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Harish Rawat

Content marketing should always solve the customer's problems and if it does not, then the content becomes irrelevant, said Harish Rawat, Chief Marketing Officer at Zoomcar, a self-drive mobility platform.

Rawat believes that it is a function of marketing mix if a brand wants to do branded or unbranded content and calls it paid and unpaid, which is easier to understand. “Unpaid content has an incremental RoI over a period of time. On paid content, you already have set of experts working on your content who ensure slightly short-term RoI.”

Zoomcar spends 80-90% of the advertising budget on digital and allocates around 5-8% of the overall budget on content marketing. The brand now plan to intensify its content marketing plans in the first half of the year and will also hire an internal content marketing team for a better consumer understanding and higher ROI in the long run.

In the past, Zoomcar has done a lot of branded content with content creators like Pocket Aces, TVF and Dice Media. On the content marketing front, the brand has been focussed on doing blogs that educate customers and share knowledge.

Rawat had earlier worked with Jabong, Lenskart and Nokia and has over 10 years of experience in marketing. caught up with him to know more about Zoomcar’s content strategy.


What’s the marketing mix for Zoomcar? Which medium works well for you and why?

As we look to expand in the new year very aggressively, b2c marketing becomes important. So, you will see us getting more into mass media as well. Part of it is already there. We kicked off our content marketing initiative with TVF last week and there are a couple of more plans keeping in mind how we want to develop this in short to medium term.

While the media mix may change as and when required, traditionally we have been fairly focussed on digital, performance marketing and SEO. We have done content marketing with TVF and Pocket Aces. On and off, we have used radio. This year the trend will break with our expansion plans.

What about coming on TV?

We are currently operating in 30 cities with 3,000 cars. If I do TV ads at this point, we know there will be a bit of spillover but we would not have enough depth, which is enough cars to service all the demands. When we feel that digital needs TV as add-on medium then we might consider it. So it is a pure function of the growth of the business and our service capabilities.

What percentage of overall spends is attributed to content marketing?

Looking at the last year figure, about 5-8% of our spends are on content marketing which we intend to increase quite aggressively in this calendar year. Of our total marketing budget, 80-90% is spent on digital.

What are the content initiatives of the brand?

In our earlier associations with TVF and Dice media, we have generally done webisodes. The current campaign is a listicle aimed at developing a mindset of subscribing a car rather than buying it. The TVF couple video showed a couple who make a whole new commitment, something which is happening more with today’s youth. So, the proposition was integrated very deeply and nicely. It has got one million plus views in a week and had a good impact on organic traffic.

In the past, the majority of our content was done keeping SEO in mind, which included blogs. The philosophy of our content is that it needs to solve a customer’s problems and if we are not doing that then the content becomes irrelevant. It is the only way for the brands to talk to the customers and get RoI. For an example, by using some of the content we have noticed that traffic on blogs has gone four to five times up in last six months. The conversation rate after reading blogs has gone up by 7X. These numbers show the strength of content and prove that content marketing can deliver RoI but you have to be consistent.

Do you see content marketing go mainline soon and does Zoomcar intend to intensify its focus on content? How much increase in spends could we expect on content marketing by Zoomcar?

More and more people have started realising content is quite powerful. It is all about how brands want to leverage it. Do they want to keep it on branded domain side or they want to develop content? I think most start-ups are trying to build content in-house, which could be very effective in the long run. So, mapping consumer closely at every step in content marketing funnel gives you a clear picture about RoI.

We plan to spend very aggressively on both paid and in-house content in this half. We will soon build an in-house content marketing team.

Do you generate content internally or there are specialist agencies on board?

We have a few bloggers on board because a majority of our content initiative has been blogging so far. We are not working with any content agency but we will evaluate the need for an agency once we have a full in-house structure in place. We do not even have a digital agency and the entire initiative is done in-house, including performance marketing.

How much is it important for you to make sure your content initiatives do not become branded content? And does it actually matter to you if the content is pure content marketing or branded content?

I call it paid and unpaid which is easier to understand. Unpaid content has an incremental RoI over a period of time. On paid content, you already have set of experts working on your content, who ensure slightly short-term RoI. For an example, every time we partner with TVF or Pocket Aces, we have seen our organic search and installs going up by 10-20%. Hence, it is a pure function of placing marketing mix.

How much does content play a big role in your category?

Be it travel or experiential and personalised transportation category where we operate into the category, content is the core of it.

Why is that brands end up doing branded content despite having the intent to do content marketing? Is it to ensure RoI or there are other reasons behind it?

It depends upon brand objective and it would not be fair for me to comment on other brands’ strategy because many times you do not have a context to what brands are doing. From Zoomcar’s perspective, one of the reasons why we have done paid content is to reach out to the core TG and tell them about our ‘subscribe’ feature. And this was definitely a cheaper way to reach out to the intended consumers. The last time when we did content with Pocket Aces, we wanted to create awareness around our ‘one way’ service and it worked well. Most of our content is driven by objective. At the same time, we have been doing content internally but with paid content, you get a spike at one go.

How do you measure the effectiveness of content?

A common yardstick for us is feedback, time spent on content and growth in traffic. If my content is engaging it would meet a certain benchmark time, which we would expect our users to spend. Sharing is another way to map your engagement. You want to see the effect on the bottom of the funnel, which is a transaction. As I said, we have already seen transactions number increasing by 7X post in-house content.

External content has been used for driving certain business objectives in short term, for example uplift on one-way booking, airport booking, organic traffic, install, etc. These are some of KPIs which we have related very directly to the paid content. The objective becomes very specific in case of branded content where you look at the entire funnel of the content.

Do you measure marketing generated opportunities for your content initiatives? Why is it that brands not mapping MGO in India to ascertain their ROI?

We do occasional webinars. That is our form of reaching out to the broader audience and telling them that if they are interested in knowing more, you can come and join our webinar. And we have seen almost 80% conversion rate on the webinar. This is how we look at the opportunity to drive conversion from content. Across our blogs and content display network, there are ‘call to action’ pages. The content needs to be actionable. The next step for any content marketer is to convert that lead.

People have started exploiting the majority of the content on SEO side but not essentially on the brand side. As we see brands evolving and the rise of content with better case studies coming, that is when people will start realising how important is content marketing as an opportunity.