Go digital

Want a career in marketing? Plump for digital marketing, advise Prasun Chaudhuri  and Avijit Chatterjee

  • Published 23.07.15

You must have seen those pop up ads (“Big Chillout Sales”, “Rocking Deals”, “How to Make Money Driving” and so on) on your smartphone screen. Ever wondered who is responsible for the ads? And who posts those notices about study centres in your Gmail inbox, Facebook page or on Twitter just after you’ve sought some career advice via the email?
This is the work of digital marketing professionals — a new breed of people who promote products or brands on one or more forms of the electronic media.

Rimjhim Ray — who co-founded Unmarketeer, an integrated creative and digital marketing company in Mumbai — is a primary example of a digital marketer. Her work is to create the most appropriate promotional campaign for new media channels, namely, the social media and mobile phones.
 “I can measure how these campaigns are being viewed, and what content works and doesn’t work — typically in real time,” she says.

How does Ray find out what might interest one of India’s 600 million users of smartphones, tablets, notebooks or personal computers (PC)? “We listen to what people are saying,” she says.

It is relatively easy to spot what people are talking about in the digital world, what they love or hate, as you learn about them from their public profiles. So you can find out what a teenage audience likes or where a 25-year-old upwardly mobile woman is going for a holiday, all from Internet queries or searches.

Analysts source the information and pass it to creative teams that design campaigns based on what's trending. “You use videos, interactive banners, social media posts, mobile phone games and animations to hook the audience. There’s an immense variety here,” Ray says.

The variety attracts young people to the field. “If you look at the placement records of top tech and B-schools you’ll find that youngsters look for novelty, challenges and the excitement of creating a new world order,” says Prapti Banerjee, a director at Blippar India, a global marketing and advertising agency.

The burgeoning field covers a range of activities — marketing in the social media, search engine optimization, web and mobile applications, data mining and so on. As Ramabhadran AP, senior vice-president, Manipal Global Education Services, puts it, “Every product is available online today — from a toothbrush to a house. So a person can choose his or her area of work from a wide variety of options.”

Digital marketing is exploding the world over, especially in the developed world. “But only 19 per cent of Indians are active Internet users — we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg,” exclaims Banerjee. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), an industry body, digital advertisement spending in India grew by 30 per cent to Rs 2,750 crore in 2014 and is expected to grow phenomenally in the next few years.

“The growth trajectory shows that this is gradually becoming the mainstay of marketing,” says Nilotpal Chakravarti, associate vice-president, IAMAI. Agrees Shivan Bhargava, group president (skills and careers), NIIT. “These days no marketing strategy is complete without digital marketing. Almost all companies use it to build their brands and generate sales. The best thing about digital marketing is that it is specifically targeted, easily traceable and cost effective compared to television and print media ads,” he says.

The situation reminds experts of early 2000 when the IT industry was at its peak. “A similar momentum exists today in this field,” says Pradeep Chopra who heads Digital Vidya, a New Delhi-based digital marketing training institute. “Every week we get calls from leading agencies wishing to hire trained people.” Bhargava estimates that over 1.5 lakhs jobs will be created by 2016.

The online revolution happened so fast in India that there’s an acute dearth of talent, feels Raghu Chaitanya, an assistant professor at MICA, the Ahmedabad-based institute of strategic marketing and communication. “We were the first in India to introduce specialisation in digital communication management (DCM),” he says.

Although having a background in IT, which helps in the back-end of the digital ecosystem, offers a slight advantage in the field, a complete understanding of marketing fundamentals will help a professional do well, he believes. MICA has been approached by a large number of recruiters from the digital media — such as Google, Amazon and Cognizant Technologies  — in recent years.

At the managerial level, skills in both technology and marketing help to integrate traditional campaigns with the digital world, says Anthony Quigley, co-founder, Digital Marketing Institute, UK. “Marketing through mobile phones is in crying need of appropriate professionals,” he says.

To meet the rising demand one needs to groom the right talent to come up with innovative ideas, says Sudeep Sen of Teamlease, the Bangalore-based recruitment firm. 

However, few good institutes exist to train people and one must be wary of fly-by-night operators capitalising on the demand, warns Ramabhadran of Manipal Education. “These institutes offer shallow courses to dupe students,” he says.
For all the hoopla, not all are gung ho about digital marketing. Ramanujam Sridhar, head of Brand-comm, the brand consulting company, believes that it is “one of the main cogs” in the marketing of any brand, but not “all” about marketing or communication.

Some also caution those wannabe digital marketers who believe the field is all glamour and fun.
It’s not just about a few posts here and there, stresses Vismaya Jain, a student of MICA, who recently interned with a top company. “Multiple analytical tools are involved, metrics to be benchmarked and ‘likes’ to be measured. Extensive strategies are employed and plans are made weeks in advance.”

Besides, entry level salaries are still lower than those offered in similar roles in the traditional marketing domain. Yet the “huge potential and scope for big things” in the near future draws Jain and thousands of other youngsters towards this new profession.


• MICA, Ahmedabad: mica.ac.in/academic-programmes/digital-marketing
• IIM-Bangalore: iimb.ernet.in/pgp/courses
• Manipal Global: manipalglobal.com/Digital_Marketing?
• NIIT: niitimperia.com/digital-marketing-programs
• Digital Vidya: digitalvidya.com
• Digital Marketing Institute, UK: digitalmarketinginstitute.com/uk/courses
• Calcutta Media Institute: http://cmi.net.in/ programs/post-graduate-program-in-digital-marketing-management/
• Coursera: coursera.org/specializations/digital-marketing


E-commerce, advertising, media, marketing, social media, banking, insurance, consumer products, telecom, entertainment


Entry level: Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh
Mid-level: Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh
Senior level: Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh
Source: TeamLease Services


Technical: Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Mobile phone Marketing, Application (or, app) Marketing, Data Analytics
Non-technical: Creative thinking, Communicating, Photo0editing, Commercial Awareness