Rishi Ghai is a marketer with 14 years’ experience across Australia, India, and the broader Asia-Pacific region. He was an industry analyst at IDC for a decade, and more recently, led global digital marketing, along with communications and analyst relations at Cyient. You may follow him on Twitter at @rishi_ghai.
How and when did you learn digital marketing? What interested you in it?
Rishi: My journey in digital marketing is that of a skeptic turned advocate. Prior to leading digital marketing at Cyient, I was an industry analyst at IDC for ten years. Although I was providing research-backed marketing advice to some of the largest technology and service providers across Asia-Pacific already, digital marketing became core to my work only after I encountered two specific turning points in my career:
The first turning point was the realization, seeing the staggering transformation of marketing globally, that all marketing boils down to just two things––communicating a promised experience, and delivering it delightfully. And if there’s one thing that’s revolutionizing both communication and delivery of customer experience, it’s the digital technologies. While this realization, didn’t make me jump into a career in digital marketing right away, it certainly pushed me into learning more about it. I owe a lot of my early understanding of digital marketing to my hands-on experimentation with social media and WordPress, and the excellent training resources and thought leadership blogs on the internet.
The second turning point was being asked to lead and streamline social media marketing at Cyient. My initial mandate, when I joined the company in 2014, was to head industry analyst relations (AR) and communications programs, but the addition of social media to my portfolio was in perfect sync with my philosophy of leveraging digital channels for communication. I was privileged to lead a small but highly talented team, and together we instituted processes to transform the social media program into a global digital marketing hub serving six distinct objectives––corporate brand amplification, employer branding, social hiring, employee engagement, lead generation, and thought leadership. In a way, this was also the second phase of my learning.
Why do you think it’s important to learn digital marketing today?What benefits do you foresee of building a career in digital marketing?
Rishi: It is the interplay between technology, customers, market landscape and,of course, marketing objectives, which determines the choice of a marketing medium. As marketers, we must be where our customers are. Digital channels are the most ubiquitous backdrop to where customers are today, and where they will be in the foreseeable future. Thus, it is only logical to invest in acquiring digital marketing capabilities whether you are a business or a marketing professional looking to grow.
What key benefits did digital marketing help you achieve at Cyient?
Rishi: Gaining unprecedented visibility and engagement for brand Cyient was one of the biggest successes of our digital marketing initiatives. As compared with other equally successful outcomes, this was of special importance since the company had undergone major rebranding (from Infotech Enterprises) recently, having followed a predominantly conservative approach to marketing for the most part. Within a year of amplifying focus on digital marketing, we secured sixfold growth both in our social fan base and daily engagement. Our Klout score, which I see as more than a vanity metric, also continued to grow out of obscurity, mirroring the team’s consistent efforts. Most importantly, however, digital marketing allowed us to connect and engage more effectively with our target stakeholders––ranging from customers to prospects, through to industry analysts, influencers, media, and talent. This level of targeted reach and engagement would have been unattainable through traditional marketing channels.
How do you stay updated on the latest trends in digital marketing? Which digital marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps) do you follow regularly?
Rishi: As much as possible, I try to combine knowledge gathering with experimentation. To stay current on the topics I like, I use a combination of tools including Feedly, HootSuite, Google Alerts, and good old email newsletters. Some of the best content on digital marketing today comes from the providers of digital marketing solutions, such as HubSpot, Buffer, NewsCred, CMO (Adobe), and Content Management Institute––and thankfully, most ofit is not blatantly self-promotional. Additionally, I follow a number of other marketing resources. Among my favorites are Marketing Profs, Seth Godin, CMO Australia (IDG), B&T, McKinsey, Ad Age, and HBR.
Which are your favorite three digital media channels (e.g. Twitter, Google Plus, etc.), and why
Rishi: My personal favorites are Twitter,LinkedIn,and Instagram, in that order. Twitter––because it is always current, and hashtags provide tremendous reach and opportunity to connect, whether or not you have a large follower base. LinkedIn––because of its powerful networking and blogging capabilities.Instagram––because of its tremendous visual appeal and reach, althoughI am not as active on it as on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Digital media, especially social media channels such as Facebook, can eat up a lot of your productive time if not used wisely. Do you agree? What all can one do to efficiently leverage these channels for personal growth?
Rishi: I agree. It is a common mistake to underestimate the time-and-resource-intensive nature of digital media. It is essential to prioritize the channels that work the best for one’s objectives, commit to a definite schedule, and be consistent. The prioritization criteria should evaluate where one’s audience is, and how well the channels lend themselves to organic and paid targeting and intended engagement. Tools for content curation and automation can help to boost productivity in a big way, however, it is important not to let them obliterate human connection with one’s audience.
What is your advice to newbies who want to build a career in digital marketing?
Rishi: Take initiative, find mentors and opportunities to intern, and discover aspects of digital marketing that you enjoy working on the most. Stay current, but experiment a lot to cut through the noise in digital marketing.Find out what works and what doesn’t in different situations.Most importantly, don’t be discouraged about being a rookie, since digital marketing is constantly evolving, and everyone is learning and re-learning all the time. Any time is the right time to start building a career in digital marketing.
What advice would you give to businesses starting out on their digital marketing journey?
Rishi: The starting point is to understand customers and create products and services that solve real problems––digital marketing is not a fix for poor products and services. Hiring right talent and defining a clear digital marketing path from the outset comes next. This includes formulating clear strategies for messaging, content, and engagement.
Many businesses lag behind in digital marketing, and this has a lot to do with not having the right capabilities and priorities.
According to the August 2016 CMO Survey, among the various gaps in organizations’ marketing capabilities, digital marketing ranks number one. Clearly, there’s a skills gap, and businesses must address this by hiring and training the right talent. Poor skills are the key reason why some businesses investing in digital marketing see a limited ROI.
Similar research also indicates that 47% of businesses do not have a defined digital marketing strategy. Businesses not yet convinced about the value of digital marketing, just do not prioritize it. Addressing this requires a shift in marketing culture and mindset.
In my experience, investments in digital marketing pay off handsomely if done right. Digital allows one to see and do more––from understanding customers better using detailed analytics, to targeting and engaging with customers more effectively, through to generating and nurturing leads. The possibilities are endless, and there is plenty of room to experiment and scale. There is no excuse for any business not to have digital marketing in its repertoire.
How do you see digital media evolving in future?
Rishi: Technological innovation will continue to churn new trends at unprecedented rates, however, it is the sum total of market forces, especially customers, who will define the eventual trajectory of digital media and marketing. Regardless, I believe that the marketing ecosystem is set to become vastly bigger than what it is now. While we have witnessed a landmark shift in marketers’focus from desktop to mobile, the next transformation will likely involve multiple connected devices and touchpoints per customer, thanks to the internet of things (IoT).
Wearables are just the tip of the iceberg––think, for instance, about customers ordering their favorite brands of groceries right from the touchscreens of their connected refrigerators. The technology is here already. Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) will make customers’ interaction with platforms more responsive, even as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) enhance the overall experience.
Overall, while customers will likely enjoy the expanded choice of digital communication channels and interfaces, marketers will have a complex job on their hands to develop intelligent omnichannel marketing strategies that work.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya in educating others about Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is evolving constantly, and it is tremendously helpful to have a trusted resource to turn to for clarity, advice, and training. Digital Vidya has established itself as one such resource, and its impressive certified grads and an enviable client base are a testimony to the quality of its work. I wish Digital Vidya continued success and growth.
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 :).