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An Interview With – Apurva Chamaria, Head Of Global Brand & Digital Marketing, HCL Tech

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Apurva ChamariaApurva Chamaria is currently the VP & Head of Global Brand, Digitial Marketing, Content Marketing Communications responsible for brand marketing, employer brand, employee marketing, thought-leadership marketing and digital marketing. Under his leadership HCL,Noida, Delhi debuted at:

1) InterBrand Top 100 Brands at 19 and grew 35% y-o-y on brand value

2) Brand Finance Global 500 ’15 at 497 with a brand value of 3.1 Bn US$. In the last 2 years, the HCLT brand campaigns have won 40 global and regional awards.

He has pharmaceutical industry experience having worked in various sales and marketing positions at Ranbaxy Laboratories (now Sun Pharma). He’s also a sought after speaker at industry conferences like Sales Performance Management , LinkedIn Tech Connect, Microsoft Leaders Speak, ACMP Change Management, and B-School events of premier institutes like ISB, IIM-A, IIM-Raipur, FMS, IIMC, IMI, MICA, Great Lakes etc.

He also heads the digital marketing team which manages paid, owned and earned media campaigns delivering branded HCL experiences across digital media to connect and mobilize clients, partners, employees and the communities in which HCL is present along with running the Social media command center. The digital marketing team at HCL plays a crucial role in the entire organization.  Digital marketing single handled brought in more than 1 billion dollars of sales qualified funnel at HCL last year. Digital marketing is essential for any marketer as the digital world is an important touch point. It is essential to incorporate the digital channel for an integrated marketing campaign to run well.

How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?

Apurva: Digital marketing is the big platform for marketing, especially for a B2B company. All our target audience is online and digital marketing allows us to reach them faster and in a more efficient manner. We started realizing the importance of Digital Marketing many years back. I have done various roles in my career which included selling and delivering CRM, SFA and marketing automation due to which I always had a keen in interest in MarTec. The interest gradually extended to digital marketing and I learned by reading and working with great colleagues and agencies. This also enabled me to leverage digital marketing to its full capability. I believe that in the next 5 years there will only be 2 kinds of marketers left in the world – digital marketers and extinct marketers.

According to you, what are the advantages of conventional marketing over Digital Marketing? Do you think that Digital Marketing is a threat to the future of conventional marketing?

Apurva: Digital marketing is replacing a lot conventional marketing spends, but there are some aspects of conventional marketing that can never be replaced by digital marketing. There are a particular group of audience which I believe digital marketing can never be able to reach. A grandfather will always wake up and read a newspaper and sip tea every morning, every single day. He won’t open an iPad and sip a tea.

Though digital marketing is taking share away from conventional marketing, conventional marketing is also changing. Conventional marketers are trying to catch up. They are trying to do more and more innovative things with the conventional tools that they have by integrating digital smartly into off-line. The best way to look at digital is to not see it as a threat but see it as an enabler to make conventional marketing more effective and accountable. At HCL our major spends on marketing is on digital marketing. All our target audience is online. And that is where we want to advertise our services and our brand. We use digital for both brand and performance marketing.

Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?

Apurva:

  1. #CoolestInterviewEver – World’s first ever end-to-end Social Recruitment Campaign on Twitter – While organizations have been using social media as a platform for hiring through job postings and background checks, there has never been an end-to-end recruitment process on a single social media platform. #CoolestInterviewEver is a unique campaign launched by global IT major, HCL technologies that leveraged Twitter to create a complete recruitment engagement while amplifying “Employer Value Proposition” reach. The fundamental objective was to quickly create a preferred employer brand amongst the 32 countries where HCL operates. For the first time, hiring became a two way conversation on a social platform. Total engagement from prospective job seekers was 250 K with candidates from over 60 countries. While the total spend on this initiative was equal to the average spend on recruiting one employee, it ranks as one of the most impactful outreaches in social media history having been covered by more than 60 international publications . It has resulted in HCL technologies enjoying a refreshed and strengthened employer brand in more than 60 countries and more followers on Twitter than any other IT Services organization in the world.
  2. KanKhajuraTesan (KKT) is a ‘mobile radio’ campaign idea by HUL that provides free entertainment to people who live in the comparatively ‘media dark’ regions of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Jharkhand, India’s Hindi- and Bhojpuri-speaking belt. The content is interspersed with ads for HUL’s brands.KKT claims to have over 12 million users. In a presentation created for the Cannes Lions jury, KKT claimed eight million subscribers in six months. New users are being added at a staggering rate of 45,000-50,000 people a day, which is roughly over 1,800 new users every hour and 8-10 lakh unique consumers every three weeks. The campaign won four Lions (three Gold, one Bronze).
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Apurva:

    1. Not defining end results – For any effort that you put in, you need to measure the results. But many time organizations don’t do this. Defining the expected end result and measuring it at every step is something that is not done often by traditional marketers which means they lose out on the biggest benefit of digital marketing.
    2. Not exploring multiple options – The digital marketing space is huge and ever evolving. Marketing organizations need to explore multiple options and various service providers. But many time they end up sticking to one provider even though there could be many others who could provide much better service. I believe that is another mistake that most CMO’s end up doing.
    3. Not Focusing enough on Content Marketing – Digital marketing requires a lot of high quality content assets and these content assets have to be topical and of a very high quality in order to present it to the customer. A lot of times marketing leaders short change content marketing and because of this everything goes down the drain. So it is important that all the necessary content assets are in place and the CMO personally champions the content marketing agenda.
Between Agencies and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Apurva: We work with both a very accomplished in house and best in breed outside agencies. One of the best part about this is that when both collaborate, it creates wonders. We can tap into the unique capabilities of both and get a much better result when they would either-wise work alone.

An outside agency give us a multi-industry view which enriches any campaign that we do. They have worked with multiple companies and have varied experience which allows them to provide a multi-faceted approach. They are more equipped to bring in new ideas, and provide access to production partners across the world.

As for our in house agency is concerned as they are a part of our team, it becomes much easier and comfortable to work with them. There is a greater synergy and things can be done at a much faster and efficient pace.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Apurva: I personally use Twitter a lot and I am very regular on twitter (my handle is @a1purva). I like sharing posts, blogs and news about digital marketing. Our digital marketing team also uses twitter very often to reach our target audience. It’s a good advertisement platform to reach influencers.

Likewise LinkedIn is the other digital marketing tool that we use. It is a probably the main platform for our campaigns. Almost all our B2B audience are there in LinkedIn. Majority of our campaigns are run on LinkedIn and I have seen great results with LinkedIn.

Google Adwords is another tool which is a basic and easy tool for all digital marketers. It reaches to a mass audience at the same time keeps the target audience in place. It has a massive reach with the Google Display Network as well. Adwords allows us to target a very niche audience and has helped in improving traffic to our webpage.

Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Apurva: 

    1. For Entrepreneurs: Young entrepreneurs need to promote their products and services and many a times they don’t really have the budget to go for conventional channels. Digital marketing plays a very important role for these entrepreneurs. With digital marketing they are able to target the right audience at a comparatively low cost. There are thousands of creative ways by which entrepreneurs can promote their products or service digitally at almost no cost.
    2. For Marketing Professionals: More and more customers and consumers are going online. To reach this target group, marketing professionals need to learn digital marketing as a foundational skill like consumer insights. No matter how old, how dominant, how well known your brand is, you are lagging far behind in the race, if you are not online.
    3. For Students: Students need to be aware about the future trends and the new happenings in the world. Students will eventually start working, doing jobs or becoming entrepreneurs. No matter what they do, they will be touched by digital marketing at one point or the other in their lives. Nowadays it is very likely that they will be asked questions about digital marketing in any interview they give. One of the first questions I ask in interviews is about digital marketing no matter what marketing position the person has applied for.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?

Apurva: 

  1. Open to learning and unlearning as digital marketing is changing very fast
  2. Ability to work in VUCA environment / chaos
  3. Hard working and Go getter
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Apurva:  The industry is changing rapidly, you need to be updated with the new happenings in the industry. Read as much as possible and share your learning. Collectively you can learn a lot but single handedly you won’t learn much.

So, if you want to build your career you have to grow, learn and improve. Take online courses, join interest groups, etc. but don’t stop learning.

The knowledge you have right now will be outdated in the next 3-6 months. So use your learning to do something new and innovative with what you are doing.

How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Digital Marketing? Which are the Digital Marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps) you visit regularly?

Apurva: 

  • marketingtechblog.com
  • http://thelifestylemarketer.co
  • http://www.jeffbullas.com/
  • http://www.itsmonkie.co.uk/blog/
  • http://www.socialmediatoday.com/
  • http://neilpatel.com/blog/
  • http://www.searchenginejournal.com/
Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.

Apurva: 

  • Matthew “Matt” Cutts – Former head of the web spam team at Google
  • Jill Rowley , Social Selling Evangelist
  • ‎Gerry Moran, Social Media & Content Marketing Expert
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?

Apurva: The spends on digital marketing will surely increase in the future. This spend will not increase at the cost of spends on conventional marketing but will be net new spend. Newer ways to target and reach the customers are going to come up. I believe that the future of digital marketing is huge and the scope will increase even further. The top 3 trends will be:

  1. Video ads will start dominating
  2. Mobile will completely dominate desktop. It will be mobile first and web responsive.
  3. Micro-targeting and Personalization will be the new mantra
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Apurva: 

Digital Vidya is playing an important role in increasing awareness and knowledge about digital marketing in India. I respect companies like yours which provide relevant and updated knowledge to people who will be able to build something out of it.

In this information age, this skill will add tremendous value to all individuals. It will surely help build their career and achieve their career goals.

Are you inspired by the opportunity of Digital Marketing? Start your journey by attending our upcoming orientation session on Digital Marketing for Career & Business Growth. It’s online and Free :).

[Sr. Associate - Content Marketing] A content passionate, Jasleen handles the content writing and marketing activities. Additionally, she leads Digital Marketing Internship Programme. Her deep passion and enthusiasm for writing guided her towards being the Associate Editor in English for her college magazine. Only deep passion and zeal can guide a person towards a professional writing career. Apparently, Jasleen is one of those persons. She is in the content writing and marketing fraternity for 5 years now. A top-notch individual, she is proficient in writing content for multiple requirements including blogs, articles, books, brochures and social media. She embraces practical knowledge of WordPress CMS. Besides this, she is also highly engaging in Social Media Marketing activities.
  • Digital-Marketing


  • There are 4 comments


    • 2 years ago

      PR Agency   /   Reply

      Nice post. Thanks for sharing some important tips and information on Digital marketing Services.

      thanx 🙂

    • 2 years ago

      Soma   /   Reply

      To the point interview ,one if the best I have read .Very clearly stating the points on digital marketing and very nicely put together and posted .Thanks for sharing !!

    • 1 year ago

      Jasleen Kaur   /   Reply

      Thanks Apurva for your contribution to our community through this interview. Really happy to know your feedback about the work we are doing in spreading digital (marketing) vidya :).

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