Ankit Banga on Driving Growth and Building Brands as a Marketer
The marketing industry is dynamic and continuously changing, so it's essential to stay on top of the most recent trends and industry best practices if you want to be successful.
In this interview, Pepper speaks with Ankit Banga, Head of Brand and Marketing at Credilio, to learn more about their marketing strategy, the difficulties they have encountered over the years, and their forecasts for the marketing industry's future. There is a wealth of useful knowledge and ideas to be acquired from this discussion, whether you are an experienced marketer or are just getting started.
1. Please tell us about your journey.
I started my career in the old-school way of marketing, mainly focused on BTL activations. Branches were key at that time. I began as an assistant manager with Indiabulls Housing and have since gained over 12 to 13 years of experience in marketing. During my time at Indiabulls, the sales team was witnessed as the heroes of everything. Marketing was just a support function, providing handouts and content for the sales team to showcase to customers.
However, slowly, the digital era emerged, and websites became critical and more important. I started working on the website front, and we launched India's first e-home loan process, which became a key contributor to the business. This is when businesses began realizing the potential that digital platforms held. We shifted to digital acquisition and sourcing of customers. In those days, a lead was a big deal, but now it's considered less valuable.
Now, I'll jump to where we are today. Over the past two to three years, I've launched two to three apps, with Dhani being one of the largest apps I've launched. We scaled it up to 4.5 million paid subscribers, with over a million customers using it daily. This is when we realized the potential of digital and the role technology plays in today's marketing function. My work also spans different mediums, including print and TV, but this is the length and breadth of my experience.
2. How was your first interaction with digital automation?
The growth of digital marketing in the country has been remarkable, with the country transitioning to a digital-first marketing approach in just five to seven years. My first significant experience in this shift was when I was transferred from Indiabulls Housing to Dhani and was tasked with launching an end-to-end D2C journey app. This was a turning point in my career as it marked my shift from a traditional marketer to an app marketer.
During this time, we were introduced to new marketing technology tools like AppsFlyer, which were critical in understanding attribution and detecting fraud. Data became more critical than ever, and it was a fascinating learning experience every day. This was the most interesting period of my career and also marked a turning point in the industry. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.
3. Can you share any code or campaign structures that are central to your approach to marketing?
In my opinion, marketing has gone through a significant transformation in recent years. We are no longer considered as cost centers to the company but as profit centers. Marketing is now a core function and has a P&L to handle, with specific business goals to achieve. These goals are also no longer just about building traffic or brand value but also generating business, customer retention, engagement, and lifetime value.
I have worked across different sectors, including BFSI, e-commerce, and healthcare, and have seen a similar trend in all these sectors. The best part of being in marketing today is that we have a critical role to play in the organization.
However, with the evolving times, the tools and platforms available for marketers to reach out to customers have increased, and similarly, customers' options have also become very fragmented. To succeed in this changing environment, it is essential to understand your audience and what makes your business relevant to them. While these are very basic things, during big campaigns which involve big budgets, we often lose sight of them. Therefore, understanding these two aspects is the most critical part of marketing today.
"Reaching out to a thousand people who are more relevant to you will give you better conversions, better cost, and better effectiveness to your campaigns compared to reaching out to one lakh generic people. Being contextually relevant to the audiences has now become the key."
4. What are some of the ongoing challenges that you've encountered?
The first one is the ever-changing goals of the organization. Marketing is a continuous effort, and with evolving organizations, we constantly need to adapt our strategies to meet new product offerings, customer journeys, and business expectations. This is especially true for startups and new-age companies that frequently change their overall goals.
As a marketer, my job is to create a business positioning and perception of the brand and create a customer journey for the product. However, when business goals change rapidly, it becomes challenging to set up and maintain an effective marketing strategy.
Secondly, one of the biggest challenges I face is that many people think they already know everything about marketing. This is a big problem because marketing is constantly evolving, and some people still have an old-fashioned view of it. They believe it's just about creating a catchy slogan or creative campaign, but it's much more than that.
It's especially difficult to get through to the "old school" business people who are set in their ways and underestimate the power of content and marketing. It's challenging to change their mindset and make them understand the evolving nature of marketing.
Thirdly, there is the expectation of immediate results. Although digital marketing is becoming more prevalent, not everything can be achieved overnight. While lead generation and sales are crucial, marketing has far more results to measure and achieve, and it takes time to see the impact of a successful marketing strategy. Thankfully, new-age founders are beginning to understand the importance of marketing and the long-term benefits it can bring to their organizations.
One example of successful implementation of technology in marketing that I came across recently was generating loans through a chatbot. Although the numbers weren't extremely significant, they were still decent enough to be considered noteworthy. However, getting the technology and business heads on board was quite challenging initially. Building the bandwidth required a lot of effort and time, but now, it is poised to grow faster than any sales team that could have been hired, and the results are significant compared to traditional methods.
"The whole period of development and making it go-to-market ready requires patience from the business heads, rather than launching a product hastily and then abandoning it soon after. Taking the time to develop and improve the product can lead to successful results in the long run."
5. With the advent of advanced AI technology like ChatGPT, what do you think is going to be its impact on marketing?
It's no surprise that the industry has been working on AI, chatbots, and machine learning for the last seven to eight years. However, ChatGPT has brought something new to the table. Its advancements in AI are impressive and provide a realistic view of what AI can do. This is a boon for the marketing industry and the future.
While some people worry about AI replacing humans, I think it's making humans smarter. If used correctly, it can produce phenomenal results and make things more efficient. Some people are concerned that relying on AI will make us "brain dead." We saw similar concerns when Google first emerged, but the truth is that people who use technology are often more advanced and knowledgeable.
Ultimately, it's all about how we use AI. We can't forget to use our common sense and critical thinking skills alongside this powerful tool. AI can be a game-changer, but we must always remember to use it responsibly. In fact, my team and I have been using chat GPT for a lot of things, and it's pretty efficient.
From a marketing perspective, ChatGPT is very efficient. If you could layer ChatGPT algorithms with your own company's policies and documents, it can produce incredible results. For example, your customer service team can learn more efficiently, and contextually relevant conversations can occur, changing the way customer experiences happen. It can also change how personalizations occur on apps.
Additionally, ChatGPT can improve the speed at which we create content. Some companies are already using ChatGPT to create blogs. AI is here to stay, and we need to find ways to use it to our advantage. It's great to hear that companies are already using ChatGPT APIs to build middle-level layers that can enhance their current efforts. Chatbots will become far more intelligent than we previously thought.
"As marketers, it's important to not just sit there and watch. We need to evolve and see how we can actually make use of these tools and technologies that the big tech companies are building up. So, let's make use of it and stay ahead in the game."
6. If you were given a blank platform and could incorporate any tools you wanted to create your ideal marketing stack, what would that look like?
There are a few essential tools I would want to use. Firstly, a content creation tool would be crucial to streamline the content creation process. Additionally, having a CMS and CRM would be necessary. Automating tasks with an automation tool would also make my life much easier and allow for handling multiple use cases at once. Lastly, I would power up my marketing strategy with an analytics tool.
So, in summary, these four or five critical tools that I would prefer for my marketing success.
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