8 Guidelines For Effective Content Marketing

The 6th edition of CMS Asia 2018 just got over. It was great to interact with so many delegates, exhibitors, and speakers from different fields. Pure nature of the event will leave you with so many new thoughts & ideas that it is only fair to share the same with more people. So, I have tried to put my thoughts on how one can approach content marketing for their business. Here are some guidelines to help your content marketing efforts.

1. Brand Equity Through Content:

The campaign-driven approach has always been at the heart brand efforts for marketers. In the wake of increasing competition & decreasing customer attention span, the content-driven approach can help marketers stand out in the hearts and minds of customers. While content is an always-on game, most of the content gets created just as part of a campaign. The focus has to shift from campaign-based content to continuous equity building content. Tip: Balance your content creation and distribution efforts. If your great piece of content does not reach the critical mass, we are not doing justice to our efforts.

2. Abuse of Social Channels:

This is a classic case where people just adapt one piece of content to all social platforms. Before you choose a platform, you must ask yourself why do you need that channel? What is this channel going to give me that other channel won’t give you? Is it worth the extra effort?

3. Curious Case of Social Content Calendars:

Since you already have invested in maintaining your social channels, you have to put something on them. Social calendars are the end result of a very carefully planned content strategy. If you churn out content calendars without having a content strategy, it would be of little help to your brand. Content calendars are a nice way of systematizing your content marketing efforts if done properly.

4. The Terminology Gun:

This is where I have seen most experienced (no. of years ) guys falter. Most of the digital guys have got what I call ‘The Terminology Gun’ which they use indiscriminately without understanding the metrics. It is imperative to know all metrics that are being reported. If you are a client, insist on asking the definition of each metric you are being shown.

5. What’s Our Hashtag?

Hashtags are good. They can convey the entire campaign in just a few words and can make easily searchable. But it is not mandatory that every campaign should have one. Always remember that you are not the only one who is coming out with a kick-ass hashtag. In the world of hashtags, if you wish to stand out, you need to plan and create content to sustain the hashtag.

6. Undying Love For Video Format:

We all know what video format can do for your marketing efforts. There is no doubt on the power of the format. CMS Asia 2018 saw many brands using non-video formats to create some fantastic campaigns that drove their business. Roadster’s First Shoppable Graphic Novel is a great example of how to rock non-video format.

7. Brands As Storytellers:

Storytelling is something that is not everyone’s cup of tea. Brands are still trying to master the art of storytelling. Storytelling has two parts: “Story & Telling”. One has to be very clear on what is one’s key story. One of our panelists in CMS Asia beautifully mentioned how Patanjali became so big even when Ayurvedic brands still existed and enjoyed favorable opinion of people. If you got no story, forget about the telling part. Telling part can still be outsourced but the ‘story’ part is you and only you. No one can do it for you.

8. ROI of Content Marketing:

ROI struggles are not new to content marketing. Depending upon what kind of objectives your content is supposed to achieve, you can always monitor some metrics to give you some idea. It helps to break down metrics in micro (time spent, leads etc.) and macro (sales) metrics. This can be easily done in online space by using simple tools like GA. Start documenting content efforts and performance to see what is working what is not. At CMS Asia 2018, we had 3 hours workshop on ROI of Content Marketing by the LinkedIn team that addressed the topic in great detail.

These guidelines can help you approach content marketing with a right frame of mind for your business. If you are content marketers at heart, we hope to discuss more content marketing topics in our ASEAN edition of CMS Asia in Singapore on August 15th, 2018. Hope to see you there.


Rented Media: Completing the ‘Paid-Owned-Earned’ family!!

Some of the social platforms, which brands think they own, are actually calling the shot without changing the ownership of platforms. If you are related in any way to digital marketing/digital media, I am sure you would have come across this trinity of media classification: Paid, Owned & Earned. Some of us practically live by this classification every day. But the way media is evolving, I think, the classification needs a relook. Some of the social platforms, which brands think they own, are actually calling the shot without changing the ownership of platforms. As a consequence, brands authority has inconspicuously been moved from being owner to a lessee. Hence, the media also needs to reflect this change, and the apt word for this change is ‘Rented’ media.

So what is Rented Media?

Media, over which brands have a partial control, would fall under Rented Media classification. What differentiates Rented Media from owned media is the degree of control which brands enjoy over the platform. If a brand has an unconditional control over the media platform, it is classified as Owned Media. A brand website/wap site etc is an example of owned media.

If brand a using a platform where they don’t have to pay to be on the platform but the platform is constrained by the terms & conditions of the platform itself, it should be classified under Rented Media. Hence, Facebook would be classified under Rented Media rather than Owned Media, as being classified today. Here are few reasons why I would call it a Rented Media:

1. Organically, posts of a page reach on an average only 16% of the users according to FB. To reach out to more users, brands need to use Sponsored Page post. If the platform was completely owned by a brand, it should organically reach out to people. If people have chosen to like a page, why limit put a limit. First brands pay for people to like their page, and then you have to pay again to make them see your post. It’s like using paid media to promote rented media. Sounds like you are living in a rented space than an owing one.

2. FB has issued guidelines for cover pictures of brand pages. If you own the page, use it the way you want. Why should FB define the rules of what is to be put and what is not to be put. Compare this to your website, a really owned medium. You get the difference, don’t you!

These are just few points to illustrate why FB pages should be classified under Rented Media than as owned media. Classification of Paid, Owned, Rented and Earned is based on degree of control as well along with ownership. Here is a table which captures the essence of this article.

Digital 2014: Make Your Digital Planning Effective!!

Engagement: One of the most abused word of past few years. Everyone has made a lot of money of it. In 2014, please define what exactly it means for you. Engagement is not an objective; it is a means to achieve your objective.

Measurement: If you have been waiting for a magic wand, it’s unlikely to come in 2014 too. Start investing in what matters to you most. Setting the right expectations is the key. Review duration of evaluation as well. If you want to change attitudes/behaviors, one month evaluation may not be enough, especially if you are doing it on social.  Stop talking in the air; get to work

Mobile: Sad news, 2014 may not be a ‘year of the mobile’. So, please start using it, testing it, measuring it, refining it.  Things are just plain digital. Think how you can use mobile as part of your marketing mix than just media mix. Mobile may have huge (may be highest reach), people are not dying to interact with you on such a personal platform.

Move beyond being a SANTA CLAUS: “Like me and you can win an iPad”. If you have been doing similar things, how long can you afford to do this? Strive for a better and a genuine relationship. Gratify the genuine brand lovers.

Benchmarking: If you have been complaining about not having enough or no benchmarks in the industry or for your category, you may see more of benchmarks coming through. But don’t wait for it.  Create your own benchmarks instead of looking outside. Averaging yourself out with others is the biggest mistake one can make in digital.

Mobile Site or Responsive Website: Responsive website is good. It’s the bare minimum. But a responsive design does not necessarily mean it delivers good experience. Go for a full fledged mobile site when it warrants the need.

Testing: Test, test and test. Fail fast, learn quickly & adapt fast.

Is your Key Opinion Strategy (K.O.L) Flawed?

Recently, I was in a meeting with a leading OTC mouthwash brand on evaluating their KOL strategy. Objective of the campaign (duration 6 months) was to get people to register for a contest, which eventually builds relevance of the product through trials, and hence change the attitude. Brand brought 6-10 KOL’s on board for this campaign.

Here the mistakes brands make while deploying KOLs:

1.       Getting confused with objective: Brand wanted to drive registrations for the online contest. KOL’s just talked about the contest in their tweets. This did not result into any significant no. of entries, as one would believe. Role of a KOL is to influence the mindset of people about a product/brand. If getting ‘registrations’ is the objective, KOL’s may not be worth the effort. Having KOL in a campaign may make you ppt Fancy but not every campaign requires a KOL.

2.       Confusing ‘Buzzers’ with KOLs: Buzzers are just people with more followers. Every buzzer may not be a KOL and vice versa. If you confuse the two, it has cost implications. Buzzers would be evaluated on how much traffic (leads, retweets etc) they generated, how they compare with other channels, while KOL should be evaluated on kind of discussion it has generated and responded to. Has it helped the brand in anyway? Put some investment in measurement. Simple buzzers will be out of business soon as Twitter has now allowed brands to advertise. In countries, if any, where there is no twitter ad, buzzers still holds some power.

3.       Selecting KOLs’: This is one of the key points of the strategy.  How should one choose a KOL? One should just not run after numbers. Find a guy who is really knows the category you deal in and bring him/her on board. Check if the KOL is opining about just everything under the sun. He is not your guy. Diluted credibility is not something you are looking at here. It may be difficult task to see how much influence a KOL has. But it is essential. Do a quick online survey to give you a sense of what people are saying about the person.  If you are thinking of using Klout, the number hardly means anything. Hence, avoidable.

3 Key Considerations You Need To Mind While Developing Social Campaigns

Having executed a lot of campaigns in social space, there seems to be a few common points which do not get due consideration from brands. Here are 3 such things, which if get due consideration, can really change the way social campaigns are assessed:

  1. Tactical Campaigns Versus Strategic Campaigns: Are you running a tactical campaign like discount promo or buy early etc. The primary objectives are either to drive immediate sales or to acquire brand fans in the hope that they would buy in future. Strategically used Social media campaigns propagate an idea designed to enhance the appeal and reputation of a brand.  This gives rise to the second point of evaluation period.
  2. Length of campaigns & evaluation: Generally, there is a distinction in the evaluation timeframe of tactical campaigns (short duration) and strategic campaigns (long duration). Social media campaigns tend be measured over a period of 0-3 maximum duration. It may be sufficient period if your objective it to reach out to maximum universe assuming you have spent sufficiently. But if the campaign objective is loyalty or changing attitudes/behaviors, it may not be a good duration. Also, tactical promotions may make your brand more price elastic whereas strategic approach may help you make your brand less vulnerable to price elasticity.
  3. Measurement: Counting Likes, Tweets & Earned Media ROI:
    1. Likes: This is the most abused measurement for FB campaigns. There is no harm in acquiring fans/likes as long as you know what they resulting into for your business. If you don’t understand this connection, you are wasting company’s money.
    2. Tweets: Pure no. of tweet number has a little value. Value of a tweet should be looked from various angles like who tweeted, is it positive or negative, how many re-tweets, how many replies, how many people is it reaching out to etc.
    3. Earned Impression(ROI): This is what I call ‘feel good’ metrics which has little relevance. Millions of exposures in social and putting a dollar value of them is something which needs to be put in some context to make any sense out of it. What are these millions impressions resulting into? Are they driving more action on your site/page?

Digital Campaign Implementation: How To Execute Campaigns Smoothly?

Ok, you have used all the extensive analysis, you have used all planning tools to target your audience and you are set for implementation. That’s just half the battle won. If the planned campaign does not result into a proper execution, it will lead you down the misleading analysis and hence, suboptimal or wrong action points.  Here are the few things which can help you with an effective campaign.

  1. Minimize the time in setting up a campaign:
    1. Creative: If you are not a client, you will agree with me that creative remain the most painful part of making a campaign live. Make sure creative are ready as soon as possible. Most of the times, banners are made once the media plan is finalized. You can minimize this delay by having the static frames of the banners ready along with traditional creative.  Next important step is to know who is going to do the creative.  Most of the traditional ad agencies may not be fully equipped with expertise to create flash banners. If creative concepts (static frames) are being provided by the ad agency and the banner is being done by the specialist agency, make sure to have at least one meeting with all of them together to have a workable deadline, if not ideal. If you want to use multiple creative throughout the campaign, convening a meeting is all the more important.
    2. Creative Testing: Once the creative are ready, they go to publishers for a ‘Quality Check’ or ‘QC’. QC time may vary from international vendors to domestic vendors. If creative fail QC, there would be time involved in rectifying the banners. So, keep a buffer of maximum a day for testing (assuming creative vendor has a good turnaround time). If you are doing an Innovation, keep maximum 2 days for testing & revisions. Losing a slot for your innovation may mean choosing the next available date which may or may not be feasible from campaign point of view.
    3. If you are using third party ad serving, keep an additional day for the campaign setup.

Above things will ensure that you will be live on all the websites as per your schedule. This in turn will ensure a desired campaign life.

  1. Optimizing the campaign:

Once your campaign goes live, it’s time to optimize the campaign.  But before you start optimizing, make sure you have given enough time for campaign to pick up. Don’t rush into it. The same applies to post optimization steps. There are two kinds of optimizations:

  • Creative Optimization: You can choose between sequential showing of banners and rotating the creative evenly. Stick to whatever works best for you.
  • Media Optimization: This requires changing/shifting media properties if they fail to pick up after applying all the optimization steps. This would be as per your defined benchmarks. Most commonly used optimization steps are:
    • Changing the Frequency of the campaign.
    • Changing (adding/replacing) the position of the media unit with a new one.
    • Fixing the creative for certain duration.
    • Shift monies from a poor performing website to a better performing site.
  • Changing the ad copies & keywords
  • Website Optimizations: Changing the landing pages ( high bandwidth to low bandwidth, reducing the number of steps to the desired action, from flash to non-flash)


  1. Evaluating the campaign:

Once the campaign is over, make sure you not only get a final report but a concrete analysis as well. Remember, reporting is different from analysis.


For performance campaigns, check to see if the goals have been met, where the campaign lacked, which site over performed/underperformed, where you left the users if they dint covert, what the ideal path to purchase was, what was the exposure to conversion frequency, cost per lead etc.


For a brand campaign, you can measure the following:

  • Most common metrics: Click Through Rate, eCPM, Unique Users, Cost Per Unique Users, Banners Expansion rates, Dwell time etc
  • Additional metrics:
    • Bounce rate: Check how the paid media traffic compares with the site average. This ensures you to see if traffic driven was quality traffic.
    • Time spent: You can compare to see time spent by paid media traffic vis a vis other traffic sources.
    • New Users: This metric allows you to see whether paid media campaign drove more new users or returning users.

This guide may not be exhaustive but can help you gives a head up on the most common issued faced while executing a campaign.

Frequently Asked (read Annoying) Questions (FAQS) in Digital Media Planning – Series 1

Q1.  I am not able to see my banner? I tried refreshing the page too.

I am sure every digital planner has faced this question at least once. I want to put this possible reason for it in black & white for all clients who don’t understand the reason behind it and for everyone else who needs a ready made answer for the same.

Here are the some of the possible reasons (when you buy on CPM):

  1. You might not have bought sufficient no. of impressions as compared to what the selected site delivers and what other brands might have bought. This happens usually when there is a budget constraint & clients still insist on buying high traffic sites with choosing some presence versus no presence.
  2. Impressions might have been spread thinly over a longer duration making your SOV (per day basis) too low.
  3. Check the frequency cap in case you are trying to see the banner again.
  4. In case you are running on an Ad Network, it’s difficult to control where and when your ad would appear.
  5. Try clearing your Cache (CTRL+F5).
  6. Check if there is a road block or a fixed buy running for that particular day by another advertiser.

If all the above things are in order, do check if your campaign is really live. This question really ranks high of annoyance, especially when you have made the presentation and secured the media approval.

Q2. What is our SOV on digital?

For CPM Deals:

This question is result of too much traditional media (TV & Radio) exposure for clients. In offline media, inventory is limited. You have content and in between you have Free Commercial Time or FCT. This FCT is available to brands. So out of 24 hours, only X time is allocated for commercials, which is limited. Demand is more than Supply. Hence, SOV becomes a good measure of presence. Compare this to online media. Most of the cases, Supply is usually greater than demand, especially for high traffic sites.


Daily Possible Home Page Impressions

Bought Impression By Brand On Home Page


Day Wise Impressions


Cost With CPM (150)


                 8,000,000                   6,000,000  30 Days

(6,000,000/30)= 2,00,000

(2,00,000/8,000,000) = 2.5%


Refer to the above dummy plan. Due to budget constraints, you are able to buy only certain amount of impressions only on a particular site.  Unless you have sufficient bought inventory on Yahoo, given the duration of the campaign, SOV will be very low.  Here, the planning tradeoff is whether to consolidate on yahoo (high traffic) buy leaving out on similar sites or choose relatively lower sites than Yahoo to improve the visibility.

Key take out: In case of impression buy (CPM), unless you have enough monies, SOV should be avoided. If your client wants visibility, look for Fixed Properties.

Q3: If someone is searching for competitor’s brand, why show him our brand ad?

Simply, because there is an opportunity to be present while the user is evaluating other options. You have the chance to influence him to get to your brand.

Q4: Let’s plan for 4% CTR.

It’s difficult to plan on CTR’s simply because it’s is difficult to ascertain users mind.

CTR(f)= Media Selection + Creative Treatment + Brand Proposition.  Different people will respond to brand differently. It is possible to change media selection & creative to optimize the campaign but it is not possible to plan on CTRs.

What’s your favorite question, huh?