This episode of DCC features Krishni, a marketing professional who embarked on a remarkable path from numbers-driven finance to the captivating world of marketing. Her dynamic career path encompassed diverse marketing experiences across various product categories, culminating in her current role as a visionary leader crafting tailored shopping experiences for Amazon’s prime members.
00:57 Krishni, based in India, embarked on her professional journey with a strong inclination towards finance due to her proficiency in math. However, her pivot to marketing occurred during her undergraduate studies when she chose finance over marketing for academic reasons. After a year of studying finance, she realized her passion for marketing, driven by her aptitude for understanding human behavior and using those insights to create impactful content.
She pursued a master’s degree in marketing from a specialized institution during the years when India’s digital landscape was evolving. This timing allowed her to witness the growth of the digital world firsthand. She landed an internship at Amazon in site merchandising, a role that combined her skills in understanding consumer behavior, data analysis, and content presentation. This experience solidified her determination to build a career in marketing.
Joining Amazon full-time, Krishni gained diverse marketing exposure across various product categories. She honed her skills by collaborating with brands and understanding customer shopping behaviors. Her innovative thinking led her to explore avenues such as managing events, offering exciting sales promotions, and transitioning into product marketing. She embraced challenges and led a program targeting the Gen Z segment, a market that was relatively uncharted in India at the time.
Her journey ultimately led her to her current role as a leader in marketing for prime shopping at Amazon. Her role involves optimizing deals for prime members based on their content preferences, shopping interests, and emerging market trends. Her experience exemplifies her adaptability, strategic thinking, and knack for leveraging data to enhance customer experiences.
First Interaction with Data
07:57 In Krishni’s early professional journey, prior to her involvement with Amazon, she emerged as an eager college student, enthusiastically exploring a variety of internships. Among her impactful experiences was her tenure at Ogilvy, where she assumed the role of a client servicing intern for prominent brands. This venture took place in the year 2013, a period marked by the prevalence of offline brand operations and a dearth of easily accessible consumer data. During her tenure managing brands like Pizza Hut, Voltas, and others, she recognized a pressing need for these brands to adapt their strategies in response to the ascent of online competitors, most notably Domino’s.
In response to this challenge, Krishni undertook the initiative of initiating customer-centric research. She orchestrated interactions with customers without revealing the brand association, adeptly gleaning insights into food preferences, dining experiences, and the intricate cultural subtleties surrounding pizza consumption in the Indian context. This experience provided her with a profound understanding of the multifaceted nature of decision-making within the realms of marketing and advertising. She discerned that even ostensibly straightforward decisions, such as the selection of models for advertisements, were informed by intricate considerations, such as the balance between authenticity and aspiration, each reflective of the prevailing cultural dynamics of the target market.
The limitations of data availability in the offline sphere became evident as brands relied heavily on often-dismissed feedback forms. This observation was juxtaposed with insights from a friend who was engaged with ecommerce clients, revealing the troves of data accessible in the online domain. This virtual realm offered a wealth of information, encompassing user demographics, behavioral patterns, and even heatmaps that could be harnessed to optimize website design. Inspired by this revelation, she extended her learning into a venture involving a content-driven blogging website aimed at rendering finance concepts more relatable to college students. The strategic integration of data-informed insights, such as the incorporation of visual elements and doodles to enhance user engagement, resulted in a remarkable 30% surge in time spent on the platform.
Transitioning to Amazon, an enterprise renowned for its data-centric decision-making approach, Krishni imbibed the significance of comprehending and harnessing data effectively. One of Amazon’s cardinal leadership principles, termed “Deepdive,” underscored the pivotal role played by data mastery. Throughout her journey, she internalized that excelling across diverse professional spheres, encompassing marketing, sales, and finance, necessitated an adept grasp of numerical data coupled with the acumen to identify the pivotal data points that profoundly influence decision-making. In a climate where the fixation on data continues to grow, Krishni’s resounding lesson remained the art of assimilating pertinent data points to unearth actionable insights propelling triumph.
13:01 One campaign that holds a special place in Krishni’s heart is a project she worked on very closely before moving to Amazon’s brand team. This campaign centered around a unique insight derived from the Indian market scenario. In India, people often boast about the good deals they’ve gotten, discussing the lower prices they’ve paid for products. This behavior was at the core of the campaign’s concept.
At the time, Amazon was striving to establish itself as a leader in both pricing and product selection. They had already gained traction with the “Or Dikaho” campaign, focusing on product selection. The next step was to highlight the value provided by Amazon’s competitive pricing.
In parallel, Krishni’s team was working on new customer acquisition strategies. They discovered that certain price points and product categories were particularly effective for attracting new customers. Through interviews and on-site data analysis, they identified a sweet spot: products priced under 500 rupees. This price point was comfortable for customers to spend online, especially for their first transactions.
To leverage this insight, they created a dedicated on-site section that showcased the best-performing categories and products under the 500 rupee mark. This section aimed to make these products easily discoverable for customers. The campaign focused on colloquial terms like “under 499” and highlighted popular products like t-shirts priced within that range.
This initiative aligned perfectly with Amazon’s new customer acquisition strategy for the year. The campaign gained significant traction and became one of Amazon’s most successful endeavors. Krishni felt fortunate to be an integral part of this campaign, which not only resonated with customers’ shopping behaviors but also contributed to Amazon’s broader marketing goals.
Important metrics to track
16:28 Within Amazon’s comprehensive marketing framework, Krishni explains that different teams focus on various aspects, a structure she believes is common across corporate environments. When launching extensive campaigns, such as those involving TV or newspaper advertisements, the company evaluates several key metrics to gauge their effectiveness. These metrics encompass top-of-mind awareness and consideration, particularly regarding subscription programs like Amazon Prime. Krishni clarifies that these metrics relate to how customers perceive and position the brand in their minds.
However, the assessment doesn’t stop at the initial campaign phase. Amazon places a strong emphasis on conducting post-campaign evaluations. This entails examining the subsequent business impact on the metrics previously mentioned. They explore whether there was an increase in page visits, improved conversion rates, and if the campaign’s influence persisted for 30, 60, or 90 days following its conclusion.
Krishni elaborates that while high-level output metrics are important, they also delve deeper into localized analysis. For instance, if a campaign was heavily marketed in specific regions, they assess whether customer perception or sales significantly changed in those areas. This region-specific analysis is crucial, especially when cultural nuances and preferences vary, as seen in the context of festivals like Rakshabandhan.
When it comes to on-site activities, Amazon scrutinizes page-related metrics. This includes tracking page visits, conversion rates, abandonment rates, time spent on pages, and engagement with various sections. Krishni underscores that this comprehensive analysis allows them to ascertain whether a specific storefront met their expectations and performed as intended.
Having worked at Amazon for 6.5 years and accumulated industry insights, Krishni now possesses an understanding of benchmarks and what constitutes good performance metrics. While she acknowledges that there was a learning curve initially, over time, she and her team have established benchmarks that serve as valuable reference points for evaluating campaign success.
Impact of AI tools
18:48 Contrary to the prevailing notion that AI will replace jobs, Krishni’s perspective is that AI will reshape the skill sets required for specific roles. Rather than displacing employment, AI will usher in a transformation in how individuals acquire and apply these new skill sets. Drawing an analogy from the evolution of digital marketing, she explains that despite initial concerns about the displacement of traditional jobs, digital marketing has integrated into the industry and coexists with its conventional counterpart. The key lies in adapting to new tools and techniques.
Krishni’s primary concern with AI pertains to the level of control humanity will have over it. She cites examples of AI tests, particularly those involving self-driving cars. AI operates based on algorithms that learn and replicate human intelligence to make decisions. An illustrative instance involves self-driving cars being tested in Los Angeles. The cars performed well, but had difficulty recognizing humans with darker skin tones due to the training data being predominantly biased towards lighter skin. This stark example highlights how AI’s decision-making can be swayed by the data it’s exposed to during its learning process.
Another concerning aspect Krishni raises is the potential “black box” nature of AI. This refers to instances where the AI’s actions or decisions cannot be fully understood or explained even by its creators. She mentions cases where AI algorithms made choices that their developers couldn’t decipher, leading to uncertainty about how and why certain decisions were made.
In conclusion, while Krishni dismisses the notion that AI will eliminate jobs, her apprehension centers around the unpredictable decisions AI might make without human understanding or control. She emphasizes the need to address this issue, emphasizing that grappling with AI’s ability to make decisions independently of its creators should be a priority, transcending concerns about job displacement.
My Two cents
21:52 Krishni extends her advice to young interns, budding professionals, and students venturing into the captivating realm of marketing, PR, and communication. She emphasizes a pivotal concern that should resonate with those in the early stages of their journey. The paramount issue to address isn’t just the awe-inspiring advancements of the field, but rather a critical challenge inherent within it.
To those embarking on this journey, Krishni offers a clarion call: focus on the “how.” She underscores that a profound understanding of people is the bedrock of success in this field. This profession is a fitting avenue for individuals who possess a genuine fascination for comprehending human behavior, desires, and motivations. In this regard, she emphasizes that continuous learning is paramount. The journey might begin on a small scale, but the potential for growth knows no bounds.
Krishni ardently advocates the “start small, think big” philosophy. She acknowledges that many aspiring students aspire to secure positions at prestigious companies like Amazon. She counters this aspiration by revealing her own trajectory. Her career didn’t start with Amazon or any prominent names; she initiated her journey with a humble internship at a small restaurant in a Delhi village. Yet, she nurtured an unwavering ambition to scale greater heights.
Furthermore, she champions the significance of cultivating a growth mindset—a perspective that sees challenges as opportunities for growth and transformation. Krishni encourages emerging professionals to infuse their careers with thought leadership, fostering innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.
Ultimately, Krishni’s advice encapsulates the essence of perseverance, tenacity, and the continuous pursuit of learning. Her words resonate as a beacon of guidance for those stepping into the realm of marketing, PR, and communication, reminding them that the path may start small but possesses the boundless potential to lead to remarkable horizons.