Mohit Bhakuni is the Founder & CEO of Contify. Thye’ve built a web listening tools for digital marketing, sales enablement/ inside sales and strategy teams. Like most tech founders, he is passionate about building great products. As a result, marketing usually took second priority to engineering. Like most entrepreneurs, he also believed that if they create something useful, customers would follow. However, that’s not how the market works. You need to tell the market about what you regularly or else they won’t remember that you exist. It’s no wonder then that most of the money invested by VCs in startups go towards marketing. In their case, they haven’t raised funding. Contify has been bootstrapped up to this point. They are proud that cash flow from existing customers is funding our product development. But now the product is mature, and they know that a much larger customer base can benefit from it. Mohit has been focused on getting more customers and generating more revenues and with that, the importance of digital marketing has magnified manifold. Most of 2015 has been invested in mobilizing resources around the marketing function and developing a lead generation and nurturing model. It’s been challenging but it’s also fun. Marketing used to be mostly art and partly science at one point but with the amount of customer data now available, it’s mostly science and a bit of art.
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?
Mohit: I believe that I’ve covered this part in the first answer above. The most interesting and valuable part of Digital Marketing for me is the ability to precisely target each individual with the contextual messages.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
Mohit: Digital Marketing is still evolving as a domain. It is new to most organizations. Many organizations are trying new approaches, experimenting and learning from the mistakes. However, there are few common mistakes that are frequently made by most SMBs and startups.
- They don’t spend enough time on maintaining their lists: This is a common behavior and often the root of most digital marketing problems. Maintaining lists or CRMs requires commitment and is a full-time job. There should be at least one person in the team with clearly defined responsibilities for not only maintaining the CRM and lists but also for ensuring that it stays that way.
- They don’t segment their leads: The best examples are those emails from e-commerce websites showcasing products that you last browsed or added to your cart and didn’t purchase? That’s segmentation. The best digital marketers segment their leads based on everything ranging from your past transactions with the company to any other data point that you have shared with them. In a world where everything is tailored to individual tastes, the digital marketing cannot survive if it’s missing the context. And if we don’t segment leads, we won’t be able to customize our campaigns.
- They think that updating social media handles with anything is digital marketing: Nothing could be farther from the truth. Updates without a communication strategy, without tracking the engagement by the users, is a waste of time for the organization and also for the people following it on social media.
I’d like to add one more: Not using marketing automation tool. Customers don’t hate being marketed to. They hate it when you reach out to them inconsistently or at the wrong time. And that’s what happens when the marketing funnel is not aligned with the customer journey or the sales cycle. Good digital marketers craft their messages for each stage of the customer journey/sales cycle/ by sending out the contextual message individually to each lead at the right time. Thankfully, there are automation tools in the market which business can use to trigger behavior and action based communication. But using a tool is not enough. There should be someone responsible for taking ownership of thinking through the entire customer journey and aligning marketing efforts with sales.
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?
- Buffer: It’s is a social media scheduling tool. Period. It does what it says. It’s extremely easy to use and an excellent product for companies that curate content. Our team at Contify loves it.
- Google Analytics: While there are advanced analytics tools available in the market, Google Analytics provides all the information that your business needs to operate intelligently in the digital domain. It’s easy to setup and there are tons of learning resources available if you want to go deep.
- Hootsuite: It is one of the social listening tools that would take care of all the basic social media tracking needs.
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs know their products/services best and therefore they are the ones who can do the best job telling people about them.
- For Professionals: Whether you are a designer, developer or sales guy, learning digital marketing will add more depth to your role than perhaps any other secondary skill.
- For Students: It’s choice. If students want to build a career in online domain, the knowledge of digital marketing is absolutely necessary. There are a ton of online courses that will provide more depth than your standard curriculum.
Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.
- Seth Godin: This guy is old school and the beauty of his writing is depth. He writes simple common-sense stuff but there’s tons of wisdom in it.
- Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah: They are the co-founders of Hubspot and in my opinion have done more than anyone else to shape the modern digital marketing narrative.
- Joel Gascoigne: He’s the founder of Buffer and I admire his single-minded focus on building a simple tool for social media marketing.
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?
Mohit: From a marketing perspective, digital media will completely unify the customer journey across channels/screens/devices. Here are some trends that I foresee:
- Emergence of end-to-end marketing tools: The marketing technology landscape has undergone a seismic change in the past 10 years. Tools and software have become extremely efficient. But this has happened in silos. As a result, we have a disconnect between sales and marketing. These functions should work in sync and harmony and yet they have access to different tools with different workflows. And in marketing especially, the fragmentation is mind-boggling. We have marketing automation suites, we have email marketing software, we have social media scheduling, we have social listening tools and what not. But there is no single unified tool that does all of this well enough. As a result, over the next three years, we’ll see innovative marketing tools being build on top of established platforms (Salesforce, Hubspot, Adobe marketing cloud et al). We’ll see large software vendors attempting to bridge the gap between sales and marketing tools (Hubspot has launched a free CRM). And we’ll see new entrants building their own end-to-end solutions.
- Rise of integrated marketing services: With tools capable enough to manage end-to-end marketing workflows, everything will boil down to a business’ ability o produce good content and execute a well-conceived strategy. But to get a good ROI on investments in tools/software companies will need marketing expertise across the board (content production, SEO, social, email marketing, lead scoring et al). Building these expertises is a time-consuming process so we’ll see integrated marketing agencies leveraging the newly available tools to manage the entire marketing lifecycle for clients.
- Unification of sales & marketing functions: Online B2C marketing is successful because it is executed around the customer journey. In case of B2B, you need sales efforts push a lead through the customer journey. Unfortunately, most sales cycles exist in silos away from the marketing funnel. I think in 2016, we will see these two functions – sales and marketing – come close to each other. As a single function, they will be in a much better position to leverage integrated tools and software.
You led the webinar ‘How To Create A Data-Driven Content Marketing Engine’. How was your experience in leading the webinar?
I enjoyed doing the webinar. Digital Vidya has developed a vibrant community of really smart marketers. I think the questions they asked and suggestions they gave were extremely relevant.
Please share top 3-5 takeaways from the Webinar you led for our community.
- Web listening is very important: Content marketing teams usually produce content based on keyword research. But this only provides a limited picture. In order to produce truly engaging content, you need social data for associated with your keywords. You need data that tells you how those keywords have performed on different channels. It is only with a complete picture that you will be able to produce engaging content and tailor it to different channels.
- Intelligent distribution of content is key: It’s not enough to produce engaging content. You need to repackage it depending on what type of content performs well on a given channel. For example, a video will generate far more engagement than a blog post on Facebook.
- Reporting should be customized based on your campaign objectives: Most social listening tools provide standard reporting in terms of mentions, sentiment analysis etc. Unfortunately, this is not what management teams expect in reporting. You need to be able to tag data for all campaign variables including themes, content type and channels. Reporting based on your custom tags gives your management a complete picture.
Do you have any suggestions for us to further increase the value of our Digital Marketing Webinars for our community?
Mohit: Digital Vidya is playing a critical role in the development of the Digital Marketing ecosystem. I think that DV can play a even bigger role by organizing large scale events and conferences in the domain of Digital Marketing.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
Mohit: I think you guys are doing a great job. Keep it up.
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 :).