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For brands, measuring return on investment (ROI) on their content marketing initiatives has been a challenge when compared with other forms of advertising and marketing solutions.

“The impact of content marketing is a bit harder to measure because it impacts conversion rates, which are very hard to write back to content marketing,” said Ashish Gupta, Head of digital marketing at Policy Bazaar in an interview with BuzzInContent.com.

Measuring ROI is one of the main reasons that brands end up doing branded content and advertising at times, instead of tapping the content space in the best manner. Gupta said, “A lot of firms are under performance pressure and it means that one has to make investments that get returns quickly. But content marketing is a long-term play. So, whoever thinks ahead into the future and is planning for two to three years will invest in content marketing and SEO.”

For the insurance sector, which is highly dependable on the trust factor, content marketing is helping brands win trust of consumers in a big way. At the same time, insurance is very deep, complex and nuanced when it comes to content marketing. “It has a lot of factors associated with it and therefore communication in content marketing is that much more complex in insurance,” said Gupta.

While content marketing leads other mediums with the highest attention span, Gupta believes that the problem is how you continue giving content, how do you keep exposing a product to a lot of customers and how do you keep reaching the same customer again and again in an impactful manner.

The online insurance company focuses on three main channels – television, print and digital – for its content marketing initiatives.

Excerpts:

Trust is the most important factor for the insurance sector. What role does content marketing play when it comes to winning consumers’ trust?

We really believe in a lot of content marketing and I think it is very important because as you mentioned trust is a significant factor in deciding where a customer buys from. So, trust has to be built and it cannot always be built on a transactional basis. When a customer wants to buy something, the discussion is more around what the features are and what the relevance of a particular plan is to the customer. A lot of this will only happen if the customer believes in your brand and believes that you are out to help him/her and that is why content marketing plays an important role. It is a lot about answering questions that consumers have and keeping them updated about the latest happenings in this domain. What are the things to watch out for? This has really helped build the brand. Customers know that we are not only talking about selling but are also talking about educating and that goes a long way in helping us.

How has Policy Bazaar been leveraging the content marketing space and how has it been benefiting? 

Typically, we are focusing on three main channels – television, print and digital – specifically with most of these education channels as well as a lot of print media. We participate regularly both in the online and the print versions. Typically, the area that we like to participate most is customer Q&A. So, most of the television programmes that we do are often in that format where we update the customer on a few topics. We love customers being able to ask us questions and us being able to help them in any way we can. The benefit is that eventually a lot of people start associating the brand with domain expertise in that area. It is also a nice way to engage with the customer because we are not tail-fishing because we are not telling the customer to buy from us. We are saying that if you have a query we are happy to answer that query.

So is the Q&A show on television by Policy Bazaar a part of content marketing by the brand?

We consider it as content marketing because we are not going there and saying Policy Bazar is great at this or that. We are just marketing ourselves by using content in terms of the latest updates in this sector or answering customer query. We push customers and encourage them to buy from us and that is called sales marketing. Wherever we provide content without propositioning the customer, it is content marketing for us.

How do you differentiate between branded content and content marketing?

It is a thin line. But wherever the push is from our side, for example if we tie-up with someone for a paid article whom we consider as more brand, but wherever the customer is asking something or wherever we are responding to customers and when it is through an organic media, where there is demand, we consider that as more content.

Is that being a new age and agile startup helps Policy Bazaar adapt content marketing more in comparison to old and traditional insurance players?

A lot of people in this sector are starting to realise the importance of content marketing. But I don’t think it has too much to do with old and new, it has to do with being digital or non-digital and since we are a lot more digital, our belief in this whole mechanism of making more content available to the customer has also eventually helped us with our SEO and traffic. Our belief in the system is that much more and therefore our investment in the medium is also that much more.

How much do you agree with the fact that brands end up doing branded content and advertising at times, instead of tapping the content space in the best manner?

It is unfortunate but it is true. A lot of firms are under performance pressure and it means that one has to make investments that get returns quickly. But content marketing is a long-term play. So, whoever thinks ahead into the future and is planning for two to three years will invest in content marketing and SEO. But whoever is under pressure to perform immediately will end up doing advertising. Obviously, most people will do both. But it is true that there is a measurable RIO when you do brand advertising. The impact of content marketing is a bit harder to measure because it impacts conversion rates that are very hard to write back to content marketing.

Do you think the content marketing work only in long run?

That is my belief. You can’t do 1 or 10 articles in a week and suddenly expect to see an impact on the business. Content marketing is a commitment; you have to stay in the space for a while. Eventually, customers come across to you and start to think of you as a market leader. Even if you take the home or the front in a newspaper, just one article doesn’t establish you as a thought leader in the domain. Results will only come through sustained efforts over a period of time.

Do you think that content marketing is a threat to normal, routine and traditional advertising? Can content marketing ever overshadow traditional forms of advertising?

I don’t think it is a threat at all. I think these are two separate, independent sectors. One is where you are expecting results very quickly; the other is a more subtle, long-term play. One will impact your ability to generate heat and customers and the other will impact your ability to convert customers.

Content puts you in a much better light than any other advertising push. Both of them have their own value and that is why I don’t think there is a conflict. One is in your face and has the ability to reach very quickly and the other has the ability to create a feel-good feeling with the customer.

Why do we see content marketing taking the centre stage now?

I think content consumption was earlier dictated by very well-established media houses. It is only in the past decade that content has been democratised for any valuable provider to be able to share their content. As the democratisation of content happens due to more acceptance of digital media (people don’t need to have relations to get their articles out, people can get their articles out on their own), you will see the trend moving towards content marketing. About 10-15 years ago, all content was consumed via a newspaper or magazine, it was editorial controlled and only a few people could access it and that is why very few people felt that they could participate in content marketing. Now the trend is moving towards digital consumption and today brands have the ability to reach consumers directly and, therefore, brands will continue to invest quite heavily into this.

Are the challenges in the insurance space related to content marketing any different from the usual ones and what are they?

If you compare us with some of the other sectors, discoverability is a big item. If you look at e-commerce it is all about discoverability. It is about what is the latest trend, product and the features of the product. It is a very quick, short communication and it doesn’t have too much thinking. Insurance is very deep, complex and nuanced. It has a lot of factors associated with it and therefore the communication in content marketing is that much more complex in insurance. It is not just about the cost or the latest trend, every insurance policy is customised to every customer. It is very personal and what one needs at that time and therefore generic trends may not apply to insurance as much as they apply to e-commerce.

Does Policy Bazaar partner with external or third-party content creators?

We do but it is not massive. We have a significant in-house team and one of the reasons for doing that is our belief that content marketing is a long-term play and, therefore, the consistency across how we approach it (do we keep it light-hearted or serious, what kind of tone we use, what kind of sales we get into) needs to be a bit consistent and using too many external parties makes that difficult.

Can content marketing overcome the attention span myth?

I definitely believe that attention span is a myth. I don’t think that issue exists. However, you need to reach out to a customer a number of times before you create an impression in their minds. It takes efforts. We are also seeing that content marketing has the highest attention span. Once people read intelligent content, they tend to retain that far higher than that the last ad the same person must have seen. So, leadership is established very well with content marketing. The problem is how do you keep giving content, how do you keep exposing a product to a lot of customers and how do you keep reaching the same customer again and again in an impactful manner.