Post Thumb
Kashyap Vadapalli

Online furniture shopping destination Pepperfry is looking at increasing its spend on content marketing to 20% of the Rs 45-50-crore digital marketing budget, says Kashyap Vadapalli, CMO, Pepperfry.

“I am looking at scaling content marketing for Pepperfry. In the past, we have been very TV-led. One of the things I am realising is that you can’t be on TV for 12 months in India. But doing web series on large platforms can deliver 5-6 million views in three to five weeks’ and it keeps the brand very relevant with a large set of audience at a much lower cost than TV,” Vadapalli told BuzzInContent in an interview.

Pepperfry has been doing content marketing for long. But the budget has been negligible and the focus not as much as desired. The major associations have been with Miss Malini’s ‘Home Invasion’ video series and articles on iDiva, Femina, The Little Black Book and others.

Vadapalli said that though the brand plans to be aggressive in content marketing, the target audience across platforms would be the same.

He said, “It should not be like one channel reaching one target audience and the other reaching a separate target audience. As a marketer, I can ensure of retargeting those groups with other performance marketing methods and because of that I won’t have to hard sell my content.”

He explained why traditional companies with big advertising budgets were shying away from content marketing whereas the new-age companies were making the most of it.

“For the bigger brands, the lack of tracking and correlation is holding them back. It is difficult because by being web first every time, I am spending money, I am trying to build a correlation between my media spends and returns in terms of traffic," he said.

Excerpts:

What kind of content marketing initiatives are being undertaken by Pepperfry?

In the past, we have done quite a few smaller things but the bigger one is the one we did with Miss Malini, which is ‘Home Invasions’. It was a three-part video series where we invaded homes of celebrities like Swara Bhaskar, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shibani Dandekar, etc., who have done one corner of their rooms, or the entire house, using Pepperfry products. That was really engaging content because the fans of those celebrities got to peek into their lives. At the same time it was very relevant for Pepperfry because the entire story was about how to do up your home beautifully, what kind of furniture to use and other things related to furniture. Apart from that, we have done content lead work with The Little Black Book, portals like iDiva and Femina, where the focus was on certain topics around content related to Diwali and so on. It was not a sales-related message and was purely about adding knowledge about tips and tricks to the readers.

Content marketing is mostly used by start-ups and the bigger brands are not very keen on this front. What is the reason that start-ups prefer content marketing more than traditional brands?

I am looking at scaling content marketing for Pepperfry. In the past, we have been very TV-led. As I look at content marketing, one of the things I am realising is that you can’t be on TV for 12 months in India. One can do two or three campaigns. There are periods where you need to keep your brand fresh, relevant and persistence. If you do a web series with large platforms and they are able to deliver 5-6 million views in three to five weeks, it keeps the brand very relevant with a large set of audience at a much lower cost than TV.

Shouldn’t then the well-established brands take this route?

Either they have a lot of budget or they are not targeting the younger audience. People who are watching these web series are mostly these younger audiences. When people share the demographics with me, it is still 50-55% below 25 years of age. One of the reasons that I did not go down to that route earlier was the fact that my core audience starts at 25, but it’s actually somewhere around 35. I now realise even 50% of those 5-6 million is a big number and I can go after them.

I think you need to set up some framework to measure it because otherwise, it’s difficult to correlate some views with the actual traffic. But I understand why traditional marketing companies are finding it difficult because being web first, every time I am spending money, I am trying to build a correlation between my media spends and returns in terms of traffic. When I’ll do content pieces, I will integrate a lot of tracking, try build call to action at the end, I will make an offer for which the consumers will come on the app. For the bigger brands, the lack of tracking and correlation is holding them back.

Pepperfry will increase spend on content marketing. Does that mean it will reduce its spend on TV?

I will balance it out.

How much of the total digital spend would be on content?

We spend annually around Rs 40-50 crore on digital and will shift around 20% of my digital spend to content.

Would you also be looking to partner with the digital agencies to help you with content ideas or will you independently work with the content creators?

Right now, the content creators are very aggressive. They reach out to us with innovative proposals. Therefore, I am talking to them directly right now.

A lot of branded content is happening as compared to content marketing. What do you prefer?

I don’t think there is one right answer. Sometimes, if there is a popular piece of content, which has a huge followership, placing your brand in a sensible way into that platform makes sense. For example, if there is a content piece on a couple re-doing their house, placing Pepperfry there makes a lot of sense. Content marketing is basically something which has good quality content on the subject that your product fits with. It’s not about the brand really, but about the category and whatever benefits you get are secondary. For us, we would try people to try new innovative designs of furniture in their houses. People don’t innovate enough in the Indian houses. Therefore, educating Indians about furniture is the key content goal for me. If more Indians are aware of how to do up houses with furniture, eventually the benefit will flow to us.

How to make the most of any content marketing strategy?

You should definitely have a strategy in place for a particular target audience. For example, prepare four to five topics that you would cover and will have two to three articles on that topic on various channels. You should ensure that all the channels will have a common thread. It should not be like one channel reaching one target audience and the other reaching a separate target audience. Prepare two to three articles on the topics decided every week. Then the awareness of that group of people will definitely go up. As a marketer, I can ensure of retargeting those groups with other performance marketing methods and like this, I won’t have to hard sell my content.

How much success has Pepperfry fetched through content marketing?

When I did the article and video series, the only thing that I measured was reach and engagement. I am not really measuring these channels at this stage of driving traffic and transactions.

How much of a believer are you in content marketing generating leads and is not just a brand-building exercise?

I think content marketing can generate leads, but at this stage, I am focussing on creating brand awareness through content because I have other channels that are working very hard towards it. I don’t need to make every channel work towards the same goal. When I spend money on social, my goal is very different from search marketing.

What are the two things to keep in mind while taking the content route?

There should be a very strong fit and sensible integration with the brand while doing branded content. For content marketing, I will for look for influencers who belong to the same genre. There should be consistency with one target audience.

What is a good content platform for you?

The biggest platform for me for good content is Facebook and Twitter. The way I measure it is that how many people are interacting on it. Eventually, an engaged consumer will translate into a buyer.