Kousik Bhattacharya is the Head of Marketing and E-commerce of Via.com, South-East Asia’s largest travel network with presence in over 2400 towns and cities. He heads the overall marketing strategies and planning for Via.com India, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Dubai, South Africa and Brazil.
With extensive experience in marketing, technology and e-commerce, Kousik has contributed immensely to the business growth and brand valuation of Via.com. During his career, he was associated in promoting many big brands in different industries like – BFSI, FMCG, E-commerce, IT-ITES etc. He has been with VIA since 2011 and was involved in setting up the online business, go-to market strategies in different geographies, managing strategic partnerships and developing Via.com as a global brand.
He is a bio-technology student who became an MBA graduate with Marketing as specialization.
Digital marketing was always a prime focus throughout my career. Whatever milestones I could achieve in these years, it was due to experimental and versatile implementation of digital marketing strategies. In my current organization, we have a digital first approach and are constantly striving to build a technologically advanced eco-system for our digitally savvy customer.
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?
Kousik: During my MBA days, I was exploring the career opportunities in media and advertisement industry. While researching, I came across the concept of digital marketing. From that day, my passion for digital marketing was set-off and it continues to this day. I was always attracted to the fact that this marketing channel is completely measurable and highly data driven. Digital marketing provides a space to experiment and scope to improve the performance with calculated strategy.
According to you, what are the advantages of conventional marketing over Digital Marketing?
Kousik: Digital and conventional (TV, print, radio etc) are two mediums of marketing. Hence, they should not be looked as competitors but rather two sides of the same coin. A successful marketer uses both the medium to the best of their potential and creates success stories.
Some of the advantages of conventional/offline media are –
- Massive reach
- Large scale brand awareness
- Gives a lift to other channels performance
Future of conventional marketing:
In India, I don’t think any big budget advertisers would drop their conventional marketing plans in the next 10 years. The reason is that India is home to the second largest population of offline consumers who research and buy offline.
But in the coming years, digital marketing or digital content will rise in popularity, especially with the penetration of the smart phone and affordable internet in the rural areas.
The startups and urban-focused companies will continue to incline more towards digital and mobile content, where as the conventional consumer companies will develop a hybrid marketing strategy comprising of both conventional channels and digital marketing.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
- Poor planning and execution: Most of the companies don’t plan their digital strategies well enough before execution. As a result, it leads to the wastage of time, money and resources. A successful digital strategy should be aligned with the business objectives and supported by data with corrective measurements in place.
- Lack of prior research and data: Digital marketing is a completely data-driven approach. This fundamental aspect needs to be understood while forming any strategies. Lack of data leads to unrealistic expectations and impulsive uses of wrong techniques.
- Lack of consistency: This is the most common case for many organizations where they started off well but couldn’t continue at same pace. Consistency in marketing and communication is the most important factor for success. Setting up a proper calendar with right expectations and KPI will help to avoid this and present an efficient, consistent and reliable brand to the customer.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Kousik: I would prefer a mix here. A combination of in-house and agency yields better results in some cases. External agencies bring in a different perspective, talent and cross-vertical learning to the mix.The in-house team can own the overall project in terms of setting up the KPIs, goals and activity calendar where as the agency can bring an efficient and creative approach to the execution.
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?
- For social media monitoring – socialmention, keyhole, HootSuite, Topsy, Radian6
- For analytics – Clevertap&Localytics (For mobile app) Omniture (for web and site)
- For email – Silverpop, Sendgrid, graphic mail
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: It is important for them to know a cost-effective way to connect with the right audience. Digital marketing gives you a platform and opportunity to do experiments with communication and product at low risk.
- For Professionals: The new-age marketers need to be smart, trendy and result oriented. With the growth of digital medium, every marketing move has to be digital first. The professionals need to be updated with all latest technological upgrades to survive in this highly competitive market.
- For Students: It is the right time for students (who are pursuing their graduation) to start researching and learning about digital marketing. Because, the moment they enter the job market, they will hear only one golden word i.e. “It’s Digital First”.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
- Willing to learn
- Understand business priorities and take ownership
- Loves to experiment
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
- Know your TG and business first (above all)
- Start your marketing plan from the customer and work in reverse to arrive at the appropriate channels and communications. Don’t start with the channels
- Read, learn, think and act mobile
- Be curious and don’t be hesitant to experiment. Remember if you are curious enough, you will explore more
- Be passionate and focus on learning. Your growth will be directly propositional to your passion for research and learning.
- There are no definite rules for the digital marketing success. If you can do it, you will write your own.
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?
- Forrester-Gartner reports
- CMO conferences
- Meeting key leaders of the Industry
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?
- Videos will rule the content space
- More focus will be on mobile content
- Personalization will win more accolades than blanket targeting
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
You guys are doing impressive stuff in shaping the next gen digital marketer. In a booming economy like India, entrepreneurs and digital marketers have a brilliant future ahead and team Digital Vidya is mentoring and helping them to have a successful career. Kudos and Good luck team!
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 :).