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Interview with Abhishek Mehta, Assistant Vice President, AdLift

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abhishek-mehtaAbhishek Mehta‘s first job back in 2011, exposed him to a number of small and mid-size multinational and domestic brands. Spearheading several Digital Marketing campaigns, he experimented with the emerging trends to generate a sustainable brand value.

A year later, Abhishek met his mentor, Prashant Puri. He was already following Prashant’s work and liked his approach and vision. Abhishek immediately joined Gurgaon-based AdLift as Manager, Digital. Back in 2012, they were a team of 20 people working with 15 brands. In a four years’ time span, they’ve grown to a 75-people strong team operating from 3 Geographies and working with over 100 clients today. It’s been a fabulous journey. AdLift was named as India’s 8th fastest growing mid-size company by INC 500 in the year 2013. They also won Best SEO Agency by IDMA in the following year. Recently, they have launched yral.digital with YouWeCan ventures – social media endorsement platform and Content Lift – India’s biggest content marketing platform.

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

Abhishek: I was an average scorer in my school days and always struggled with theoretical knowledge. I completed my engineering in Electronics and Communication in 2009. But due to great recession the job market was really bad. So practically there were hardly any jobs in software or electronics, and I was not keen on joining BPOs. So, I had to wait for a couple of years to get my first break in Digital Marketing (thanks to a friend, who initiated me into this industry). But those two years of my sabbatical didn’t go waste. I worked on several social initiatives including the ones which promoted girls’ education and fought against human trafficking. It was a great learning experience. Coming back to Digital – Not sure, whether it was love or something else, but I truly fell head over heels for Digital Marketing. Since then, I have been pushing myself to break further boundaries.

What charmed me towards Digital Marketing was SEO. It was interesting to decode SEO algorithms and drive ROI. It was followed by Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing – which opened a lot of new strategies.

And then SEM, APP Marketing etc. came along with advanced analytics. It was exciting to see customer’s behavior almost in real time.

Engaging and sharing ideas with enthusiastic digital marketers along with its challenges and opportunities is my daily dose of motivation. I feel privileged to be a part of such an exciting industry.

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?

Abhishek: One of the main strengths of conventional marketing over digital marketing is that it can reach mass audience with its campaigns and provide tangible offers and promotions.

However, Indian smartphone users spend on average of 169 minutes per day on their devices. This gives digital media an opportunity to tap into the consumer’s digital life. It also provides scope to measure results and determine ROI of every campaign that traditional marketing cannot accurately determine.

Brands are getting more and more aware of the benefits of Digital Marketing over its conventional counterpart. No wonder, Digital Marketing budgets are growing at around 15% annualy.

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

Abhishek: 

  • Coca Cola Open Happiness: Simple, strong and very well-articulate messaging, hoping to appeal to consumers’ longing for comfort and optimism at a time when the weakening economy was sapping soft-drink sales. The campaign promoted positive messaging to promote everything from anti-bullying to peaceful co-existence among Indians and Pakistanis.
  • Star Sports Mauka Mauka: India and Pakistan connect, which was created for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 by Star Sports, went viral because of the equation between the two countries. The concept of having a Pakistan ‘Mauka Man’ was amazing, and captured the intense excitement and fan frenzy surrounding cricket matches in India with a dash of humor.
  • Nike Livestrong: If you leave Armstrong’s downfall, it’s an excellent example of a consumer-driven mobile marketing campaign. The campaign coincided with a 46% jump in sales, generating $4m for Lance Armstrong’s fight against cancer.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Abhishek: 

  • Proactive Approach: Lack of research budget and proactive approach means, more firefighting. Organizations focus more on reactive approach when it comes to innovative research and development projects. In digital marketing, it’s vital that experts keep on studying different methods of optimizing an online business before an event actually happens. This will help in foreseeing the future with the right solutions.
  • Underestimating the value of SEO: It’s such an important channel to build your business – Many businesses allot small budgets for SEO activities. Primary reason for this is, SEO being a long-term strategy, the business starts seeing the benefits after a year or so. This is why they prefer to put money in marketing activities that give immediate results like- Paid and display campaigns. However, SEO should be treated as an investment that will increase the ROI drastically over a period and this has a significant impact on one’s overall online customer base.
  • Talent Management: This should be a critical area of concern since many organizations focus on hiring experienced professionals rather than training their internal team members. For a team to grow, there must be equal growth opportunities for the young and the experienced alike.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Abhishek: Digital has a very wide scope, with different channels like – Search, Display, Paid, App Store, Web development and Social. To get the maximum value from each digital marketing campaign you need experts from each segment who invest time and formulate in a 360-degree strategy. Many firms are not capable of managing all these resources internally and prefer partnering with a digital agency solely because of this reason. Today, in 2016, around 85% of the companies in India that have an online presence have a digital agency.

So, it’s not about managing in-house or through an agency, it’s about working with experts in each industry.

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

Abhishek: We work towards forming case studies and whitepapers which highlight key results achieved for our clients through various services including Paid media, SEO, especially focusing on content marketing which is one of the emerging trends in this industry.

Our ContentLift platform has helped a lot of our clients in distributing relevant industry content on the web through more than 10,000 publishers.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Abhishek:

  • Google Analytics
  • SemRush
  • Rival IQ
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Abhishek:

  • For Entrepreneurs:

Brands don’t talk. People talk. Presenting your product/service to its target audience is the first step in the real world. From a digital marketing standpoint, entrepreneurs could think critically about their brand’s content. They should strategize on the content of their website, Facebook and Twitter. This helps in defining the scope of digital marketing OKRs, from community management, to social, display, and email marketing.

  • For Professionals:

Digital is probably the most dynamic marketing discipline, and the sooner you enter it, the better it gets. Traditional outlets are openly accepting digital as part of their key processes – sales, operations, and analysis. It has moved beyond just creating, launching and tracking inbound campaigns. Data analytics have a much broader role to play in terms of campaign design and budget modeling. As a professional, you need the operational know-how of all inbound processes – search, content, email, social media, paid, etc., to dynamically allocate bandwidth and spend budgets for your marketing funnel’s better performance.

  • For Students:

Digital is bound to touch all contemporary workplaces, be it creative arts, engineering, design, development, finance, help/support, healthcare, etc. Hence, as a student, if you are not sure exactly what you are passionate about – digital marketing is a good start to dip your fingers in. You can still keep chasing your passions, and a digital pedigree will help you explore new areas to pursue your dream.

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

Abhishek: 

  • Right Attitude
  • Passion to Learn
  • Communication Skills
  • Analytical Skills
  • Out of the box Thinking
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Abhishek: Invest time! Get out there and get to it. It’s important to channelize your Passion and TIME. Keep it on the top of your daily tasks. Invest in personal development and learning the newest happenings in the industry. Digital marketing world is a fast-moving world and you can’t stick to the same skill sets and strategies for ever. Nothing stays as it is. Reading Blogs, articles are fine but there’s nothing great as practical knowledge. KEEP LEARNING.

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?

Abhishek: 

  • Search Engine Land
  • Tech Crunch
  • Think with Google
  • HubSpot
  • Occam Razor by Avinash Kaushik
Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.

Abhishek: 

  • Danny Sullivan
  • Avinash Kaushik
  • Seth Godin
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends you foresee for 2016?

Abhishek:

  • I think, the share of video and mobile in total digital ad spend is likely to increase to about 40-45% in 2016. Currently it stands at around 35%.
  • Influencer Marketing will start becoming a part of a brand’s core social media strategy – Branded tweets should increase the purchase intent by 2.7 times. Whereas, branded tweets combined with influencer tweets is likely to increase the purchase intent by 5.2 times.
  • And, the share of digital advertising in the overall advertising spend of FMCG sector is likely to increase from 5% to around 10% in 2016.
  • Also, digital marketing spends in India is likely to double up by the end of 2020, making digital media a crucial part of the core marketing strategy of all top brands.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Abhishek: 

I like all the webinars and courses at Digital Vidya. In fact, we do give weightage to Digital Marketing expertise while hiring. The course material is good, something I recommend to everyone who’s interested in a Digital marketing career.

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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