Richa Sharma

Director Of Content Marketing At Testbook

Decoding The Present And Future Of Content Marketing With Richa Sharma

From its humble beginnings as a means to convey information, content marketing has evolved into a powerful tool for building brands, fostering customer relationships, and driving business growth. As we stand at the crossroads of the present and the future, it's imperative to understand the current state of content marketing and anticipate the trends that will define its trajectory in the coming years.

In this insightful conversation Kunal Bajpai, Senior Associate, Program Management at Pepper Content is joined by Richa Sharma, Director Of Content Marketing At Testbook.

From dissecting the anatomy of great content to unraveling the challenges faced by modern marketers, this conversation will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to navigate the complex content marketing landscape with confidence.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Tell us about your journey so far.

My journey has been a remarkable one, and I am truly grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for inviting me to share my experiences. I've had the privilege of knowing Pepper for a couple of years, having even worked with them at one point. Witnessing their transformation from a writing-centric brand to a platform that interviews experts across various fields has been truly inspiring.

Content was never the initial path I envisioned for myself, yet looking back, it seems like it was destined to be my calling all along. Despite my background as an engineer, I embarked on my content journey as a writer at a startup right after completing my graduation.

Over three years, I evolved from a content writer to heading operations while simultaneously handling marketing responsibilities. Throughout my nine-year journey, I've been exposed to a wealth of learning experiences, from affiliate marketing to social media strategies and organic growth on diverse platforms.

As for accomplishments, while I'm hesitant to label them as such, there have been significant milestones that validated my efforts. Achievements like reaching a million people in a mere three days through a selfie contest for a relatively new brand, or even delivering a placement speech at my college shortly after graduating, have provided me with a sense of assurance.

Presently, as part of my current organization, being involved in a team that consistently achieves impressive visitor numbers and views is a source of pride. However, there's a persistent drive to achieve more, recognizing that there's always room for growth and improvement.

2. What is your opinion on the marketing space today and future trends?

The current state of the marketing space is fascinating. It's intriguing to witness individuals striving to embody the essence of specific brands, while brands themselves are endeavoring to seamlessly integrate into consumers' daily lives.

This dynamic shift is indeed a defining characteristic of the marketing landscape today.

From my perspective, it's all about crafting assets that serve both the brand's objectives and the audience's interests. This symbiotic relationship between brands and consumers is crucial, and it's encouraging to note that this trend is not just a passing phase; it's an enduring, evergreen facet of the industry.

Innovations like the launch of a chatbot like GPT or enhancements in search engine algorithms emphasize this rapid change. Almost daily, we witness platforms adapting to cater to audience preferences and changing behaviors. It's evident that regardless of a brand's focus, platforms are constantly recalibrating dashboards and refining customer personas. In such a dynamic landscape, continual upskilling is imperative.

Adapting to new tools, understanding emerging trends, and staying attuned to evolving consumer needs are the keys to unlocking the value these changes offer and effectively delivering it to our customers.

3. What does an ideal marketing stack look like for you?

Certainly, if we're discussing the realm of content, I'm more than happy to share insights into my ideal marketing stack. In my view, content marketing thrives when it's kept straightforward and focused. It's crucial to maintain simplicity in this domain. To achieve this, I prefer utilizing tools like Notion, Trello, or Teamwork for efficient task management and assignment tracking.

For maintaining content quality and hygiene, Grammarly is a go-to tool. It's akin to a trusty companion that ensures our content is polished and error-free. Additionally, considering the importance of delivering engaging and well-structured content, Coffeegraph could be a valuable investment. While it might entail some costs, the enhancement in content quality is well worth it.

When it comes to enhancing readability, I find Socia Bee particularly effective. Given its reasonable pricing and robust features, it's an asset in optimizing content for wider audiences.

Regarding the crucial aspect of SEO, SEMrush stands out for its comprehensive analytics toolkit. It provides invaluable insights that aid in deciphering trends and patterns. Alongside the array of Google-related tools, SEMrush adds an extra layer of depth to our SEO strategies. I incorporate all these tools into my current approach, recognizing their collective contribution to streamlining and enhancing the content marketing process.

4. What do you think will be the impact of AI on marketing?

The impact of AI on marketing is not a future prospect; it's very much our current reality. We're at a pivotal juncture where leveraging AI is essential to enhance efficiency, both for individuals and teams. I recall the initial skepticism and debates that emerged on platforms like LinkedIn and elsewhere, where concerns were voiced about AI potentially disrupting the marketer's realm.

However, my firsthand experimentation with various AI tools has led me to a different conclusion. I firmly believe that when wielded by skilled professionals who understand how to channel its capabilities effectively, AI becomes an invaluable asset. It accelerates the pace of content creation, idea generation, and even the speed of adaptation. This utility is undeniable.

Nonetheless, I must emphasize that while AI is a game-changer, blind reliance on it would be shortsighted. The human touch remains indispensable in all that's presented to an audience.

As marketers, we must validate AI-generated content with our intelligence, ensuring it aligns with our brand's ethos and resonates authentically with our audience.

In essence, AI is a tool that empowers us, but it's our human sensibilities that guide its application for optimal results.

5. What do you feel are the current pain points in a marketer's life?

In the landscape of today's marketing world, there's a notable challenge stemming from the abundance of options available. The sheer multitude of choices can often lead to the dilemma of selecting the optimal ones.

Additionally, the rapid influx of AI technologies and emerging trends further adds to the complexity. We're faced with the task of not just keeping up, but also accurately predicting how these factors will influence consumer behavior, which has become more crucial than ever before.

Adapting to the ever-shifting dynamics requires marketers to be incredibly agile. The decisions made today can drastically alter our strategies tomorrow. An adjustment made by a competitor, a viral trend, or even a decision by an industry influencer can send ripples through our brand's trajectory. Staying attuned to these nuances and pivoting accordingly is the need of the hour. This constant adaptation is essential to remain effective and competitive in the market.

Fundamentally, at the core of successful marketing lies creativity.

It's an essential trait for anyone in this field, regardless of their role. Without a doubt, it's our creativity that fuels innovation and sets us apart. Failing to tap into this aspect can lead to stagnation and frustration. To avoid falling into the trap of monotony, it's crucial to take a step back from the data-centric approach occasionally. This allows us to reconnect with our audience's pulse, as our clients and brands remain constant.

Embracing creativity and constantly seeking ways to enhance our understanding of our audience will ensure we continue to offer valuable, impactful content.

6. What in your opinion is great content? And how does one set up the right machinery for this?

In my perspective, great content stems from a focus on delivering value. When you prioritize providing value to your audience, the other aspects tend to fall into place naturally. Defining your target customer persona is paramount; understanding whether you're addressing a student in their early twenties from tier-two cities preparing for a government exam or a woman in her 40s looking to restart her career after raising kids is essential. This understanding forms the foundation for crafting content that resonates with their pain points and needs.

Effective communication with your audience is another crucial element. Conducting surveys to identify their challenges and aligning your solutions with their needs helps bridge the communication gap. This process involves adapting your product or service based on their feedback and evolving expectations. An insightful approach I encountered was a conversation with Rohith, who was leading the product at Pepper. Before the launch of Paper's content AI, we engaged in discussions to pinpoint the pain points content marketers were experiencing. This kind of survey with customers should be an integral part of your strategy.

Creating content demands a strategic approach. Craft topics in alignment with your content calendar, adhering to platform-specific guidelines.

Whether it's a blog, a LinkedIn post, a Twitter thread, or a video reel, ensure each piece serves a purpose. Randomly following trends isn't effective. Instead, have a clear reason for your content creation and understand its anticipated impact.

Validating your content through a defined process is key. Assign roles, conduct thorough quality checks, and ensure adherence to guidelines before publishing. Remember, effective content creation is only half the journey; ensuring it reaches and resonates with your audience is where the true challenge lies.

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