Today, I am interviewing Sanjay Shenoy, one of the top rated Content & SEO experts in Bangalore. He has run his own startup, has headed marketing in many startup companies in Bangalore and also a full stack digital marketing expert. He is a hustler and we all have a lot to learn from him. Let’s get started!
Deepak: When did you start Digital Marketing and how did you get into it?
Sanjay: I started my Digital Marketing journey back in 2009. As a teenager, I was honestly just trying to make some money on the internet. I had been trying to do so way before 2009 but nothing happened. Finally, in 2009, I landed my first client on Freelancer and that’s where my journey began.
When I started off I didn’t know anything about SEO. Frankly, the way I won the client was quite funny. I basically created my own gig pretending to look for SEO services, took the best proposals I got and made it into a nice proposal and sent it across to my client. He liked it a lot, and I won my first client! I had no clue what I was talking about in my proposal.
Once I won the gig, I worked very hard to understand everything that I had mentioned and learned everything I had to about SEO and delivered what I had promised. He was very happy with the results! That’s how I got into the field of Digital Marketing.
What do you think has changed in Digital Marketing since you started?
A lot! And it is changing at a breathtaking pace and frankly, it’s very hard to keep up sometimes. Everything was much more easily manipulatable back then. Now the systems and algorithms have become extremely advanced and smart. And so have people.
Which is why it is all the more important these days to focus on the people who are your customers rather than the machines. Be it getting better rankings in search engines, more reach on Facebook, better open rates. All these are just means to your customer and not the customer itself. If you use all these channels to make an extremely pleasant experience for your customer, you would have won.
How important do you think Digital Marketing is, in the entire marketing landscape?
It is extremely important. I feel that the biggest difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing is the ability to target and measure. This gives digital marketing the edge over traditional marketing but that doesn’t mean that traditional marketing is dead, neither will it die anytime soon.
Both these versions nowadays seem to coexist and in fact complement each other very well. Asking people on traditional channels to come interact on their Facebook page or propagating a hashtag and also I know companies that run small campaigns online to see what combination of visuals and communication works before taking it on traditional channels. The pyramid has been inverted now, before people use to first spend on traditional channels and then spend little on digital channels but now that has completely inverted is what I believe.
What do you think is the cornerstone of any digital marketing campaign these days?
Content. Content is the cornerstone, bedrock, backbone and the most fundamental aspect of any digital marketing campaign. You can pick any channel or campaign you want, content is what will drive it. You want to perform SEO, you need great content. Not only the actual content but your meta content also. Social Media Marketing thrives on great content. Do you want to run a successful ad campaign, guess what? You need great content in form of copy. Email Marketing? Content. Mobile Marketing. Content. Whatever you try to put your hands into content plays a key role.
Speaking of Content, what has been your success with it?
I have great success with content. My highlight was a blog that I and the team executed that got to 500K sessions in less than a week! It went crazy viral, it was all over. It got picked up by all major publications across the globe.
Also, I have managed more than 200 blog posts across different companies and attracted a lot of traffic from these blogs. In fact, I have set up a blog from scratch and got it to an average of 100k sessions/month in less than 7 months with just two content writers.
What do you think makes content successful or viral?
There are various aspects to it but if you want to broadly divide into two buckets then practically informational content and emotionally charged content are two buckets I would divide them into.
When I say practically informational content, the information you are giving out should be practical and actually feasible. You can achieve this, by making the information as granular as possible.
Emotionally charged content works great because it connects with your audience. It can be any emotion (try to not to make it negative) and it will help you reach the same wavelength as your audience and they will help you amplify it further.
What format of content do you think has the biggest impact on a brand?
There is no single answer for this. It completely depends on the channel you are on and definitely depends on your target audience. But if I had to place my money then I would place it on video. With increased internet penetration and better speeds and lesser consumption time, viewers tend to like to format a lot more than other formats.
What do you think is the biggest metric(s) in terms of content marketing?
For me the single biggest metric to measure success in terms of content marketing is amplification. When I say amplification what I mean to say is how many people shared your content and amplified its reach. Why this metric? Because this says a lot about your content. Not only did the visitor read your content completely,consumed it and connected with it, he/she now wants to share it with his network. This is huge because for a lot of people, what they share on their wall reflects what they are and by sharing your piece of content they are doing you a huge favor by giving their personal space to your content.
If you craft your content for amplification you won’t need any marketing. It will perpetually market itself and people will keep trickling it. But just a heads up, it’s harder than it sounds.
Which other channels in Digital Marketing is important according to you?
Every channel is important. You can’t ignore any channel per se and you should try and invest in every channel. Your traffic profile should look balanced and dependency on one single channel is not a good idea.
For example, if you focus only on SEO and getting most of your traffic is from the search engines, one algorithm change might ruin your business and website. Let’s take the same example and apply it in a different scenario. If you are getting most of your traffic from SEO and then you capture their email address and through email marketing or through the website itself, you make them engage with your social media pages, you have not only attracted traffic but retained it. Now you can go ahead and engage them on a regular basis and get them to come back your website and give you more business.
Each channel has its own benefits and drawbacks. If you integrate everything together and make them work together, not only are you reducing the risk but also balancing out your entire traffic source.
If you had to explain Marketing in one line what would it be?
Advertising or marketing is the virtue of a bad product. Focus on your product/service/offering and use all digital marketing channels as a feedback mechanism to make your offering better so that it markets itself.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring Digital Marketers?
No matter how many blogs you read, how many discussions you have there is only so much you can learn. Go out there and do it. There is a lot more to learn when you actually execute things. The barrier to entry into digital marketing is so low that anybody can start doing it and learn by doing it. Break a few things, stir up a storm and learn through the process.
Deepak: Thanks a lot for answering my questions. I learned a lot and I’m sure DigitalDeepak’s readers also learned a lot today. Looking forward to more content from you!
Ask any question related to content marketing and SEO in the comments below and Sanjay will reply!