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Written by Team Wizikey

April 11, 2022

Generating data is very crucial: Arpita Rao from GUS Education India

In this chapter of ‘Data Champions in Communications’, we caught up with Arpita Rao from GUS Education India to talk about her data journey.

Generating data is very crucial: Arpita Rao from GUS Education India

This episode of ‘Data Champions in Communications’ features Arpita Rao, Head of Corporate Communications at GUS Education India. In this interview, you will learn and explore her journey into data-driven communications. 

1.   How did you come to the field of communications?

I have always been an extrovert and strongly believe communication can solve any problem, both on the professional and personal front. I was keenly interested in cultivating my existing skills further. Hence, I went ahead to pursue a career in communications. I stepped into mass communication studies and later made my way into public relations and now corporate communications. With 14+ years of the overall experience, it is only a gradual process to unlearn and learn with the growing trends in today’s communications world.

Working as a PR professional led me to understand how communication varies from a client to a journalist. It was a learning for me, and the deeper I went into my field more I enjoyed it. Over time, I have built my passion around being a communicator. 

2. When was your first interaction with data? What did it mean to you then?

Back in the early 2000s, experience and awareness of a particular campaign took precedence over generating data in any form. During my early days, data was used only to better analyse any complex situation or map accurate metrics designed to achieve. Also, the sources to retrieve required data or even curate some data to build insights were challenging. This was due to the lack of specific tools that could help in churning data to get the desired and accurate results/ROI.

Be it any communications campaign, generating data was 100% dependent on tools that still needed human intervention and manual labour. With any data received, it would be an eye-opener to use it to build relevant campaigns/ideas for brands irrespective of the sector they operate in. 

3. How did you start using data in delivering your campaigns?

Today when the world is moving towards digital communications, data plays a significant role in driving value-added campaigns that deliver ROI-based results. Approximately 70+% of communication and marketing professionals swear by harnessing data to build effective campaigns.

I have always struggled while curating any campaign performance reports. It has always been a task to track and monitor how a particular campaign has performed in terms of visibility, competition, the share of voice, and others – be it for an ed-tech giant, alcobev brand, healthcare products, or D2C, etc. Generating data for these tasks is very crucial to deriving ROI-based results. I also started using data to understand the industry performance and insights, track and optimize consumer-driven campaigns, evaluate the health of a brand’s overall reputation and visibility compared to competitors, and plan for new content strategies and communication collaterals that connect with the audiences.

4. How did data help in solving the problems in communications?

Every communication campaign you build comes with its own set of challenges, and we all learn on the go. The major challenge comes up when you are working for a brand/organization that is too nascent or advanced for our demography and the sector they operate in. It gets challenging to gather insights and information to design communication campaigns. I remember an instance when I was assigned to drive communication strategies for a brand that was new to the market with zero competitors in the industry. Mapping on some information to understand various industry scenarios was challenging. I designed the communication plan by observing, researching, and looking at similar brands in other countries to reach a specific juncture to design my campaigns. This route opened up doorways to many platforms that gave me an insight into how brands in this particular sector are designing their campaigns in other geographies. I picked up similar ideas and analysed the success rate of these campaigns before I could utilize them in the Indian market. The successful performance data of these companies helped me design the campaigns for the brand in India.

5. What is the most important metric for you?

I swear by the research first approach for generating any data and concluding any facts that will help together in a brilliant campaign. Data that helps make meaningful business decisions is an important metric for me to map. Tracking competitor space and industry performances become critical to arriving at any decision from a pure organizational growth perspective.

6. What are your favourite tools for data insights?

When it is about creating successful communication campaigns, we strive to deliver purpose-driven and engaging content and useable information and insights to the readers/viewers.

There are a few tools that I can’t live without. These include Meltwater, YouGov, Crimson Hexagon, Statista, Open Government Sources, Google Trends, Glassdoor and LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These social media platforms provide you with meaningful information on hashtags, check-ins, profiles, and even sentiment analysis which play a significant role while executing the campaigns— specific to pure consumer products.

7. How do you see data in comms evolve in the coming days?

As big data continues its rapid growth, brands have more data at their fingertips in comparison to earlier days. Data today is also significantly used to drive quicker and more insightful business decisions. In communications, data is evolving at a rapid pace because of the strong digitalization wave in the country.

The transition of the digital ecosystem to the metaverse, where a person will feel immersed in a virtual world will push data usage by 20 times across the globe by 2032 – A Credit Suisse report said. The use of data will only continue to evolve and remain the most significant way to build and drive communication and marketing strategies for thriving businesses.

8. Which is your favourite campaign?

I feel proud of being part of every communication campaign I designed for national and international audiences. Being sector agnostic has helped me understand many industries in India and how they function. My favourite sectors have always been – Alcobev, EdTech/Education, and Healthcare. It is challenging and a great learning experience while executing campaigns designed for the Alcobev and Healthcare sectors. One such campaign I worked on was driving off the record conversations for an alcove brand to attain the local Government’s attention to re-look at the taxation imposed on alcohol. Driving on the record conversations with select media houses was rewarding but driving our narratives and messaging through a third-party KOL (Key Opinion Leader) was a huge task. Aligning them to our positioning, helping them with data that can prove our point, and showcasing their opinion in select publications– was all worth driving to witness a successful campaign in the mid of the world health crisis.

Analysing the performance metrics of this campaign was the most rewarding of all. It was a great learning experience to implement something that no other organization in the alcobev space had done before. Hence, I strongly believe in driving sustainable and responsible businesses.

9. What is your 2cents for budding comms professionals?

Here are a few things that worked for the brands where I conceptualized the campaigns. It will also help budding communication professionals while designing their campaigns:

1.    There is always a disconnect in the way data is collected, assumed, and projected to the audiences. Make sure you are aligned with the core narrative and the pulse of your audiences.

2.    Use your data to drive narratives that Sell, Engage and Convert.

3.    Always be on the lookout for data of any kind through various tools available – this will help you keep upbeat with what’s happening around you. 

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