Seshadri, who came from a computer science background, went on to pursue a career in journalism and media. In this episode of Data Champions in Communications, Seshadri, Head of Marketing and Media at ICA Edu Skills & IDCM, talks about his career path and how he uses data to drive marketing decisions.
1. How did you end up in marketing and communications?
I was a student of computer science. I went to pursue a master’s in journalism and media with a specialization in photojournalism. Throughout my journey, my wife Dipannita Das has played a pivotal role.
My father was a Third World scientist, therefore I come from a background where I was highly interested in and close to things like data analysis, technology, and so on. Hence, my fascination with technology, statistics, and marketing always piqued my curiosity. I also have a passion for creativity and channeling myself into whatever was going on in the world of communication, photography, graphics, and video.
I believe that the market is divided into two parts. The first step is to understand what is going on in real time i.e. ground-level knowledge and then understand user perspective before we learn how to sell, understand data, evaluate data, and apply appropriate technologies. This is what happens behind the scenes. However, when we approach the market or even the customers, we are essentially providing them with a product. You can talk about Amazon or any other large firms that have been steadily rising digitally–they are selling virtual materials, including photographs, videos, and text, but a consumer purchases a physical good. Representation of any product goes in terms of media graphics. Therefore, I believe there is a correlation between technology and creativity. I wanted to merge these two to gain a better understanding of the industry.
I started out as a content marketer. I was also doing photography and working for newspapers/magazines like Sunday Guardian, The Times of India, Better Photography, and many more. I was lucky to get several international publications where my photographs found a place such as–the Sunday Guardian. Better photography, NatGeo. So, when I got deeper into the realm of marketing, I realized that instead of selling myself personally, I could cater to organizational level needs to enhance more competitive learnings, to acquire more skills and knowledge.
2. How did you start integrating data into your campaigns?
Digital marketing is applicable in every industry. You may be selling online classes, lifestyle products, or anything else. It could be B2B, B2C, D2C, & D2D. It is feasible to set up anything over the internet. But, how will I make myself a niche player or a leader in particular aspects? For instance, there are ships, which are already sailing and selling smoothly over the market in the ocean. These ships could be organizations, start-ups, etc. There are ships that have sailed in that vast ocean of the market. However, there are ships that are struggling to sail & sell — sinking day by day since they are unable to sell successfully due to ineffective digital marketing strategies. So, I carved out a niche for myself in these areas. For this reason, I started to work with more start-ups and drain out business, I wanted to lead and bring in business for them. I want to help organizations in creating a strong digital marketing foundation to generate businesses via digital media.
3. How do you see data playing a pivotal role in comms today?
Every marketing campaign is now connected with data. Data is not related to only digital marketing. For any organizational growth if you don’t have data, then you are throwing stones into the darkness. Be it marketing professionals or salesmen—everything else revolves around data.
In today’s scenario, most digital marketing professionals fail due to improper analysis of data and data automation reports What is the explanation for this? Data from digital marketing is always about real-time data. It is not something where you go to a newspaper like the Times of India and invest one lakh rupees or one crore rupees and you are not aware of how many sessions are counted and eventually generate leads. After all, The Times of India is a worldwide publication. If readers are coming from India–which city and town are they coming from. These were not trackable some time ago, which is why digital marketing is becoming increasingly demanding. You can track data, you can track sources and users, and you can also build buyer personas based on that data. Thus, this is the main reason why offline marketing has been demolished or is drying out day by day.
Organizations’ primary investments must be in digital media rather than print or offline marketing. This is necessary since things must be tracked and measured. That way, I have more control over everything, including budgeting and team resources.
4. What do you see as a major challenge?
Many people are aware of Google Analytics, a Google open-source tool. Over 80% of the data is generated by Google Analytics. However, the 20% disparity remains. While a 20% discrepancy may appear insignificant to businesses, it can affect nearly 200 times their revenue. If you are not going over the data manually, this 20% can potentially hamper your efforts. So, what steps will you take to ensure that the remaining 20% is not left untouched? A lot of applications are coming up. Few tools like SEMrush Mix panel, Adobe Analytics are making a foray and the Indian market needs to adapt to them. The overseas market has already adapted to that. For instance, if you talk about brands like Uber or Coca-Cola, they are using Mix Panel, however, 70% of marketers are still unaware of these tools.
Digital marketers should try to use data analysis using applications like Python because you need to play around with lakhs and lakhs of data. Working on data on a Google spreadsheet won’t give you the desired result and the execution time and the analysis time is on a much higher scale.
Organizations are investing millions of dollars and crores into Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other omnichannel marketing platforms. Again, how many of us are aware of how much we are investing in applications/software and tools for data analysis? How many companies are investing in applications like Wizikey? It’s a data analytics tool that will take out the PR media quotient.
5. What are your go-to metrics?
Data metrics are most important. The first is a buyer flow, often known as a buyer persona flow. If you have a website, an e-commerce site, or an application, you acquire lead information. However, do you know which primary data touchpoints to prefer if we have one lakh of visits? For example, if your app, website, progressive web app, or cross-device application receives a lakh or ten lakhs of visitors, you produce 10,000 to 20,000 leads. You can see that the ratio of traffic to leads is relatively modest. But, where is the other 80% of data leakage or consumers that aren’t being converted into leads? How will you locate that rate in this massive database? It is impossible. Hence, heat mapping will be critical in the examination of buyer personas, and it will be the first stepping stone to data metrics if done correctly.
Secondly, there are two kinds of data metrics in terms of organizational growth– short-term goals and long-term goals. When I’m talking about the long-term goal rate, I must think from the perspective of future growth, business scalability, and marketing scalability. For any organizational growth or long-term vision, the data points will be on organic data, organic marketing, and the work that people are doing. We must investigate the organic data touchpoints in depth.
When it comes to the short-term goal, we have the advertising model, the PPC model. During the short-term goal, we have touch points to be utilized and not just use a Google dashboard or a Facebook dashboard. You must analyze things very carefully. How do you do that? How do you analyze computer tools, keywords, and PPC ad copies? There are a lot of tools on the market. As digital marketers or people who are willing to be digital marketers or who’re looking to generate business or enhance their business scalability via digital marketing, long-term goals and short-term goals data analysis should be segregated and analyzed through different channels.
6. What are your favorite tools for data insights?
I prefer Google Analytics. Now with Web 3.0, the updated version of Google Analytics is a must. Secondly, people should try and have hands-on experience in SEMrush. Thirdly there is Adobe Analytics. The number four is your analytics in terms of using various kinds of probability equations and user behaviors and journeys using the Mix panel. It is an excellent application tool if someone has a website as well as an app.