Nilotpal (Neil) has had intense digital marketing experience in both inbound & paid marketing. He has worked in inbound strategy creation for both B2B & B2C companies & also manned execution in all forms of content, website building, white & grey hat SEO techniques & social media presence.
Neil has also had a deep dive in PPC marketing, manning more than 1.5 Crs of monthly ad spends in Google PPC, with top clients in the Ecommerce, Real Estate & BFSI verticals in India & APAC. Along with this, he has also looked into cross-channel growth for these clients in other paid ad channels like Facebook, App Installs & Google Shopping Ads.
Neil currently manages all marketing & growth hacking activities for Sokrati’s upcoming Product, which includes work in both Inbound & paid channels.
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?
Nilotpal: I had a typical science dropout scenario, and in my last year of college I landed with an internship in a cloud computing firm in digital, where I was a one man digital army. Here I discovered my love for Inbound & started exploring all digital channels. My innate passion towards psychology helped me explore more than just the digital ecospace, revealing how different strategies in digital function in isolation &also together.
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?
Nilotpal: This is a tough cookie to crack, since I am from the digital background, but I’ll try not to be biased. I feel the true potential of conventional marketing is realized when it comes to building & promoting a brand. Conventional mediums like print, TV or radio I feel has that effortless power of residing within the audience’s mind in an outbound fashion. Further humans have grown used to these forms of marketing, breaking barriers like internet, language, poverty which digital still has a long way to conquer. So I feel for the big legacy giants & the heavily funded startups, conventional marketing will still eat a big pie of the Marketing budget.
However, if you compare digital success stories in India vs countries like US or Singapore, you’ll find a clear difference in the strategy that has worked in these outside geographies. In most cases for evolving countries like India, the single step strategy of say steroid paid app download, or heavy video Ads or Black Hat SEO & ASO (App Search optimization) or even heavy display ads has worked wonders in isolation. But all these work on getting traffic in bulk, however the quality control of this traffic is yet to be focused on in India, which I feel lies in the hands of Inbound & Growth Hacks. That’s where the true potential in digital lies. As the Internet traffic also evolves in the next 5-10 years, Inbound will become a force to reckon with, along with smart paid marketing. But till then, till the impatient startup eco space don’t understand that quality traffic & authority on digital in bulk cannot be achieved overnight, conventional marketing will play a major role, as digital is yet to evolve. So yes Digital can be a potential threat to conventional in the future but not in the next 3-5 years.
Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?
- Loreal’sThunderClap Social Media Campaign : Loved the way Loreal used thunderclap to promote the importance of sunscreen for women redirecting them from videos across social, to get a social presence of 7 Million!
- RedBull’s Branding Case Study: Red Bull’s Video promotions combined with social media marketing to help reach 50 Billion cans sold is really interesting, so is their Video Channel.
- Cadbury’s Google+ Campaigns: How Cadbury used Google+ effectively so that users could share their innovative Cadbury recipes on digital.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
- Not Using Paid & Inbound Together – Using Only Paid marketing to capture users across the online space, without focusing on building quality traffic with Inbound marketing, really is under playing the power of digital.
- Short term Data Driven Decisions – Most marketing manager are still basing decisions on immediate matrices like conversion rates & ROI, without looking at the long term goals & how intricately different channels of push & pull marketing assist in different parts of the user conversion cycle.
- Lack of creative campaigns – Only a handful of digital marketers are getting a chance to explore newer marketing channels, as the marketing budgets are always consumed by sure shot ROI driving channels.
Between Agencies and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Nilotpal: Again there is no right answer to this, it really depends on the need of the situation of the client company. There are few parts of digital which can & should be made in house, like the inbound components of Digital. This is mostly the Content creation & distribution strategy, it makes more sense to have the UI/UX & Graphics team in-house as well. This is mainly because, the in house team will know how to best position the brand & it’s products/services as compared to an outside agency. But for that the in-house team needs to have some senior members to look at the overall strategy. Also there are times when Visuals/Animations or UI/UX needs to be done externally, as that kind of in depth skill set may not be there in-house.
However, for paid marketing, I feel in most cases, digital agencies is a better option. The reason being, in paid marketing across channels, agencies have a huge knowledge base, where they know exactly which strategies & tactics have worked for which kind of client scenarios or goals. Also channels to market & what distribution of Ad spends should be there across channels, which are big decisions that impact long term client goals. Also managing ad spends more than Rs.3-5Lakh onwards, becomes difficult in house, as the team will not be able to share learnings like that of Ad agencies. Also for paid marketing, since there is a lot of money involved, and there is always pressure to achieve the goal numbers, it may become difficult for an in house team. But there are exceptions like the giants like FlipKart& Housing who run their operations for paid marketing in house. This is mainly because there is greater accuracy required & company goals keep changing rapidly which is difficult for an agency to counter. Also what ends up happening is that for bigger clients, the company has to work with multiple agencies, some for analytics, some for creatives & some for paid marketing, which becomes cumbersome, which is also why in house becomes a better option.
So overall, if the company size is small, with a smaller marketing budget, then all operations can be run in-house, keeping in mind, there are some experienced guys on board. But for the big giants, In house becomes the best bet.
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?
Nilotpal: Naming 3 would really be unfair, so I will just share the top list which I think everyone should be aware of-
- Unbounce- For Landing Pages – it really removes the HTML/CSS bottleneck & helps you churn landing pages very quickly.
- Powtoon – For Quick Videos – when you don’t have the time to go back & forth with creative agencies for scripts & voice overs.
- KeywordSpy – For quick & impactful Keyword Research – It really helps in developing keyword lists, CPCs & search volumes accurately, since Google’s Planner is not always accurate. Good for predicting CPCs in other geographies.
- Google Analytics – Know everything about Your Website – I really feel that most underutilize this tool, it can really churn effective data, if linking, funneling& goal settings are done tactfully.
- Tagxedo – Making Really Cool Cloud Tags FREE – This is an amazing cloud tag tool, where you can select & import your own shapes & font faces & more than 50 color palates are available here.
- Crowdfire – For Twitter Hacks – This is really cool, if you don’t want to manually do the twitter hack of building 10k followers in 3 months.
- HootSuite or Buffer – For Social Post Automation – Really helps in monitoring keyword streams across social & also pre scheduling of posts.
- Balsamiq – For quick UI Sketches – Really easy tool, very user friendly, has a lot of image libraries to choose. Really helped me with wire framing.
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: – For Entrepreneurs it’s a must to grasp the digital world, it’s components & resources to achieve goals, as the entire buying audience is moving towards digital. Entrepreneurs need to understand the power of digital. Also they need to understand the different digital channels otherwise they can be fooled into unjustified marketing spends. Also digital is becoming a hub where new age entrepreneurs are building connections & brainstorming ideas. So it is a must for Entrepreneurs to keep their digital eyes & ears open for what their peers are saying, contribute to it & also to keep up with the inside news scoops.
- For Professionals: – For Professionals again, Digital is a must to showcase your professional skills, LinkedIn is just not enough, you need to have your presence on Github if say you’re a coder. Having a sound digital profile helps companies find you digitally, which is becoming a trend now. Knowing digital marketing basics can help professionals build their digital presence, which can be as simple as building authentic back links from communities like Quora!
- For Students: – Students definitely need to be active digitally, and I just don’t mean Facebook or Instagram. Networks like Quora or Twitter to discover new domains & learnings which may not be there in their text books. Nowadays digital marketing is becoming a big industry as more jobs are emerging around digital, these are analytics based, operations based, creative based & even code based. All of these require understanding of digital marketing overall & an early start is always helpful.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
- Creative + Analytical Mind – The candidate needs to have strong data driven skills, knowing which matrices to focus for different business goals. The candidate also needs a creative frame of mind, and should be open to new experiments that are out of the box.
- Clear Understanding in Domain Knowledge – The candidates need to have some experience in all aspects of digital, and the knowledge needs to be in depth. Digital is one of those domains that cannot be mugged up. If it is PPC, then candidate preferably needs experience in ppc accounts in the same vertical or similar verticals. The candidate needs to have detailed understanding of Google Ad Networks working & how to interpret data from Google Analytics. If it is inbound, then the marketer needs to have a strong digital profile & presence. Because it is easy to say I am good at inbound, but you need proof.
- A Hustler – The candidate needs to be a quick learner & should be able to adapt to the company’s goal changes & competitor tactics. The candidate needs to make sure he get’s things done from the team. The candidate needs to be hungry for new strategies all the time, a stagnant mind set will not go far.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
The Digital space is growing exponentially, with strategies, campaign types, new verticals using more digital channels continuously. So for someone looking to start his digital career, ad tech agencies would be a great bet to begin with, because paid marketing is where the majority of the marketing budgets move to.
In Parallelon the Inbound side, you also need to keep brushing up your UI & Creative skills. On the Inbound Side, building a strong digital presence, writing online is a must, even doing free lancing projects can help you understand the other parts of Digital. In parallel you also need to keep on reading for the newest trends in the market both India & US. Well everyone has had different roads to their digital lives, I have just tried to highlight the events & areas that have helped me reach my current position.
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?
Nilotpal: I clearly feel that there is a much evolved digital marketing ecosystem present outside India, like San Francisco where the magic is happening. I don’t really have a set of blogs or websites, but I do that following majorly:
- Google Alerts – Gives me the latest news in India & worldwide about trends & new updates in the Digital marketing space.
- Thought Leadership – I rely heavily on Hubspot, Moz, Kissmetrics, Search Engine Land, Content Marketing, Econsultancy, for daily gulps of new marketing tactics.
- Social Media – I follow some top digital marketing influences, read their content, follow hashtags, LinkedIn pulse & groups to keep updated to the latest in digital.
- Community building – I follow Growth hackers & also Quora when I can & add my opinions to the conversations, because digital is a new field & the things that work keep changing very quickly, you can’t think you know it all.
- Google Search – Sometimes Google search is the best buy, and it’s always a good habit to do this, it will help you discover new places in the digital world which has quality content.
Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.
- Neil Patel – I really love his growth story & how he has helped companies of all sizes successfully foster digitally.
- Dan Zarella – This HubSpot Scientist I have been following for the longest time, some of his stuff is really insightful.Link to Picstats, a new way to look at Instagram!
- Rand Fishkin – SeoMoz pioneer, I am a big fan of his whiteboard Fridays & love the way he explains stuff!
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?
- Content is King, Context will be God – More & more relevant digestible content snippets will become the engaging factor in the coming years. As more & more similar content is created, showing the content to the right person at the right place in Digital will be big. Also more power will be present with the online user & user generated content will also become a force to reckon with.
- Multiple Devices But Single Identity – Mobile is going to be the next big thing, we all know that by now, but more importantly as mobiles, tablets, wearables get more popular, we are slowly moving towards smart homes, with connected devices. In such a situation every user’s identity on devices & behavior will become the next big thing to identify & make use of. Also as we speak & set top boxes keep evolving, I feel that Smart TVs with customized ads will also become a part of Digital. This will really take remarketing to a whole new level.
- Better Analytics – With the evolution of more accurate Data Analytics platforms, more evolved site data & user movement data will surface which will allow marketers to understand users based on their social signals or buying behaviours.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
I really feel Digital Vidya is setting standards for being the next Search Marketing Land for India. I love your blogging & thought leadership content, feel that it has variety. I really hope that this continues & grows into the Digital Hub where Marketers like us can talk, strategize & share ideas in the Digital Space!
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 :).