Ankur Lodha

Head of Marketing and Growth at Deepen AI

Navigating Modern Marketing Challenges with Ankur Lodha

In this insightful dialogue, we delve into the mind of seasoned marketer Ankur Lodha. Ankur discusses the relentless pace of change in marketing trends, the challenge of effectively measuring return on investment (ROI), and the complexity of managing multifaceted data. Further, he stresses the essence of creating exceptional content that authentically presents a brand's voice while adding substantial value to the customer.

Read on as Ankur Lodha, Head of Marketing and Growth at Deepen AI, talks to Agam Mathur, ex-Director of Sales at Pepper Content, about smart content strategy planning and navigating the dynamic and intricate world of modern marketing. This thought-provoking conversation will provide established and budding marketers with a fresh perspective on successfully tackling the challenges of today's marketing landscape.

1. Please tell us about your journey in marketing.

I've spent around 13 years in marketing, initially kickstarting my career at Google. To be completely transparent, I stumbled into marketing rather unexpectedly. It was Google that introduced me to the world of digital marketing, which was relatively nascent at the time. I devoted approximately five years to collaborating with international brands predominantly hailing from the US, UK, and some from India. After my tenure with Google, I embraced a more thrilling yet somewhat risky opportunity by transitioning to a startup in the Middle East. It's often referred to as a daring leap, moving from a corporate giant like Google to a startup environment. I contributed to this venture for about two years, concentrating on core performance marketing. Subsequently, the startup, Souk, was acquired by Amazon, marking a significant development.

That's when my path led me to Samsung, where I spearheaded the launch of their first e-commerce platform in the Middle East region. We initiated the platform, collaborating with numerous brands, Amazon, and local e-commerce players, and effectively rolled out many products through online channels. After a fulfilling stint of roughly two and a half years with Samsung, I made my way back to India. This marked my debut in the B2B facet of marketing, which felt like a full-circle experience. This phase allows me to engage with emerging technologies such as AI and computer vision, catering to autonomous vehicle and robotics companies. Our mission revolves around aiding these firms in comprehending their surroundings.

2. How do you assess the current marketing landscape and anticipate its future progression?

Being part of the marketing scene in these times is truly exhilarating. Nevertheless, it's worth acknowledging that the journey also has challenges. The sheer abundance of data at our fingertips is remarkable. Technology has surged ahead, facilitating automation and enhancing our capability to manage diverse tasks effectively. In tandem with these advancements, our customers have also transformed. Today's customers are discerning, possessing a distinct penchant for personalized experiences when interacting with brands. Amidst the labyrinth of information and data, brands are grappling to establish genuine connections with customers. Achieving this requires a delicate equilibrium – a fusion of delivering substantial value while demonstrating unwavering respect for privacy.

A substantial hurdle looms ahead, especially in light of the recent developments from Google and Facebook, heralding the sunset of cookies. This impending shift intensifies the challenge. Consequently, the pursuit of offering personalized experiences on a large scale while safeguarding user privacy becomes an intricate dance. However, within this challenge lies an exciting opportunity. The prospect of personalization at an expansive scale is enthralling, empowered by the wealth of data and the efficiency of automation. The realm of possibilities stretches beyond horizons, a testament to the unbounded potential we can harness from the current wealth of data and automation.

I think every marketer will agree effectively measuring ROI of your marketing campaigns more so in my industry where the sales cycles are pretty long, it can go as long as six months to nine months.

3. Can you highlight your go-to marketing stack and the key tools that streamline your daily tasks, prospect management, and project execution?

The marketing world has undoubtedly evolved significantly in the past six months, leading to a dynamic array of new tools. Key foundational tools like Google Analytics remain essential, helping us monitor digital channels effectively and identify trends.

For content creation, tools like Google Search Console have been instrumental in understanding keywords and generating engaging content. However, the rise of AI-driven tools like ChatGPT and Google Bot has transformed idea generation, making it remarkably efficient. Tools such as Canva and Hootsuite also play vital roles in design and social media management. The excitement lies in the influx of recent tools, which we're keen on utilizing effectively while being mindful of potential drawbacks. Striking the right balance is essential, ensuring these tools assist rather than replace creativity in content generation.

4. How do you anticipate AI, including advancements like OpenAI and ChatGPT 3 and subsequent iterations like ChatGPT 4 and 5, impacting the ever-evolving marketing climate?

Absolutely, the impact of AI is already palpable. We viewed AI as a future force just half a year ago, yet today, it's undeniably shaping the landscape. While we're still uncovering its full potential, AI's presence is both undeniable and unwise to overlook. In terms of applications, we've merely scratched the surface of AI's capabilities within marketing. We've harnessed its prowess for idea generation and task automation, embracing a dual approach. On the one hand, AI aids in generating broad concepts; on the other, it meticulously crafts structured content tailored to our specific needs, enabling efficient task execution and content creation.

In the realm of audience segmentation, the power of AI is evident, streamlining the process of data analysis and uncovering once overwhelming insights. We're firmly in the AI arena, though staying ahead is challenging. The market evolves rapidly, often leaving us captivated by one tool only to find an even better one emerge shortly after. Yet, this realm isn't without its intricacies. Ensuring data accuracy and AI reliability is paramount. We take a prudent approach, meticulously verifying AI outputs against our hypotheses and ideas to maintain the integrity of our strategies.

5. As a marketer, could you share your perspective on the current pain points faced in the field?

The pace at which trends change has become lightning-fast. It's like trying to keep up with a speeding train! Back in the day, we used to adjust our strategies every year, but now, it's a monthly endeavor. And let's be honest, there are times when even that feels like a bit of a race against time. Staying on top of these trends has become our top priority and a real game-changer.

Measuring Return on Investment (ROI) can be quite a puzzle, especially in my field, where the sales cycle can stretch over six to nine months. Imagine we put in all this effort at the top of the funnel, but demonstrating how it impacts the bottom-line results and explaining it convincingly to our senior stakeholders can be quite challenging. Speaking of challenges, one mountain we marketers often find ourselves scaling is data management. And data is both a blessing and a challenge. We're drowning in first, second, third, and even zero-party data. Merging them into one coherent persona feels like an ongoing challenge.

Mastering these challenges – tracking trends, cracking ROI, and taming data – puts you in a powerful spot. It's not just about being a marketer; it's about setting a strong foundation for the entire business to thrive. Think about it – the same data we work with can be the guide for various functions. Sales can ride the wave of insights to success, while product strategies can be tailor-made for brilliance.

You really need to understand your target audience, what channel they want to be served, what content, and when they want to be served that content?

6. Can you tell us about your ideal content and how you plan for it?

Absolutely, there's a multitude of factors that come into play when it comes to crafting content that stands out and resonates. Striking that crucial balance between good and exceptional content is vital. Good content is achievable, while great content goes the extra mile by providing real value to the user. This kind of content is timely, prompts action, or elicits emotions. It's not about churning out masses of material but rather delivering substance.

Blending your brand's voice is key to making content exceptional. Combining these elements makes content stand out. Knowing your audience is crucial for creating captivating content they enjoy and share. This is what we define as great content. It takes effort. Understanding your audience's preferences, preferred channels, and timing matters. Distribution is also vital. Our goal is crafting share-worthy content, even though producing exceptional content all the time is challenging; good content often outweighs outstanding pieces.

It's common for people to react based on FOMO (fear of missing out). We might feel we should do the same if someone else does a hundred blogs. But is it necessary? It's essential to consider your product, how your brand speaks, who your customers are, and why you're creating content. You also need to think about where you'll share it.

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Global Marketing Leaders 2023 by Pepper Content is an exclusive curation of the brightest minds who have revolutionized the world of marketing. These visionaries have pushed the boundaries, disrupted the status quo, and transformed the way we approach content and marketing. Check out the full exhibit to be informed and inspired by the insights shared by these trailblazers.