As Shafqat Islam (Co-Founder and CEO) of NewsCred picks up his iced coffee from the regular cart vendor on Park Avenue N.Y.C. to start his workday, his colleagues Rubayeet Islam (Software Engineer) and Razin Mustafiz (Product Manager) have just finished a day of meetings and deadlines in Gulshan. Rubayeet and Razin unwind on the office sofa to video call Shafqat and update him on the exciting events of the day. Such are the dynamics of the multinational content marketing technology company, NewsCred. They stay true to their slogan of powering content that connects brands and consumers around the clock and across the globe.
By Shaikh Ashfaque Zaman
The idea of content marketing is fairly unfamiliar to a Bangladeshi audience. However, the company’s rapid success speaks volumes regarding this phenomenon. Razin explains that content marketing is a form of storytelling. “We help marketers and brands tell prolific stories that will resonate with their audience. This can take the form of a blog post, tweet, or Instagram photo.” Every year, marketers spend tens of billions of dollars on marketing and with the emergence of digital marketing, it has made the potential of their advertising measurable. The digital era has allowed for messages to be personalized, contextualized and relevant to every demographic of a particular product or service. In this context, Shafqat elaborates, “We believe that content can not only reach people but educate and inspire them. Once a company has achieved this, they are not just bombarding customers with advertisements that they will ignore. By understanding their wants and needs, a company can build authentic relationships with the clients.”
With a more informed customer base, 80% of whom are proactively conducting their research online, the right message proves to be imperative. Rubayeet firmly believes that it is not simply about putting your brand out into the market. “Content marketing is a solution to the ambiguity of exposure. When was the last time you looked at a banner ad and were tempted to click it? We believe that there has to be a better way and have dedicated ourselves to help marketers create memorable content that actually enhances the user experience, instead of disrupting it.”
NewsCred believes quality is at the center of any good content marketing strategy. “Even companies that rely on search engine optimization (SEO) would need high quality content to rank higher on Google search results,” postulates Shafqat. Google rewards content of superior quality, shares, and longevity to rank it in search results. Razin explains that the company prides itself on creating a pioneering platform that helps marketers conduct all their content marketing operations in one place. “We tackle every stage of marketing; starting from production, distribution on social media, setting an editorial strategy, and managing an editorial calendar. One of our fundamental beliefs is that content marketing is the atomic unit of marketing. Ultimately for all of these channels to work you need the raw material. It works similarly to how atoms are the building blocks of life.”
As a one-stop shop for all content related matters, NewsCred’s software helps manage the creation, distribution, and measurement for some of the biggest brands in the world like Pepsi and Visa. Razin articulates that proving return on investment is the Holy Grail of content marketing and why these brands have chosen NewsCred. “Measuring the content to see if that translates to a connection with the customers, ultimately leading to the purchase of a product or service is the most important aspect.” With the advent and progress of technology, the ability to measure the impact of any content has now become automated and easy to convert. He adds, “You can input an algorithm that will save you copious amounts of time and manpower. We can measure how many people are reading your blog and how many of those people are sharing it on social media. We can also calculate if the content is creating a buzz, the kind of possibilities of that buzz for your brand and if that converts to a purchase or sales leads.”
The dynamics and behavior of how a customer purchases a product has changed more in the last 5 years than the last 50. Shafqat observes that a vast majority of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer clicks the buy button. “When you think of going to a restaurant or traveling, you conduct research through various channels. Therefore the marketer must provide the right content, through the correct channel in a timely manner.” He stresses that marketers must be ready at all stages, which includes discovery, awareness, research, and purchasing. “The buying channel has become more nebulous now that the Internet allows the buyer to come in and out of the purchase funnel. Your content must be ready regardless of whether the customer is buying through a linear or nonlinear buying circle. With this in mind, we create different content for each stage that tailors to the various channels. Just think of it like Linkedin, as a professional site would have a separate approach than a personal setting such as Facebook. Both must be contextually relevant in their domains.”
With the vast library of content that they have built, they are equipped to help brands through any channel. Rubayeet recalls the saying ‘Software is eating the world,’ by Marc Andreessen to highlight this idea. “You need software that runs smoothly for the client. It is a multi-step process that entails planning, sourcing, measuring and discovery. Our library helps them find the content and guarantees that the customer will find it. If the client wants to publish the content on multiple platforms, we are prepared to satisfy that demand.” They have also integrated with multiple partners in order to measure the impact of content within these channels. Rubayeet notes that integrating these technologies and software is a significant support. “For instance, we integrate with Marketo in order to provide our customers with information regarding the conversion of the content in creating an impact on purchase. We partner with Google Analytics to enable our customers to see how many people have read a certain blog post. Through these various tools, we are able to monitor the reach and effectiveness of any published content.”
Despite the various channels, NewsCred considers adding value to be the foundation of content marketing. Shafqat considers value exchange and educating the customer towards a better life to be an essential transaction. “If you look at banks and financial companies, traditionally they would just provide offers for loans and mortgages. We work on a strategy to help them educate their customers on how to save money, improve financial literacy, help them find a loan or pay for college.” He highlights the power of content in impacting important life moments and helping build trust between brands and consumers.
Operating a multinational company proves to be a challenge for many companies. Nevertheless, NewsCred sees this as an opportunity for diversity in thought, culture, and approach. Razin sees this as an opportunity to avoid being pigeonholed into a single type of thinking and as an indicator of business growth and innovation. “We do face challenges when it comes to communication because of the three different time zones. But we see this as our ultimate advantage because this makes us a company with a 24- hour office. We are constantly functioning towards the betterments of those we serve.”