Ankur Kayesth

Senior Vice President of Marketing & Partnerships at Masai

Decoding the Future of Content Marketing: A Deep Dive with Ankur Kayesth

Get ready for a deep dive into the current state and exciting future of content marketing with Ankur Kayesth, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Partnerships at Masai. He shares his insights on the role of creativity in standing out among the market noise, the importance of leveraging technology in content creation, and more. The conversation navigates through the complexities of the ever-evolving marketing technology landscape. If you're contemplating how to make sense and best use of the variety of tools now available - including AI and Google's Performance Max – this conversation is indispensable.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Tell us about your journey in the marketing space so far.

Well, my journey has been quite unique. I started as an engineer and unexpectedly transitioned into the world of marketing. About 17 years ago, I completed my engineering in core deep technologies and later pursued a master's in information security. However, I soon discovered that my true passion lay in the realm of business rather than tech.

Driven by this newfound enthusiasm, I decided to venture into entrepreneurship and started my venture. During the next four and a half years, I gained valuable experience in sales and marketing. This period further solidified my interest in marketing, and for the past seven years, I have been wholeheartedly devoted to this field.

The beauty of marketing, I realized, lies in the perfect blend of logic and creative thinking. It's a fascinating space to work in. Currently, I'm a part of the founding team at Messiah, where I joined as the sixth employee. The company has seen remarkable growth, from pre-series seed funding to series B, and we now have a team of 300 members. I am responsible for marketing communications and community initiatives.

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on meaningful projects, supported by amazing individuals in all directions. Having this platform to share my experiences is truly a blessing, and I consider myself lucky to be able to engage with everyone here. 

2. What, according to you, are some of the challenges that content marketers face today? 

Being a content marketer comes with its fair share of challenges. In today's world, where the internet is pervasive, companies must embrace the concept that every company is, in essence, a content company. Failing to recognize this reality can lead to difficulties in establishing a strong online presence.

When building my team, I prioritized hiring individuals who would contribute to our content-driven approach. Our initial hires included a generalist growth marketeer, a copywriter, a designer, and a video editor. While some may advise doubling down on performance first, I firmly believe that investing in a content-centric team from the start sets a solid foundation for success.

However, one of the significant challenges we face in this content-rich landscape is the overwhelming amount of noise. Many companies produce content merely for the sake of it, leading to clutter and a decline in overall content quality. We must be cautious not to fall into the trap of creating content purely to boost social media or website metrics. Instead, our focus should be on delivering value to our audience through meaningful and purposeful content.

Striking a balance between creating content for genuine value and avoiding a transactional approach can be difficult. By upholding the belief that content should enrich the lives of our audience, we can overcome these challenges and set higher standards for our content marketing efforts.

3. What does an ideal piece of content look like for you?

We tend to sit on a rosy hill where we feel our product is changing somebody's life, our communications are going to make a difference, and so on. It's only a little true because I come with a lot of experience with startups and I genuinely believe that nobody cares.

The crucial question we should ask is, "Why should somebody care?" By starting with this question, we set ourselves on the right path to create impactful content.

I've always been obsessed with understanding our Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). For instance, when Masai was less than two years old, we spent a considerable amount of time on user research, creating consumer personas, and deciding which ones to focus on. We shared this information across all departments, ensuring everyone grasped the essential insights.

To truly connect with our audience, we must step back and think about their needs and where they are in their lives. In our context, we cater to aspiring techies, but we are not the only option available to them. Colleges, legacy institutes, MOOCs—there's no shortage of alternatives. Therefore, it's vital to answer the question: "Why should they care about us?"

By understanding our audience's unique pain points and addressing their specific needs, we can make our communications stand out in the noisy landscape. This approach has proven successful for us, as our Customer Satisfaction (CS) scores are significantly better than those of our closest competitor.

Measuring the ROI of every content piece may not always be feasible, but having a clear perspective and roadmap allows us to see the impact of our efforts over time. When content resonates with our audience and addresses their needs, the value becomes evident, and success can be measured.

4. What's your take on technology from a content lens?

It's truly an exciting time to be alive, witnessing breakthroughs that we might not have predicted in our own lives. Content marketing is at the forefront, and the buzzword today is generative AI. Understanding what generative AI is and how it works is crucial in comprehending its impact on our lives.

Generative AI is not a creative solution; rather, it relies on large language models like GPT-4 built on vast amounts of data to make logical sense and create content. However, true creativity, where machines generate original thoughts and ideas, remains the last frontier. Once machines achieve this level of creativity, they will revolutionize content creation and marketing.

At Masai, we have experimented with various AI tools, such as ChatGPT, Cohesive, and Jasper AI, to enhance our marketing efforts. These tools have proven useful and effective in generating content and boosting marketing productivity. As technology evolves, content creation is bound to become more accessible, leading to an increase in content volume. Therefore, standing out in the noise with creative and meaningful content will be even more crucial.

In the broader context of MarTech, companies, and individuals will fall into different stages of embracing technological advancements. While some might continue with manual content creation due to resource constraints or inertia, others who embrace change and leverage technology will gain significant advantages in efficiency and effectiveness.

Even today, I see and meet people who are doing everything manually. Every single content piece is written, published, and tracked manually. And I think that happens for startups with a lack of resources. It happens to legacy companies with a lack of understanding or maybe inertia. But one way or the other, we have people and companies on the other side who are embracing this change while it is coming up.

For content marketers, utilizing technology, especially generative AI, is no longer optional. It has become a necessity to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving landscape. Technologies like Google's Performance Max, which automatically optimizes assets for better performance, exemplify the power of AI-driven marketing.

5. What would an ideal marketing stack look like for you? 

Let's look at this from a startup perspective, where different segments have unique problem statements and require tailored solutions. Large enterprises are relatively well served, but for startups, finding the right tools and solutions can be challenging.

To address this, my team would first conduct a competitive evaluation and landscape analysis manually. By identifying problem areas and potential gaps, we can spot blue ocean opportunities within the space. Once these areas are identified, we would integrate generative AI to create a lean product that offers plug-and-play simplicity.

The goal is to make the product user-friendly, catering to users who may not be tech-savvy or have access to specialized resources like HubSpot or Salesforce developers. This approach enables startups to be more efficient, keeping lean teams and limited resources in mind.

The key lies in providing users with the freedom to tweak and build on top of the product while ensuring that it is easily assisted on the other end. This way, startups can make informed decisions on which areas to invest resources and money for maximum impact.

By offering an accessible and efficient solution, we can make a significant difference for early to mid-stage startups. The focus on lean teams and cost-effective software will help startups thrive, even as they transition into more established organizations.

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