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Interview with Satyarth Priyedarshi, Jio, Assistant Vice President – eCommerce

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Satyarth PriyedarshiSatyarth Priyedarshi started off after his MBA into retail with Shoppers Stop. This gave him a chance to work with a stalwart like R. Sriram, who was completely customer-obsessed. Shoppers Stop was a very metric-driven company, and leaders like Kumar Rajgopalan instilled values of a Systems & Processes-based approach with measurability and profitability.

Importance of Digital Marketing

Satyarth spent 3 years implementing these values into Borders Bookstores in Middle-East. When he came back to India, it wasn’t hard to fathom, that e-commerce was the place which allowed true practice of retail, and allowed an individual to measure everything. With physical retail, they only had so many avenues and control on driving customers into the store. The business was completely tied-up with location, and the battle was won or lost on these bets. They would make tonnes of assumption on foot falls with benchmarking, which would lead to assumptions on category planning and stock holding.

With things becoming Digital, there was far more control on how much traffic they could drive to the store, and on which parts of the store. Losing or winning the business became a function of money and operational excellence, than fate.

Digital Marketing made sure that business was less of a gamble.

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

Satyarth Priyedarshi: The credit for me getting to learn and implement Digital Marketing completely goes to my Managers at Infibeam – Vishal Mehta and Sachin Oswal. I was heading 5 categories over there with complete ownership, and used to take traffic as a function of overall organization’s strategy. In early days, if sales dropped, I would complain of not enough people coming to the store, just the way it’s done in retail. They were smart, and just handed me the responsibility to make sure the traffic to my pages didn’t drop.

Once the tables were turned, I had to burn the midnight oil and implement what I learnt. One good thing was, that they never stopped me from experimenting, and I think whatever gain I have made, or the understanding I have of this space is to a large extent because of the fact. No one ever told me that this cannot be done. A lot of strategies we put out in those days are still golden. The names keep changing with seasons.

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

Satyarth Priyedarshi:

  • Scale losses over profitability: Digital marketing is a multiplier. If you turn the gun on loss making pages, it will compound your losses. If you train the gun on profit making pages, you will make profit. Most of the times, the drivers for digital marketing in companies are trying to play with metrics like “Number of Orders”, “GMV” etc. which signal size than things which signal profitability. I believe that marketing is supposed to pay for itself, and if you are doing anything else, that is branding. I advise companies to go with Zero Based budgeting models to make sure the money is being used to scale profits and not losses, just so that someone can save their job or win some vanity metric.
  • Slow to Manage Social: Social is a space which I find many companies don’t understand what to do with. They create a Twitter handle, make a Facebook page but that’s about it. Some would buy one million likes and feel happy. But social can be so much more. I don’t hear many people doing sentiment analysis, or talking to customers on social, which has become cheaper by the day! One example which I would want to quote is a wallet company that recently sent out millions of SMS messages using emergency channel. This meant that everyone they sent the message to got the message and read the message, mostly in panic. I wrote about it on my LinkedIn Page. This company was so quick on social that within one hour, their customer care head had reached out and apologized about the experience on the post and personally reached out and explained the message had been sent out by a junior associate by mistake. They didn’t ask me to remove the post, but i did out of courtesy. But the larger learning is, that if they had not done that, over 100,000 people would have seen the post in the next couple of days, and created a PR nightmare. But due to deft handling, such a situation was avoided. Social done right is a huge cost saver, and not an expense.
  • Overtly dependent on agencies: Digital marketing is here to stay. All of us understand that. But still a lot of companies out there, still prefer to hire an agency to do things than themselves. When something as crucial as acquiring customers is involved, which you have to keep on doing day in and out, how can you outsource this? depending on an agency takes away the operational nightmare, but when strategies and customers are concerned, I would want to do this internally than externally. This puts the onus of performance within organizations locus of control and helps you improve and draw insights and strategies.

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

Satyarth Priyedarshi: My reason remains the same for everyone. If you are going to do a business, you need customers. If you need customers, you need digital marketing. If you don’t understand it, you will never be in a position to build a holistic strategy and do your chair justice. If you don’t understand it and dabble with it, it can burn through your millions quicker than you can say “millions”.

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?

Satyarth Priyedarshi: Daily egg, KISSmetric blog, SearchEngineLand, Econsultancy are the ones which I never miss. Besides these, I have built myself a huge feedly repository of magazines and blogs which keep featuring stuff on digital, and sometimes marketing as well.

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

Satyarth Priyedarshi: If you are working in an organization that hasn’t completely transformed digitally, then be a part of that team or start the project. Digital Marketing cannot start in such an organization, until digital becomes a core part of the thought process. So I recommend fighting one War, than many battles.

Anything becomes relevant when people can objectively see the gain coming out from it. So if you want to grow the impact of Digital, put in some money with a well thought out plan as an experiment. Make sure that the project succeeds and then share the results top down. One thing I want to tell you is that most people who don’t understand digital or technology fear it. They might give you thousands of reasons on why it won’t work. But if you dig deep, you will find a fear of losing influence, as they know they can’t be a contributor in this story. So you have to be very cautious that the senior members are on board in this transformation, as well as you have made sure to train and educate the people who don’t know digital. Think of them as a part of your family. Just because you know how to run a computer doesn’t make your dad ir-relevant. Teaching your dad how to run a computer may be slow, but reaps more dividends as then you have access to their business experience as well.

How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?

Satyarth Priyedarshi: 

  1. Artificial Intelligence: I recently went to a CXO meet, and saw an IBM Watson demo, and was stupefied. I had seen the previous incarnations, and never thought that it will relaunch in this avatar. I think AI products like that are the future. If you are a building products in Digital Marketing, and you are not using AI, you will be wiped off in next 5 years.
  2. New Inventory: If you see, in terms of types of inventory, the space has largely remained the same since some time now. The last major overhaul that happened was with screens on mobiles and wearables (which didn’t take off). With the next generation screens being developed, I think in the next 5 years, the space is going to explode with the kind of inventory becoming available which we hadn’t thought. IoT and screen technology are going to make amazing products possible.
  3. Physical Web: Some of the technologies like EddyStone are, I believe, just a precursor to bigger things to come. They came, and were written off too soon. But they haven’t died yet. I hear a lot of murmers on people trying to find the right way to use this tech, and I believe it will reach critical mass soon. You see it’s just the law of averages. With these many people trying to solve it, some one is going to make it big.

You led the webinar ‘Making your LinkedIn Network Work for You’. How was your experience in leading the webinar?

Satyarth Priyedarshi: My experience was awesome. I was overwhelmed by the response and the questions later on. I was really happy to see so many smart people engaging on the platform and excited about digital! Some have written to me on LinkedIn later on how they have created a social persona. So, I am happy that I could help.

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Date: 25th Oct, 2017 (Wed)
Time: 3 PM to 4:30 PM (IST/GMT +5:30)

Please share top 3-5 takeaways from the Webinar you led for our community.

Satyarth Priyedarshi: Learning has no age: Not only was there marked difference in demography during live questions, I have been asked follow-up questions off platform by people of all ages, which really fills me with hope. As long as people are willing to learn, they will be prepared to succeed.

Do you have any suggestions for us to further increase the value of our Digital Marketing Webinars for our community?

Satyarth Priyedarshi: I think you are doing fine. I feel that if you held product demo’s for leading digital marketing platforms, students will really get to see how its done.

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

Satyarth Priyedarshi: 

  1. Capability to learn: Digital as a field is ever changing. If someone doesn’t keep updating themselves they will not be able to grow.
  2. Subject Matter Expertise: Most of the arbitrage in the digital space comes from talent, and so if the person is not a subject matter expert in the field with the latest, then that results in challenges between what competition is doing and what one is supposed to do.
  3. Ethical
  4. Communication: Should be able to communicate clearly and effectively. I sometimes come across candidates, who can give half an hour answer to “tell me something about you”. People who just can’t stop talking or have capability to give a measured straight response.
  5. Team Player: All work today happens in groups, and if someone cannot work in a group, then that becomes a challenge.

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

Satyarth Priyedarshi:  Have patience, plan diligently and put in all your effort. The universe will reward you, may be not in the way you want or planned. Trust me, one day you will look back and understand the plan. Have patience, Just because you want it to rain today, doesn’t mean it will rain. If it doesn’t rain, don’t lose faith in yourself. 

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

Satyarth Priyedarshi: India is quickly moving towards adopting digital solutions and the entire country is going to get positively affected. This means that the number of digital professionals required in the country is to grow exponentially.

I am really happy to see Digital Vidya take a leading position in this direction and helping professionals become digitally aware and shape their career for a better tomorrow and contribute positively in nation building. 

Disclaimer: The views are my own and don’t reflect the views of any of my present or past employer.

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[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.
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