Ayushee Syal

Sr. Director of Content Marketing at AffiniPay

Ayushee Syal on the Role of SEO in Content Marketing

In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, content marketing has emerged as a pivotal force. It's the art of crafting compelling narratives, building brands, and connecting with audiences. Following the right trends in content marketing can play an important role in determining the success of content marketing. 

Today, we embark on a journey with Ayushee Syal, Sr. Director of Content Marketing at AffiniPay, as she shares her insights, experiences, and advice on the content marketing ecosystem. Her journey in content marketing has been an exciting one. We hope it guides budding content marketers and inspires them to move their career trajectories on a positive path. 

1. Ayushee, could you introduce yourself and share your journey in content marketing?

Certainly! My journey in content marketing began in a somewhat unconventional way. I started as a journalist, always drawn to the power of storytelling. Even as a child, I was captivated by stories, which we now call content. However, pursuing a career in journalism wasn't met with unanimous support, given the traditional career paths preferred by Indian parents. However, with determination and the encouragement of my school principal, I embarked on a journalism career. After several years in journalism, I transitioned to content marketing when digital media increased. The world of digital marketing and data-driven storytelling further fueled my passion, leading me to study digital marketing at UCLA and eventually work with tech startups in Silicon Valley. Since then, I've been dedicated to content marketing, driven by the desire to connect brands with their audience.

2. When engaging with an audience and building a community, what is the most effective format for content?

The most effective format for content isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. It hinges on understanding your target audience, their preferences, and the platforms they frequent. For instance, if your audience is on TikTok, that's where you should be. However, I'd advise focusing on platforms where your target audience is actively seeking information and engagement. If, like in my current role in the legal industry, your audience isn't on TikTok, it's better to channel your efforts into platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook. The key is to tailor your content strategy to cater to your target audience's specific needs and habits.

3. SEO plays a crucial role in content marketing. What's your perspective on SEO, and how do you integrate it into your strategy at AffinityPay?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is essential in content marketing. It's the process of understanding the questions and keywords your audience uses to find solutions and creating content that addresses those needs. SEO sets a strong foundation for your content marketing efforts, even though it's not for those seeking instant gratification. It's a long-term game, but it pays off in the end.

At AffinityPay, we're committed to SEO. We invest time, effort, and data analysis into this practice. The beauty of SEO lies in its transparency and reliance on valuable content. It forces us to create content that truly answers our audience's questions and provides value. The digital landscape is flooded with content, so creating something genuinely valuable is the key to ranking and, more importantly, resonating with your audience.

4. One of the challenges in content marketing is attributing ROI to your efforts. How do you measure the ROI of your content marketing initiatives?

Measuring the ROI of content marketing can be challenging but not impossible. It starts with building trust with your leadership team and setting clear goals. At AffinityPay, we have a robust system in place to track our progress and measure ROI.

We track various metrics, including bottom-of-the-funnel conversions, blog traffic, click-through rates, engagement rates, and more. These metrics give us insights into the effectiveness of our content and help us understand if our efforts are aligned with our goals. By having concrete numbers and a data-driven approach, we can demonstrate the impact of content marketing on our company's growth.

5. Can you share your preferred content marketing stack and the tools you can't live without?

The right tools are crucial in the modern content marketing landscape. Our content marketing stack includes communication tools like Zoom and Slack to facilitate collaboration among our remote team members. We also rely on project management tools to track progress, allocate tasks, and manage our content marketing projects effectively.

We use tools like Google Analytics, Salesforce, Marketo, and various third-party software for external management and data collection. These tools help us gather data, analyze performance, and make informed decisions about our content strategy. Customized dashboards are also vital in visualizing our progress and ensuring we stay on track.

6. Quality versus quantity is a perennial debate in content marketing. What's your take on this dilemma, especially in a content-rich world?

Quality always trumps quantity in content marketing. While producing a vast volume of content is tempting, it's counterproductive if it lacks depth and value. In some cases, less can be more.

If you have resource constraints or a small team, it's wise to focus on creating high-quality content for a select few channels where your target audience is most active. Don't dilute your efforts by spreading content too thin across multiple platforms. Instead, concentrate on delivering exceptional content that resonates with your audience and adds value. Quality content engages your audience and drives better results in the long run.

"People want to hear from people and resonate with the stories that are original, and are coming from you, not from a company or a brand."

7. Thought leadership content is highly sought after but also saturated. How do you create authentic thought leadership content that stands out in a crowded space?

Creating authentic thought leadership content requires a unique approach. It starts with being true to yourself and your beliefs. Rather than emulating what others are doing, focus on what you genuinely believe in and what your audience wants to hear.

Consider what would engage your audience and excite them. Understand the questions they need answers to and craft your content around them. Research thoroughly, have a clear perspective, and share your understanding of the topic. Authenticity shines through when you convey your thoughts and knowledge in your unique voice. Don't be afraid to be yourself; you'll create thought leadership content that stands out.

"In some way, you have to create content that really, A, is a part of what you believe in, and B, made for the needs of the audience that you're targeting."

8. AI and generative content are becoming prevalent. What's your perspective on using AI in content creation, and how can content marketers coexist with AI?

AI is a powerful tool with its merits in content creation. It can be incredibly useful for research and generating ideas. However, it's essential to use AI to complement human creativity rather than replace it. AI can help streamline certain tasks but lacks the depth of human understanding, emotion, and creativity. When using AI in content creation, be cautious and fact-check the generated content. Human involvement is still necessary to ensure accuracy, authenticity, and relevance.

Content marketers should embrace AI to enhance their efficiency and productivity. Coexistence with AI is possible, and it can be a valuable ally in content marketing, but human insight, creativity, and authenticity will always be irreplaceable.

"I am really not worried about AI taking over the human world. I think we are sharp enough. Our minds really create these things. I'm pretty sure we can coexist. There is no need for one versus the other."

9. What common mistakes have you observed in content marketing, and what advice do you have for budding content marketers or smaller teams?

While I may not be in the right position to point out what people or organizations are doing wrong, I recognize that strategies might work differently for everyone. It's tempting for companies to mimic what others are doing. However, deviating from one's unique path and attempting to replicate another's journey isn't always effective. My advice is to remain true to your vision and believe in what's best for you and your organization. Resist the allure of following fleeting trends.

Reflecting on the positives, the evolution of content marketing has been astonishing. When I began my career in journalism, "content marketer" wasn't even a recognized title. Today, a marketing team is incomplete without a dedicated content marketing team, emphasizing its value. Brands now realize the importance of genuinely connecting with their audiences. Instead of a mere sales pitch, audiences seek a deeper understanding of a brand's ethos. Questions like, "Is the brand eco-conscious?" or "How is it making a difference?" are paramount. Content marketing addresses this by narrating a brand's story and forging an emotional bond. It's all about humanizing brands and enhancing connections.

Every day, I'm inspired and challenged by the incredible work in content marketing. It's remarkable to witness its growth from nonexistence during my early years to its current prominence. Observing my personal passion evolve into a universal one for marketers is a fulfilling experience.

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