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Interview with Gaurav Mehta, Chief Marketing Officer, GirnarSoft

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Gaurav MehtaGaurav Mehta has a total of 15 years of work experience; out of which last 9 years have been in marquee digital businesses like Yahoo, OLX and now with GirnarSoft. Having held middle & senior level management positions across Sales & Marketing domains in these progressive companies; Gaurav considers himself being exposed to the best practices of digital CX and digital marketing.

Gaurav is currently employed in the capacity of Global CMO for all digital properties of GirnarSoft (Cardekho, Gaadi, Zigwheels, Bikedekho etc.) and previously he was the CMO for OLX India and Pakistan and used to set-up the marketing operations in both the countries. Yahoo started him off on his digital journey and he couldn’t have asked for a better place! Yahoo stint of 4.5 years was a massive learning curve wherein Gaurav got to learn mobile marketing, customer analytics and personalization strategies while they were still buzzwords.

Apart from these; Gaurav has been an entrepreneur (started the first brand consulting company; BrandDNA in Rajasthan from 2003-2006).

Importance of Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing’s importance at Girnar becomes critical considering they are the gateway of information for new car buyers in the country. For a high involvement category like Automobile; content and education is highly sought after by the consumers and that’s where a strong SEO and SEM practice assists them in helping their consumers make the most well-informed decision.

Expanding upon the definition of ‘Marketing’ and subsuming on-site marketing within it is another important aspect of our digital marketing. It helps them to cross-sell better between say a new car research platform (CarDekho) and an auto enthusiast forum (Zigwheels). Cross-linkage of content, services helps GirnarSoft give the expert advice that users come to us for.

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?

Gaurav Mehta: Out of 350 Mn internet users in our country; not more than 100 Mn users would be evolved users of internet. Majority of the rest 250 Mn users use internet for chat or basic utility functions. Conventional marketing helps evolve these users faster and move up the value chain.

Digital marketing is going to influence conventional marketing by changing the measurement methodologies, real-time outreach abilities and participative nature. If conventional marketing doesn’t want to embrace these; then digital will be deemed a threat. But I don’t think the conventional marketing ecosystem is ignoring these changes. It is investing in digitizing their capabilities and content delivery so I think they will learn to co-exist and benefit from each other.

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According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Gaurav Mehta: 

  • Digital Marketing = Performance marketing only: This is a malaise started by publishers and readily accepted by clients. Digital marketing can be as effective at the top end of the funnel as it’s at the lower end (transactions). Organizations; especially with a smaller geography/niche audience can use digital at all levels of purchase funnel.
  • Muted investment in newer technologies: Like stock market; the best time to invest in new digital marketing technologies is when the price of failure is low. Failure to do so would mean that an organization lets go of a chance to develop best practices for technologies that will be big in the future.
  • Siloed approach: Different mediums come with different strengths (reach, transaction, engagement). A lot of traditional organizations don’t take a holistic approach towards digital marketing and rather treat them as silos. The incremental effect that a holistic digital strategy can impart is not forthcoming in a siloed approach.

Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Gaurav Mehta: It depends. No definitive; single answer. What I do know is that by having it in-house; agility, ease to develop a single consumer view is afforded. Whereas partnering with an agency gives you a wider talent pool; experience of different industries and better rates. Any organization should be able to optimize their ROI but the higher order benefits like the ones mentioned above might colour the decision towards in-housing vs outsourcing.

How do you ensure increasing Digital Marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?

Gaurav Mehta: Simple answer(s) to that. By aligning the digital marketing practice to the business metrics and education about the process followed/infrastructure required for an effective and efficient digital marketing organization. Human nature is wired in a way where we put inordinate amount of time and effort into anything that’s comprehensible.

Digital marketing is still alien to majority of the business partners. The more this practice attaches itself to business partner’s metrics and demysitifies itself; better are the chances of being deemed more relevant and influential in the organization.

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

Gaurav Mehta: 

  • For Entrepreneurs: Go past the POC point – Considering that initial success is extremely critical for a young company; digital marketing with its immediate return capabilities can help the business to go past that milestone with least amount of pilferage/wastage. Secondly; analytics gives the entrepreneurs to identify their learnings/best practices/trends very early. They can double down their limited resources behind that part of business that is showing inordinate ROI.
  • For Professionals: Increasing relevance – Professionals in today’s age need to learn and unlearn on a continuous basis. Rate of obsolescence is far higher than previous generations. That is being led by Digital marketing and digitizing of business practices. Hence in order to be relevant for a longer period of time; digital marketing know-how is a must.
  • For Students: Makes them analytical in their approach- Digital marketing is not only a practice to learn but also inculcates an analytical way of working. Since the entire funnel is open for analysis and transparent; analysis is always possible. This has a downstream effect by analytical decision-making process an always on way of working.

What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?

Gaurav Mehta: Comfort with numbers, analytical mindset, scalability would be my top 3 seeking after qualities. The first 2 are self-explanatory. Scalability is important as digital marketing in shape shifting on an insane pace. A person who is scalable is better propositioned to:

  • be at ease with change; and
  • tap the oncoming opportunities by understanding and executing well.

What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Gaurav Mehta:

  • Invest your time in using and reading all about new technologies. This medium requires constant updation of knowledge.
  • Don’t take the standard solution as the only solution. This is a complex, ever shifting ecosystem. What didn’t work yesterday; might be very relevant today.
  • Keep aside a small part of your budget for experimentation. The hypotheses any experiment should validate should be clearly enumerated for you to understand the results properly and also scale up.
  • Work with extended teams from offline marketing, tech & product and CX departments. The best problem statements emerge once you have a comprehensive business POV.

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?

Gaurav Mehta: I always ask our publisher partners to train me on their products; not from an advertising perspective only but from a content and product & tech perspective as well. Sources like WARC are on my regular reading list.

    How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2017?

    Gaurav Mehta:

    • Increasing intimacy & dependence on the digital world: Users are going to depend even more on digital for their needs, wants and answers. First port of call for millennials/digital natives/higher socio economic classes is going to be digital; not just for high involvement products but for increasingly any and every answer.
    • GTM will reduce & user cohortization will increase due to AI & Machine learning: AI & machine learning will reduce the time spent in ideating and will enable businesses to be highly targeted in real-time manner.
    • Visual mediums to be consumed even more aggressively: Next 18 months will see images & videos taking over the printed medium in preference. This would mean:
    1. publishers changing their content strategy
    2. relevant measurement tools emerging; and
    3. new businesses emerging in these areas.

    Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

    Gaurav Mehta: For a publisher in a high involvement category; providing the most updated and relevant information is often a winning play as far as users are concerned. Digital Vidya is demystifying a lot of grey areas in a high involvement medium.

    Digital Vidya imparting digital education in a formal manner will help with a steady stream of business ready professionals so in my assessment; Digital Vidya is playing an integral part in helping businesses leverage the best that digital world has to offer. My best wishes to Digital Vidya

    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 :).

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