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Interview with Vikas Chawla, Social Beat, Co-founder

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Pradeep Chopra, CEO at Digital Vidya: Young entrepreneurs always have a charm, and some extra passion to walk that extra mile. With Digital Marketing making it easy for people to enter in the field of entrepreneurship, challenges to make a business successful have certainly grown. It’s only your diligence to successfully leverage Digital Marketing that can yield you results from the online sphere. In this interview, I spoke with Vikas Chawla to know how Digital Marketing is the most in vogue strategy today and how best to get the most out of it.

After working for six years in diverse functions from marketing to sales and HR in large corporates like Murugappa Group, National Skill Development Corporation & Taj Group of Hotels, in September 2012, Vikas Chawla quit his job and took the first steps into entrepreneurship.

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

Vikas Chawla: When I decided to take the plunge, I had several ideas about what I wanted to venture into. Most of them revolved around skill development, media buying, and Digital Marketing. I finally settled on Digital Marketing after evaluating the market and seeing the dearth of result-oriented digital agencies who don’t focus on the creative aspect of Digital Marketing but on the business aspect as well. When we started Social Beat in December 2012, we decided to focus on driving results for our clients by combining both streams.

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?

Vikas Chawla: Conventional marketing relies a lot on word-of-mouth marketing and it reaches a wide audience. However, today with prices slashed on smartphones and internet packs (courtesy Jio), more and more Indians are going digital. According to  Google data, 300 million people are connected via smartphones. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Digital Marketing a threat to the more conventional mediums of marketing, but it is the next stage in marketing evolution.

Share your 3 favourite Integrated Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?

Vikas Chawla:  

    1. AMP-implemented landing pages for IHHC – IHHC came to us to generate more leads. We explored Accelerated Mobile Pages or their landing page through Google Ads. This resulted in a 33% decrease in cost-per-leads and since pages loaded faster, they had higher engagement with a 20% increase in the number of leads.
    2. Cholamandalam Finance and Social Beat tap vernacular content India’s regional content user base is currently poised at 234 million. Taking advantage of the reach of vernacular content, Cholamandalam Finance came up with a social media marketing campaign – an animated video in Hindi that consisted of life lessons we can learn from ants. The video went viral and has reached 2.2 million views and 80,000+ shares with 94% of it being organic.
    3. Facebook Real Estate Digital Marketing Case study Casagrand, a leading developer in Chennai wanted to increase the number of leads while driving down the cost-per-lead. This was achieved using multiple Facebook accounts and social media strategies. It resulted in generating a revenue of INR 190 crores.

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

    Vikas Chawla:  

    1. Not utilizing regional content – The growth of regional content online has taken the digital world by storm. According to a latest KPMG study, there are 234 million Indian language users online today. Brands need to leverage vernacular content to tap a much larger audience. With 97% of YouTube content consumed in India being non-English, it’s not something you can ignore.  Without regional content as part of the strategy, brands will miss out on reaching the next billion users.
    2. Not having mobile optimized websites – It’s simple, really. More than 80% of the searches come from mobile and with 330 million users accessing the internet via smartphones, it becomes imperative that your website or landing page is mobile optimized and loads extremely fast.
    3. Being too promotional – Several brands focus on themselves too much with the content they put out. They forget that the way to connect with people isn’t about promoting themselves all the time. Step one of marketing is to create a need for the brand in people’s lives. What can this brand do for me? How will they add to my life? Brands will be more likely to generate leads by focusing on becoming relevant to audiences as opposed to talking about themselves and their products all the time.

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

    Vikas Chawla: It differs from company to company and depends on the scale and volumes as well. When the volumes are high, it is difficult for brands to manage their Digital Marketing efforts in-house. It would depend on the needs of a particular company and the resources available to them. 

    Team, Skills and Tools

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

    Vikas Chawla:  At Social Beat, we have a blog page, which is regularly updated with the latest trends, forecasts and best practices for all industries. Our entire team contributes to it. We also have weekly and monthly training/knowledge sharing sessions depending on the team. Additionally, we also closely follow updates from leading industry blogs like Moz, Think with Google, Backlinko, Quick Sprout, Social Samosa, Social Media Examiner, Hubspot, Search Engine Land etc.

    Which are your 3 favourite Digital Marketing tools? 

    Vikas Chawla: Buzzsumo, Moz and Google Analytics

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

    Vikas Chawla:  

    • For Entrepreneurs: As an entrepreneur, if you are looking to reach the right target audience, a thorough understanding of Digital Marketing is necessary. It will help an entrepreneur grow their business and track results.
    • For Professionals: Digital is now an inevitable part of the marketing mix. Trying to survive on traditional means of marketing alone might sustain you, but it will hold your company back from reaching its full potential. Therefore, marketing professionals equipped with digital skills will have an edge over others.
    • For Students: I think the same applies to students. Every company and brand uses Digital Marketing as part of its marketing strategy and so the demand for people proficient in the same will only continue to increase. Arming yourself with Digital Marketing skills and the relevant experience, will help you sustain yourself in the industry.

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

    Vikas Chawla: Culture is one of the most important things to look for while hiring a candidate. Apart from that, it is a good idea to look for hunger to grow and interest to learn. In order to check for skills relevant to role, it is always best to give the candidate a test and evaluate based on the results.

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    Date: 17th Nov, 2018 (Sat)
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    Advice to Aspiring Digital Marketers

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

    Vikas Chawla: You’ll definitely need hands-on experience. I would suggest either taking up a job or internship at a Digital Marketing agency or taking up a course of some sort. Industry leaders offer valuable insight into the workings of the digital marketing industry, changes and trends in the landscape. Following them and blogs on relevant topics will help you keep yourself up-to-date with all things digital.

    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?

    Vikas Chawla:  Moz, Backlinko, Think with Google

    Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.

    Vikas Chawla: Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel & Brian Dean

    You led the webinar ‘What Can Brands do to Engage with India’s Next Billion Internet Users’. How was your experience in leading the webinar?

    Vikas Chawla: It was a wonderful session. The response I received was very encouraging. It was great to answer so many interesting questions and see so much buzz and excitement around the topic.

    Please share top 3-5 takeaways from the Webinar you led for our community.

    Vikas Chawla: 

    • Understanding how the digital penetration is growing in India and key trends around it
    • How can brands engage with these new consumers
    • How mobile and video will be crucial for every digital strategy
    • Learning the importance of regional languages to reach a wider audience
    • Trends to watch out for – voice search and personalized experiences

    Do you have any suggestions for us to further increase the values of our Digital Marketing Webinars?

    Vikas Chawla: Digital Vidya Webinars have been focusing on high-quality content. Ensuring they are held on a regular basis would be great for the community.

    How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2018?

    Vikas Chawla: Three biggest trends we see are:

    • Videos are here to stay. Around 225 million Indians actively use YouTube every month just through their mobile phones. This number is set to increase to 500 million by the year 2020. Brands using videos are seeing much better traction and it is becoming a necessity to engage with the target audience.
    • There are over 234 million Indian language users on the internet and in order to reach that audience it is important to use vernacular content in all messaging, from websites to advertisements.
    • Create campaigns specifically for mobile is the need of the hour. According to a survey by Statcounter, Indians use their phones to access the internet almost 80 percent of the time. This means that brands should be producing content specifically designed for mobile phones if they want to engage the next billion internet consumers.

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

    Vikas Chawla:  

    Having skilled and trained digital marketing professionals is the need of the hour and Digital Vidya is doing a great job in making students and professionals industry ready.

    To know more about Vikas Chawla, you can check out his LinkedIn profile.

    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 :).

    [CEO, Digital Vidya]
    Among the pioneers of Digital Marketing, Pradeep has been part of the Internet Industry since 2000. He has been a serial entrepreneur for last 17 years and is currently a Co-founder & CEO of Digital Vidya, a leading Digital Marketing, and Big Data & Data Analytics training company.

    A graduate of IIT Delhi and a recipient of Adobe Content100, Pradeep is one of the most sought-after international speakers in Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship.

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