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Interview with Rajnish Khare, HDFC Bank, Head Digital Transformation, Social Business & New Media and Mobility Banking

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rajnish-khareRajnish Khare is a senior Banking Professional, having 20 years of experience with HDFC Bank, Citibank, Standard Chartered, Reliance Retail and ICICI Bank.

Currently, he heads the Digital Transformation, Social Business & New Media and Mobility Banking function at HDFC Bank and is responsible for Digital, Social & Mobility Strategy for the bank and inculcating Innovation as a culture & using innovation as a strategic differentiator to gain leadership position in chosen markets.

Rajnish specializes in setting-up and running strategic business units with a profit center driven approach and has set-up 5 SBUs so far, being responsible for developing strategy, leading execution & managing operations with focus on Customer Acquisition, Revenue Generation, Proliferation of Products & Services, Customer Experience and Business Innovation.

His earlier positions include – Chief Innovation Officer at Citibank, Head – Remote Banking. Digital Payments & Business Innovations, at Standard Chartered Bank & Head of Alternate Channels & Cross Sell at ICICI Bank.

Importance of Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing lies at the core of all his initiatives and is the most important tool to inform his target customers, have them experience the innovation and collect information (through data and analytics) to constantly improve the product/channel.  

He specializes in Digital, Mobile, Social Strategy Formulations and Execution and has a versatile domain knowledge in BFSI sector encompassing almost all areas except treasury operations.

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

Rajnish Khare: Having been closely associated with Digital right from the beginning of my career, I’ve seen its power in adding value across various functions in any organization and for brands to reach as well as deliver value to last mile consumer. Digitization was slated to become the DNA – an integral part of any organization. While Digital Marketing is one of the many aspects of digitization, I could foresee its importance and value right back when ‘traditional’ digital campaigns were driven through e-mail/SMS. The beauty of real-time performance measurement, personalized targeting, real-time analytics and response has always attracted me to learn, implement and actively use digital marketing.

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?

Rajnish Khare:  

  • Because of its longevity, people are accustomed to traditional marketing. Finding ads in magazines and newspapers, or reading billboards are still familiar activities and people still do them all the time. Traditional marketing is generally considered to be passive, while digital marketing actively involves the target audience. This really allows the two techniques to complement each other, working together to achieve the company’s intended objectives.
  • Utilizing both traditional and digital marketing techniques allows companies message to be spread across many different channels. Depending on the target market, some media outlets work better than others. Though everyone is exposed to all different kinds of media, your younger audience is likely to be more digitally savvy. By using both methods, your company is able to reach more potential customers.

  • Traditional media is a highly effective way to reach a broad consumer base, but digital media is a great way to reach out to a specific audience. Digital marketing can be used to build relationships with the consumers that are deeper and more relevant.

These are just three of the countless ways that traditional and digital media can work together to make the marketing plan the most effective it can be. If you don’t use both types of marketing, your company may not be attracting all of your potential customers. In order to maximize the market, it is key that you integrate both traditional and digital marketing into your strategy. 

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

Rajnish Khare: Among the most recent Indian case studies, here are some of my favourite ones-

  1. #EducateTheGirlChild – Nestle India: When on Teacher’s Day, Nestle India joined hands with Project Nanhi Kali to target education for a million underprivileged girls. I admired the manner in which Nestle helped build awareness for the cause through touching yet informative visual content. When brands go beyond selling their products towards social causes, I definitely admire them.
  2. #ShareTheLoad – Ariel India: Again a very insightful campaign targeted towards the changing Indian mindset about how men in the middle and upper middle-class segment need to share the household work with their spouses.
  3. #DontLetHerGo – Swach Bharat Abhiyan: Bad habits that have gone on for generations are hard to change and require messaging that strikes the right heart strings. This is one of them. Very insightful, humorous yet drives the message through.

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

Rajnish Khare:  

  • Analytics: A lot of brands don’t give much importance to their measurement techniques. To track and analyze whether the campaign has achieved the desired goals, brands needs to focus more on analytics. Once the tracking is in place, marketing managers get loads of insightful data which helps them understand consumer behavior for future campaigns.
  • Social community base: Building Social community base to achieve business objective. Brands have been running after building a huge community base but are not really focusing on the content on their social platforms. Your social community should be an advocate of your brand and valuable content should be published to build brand loyalty.
  • Not utilizing different online channels: Most brands only focus on limited online channels for digital marketing; brands need to explore multiple options.

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

Rajnish Khare:  As per my experience in this industry, a hybrid model is recommended. The best from the digital domain can be obtained only when we have expertise from several diversities. Thus, the structure which I feel is most apt as per the current scenario is to have an in-house Digital Marketing lead who can command the in-house as well as the agency/vendor teams. Both the teams have to work in synchronization to achieve the goals of the organization. This would make sure both creativity and cost is saved at one go.

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

Rajnish Khare: Digital media is the favorite of marketers and product owners alike compared traditional media. However, the new age digital media is quickly emerging which enables focused and contextual communication with customers. This is a prime factor in driving customer engagement. We constantly look out for innovative technologies that use digital media effectively thereby giving better bang for the buck for product owners. We extensively use social media SDKs, Real-time analytics based targeting, Personalized Video Marketing etc. to better the ROI of our digital marketing efforts which is the prime requirement of all key stakeholders.   

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Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Rajnish Khare:  Suggestions (avoid mentioning specific brands). Please confirm so that we can add more content here –

  • Online and Mobile Analytics platforms – for real-time customer behavior based insights and campaign management.
  • Programmatic Ad Bidding
  • Having access to a Digital Command Center – an important and much needed tool for brands to keep their ears on the ground (a digital one of course!)

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

Rajnish Khare:  

  • For Entrepreneurs: Digital marketing has the capability to transform products and processes through technology. This capability gives them the edge over other marketing channels and is exactly what a startup needs to grow and sustain in this highly competitive market.
  • For Professionals: Through digital media they can reach out and understand the customers. It would play important role in every  marketing field such as PR, media and communication
  • For Students: A digital marketing course is probably the best direction for both short term and long term prospects. This would make students learn new things which would make the aware about the future developments. They find such stuff to be cool and get excited about it

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

Rajnish Khare:  A self-starter, person who is willing to learn & grow with an analytical mind frame and proactive approach are something which is the most essential for Digital Marketing Candidate.

Digital Marketing requires a mix of creativity and analytical thinking, so we look for a candidate capable of and excited about both. Many new candidates want to focus purely on one or the other but it’s important to bring “art and science” to each digital program.

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

Rajnish Khare: Anyone who is passionate about technology and digital media should never stop reading and learning. Every day is a day to learn new things as technology keeps on changing and so should we with them. He/she would never stop experimenting in this new world digital marketing.

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?

Rajnish Khare: 

  • Efma
  • Financial Brand
  • Business Insider

    Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.

    Rajnish Khare: 

    1. Jon Morrow, a free-lance content marketing expert known for his blogging skills. He can write about anything while touching the right human emotions.
    2. Jeff Bullas, a social media expert who is sort of self-educated in the content and social media marketing space. He is best known for his ‘how to?’ articles on any topic with easy-to-understand advice.
    3. Avinash Kaushik, a google evangelist and one of the world’s leading experts on Google Analytics. He can transform the complexity of advanced data analysis into simple, understandable articles.

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

    Rajnish Khare: Technology is such an essential part of human lives as we are inexplicably depend on it for our basic needs – entertainment, information, travel and communication. India currently has more than 220 million smart phone users in the country. Internet penetration, especially with smart phones reaching the masses has made the world more closely knit than ever.

    Over the last few years social media has been the primary recreational tool that has kept Indian internet users engaged over the internet. Apart from consumption on social media, Indian internet users have also started using the web for a variety of other services, including, e-commerce, entertainment, online ticketing, e-banking, etc. This consumption pattern of social media users has helped platforms to understand the social media behavior of their consumers and engage them according to their interests, thus, helping them curate digital content in a similar fashion.

    3 Digital Marketing Trends I foresee for 2017:

    1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
    2. Internet of Things (IoT)
    3. Virtual Reality (VR)

    If you’re prepared for these changes in 2017 and the coming years your business will be in far better shape than your competition. You’ll be visible, you’ll have a bolder, more cutting-edge reputation, and you’ll stand to gain a bigger payout since nobody else will be doing what you are. 

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

    Rajnish Khare: 

    As India’s largest digital marketing training company, Digital Vidya is doing a unique service to democratize the knowledge of digital marketing amongst all businesses – small to large. While the new gen marketers get a hands on experience of digital marketing in their academic curriculum, existing brand managers now have Digital Vidya to bring themselves up to speed with this new-age marketing channel.

    Additionally, this ‘vidya’ is of great importance to start-ups and small enterprises to quickly reach out to their target audience. Hence, in a way, Digital Vidya is doing a great service for new entrepreneurs!

    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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