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Interview with Abhishek Rathi, Head – Digital Marketing, eCommerce & Digitization, PNB MetLife

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Abhishek Rathi - profile photoAbhishek Rathi has over 14 years of diversified experience across FMCG, Consumer Durables & Life Insurance industry; with last 8 years in leading Digital initiatives across three leading Life Insurance companies. His key assignments over the last decade include,

  • Digitization of distribution & operations processes
  • Setting up eCommerce channel
  • Digital strategy
  • Digital Marketing
  • Relationship Management
  • Business Development – New Alliance Partners
  • Direct Sales management
  • Sales Strategy : Business Analytics, Planning & Rewards & Recognition
  • Organizational high impact project management

In his current assignment at PNB MetLife India Insurance Co. Ltd., he is leading Digital which covers Digital marketing, eCommerce & Digitization initiatives across the organization. He recently won the prestigious “50 Most Influential Digital Media Professionals” award for 2015 by CMO Asia, CMO Council & World Marketing Congress. He also led PNB MetLife to win the coveted “Celent Model Insurer Asia Award” for their eCommerce platform and “Best Website of the year” by CMO Asia & CMO Council, recently.

Prior to joining PNB MetLife, Abhishek led the Digitization initiatives for Max Life Insurance as a Lead architect & Program manager and played a pivotal role in Agency & Bancassurance transformation by leveraging technology. He led Max Life to win the coveted “Celent Model Insurer Asia Award” for Digitization initiatives in Agency, March’14 at Singapore.

His key accomplishments include:

  1. Launch of first ever Online Life Insurance buying experience with no paper trail.
  2. Successful launch of first ever Tablet solution enabling prospecting, fulfillment & servicing to customers online, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.
  3. First ever large scale adoption of pre-sales digitization initiatives by Agents (4,300+) & employees (2000+) (Lead management, Tablet based prospecting & Tablet based recruitment process), Max Life Insurance.
  4. Industry first initiative to change partner behaviour from churn to retention & augment increase of persistency.

Abhishek is a rank holder & holds an MBA degree from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.

Importance of Digital Marketing

In his current role at PNB MetLife, they are leveraging Digital Marketing to positively influence each step of the customer’s life cycle starting with: 

  1. Understanding the Customer’s Context,
  2. Building Digital brand presence,
  3. Providing simplified Content across various Digital assets & platforms,
  4. Facilitate decision making & smooth on-boarding,
  5. Servicing convenience &
  6. Building a long term relationship with customer
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?

Abhishek: As I look back at each of my roles, it’s not surprising to find that majority of strategic & tactical recommendations (across organizations) included leveraging Digital & Digitization for either cost optimization, improving efficiencies, enhancing productivity, scaling distribution or building a brand presence.

It was therefore a matter of time for me to shift focus completely into leveraging Digital to positively impact the enterprise & customers. The biggest attraction though is the ever changing nature of Digital marketing; it keeps you on your toes and lets you learn every day.

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: The question here is not one at the cost of other. It’s one of achieving perfect collaboration between conventional & digital marketing.

In today’s hyper connected world, every marketer makes a sincere attempt to break the clutter with their campaigns. The winning ones more often than not have best of both the worlds. Virtual Reality campaign for Tata Tiago is a perfect example of leveraging Print for reach & VR for experiential marketing.   

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

Abhishek: 

  • Nestle Maggi re-launch campaign: Amazing comeback campaign from a brand which was accused of not managing its digital/ social mediums proactively enough only to see its market share plummet. Proves that a medium which can break you can also act as a spring board for greater success.
  • Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign: An insight (unfortunately accepted by society) on gender inequality beautifully told through the lens of a father, with a strong call-to-action for men to share the load of household chores. Perfect blend of insights, emotions, story-telling & call-to-action to sustain the campaign beyond its lifetime.
  • Parachute Advansed #KhulKeKheloHoli: Parachute perfectly blended the product with a popular Indian festival Holi and took the conversation on digital platforms by encouraging users to upload dubsmash videos or blog about their Holi festival celebrations. Perfect example of joining the customers in their conversations rather than creating one.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Abhishek: 

  • Not embracing Social mediums: Love it or hate it but one can no longer stay away from social platforms. Not being present will probably be more counterproductive for a brand.
  • Apportioning low budgets for digital mediums: Every organization has to experience the learning curve in their digital marketing journey. There are no shortcuts. It’s important therefore to set short term goals with appropriate investment to pave the way for ROI in medium to long term.
  • Not investing enough in curating & generating content: Ask any Digital marketer on his/her key focus areas and sourcing “Good content” will certainly feature in top 3 priorities. Customers can see through brand’s efforts on product push & therefore it’s imperative to invest in relevant content to create sustained engagement.
Between Agencies and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Abhishek:  

In short term while one can leverage digital agencies to initiate the digital marketing journey, there is a higher probability of success if right talent is on-boarded inhouse especially in areas of Campaign management, Social media, SEO, etc.

Dedicated resources enable deeper integration of Digital marketing across the organization which is crucial for truly leveraging its potential. 

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Abhishek: At this stage, my favourite tools are Google Analytics Premium, Social listening tool- Synthesio & PNB MetLife’s integrated eCommerce CRM. 

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

Abhishek: ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder is a new reality with today’s customers. Digital marketing will empower entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students alike to break the clutter, simplify the communication & drive two-way interactions to create lasting engagement with their audience.

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

Abhishek:

  • Domain expertise
  • Willingness to learn
  • Passion to create benchmarks
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Abhishek:

Join Digital marketing only if you are willing to fail, unlearn what you know & learn each day.

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: LinkedIn, McKinsey, Twitter & Play Newsstand apps are my current favourites to stay updated on latest trends. Besides, Whatsapp allows leveraging from my friends & colleague’s reading lists.

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

Abhishek: Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg & Travis Kalanick– all of them have truly leveraged the Digital platform to create world class organizations.

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

Abhishek:  Messenger platforms, such as WhatsApp and WeChat, are becoming increasingly popular. The fact that people are moving from browser to Apps and now to messaging applications is a big global trend. Most people check their messenger applications first thing in the morning. This behaviour will manifest into evolution of natural design and force companies to re-design their digital assets and join people in their conversation rather than merely providing information.

Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality coupled with Artificial Intelligence is also an interesting opportunity. Device & content constraints notwithstanding, I foresee great applications of this technology in customer education & providing an immersive digital experience.

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

Abhishek:

All of us remember Arjun from Mahabharata but seldom recall the great deeds of Dronacharya. Digital Vidya is doing a similar work in the field of Digital marketing and will surely create many Arjuns in the coming years! 

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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