It’s been an interesting journey actually for Rahul Tripuraneni. From a newspaper boy in Bangalore to understand the importance of targeted advertising, to working at Google for his first tryst with digital marketing and then moving on to start his own digital agency (Raahithi INC) where he got stoned by the power that digital marketing brought to a business. He has also built brands and business for Indian e-commerce companies such as babyoye.com, fashionara.com and Creyate.com. This is his evolution as a ‘growth hacker.’ He is currently helming the operations for Starobe as a Co-Founder and COO and for a start-up nothing is more paramount than digital growth hacking.
Rahul: It all started with Google. I realized the importance of relevancy, permission marketing and agile marketing with Google. As a newspaper boy, I saw that a lot of money (and effort) was being wasted with the pamphlet advertising, or even the ads being placed in the papers. It never made sense as this was least effective way of reaching your TG especially for the kind of spends the medium demanded. Post Google, that saw an Adwords Guru in me, I got excited about exploring other channels and understanding the dynamics of each channel and delivery platform. I think Digital just gets to you if you love numbers and experiments.
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?
Rahul: The first thing that comes to mind is the canvas that you get with conventional marketing. Your ability to create a brand presence is much higher via conventional marketing.
On the second part, I don’t think conventional marketing is going away. It will continue to co-exist with digital marketing and infact, the coming years will see a lot of disruptions that work in marrying conventional marketing with digital marketing.
Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?
- Obama’s Digital Campaign: And this has been replicated by many other leaders with Modi and Kejriwal in India. For starters, the main reason that this stands as one of my fav case study is purely for the fact that the campaign lived only by Analytics. The team also proved that you can achieve great success by being lean and agile. The social team was all of 4 people.
- Burberry Digital Index: Be it the ‘Kisses’ campaign or the Trench Coat, I haven’t seen any other prestigious fashion brand with a history of over 150 years hit digital this hard. Right from creating unique digital content to using social media to amplify the reach, Burberry’s focused digital efforts resulted in it becoming one of the most popular and admired brands in the world with an exceptional increase in sales.
- Creyate: Would be very unfair to not talk about Creyate.com where we took a unique strategy to combat the current eCommerce campaigns. When we looked around, we saw that the world was talking about discounts across all channels and everyone was pushing their brand hard. At Creyate, we decided to use the pull mechanism. Finite targeting on social channels coupled with awesome content, we started building brand loyalists and the spend to revenue ratio was more than just satisfying.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
- Not thinking digital: Vicco – The reach and the exponential growth that they can get by embracing digital better.
- Belief in creating awesome content: Pepsi – To my mind, Pepsi really needs to look at its content strategy for digital. Coke has always been ahead in being able to create awesome content that has gone viral. Be it the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign or the India-Pakistan campaign, Coke has achieved some notable successes in digital marketing, not to mention its reach on social media that clearly Pepsi has been losing out on.
- Data & Impact Beyond reach: I think a lot of companies’ understanding of digital ends with how many likes or retweets they get. There are enough and more multi-billion traditional companies that continue to only measure impact by likes. Like I mentioned in one of my articles, digital is the new war for CEOs. Brands will now live or die based on how fast they respond to the changing customer.
Between Agencies and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Rahul: I am strong professor of building the team in house anyday. No agency that I have worked with has really come close to applying themselves to a client’s business 100%. To be fair to them, with them not being around all the time to see the action doesn’t really help.
For something as critical as Digital marketing, I believe you need to be clued and close to all the other departments to be able to make changes to the campaigns, creatives, approach etc.
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?
- Google Analytics by default.
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: Digital is the battleground that you need to master. With an exponential growth rate of over 36% of smartphone penetration, this has just become all the more important in customer acquisition and engagement journey.
- For Professionals: Technology has allowed disruptions not just possible but also made the life span between these disruptions shorter. Brands will live or die on how fast you respond to these disruptions.
- For Students: Digital is here to stay. It pains me to see that there is no focused effort around Digital marketing in some of the premier institutions. The disruption that digital brings to marketing is not just turning things upside down but also making it that much more exciting for wannabe professionals. The intelligence acquired with experience is this field is a goldmine and companies are willing to pay through their nose to get the right guy for such roles.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
- Ability to fail (and learn from failures).
- Its about being able to solution rather than just identify the problem.
- Data driven approach and only data driven approach.
- Team Player – and there is a good reason why I look for this in the profiles. Its easy to get carried away with the data that you are constantly looking at. When you bring it to the team and have them weigh in, you will be surprised to see how the inferences change.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
Rahul: Have a penchant for numbers. You need to be able to draw inferences from the data, challenge your hypothesis and be ready to fail. Remember, you just have to get it right once.
Personally, I also recommend you become a true growth hacker. Technical knowledge helps.
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?
Rahul: I love reading books whenever I get time and most of my consumption of content around digital advertising and marketing is through these books.
- Social Samosa
- Google Blogs (webmasters, Google Adwordsetc).
- Matt Cutts blog
- Avinash Kaushik’s blog
- SocialMediaExaminer, and of course Digital Vidya
Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.
- Seth Godin
- Avinash Kaushik
- Neil Patel, in that order.
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?
- Content marketing
- Native advertising
- Intrusive advertising – while the above two are more or less self explanatory, what I see will be a big shift in digital advertising is, for a lack of better word, intrusive advertising. Marketers and digital techno-strategists will build tools and ways to know the customer better, communicate at a personal level, and influence at an individual level. All this at scale. Digital marketing will see a mass customization movement hitting it soon.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
Rahul: I wish Digital Vidya was around when I was baby-stepping into the digital marketing world. It’s not about just being tutoring people. Digital marketing like any form of science only works when you are hands-on and when you actually do it.
Digital Vidya is a great platform that allows you do it irrespective of the level of proficiency you hold in the subject. I’ve always followed Pradeep’s webinars to be clued on the latest that is happening in the world of digital advertising.
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 :).