Ayaz Nanji

Head Of Content At ICW Media

Ayaz Nanji on Shifts in SEO, Content Marketing, and Outsourcing Strategies

Get ready for an interesting conversation with Ayaz Nanji, an experienced marketing expert. In this interview, Nanji will discuss the differences between paid and organic marketing and how the economy and artificial intelligence affect them. He'll also share his ideas about how valuable optimized content is and whether it's better to do content marketing in-house or hire outside help. Additionally, he'll explain why companies facing economic challenges might want to consider hiring specialists for their marketing.

This conversation between Prasad Shetty, Sales Manager at Pepper Content, and Ayaz Nanji, Head Of Content At ICW Media, will give you a better understanding of these marketing trends.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

I'm Ayaz Nanji. I am not only the co-founder at ICW Media, but I also lead our fantastic content team. We're all about content at ICW Media, specifically tailoring it to help businesses thrive, with a particular focus on tech companies. Like many folks, my professional roots trace back to journalism. However, my career took an exciting twist, leading me into content marketing.

2. What inspired your transition from journalism to the content marketing industry?

My journey into content marketing wasn't a planned move; it sort of happened naturally. Like many others, I kicked off my career as a journalist, driven by a passion for creativity, writing, and working with video content. My path led me through newspapers and television networks, and eventually, I immersed myself in the world of technology.

Working with major tech firms, I experienced several events that led me towards content marketing. It was the perfect blend of creativity and business acumen that drew me in. Fusing these two elements made content marketing an exciting new path for me.

3. What are the top two or three crucial metrics you focus on in today's changing digital landscape for your content marketing strategy?

As an agency, our approach varies depending on the unique goals of the businesses we collaborate with. It's all about aligning with their objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). If a company aims to raise awareness, we focus on volume metrics. On the other hand, when the goal is to drive conversions, we dive into action metrics.

But there's an often overlooked aspect—post-conversion. We delve into loyalty metrics to gauge customer satisfaction and whether they return. Each of these metrics is intricately mapped to the buyer's journey, ensuring we deliver what our clients desire.

I think going back to AI, it's going to be really interesting to see how that impacts SEO and creating content. It makes it much easier to optimize content and to create a volume of content that is optimized and in a way that could almost devalue optimized content.

4. How does the AI revolution impact content marketing agencies, with its challenges and opportunities, from your perspective?

The discussion around AI is fascinating. Some folks dismiss it, while others predict doomsday scenarios. The long-term impact remains uncertain, but we've observed interesting shifts within our team in the short term. We have a diverse team comprising writers, editors, and producers. AI is likely to significantly alter roles like writers, where generative AI can generate text based on prompts.

On the other hand, there's an increased demand for functions like editing. Editors are now needed to ensure AI-generated content aligns with the correct style and brand guidelines. So, AI will be transformative, but perhaps not in the way most people anticipate. It's more about evolving job functions in the content creation world.

5. What's your take on the quantity versus quality debate in content creation?

Finding the right balance between quality and quantity is vital. Quality content is crucial, but in today's era, distribution is equally important. Having the best content won't make an impact if it doesn't reach the audience. However, distribution budgets are finite, so allocating them strategically is essential. Many businesses create a quantity of content to experiment and discover what resonates with their audience. From there, they identify the high-quality pieces that deserve the bulk of their marketing efforts. It's a process of exploration and refinement.

6. Are you open to partnering with a tech company to streamline content creation and distribution with AI, benefiting both your agency and clients?

I believe it's a sensible approach. Ideally, I'd prefer not to worry about managing a complex tech stack. My vision is a seamless user experience where I don't have to switch between multiple programs for various tasks. Think of it like using a teapot – you don't ponder over it; you simply use it. That's the kind of toolset I aspire to have. One where I can effortlessly accomplish tasks, whether conducting searches, organizing content calendars, or publishing content, without even thinking about the tools involved.

7. What's the one thing you love or dislike about content marketing aside from delayed payments?

I find content marketing fascinating because it's this incredible blend of human psychology and business strategy. It's where creativity comes into play as we explore what resonates with people, motivates them, and drives them to take action. This creative aspect is incredibly enjoyable. Then, we merge it with a concrete business purpose; we're trying to achieve something tangible. This intersection is where the magic happens, and it's genuinely exciting, especially when you work with diverse businesses across various domains.

However, I must say, sometimes people tend to take it a bit too seriously. In reality, this field should be fun. Most of the businesses we collaborate with are not dealing with life-or-death situations. It's a complex and messy process involving people and creativity. So, my perspective is to enjoy the journey, embrace the challenges, and remember that having some fun along the way is okay.

There was a period of time when it was all about organic, and then that became all about paid, and now it's a mix.

8. How will the shift from paid to organic marketing impact SEO and its role in content marketing for agencies and enterprises?

It's a bit of a challenge, to be honest. When we talk about AI, it's truly intriguing to witness how it's shaping the world of SEO and content creation. AI simplifies the optimization process and allows for the creation of a massive amount of well-optimized content. Ironically, this might lead to a situation where optimized content loses some of its value. In fact, I've noticed a trend with certain clients – while there's still a focus on organic content, there's a growing emphasis on demonstrating the impact and audience reach of paid search. It's a dynamic landscape, for sure.

9. Do you notice a shift in the balance between organic and paid marketing compared to how it was in the past?

Absolutely, it's like a pendulum swinging back and forth. There was a time when organic marketing took the spotlight, followed by a phase dominated by paid strategies. Now, it's more of a blend. What's interesting is that during periods of economic uncertainty, which can vary by location, many clients tend to adjust their content budgets. This adjustment can go in two directions. Some choose to double down on organic efforts to conserve funds, while others opt to allocate their budgets strategically, emphasizing select paid content programs for maximum impact. It's all about adapting to the circumstances at hand.

10. What's the future direction you anticipate regarding the choice between outsourcing content marketing, keeping it in-house, or a hybrid approach for companies?

I'm quite intrigued by this, as it's been a bit of a back-and-forth journey. Companies have built in-house teams, then shifted to agencies, and vice versa. Interestingly, it appears that almost all our clients are now embracing a hybrid approach. They maintain an in-house team while also outsourcing certain aspects of the work.

What's striking is the growing recognition of the importance of creativity within organizations. As a result, high-level positions like Chief Content Officer are becoming more common within these companies. This trend is quite notable in our observations.

"I think having an outsourced team enables you to scale up or scale down much more easily."

11. Why should mid-market or growth startups consider outsourcing to agencies like yours during the current economic downturn?

I believe it comes down to two key factors. First, scalability is crucial, especially during uncertain economic times when budget concerns weigh heavily on organizations. Having an outsourced team provides the flexibility to scale up or down as needed, whether the market is in a recession or not, helping to manage costs effectively.

Secondly, it's about expertise. Finding skilled content professionals can be challenging. Agencies like ours have dedicated teams of experts who specialize in content creation. Trying to replicate that level of expertise within your organization can be a complex task. Sometimes, it's simply more efficient to rely on those who are already well-versed in the field.

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