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Interview with Siddharth Gulati, Digital Marketing Head, Pikkol

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Siddharth GulatiSiddharth Gulati has done his Bachelors in Hotel Management and pursued his MBA from Welingkar Institute of Management. Here is a glimpse of his professional background:

  • Hyatt, Marriott, Oberois was working in kitchen department
  • Co-founded Artistic Inclination with three friends (An online magazine that gives you insights on art, lifestyle, music related happenings around you.)
  • Co-founded Naukri Abroad in partnership with Amsterdam based Searchjobsabroad.com (Online resource for searching professionals around the world. This a 100% Free Job Board.)
  • At Emerson Climate Technologies, Siddharth was taking care of marketing communication. 

An entrepreneur at heart, inside and outside of work, Siddharth is committed to building businesses, and not just coming up with great ideas. He is a creative digital marketing professional experienced in Advertising, Logistics, Hospitality, and HVAC industries.

Enlisted below are Siddharth’s areas of expertise:

  1. Advertising
  2. Brand Building
  3. Event/Trade Show Planning & Supervision
  4. Agency/Vendor Relations
  5. Sales and Customer Support
  6. PR

Siddharth takes care of digital marketing, partnerships and growth at Pikkol, Bengaluru. Today in the digital era, he believes every marketer should know the basics of digital marketing. As Pikkol is a relocation firm, where they don’t get repeat business, because of which justifying CAC becomes difficult. Packer and Mover is one of the top searched keyword in India, as of now SEO is one of the most important aspect for them.

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

Siddharth: I was first exposed to digital marketing when I got involved in the first startup Artistic Inclination. We were three partners and I was mainly responsible for generating content and publishing it. When I used to see those spikes in website traffic and ever increasing likes, shares, engagement on social media platforms; that got my attention to the impact of digital marketing.

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?

Siddharth: Recently, an SEO expert was sharing his concern about the challenges he is facing in building a digital marketing strategy for a B2B ecommerce venture, something like Alibaba of India. I think it depends on the business environment, when it comes to deciding the type of marketing strategy that needs to be implemented.  

If you take an example of the B2B ecommerce venture, I believe only digital marketing wouldn’t help, because identifying bulk buyers and suppliers is really tough using digital medium. In case of a B2B ecommerce venture, we need to have a mix of conventional and digital marketing strategies, in order to project the brand successfully in front of the customer.

No, I don’t think digital marketing is a threat to conventional marketing. Infact, to me it looks like both medium of marketing complement each other and if the marketing mix is made up by looking at the factors such as product, price, location and promotion, great results can be achieved. Also, digital can be leveraged to test the new approaches as you get to see ROI much faster as compared to the conventional media.

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

Siddharth: 

  • Pikku Art Contest: Here at Pikkol, we conducted Pikku Art Contest for Kids below the age of 12 years. This was one of the first marketing mix campaign. We used multiple ways to engage the kids in order to reach out to the parents. We strategically placed newspaper inserts which we distributed in apartments and residential areas. Creativity led us to the idea of asking parents to post the sketch on our Facebook page. Then they were asked to get maximum likes, shares which eventually helped us gauge customer engagement. This helped us to validate the reach and ROI of newspaper inserts, because nobody would have couriered or mailed it to us.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Siddharth: 

  • High budgets for Adwords & Facebook: In new age companies, especially funded startups most of the money is spent on adwords and Facebook. I feel it is not right to over spend on these channels of marketing, rather it is advisable to invest more on growth hacks. New companies tend to rely much on these methods to generate valuable insights for various marketing activities conducted by them. But deviating from the conventional ways of marketing to focus too much on such activities might not prove to be very productive in the long run.
  • Realizing CAC/Paybacks: Companies need to realize CAC as soon as possible. Combining the amount spent on all the user acquisition channels (SEM, Content Marketing, Social Media etc) indicates the number of users given within a particular period. It’s significant to identify the users acquired from free and paid channels since this can show the data of organic growth.
Between Agencies and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Siddharth: Depending on the dynamics of different businesses, it may vary how different companies approach customer acquisition. Most of the prospective leads for B2C ecommerce ventures are acquired digitally. Hence in my opinion a fully dedicated team specializing in digital marketing is an imperative in the current scenario. The strategy of outsourcing such critical activities might prove to be detrimental in the long run since it will create over dependency on external factors. Rather an in house approach to digital marketing activities will help the company grow and prosper organically in the long run.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Siddharth: 

  • Facebook can help us generate lot of traffic which can be filtered to acquire new leads. Since Pikkol operates in a segment which comprises of customers driven to their business purely out of domestic or commercial utility requirements because of which it is important to be present in front of the consumers who are in your sales funnel. Facebook gives lot of targeting options to be in front of your prospects with which you can achieve great awareness about your brand.
  • LinkedIn is another great tool that we use extensively when it comes to acquiring B2B commercial leads and I can see it as one of the main platforms for our campaigns in the near future. LinkedIn has shown great results till now.
  • Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with your customers. Users of all ages open emails, you just have to figure out a way of staying in their inbox and it is one of the most preferred ways of interacting for internet users.
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Siddharth: 

  • For Entrepreneurs: Doesn’t matter if you’re CEO of any big or small company. At any point of time digital marketing tools can be very helpful for such professionals. Take HubSpot email marketing tools for example, in the digital world emails are an amazing way of acquiring customers. Emails are an amazing medium for entrepreneurs to initiate communication with customers and important stake holders.
  • For Professionals: For any kind of marketing professionals, it is the most important tool in today’s world. Even large companies are increasing their digital marketing spends because of the widening scope of reach and cost effectiveness. Digital marketing is a new and upcoming battleground and not much of experienced professionals are there. Digital marketing can be truly termed as the need of the hour for most businesses. 
  • For Students: We can already see a phenomenal rise in the number of young professionals opting for digital marketing courses. One of the biggest reason is most communication and advertising is more dependent on digital media nowadays. Today ecommerce companies stand very small if we talk about digital marketing spends in comparison to IT companies, but in the future lakhs of jobs would come from only digital marketing. 
    What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?

    Siddharth: 

    • Selling Skills: People with great selling skills are much better marketers, as they’re the ones who know how to visualize the sales funnel, how to engage with prospective customers at what time and how to turn them into sales opportunity.
    • Content and Visual:

    Digital marketing is comprised of both copy and visuals. For a digital marketer it is very important to know how one can manipulate those two elements.

    • Mobile: It’s the right time digital marketers should acquire skills of mobile marketing. Communication in mobile marketing differs from desktop marketing and a digital marketer should have familiarity with mobile development for communicating with the design team to create a mobile marketing strategy that aligns with other marketing channels.
    What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

    Siddharth: 

    • Read as many business books, watch TED talks, Bloomberg, Digital industry news and developments in emerging platform.
    • Play with digital marketing platforms, create a WordPress site and start experimenting with different platforms.
    • Maintain that website or WordPress blog and be ready to explain why this blog exists. What worked for you, and what didn’t. By doing all of this you’ll get noticed by the industry as well as you’ll have some material to talk about with friends who are in the similar domain.
    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?

    Siddharth: I do not follow any particular website or tool for digital marketing. I’d rather use Google to find out a way to resolve my problems digitally. Some common websites used are Moz, Jon Lomer, Social Media Examiner. 

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

    Siddharth: 

    • Neil Patel – Kissmetrics
    • Avinash Kaushik – Author Web Analytics 2.0
    • Justin Cutroni – Author Performance Marketing with Google
    How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?

    Siddharth: Digital marketing budgets will keep on increasing. A lot of innovation is happening in finding out new mediums, ways to reach out customers and whole new way of better targeting would come up. I believe the future of digital marketing is huge and we haven’t seen the impact yet. The top trends should be:

    • Virtual Reality (VR) in digital marketing would see some action
    • A lot of experiments around mobile and video
    • Diversification in social media
    Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

    Siddharth: 

    Digital Vidya is playing an important role in increasing awareness about digital marketing in India. I’ve personally seen some tutorials of Digtial Vidya and I think they’ve got brilliant content to learn, advice and share.

    In today’s scenario, I believe every one of us needs to know at least the basics of digital marketing, not only to show off in the CV’s but actually to use it in day-to-day life.

    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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