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An Interview With Priya Florence Shah, Founder & CEO, Blog Brandz
By training, Priya Florence Shah is a writer. She studied Journalism, PR and Advertising and got into digital publishing in 2001. At that time, all publishing was done in HTML and blogs or WordPress did not exist.
When Blogspot started in 2003, Priya started using it to publish content and then went on to use WordPress as her preferred mode of publishing. She also taught herself SEO and other aspects of Digital Marketing, even writing an ebook on SEO, called Number One In Your Niche, in 2006.
In 2014, Priya founded Blog Brandz, and now use the power of blogs and social media to help her clients become more visible and useful to their customers online. Today, Priya specializes in providing Blogging and Social Media Marketing services, having obtained a CSMMP™ from Digital Vidya, which she found very useful helping her plug the gaps in her knowledge of SMM.
Priya has built a career and business from Digital Marketing since 2001 and enjoys the challenge of this ever changing field. She hopes to be able to practice it for many more years to come.
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?
Priya: As a writer, I found that the internet was the perfect medium to create a readership for my writing. However, a writer without a platform does not have much of a readership. If the only people who read your blog are your mom and dog, you don’t have much of a voice.
I realized how important it was to build a large and targeted social media following and a reader base for my writing. And digital marketing helps me do this. I found that blogging and social media are a wonderful way to build a platform for writers and authors. I also authored a number of books, and find that blogging and social media are the perfect media to promote them.
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?
Priya: Except for the disciplines of Direct Marketing and PR, I don’t think that conventional marketing has any advantages over Digital. In conventional marketing, results are hard to measure, while in digital, almost everything can be tracked and measured every step of the way.
Digital is certainly a threat to conventional marketing to the extent that any marketing plan that does not include digital is incomplete. Today it is essential, for even hyper-local businesses to include some aspect of digital marketing in their strategy. Marketers who do not take the time to learn about digital marketing and do a course or two online will be left behind and find their skills and knowledge outdated very quickly, if they haven’t already experienced that.
Share about your 3 favorite Integrated Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?
- BlendTec’s Will It Blend Campaign: I love the BlendTec’s Will it Blend campaign because it tapped into our human curiosity to create a viral campaign that showcases the strength and functionality of their product, a super-strength blender that can destroy even an iPad. It makes for pretty fascinating watching and is something that people want to share. Also the impact of watching an iPhone or iPad being ground up in a blender is something that no viewer will forget. It also highlights the viral nature of video marketing and shows that even a boring product, such as a blender, can be made interesting with a creative twist.
- The Budweiser Clydesdale Puppy Love Super Bowl 2014 Commercial: Being a dog lover, this is just one of my favourite commercials of all time. We know that people love sharing creatives with cute animals. Thanks to the cuteness factor and the great storytelling, people loved it and it was watched and shared many millions of times.
- Brian Dean’s Backlinko Blog Post on the SkyScraper Technique: This is a brilliant blog post in which Brian Dean created a unique brand for his blog using a technique that he named the SkyScraper Technique. It involves analyzing the best pieces of content in a certain category and writing content, on your own blog, that is better than any of that content. The second step is connecting to people who have linked to the other pieces of content and asking them for a link back. Using this SEO technique, Brian managed to get 90,000 visitors a month to a blog that has just 31 blog posts.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
- Not understanding the importance of DM: I see many businesses still spending loads of money on ineffectual methods of marketing, such as hoardings and other conventional marketing techniques, when the same budget could be spent getting a much better ROI in DM. This is a complete waste of money on outdated marketing techniques.
- Not investing enough in content: Many organizations do not know that the world of content has become very crowded and only the best content (over 2000 words) ranks in the top ten of Google. SEO companies are still putting out crappy, poorly-written, junk articles that have little to no chance of ranking well. Here they’re losing out on a chance to invest in creating one epic piece of content that can get top 10 rankings, instead of 4 to 8 badly written articles a month, that will not rank anywhere near the top 10.
- Not investing in a social media presence: Today, it’s crucial, even for local businesses to have a social media presence, because your customers want to connect to your brand and the best way they can do that is on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you don’t have a brand or local page on these top three networks and focus your efforts on sharing content and building a following, you can be sure your competitors are doing so.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Priya: Some things can be best accomplished in-house, like social media, especially if your company provides customer service on Twitter, for instance. Content, however can be outsourced and so can SEO. It also depends on how large your organisation is. A small business or start-up might do well to outsource all DM services, while a large company or multinational might prefer to do digital in-house.
Which are your three favourite digital marketing tools?
- Hootsuite: For social media scheduling
- Aweber: For lead-capture and email marketing
- WordPress: My go-to CMS for building websites and blogs
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: As an entrepreneur, you need to understand what DM can do for your company and how it can help you build branding and visibility online. The more you understand this, the better you will be able to guide your marketing efforts and make the most of the tools available to you. Also it will help you assess which marketing providers are the best for a certain task. That way you won’t end up hiring or outsourcing work to incompetent people.
- For Professionals: Professionals need to understand how to use DM to brand themselves online. An online presence is essential even for doctors who work in a hospital and even more essential for those who have their own clinics. You can’t market your professional services if people can’t find any clue of your existence online, especially when all it takes is filling out a number of free profiles on social media sites.
- For Students: Students must maintain a good social media presence as many recruiters check out your social media presence, especially on LinkedIn before hiring you for an internship or a job. It is essential to keep your LinkedIn presence updated, and LinkedIn for Students is a microsite that offers some excellent tips and advice exclusively for students who are looking to get jobs or internships after graduation.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
- Willingness to Learn: The #1 skill I look for is the willingness to learn because DM is a constantly changing field. There are new products, services and software release every day and this field is not for someone who does not love the challenge and excitement of learning new things every day.
- Self-Driven: The second skill is being self-driven. Because many DM jobs are done remotely, one cannot be constantly looking over someone’s shoulder to see if they’re doing a good job. When I hire a Virtual Assistant for some DM tasks, I expect them to do what is necessary without having to micromanage their tasks.
- Hardworking: I look for people who do not have an aversion to hard work, for the same reason as the second. Because I hate to micromanage people, I prefer to hire someone reliable and hardworking, rather than someone who cannot be depended on to complete a certain task assigned to them.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
I would advise newbies to specialize in a field of DM, while having a general understanding of all aspects. Today, DM it is too vast to specialize in every aspect and there’s too much information for one person to digest every day. It’s best to study one or two aspects in depth and offer your services based on those aspects.For instance, I specialize in Blogging and Social Media Marketing, as these are two aspects of DM that complement each other. Someone else might prefer to specialize in Paid Advertising such as Google Adwords, or in SEO, which is a science in itself.
For instance, I specialize in Blogging and Social Media Marketing, as these are two aspects of DM that complement each other. Someone else might prefer to specialize in Paid Advertising such as Google Adwords, or in SEO, which is a science in itself.
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?
Priya: I read a lot of newsletters, and also write on my company blog, which forces me to research topics in detail, so I can write better blogs.
I regularly read Social Media Examiner (for social media updates), Neil Patel’s Blog (for general digital marketing updates) and Brian Dean’s Blog (for SEO updates).
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?
Priya: As technology changes, our way of marketing to our audience will also change. Here are my top 3 trends for 2016:
- Video content will become more popular as internet speeds increase. Wearables will again bring in different ways of delivering content, both video and text.
- Big Data will help us understand what sort of content works best and in which situations. New tools will help Omnichannel marketing become more accessible to more retailers.
- SEO will continue to evolve as Google’s Artificial Intelligence algorithm, called Rankbrain, becomes more intelligent and more search queries are spoken rather than typed out.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
Priya: I was very impressed with the course materials, when I completed my course through Digital Vidya. Whenever someone asks me how they should learn Digital Marketing, I recommend Digital Vidya to them. Including case studies and real-world projects for students might make your courses even more relevant and useful to students.
I think, with online education becoming more popular, and companies like Flipkart accepting microdegrees, online courses, like the ones provided by Digital Vidya, will become more important than conventional degrees. For working people, entrepreneurs and housewives, who do not have the time to attend university to do a course, Digital Vidya provides a very useful service.
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 :).