VP of Marketing at Springworks
Abhash Kumar on Scope and Challenges of Content Marketing in the Future
The field of content marketing is constantly evolving, and businesses must keep their approach current to remain competitive. As new content platforms emerge, companies need to adapt their strategies to ensure they are creating engaging content that resonates with their audience. Additionally, with the growing popularity of AI-generated content, marketing teams must navigate new challenges and opportunities.
However, while AI presents exciting opportunities for content marketing, it also poses challenges. The abundance of AI-generated content means that businesses must ensure their content stands out and provides value to the audience. Marketers must also consider the ethical implications of using AI in content creation and ensure that their practices are transparent and trustworthy.
Abhash Kumar, VP of Marketing at Springworks, emphasizes the importance of leveraging AI to improve content marketing strategies. AI can be used to automate tasks such as content creation, curation, and optimization, which frees up time for marketers to focus on more creative tasks. Moreover, AI-generated content can help improve personalization and relevance, ensuring that content is tailored to the needs and preferences of individual users.
1. Please share your career journey with us.
I started in the world of business while still in college. My friend and I created a startup, the first one incubated at our university. I realized entrepreneurship was not right for me then. I wanted to work under someone and learn new things. I started my short stint at Byju's when I started exploring the startup ecosystem in Bangalore in 2012.
I came into contact with people at YourStory, where I was exposed to marketing and content marketing. YourStory was a media publication, and content was at the center of it. I was accidentally thrown into social media marketing. I taught myself digital marketing. I worked for four and a half years there. Then, I worked with a tech SaaS startup, heading their marketing functions.
2. In your experience, how content and marketing has changed over the years?
I am grateful for the opportunities I had at YourStory. Even though they didn't do content marketing, they wrote stories and did journalism. That defined how I look at content. For me, content is not about putting together a bunch of words to appease the Google algorithm. I want the content to have a story angle and go deeper.
Lots of things have happened in the past. Especially in the last two to three years, the whole ecosystem has changed.
Generative AI such as ChatGPT shows you what an average piece of content looks like. It combs over the internet and generates average-quality content.
Earlier, the content marketer was given keywords, and they generated content. They didn't focus on what unique insight we could bring to the table. It is a good thing that technology is at the forefront. It is now making us question why we are doing average stuff.
3. There are pros and cons to average-quality content. It makes sense for some businesses. How do you foresee marketers effectively using content and building use cases?
Some people will say we don't need content writers or marketers now that we have AI. There are people at the other extreme end of the spectrum who think AI makes everything look the same and only human writers can write with empathy. Both these opinions are true to some extent. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Content writers should not look at AI as a threat. They should use it as an opportunity to improve themselves. They can use AI as a solution to problems and challenges they face while creating content.
Content marketers often deal with a blank page, not knowing where to start. AI can help with that. It allows you to start with some structure. Then, content writers should use their unique ability to bring nuance, insights, and earned secrets to create high-quality content.
Springworks is an HR tech company. The founder is the CHRO and CEO. He asks why we should keep the HR policies because they have been there forever. Last year, we rethought our traditional notice period, which was one month. Data shows that once an employee decides to part with the company, most of the KT (knowledge transfer) happens in one to two weeks. So, we questioned why we were holding them back. We then implemented a two-week notice period. This is our unique experience or earned secret that we learned at our workplace.
While creating content, one should bring such unique insight, which gives thought leadership, instead of regurgitating existing content.
4. We are at a crossroads of tech and talent. As a marketer, what do you think are the challenges that you face across the content journey?
I come from a B2B SaaS ecosystem, and my experience will reflect that. When it comes to strategy, will this content give me ROI? ROI need not be in the form of leads always. It can be brand, thought leadership, and, obviously, leads. SaaS companies go for the top-funnel stuff. When fewer resources and bandwidth exist, the focus should be on the lower end of the funnel. The challenge here is to know whether the content we bring in will align the product with a buyer's perspective. Distribution is difficult. It will cost you in terms of money, resources, timeline, and more.
Distribution will always remain the number one challenge. You should spend 20% of the time on content and 80% of the time on distribution. However, content marketing teams always go back to the grind of producing more content instead of focusing on distributing it.
Even if you do all this perfectly, you will end up with 80-100 qualified leads per month in the best-case scenario. You should also look at the account value of the product, sales cycle, etc.
Another challenge is whether the content marketing team will be at the table during ROI discussions.
I recommend spending time when a business can go from borrowed audiences to earned audiences to owned audiences. This is the strategy I use for our own company Springworks
5. In an ideal scenario with an empty board, what platform would you design that is ideal for a content marketer?
Platforms and products will solve problems. However, at the end of the day, everything boils down to people's problems. Coding is easy, but people are hard.
A platform would essentially sync with AI. I want the platform to merge the benefits of AI with the talent of a writer who has the nuance for my industry. The cost will also be a priority but at the lower end of the priority list.
When we hire a person for content, we first want to know whether this person understands our ecosystem. In our case, HR, this is not difficult. However, for the technology ecosystem, the requirement is different. I would like the platform to allow good writers with context to use AI and create an amalgamation for content marketing.
Good writers are very rare. People who understand how to write well with context are hard to find. Technology should support such writers in the context of the ecosystem so that they can do what they do best, making content understandable to the general public.
6. What is your opinion on how the content ecosystem's future will change?
I have been thinking about it since ChatGPT came about. SEO is essential for content marketers who want to hit the target audience at every opportunity. SEO is often considered organic and different from what a company spends money on. We pay content creators or marketers, but we don't pay Google or Facebook for SEO in terms of ads.
With generative AI, the opportunity to reach the target audience reduces. Currently, the content we use is average-quality content, to be honest. Generative content based on average quality content is slightly better than existing average quality content, and it essentially reduces the touch points that marketers can have with their audience. These platforms benefit from ads, so they will not reduce the surface area for ads. The surface area afforded to you by SEO is reducing. Distribution continues to be a challenge, so how can you reach your customers?
As more and more companies focus on content creation, distribution will become a challenge. Businesses must own their audience through email subscriptions and other avenues to build a community. Having one-on-one conversations with your ICP (ideal customer profile) will become more important and challenging.
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