Siddharth Jena

Marketing Head at upGrad International

Content Marketing in the AI Era: A Conversation with Siddharth Jena

Today, the digital world changes quickly. Content marketing is vital for connecting brands to their audience. We talked with Siddharth Jena, a skilled content marketer and industry leader. He is the Marketing Head at upGrad International. We spoke about many parts of content marketing. This includes problems faced by marketers and the effect of AI tools like ChatGPT on the field.

Siddharth gave helpful tips on balancing work speed and results. He also talked about the need for humans to check AI-made content. We talked about search engines like Google too. They need to find and list AI-created content. This shows the need for high-quality content in the AI age.

1. Can you tell us about the evolution of content marketing over the years? How it has changed in terms of relevance and effectiveness?

Yes, it is true that marketing has fundamentally evolved in the last decade. Earlier, marketing used to revolve around big brand campaigns through traditional mediums like TV or print. I entered marketing during a major disruption when digital marketing was becoming mainstream. Content has always remained at the core of marketing, whether it was radio, TV ads, or today's digital marketing. Over time, the distribution and creation of content have changed. However, the innate nature of marketing still revolves around educating the TG through content. Content can range from performance ads to having your medium for putting out content. One can also release a series of PR articles. The methods of distribution have changed. We've adapted to them. For example, having a YouTube channel in your media mix is now inevitable. So content is core for most of the things we do as marketers. 

2. Direct measurement of the impact of content can be difficult. So, what are some of the strategies or cheat sheets you've used to measure the success of content over the years?

Over the last 10 years, I have seen different methodologies to measure the impact of content. Currently, we can rely on 70 to 80% of the measurement to tell us what content is working. The trade-off between trying to get 100% measurement versus knowing a channel is working is significant. I feel it is fairly evident today, with modern tools, to figure out if an impact is being created. Today, marketers allocate a major chunk of their budget to content production. We do not shy away from spending 50% of our budget on this. They know that they don't have to spend as much on media distribution. Multiple channels can bring traffic organically if the content resonates with the TG.

It might not be 100% accurate. However, there are so many channels available. So, it is easier to get a clear view of whether your content is working or not. When you see a spike in traction or website visits, you know something is working. You can then deep dive and understand why it worked. You can then improve your content production mechanism, and use the available distribution channels like YouTube or social media. It will not be a problem if you're able to create traction among your TG. We do not shy away from spending 50% of our budget on content production.

3. As a marketing leader in B2C companies, how do you ensure a balance between content quality and scale? How do you coordinate between your team and freelancers? How do you maintain brand guidelines with third parties?

It is crucial to understand what quality means for you in content creation. Quality can refer to strict adherence to brand guidelines. It can also mean how well your TG interacts with the content. Depending on your goals, you can define quality and set metrics. These could be time spent or interaction length. The scale has become increasingly important due to the influence of Google and SEO. They now dictate the need for content at scale. Maintaining quality while scaling requires a strong quality control process. It can get challenging when working with freelancers and external help. One way to simplify this process is to have everyone involved in content creation speak the same language. They have to adhere to the same guidelines. They have to focus on delivering value through content. A robust system where all parties are aligned will result in more meaningful content. I think it gets easier over time when you have such an engine in place.

4. There is a rise in SEO and other marketing challenges. How do you see full-stack marketing tools impacting the marketing landscape? What would make a tool like this valuable to marketers?

There are 3 main considerations: the ability to attract, engage, and analyze. A full-stack marketing tool should help you attract the right TG through acquisition channels like Google, FB, or LinkedIn. They should engage with them effectively. They must also provide analytics to help you make better decisions. It should help with 'top of the funnel' activities, such as SEO and other channels. It should assist with middle-funnel engagement. It should also offer analytics to make more informed decisions. A tool that effectively addresses all these aspects would be highly desirable to marketers.

5. Tools like ChatGPT and others are coming up. Can you discuss the challenges and future of content marketing in that context?

Content marketing is a constantly evolving field. One of the challenges is finding the right balance between efficiency and output in a way that the CACs make sense. AI tools like ChatGPT can play a significant role in automating content creation. So if you were to ask me, I would say that I won't mind AI generating content for me. It can provide valuable insights. It can enhance the overall content production process. However, there is still a need for human intervention to ensure quality and accuracy. AI content may not always be perfect. So I would not want to publish it without it getting checked.

One of the other concerns is the integration of AI content with search engines like Google. As AI content becomes more prevalent, it is essential that search engines can recognize and index this content effectively. Fortunately, Google has been open to indexing AI content as long as it is of good quality.

AI tools like ChatGPT have the potential to revolutionize content marketing. It will enable marketers to create content at scale and maintain efficiency. However, it is crucial that these tools do not replace human input but rather complement it, allowing for more refined and innovative marketing strategies. So I strongly believe ChatGPT is here to stay. 

I would not mind an AI generating content for me. But I would not want it to go without being checked.

6. What is your biggest wish for the content marketing industry, and how can it be addressed?

One of the biggest challenges in content marketing is the time it takes to execute ideas and distribute content effectively. Often, great ideas are not realized due to a lack of resources or time constraints. 7 out of 10 ideas die because there's too little time to execute. My wish is for a mechanism or tool that allows for faster content creation without compromising on quality. This would enable marketers to capitalize on opportunities more quickly and make a more significant impact.

Another wish is for the SEO industry to become less mechanized and more focused on quality content and user interactions. As search engines continue to evolve, they should prioritize rewarding high-quality content and improving content discoverability.

I am not someone who advocates [that AI will take away jobs]. No, this is a fad.

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