Here’s why digital marketing agency face high attrition rates

Lack of skilled digital marketing talent and high attrition rates of existing resources has literally choked the growth of digital agencies in India.  This trend remains consistent across independent local agencies and large global conglomerates. Based on my past discussions with few leading recruitment consultants, in managerial roles, the average attrition rate stands at around 10%, but the overall attrition rate in the advertising space is around ~30% and it remains in the same range for digital startups.

Although, global network agencies like the Publicis, WPP, IPG, Dentsu etc. face less challenge compared to their local counterparts due to their bigger bench strength and the number of opportunities within the group companies.

Human capital is the back bone of any service sector company, but poor human capital management makes digital agencies in India extremely vulnerable to the concept of attrition.

Why is attrition rate so high across digital agencies in India?

Agency work culture demands highly skilled & motivated employees which is a rarity in these times. Most of the people are working for fast career growth (financially or otherwise). While skilled employees have more than enough opportunities to choose from at any given point of time, exponential growth of digital advertising in the country has resulted in high demand and less supply of skilled manpower.

In my decade long experience as a digital marketing expert, I’ve worked with all type of digital organisations, from big agencies to large enterprise companies and the early stage startups, but when it comes to attrition, digital agencies are the most vulnerable lot.

Here are some of the key reasons for high attrition rates in digital agencies:

Dynamic digital projects

Over the years, digital projects have become more and more non-linear, courtesy the growth in the number of digital channels & platforms. There is so much to learn for digital professionals that nobody like sameness in their daily job.

Newer challenges

Employees in digital agencies are always looking for newer opportunities and would like to challenge themselves on a daily basis to increase their productivity and create innovative campaigns using unique ideas and technology. In agencies where the clients are more open to innovation and experimentation, get to retain a lot of their creative & servicing talent. And, that’s a fact!

No time for upgrade

With such enormous pressure of timelines and delivery, it is very difficult for the talent in digital agencies to upgrade their knowledge & skill. Most of the digital client servicing professionals have not done any specialised certification (like GA or Analytics), nor they intend to do it. There’s a time when everyone feels that they are hitting a dead end in their learning. At that very moment, they call it a quit.

Poor Appraisal Policies

There is no doubt that a lot of people (including myself) work in the digital marketing and media business for the sheer romance of it. But you cannot ignore the monetary compensation aspect, especially when majority of the workforce is hired on entry / junior level. I agree money is not the only motivating factor but, it definitely complements when the job satisfaction is high. A lot of agencies use operating income as an excuse for poor appraisal because they have signed high value clientele by compromising their profit margins, which lead to poor employee appraisals and eventually high attrition rate.

High work pressure

Being a part of service sector, advertising industry was always a high pressure affair. Words like ASAP are extremely popular in the client – agency parlance. There is no respite or escape for the execution teams including servicing, strategy, creative, media and social. Single creative resource is working across 2-3 live project at the same time, leaving him with little mind space to churn out ideas. The situation is a lot worse for client servicing teams who have to turn themselves into an octopus in order to manage multiple conflicting project timelines across multiple teams. The result is, only the tough hearted survive the onslaught, while the rest start looking for greener pastures.

Digital Marketing for CMOs – rocket science or a piece of cake?

In 2016, I completed a decade long career in the world of digital marketing and advertising. Over the years, I’ve seen the nature of client queries & problem statements changing quite dramatically. From a very simple one liner like “We want to do something in digital” to “How can we generate leads through digital?”, and the most recent one, “How can we do digital transformation of our business?”.

Arguably, brands in India have evolved significantly when it comes to their receptivity towards digital marketing. Still, there is a sense of fear about digital marketing practices in the minds of business owners and CXOs, majorly due to wrong perception and poor knowledge imparted by a series of small time vendors / consultants  & agencies they’ve met in the past.

I won’t say that the fear is completely out of context. Digital medium has indeed grown at a breakneck pace, both in terms of the audience adoption, the excessive use of tech in marketing and the massive data generated by digital devices.

digital-marketing-channels

This ‘never seen before pace of growth’ in the Digital world eventually turned the digital marketing landscape into a complex mesh of related and unrelated choices of tools, techniques, media channels, platforms, ad formats and marketing metrics.

Till now, a lot of brands were operating in a single, well defined template of producing one TVC, one print ad & one radio jingle in their entire marketing calendar. Their world was pretty straight forward (not taking anything away from the mainline agencies), until digital shook the entire landscape with its never ending options and opportunities.

Google-Algorithm-Upate-Timeline

Nothing seems to be at rest in the digital world. The biggest discovery platform – Google, changes its search algorithm almost 3-4 times in a year. If you are a marketer who understands SEO & SEM, you would perhaps know what that really means from a content creation standpoint.

With platforms like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram becoming a way of life, social media marketing suddenly became the most important priority for all marketers (big or small). Apparently, strategy for social media engagement is the most abused thing in our business. Not many brands actually know “why they are doing what they are doing?”.

Mobile further added a complex dimension of location & personalisation (UI & UX) to the digital marketing process. Customer experience on WAP & App is now looked upon as the biggest strategic project.

Programmatic Luma Landscape

Programmatic ad tech also added a tonne of new set of questions in the minds of already confused marketing teams. The number of 3rd party stakeholders involved (DMP, DSP, SSP, Exchange, Networks, Publishers) with their insanely complex terminology and even more complex execution process, programmatic has enough arsenal to scare a NASA scientist.

However, with all its complications, digital is still looked upon as the next big platform for innovation by many brands.

Simplifying Digital Marketing

I think there is a way in which you can simplify digital marketing strategy for your brand. As a CMO, here are some simple go-to steps that’ll get you going instantly in your digital marketing strategy because you would start asking the right questions to your agency:

Discoverability

  • Always check the status of your brands discoverability in the search engines.
  • Ensure your SEO vendor has deployed the SEO best practices.
  • Create as much content about your product/service/brand. This would ensure that you start getting the right audience on your website.

Analytics

  • Use the analytics data from your website to find out more about your audience.
  • Serve more content which is generating more audience visits and active visits on the website.
  • Find out the segments you should target in your future campaign based on organic search results.

Digital Marketing KPI

  • Your marketing KPIs would vary from business to business, and especially based on the type & stage of business you are.
  • Don’t just say that you want to “sell your products”, that is business goal.
  • Your marketing goal should be to reach out to the right targeting audience, ensure they spend as much time as possible with your brand and eventually leave their contact details to know more / transact online / visit your store. All these goals can be measured.
  • Type of digital metrics
    • Vanity Goals – Impressions, clicks, ctr
    • Performance Goals – CPC (cost per click), cost per visit (CPV), cost per active visit (CPAV), cost per acquisition (CPA)
    • Business Metrics – footfalls, final sales or lead conversion

Digital Media Mix

  • Here’s how you can match your primary goals with the relevant digital channel:
    • Branding : Banners, Rich Media & Video in Desktop & Mobile
    • Lead Generation : PPC, SEM, SEO, Native Ads, Email Marketing
    • Driving Footfall : Email, Mobile, Social Ads
    • Sales: PPC, Affiliate Marketing
    • Engagement: Content Marketing

There is no doubt, while the conventional media industry like Television, Print, Radio & Outdoor were living in their fool’s paradise, digital became the new poster boy of all marketers.

However, when it comes to the Indian market, despite their positive intent, most of the brand teams are still trying to adapt in the cutthroat world of digital marketing.

Digital trends for multichannel retail

With the number of e-retail startups entering the landscape, soon retail brands would find it difficult to differentiate the value proposition. Though ecommerce would be driving incremental revenue, for complete business transformation, retail would be focussing on multichannel optimization in the coming years.

According to Neoworks – the ecommerce people:

The focus of retail multichannel improvement will be on people and services, rather than technology and processes. Retailers are asking “how are customers engaging with my brand?” and “how can we design services that will meet the needs of our customers?”. The answers to these questions come through research and data analysis.

Below are some of the Multichannel Retail Trends for 2016 that have dominated various conferences in the last 1 year:

Data storytelling through Business Intelligence

How can we narrate our brand story through data? In short, how can my current data help me take better decisions for my brand? In 2016 we should expect more investment in business intelligence tools and data mining.

Every brand is trying to make some sense of their business data which is piling up at the speed of light. A decision on which data is relevant and which data is just noise is the first step that companies need to take if they want to make sense of all the data that they are capturing.

Need for understanding customer journey during different buying stages

Research evidence has always helped business leaders to make better decisions. In 2016 more retailers will be investing in research to incorporate the voice of the customer in product development and service improvement.

Questions like ‘How should the brand behave in terms of range of products, price, supply chain and services?’ are common areas for voice of the customer analysis.

From a business perspective, the focus on understanding the customers by listening to them and then using the information to market differently, sell differently and support differently as well as redesign processes is becoming a key differentiator for retailers.

Change happens through people, not through technology or processes

Einstein once said:

I fear the day when technology will surpass human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.

And he was spot on right. Technology needs to address the pain only till the point it is not pain in itself.

More than technology, for an organization to drive change, they need vision, skills, incentives, resources and an action plan. If one of those elements is missing transformation is not possible.

Successful organisational change is an adaptive process that requires the coordinated efforts of a wide range of people at all levels of an organization that are collectively seeking the same positive outcome.

Integration of the high street with the online e-commerce businesses

Most retailers have a multichannel strategy but only a few are going above and beyond the basic services such as wifi, contactless payment and click and collect.

While Line busting which is a wonderful way to manage your POS (Point of sale) is yet to take off in a big way, clienteling and endless aisle are becoming increasingly visible on the high street around the globe.

Multichannel service design

Service design is an interdisciplinary approach that combines many different tools and disciplines. In 2016 more retailers will be developing humanised services designing customer journeys that are alive and interactive.

Companies that understand the opportunity will support customer needs more effectively. Offering a differentiated and consistent customer experience can strengthen loyalty and generate sustainable value.

Multichannel Reality for Small Business Retail

Traditional stores will certainly exist ten years from now, but they will not look the same as today. Many traditional retailers will disappear as competition remains fierce and input costs continue to rise. Others will fail because of an inability to adapt or to change their business model to a multichannel reality in which boundaries between the online and physical worlds disappear.

The future winners among today’s bricks-and-mortar retailers will be those that take the future seriously and are good at managing change.

Digital Trends for Travel Brands in 2016

Digital trends in the last one decade have shown a massive paradigm change in the entire value chain starting from the local travel operator to multi million dollar enterprise company. Travel is arguably the most evolved vertical in the eCommerce space. After all, it doesn’t take much time for a customer to swipe his credit / debit card once he is convinced about a travel offering.

On one side, Social Media rise has positioned itself as the biggest contributor in the net new revenue growth for travel business, newer platforms are taking scale & customer experience to a new level in the online travel space.

Here are some of the key trends that will impact travel industry.

Mobile and some more mobile

  • Within online travel sales, the mobile channel, including sales made through smartphones and tablets, is expected to see the fastest growth over the forecast period. Global mobile travel sales, including both sales made through intermediaries and direct sales, are expected to record a 40% CAGR between 2013 and 2018, reaching US$350 billion.
  • Behind this sharp growth is the rising trend among consumers to use smartphones and tablets not only for searching for travel products but also to book them. Over the forecast period, consumers will become increasingly accustomed to finalising bookings on smaller screens, while travel companies will make bookings and payments through smartphones more convenient, and average sizes of smartphone screens will increase.

Travel in APAC

  • Asia Pacific is expected to drive global online travel retail growth in the 2013-2018 period, recording a 16% CAGR. Thanks to this rapid growth, Asia Pacific is expected to account for 24% of global online travel retail sales by 2018. Over the 2013-2018 period the penetration of the online channel in travel retail sales in the region is expected to increase from 24% to 38%.
  • Japan and China are by far the largest online travel retail markets in Asia Pacific, at US$15 billion and US$14 billion in 2013, respectively. India is the third largest market in the region, at US$7 billion in 2013, and is expected to record a 14% CAGR over the 2013-2018 period.

The rise of MTA’s ( Mobile Travel Agents )

  • The shift from desktop to mobile internet access is having a significant impact on the travel industry, making smartphones and tablets an important booking channel, as well as customer service tool. Always-connected travel consumers expect to receive customer service, and also the opportunity to make additional bookings, not only before the trip but also during the trip.
  • The rising importance of mobile devices means an increased focus for travel companies on the period after the booking and throughout the whole travel experience. This is expected to result in online travel agencies gradually changing their business model to become mobile travel agencies (MTAs).

With RHS gone, search marketing has changed forever

With right hand side ads disappearing in search, google is clearly telling brands to focus on mobile in their paid search marketing strategy.

Adwords will soon display four ads above organic search results, no ads to the right of search results, and three additional ads below search results, according to The SEM Post.

At the same time, the company says it may show an additional ad — four, not three — above the search results for what it calls “highly commercial queries”.  Google has also confirmed that this change is global and that it applies to all languages supported on Google Search. It’s expected this change will be rolled out to all Google Search users by February 22nd.

This is certainly a major shift by the search engine giant and would force brands and agencies to re-look at their search marketing strategies.

Here are some of the early observations based on the news stories trickling in:

Desktop Search Marketing going Native

The removal of ads in the right sidebar of the results means Google’s desktop search results pages will look a lot more like mobile search results pages, which are displayed in a single column for obvious reasons. Google is clearly moving in the direction of native search advertising where the line between paid and organic would actually disappear.

Also Read : On Google, Teens can’t tell the difference between sponsored links & organic listing

Making Search Marketing More Premium

Search Marketing Changes impacting Google YOY Ad Revenue

Search Marketing Changes impacting Google YOY Ad Revenue

Google’s share of revenue per search ad has slid recently. For years, Google ran up to eight paid ads on the right side in desktop mode. While the total varies for each search, there will now probably be fewer paid spots for each result — and, therefore, a scramble by advertisers to bid more in Google’s auction.

What falls under highly commercial queries in search marketing?

According to Search Engine Land, This would involve searches like “hotels in Mumbai” or “car insurance” and the like. There are also two exceptions to the right-side change:

  1. PLA boxes will be the only time ads will continue to show on the right side of the desktop search results page.
  2. Ads in Knowledge Panel

Poor score in search marketing might get penalised

Although the update is limited to desktop search results pages, so your brand’s desktop traffic may get affected. However, ads that appear beneath the third or fourth position may see a decline in click-through rates immediately. This means that google PPC campaign would require a lot more optimisation than ever before. This would also force the site owners to improve the overall content quality on their landing page to improve their search score and build more deeper relevance for the search engine.

Why job hopping is losing its negative stigma globally?

Before I say anything, let me first confess that I’ve been a job hopper in my career (only the first half of it), and this post is not written in self defence. Nor this is written to support job hopping in any manner.  I am just trying to present another view which  will help the recruiters to change their perspective (just a little bit) on this age old stigma.

According to a  new survey out from PayScale and Millennial Branding finds that 41% of baby boomers believe that people should stay in their jobs for at least five years before looking for a new role. Another 21% say between four and five years.

What is really interesting to note in that survey is that the people born between 1982 and 2002, a full 26% believe that you should start looking for something new before a year is up. Only 13% say more than five years.

Why the difference?

In one of the interviews given to F@st Company,  Lydia Frank, director of editorial and marketing at PayScale in Seattle said:

Young people tend to believe that loyalty is a two-way street. Especially in this economy, things that demonstrated loyalty from an employer to an employee are disappearing,

There’s just not this sense in the job market that your employer is necessarily going to take care of you.

As a result, people have become more focused on ensuring they’re making the best choices for their individual career

Pros of Job Hopping

Moving jobs early on in their careers has become a necessary evil for a lot of freshers. Not that they plan for it, or it is fashionable. The thing is, we are living in the times where only few people know what they want to be when they grow up these days. Trying different jobs—or even industries—early on can help you find the right fit.

Second, even if you do know what you want to do with your life, the global economy has been tepid for young people since the economic crash of 2008. Many teens in their early 20s have not been able to start out where they wished.

If a new opportunity comes along, the mind-set is this:

I don’t like what I’m doing;

I’m not being paid well for my skill set;

and if I’m not in a job that’s utilizing my training and education, why would I stay?

In the below video, Anne Krook, author of “Now What Do I Say?”: Practical Workplace Advice for Younger Women, explains how economic changes have prompted shifts in attitudes about company loyalty for Gen Y.

Interestingly, Forbes published an article early in this year ( ReadEmployees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less )  that touched upon this topic in much greater detail.

income-graph-people-who-leave-jobs-hopping

Graph comparison of salary growth of people who moved fast vs those who stayed in the same company

 

According to the article published in Forbes:

Why are people who jump ship rewarded, when loyal employees are punished for their dedication? The answer is simple. Recessions allow businesses to freeze their payroll and decrease salaries of the newly hired based on “market trends.” These reactions to the recession are understandable, but the problem is that these reactions were meant to be “temporary.” Instead they have become the “norm” in the marketplace. More importantly, we have all become used to hearing about “3% raises” and we’ve accepted it as the new “norm.”

Cons of Job Hopping

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been a job hopper myself, but after spending 9 years into the advertising & marketing business, I do not look back at what I did, nor I feel guilty or regretful about the choices I made. When it comes to your career, I believe it is all about making the decisions, right or wrong is not in your control. While the right ones reward you, the wrong ones make you a better professional.

There is a hidden fear in people who move too often, that sooner than later they would hit a dead end in their career, which is not entirely incorrect. Recruiters and HR start looking at your profile (and you) as if you’ve committed the most heinous crime on earth (what I do not understand is why they call such candidates for interview in first place, just to humiliate?).

The thing is, there are no “valid reasons” for why someone hopped in his career. As a hiring manager, even I would have apprehensions of hiring someone who has moved too fast too furious. But, what we are missing here is the fact that none of the organizations may have tried to retain this individual.

A research conducted by workopolis (see infographic) suggests two key things:

  1. 20% of the employee’s annual salary is actually the cost of replacing him.
  2. Most people leave their companies for reasons other than compensation

If we go by the above 2 reasons, I believe there is some serious thinking that is required by all employers and their HR in order to retain their employees. If the company really want to retain their key talent, they can very well pay them more or improve their policies in order to save themselves from the botheration & cost of hiring process.

 

I am also running a Twitter poll for this:

Publicis Groupe Launches Publicis90 Startup Fund

Publicis Groupe celebrates its 90th anniversary by selecting 90 digital start-ups to mentor & fund

Publicis Groupe – which was founded by Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet in 1926 – is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. When it all started in a little Parisian apartment on Rue Montmartre, the founder’s only staff was his secretary. He would never have thought that, 90 years later, his Groupe would be one of the three largest in the world, with close to 80,000 employees.

Back then, Publicis Groupe began just like many of today’s start-ups. It is with its founder in mind, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of so many of its employees around the world, that Publicis Groupe has chosen to celebrate its 90th anniversary by providing mentoring, support and funding to 90 entrepreneurial projects in the digital field.

To take part, projects can be submitted via the Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) which will be available online as of January 18th. Whether you are a student, a new start-up, a successful entrepreneur or a Publicis Groupe employee anywhere in the world, you are welcome to put forward your idea and apply for support from the Groupe. Taking part is really easy. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the support they need to bring their projects to life, or to take it to the next level.

The Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) will be open for submissions until February 28. Projects will be pre-selected by region (the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe-Middle-East & Africa), with a first round of votes open to all Publicis Groupe employees (all projects submitted remain anonymous). A regional jury will then draw up a short-list from the pre-selected projects, before the final selection is made by a prestigious global jury that will pick the 90 most promising projects or start-ups.

The selected projects will be mentored by Publicis Groupe experts in marketing, communications, management and technology. They will also receive funding in the form of an investment ranging from 10,000 euros for projects about to be launched to 500,000 euros for start-ups that are already ramping up. As for selected projects submitted by Publicis Groupe employees, they will have the benefit of a special internal incubation scheme.

The holders of the 90 selected projects will be invited to participate to Viva Technology Paris (www.vivatechnologyparis.com), the first forum in France to bring together the people who matter most in digital throughout the world with over 5,000 start-ups. This event – created by Publicis Groupe and Groupe Les Echos – will be held from June 30 to July 2, 2016 at the Paris Expo Exhibition Centre at Porte de Versailles. The 90 selected projects will be honored at an awards ceremony held during Viva Technology Paris.

Maurice Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, declared:

Publicis90 is very much in line with the philosophy of Publicis Groupe and its founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. The idea is to help young entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Not just through investment but also by putting Groupe resources at their disposal for a year. Rather than look back and pat ourselves on the back for 90 years of history, we have taken the forward-looking approach of extending a helping hand to young entrepreneurs.