Aparna Lal, Microsoft India Director is a modern marketing professional with integrated marketing experience in the B2B & B2C domains. With core expertise in Digital & Social media marketing, she has worked in planning & executing digital marketing strategy for organizations spanning across various digital touchpoints combined with compelling story-telling methodology and robust customer journey across owned, earned and paid digital channels.
Aparna has leveraged deep understanding of the evolving digital & social media platforms coupled with data-driven marketing techniques and changing consumer behaviour to create connected marketing and sales program for organizations to generate demand, close direct business and grow pipeline with efficient return on investments.
- Recognized as Digital Marketer of the Year IT/ITES 2015 by IAMAI (Internet & Mobile Association of India)
- Recognized as Most Influential Digital Media Professional for 2015, by World Marketing Congress & CMO Asia.
- INSEAD certification in Business Strategy & Financial Acumen.
- CIM (UK) Certified e-marketing professional
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?
Aparna: I forayed into the world of digital marketing quite early, when the Internet was still nascent, websites were beginning to happen up and email marketing ruled & mobile and social media were not commonly known terms. For the longest time, I struggled explaining to people what I do.
Back in 1997, I took a course on E-business from IBM; this was more the technical side on how websites are created and impact measured. Got several opportunities to learn nuances of the paperless world on the job with well-known organizations. In 2007, I took a course on e-marketing from Chartered Institute of Marketing, London (there were no programs available in India on digital marketing, back then 🙂 ), this helped me immensely with structured thinking and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Digital Marketing as a discipline is fairly new; organizations and marketing professionals are realizing the potential of digital as a medium to engage with their consumers across various touchpoints. As someone who has seen the discipline evolve over the past 17 years, it’s gratifying to see the role of this medium in connecting & engaging with the new digital consumer.
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?
Aparna: Digital Media, Internet of Things and the digital-savvy customer has opened up various avenues for marketers and businesses of today. For marketers, there are new platforms and mediums to connect with the customer – targeted, timely & measurable; for businesses digital is a key driver for transformation, opening up the opportunity to create compelling customer experience – offline & online; connected business processes and employee engagement.
According to me, both areas complement each other and will probably co-exist for some more years, there’s definitely a threat to some formats because of changed customer behaviour, if they don’t innovate and stay relevant.
Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?
- Idea cellular’s – “Har Mobile Par Internet’ campaign for the simplicity of the idea that cracked a big business challenge.
- American Express– Small Business Saturday, beautiful B2B2C campaign.
- Sport England’s– “This Girl Can” (https://www.digitalradish.co.uk/thoughts/this-girl-can-marketing-campaign/). Campaign objective is to get more women into sport, it has a beautiful central thought and is a great example of social first integrated campaign.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
- Media & content make the perfect marriage – More often than not the approach to structuring digital campaigns & programs is very siloed, someone plans media & a completely disjointed team, cracks the creative communication and that’s where the storytelling breaks and brand’s image is compromised. While there will be experts to manage their areas, an understanding of both the domains is really essential to tell a coherent story.
- Measure more or less – What to measure? How to measure? How much to measure? And what not to measure? Marketing teams get stuck in the whirlpool of data that gets thrown at them from various fronts, it’s important to define the metrics that matter and set expectations on campaign performance & measurement framework, through the right set of tools.
- Look before you leap, but do take the leap – digital is a fast evolving medium, every other day there are new platforms, new tools & new formats that emerge, its critical to stay abreast with what’s new as much as the discipline to take time to understand the offering and the value it adds to the business, before taking the leap. The ability to separate key infrastructural requirements vs gimmicky stuff is a must.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Aparna: To my mind, both formats work. I am particularly more inclined towards agency model because of the diverse experience & skillset they bring to the table. An experienced in-house team of key SMEs, power packed with the diverse skill set at the agency can make a winning combination.
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?
- Marketing automation tools – Marketo & Resultrix.
- Social media engagement & monitoring tools – Sprinklr, Unmetric, Sociable
- Webtrends, Omniture for web analytics
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs – to make their brand & services relevant to the new-age consumer
- For Professionals – to build a compelling personal brand
- For Students – to build & market compelling products & services
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
Passion for the domain, urge to learn new trends and offerings with a strong marketing acumen and ability to contextualize.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
Aparna: Stay curious, keep learning.
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?
Aparna: I rely on my Twitter feeds to stay up-to-date, it’s like my library to dig into the latest trends.
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?
Aparna: As IoT becomes a reality and households get digital imagine the possibilities that would open up for marketers to connect to its consumer, in real-time and in the right context. For businesses, digital will open up new opportunities to engage with its customers, enable employees, optimize and transform business model. Microsoft is doing a whole lot of work in this area, check out how Kent RO changed its business model leveraging the power of digital.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
I think you guys are doing a great job in the field of training and making everyone digital ready. Keep up!
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 :).