We got a chance to catch up with Kruthika Subramanyam
, Head – Content & Creative, Cleartrip
, to discuss about changing role of Content, especially in travel sector which is one of the most badly hit sectors due to COVID-19. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Q. What do you envisage the role of Content for Cleartrip? Do you see it going beyond marketing in the coming years?
Yes, definitely. The way people interact with content and marketing online (ads, and sponsored content) is very different. It's necessary to build quality content with long-term payoff, and that's what we're doing at Cleartrip with Cleartrip Stories
, and the Cleartrip Holiday Planner
. Both of these help immerse a reader or traveller in that world. It's well curated, well-written, and a delight to read and interact with. This echoes Cleartrip’s brand aesthetic as well.
Given the multitude of channels available today, for content discovery, and consumption, marketing helps in distribution and reach. I would say that marketing will see a transition from sales-y, click-bait writing to match the content it's leading to.
Q. As the creative and content lead, how do you see Content Professionals fitting into the overall marketing team? Who has to adapt more going forward?
KS: My ideal team will have writers and researchers, to ensure that the work we're creating and sharing is original, and checked for sensitivity. I would say that traditional marketing teams will need to adapt and evolve and earmark budgets for creating content, rather than utilizing external parties. Working with fans of your brand to help spread the word is also going to be the way forward. I say fans, and not influencers, because this isn't simply a pay-per-post strategy, it's bringing ambassadors on board who are de-facto brand custodians, so we'll see more honest marketing.
Q. How do you ensure stickiness of audience with content, given the fact that users are not looking at travel in these times?
KS: Travel is so much more than hopping on a plane. It's a state of mind, and travel starts much, much before booking that flight. So we have content that allows customers to indulge in armchair travel. In fact, our suggestions for virtual concerts in India, and virtual museum visits in India and across the world saw fantastic engagement.
Creating content that is useful, and adds value to our customers' lives is one part, and consistently doing this is the second, more important part. To that end, we created TravelSafe, a product that helps travelers easily understand the new rules around flying. Our customers had a lot of questions around safe travel and staying on top of varying safety protocols and state-wise quarantine rules can be overwhelming. We have simplified this complexity with the TravelSafe product. It's curated information on state-wise quarantine rules, airport and airline protocols, travel checklists and redeeming credit shells. Plus, the content is updated dynamically and customized for our three major markets - India, KSA and UAE.
Q. What is your ideal allocation of content marketing budget across Creation, Management, Distribution & Measurement?
KS: My ideal split would be 60% on content creation, because this can have significant life time value. 30% on distribution or marketing, and 10% on management. Ideally, there shouldn't be any additional spends on measurement, because you are trying to use your existing tools.
Q. What %age of your content is currently created In-house and how much is outsourced? Who do you think brands should outsource?
KS: I would say there's a 70–30 split between in-house and outsourced. We work with a content studio for social media, working with them on ideas, and execution.
I wouldn't say that all brands or companies should outsource as a rule, it depends on what their content strategy is. It's always good to have a content partner to help deliver when you want to experiment with an idea, or need high volume at speed.
Q. How is role of content changing in these times of COVID-19?
KS: In the e-commerce space it's definitely pivoted to be more responsible, and some brands have juggled it well, without losing their sense of humour – Dunzo for example.
Also helpful – things that are usually anathema to most brands, redirecting followers or subscribers to third-party content, were turned on their head. At Cleartrip, for more than 6 weeks, we helped our customers with suggestions about working from home effectively, sharing suggestions to keep kids engaged, apps for health and wellness, and plenty of recipes and cooking suggestions! Engagement stayed stable, even increasing on some weeks, so we knew we were doing it right.
Q. Do you see brands investing more or less in these times? What is the state of affairs at Cleartrip?
KS: I can't speak for other companies, but I would say it depends on their business model. At Cleartrip, we have brought in more efficiency in our budgets. We have doubled down on what content we want to share with our followers and customers; ensuring that we're adding value in a discernible way.
Q. Any advice for brands planning to start or scale their content journey?
KS: Get your metrics in place before you go live. Link everything that needs to be linked to the analytics platform you use. Also, be sure of what you want to measure, and how that'll impact your content growth strategy.