The widespread availability and adoption of consumer data has levelled the playing field for all businesses, big and small, to compete in a market driven by customer satisfaction.

Arpit Aggarwal, our next pathbreaker, Growth Hacker, works closely with brands to help drive profits by increasing return on Ad Spends, Optimizing Campaigns and leveraging data to make marketing decisions that focus on growth.

Arpit talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about enjoying digital marketing due to his penchant for numbers, logical thinking and the challenge of providing dynamic solutions to E-Commerce websites to scale their business in a highly competitive marketplace.

For students, businesses need innovative minds who can sift through massive troves of data, connect the dots and identify new trends and strategies for growth !

Arpit, tell us about your background?

I grew up in a small town of Uttar Pradesh in India. Initially, I studied in a Hindi Medium school and at the age of 11 moved to English Medium. I still remember the day my admission was refused because I couldn’t speak English. My first year was very tough, but then I learned. Of all the subjects I studied, Mathematics, Physical Education, Biology, History, Geography, Computers, Economics were my favorite subjects. I used to understand things better when I saw or imagined them with an example. I always carried a pen/paper to write things down. Till date, I follow this habit of mine. During my school time, I had developed a habit of reading newspapers and books. I was mentored by my Maths and Physical Education teacher. Computers were very new at that time, and the Internet was a luxury. At that time, I had no clue about using the copy and paste commands. I had never dreamt of Computers as my favorite subject. I always thought myself to be good in Sports or as a Traveller. I had a long list of skills to learn during my childhood but could not learn due to limited resources.

My parents did their graduation in the field of Mathematics and Arts. Both my parents have encouraged me to learn and work hard. Because I grew up in a joint business family during my school, taking responsibilities, sharing and collaboration came naturally to me.

What did you do for graduation/post-graduation?

I did my B.E. in Computer Science and MBA with specialization in Digital Marketing & Operations.

What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

When I was doing my graduation, E-commerce & Digital companies started setting up their base in India. Google had just opened its Advertising platform for brands. Since it was a new concept, and the projections were very strong, I thought of learning and exploring it in detail. Though I was not very good with writing code in C or Java, I was good with numbers, writing and understanding logic.

My Internships with different startups after graduation helped me explore different areas of work.

I used to discuss the work and job environment with all my teachers. Since all of them had experiences in different fields, it was a good learning experience for me and wherever possible they even connected me with seniors who were already placed.

My post-graduation in Digital Marketing and Operations was a turning point in my career. There I learned the value of networking, resources and the Internet.

I learned a lot during my post-graduation and wherever possible, grabbed the first opportunity to execute the given task. I was not afraid of failures. 

Tell us about your career path

I used to write a lot in my childhood. During graduation, I used to type in MS Word to increase my typing speed and learn MS tools, but had no courage to post it online. During my post-graduation, when I had joined different clubs for learning, I met my mentor from the Blogging club. She read some of my articles and encouraged me to write a blog. What happened next was a miracle for me. I got my first work as a Sports blogger along with my Internship. My habit of reading newspapers to keep myself updated, keen interest in sports and writing habit – all were connected in this job. So, it was pretty easy for me to work. During this Internship, I learned different aspects of online business such as SEO, E-commerce, Digital Advertising, but had no operational experience. That was when I realized where to start. After this experience my focus was to get a job in a Digital Marketing agency where I could learn.

When I was clear about the kind of work I wanted to do, I approached my mentors to connect me with Alumni who were already working in Digital Marketing. They have also helped me out with case studies & guest lectures.

My idea of Internship was to explore the profile in which I would enjoy the most. My first Internship was in content writing (as a Blogger) which I got through online websites. The second internship was in a real-estate startup where I had to research different projects and maintain a database. Third was with another startup where I had to go in the field and sell their product. Fourth was with an Adventure company where I had to sell their packages by converting as many leads as possible. They gave me a pre placement offer, but I refused because I wanted to learn Digital Marketing.

The company that I joined next, AdGlobal360, was into Digital Activities. They provide Marketing, Development, Creatives Design, Social Media, SEO, ORM, Strategy Consulting services to different clients. I started working full time in November 2014 as a Management Trainee while completing my MBA course simultaneously.

I used to attend online classes after office hours and study at night. By the time I had finished my MBA course, my 6 months training was also completed. In that training I had mostly learned about Google Advertising and the different tools that they have. I now understood why clients opted for Google ads and how I could deliver results. Later, in 2015, I started learning about other Digital Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. 

In 2016, I was promoted to a role in which I was managing all digital platforms including DoubleClick by Google. After a rich experience in managing Travel, E-commerce, Real Estate, Education, BFSI clients digitally, I knew E-commerce is the one I enjoy the most because of immense learning potential. So, I decided to stick to that side and learn about new platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. Also, the company was planning to expand operations in the E-commerce field from 2017. 

After completing most of my projects in mid 2017, I requested for a new role and a team within the same company in E-Commerce and started learning. It was a good time for me and I learnt a lot.

In 2019, I was keen to learn more about global markets, understand D2C and Marketplace businesses along with the business side of a company. That’s when I had decided to move on to a new role.

How did you get your first break? 

I got my first break when one of my Alumni called me and discussed a role in a Digital Marketing agency she was working at. It was a new role for a fresher. I reached out to my mentor and requested her to connect with the company HR and schedule an Interview. HR replied back and I was scheduled for an Interview. On 18th November 2014, I went for my first official interview. I was through Aptitude, Group Discussion and HR rounds. In the technical round, I was asked a few technical questions about Digital Marketing, especially Google Ads, but had no answer. I replied back with a sentence ‘If given a chance I will learn and make myself an important asset for your team and the company’. Results came out a day after and I was on hold and one of my classmates was selected. I was not disappointed but turned to LinkedIn and connected with HR just to say “Thank you for the Interview chance”. After a week, I got a call from HR saying they had one more vacancy and wanted to hire me. I think this is where the idea of Networking clicked. I was assigned to the Google Ads specialist team to kickstart my journey.

What were the challenges? How did you address them?

Challenge 1: Well, my first challenge was to learn and understand how Google and Facebook algorithms work so that I can apply tactics to the campaigns and provide results to the clients. Every team member had played a different role in the project and most of my learnings were on live projects. 

Challenge 2: This came after I was assigned to multiple projects and the goal was to deliver results. I was more of a performance specialist in the company and managing 200+ campaigns was a challenge. For this, I had to break down my office work hours as per the size of the account. Later, I used to manage some of the campaigns by using scripts and automated rules, but some required manual changes on a day to day basis. So, I really had to stay active every day and complete my work.

Challenge 3: I think this was most challenging. Once I was familiar with tools and had hands-on experience I used to think, “What next” ? I never wanted to make my profile monotonous because machine learning is rapidly changing things in Digital Marketing. So, I started exploring more opportunities and technologies within the same company. I think it was a very important step for me to think and make note of what all I could learn.

Where do you work now? What do you do?

I work in Naranatech Pvt Ltd in Noida as a Growth Hacker where our focus is to work with E-commerce brands globally and provide them with strategies related to Performance Marketing, Analytics, Development, and Machine Learning solutions. I work with Mum & You closely and lead their E-commerce business in the UK and EU.

I work with brands who want to sell their offerings and expand their business. Most of these brands sell through their own Direct-to-consumer website and marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, etc. I do Performance and Affiliate Marketing work to help them get more sales, increase return on Ad Spends, optimize campaigns, and generate profits. I also work closely with brands and present data so that we can make marketing decisions. 

First step is to understand how Digital Advertising works on different platforms so one can set up campaigns and get the right audience on the website or product pages. Second is to understand the business side like “What type of costs are involved in a business and How can I generate profits”? I think as a marketeer it’s very important to understand this and things become a lot more clearer with the data. Efficiency in MS Excel and ability to understand data, statistics is very important.

So, I plan my week or days’ work in advance, apart from what is coming in real time. I start my day reviewing past day, past week’s, or month’s data and write down actions to implement. I also discuss and read different blogs, and case studies that help me with new trends or strategies that I can implement to drive results. I spend a lot of time understanding consumer behavior and shopping patterns. I constantly experiment with small changes and observe how consumers are behaving. To understand this, I also think like a customer and this has always helped me. I spend time with the technical team to understand what they are working on. At the end of the month I look at different data sets and also share with the team.

What is it you love about this job? 

LEARNING. My current job is quite different from my previous one. Every day is a new challenge and learning for me. There are numerous problems that come up on a daily basis. This is a kind of a business role where you need to have technical knowledge and how different parts of the business function like the website, the delivery process, etc. As a Growth Hacker my job is to provide solutions which can help them grow. Direct-to-consumer is very new in India though some of the markets are very matured. 

How does your work benefit society? 

Online shopping is preferred by customers due to the reason that they can shop ‘anytime, anywhere and anything’. Convenience, cost, variety and time – all work in favor of online shoppers. Internet shopping has become an effective way of boosting an economy by increasing demand, expanding consumption, logistics management and promoting employment. So, it’s like a round circle. If I and our team deliver good results, then it impacts everything.

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

I have a few memorable moments. 

First is when I was assigned to manage the biggest account of the agency, to manage their Digital Marketing activities only after 1 year of experience and I successfully delivered the results. I led Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube Marketing for the University. Back then I had managed 200+ campaigns without any automation tool.

Second, when I managed Amazon marketing campaigns for a FMCG company without prior experience in it. I was able to deliver results based on the experience I had in Google search. I felt really proud and happy to see the E-commerce Growth. Of course, it was teamwork from the Supply Chain Team, Brand Managers, Amazon support, and the Management.

Third, when I started managing D2C and E-commerce marketing for Mum & You. With my past experience, I was able to scale the business. I made sure that we collected the right data from every source and made marketing decisions on the basis of it.

Your advice to students based on your experience?

Don’t be afraid of the big dreams that you have. Ask Questions, network with people, take and give help whenever you can, keep learning and exploring. Make good use of technologies that are available in today’s time. Stay updated with new technologies. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Even if you don’t know a thing try to grab the opportunities and give your best shot to deliver results. 

Future Plans?

I see myself leading D2C Websites marketing, Marketplaces marketing, Data Analytics activities for E-commerce brands, globally. My next goal is to connect websites with Consumer data platforms and understand consumer behavior in detail. Also, to connect the website to stores and make it an omnichannel experience. Digital is here to stay, Way of doing Digital Marketing is changing, D2C Businesses will expand, and more will enter the market, and technology will change the way Consumers shop online!