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Interview with Vishal Jain, OYO Rooms, VP – Growth & Marketing

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After completing MBA from MDI Gurgaon, Vishal Jain started his career in Airtel and since he majored in Finance, he took up a role in their finance team. First 4-5 years of Vishal’s career were spent working on various roles within the finance domain. He was someone who was very good with numbers but was still always looking for something new to do. Vishal Jain always wanted to do things where he had lot more ownership around delivering the growth.

With these thoughts in mind, he took up a challenging role in the strategy team for a Startup within the large Airtel family – Airtel Digital TV. There, he got involved in the overall business strategies for Digital TV within its initial days. Still feels proud of the fact that he could play a role in the overall growth of Digital TV during its early years. Next area where Vishal got interested was marketing. He was itching to try a hand into marketing and that’s when he got into Airtel’s Marketing team. Worked on few large revenue impacting CRM and acquisition products to drive incremental growth for the organization.

After spending about 2 years in Airtel marketing, e-commerce sector specifically and digital marketing generally caught his attention. Soon, he joined Snapdeal with a clear mandate to grow their Mobile business. At that time, mobile marketing as a concept was very new in India and he had to spend a lot of time experimenting and learning about the same. Once Vishal picked up a significant growth curve and was also successfully able to grow Snapdeal’s App business, he moved on to head the overall Online Marketing at Snapdeal. As an online marketer, he enjoyed developing an overall growth strategy for the organization through sharply targeted user acquisition and CRM through digital mediums. This allowed him to get deep understanding about user behaviour and the levers which could help in growing the overall LTV of the customer.

After 2 years of enriching experience of digital marketing world, Vishal moved to OYO. Currently as VP, Marketing and Growth, he is working on driving business growth through new user acquisition on online and offline channels.:

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

Vishal Jain: Few years back, when I was still working in the telecom sector, I realized that my personal free time was spent mostly on digital mediums and the internet had become the “go to place” for anything and everything. From searching for nearby grocery shops to researching on high-end purchases like a car, the Internet ends up becoming “The place” for all the information. This realization quickly converted into the passion for learning more about how digital marketing can play a role in moving customers from their research stage to actual purchase stage and even beyond. Within digital, Mobile was always a special interest area for me as I enjoy learning more about user behavior on their personal devices.

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?

Vishal Jain: If you question is in the context of why should companies do marketing / presence on digital channels, then the answer is simple. That’s because their customers are increasingly going to digital mediums for

  1. Research around the product– Even for a purely offline transaction like car buying, almost 75% of customers do their research online (Source – Google report on Auto sector). Customers evaluate multiple brands during their research. Brands need to be part of customers initial comparison set and hence need to have a digital marketing strategy.
  2. Customers are referring to digital channels for all their questions– They want answers NOW! Also there is lower trust on the offline world. (Observe people when they go to buy white goods in electronics shop. A lot of customers cross check information shared by the salesperson with what information is available online). Brands need to be able to take advantage of this Digital Detour.
  3. Research Online Purchase Offline(ROPO) – A report by Google suggest that almost 30% of Hotel customers fall in this category. Even though a lot of transactions might be coming offline but online strategy does play an influential role in that purchase.
  4. Reviews– For certain categories of purchases, customers prefer to see reviews from other customers. Brands need a presence on right channels to be able to influence customers in the right direction.
  5. Information overload– Today, people have so much information available on online channels that it has kind of become a Tsunami of information. Brand, who can reach out to customers with information which is different from Tsunami and is useful for their customers, will be able to influence purchase. Having a right Digital marketing strategy becomes really important.

While a lot of brands have started redirecting their marketing dollars from conventional marketing to Digital marketing, but I still don’t see this as a threat for the conventional marketing as yet. I believe both Digital marketing and conventional marketing will coexist and will play complementary role towards each other. To be able to drive overall growth, brands would need assistance from both Digital and conventional marketing.

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

Vishal Jain: 

1.) Mirinda – #ReleaseThePressure

Mirinda had launched a digital campaign to create awareness around issues caused by exam pressure. With clear focus on teens, the campaign brought their issues to the center stage. The campaign features real life people sharing an open letter with their parents explaining what they go through when they are under exam pressure. A brilliant way to connect with you potential TG – The teens. Also, since the content really resonated well with the TG, the digital video got massive virality on FB and WhatsApp. Till now the video has already got 24 mn+ views on YouTube. Surely Mirinda was able to achieve its objective of emotionally connecting with their consumers.

2.) Bajaj V – Invincible Indian Stories

Bajaj had recently launched a digital campaign to promote its latest bike V. The campaign focuses on 5 different stories of Invincible Indians.  Bajaj started with the objective to dial up the pride of the nation for the people of India and each of these 5 videos really do justice to the objective. Along with the video, they also launched a website where they invited nomination for more real life Invincible Indians. Since all of these digital videos really made Indians feel proud, they were massively shared on various social platforms. The fact that the campaign was launched on 26th Jan, also helped in the overall virality of the campaign. This was content marketing at it best.

3.) Amazon #WeIndians

Amazon had launched a quirky campaign few quarters back to celebrate Indianness. The campaign had multiple 5 sec youtube videos along with loads of other content around #WeIndians. Through these quirky videos, Amazon had tried to address some of the major concerns Indians had around online shopping through e-commerce sites. Along with videos, they launched contests on social media, which further promoted Amazon’s capability of being able to solve the concerns which people had. The overall strategy of having multiple 5-second videos with layers of content and engagement built around those videos worked really well for them.

According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Vishal Jain: 

  1. Not having a clear long term strategy around digital marketing and focusing on only short term objectives / performance Without long term strategy, it is difficult for any organization to invest in right talent / tools to make the most out of Digital marketing.
  2. Not having the right success metrics to measure long term and short term impact – With wrong metrics, decisions will always be suboptimal
  3. Not staying updated with the changes happening in the Digital marketing ecosystem – Things are moving really fast in the ecosystem and companies / teams who are not able to keep themselves abreast with these changes will continuously keep playing catch up game instead of leading the innovation.

Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Vishal Jain: Decision on this depends on multiple factors like size of the advertiser brand, total marketing spends on digital channels, primary objectives of digital marketing for the brand etc. Both the approaches have their pros and cons and there is no clear choice which is applicable to all the brands. However, personally, having worked with large consumer Internet based companies with clear focus on driving best in class ROIs from digital marketing, I always prefer an in-house setup as that allows for much better control, agility and ownership around various channels and campaigns. In-house teams do come with the risk of higher employee cost and churn risk, but the same gets compensated with higher ROIs and overall performance of the campaign.

Digital Marketing Course by Digital Vidya

Free Digital Marketing Webinar

Date: 16th Dec, 2017 (Sat)
Time: 11 AM to 12:30 PM (IST/GMT +5:30)

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

Vishal Jain: The only way someone can increase Digital Marketing’s influence within the organization is by presenting hard data around what impact it has had on the overall business objectives (New Acquisition / Repeat etc.) and the overall incremental business it has been able to drive for the organization. At times there would be certain digital campaigns where immediate ROIs might not be easily measurable. For such campaigns, a digital marketer should agree on the lead metrics which should be evaluated for the campaign and share the same within the organization to build confidence on overall digital marketing.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Vishal Jain: First one and the most important one is Google Analytics. If we have to drive best performance from Data driven marketing, there is no better analytics tool than Google Analytics Premium. Really enjoy analyzing various cuts of data to get insights which help in taking marketing optimization decisions.

Next two tools are the most commonly used ones by all digital marketers – Google Adwords and Facebook Business Manager. You can’t really survive without them. 🙂 

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

Vishal Jain: 

  • For Entrepreneurs- Digital marketing is increasingly becoming an indispensable part of overall Marketing / Brand communication. Understanding the real potential of digital marketing and its expected impact on the overall business growth becomes really crucial for all entrepreneurs.
  • For Professionals- As said earlier, in today’s world, marketing isn’t really complete without have a clear digital strategy as well in place. Customers are increasing spending more and more time on digital channels and every marketer needs to understand the nuances of digital marketing to be able to achieve their overall marketing objectives.
  • For Students- The world is moving towards digital. Having a solid understanding around how digital marketing works will always be a huge differentiating factor for any student aspiring to work on Marketing. 

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

Vishal Jain: 

  • Hiring the right Digital marketing candidate might sound like an easy job but it isn’t so. In the selection process, I have met so many candidates who are expert on channels or platform they work on but rarely do they focus on the larger picture around the real objective behind using that channel or platform for the brand’s digital promotion. So for me, the top most skill set would be the ability to understand the larger picture for digital channels and being able to clearly estimate the role of channel in the overall digital strategy of the brand.
  • Next, we look for people who are really analytically sound. A digital marketer needs to make multiple decisions everyday based on her ability to read the data in the right sense and anyone who isn’t analytically sound might not be able to take the right decisions. Mind you, digital marketing has also been referred as “Data driven Marketing” in various marketing literatures.
  • Finally, the third skill which we really look for is ability to learn new stuff quickly. Digital marketing is still an evolving practice and there are multiple changes happening on channels / platforms on a regular basis. Unless the marketer is adept at learning these changes fast, it will be very difficult for them to keep pace with the way ecosystem is evolving.

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

Vishal Jain: I think a lot of newbies have few misconception about digital marketing. They think digital marketing is all about showing ads to customers on internet. Like any other marketing, digital marketing also involves deep understanding around customer behaviour on digital mediums. All digital marketing strategies need to have this customer understanding as its bedrock. My advice to newbies would be two fold.

First, spend a lot of time understanding about the customer you would be targeting through your marketing effort and second, have a clear understanding about the objective you want to achieve through your digital marketing efforts.

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?

Vishal Jain: Unfortunately, off late, I haven’t been getting enough time to regularly read specific blogs and websites but I do go through articles and resources shared by fellow growth hackers and marketers. Also, regular meeting with people within the eco system helps me keep myself updated with the latest trends.

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

Vishal Jain: In my last 4 years of career in Digital marketing, I have met many people who have played a pivotal role in my learning in this domain. People, working at big daddies of digital world (Google / Facebook), networks, Growth hackers, Developers, Colleagues and team members, have all helped me learn the tricks. I respect all of them. Naming a few will not be fair for others who have equally helped me in my journey. 🙂 

How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2018?

Vishal Jain: In my opinion, following would be the key digital trends from customer behavior point of view:-

  • Mobile is and will continue to be Go To Device for millennials
  • Video consumption will keep on increasing
  • Attention span will be much lower – people prefer bite size content
  • Content consumption, search / queries on the go
  • People will turn to digital for all answers – we don’t trust offline world anymore
  • Movement from text to voice – think Alexa, Siri, Google assistant
  • Indic content consumption will grow much faster than English content
  • Last minute purchase /decision making will increase – Good bye to all the planning 🙂
  • Google will continue to be the default starting point for most customers.
  • Finally, your customer is present on multiple channels consuming content and looking for information which can help your brand.

Hope the Digital Marketers are ready for these Digital trends of their customers.

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

Vishal Jain: 

You guys a doing a fantastic job in providing a platform for newbie marketers to pick up digital marketing skills. Your platform has made it really simple for these people to get trained in digital marketing and analytics. Kudos to the entire team. Best wishes for your Onward and Upwards 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 :).

[Sr. Associate - Content Marketing] A content passionate, Jasleen handles the content writing and marketing activities. Additionally, she leads Digital Marketing Internship Programme. Her deep passion and enthusiasm for writing guided her towards being the Associate Editor in English for her college magazine. Only deep passion and zeal can guide a person towards a professional writing career. Apparently, Jasleen is one of those persons. She is in the content writing and marketing fraternity for 5 years now. A top-notch individual, she is proficient in writing content for multiple requirements including blogs, articles, books, brochures and social media. She embraces practical knowledge of WordPress CMS. Besides this, she is also highly engaging in Social Media Marketing activities.
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