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Ranjeet Kumar

To build long-term relationships with the consumers, content marketing is the most natural tool for marketers, said Ranjeet Kumar, Head of Brand and Content, Scaler, in a free-wheeling chat with BuzzInContent.com. 

He said, “For any brand to build top of mind recall, it has to involve the consumer at its core. Content is the intervention that the consumer wants to watch. Brands that are able to engage with the consumers naturally through content are able to build long-term relationships with them.” 

Scaler Academy is an ed-tech start-up that helps college students and tech professionals upgrade their skills. Launched in 2019 by Anshuman Singh and Abhimanyu Saxena, its parent company, InterviewBit has grown multi-fold during the pandemic, with revenue galloping 200% over the pre-Covid level.

Explaining the importance of content marketing for ed-tech platforms like Scaler, he said, “Upskilling doesn’t happen naturally once a person finishes higher education and gets a job. Upskilling is very needs-based and transactional once a person is settled in a job. Ed-tech has a high involvement but low intent and interest. Therefore, tough to convert into action. Any education-driven company would want to reduce the customer acquisition cost in the longer run. It can’t happen by buying spots on big-ticket IPs, but by doing meaningful conversations through content.” 

Out of Rs 100 crore set aside for marketing in 2022, the brand has allocated Rs 60-70 crore to content and Rs 30 crore for advertising. 

Scaler has also amped up its in-house content setup and one can gauge that with the crores of investment gone behind creating its in-house 1200 square feet content studio. The brand and content team consists of 35 people at Scaler.  

The core focus of the brand is to leverage digital media's power by creating IPs, curating branded content, and choosing the right voices to partner with for influencer campaigns to accurately convey the brand's value proposition to its niche audience.

Scaler has divided its content strategy into two parts, one is consumer content, where they collaborate with platforms, like TVF, of the content world and build brand awareness and eventually bring the consumers to its platforms. The second one is the learning content, which is further divided into bouquets: Masterclasses, recorded tech bytes, Live events and other similar content that helps consumers learn.  

Kumar said that while learning content has been there since the platform’s inception, the brand started its journey on the discovery side of content only a year ago. For Scaler, the Southern market is the core market and hence its big-ticket content IPs are also centred around the Southern market. Going forward, it will launch more Hindi and English big-ticket IPs as well. 

Two months ago, Scaler along with its digital agency Isobar collaborated with the content platform ‘Girl Formula’ for the web series “30 weds 21 Season 2”. The 7-episodes web series is on its way to crossing 100 million organic views by end of June, said Kumar.  

The web series:

The last branded web series to cross over 100 million organic views was TVF’s Aspirants created for Unacademy. 

Most recently, Scaler has collaborated with Bhartiya Digital Party, a regional digital entertainment company to launch the web series ‘B.E Rojgaar’, which will release on May 20. 

The trailer:

These web series were specifically written for Scaler. “It’s not that we just associated with an already planned web series,” commented Kumar.  

Sharing the thought behind launching a property as expensive as a web series than just going the snackable content route, which is comparatively cheaper, Kumar said, “To create a long-term relationship, one needs a full-stack approach. One needs to invite the customers in a disarming way where they get to consume entertaining content. Post that, one needs to build snackable content that the brand can keep uploading on YouTube to keep the engagement going. We are focussing a lot on big-ticket content IPs. End of the day, we want to drive content to commerce and through such big-scale content IPs, the uptick has been significant for us.”  

The brand has garnered over one lakh YouTube subscribers in three years. It uploads more than four videos on YouTube every day and is able to convert over 200 subscribers daily. “While 70% of subscribers on YouTube are organic, 30% of the subscribers have come to the platform inorganically,” added Kumar.  

While Scaler has been heavily focussed on video content until now, going forward, it aims to focus more on audio content, which is podcasts. 

“In audio, while the sample size is less, the consumer in the hot state is more than in the video. We have done a couple of experiments. We are sure that with the success we had on running audio content, we will see some good uptick,” added Kumar.  

Branded content is fairly new in India. Getting the skilled and the right talent for this stream is not child’s play. On being asked how Scaler goes about hiring people for the branded content and content team, Kumar said that over and above basic skills one needs for content, they also look at the entrepreneurial mindset in a person while hiring. “We look at people who don’t shy away from rolling their sleeves to solve business problems. Secondly, we look at core competencies. We have people from journalism, television and advertising.”

While devising the brand’s content strategy, Scaler has a two-point checklist it follows: 

  1. The understanding of the audience needs to be at the core of the content strategy. 
  2. Scaler then deduces the channels and genres that are cost-effective and will drive a higher action rate.

Kumar said that it sees its consumers consuming more gaming, entertainment and infotainment content. 

He further said, “When it comes to choosing the content partners, our bias is more content-driven than platform-driven. We take into consideration our business objective, the demographics we are targeting and consumer preferences. This helps us narrow down our search for the right content partner.” 

Kumar further said that the brand ensures to keep its content plan to be documented. “If I have to do content in January next year, I should be ready with the roadmap maximum by the end of May,” said Kumar.

Many a times when a Content Head moves out from a company, and is replaced by a new one, they tend to change the whole content plan and strategy. As a result, the already running content IPs are left hanging in the air, while new ones are created. 

Kumar said that content shouldn’t be treated like just another marketing channel but be embedded in the DNA of the company. He said, “The content mindset of the company shouldn’t be dependent on its people. Don’t make content people-centric but culture-centric. If a person leaves, the company must again hire people with similar mindsets.”

Scaler is very selective when it comes to influencer marketing. While the brand works with Category A and B influencers, it is highly optimistic about nano and micro-influencers. Scaler does 15-20 activities with micro and nano influencers every month and 4-5 activities with Category A and B creators. 

Kumar believes that measurement of content marketing success will remain a pain point for a foreseeable future. Explaining the same, he said, “When you put out content, there is a direct correlation on impact and there is also an indirect correlation. For example, a person consumes content, but might not immediately buy the product and returns to buy the product two months later via performance marketing. That success will be attributed to performance marketing, while the consumer decided to buy the product because of the content he consumed two months ago.” 

He added, “The attribution of the lead will go to performance marketing, whereas content marketing attribution won’t happen. Now with moving into a cookie-less world, attribution of content marketing success will become even more blur.” 

Kumar also said that differentiating between real and vanity metrics has become another big problem. “Reach has become a vanity metric. For example, if we take the case of a content creator and celebrity. While the celebrity might have a higher reach than a content creator, it will have lesser engagement in comparison to the creator who might have 1/10th reach of a celebrity but a higher engagement rate.”

Scaler has produced all its content for digital and is not much of a believer in partnering with TV, radio and print for their content needs. “Unfortunately, the TV ecosystem doesn’t support the organic placement of content. Also, off-late, we haven’t come across good ambitious projects on TV, print and radio. We are absolutely okay to collaborate with print, TV and radio players if it matches our goals.” 

Concluding the conversation, Kumar said that going forward, Scaler will ensure to produce quality content along with focussing on the frequency of the content. “It’s not about doing many things, but doing fewer things and right. We’ll be carefully choosing our content partners and associating with credible people.” 

Content@BuzzInContent.com