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Asif Upadhye

A digital-first media landscape has paved the way for brands to create and distribute content across a multitude of platforms in any format they choose. But the potential benefits of blending offline efforts with online strategy still remains largely untapped. 

Asif Upadhye, Director at SPRD (the Public Relations, Digital and Communications consultancy), told BuzzInContent that supporting content marketing strategy with a couple of well-placed offline mediums is the only way to truly stand out from the crowd.

“While it might seem instinctive to channel one’s energy into digital marketing, direct techniques such as billboards, catalogues and pop-up experiences go a long way in creating memories and stories that stick. Although the physical space has mostly been left to advertisers for as long as anyone can remember, supporting your content marketing strategy with a couple of well-placed offline mediums is the only way to truly stand out from the crowd,” he said.

He believes one of the main reasons why content marketing could be a one-stop solution in 2022 is because it has proved its mettle in creating clear objectives to build a connection between a brand and its customers. 

Sharing more insights on the evolving space, he said that using data to understand buyer preferences and adapting to trends help brands build a more sophisticated approach to communication that is exciting and, most importantly, engaging. 

“Over time we’ve seen brands embrace more interactive content through their campaigns by inviting their target audience to actively participate in the same. When it comes to trends, the content marketing sphere has been pretty consistent in its upward trajectory. However, the scope of growth paired with SEO will be critical to drive organic traffic. Basically, what it really gets down to is how an agency will continue to evolve and diversify strategies to create multiple touch-points for meaningful content,” he added.

2021 brought about the need for industries to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour and fine-tune their approach at a time when almost all marketing was digital. 

With the evolution of social media and online culture, he said that up to 43% of marketers experienced increase in their content marketing budgets. Quoting the report from Forrester, he pointed out that 92% of marketers have seen a marked increase in personalised marketing, with brands reaching out to agencies to help them make a strategy and diversify their communication. 

According to CMI’s B2B Marketing report, paid media, video, owned-media assets, digital and real-world events are the top areas for content marketing investments in the year 2022. This exciting shift in branded content is estimated to increase by more than 9% in the year 2022 with a steady growth of company support for content marketing, he added.

He foresees brands increasing their spending on content marketing agencies in the next year.

“They will increase their ad spends on this because it’s the smartest and quickest way to put your brand out there. Digital penetration is already increasing at a rapid rate and investing in content agencies that exclusively cater to branded content will only help amplify a brand’s visibility. 2020 was an opportunity to watch how things go and plan for the future. 2021 was to execute what was in store. 2022 will be to go all out and get businesses back to where they thrived,” he said.

However, he suggested marketers go beyond the industry standard metrics of likes and shares to get an accurate measurement of ROI.

He said, “While social media engagement (likes/shares/comments) helps you get a sense of whether your content marketing efforts are actually bearing fruit, you need to be willing to go beyond these metrics to get an accurate measurement of your ROI. For example, if the goal for a content marketing campaign is to create brand awareness, you could track things like exposure and authority, SEO, website traffic, media impressions and number of media placements. A smart combination of these elements gives marketers a holistic understanding of the impact of their content marketing strategy or a brand’s ROI.”

The pandemic has affected business across the world but one of the biggest perks of being online is the fact that one is prepared to survive. Media as a field is volatile, dynamic and during the last couple of years, online presence has only amplified manifolds. 

Upadhye shared that the business for the agency has been steady and slowly increasing. Being a digital-first agency SPRD already offers a diverse range of services- from influencer marketing, to reputation and crisis management, to content strategy and storytelling, amidst others. 

In the coming year, instead of adding new services, it will aim to grow its existing businesses. 

In terms of the client base, he said, “100% increase would be a great target to have and a utopian situation too! Hence, I would say, at least by 50%.”

When asked if the agency’s approach towards content strategy has also changed for developing content which is cost effective for the business, Upadhye said, “As an organisation, we have always prided ourselves in delivering quality first. We firmly believe that content strategies must be customised keeping in mind what the business needs, not what it can afford. In an attempt to be cost-effective, we wouldn’t jeopardise our expertise in developing impactful and hard-hitting content. Storytelling has always been our forte and spreading the good word is what we take pride in.”