Marketing in the Digital Age

What is expected from a digital marketer?

So, clients really what they look for more and more is people who have an understand of digital media in a holistic manner, not just a platform and what one does with the platform or how one gets likes or share or you know, gets content to go viral. But, it starts with an understanding of consumers and their behavior and their consumption of digital media how they use it and then really understand the correlation of the brand to the consumer in the digital medium and the ability to built messages and communication programs that go beyond a singular platform that work across digital platforms that bring an understanding of consumer insights to the table is what clients and brands look for more and more. At the same time there is a need for operational knowledge. How one works on a particular platform and what are the options within a particular platforms and given that most platforms no longer in the digital space allow much organic reach. One needs an understanding of advertising options within the platforms so it’s no longer about how do you create a facebook page or how do you put up a photo album or how do you add Hash Tags to it. But, also an understanding of what the advertising options are and how one brings it all together. So really it’s about an integrated understanding of the digital medium in the context of consumers and their behaviors and their adoption of the digital media and an understanding of the brand itself and its relevance and it’s you know appropriateness to several media, which media they should be on and which media they should not be on, so it’s getting more and more complex. And it is an interesting challenge for markets to get people with a holistic understanding, currently I think they make too with a lot of peace meal stuff, patch work stuff. But I think this is fast moving away and clients are expecting integrated marketers with an understanding of digital rather than social media specialist you know pretending to know marketing.

What are some major skill gaps in digital marketers?

So, I think the major skill gaps in digital marketers you know who are young in the field is

  1. An integrated understanding of the digital landscape that covers the digital platform and social media platforms, digital media, paid media, search marketing and brings it all together. You find a lot of people who have you know expertise or alleged expertise in one or more platforms. But, they don’t kind of bring the whole holistic picture and an understanding of the digital as a whole to the table.
  2. The other is, a lack of recognition that digital is only part of the marketing mix and that one needs to go beyond digital as well and for most customers the action of most brands happens offline and one needs to bring an understanding of offline and digital together which is also lacking.
  3. The third is an kind of lack of understanding of consumers themselves and the kind of propensity to paint all consumers with the same brush. You know I’d like to say that it’s very different if there is Kavita from Kormangalam who is the audience for brand A, but Kavita from Kanpur maybe the Audience for Brand B and Kavita for Kapoorthala maybe the Audience for brand C and bringing an understanding of which Kavita you are talking to and how their digital consumptions and behavior is different is also which is solely lacking amongst, you know the younger digital marketers. And I think the problem really comes from them starting out with a world view of marketing through the platforms they work on or through the platforms they grew up being native to rather than an understanding of consumers, brands and the larger marketing landscapes.

How can we measure ROI for Digital Marketing?

So, what’s very important to do is one to base line before one measures. Before digital, after digital with half pick digital, with full Monty digital. So, important baseline what’s gone by and then plan for the future. The other thing is important to correlate digital matrix with business and marketing Matrix which are become more and more need of the hour. So, digital Matrix by themselves are good lead indicators. If you get a good certain amount of traction in the digital space, say you get views for a video or shares or likes or growth in fan base. It could be used as an indicator towards achieving more marketing goals. So, really setting matrix in the space itself. Saying within the digital space, what are the key goals we want to achieve. Correlating them with key marketing goals and continuously drawing a correlation between the two is what is really really important. In terms of ROI, you know ad spend to relevant traffic to one’s website or ad spent to people who will take a particular promotional offer, is ways to measure you know discreet campaign level practical ROI.

What is your advice for young digital marketers?

It is very important to be willing to dirty your hands. I find too many young digital marketers, social media marketers who said they want to do strategy. Strategy is something that one does when one has a larger picture understanding, understands brands, understands consumers, understands marketing and has a very wide deep strong understanding of digital. So, don’t start out thinking I need to do strategy. Get your hands dirty, be willing to learn, be willing to learn from people who have been there, be hungry to observe and learn what’s out there in the stream and if you really need to do strategy, think of building a more effective operational strategy for the work or the tasks assigned to you as a young digital marketer on a team. So, it’s really about get your hands dirty, think beyond your no’s, learn from people out there and try and correlate with what you are seeing and what you are doing for the brands you manage.

How to increase knowledge in Digital Marketing?

So, obviously everybody you known believe they are digital markets because they are on snapchat, they are on Facebook, they are on twitter, they are on LinkedIn. Nothing can be further from the truth. So, it is like saying I watch television for six hours a day and therefore, I am the most qualified person to write a TV ad for Vodafone or Fevicol. So, number 1, get that out of your head that because you are digital native, you are a digital expert. Realize that being a native is good to know how a channel works but, it’s very important to correlate what you are doing to what consumers are looking for. There is a lot out there because a lot of digital activity happens in one stream. So, observe from it, try and correlate what’s happening, try and understand why it is happening. There also several online resources, there is social Samosa, there is lighthouse insights these are two blog which are popular, blogs among young marketers. They basically have news and views of what’s happening out there so, they are not very analytical, the analysis maybe at times a little shallow. But, there is a lot out there, every campaign out there is covered. Every quarter they talk of campaigns of the quarter. Read about them, see what’s happening, correlate between what you read and what you see, and just use Google. If you want resources to know what’s happening out there, Google, go to YouTube look of videos like the one you are seeing right now and look out for stuff. Follow people from the space, follow people who are senior in the digital space, in the marketing space. Attend conferences, attend events, you know look to take online courses, whether they are free courses, whether they are paid courses. Just be hungry to learn and dive in, immerse yourself, swim in the digital stream and that’s the best way to kind of learn. You just have to be greedy for knowledge.

What are the opportunities for brand managers in Digital marketing?

So if you are a brand marketer or a young brand manager, I assume in most cases you probably done an MBA. So, you already have an understanding of consumers, marketing, the 4 P’s or the 7 P’s or whatever you know is thought in B Schools right now and it is really embracing digital within that frame work that’s important. So, it is not about can I move into digital marketing, it’s about can I embrace digital marketing to be a more effective brand manager. Off course, many companies, many brands still has stand alone digital marketing roles. But, really as a brand custodian you are probably the best position to leverage the digital marketing role either as an extension of your brand management function or if it is so important and crucial to the company, moving away for the core brand management into digital brand management and notice, I say digital brand management and not Digital Marketing. Because, if you are a brand manager and if you are digital brand manager, you are probably better off than just being a digital marketer, who doesn’t understand brands but who tries to make two with what one understands of digital. So, quickly learn what brands in your competitive space are doing in the digital space, draw a parallels between that and core marketing. Understand the correlation between what’s happening in digital and how it is influencing consumer behavior in retail. See, how digital can work at a retail level, if you are handling a brand which has a retail presence. If you are handling a brand that has say an e-commerce presence, then the brand is intrinsically digital and you know as a brand manager you are probably an latent digital marketer and you just need to kind of absorb digital marketing lessons a little better. To be more confident of what you do in the digital space just as you are confident of what you do in the non digital space as a brand manager.

How to start career in Digital Marketing?

If you are a college student and you think social media marketing is really cool and very easy because you spend lots of time on snapchat or facebook or you tag lots of images on instagram and you have a lot of likes and you can make a vocation out of it and make a lucrative career out of it. I am sorry to burst your bubble but that’s not the truth. If you really want to be a marketer, you need to understand consumers, you need to understand consumer behaviors, you need to understand consumer buying insights, you need to understand brands, you need to understand a marketing landscape, your retail landscape. You need to understand the co-marketing fundamentals before you make a full blown career in digital marketing. If you want to know a little more about the digital marketing apart from being an average user and a very followed person on Instagram, then you should read what’s out there. You should take courses, that you must must must supplement your learning with core fundamentals. Otherwise, you will find yourself stagnating after a point because you can only go this far by understanding how to use a platform better. You know you can go very far if you understand how to influence consumers and how consumers react to brands and you know what makes consumers by one brand then the other. Get that understanding and then get the understanding of platforms and get an understanding of digital advertising. Bring it all together and you could actually have a passionate interest or hobby of yours which is being on the digital and spending a lots of time on digital turning into a paying career as well.

What is required to have a long term career in Digital Marketing?

So, digital marketing can be very lucrative. It depending on what role and function your kind of performing. If you are influencing the revenue of a business and it can be as lucrative and even pay you more than what a CMO might earn in a midsize company and it might pay you that quicker. But, if you only know the channels then you kind of don’t influence the business of the business. You will find yourself getting growth maybe quick growth initially but you may hit a kind of a sealing after a point when you kind of realize that you know your skills are limited. So, understand digital marketing in an integrated framework of marketing and that will serve you well for a long career, far beyond the life of more social networks. Social networks will change, social networks dynamics will change but the fundamentals of connecting with consumers and the increased propensity of consumers to be in social spaces that allow them to express, share and interact with their friends, dears, family is not going away. So, understand the fundamental dynamics, understand the platform as it stands today. But, be willing to unlearn and relearn so that you can stay current, you can stay relevant and you can be in demand and have a successful digital marketing career.

What is the importance of upskilling in Digital Marketing?

So, if you are already leading a team, one would assume that you are now less operational and more managerial and you are playing a larger role then just looking at which update to put up or has five updates been put up this hour or has the report being published. And you are actually looking at things from brand perspective from a competitive perspective. From a thinking perspective of how you can make of what you are doing and do more. So, from that perspective up scaling yourself you know through a program or through learning where you are able to take your learning’s in a platform and kind of correlate them and bring them together in an integrated manner will be a good investment. If you don’t have the ability to do a fulltime MBA and learn marketing through an MBA program. Look to take on programs that have marketing grounding in the digital marketing space and not just the platform focus. That will serve you well, as you want to move to the next level, as you maybe want to command larger teams or maybe you want to start a controlling revenue function. Most brands are trying to chase E-commerce revenues and that’s where you can really see growth for yourself and for your career and in order to do that you need to understand what’s influencing the business? how consumers buy? Where they buy? What role digital plays in their buying cycle? Is it an influence medium? Is it a transaction channel? Is it a referral channel? So, learning about these things and kind of growing on the job will help you kind of go to the next level if you are running a digital marketing team and you aspire to do more.

What people should expect for a Digital marketing program?

So, really if you expect miracles from any digital marketing program you kind of you know expecting wrong. The first thing if you have some prior digital marketing experience, will be a validation and a solidifying of your fundamentals. Because, you might be doing a lot of things but not realizing why you do that or how important they are or how do they fit in the larger frame work. So, doing a course will help you solidify this. The next thing you will kind of learn is to look beyond what’s very apparent. And a good digital marketing program will give you a larger integrated understanding of digital marketing. So, you could expect a more integrated understanding. You will also gain a lot more confidence because, I think at some level a lot of people who learn on the job, wonder whether they known enough, whether they are doing enough and their managers and their marketers whose teams they work on wonder whether they are as qualified. So, a good program and a certification from a good program that has a you know good course content and good faculty will give you the confidence and give you certification that could help you in your job. And hopefully when you actually apply what you are learn in a digital marketing program you will actually see growth, you will see career growth. You will see your salary increasing, you will see your scope of responsibilities increasing, if you learn from the right people and if you applied what you have learned with.

How is UpGrad’s Digital Marketing program different from other courses?

So, UpGrad’s program is interesting because it seeks to move away from focusing on just the platforms and giving a mastery of the platforms the various social networks to actually playing digital in the continuum of marketing. So, that the first fundamental differentiation and I am excited to be diving the curriculum towards this direction where UpGrad’s digital marketing program will sit within the marketing continuum. So, yes it will focus on digital marketing but it will very clearly have linkages to the larger marketing picture. The other thing is, the way the curriculum has been designed and it’s going to be delivered, itself is fairly interesting. It’s got very exciting bunch of faculty that’s coming on board, these are real people who have done it and walked the digital talk, who are going to talk about how to do digital and how to learn digital. And really there’s nothing better than hands on experience, so I believe there’s going to be an exciting set of case studies which are not past case studies but are live case studies where students during the program can actually apply the principles they learn on live case studies and then have interactions with the people behind the actual work of those case studies in the market. And actually learn from industry mentors as they go. The other very important thing is, perpetual learning. Because, what you have learned today will change tomorrow. So, the UpGrad program actually includes a module which is perpetual, alumnae, interactions content learning. So, the program might end one fine day but the learning and the connection with the program, with people from the program, with your course students is not going to end. So, I think these are the three or four key points of differentiation that makes the UpGrad program a great option to look at.

What is the scope of placements through UpGrad’s Digital Marketing program?

So, the UpGrad program also will help in placing people in industry, in agencies, with client organizations and there are a set of interesting partnership that UpGrad is entering into with clients and with agencies not only to help deliver the program content but also to take up interns take up people from the program place them in their organizations, give them a break in the digital space you know, give them the right exposure to industry to the brands they manage.

What are the key takeaways from UpGrad’s Digital Marketing program?

So, really what a student I think can expect at the end of this program is a holistic rich understanding of digital marketing in the context of the larger marketing spectrum and really they can contribute to developing digital thinking in the context of marketing strategy, work with brand teams, work with agency teams, but actually put together holistic digital marketing programs, integrated digital marketing programs for clients or for the brands they work for. And then actually execute on this programs measure these programs across platforms. So you can expect this to become a digital marketer and not to be just an instagram expert or to be a snapchat specialist or to be an SEO champion. This allows you to understand all the channels in a larger context and then use the right channels in the right mix for the brand that you kind of work with and over time enrich the learning to actually become a holistic marketer. Because, really it’s no longer about digital marketing as much as it is about marketing in a digital age. So all marketing is digital marketing and therefore, if you learn the principles of the digital marketing well and you understand the context of brands and consumers and the larger marketing picture. You will be a better marketer. It’s just coincidental that you are going to use more and more digital to do marketing.

What are the advantages of online Digital marketing course?

So I think online education is really I think the way of the future because it is sort of helps people come together wherever they maybe in a classroom, in a social, in a sharing environment and it also brings together the best faculty which may not be possible in a physical cause because of either geography or time constrains and things like that. So, I think it’s worthwhile investing in online education as long as the faculty, the course curriculum, the payers who you are learning from are bright like yourself and it’s important to realize enrolling for an online program is not the passport to success one needs to immerse fully in it, be serious about it, attend all the classes, do all the projects diligently, interact with faculty mentors, pears as in when called upon. It is very easy to bunk you know class and skip projects no one is watching over you. And really if you don’t show up and don’t do what’s laid out in the program it’s going to be your own loss. 100, 120 hours of course work additional time that you spend on your own proactively can only be investment that will pay back. Make it pay for you by being serious about it. Doing it with full seriousness that you would in a classroom environment. And draw on the social collaborative aspects of the program whether in course content, whether in access to mentors, whether in access to peers, whether in access to see webinars and stuff that is out there during the program because some of that is facilitation of the learning and the others actually putting into place live digital marketing techniques and as long as you immerse yourself in them you will learn from them, you will understand why certain techniques were used and guess what you can actually adopt some of that back in the real work places in your agencies, in your work places with clients when you kind of pass out from this program.

Why should people invest time in UpGrad’s Digital Marketing program?

So really, honestly if you look at – I don’t have time that’s the worst excuse, if you are passionate about something, if you want to achieve something you need to find the time. And really take it out of that hectic social life of yours, you know go out for one day or less in a week. You know wake up half an hour earlier, stay up half an hour late. Switch of the television, get off facebook for an hour a day extra and you know what the time you spend in the program like this will actually pay you back while the time you would spend maybe west doing other stuff, maybe just actually make you repent for the time wasted. So really if you want to do well for yourself and you believe that you can do or will do better. You need to make the investment, not just in enrolling for the program but in time that’s required to be given to the program and really if you really want to excel, try and give yourself time to learn about the program, learn beyond the program during the program.

What is the current status of Digital Marketing?

I think over the last few years, digital marketing in India has evolved. Initially it was about let’s create a presence. Back in the early 2000’s it was let’s create a website. Then as social networks kind of came in, it was a let’s create a facebook page. Let’s create a presence. Let’s be out there. Over time it has changed to going from lets create a presence to lets create engagement. Let’s actually talk to consumers, let’s actually interact with consumers then it is actually moved on to saying, digital and social media can become a customer service channel. So, today brands pay more attention to customer feedback and customer interactions in social media, then they do by email and to their call centers. So, it has evolved to actually being a customer channel, customer interaction and customer service channel. And then it is finally moved on to be a selling channel and a commerce channel not just e-commerce but even social commerce. So, really digital has moved from let’s have a flag in the digital space to let’s make digital work for what we want it as a business and a brand. So, what does that mean for digital marketers? It means one needs a holistic wide range understanding of digital in the larger context of business, marketing and brands. One needs to recognize that channels might change but consumer behaviors, consumer desires are usually more durable. And it’s really about saying how can I integrate digital into the marketing mix. What is relevant today? What mix of digital and advertising and offline do I need? The other thing which has changed over the years is the recognition that social media is not free. Creating a social media profile might be free, but actually doing social media marketing is very expensive. Its takes time, it takes efforts not just in creating content but even now on advertising because organic reach on most social platforms is tending to zero. So if you look at digital as its evolved, its evolved from let’s have a presence, lets tick box the channels, let’s be in the space to let’s make the space work for us, to questions that have been asked about how does the space work for me? How does it integrate into marketing? How does it accelerate my sales cycle? How does it accelerate my customer accusation cycle? How can I actually reduce the cost of customer accusation using digital? So, very solid business questions are coming into the picture now and smart digital markets, use digital channels, use the digital space, use digital advertising, use digital technology to actually address some of those questions on an ongoing basis.

What do you expect from a digital marketer?

So I think the people who really will benefit from digital marketing are people who understand consumers, consumer behavior, brands and then understand the adoption by consumers of the digital space, of social network. What to use it for, when they use it, why they use it? And bring it all together in a meaningful manner to tell brand messages to sell to consumers, to engage consumers, to serve consumers. Whether it’s through customer service, channels or otherwise.

What is the importance of social marketing for business owner and entrepreneurs?

Increasingly important business owners and entrepreneurs need to understand digital and the role it can play for their businesses. Do they need to know how to tag pictures on instagram or how many seconds an instagram video can be? No. But, they need to understand the importance of digital, they need to understand that, they no longer as brand owners and business owners can control the brand narrative which they did in the old days when you had a few old television channels and just maybe print and outdoor. The narrative has now shifted to the consumers the power of the brand is now, in the hand of the consumers they need to recognize this, they need to recognize that bad news spread fast through digital, if there is something that is gone wrong with the brand. They need to be willing to recognize, accept and show up and be authentic in the digital space. So, I think the important of digital to business is very important for even business owners to know, entrepreneur certainly because more and more of their consumers specially for digitally powered businesses live in the digital age and in the digital space any way. Do they need to know how they manage channels? No. There are tools that do it, there are agencies that do it and there are lots of bright youngsters you know who are young digital marketers who come out of digital marketing programs or learn on the job or intern in colleges. You know who will actually execute. So they need to understand the bigger picture, they need to understand their role digital marketing plays for their business and they need to understand how it can influence their business, how it can grow their consumer base, how it can build their brands not just in a local market but also the you know the boundary less nature of digital, where they can actually be global without even knowing they are global.

What education background is required to be a digital marketer?

So, there isn’t a specific background one needs to have, one needs to be you know hungry to know more about consumers, hungry to know about brands and obviously one needs to have an affinity for the digital space. You can be an expert digital marketer you know if you never ever go on to that digital space. So, you need to like the digital space, you need to like interacting with people because the very nature of digital is interactive, multi way, social, you need to do that. and if you come with say a technology background then you may take a learning’s from digital which are more technology driven if you are more creative you might look at digital from a more ideation perspective. You know, if you are a copy writer you might actually say I can write campaigns for digital. If you are a person who creates content and you know you were working in television or in video, you can look at digital and see how you can bring your past skill sets into more relevance in the digital space. So, really whatever your background with the right training, with the right rounding, with the right intention and then with the right application of what you learn anyone can be a digital marketer and a successful one as that.

What education background is required to be a digital marketer?

If you call yourself a traditional marketer, you are like an Egyptian mummy, you are like dead, you are history, you are like a dinosaur. So, digital is traditional today. So, digital is no longer new media, it’s been around long enough you know to be traditional. So, today a regular media plan has a digital presence. So, unless you are living under a rock, and you don’t even know your company has a website or has a social media presence, and you don’t incorporate any of that, into whatever you call traditional, I have got news for you, you are no longer a traditional marketer, you are a digital marketer. It’s just that the degree of your awareness, your involvement and your ability in digital and your recognition of how important it is in your marketing and business mix that may vary. So, I would like to think that there are not too many traditional marketers left but if you are one of them, quickly ramp up on your digital marketing skills, start applying them and you won’t be a dinosaur tomorrow morning.

Category: Expert Talks
Ashok Lalla - Independent Digital & Marketing Advisor
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Ashok Lalla - Independent Digital & Marketing Advisor - Award-winning global and regional Digital, Brand and Social Media Marketing leader, Ashok has more than 22 years of marketing and business experience across industries.
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