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An Interview With Saba Scalem, Business Head E-commerce and Digital Marketing, Wet Blue-New York

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Saba Scalem Saba Scalem is a modern retail, E-commerce and Digital marketing professional having a career spanning almost 12 years with various organisations and brands of repute like Adidas, Levis and Wet Blue-New York. Currently holding a position of Business Head E-commerce and Digital Marketing with Wet Blue-New York. Saba has extensively worked on the areas of setting up the entire e-commerce business right from the scratch to scaling them up to significant measures through various digital and integrated marketing activities.

A Google GAP Certified Professional in Digital Tools, Saba has equipped herself by learning all the latest digital marketing tools and applying them effectively for her companies’ various campaigns. Constantly upgrades her knowledge-base with latest technological digital marketing tools and latest trends of the e-com industry.

In the past, Saba has been fortunate enough to have done a pan India research in “modern retail in India” reports of which were due to be presented to the Government in 2007. She has also been covered by a coveted national newspaper as one of the pioneers of e-commerce marketplaces in India in 2010.

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

Saba: Getting into digital marketing is an extension to my work experience into e-commerce operations. Its very vital for an e-commerce professional or any marketer to work on scaling the business through all marketing channels and digital marketing undoubtedly can’t be ignored.

Digital marketing for me was/is learning on the job as part of my integrated marketing activities. I worked on enhancing my technical expertise through online courses which helped me understand the nuances and correct usage of digital marketing tools both at the micro and macro level.

According to you, what are the advantages of conventional marketing over Digital Marketing?

Saba: Conventional marketing activities are there in the business for decades and almost tried and tested in the marketing domain. We have various direct and indirect customer touch points through conventional marketing which caters to larger audiences like television & print media consumers. Conventional marketing has an advantage of reaching to those consumers also that have access to very restrictive mediums like radio or a regional newspaper. However the way internet is penetrating into Indian consumers and the humongous rise of affordable smart phones are surely going to change the way marketing will be done in coming 5 years.

Do you think that Digital Marketing is a threat to the future of conventional marketing?

Saba:  “Survival of the fittest”, this famous adage stands true to marketing world as well be it digital or conventional. Conventional marketing is not going to go out of the picture completely in future however presence and need of digital marketing will surely grow. Digital marketing shall increase its pie in the overall marketing domain however both will co-exist almost equally in coming 5 years. That’s why marketers need to look into working more towards unified or integrated marketing approach rather than just digital or conventional.

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

Saba:

  • Our own case study for Wetblue is the perfect example of what an early digital strategy should be, We changed our strategies to have focused approach towards building our online consumer base. Instead of going all out and doing promotions through all platforms initially we restricted ourselves only to grow the leads organically, link building and search campaigns. This yielded us the desired results in generating traffic to our site within the gestation period of its inception.
  • Airtel 4G promotions: airtel definitely pressed all right buttons with their integrated campaigns executed well on the digital platforms. Like their powerful video ad on HotStar app which definitely is a good example for digital marketer to grab the consumer attention on app platform.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Saba: 

  • Lack of strategizing and choosing the right digital platform: Digital marketing is vast as an ocean only if the marketer knows how exactly to swim across to reach to the shore. Due to lack of using the right platform to carry-on their marketing activities, organizations loose not only their investments but also a huge chunk of potential leads that could have come through digital marketing channels.
  • Lack of right skill sets: The momentum is growing at a very fast pace to acquire more leads through digital marketing, however not having the right skill set equipped to execute the digital promotions like SEO and SEM becomes a loss for the organization. It requires deep technical, analytical and process understanding for a marketer to target the right audiences and have better ROI. Organisations loose out on the potential marketing budgets going waste when the digital budgets are not calculated based on correct understanding of each digital channel paid promotions. Also they loose out on the right audience analysis and their behavioural pattern due to lack of deep knowledge of analytical tools.
  • Getting into the App world: Apps are going to be the future of commerce as more and more consumers are going mobile for their day to day transactions right from shopping to utility bill payments but any organisation should understand that the capacity of any smart phone is still limited (barring high end phones) and unless consumer is extremely reliant on the brand/marketplace/organisation he/she will not download it. So organisation should not just blindly jump into the bandwagon and launch an app only service specially a new brand. Give your consumer acceptability time then launch an app at the same time being present on web. Organisations that are only app based loose out on lot of potential customers who are still accustomed to web.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Saba: I would say BOTH. Digital marketing is getting way bigger than just SEO and SMM. There are various tools, technologies and platforms there for the marketer to be present on a real time basis for them to be on top. So a mix of in-house team for few activities like SMM, SEM and affiliates marketing and for rest of the activities like SEO, Predictives, Blogs etc. can be done through agencies. Having this mix not only reduces the fixed operational cost of a company but also helps in maximizing the investments all levels and areas of marketing activities.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Saba: Google Adwords, Google Analytics & Madrillapp.

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

Saba: To equip them with the right technical, process and analytical skill sets to perform better in the digital marketing domain.

  • For Entrepreneurs:

They should know it to save costs of either hiring an agency or an in-house team and also to run the campaigns as per their immediate requirements and budgets.

  • For Professionals:

To be able to enhance their existing skill sets by acquainting themselves with technical know-how of running digital campaigns through various tools. It also helps them grow in their professional endeavours.

  • For Students:

To be able to shine out of the herd and equip themselves with the right knowledge to get noticed for the positions organisations are aggressively looking for.

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

Saba: Knowledge of various digital tools, In-depth Technical Know How, Process understanding, Analytical Skills, Communication Skills.

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

Saba: Make your base strong by acquiring current digital marketing tools skill set and keep on upgrading yourselves with new tools as per changing market demand.

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?

Saba: I follow digital marketing groups on LinkedIn for the latest works of people actually doing that, I also follow Michael Stelzner social media examiner blog which covers entirely everything on digital marketing.

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

Saba: Digital media is here to stay and here to stay for long. Its going to be the future of marketing and definitely going to share the pie equally with conventional media. Digital media is not restricted only to facebook and twitter but is going beyond that like predictive and re-marketing.

  • The first trend for 2016 in digital media is app promotion as more and more organisations are launching apps and to make themselves visible they are trying to find ways to keep their consumers hooked to the app.
  • The Second trend is towards consumer analytics and audience segmentation as customizing your campaigns as per individual needs/preferences is what going to give the desired ROI to the organisations. So deep diving the data pattern, segmenting the audience and then creating highly targeted campaigns will be the right move for digital marketer.
  • The third trend which is quite evident is consumer content curation and promotion. Marketers will concentrate on developing platforms for curating consumer contents and using them as marketing for increasing the virality of their products/services.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Saba:

It’s heartening to learn that institution like Digital Vidya is offering easy to take online courses for students, professionals and entrepreneurs with its government approved certifications. The courses offered not only designed with flexible modules and flexi-timings but almost encapsulates all areas of digital marketing helping to equip students, professionals and entrepreneurs alike in kick-starting their digital marketing journey.

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 :).

  • Digital-Marketing


  • There is 1 comment


    • 11 months ago

      Jasleen Kaur   /   Reply

      Thanks Saba for your contribution to our community through this interview. Really happy to know your feedback about the work we are doing in spreading digital (marketing) vidya :).

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