Pradeep Chopra, Co-Founder at Digital Vidya: Content Marketing is the center of the most successful Digital Marketing campaigns. There’s a lot of valuable and important content behind every great brand that really interacts with the audience. Not only are the benefits of content marketing limited to attracting audiences and generating revenue, but there are also some other benefits that can not be measured in terms of monetary benefits. The growth of Content Marketing has been explosive and shows no signs of stopping.
In this interview, I spoke to Debdatta Das, to know her views about Content Marketing and how does she see the rise of Content Marketing in the future.
During her years as a business journalist, she came to realize the true value of ‘words’ being used to market a product or firm. The real value that Content Marketing holds became clear through her several interactions with heads of global and Indian firms. As a result, she began studying and researching the use points and impacts that content can have on marketing. What emerged was a picture of a world, where content is literally the king. Given the various ‘layers’ that content itself possesses, any firm that understands its depth, has with it what she calls the ‘magic potion’ to achieving product stardom via marketing. Content is the Roger Federer of the marketing sphere.
How did you get into Content Marketing? What interested you in learning Content Marketing?
Debdatta Das: Once I understood the impact “Content” can have in the Marketing sphere, it was literally a no-brainer. I was intrigued and amazed, at the same time, at how word-play can be used so beautifully to market a brand without making it seem overbearing to the consumer, yet appealing in just the right way. Content has the power to build loyalty and educate the consumer, even as it aggressively pitches the brand to the required TG. It was these qualities that pulled me into the world of content marketing. And suffices to say, even as I learn a new aspect of Content Marketing every single day, it has been, professionally, the most soul-satisfying work I’ve done. I end my day, genuinely feeling happy about the day’s work I have put in.
According to you, what are the advantages of conventional marketing over Digital Marketing? Do you think that Digital Marketing is a threat to the future of conventional marketing?
Debdatta Das: There can never be a ‘this over that’. Conventional Marketing is as required as is Digital Marketing. It’s a matter of evolution and who the Target Audience is. Just like digital can never run print out of business. Firms around the world choose a mix of conventional to digital in order to realize the most optimum way of marketing their product. Even today, despite the exponential rise of Digital Marketing, some of the most impactful content marketing campaigns are run via conventional media. The point is when Nike does a viral-worthy TVC, it uses digital platforms to spread it across the world, even as the main campaign is run conventionally. Similarly, there are advantages to both formats. As I said, it’s a matter of who the consumer is and what medium he/she can be found on. The only real advantage that Digital Marketing has over conventional marketing is pricing. Data is often seen as an advantage to digital, however, data is equally easily available to brands indulging in conventional marketing.
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How do you think Content Marketing for B2B is different from Content Marketing for B2C?
Debdatta Das: Again, it’s a question of who the audience/consumer is. The format, mode, platform, everything changes the basis who the buyer of the product is. For B2Bs one will use greater technicalities, focus more on expressing the ‘business viability’ of the product being marketed, and use more case studies and testimonials as a method. For B2C, it will be easy going, connecting to the emotional side of the audience- emotional, funny, inspiring, and aspirational- some of the ways emotions can be tuned-into. Also, this is where influencers come in very important when it’s B2C. Influencers become the B2C format’s testimonials. Also, the marketer’s choice of the platform of showcasing their campaign is driven by whether the product is B2B or B2C. For B2B, campaigns are run on industry journals, domains where the sector-specific audience is found, etc. Whereas for B2C, campaigns will be run across the general medium- General Entertainment Channels, Newspapers, websites, social media, market places, etc.
Would you like to throw some light on the “a-ha” moments in your Content Marketing journey up till now?
Debdatta Das: I’d like to answer this a bit differently. I believe my best is yet to come. That, as I hone my skills and understanding of the different ways content can be made to play-out for brands, those eponymous moments in my career shall arrive. That said, I do have a different kind of ‘a-ha’ moment in my profession, which happens when brands are able to correctly grasp the entire impact of the content campaign and see through the fact that what they have in mind may not necessarily be suitable for the audience they want to target. Through my several interactions with brands across the board, one thing is clear- the Indian market is starved of real knowledge of the many ways in which content can add value to their businesses. Content is often the last thing brands want to get into, often with very little budgets and is limited to just articles, videos or both. The fact that content can play a major role in creating loyal, long term revenue growth for brands, is a concept that is still in its very nascent stages in India. When brands say they want a content campaign, what they’re really asking for is a few videos to some articles, not a fully thought-out, well-designed content-driven campaign that can buy them, loyal users/consumers. My a-ha, moments come when certain brands understand this very fact.
What do you think is your greatest Content Marketing achievement to date?
Debdatta Das: I believe it’s too early to say what my greatest achievements really have been. What I can say is my work is focused not only on servicing clients on their campaign needs but to also spread the real idea of the extent to which content can be useful to overall marketing campaigns for brands. I think my greatest achievement will be when 8 out of the 10 brands that I interact with over client campaigns are open to listening to ideas that have been backed by solid data and designed in a way that will buy them more loyal customers in the long run and not just immediate lead generation. Lead generation is only a very minute part of what well thought out content marketing plans can do for companies. The depth of how layers of content can be used to grow consumer bases and thereby achieve better bottom lines are just not understood yet. I believe we have just scratched the tip of the content marketing iceberg, the deeper we’re able to break into this body of ice, the better will be the ROIs derived from the campaigns.
According to you, what are the top 2- 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Content Marketing?
Debdatta Das: As I mentioned in my answer above, the biggest mistake is underestimating the impact content marketing can have on consumer acquisition in the long run, and I mean ‘loyal’ consumers. Secondly, brands often tend to only have a very myopic idea of what they want to go with. Here, data is used to understand the consumer and his/her behavior, but that very often doesn’t translate into optimal campaign strategies and designs. Design thinking is imperative to content marketing, especially in the digital sphere, and that is completely missing in the Indian market context. Content campaigns can never rest in silos, especially the digital ones, and need to be necessarily seen as a part, nevertheless, a very important part of a brand’s marketing initiatives. Content transcends platforms and is omnipresent in nature. How to utilize it across platforms is really the trick that when brands get right, it makes them tick. In India, we most often just stick to TVCs in the name of content marketing that is amplified across digital platforms but never use different interpretations of the same idea to transcend platforms to create the biggest impact.
Which are your favorite Content Marketing Tools?
Debdatta Das: I come from the media background. From that perspective, the single most important ‘tool’ for me is Google Analytics, because it helps me analyze my audience and understand what kind of content really works for them. This comes in handy even during client campaigns, when I’m able to create specific content, basis the readers’ likeability and marry it to the requirement of the client. It helps me even zero down on geographies as well as demographics I need to target for client campaigns and suggest strategies that are more specifically suited to the consumers from the region, basis the client’s target area focus. I believe that GA functions as my eyes into the platform. It not only tells me who is present but informs me on where they come from, how old they are, what devices they use, what telecom services they use, what content they read, how much are they reading when and where are they bouncing off and many more such very important insights that come in extremely handy when designing client campaigns.
How do you see Digital Media, specifically Content Marketing evolve in the future? What are the top trends do you foresee for 2020?
Debdatta Das: The evolution will come mostly in the understanding of the depth that content can provide to overall marketing initiatives and thereby allocation of marketing costs. Especially in India, there will be a higher focus on localized, personalized, language-driven campaign strategies. Content marketing campaigns will become more interactive and in some cases, for more evolved clients even use virtual reality to enhance the consumer experience. The other aspect of content marketing that is likely to take wings is natives, where the whole objective is subtlety. Creating brand awareness amongst consumers, without being outrightly apparent, like using the logo or mentioning the brand, is what native is, and where content marketing really wins since it is this format that wins consumer loyalty, through offering information that consumers will value, without being overbearing.
Globally, content marketing, especially in the digital sphere is quite a bit evolved. There, a focused move towards VR is already underway and will become more and more widely used over the next year, including making campaigns more interactive and personalized to suit consumer behavior patterns. In fact, personalization/customization will play one of the most important roles in content marketing in India as well as globally. Therefore, you will see brands investing more to understand the intricacies of consumer behavior to skew their content strategies accordingly. This, in fact, will be the real disruptor.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in the Content Marketing industry?
Debdatta Das: My single-focused advice is to understand that no matter who the client is, for both the client and for them, the campaign strategy will always and singularly depend on who the consumer is. Because the consumer is always the king. So, all efforts should be made to first understand who the target consumer is and then work on devising a strategy that matches the consumer to the product being marketed. One will always need to walk the fine line when balancing client demands and matching them to actual impactful brand strategies. However, really good brand content strategies always emerge the winner.
How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Content Marketing? Which are the Content Marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps) you visit regularly?
Debdatta Das: Marketing Sherpa, MECLABS, LinkedIn Marketing, Content Marketing Institute are some of the platforms I visit regularly to update my knowledge base on content marketing and understand the evolution it is going through globally and where India is positioned. Alternatively, I also like to keep myself abreast of all the action happening globally through tracking the viral-worthy campaigns, the award-winning campaigns, reading and analysis of campaigns, etc. I also read a fair bit on behavior science to understand how it is impacting marketing strategies and how it can be impactful in content marketing strategies.
You led the webinar ‘Content Marketing 101: Art of Storytelling & its Importance Today”. How was your experience in leading the webinar?
Debdatta Das: It was a great experience and fulfilling at the same time. I feel happy to have been chosen by Digital Vidya to deliver the webinar on the subject of Storytelling and I believe, it was the perfect platform to talk of a new-age marketing subject such as storytelling.
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Please share the top 3-5 takeaways from the Webinar you led for our community.
Debdatta Das: What struck me the most about the webinar was the high levels of engagement, which goes on to showcase the evolved audience partaking the webinar. The other fact was how seamless and interactive it was, always a great idea when going digital. The other factor that struck me was the time duration, which is a boon on digital because I was able to really explain a subject as new as storytelling with enough time in hand and in enough details at the first go. I truly appreciate the experience Digital Vidya provided through the webinar.
Do you have any suggestions for us to further increase the values of our Digital Marketing Webinars?
Debdatta Das: Actually, honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at the superior quality of the webinar and how seamless the experience was. The best part was the analysis of audience participation that followed once the webinar got over. Keep the good work going and reaching wider audiences through your digital platform and educating them on relevant information.
Would you like to share a few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
Debdatta Das: Digital Vidya is one of India’s most popular vocational educational platforms and has access to a wide variety of evolved audience. I appreciate the effort the course structures put in and the varieties of courses created to put in to educate and inform a large number of people across India. It is truly one of its kind.
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