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Interview With Aekta Shyam, Digital Marketing Lead Trainer From Singapore
Based in Singapore, Aekta Shyam started her career with the Tata Administrative Service (TAS) the Group Rotational Leadership Programme in the Tata Group. She was given exposure to different industries and was fortunate to have worked in various functions such as Sales, Marketing, Project Management, Strategy and Operations in different Tata companies such as Tata Liebert (now Emerson Power), TCS, Tata Interactive Systems and Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces. She was with the Taj Group for almost seven years where she was the General Manager in the Managing Director’s office and General Manager Online Marketing and Technology.
After a decade with the Tata Group, she relocated to Singapore after marriage. She worked with eBay as the Head of Marketing Southeast Asia and then as the Head of Online Sales and Analytics of the Consumer Bank at DBS in Singapore.
For the past couple of years, she has been running her own venture Digitally Ready, which enables individuals, small businesses and organizations to be ready for a digital future. At this time, she is also very excited about building her YouTube channel that aims to bridge the Digital Divide for Hindi speaking people.
Digital Vidya: How did you get into Digital Marketing?
Aekta: By accident. It was a summer internship at IBM in Internet Marketing in 1999 that introduced me to the world of Internet Marketing – the excitement, the possibilities and the amazing things that were happening at the height of the Dot Com boom were infectious. I dabbled in a venture during my college, but the Dot Com bust a few months down the line was to derail a lot of our plans. I decided to take up an offer from the TAS post college. In the next few years, I did get opportunities to work in Digital Marketing at the various Tata companies. This was an area, which excited me and I spent a lot of my free time learning about the Digital space.
It was during my MBA year at INSEAD that I decided that I wanted to be a Digital Marketer. I took up several Digital Marketing courses at INSEAD and beyond such as the Award of Achievement in Web Analytics, Award of Achievement in Social Media from the University of British Colombia, Reputation Management from Tuck at the University of Dartmouth and several others and made sure I stayed current with Digital Marketing.
But the real learning as a Digital Marketer has come from doing things ‘on the job’ – testing, validating assumptions and continuously improving our methodologies to achieve superior results.
Digital Vidya: Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
Aekta: We have to follow our customers. If our consumers are spending more time online – surfing the internet, chatting, watching videos or even playing games online, then that’s where we as marketers must try and reach them and engage with them. Media consumption is changing and marketers must take the changing consumer habits and preferences into account, when planning the Marketing mix and marketing budget. By learning how to use the various Digital Marketing tools, you are able to know just how you can attract, engage, sell to and retain your customers throughout the customer life cycle as they spend more time online.
Secondly, we all should optimize for performance. The digital medium allows you to track, measure and analyze data in ways which was never possible before. By learning how to use the right tools and techniques, you will be able to better utilize your resources and get a better return on investment from your marketing budgets.
It’s not an either-or approach. The online and offline media need to be used synergistically to achieve the maximum impact. Your goals may be to create awareness, engagement, get leads or sales and the right mix of media and channels should be used to achieve the desired outcomes.
Today, you can reach your customers online and create a preference for your company or brand – and all this even before a salesperson has ever approached them. If you as an entrepreneur or marketing professional are not utilizing Digital Marketing to attract and engage your customers, you are missing out because you can be sure your competition is already doing it.
Digital Vidya: What kind of Digital Marketing training programs you lead at Digital Vidya? Feel free to share any interesting experiences you’ve had while training at Digital Vidya.
Aekta: I have lead programs on Digital Marketing for Customer Acquisition and Digital Marketing for Lead Generation and Sales.
I have enjoyed the training programs because they gave me an opportunity to interact with people from different industries and at various stages in their respective Digital Marketing adoption journeys.
These training programs gave me an opportunity to share my real life experiences but also learn from the participants’ experiences, the challenges they face in their respective industries and organizations.
On one occasion, I brainstormed with a team of people, who were all from the same company and wanted advice on how to leverage their Facebook page to get better engagement and more leads. This helped me understand the consumer mindset in that country (Mauritius) and appreciate the dynamic Telecom industry there. So it was a learning for me as well as we worked together to get solutions to problems they faced.
Digital Vidya: Please share top 3 takeaways your training participants get out of their participation.
- In the Digital Marketing space, the only constant is change. This is a very dynamic space where new technologies and tools are empowering marketers to better understand their customers – better target them, reach them, engage with them, acquire and retain them. It is important to stay abreast of all the happenings in the digital space if you want to win and keep your customers. I try to give a good mix of the basics and then tell participants about what the exciting things happening in various industries. This is followed by concrete examples of ways in which participants can leverage these tools and technologies in their respective organizations.
- Data is King – always be measuring. You need to have a robust system where you collect and analyze your data. But analyzing data is not enough, you need to continuously experiment and test your assumptions. Do small experiments, learn from them and improve your marketing by that little notch – that is the mantra to continuous improvement. I show them the various tools and techniques and the incremental steps they can take to improve the effectiveness of their Digital Marketing campaigns throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Always be learning – learn from the best in your industry, learn from leaders in other industries and also learn from your competitors. There are many real life examples and case studies that showcase to the participants the best practices in the Digital Marketing space. This not only opens up their minds to the possibilities but also creates an environment where other participants share what they have done, when they succeeded and what didn’t work for them. We set up Facebook Groups where throughout the duration of the course and beyond, participants can ask questions, clarify their doubts and share best practices.
Digital Vidya: Please share your experience in delivering a course in an instructor-led, online format. Is it really effective & engaging medium?
Aekta: I have been taking online courses for 13 years myself and worked in an e-learning company for a couple of years (Tata Interactive Systems.) I have to say I am a huge believer in constantly upgrading my own skills.
In today’s day and age, it is difficult for most of us, professionals to take time off and go for full day seminars and offline courses. And asynchronous pre-recorded courses can be a good alternative but what happens if you want to ask a question urgently or need to share something?
Online instructor-led courses are least disruptive because you can take a couple of hours off in a week and not have to travel. The interactive format allows you to ask questions, collaborate with and learn from other participants in real time. Seeing the instructor, being able to interact in real time is as close to the classroom experience as possible.
Digital Vidya: What do you like most about training at Digital Vidya?
Aekta: There’s never a dull moment – the training sessions are very interactive and participants have asked me some insightful questions. I have learnt a lot from the interactions and grown myself as a Digital Marketer.
I have known Kapil and Pradeep for several years now and they are committed to giving the best experience to their students. Despite their accomplishments, they are very open to suggestions and very grounded as individuals. I personally respect the work that they have done to promote Digital Marketing Education in India and around the world.
They have a good support team that takes care of everything and the instructors can focus on teaching.
Digital Vidya: Do you suggest any changes to Digital Vidya, so that the value of its courses can be enhanced further?
- The training tends to be focused on B2B and leans heavily on the tech industry. There should be more examples from consumer facing industries.
- There are emerging technologies, which are in their nascent stage such as Video, Video advertising, Programmatic buying, which need subject matter experts – perhaps you need to bring courses on new topics.
- You need to have special courses for Freelancers – how to build their brand, how to position themselves online and how to make money from the online channel.
If you are looking for a digital marketing course in Singapore, we invite you to consider participating in Digital Marketing Master Certification (CDMM) by Digital Vidya.