Akhil Sethi started off his professional career as an engineer, but after completion, he got a fair idea that it’s not the line where he wanted to spend rest of his work-life. To change the path completely, he decided to do MBA and got selected in one of the prestigious B-schools. During his MBA internship, he got an opportunity to manage social media listening for one of the most reputed brands of the country because of which his interest in social media grew. And, after completion of his MBA, he didn’t go for any of the high-paying jobs rather decided to start his career with a digital agency at a low salary so that he can pursue his interest from the start itself.
Currently, he has more than 7 years of experience in digital marketing with good knowledge of all domains of digital marketing (social media, SEM, mobile marketing as well as programmatic buying).
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?
Akhil Sethi: After doing MBA in Marketing, I started my career with social media more than 7 years back in a reputed agency. And, after learning the so-called nuances of social media, I thought why not learn all traits of digital marketing. Hence, as a curious marketing student I went to another reputed agency wherein I learnt – client servicing, account management & media planning / buying and thereby helped some of the biggest brands to achieve their marketing objectives. After that, I thought why not apply all these skills as well as knowledge to help a brand itself, hence I am doing what I initially envisioned.
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?
Akhil Sethi: Conventional marketing like print or TV marketing is more mass-ier than digital marketing. A brand whose target audience is not too niche can reach out to a wider audience through conventional marketing.
Yes, I firmly believe a day would come when digital marketing would take away a major-pie of the whole marketing budget. A recent report will tell you that Adidas is reportedly moving more of its ad budget away from TV and into digital channels, and is looking to quadruple its online sales by 2020. This itself shows how major brands have started thinking digital as a major platform to reach out to their audience in a better controlled and targeted way. Apart from this, I don’t think it’s easy for small brands to go for conventional marketing obviously because of the budgets involved. Hence here also digital marketing (including social media or SEM) comes for their rescue.
Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?
Akhil Sethi: I am always fascinated about the brands when they try to move out of their comfort zone and do some integrated campaigns which harness the power of each and every medium rather only digital.
- First one is a rather old one, I really liked the way where Coca cola integrated offline and online with the power of technology and that too on a big scale. See the video to know more:
- I also like campaigns which have a social cause attached to it. Yes, brands have an objective to make profits at the end of the day but what is while making profits, they can do something good about the society. Yes, Expedia (an online travel company) when entered Indian market came up with an interesting campaign called Give then Wings. You can find more campaign details.
P.S. It was executed by me and won several National as well as International awards.
- And, this campaign made me too emotional. One of the best ones of recent times:
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
- Sitting on loads of data but unable to use the same because of internal teams working in silos: Opportunity lost – to leverage on a data which can work wonders for the overall business
- Doing huge media promotions but doesn’t have proper KPIs in place (if you don’t know what will you get after making an investment, you’re doing it all the wrong way: Lose an opportunity to set proper benchmarks and comprehend the output)
- All platforms differ in the way they provide an opportunity to users to interact with each other and with brands. Facebook differs from Twitter in too many ways and same is the case with Instagram. Most of the times, brands & even digital agencies fail to realize this and go with the same content as well as same communication on every platform: Hence brands lose the effectiveness of reaching to the right audience on the right platform with the right communication resulting in the relationship loss.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Akhil Sethi: Most of the brands prefer to go ahead with agencies to outsource their digital media requirements because of the resource/overhead costs. However I feel, if they can manage to create a team internally to manage all digital marketing campaigns, that’s great because in that case, they will have a tighter control on what’s going out in public and also there will be no delays which usually happens because of too many parties get involved.
How do you ensure increasing Digital Marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?
Akhil Sethi: If this question was asked in 2007, I would have still find it difficult to answer but I guess, nowadays everyone responsible for the marketing initiatives of the brand knows the importance of digital as well as power of social media. As of now, India has more than 460Mn internet users which is huge as compared to US, UK or any other developed country but this constitutes to only 35% of internet penetration. Hence the opportunity is huge and because of ever reducing internet data rates and mobile devices, digitally active users will only be going to increase like it has over the last 10 years. Hence, it’s not difficult nowadays to ensure digital marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization. (Stats source)
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?
Akhil Sethi: It really depends on which industry brand is in and also what brand’s objective are. But if you’ll ask me in generic terms, here’s the list:
- Radian 6: Gives a comprehensive data of all discussion happening on the web about your brand. And apart from this, can be integrated with analytics tool like Webtrends, Omniture or Google Analytics
- HubSpot: When I worked briefly for a sales-led organization, I used HubSpot which is an inbound marketing and sales software. It’s an excellent tool for lead generation as well as lead nurturing
- Google’s DCM: Coming from the Google’s bouquet of products, it really stands out. If you’ll ask any media planner, you’ll get to understand how easily it makes campaign execution simpler in terms of planning as well as tracking
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: Usually most of the entrepreneurs don’t have BIG budgets for marketing initiatives, hence digital marketing comes to their rescue. If they can track – where there money is being spent and whom are they eventually reaching out and what returns they’re getting – nothing like it.
- For Professionals: All professionals irrespective of the department they work in acts as company’s ambassadors, hence it’s important to be sure of what they post about their brand on social media. If they will have an understanding of all platforms beforehand, they’ll know what to post and what not.
- For Students: Internet penetration in India will only be going to increase in future, hence there’s a huge scope of opportunities in this field. And I think this is the best time to be in this industry as there is lot of scope of learning and creativity.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
Akhil Sethi: Expectations vary basis the experience of the candidate however majorly we look for:
- Clarity of thought – is the digital basics clear or not about each and every platform
- Presentation skills – if you can’t express your ideas in a better manner, you won’t be able to convince internal management and that would be a big issue 🙂
- Knowledge about the required tools – if you’re hiring an experienced person, this is the least we expect
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
Akhil Sethi: Yes, they won’t be having hands on experience of the tools but at least they should be clear about the basics of how marketing is done on each and every platform. Reaching out to the right audience is way different with the way you do it on Twitter and this is where I think Digital Vidya is doing a great job.
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?
Akhil Sethi: I usually don’t get time to read books because of my professional commitments however I do take out time whenever possible to go through online resources which helps me in keeping me updated. Here’s the link of one of my blogposts which can help you also. Yes, don’t forget to thank me in the comments section below 🙂
Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.
- Himanshu Arora (Business Head, Isobar Gurgaon): He’s the master of business communication
- Guru Mishra (Group Head, Carat Digital Gurgaon): He’s a creative media guy, yes, most of the media guys only love numbers but he’s different and actually good
- Avinash Tiwari (Author, blogger as well as associate media director, Isobar Gurgaon): He’s your go to guy for A to Z of digital marketing. He’s one of the best in the industry when it comes about having knowledge about every platform spanning from social to even ad operations
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2017?
Like I said, because of only 35% internet penetration right now, there’s a huge scope of Digital marketing going forward. I can only see brands allocating a substantial budget to it from the overall marketing budget.
- Rise of video marketing: With the ascend of Facebook videos, video marketing will going to be even more important.
- Shift towards mobile: Gone are the days, when brands used to allocate more budgets on pushing their communication on desktop. According to a latest report, Indian smartphone market is growing at a rate of 18% which is way higher than global smartphone market which is growing only at a rate of 3%. (Stats source)
- Rise of influencer marketing: With brands started doubting the effective of organic social media promotion, they will definitely try and see the power of roping influencers and influence decision making of their target audience.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
I think Digital Vidya is one of the best companies in the digital industry providing digital marketing course to professionals as well as to people who’re thinking about making a start in digital marketing. These days, one can’t find right colleges in India which specializes in providing these courses however the work which being done by Digital Vidya is really commendable.
I also heard that Digital Vidya even partnered with Microsoft India and Google to train their India-based resellers and partners to better sell their services, using digital marketing which shows the credibility of the company. I wish them all the very best for their future!
Disclaimer: Views are my personal and not entitled to any company/Individual
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