Venkat Thangi

Director of marketing with MoEngage Inc

Future Of Marketing is Challenging, Attribution Would Hold The Key 

For someone who has used high-end data analytics and is now deploying generative AI in content marketing, Venkat Thangi, Director of marketing with MoEngage Inc. has done it all. He has nurtured path-breaking marketing teams on a global scale for both B2C and B2B landscapes.

In a candid chat, Venkat discusses the past, present, and future of marketing -- touching upon the prospects and pain points.

Here are the excerpts:

1. Could you share with us how you initially became interested in marketing?

When it comes to my journey in marketing, started somewhat randomly for me. I don't have an MBA or a traditional marketing background, but I've worked in the field for over 11 years. My first role was as a data analyst, where I gained experience in research and analytics. From there, I transitioned to a B2C company in the consumer electronics industry, where I learned the ins and outs of performance marketing, relying heavily on data analytics, web analytics, user analytics, and customer journeys. I worked my way up, eventually heading the digital marketing team, and then moved to a B2B setup at MoEngage, where I'm currently working.

My background in data analysis has been a huge asset in my marketing career, and I've been able to expand my skill set to include aspects of digital marketing, social media, brand, PR, content, and field marketing. While I never thought I would end up in marketing, I've found that having a strong foundation in data analytics has been instrumental in driving revenue growth and achieving organizational goals.

2. How have you seen marketing evolve as an industry and where do you see its future?

As someone who has been in and out of the marketing industry for over 12 years, I've seen a lot of changes in the space. One of the biggest changes I've noticed is the increasing complexity of the customer buying journey. In the past, purchasing decisions were relatively simple because there were fewer avenues for customers to research products and services. Nowadays, there are numerous channels available to customers, which makes it more difficult for marketers to create effective strategies.

To succeed in this new landscape, it's important to have a clear understanding of all the channels that need to be addressed, whether it's creating content or generating demand. It's also important to have a multi-channel approach to engagement, as relying on just one or two channels is no longer sufficient.

One of the challenges of this new landscape is that it's difficult to measure the impact of different channels on the customer journey. For example, if someone learns about a product through word-of-mouth, it's not always easy to track that touchpoint and attribute it to a specific channel. As a result, marketers need to keep this in mind when devising their strategies and tactics.

The marketing industry is evolving rapidly and it's important to stay up-to-date with these changes to remain competitive. By understanding the complexity of the customer journey and utilizing a multi-channel approach, marketers can create more effective campaigns and engage with customers more successfully.

3. What were some of the major pain points for marketers that you observed during your experience of building, leading, and mentoring marketing teams?

One of the major pain points for marketers today, regardless of their seniority or the industry they work in, is effectively measuring the ROI of their marketing campaigns. This is particularly challenging in the B2B space, where there may be a longer sales cycle and it can be difficult to track which touchpoints are most effective in driving conversions.

It's important to keep in mind that not everything can be easily measured, but that doesn't mean we can ignore it.

For example, it may be difficult to measure the impact of brand awareness campaigns in the short term, but they may have a significant impact on brand recognition and loyalty in the long term. This is why it's important to look beyond just direct leads or opportunities and consider the overall impact of different marketing strategies on the brand.

Another challenge is effectively communicating the value of marketing to internal stakeholders and securing the necessary budget to execute campaigns. It can be difficult to make a case for investing in brand-building initiatives that may not show immediate returns, particularly in times of economic uncertainty when there is pressure to cut costs. However, it's important to remember that building a strong brand can have a significant impact on long-term revenue and growth.

To address these challenges, marketers need to focus on developing effective measurement frameworks that capture both short-term and long-term impacts, as well as building strong relationships with internal stakeholders and effectively communicating the value of marketing initiatives. It's also important to stay up to date on industry trends and best practices and experiment with new strategies to find what works best for your specific brand and target audience.

4. How do you think AI is going to impact marketing?

While the current trend in AI, especially generative AI, may need more time to fully pan out and deliver on its promises, there are already many AI tools and platforms available that can help reduce the effort and bandwidth needed for mundane, repetitive tasks. By automating these tasks, people can free up their time and energy to focus on more strategic and creative work that requires human creativity and problem-solving skills.

One area where AI has already made a significant impact in marketing is customer experience and support. Many companies are already using AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants to help customers quickly and easily find answers to their questions and resolve issues without needing to speak to a live agent. This not only saves time and resources for the company, but it also provides a more seamless and efficient customer experience.

However, there is also concern about the potential negative impact of AI on jobs and human creativity. While some worry that AI will take over jobs traditionally done by humans, I believe that creativity and problem-solving skills are uniquely human and cannot be fully replaced by machines. Additionally, the adoption of AI can be expensive and require significant computing power, which may not be feasible for all companies.

I think that AI has the potential to be a valuable tool for marketers if used properly and ethically. By automating mundane tasks and providing more efficient and personalized customer experiences, AI can help marketers deliver better results and create more engaging content. However, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks and ensure that AI is used in a way that complements and enhances human creativity, rather than replacing it.

5. What role does content play in marketing and what is meant by getting your content right?

When it comes to understanding our customers and their pain points, content is the key to providing them with a solution. By creating valuable and informative content, we can educate our audience and build trust with them, which is crucial in a B2B setting.

As I mentioned earlier, the core job of marketing is to be ready when customers are ready. We need to provide solutions to our customer's problems before they even reach out to us. This is where content marketing comes in.

By creating content that addresses the pain points of our target audience, we can attract potential customers to our brand and establish ourselves as thought leaders in the industry.

Content marketing is an effective way to nurture leads and shorten the sales cycle. Instead of relying solely on our sales reps to educate and nurture leads, we can provide them with high-quality content that will do the heavy lifting for them.

Content marketing is a relatively low-cost way to promote our brand and reach our target audience. Compared to events or paid search, content marketing is much more cost effective and has the potential to generate long-term results. By creating evergreen content that remains relevant over time, we can continue to attract new leads and generate business for years to come. It is the backbone of B2B marketing. By creating valuable and informative content, we can attract and nurture leads, establish ourselves as thought leaders in the industry, and ultimately drive business growth.

6. What your tech stack looks like specifically for marketing purposes?

Well, to start with, like many other B2B SaaS products, we use HubSpot and Salesforce. Additionally, for account-based marketing, we have incorporated Demandbase into our stack. For analytics, we rely on Google Analytics and have developed internal dashboards that pull data from multiple sources to provide a single view of the data, whether it is in Orbit or Data Studio.

For keyword research and SEO, we utilize a range of tools including Ahrefs and SEMrush. However, the primary tools we still rely on for finding out what people are searching for are Google's Keyword Planner and Search Console. Although other tools make it simpler and have many other features, the data from Keyword Planner is the OG and most reliable.

Regarding content, we use Copyscape for plagiarism checks, and for design, we use Canva. Finally, we also use Grammarly for grammar checks. Overall, this is our broad tech stack for marketing, which enables us to create effective campaigns and strategies that help us achieve our marketing goals.

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