[Interview] In conversation with Shradha Agarwal on the do’s and dont’s of digital marketing

Shradha Agarwal, COO/Head – Strategy & Engagement at Grapes Digital speaks about digital marketing in Gen Y era.

1) You have worked with an array of brands such as Maruti Suzuki Nexa, HomeShop18, Blackberrys Menswear, Volvo Eicher, PepperTap, etc. across different aspects of digital media. Looking back, what were the key factors that best helped your teams in running successful campaigns?

IDEA, IDEA and IDEA! That is the key factor that defines the success of any campaign. In Grapes Digital, we believe that there are 4 main ingredients that make a great idea: Product USP& application, contextuality, consumer trends & behavior and technology. A permutation and combination of them actually makes or breaks an idea. Apart from this, content dissemination also plays a key role – because a good idea not distributed well enough is equivalent to a bad idea.

 2) This is the age of inflation. The audience has become increasingly spoilt in terms of choice & the days of easy funding are gone. Would you say tough times are here for marketers?

 Long gone are the days when people used to consider the e-commerce platform for buying things on discounts. Now, they make their purchase decisions online on the basis of convenience, accessibility and market influence.

So obviously the competition is tough because internet – the domain of cash-rich mega brands – is now seeing a lot of fast-moving, ambitious startups giving neck-to-neck competition to big players. The only difference is in terms of volume driven by insane discounts offered by larger brands. This too will soon change due to the reduction in funding options and the new FDI ruling of not influencing the seller’s price through discounts.

 3) How should a marketer or a digital marketer, in particular, spend his/her working time? Do you find them spending enough time & efforts on gaining the right skill set?

That’s a very tough question to answer because theoretically speaking, everyone says the digital space is new and one should spend a considerable amount of time learning new methods, technologies and case studies. However, one just doesn’t get the time to delve deep and research about the latest digital marketing trends.

There’s so much data released by different brands in the form of case studies, white papers, blogs, podcasts and videos (deconstructing successful campaigns) that it’s an absolute goldmine of data for anyone who has the time (and most importantly the will) to consume and understand the information.

But, such is the pace of work in an agency that we rarely get the time to do any amount of reading. Execution takes up almost all of our time. That’s why the smart thing to do is to read, learn and execute everything simultaneously.

I tend to read on-the-go and jot down stuff which would come in handy later. During campaign brainstorming sessions, my notes often come to the rescue. For marketers, knowing the latest trends is of critical importance, which is why I make a conscious effort to maintain a reading list that I follow religiously.

4) Content is on the rise and creativity is getting its due. Which roles or career paths have evolved & gained more respect and attention from brands in the past one year?

Content, craft and creativity are crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. As far as digital marketing is concerned, traditional profiles as used by mainline agencies can no longer accommodate the diversity of roles in a digital agency. ‘Creativity’ is in itself such an open-ended term that we keep coining new terminologies to define the kind of talent we are trying to hire. 

For instance; how would you define a professional who began his career as a blogger (and learnt Search Engine Optimization to promote his blog) and then moved on to copy writing (and mastered the nuances of social media promotions)?

Moreover, working closely with designers honed his ability to think visually and helping in website development opened his intellect to the fascinating world of HTML. Constant interactions with clients and PR agencies further fueled his appetite to perfect his client servicing skills.

While in mainline agencies, super-specialization is the key to success; but to succeed in the digital space and that also at an upper -managerial level, the perfect blend of creativity and marketing acumen will really make you stand out.

He or she can hold the position of a Creative Catalyst in a digital agency. Brands love working with such individuals because they have fought, learnt and survived in the trenches. They can come up with brilliant ideas and turn them into a powerful campaign.

Such a person is a true ‘Growth Hacker’ who can take a nameless company and turn it into a supernova brand. Further, he or she displays an insatiable appetite for awards which pushes him or her to create award-winning campaigns.

 I would personally define such an individual as a Digital Prophet!

 5) What is it that digital marketers miss out on during campaign planning & execution?

While in an ideal scenario a well thought-out campaign plan should result in flawless execution, it rarely happens in real life. That’s why the person who’s planning the campaign and the one implementing it, should be on the same page.

In order to do this, what we need to do is follow the old school process of maintaining worksheets and schedule charts to ensure that the necessary KPIs are being met. In the digital space, especially, numerous little factors decide the success or failure of a campaign. So it is important to invest a lot of time and planning on offline planning as well to ensure online success.

Shradha Agarwal will be speaking at 24adp digital marketing conference this 4th & 5th June in Pune. It will be the 2nd edition of this 2 days conference with digital marketers or marketing heads from MTV India, LinkedIn, BookMyShow, OML, InMobi & more such amazing brands. You can reserve your seat at 24adp.com
Disclaimer – SocialSamosa team will be speaking at 24adp digital marketing conference.