How PhonePe is building a result-oriented and data-driven content team

Pepper Content's Top of The Funnel features interviews with marketing leaders, with a focus on digital and content marketing. This week, Priya Patankar, Head of Communications at PhonePe, speaks about the role of content in initiating adoption of online payments for the next 500 million.
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Storytelling and content writing have always been seen as a left-brained activity. Writers are expected to be creative, good with words, and communicate complicated concepts, simply.

Enter the age of digital marketing and the ask of content writers has changed - or should we say evolved? Every medium has its own strengths and what digital brings with it is access to an amount of data that we have never before had access to.

Needless to say, data, advanced tools, and insights have changed the way we market, and eventually, how content creators must create. Content writers must up their game by understanding the impact of their work in real-world contexts like lead generation or how much traffic a piece of content is driving.

Meet Priya Patankar, Head of Communications at PhonePe, who has over two decades of experience under her belt. During this time, she has seen the birth and evolution of content marketing – from content basically meaning a well-written brochure to now where content and content marketing are tasked to fulfil specific goals and achieve very tangible results.

In episode #5 of Pepper Content’s Top of the Funnel, Natasha Puri, the Content Marketing Lead at Pepper, asked Priya about her journey, how she is creating a power-packed content team, and the role of content in initiating the adoption of online payments for the next 500 million.

Watch the video here

Building the dream team

The content marketing team at PhonePe comprises five writers with different skill sets. But the one thing they have in common is that they all are comfortable writing for a consumer internet product in an app-only world. This team works with external agencies and internal teams.

“Orientation towards data is something you have to build, and I consciously make it a point to build. I try to tell them, first of all, we are not going to be intimidated by the data we are seeing. We need to understand what is the outcome of what we are doing.”

Priya admits that this isn’t something that writers are encouraged to do often. She goes on to talk about including the content team in business meetings and pushing them to do a post-mortem of their campaigns for a better understanding of what’s expected of them.

“The meetings they are attending are the targets the business has signed up for. It’s a higher-level conversation. They need to know what it is that the business team has to drive.”

The result? A more involved content team that is willing to go deeper, research harder, and even sign up for competitor products before writing that ebook or blog post. It also means a team that is willing to ask the product or business team - who is your target audience and who are we catering this piece of content to?

Mapping financial content with cricket

Back in 2019, around the time of the IPL, PhonePe Wealth decided to use ‘cricket’ as an analogy for investing in mutual funds. The idea was to educate without intimidating their audience.

Over a period of six to seven months, the content team created a series of blogs, landing pages, and emails playing on the analogy and the end of it saw massive traction.

“We saw PhonePe Wealth cross 100 crore of AUM, and we were also able to launch 10 new mutual funds during this time, which - considering this entity only existed for a few months - is significant.”

Also, ETBFSI recognised them as one of the upcoming players in the mutual funds' space.

The best part was that it could all be attributed to the content. There was no external push, no paid promotion - all pure play content.

The next frontier: vernacular

When talking about onboarding the next 500 million onto the internet and more specifically nudging them to embrace digital payments, Priya’s thoughts on the future of content marketing are clear: go vernacular or go home.

This resonates with PhonePe as it launched vernacular voice notifications in nine languages on its business app in 2020.

“A big trend I’m seeing is besides, of course, all the digital channels and mediums which have opened up is vernacular. So, if we talk of getting the next 500 million, it's important we speak to them,” Priya concludes.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai