Darshika Singh

Head of Marketing & Growth - Zolve

Frugality And Adaptability Are Very Essences Of Content Marketers

How do you adapt to newer surroundings and changed contours, when overnight the entire business landscape changes in front of you? From well-heeled budgetary allocations to working with shoestring financial resources, a company has to still make every dime count in deciding its content marketing plan. While keeping costs under a tight leash, can Artificial Intelligence (AI) completely replace human ingenuity?

These and more pointers were deliberated upon in a thought-provoking conversation with Darshika Singh, Head of Marketing & Growth at Zolve. Here are the salient attributions:

1. How has your journey in content marketing evolved in parallel with changes in this domain?

Starting my career with traditional companies like Pepsi and Bank of Baroda, I gained experience in crafting campaigns with larger agencies and outsourcing the creation and distribution of content. While the content channels and formats were limited back then, this experience taught me the importance of creating impactful content that resonates with the target audience.

Fast forward to my startup journey, and I have witnessed a shift towards a more holistic and 360-degree approach to content marketing. The focus is no longer on just celebrities and media channels, but on engaging the audience at every touchpoint.

In this evolving landscape, startups can stand out from the competition by leveraging the latest content formats and channels. And as a content marketer, it's been exciting to be a part of this evolution and experiment with new ways of engaging audiences.

Overall, my journey in content marketing has been dynamic, and I believe that the space will continue to evolve as new technologies and channels emerge. However, one thing that will remain constant is the need to create engaging and impactful content that resonates with the target audience.

2. What has kept you going in the content space given your diverse experiences?

I believe that the business requirements have always kept me on my toes in the content space. Throughout my career, I have always been involved in marketing, and I have had to find ways to achieve business objectives with limited resources. Content strategies have been a key tool in achieving those objectives.

The nature of the content industry is constantly evolving, and new platforms and formats are emerging all the time. For instance, who would have thought that a platform like TikTok would become such a huge hit? Yet, it did, and it revolutionized the content landscape. The emergence of YouTube shorts and the popularity of reels are other examples of how the industry is evolving.

The combination of keeping up with business requirements and adapting to the ever-changing content landscape is what keeps me going in the content marketing space.

3. How has the journey changed the way you operate now?

As a marketer, I've learned that the cost element plays a significant role in marketing strategies. Coming from a regular corporate background where I had a large yearly budget to work with, I was quite shocked when I joined a startup and realized that the budget was significantly smaller. This is especially true for early-stage startups where product development is a core requirement, and the budget for marketing is not as big.

I've learned that as a product is being developed, a company cannot just stay silent from a marketing perspective. Even though the budget is limited, it's crucial to build something that is engaging and connects with the audience while driving the necessary ROI.

While working with a limited budget, one has to think differently and get creative to find strategies that work for the brand. In comparison to larger organizations, startups have to operate with cost constraints, and therefore, the focus is on getting all the horses to figure out something that works well for the brand and is engaging for the audience while keeping the budget in check.

4. How do you foresee the future of the content marketing ecosystem?

As a seasoned marketer, I have seen the landscape of content marketing evolve tremendously over the last 14 years. What was once a very traditional setup has now transformed into something like a chatGPT setup. And, the evolution is far from over. As someone who understands that content marketing is an ever-evolving journey, I am excited to see where the future takes us.

I truly believe that going forward, technology will make our jobs as marketers much easier. With Predictive Analytics coming into play, we can use data to identify the cohorts that will like a particular product or a specific type of content. Personalization will become even more critical in the coming years, with chatbots already making a significant impact on the way we interact with websites and other apps. Voice searches with Alexa or Google Chrome are also improving over time, becoming more humanized and natural.

This increased personalization will change the game for us marketers, as we will be able to create content that truly resonates with our target audience. Understanding that different people have varying preferences for the content format, we can divide our audience and cater to them in a way that is engaging and relevant.

Looking into the future, I am optimistic about the potential of technology to transform content marketing even further. And, with technology taking care of the more tedious aspects of marketing, we will have more time to focus on what matters -- creating meaningful connections with our audience and driving results for our brands.

5. What is your opinion on the ongoing debate regarding the necessity of human intervention in the field of generative AI and the value that humans can add to AI?

I believe this is a debatable question because when I started the year, there were already many discussions about the possibility of all marketer jobs being automated. Although Open AI is present, I think it will take some time for the platforms to mature. I believe that the best outcome would be an ideal mix of human and AI tools.

While I can integrate an AI tool, I think my understanding of my startup or brand is more than what a tool could provide. You might get different options of what could be the tonality of your brand, but what tonality works best for a brand like Pepsi or Zolve or any other company would depend on their ideology. I think people inside the company have a better understanding of this.

Blending the combination of human and AI tools will create fruitful results going forward. It will save time and AI, while continuously giving commands, will better understand these things about the company.

You would still need somebody to write the best commands for AI to get the best outcomes.

6. What are some of the current challenges that marketers and content strategists face in the current era?

As a content marketer and strategist, I can tell you that the job comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the ever-changing trends. It can be frustrating to spend a lot of time creating content that becomes irrelevant within a matter of hours because a new trend has emerged. However, I've found that having a predictive model in place to foresee upcoming trends can be extremely helpful in addressing this challenge.

Another challenge that I often face is deciding what type of content to produce. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to prioritize which content will be most engaging for our audience. It's important to understand that not all users will have the same preferences when it comes to consuming content. To address this challenge, it's essential to conduct research and analyze metrics to identify the types of content that our audience engages with the most.

The content distribution process in itself can also be a challenge. As someone working in a startup, I often have to tackle questions related to content metrics and ROI. It's crucial to track metrics such as CTA clicks, product sales, blog views, website traffic, engagement, and hyperlinks to determine the effectiveness of our content marketing efforts.”

I believe that the key to overcoming these challenges lies in being adaptable, proactive, and data-driven. It's important to keep an eye on the latest trends, continuously analyze audience preferences and behavior, and use data to inform our content marketing strategies.

7. If you were allowed to design your content marketing platform, what would it look like?

I believe that an ideal content marketing platform should include five key elements: planning, creation, distribution, ROI measurement, and social listening.

To plan content, tools like Asana or Trello can be useful, but I also think it would be great to have a tool that predicts and recommends content for the future. For content creation, designers often use Adobe Suite, but there are also AI tools available for creating images. Canva is a popular example.

Video creation tools are also important, as well as tools for creating different formats like emailers. For content distribution, scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer can help. When it comes to measuring ROI and social listening, there are many tools available, but it's important to align on which metrics to focus on internally. Tools like Go Engage or CleverTap can be used for measuring ROI for mailers while listening to customer feedback on social media can be done through tools like Buzzsumo or Melt Waters. Ultimately, there are many tools available, and having a platform that can aggregate them all would be ideal.

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