that he’s given into things plus the resources just needed a bit more.

    It’s like sometimes that impatience or the goals to achieve are I don’t want to say unrealistic, they’re maybe too ambitious, but then how someone reacts to not hitting that goal, they can give it more time, they can readjust the goal, or they can take it all back and roll back, I think rollback usually involves that element of having wasted something like budget, time, and if it was like a well thought out thing initially, I think Before rolling back, it is worth establishing whether something should be readjusted or reconsidered or given more time.

    That can also be a case. I have seen brands doing a good job. I don’t know if a brand can do a great job or spotless job across the whole funnel and journey. But I have worked with brands who are doing a great job in terms of understanding. They’re audiences, pain points, having content in different formats.

    I find that really important and especially just going back a bit with AI, like if you think about it, AI can pretty much now create a video, soon it will be much better, right? So arguably that may also not last long, but for as long as it lasts, like us talking on video now. It’s a very human thing to do that could not necessarily be replicated in any way by AI right now.

    Us using a tool to do this in a thousand languages is a huge opportunity as well. So that’s what I mean by finding the intersection of what is really what can make a difference. Because how can this be supported or amplified by AI? I think this is what makes it fascinating. So for sure, there are things there, but yeah, I’ve worked with brands who, who have done a good job and also understand even differences, not even in one audience, but like different locations, different countries, which is another sort of.

    challenge altogether. And what they do well is that they take into account that they have this element of long term vision. So it may be impatient or have aggressive goals. But they, their success has not been overnight and they know it. And that sort of gives them the maturity to be very strategic about the stages that they follow or what they do as a quick win versus what they invest more time into building in a different way.

    Ashley Segura: Especially for new companies, you just want to jump on it. Everything right away. Yeah. I need to do this. I need to be on all these channels. I need to produce this kind of content and establish trust and authority and helpful content update. Oh, Google, another update. There are so many things to do and so many hats.

    When you get to that maturity level, you’re like, all right, this is actually worth putting time and resources on. This can wait and let’s get the KPIs from this, then dictate this, and then it becomes this like more clear pathway and strategy. And like you said, that’s a great point to then bring in AI and be like, all right, this is what we know we need to execute on help create this podcast in X amount of languages and execute on that, because that’s not something that I can do on my own or.

    Could potentially, but it would be credibly lengthy and very unrealistic. There’s a lot of good that can come with AI, but it really does come down to making sure that you are still establishing trust with your consumers, with the followers, with the visitors on your site. As we’re coming to the end of our chat.

    I would love to know, you, you’ve shared quite a lot of great secrets already, but I’d love to know what your true secret sauce is. What has really been moving the needle for you and your content strategy lately? 

    Erika Varangouli: So I’m trying to think of the last couple of years, but obviously a year in search is more like a century in real life.

    I would say that creating tools and like free things to give out to people like this may be more applicable for example because because I was in summer so it’s btb sass but it is a common place for many sass companies seeing what kind of value you can give To users for free is definitely exploring, right?

    Another thing is that firsthand data you can share, like how many insights, how much visibility into using your own data you can give through creating like industry reports or a piece of content that tackles or tries to answer. real questions people in your sphere have. So original first party data is working great.

    Um, I would say, and then I would also argue that is a point I’m trying to make as well many times when I speak with people, but is, I don’t think there’s a one answer fits all. And I would challenge everyone to think beyond that, that they see everyone. So for example, for many years, we all see you need to find, I don’t know, low keyword difficulty keywords and tackle them.

    But now, especially with AI, I would challenge everyone to think, okay, if I haven’t done it, I would try it still. I would test to see how it does, but especially if I’m a A new website or a new brand, maybe that will not pay off quickly or at all. So I would dare everyone to test something new every now and again, and as often as they can.

    So something that doesn’t work for me may work amazingly well for someone else, building a community. Great. Thought leadership, encouraging your own staff, especially if you’re a small company. Your connections, thought leadership, how you get out there may be down to simple or seemingly simple things like that.

    But yeah, I would put that now as something that works. 

    Ashley Segura: Yeah. That’s a great point. I set aside one day out of every quarter to brainstorm new ideas of things to test. And sometimes that day comes up on my calendar and I’m like, can’t do it. Not happening. But I’m working really hard this year to prioritize and make that time because it is so important to test new things.

    We get into our rhythms. And it’s just, it’s, it’s human with all that million things to do. So we get into our rhythms and our patterns. And so if you can find a way to make sure you set aside time to test something new, like you mentioned, whether that’s building community, trying out a free tool, whatever that looks like, it could really make a break where your business goes.

    But yeah, it’s here. 

    Erika Varangouli: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And again, it can vary so much. So I’ve seen, like I’ve worked with clients in industries where. Networking, like people networking has a huge impact or a much better impact than publishing content on their site. So I think you need to understand your industry, your audience, like what moves the needle for you.

    And then of course, look out for case studies from others or what is best practice, but best practice may not move the needle. So be very critical. That’s all I recommend to 

    Ashley Segura: begin with. I love it. And I think we should definitely end on that note, Erica, thank you so much for everything you shared today.

    Thank you for having me, Ashley. It was a pleasure.