Srihari Palangala is the Marketing Director for EMC India. An engineer by profession, he has a passion for technology and has spent around 15 years working with technology products in various roles including business development, consulting and marketing across the US, India and Asia Pacific.
Prior to EMC, he was engaged with organizations like VMLogix, Adobe India and Microsoft India. In his previous stints, he has been instrumental in driving business transformation and geographical expansion. As a marketing leader, he has a proven track record of accelerating customer acquisition through innovative marketing programs and strategies.
He holds a Masters in Computer Science (Arizona State University) and an MBA from the Indian School of Business. Outside of regular work, as a marketing expert, he actively engages with the ecosystem – offering workshops and online sessions through NASSCOM, IPMA and angel networks to various audiences.
Srihari prefers to spend his free time with family, reading philosophy/spirituality literature and is also an occasional blogger.
Srihari has spent his entire career this far in technology – in various roles from research, programming, consulting, product management to marketing – in field and product marketing roles spanning across India, US and the APAC markets. Srihari’s work experience has been across large MNCs (OPNET Technologies, Adobe, Microsoft, EMC) and in start-ups (VMLogix, later acquired by Citrix) – and he has rooted his work in marketing on a strong understanding of technology.
Importance of Digital Marketing: Digital marketing has been critical over the past few years in the marketing mix- primarily for a few reasons:
(a) To increase outreach across vast geographies like India to consumers and businesses – more so as digital connectivity grows leaps and bounds;
(b) To bring stronger impact and ROI measurability into marketing spends and
(c) To drive inbound interest from prospects and which has consistently shown to have the strongest conversion to business.
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?
Srihari: Conventional marketing techniques are important when there are deeper engagement (e.g., technical) conversations happening in the sales pipeline. It is also important when there are 1:few engagements – with a deep focus on custom content being delivered to a target audience profile. In-person connects and marketing also ensures that business is built at the back of strong relationships and is required at times to make things “real”.
I would not say that digital is a threat to the future of conventional marketing – but would instead say that digital is a strong complement to the traditional mix and brings measurement/tracking rigor to marketing – and the ability to pivot plans basis the measurement outcomes. Digital marketing is a complement to the conventional marketing mix – when online and offline are coupled together they can bring powerful experiences to the prospect.
Share about your 3 favorite Integrated Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?
Srihari: I have seen a few good examples of ATL campaigns bringing digital strongly into their mix – thereby leveraging broad based outreach to translate into engaging social and online conversations. The digital element of the campaigns also makes the campaign ‘two way’ allows brands to hear back the voice of the customer more easily.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
Srihari: In digital marketing, as in several other areas, we are constantly learning. Hence, I would not call it mistakes, but some challenges I have seen consistently:
- Offline and Online operating in silos – I have seen that organizations find it hard to tie online and offline experiences together with the primary challenges around rationalizing at the marketing data-base, analytics around it etc. The ability to stich the experiences together is a key challenge that organizations are trying to address.Somewhat related to this is the ability for offline follow-up to online digital engagement. For example, how soon does your sales rep follow up on a digital inbound lead?
- The other challenge I have seen is around the right metrics to monitor/track on digital campaigns. On the surface, most of us know the direct digital metrics – e.g., open rates, engagement, reach, unique visitors etc. But the challenges are around the next level of detail behind this – e.g., (a) What are the right metrics to measure for a campaign?(b) What are the actionable digital metrics from the campaign (vs. measuring just for the impact of it)?
- A third challenge in my mind is around targeting with the right content on digital mediums. Prospects are in different stages of purchase and need different types of content to take them forward in the purchase funnel.From a marketers perspective, there is a lot happening on digital mediums – from content to varied tactics and channels being used; getting noticed past the general digital din is a real big challenge.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Srihari: I have gravitated towards a hybrid model between agency and in-house.
- In-house: (a) Keep strategic elements around content and the content calendar; (b) tying integrated campaigns, (c) identifying the right metrics and serving up the right content.
- Agency: (a) Keep operational excellence (b) Bringing in creativity and (c) Scaling campaigns out when ready.
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: Digital marketing allows entrepreneurs to quickly pilot campaigns – testing the messages, responses and driving rapid engagement. They are able to leverage digital in close monitoring – spending slowly at first before turning the dial up on elements that are working for them.Digital also allows them to scale(growth hacking) reaching geographies that would have been conventionally more expensive.
- For Professionals: The conventional mix that marketing professionals are used to needs to be complemented with digital going forward. Also, as a marketer, digital gives professionals more avenues for innovation; where they can readily demonstrate marketing value to business in more direct ways (e.g., think of online fulfilment of orders).
- For Students: Digital mediums and marketing will continue to grow in the marketing spend pie – so it is important to be ready to embrace and learn the medium.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
Srihari: For marketing profiles (digital or otherwise), I would look for the following:
- Attitude– there is much to learn and it is such a dynamic environment acandidate with good attitude is critical for team and individual success
- Analytics and a comfort with numbers – marketing will increasingly require more comfort with analytics and numbers – to proactively identify segments/targeting and also for analyzing campaign performance. Coupled with this will be the ability for the candidate to be attention and detail oriented.
- Open and willing to experiment –A candidate should be able to think of campaign pilots – small experiments that can be run – testing the success of it before scaling and growing the outreach. This ability to iterate and continuously refine is critical.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
I would encourage marketers to understand the domain equally well – in terms of the market/customer as well as the products/solutions. As the domain is understood, learn to look at the experience and journey from the customer lens – what is likely to be playing in their mind, what are the mental blockers, convenience of access to information, influence channels etc.
In the above context of looking at it from the customer lens, the digital marketer can then think of targeting, digital marketing avenues/innovations, compelling calls to action, and refinement of campaigns more easily.
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?
Srihari: I rely on news feeds, occasional training and conversations with peers. Some conferences are also good to get a sense of the breadth of things that people are considering and experimenting with.
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?
Srihari: There is a lot happening on digital medium every day, but a few clear trends are emerging:
- The number of devices connected to the Internet (consumer and enterprise) is exploding – with more devices there is more data coming through on consumption patterns and preferences (including more touch points with the customer). Tapping into this data and taking business advantage from the available data will be a clear priority for marketers.
- Hyper-targetingand the ability to serve the right content at the right time on the right channel will be a continued effort.
- Integrating social marketing as a key element of the marketing mix will be another trend that will be of focus in the short to medium term.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
Congratulations to Digital Vidya on the efforts to train, evangelize and drive the adoption of digital marketing as a key element in the mix. The efforts are helping marketers in the country tap into the great potential of using digital mediums and marketing channels.
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 :).