Interview With Smita Murarka, Chief Marketing Officer - Corporate & Brands, Digital, Duroflex - Digital Vidya

Interview With Smita Murarka, Chief Marketing Officer – Corporate & Brands, Digital, Duroflex

Pradeep Chopra (Co-Founder, Digital Vidya): The development of the Internet has given the idea of marketing a new dimension. Earlier, the main focus of marketing was to recommend something to the audience.

Today, however, this idea has been reinterpreted by digital marketing. The importance of making the “correct offer” to the “right audience” at the “right time” is fulfilled.

A report by Wordstream states that 63% of businesses have increased their digital marketing budgets to capitalize on this opportunity.

To know more about the rapidly developing digital marketing industry, I spoke to Smita Murarka from Duroflex.

Smita murarkaIn this interview, we talked about her digital marketing journey as well as her take on the challenges and opportunities that are coming up every now and then.

Having more than 2 decades of experience, Smita has been building brands in the fashion and lifestyle industry, with diversified expertise in managing functions of Marketing, Business Transformation Strategy, and E-commerce, driving growth through Digital and D2C in sunrise industries.

She has been instrumental in building brands across spectrums in her stints as a large box retailer in Lifestyle, establishing Amante as a premium innerwear brand and now is redefining the way India sleeps at Duroflex – The leading Omni brand in mattresses and sleep accessories.

Please brief us about your professional background including the importance of Digital Marketing in your current profile.

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Smita: I have built brands that have made categories unboring and unlocked disruptive growth through consumer centricity, D2C, digital, and innovations creating sustainable impact for the business.

I have diversified expertise in managing functions of Marketing, Business and Product Strategy, and E-commerce.

Have been instrumental in building brands across my stints at a big-box retailer in Lifestyle, establishing Amante as a premium innerwear brand, and have redefined the way India sleeps at Duroflex – The leading Omni brand in mattresses and sleep accessories.

In my current stint as a CMO of Duroflex, I lead the marketing function and CXO for strategic decisions. Have steered Duroflex’s transformation into a leading national Omni brand in the category, from being a South offline brand.

This has happened in the last two years of the pandemic when we were able to scale the brand visibility and presence with meaningful conversations around the importance of sleep while building the functional benefit know-how amongst customers for our products.

The 360-degree approach between brand and growth marketing in digital media helps us scale the brand continuously, and it’s the most important discovery medium for brand efforts even for offline purchases.

How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?

Smita: Digital marketing for mass marketing use is only about a decade old. 10 years back, halfway through my current experience, as a consumer, I had already started shopping for many categories online and was a frequent user of social media, and thus was excited about the possibilities of its use cases in marketing.

This is when I moved out of a large box retailer and chose to join a lingerie brand- Amante, where I got a chance to build an Omni brand through the power of digital marketing.

The large reach and data at your fingertips that digital media offers make marketers much more equipped to connect with their target consumers meaningfully.

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?

Smita: Conventional marketing is still important, as mediums like the point of sale, tv ads, still have sufficient reach, making it hard to ignore.

It completes the media mix for consumer brands. The changing consumption patterns should decide the media mix for brands, and it’s most likely that the share of digital media will keep on increasing.

Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals, and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Smita: I have stated the importance as follows:

For Entrepreneurs:
Social Media and SEO have given a level playing field to all brands, and most importantly to small-scale entrepreneurs. Basic skills can help build the brand in the initial stages or understanding the fundamentals helps entrepreneurs make their agencies strategize better for the brand.

For Professionals:
It’s an important critical media for the current and future state of most marketing efforts. Professionals can’t work in silos anymore and it’s important for any marketer to know the fundamentals of digital marketing.

For Students:
For students of marketing, it should be made compulsory to learn important fundaments, and digital marketing is critical knowledge to have for today.

How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Digital Marketing? Which Digital Marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps) do you visit regularly?

Smita: Knowing about the frequent changes by the platforms themselves, or blogs and updates by experts, and then doing small experiments to understand the trend practically, is the best way of staying updated.

While we all can read a lot, practical immersion is the best way of knowing what it means for your brand and category.

Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?

Smita: Three digital marketing case studies that I would like to share are:

A. “Sounds of Sleep: Unique Content and Wide reach through music?”

Our best content work at Duroflex – is digital original content on our IP property Sounds of Sleep, where we have got the popular singers to recreate timeless regional lullabies in season 1 and sing original compositions in season 2 during World Sleep Day, helping us connect with our young parents on sleep, in a meaningful way through the universal language of love. This has been our highest reach and engagement campaign reaching over 50 Mn

B. “IPL – Directors mix on Google: Best in class case study on Moment Marketing?”

Duroflex wanted to reach cricket enthusiasts, during IPL. Given Youtube’s massive reach during the period amongst the TG, the brand collaborated with the platform to use their proprietary tool- Director’s mix, to serve unique personalized ads as per the consumer’s search query related to the matches. This was a one-of-the-fiesta kind of campaign in the category and resulted in a 6x jump in brand searches, reaching over 29 mn audience within a few weeks.

C. “Influencer Marketing for digital advertising: Brand + Growth story”

Collaborating with the OTT star Prateek Gandhi, right at the time of his success during the hit series Scam gave us massive success. We used it to build reach for the USP of our Duropedic range in his authentic style of communication, built reach in the west where he is most popular, and used the content extensively in PR. This collaboration gave us equivalent results of a brand endorsement with over 8 mn views on YT, and 1.7mn views on Instagram along with meeting product sales through digital advertising with the same communication, keeping the brand story consistent.

According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Smita: The top three mistakes in my view are:

A. Growth and Brand in Silo: Overall Brand Salience

Organizations often tend to make structures that look at brand marketing and growth in silo on digital. This impacts the ROI on total marketing efforts and sustained brand salience by its target consumers. It should be a consolidated effort to look at overall brand ROI with a single lens strategically, while campaign objectives can define micro-objectives for the working teams.

B.Chase CAC vs Engagement: Cost of New Consumers

Brands tend to look at using digital marketing to gain new customers and keep focusing on improving CAC so they can acquire more new customers for the same cost, whereas focusing on the experience and engagement of existing customers is more imp, as brand advocacy goes a long way in building brands on digital.

C. Too many metrics: Larger Picture in Overall Growth

One of the common mistakes made by organizations is over-optimizing too many metrics and losing sight of the larger picture to make meaningful long-term gains. Keeping KPI simple makes the efforts add up toward the business objectives.

Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for the maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Smita: A mix of both is always something I prefer, an in-house team has the brand understanding always on, and is clued into the overall business needs and brings consistency, and an agency helps keep a non-biased approach with continuous learning and is equipped with new techniques and learnings from other categories.

How do you ensure increasing Digital Marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?

Smita: Like all other areas, this can happen with the right strategy, objective setting, and then results thereafter.

Results and correct attribution to the medium bring confidence and help increase the relevance. However, chasing the right KPI is very important else the vast number of metrics available through digital marketing can drown the real objective.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Smita: My current top Digital marketing tools are SEM rush for SEO and competitive landscape analysis, Brand watch for tracking social media performance, and Helium for analyzing amazon AdWords.

What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for a Digital Marketing profile?

Smita: The top skills I look for while hiring digital marketers basis their experience is – subject matter expertise for defined roles in junior to mid-management, attitude to learn and unlearn, and proven multi-category experience, as being attached to just one category can be detrimental for new and experimentative ideas.

For senior roles, it’s important that the marketer while having these skills also has good communication and analytical skills to solve business problems and connect with larger teams for cross-functional collaborations.

What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in the Digital Marketing industry?

Smita: Would advise the youngsters not to get trapped in the jargon and buzzwords of digital marketing, but to get their fundamentals strong, and keep a mechanism of continuous learning as the landscape in digital marketing for effective brand and business gains is ever-changing.

Also look at digital marketing wholistically as a problem solver for the business and its consumers, rather than just a statistical trend to improve.

How do you see Digital Media evolving in the future? What are the top 3 trends you foresee for 2023?

Smita: Digital Media has already moved from being an occasional addition to a brand’s media plan to an always-on necessity post the pandemic when people’s behaviors changed and more than 70% of Indians came online.

This will continue to strengthen as an essential form of presence for brands.

The top 3 trends in foresee in the coming year are

A. Innovations through metaverse – The coming year will see large brands experiment with metaverse with innovative brand strategies, for creating PR buzz and also getting the first mover tag in their categories. It is only in later years will the actual use cases of metaverse for mass media marketing will evolve.

B. Building first-party data and owned communities – While the last decade has been about building a presence in a large marketplace, the coming years will be about building a strong first-party database to engage with consumers meaningfully and drive sustainable ROI for the brand.

C. Social media becoming more community-driven – Social media would move out to getting more fragmented, tapping into close communities of like-minded people whether it’s on dark social mediums like WhatsApp or subscribed groups on Instagram.

Would you like to share a few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Smita: Digital Vidya has been one of the original indigenous efforts to impart learning on digital marketing.

It has helped many to understand the fundamentals and get meaningful roles or grow in their existing careers into digital ones.

Pradeep (to our readers): I hope you find the insights shared by Smita valuable. In case you have any questions for her or me, please post them in the comments section.

Would you like to have 10x Growth in your Career or Business by leveraging digital marketing? Join our upcoming live online Digital Marketing Foundation Masterclass worth Rs 1999 FREE.

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