Digital Marketing as a Career in India: Why It Ain’t So Sweet!

Digital Marketing as a career in India

Digital Marketing – It’s such an exciting and colorful career to go for. This is a profession where you learn the science behind what makes a webpage rank on Google, a profession where you master the art of keyword research, optimizing websites, helping brands shine on the internet, creating attractive ad-copies, email campaigns. I mean, there’s so much that goes into making digital marketing such a dynamic and attractive career.

Having a wide experience in blogging and online marketing, I decided to make a career in digital marketing and joined a popular SEO agency in Gurgaon called ABC (name is obviously concealed to protect the identity). Things were very cool during the first few weeks of joining. Considered as a fresher (though having a wide practical experience), I was given assignments on keywords research for a popular hotel & resorts brand in Jaipur.
Wow! I loved it. But soon as the days passed by, the reality of the job kicked in and I decided to throw in the towel within 3 months of joining!
You must be wondering, what made me quit the job so early? Well, it’s not that I started hating digital marketing or that I ran into some personal issues with someone there.

Digital Marketing is in my blood: I LOVE it! It is the nature of the business model of this industry in India that compelled me to quit. And this kind of business model is not just peculiar to the company that I joined. It’s prevalent in almost every other company. That’s the bitter reality of the Indian digital marketing industry at this moment.

Here’s why the business model of a digital marketing agency turns me off –
[su_note note_color=”#fffa8c” text_color=”#000000″]Disclaimer – I’m not generalizing that all digital agencies worldwide are working on this model. There are in fact some of the greatest digital marketing agencies that have earned their names and have successfully created the buzz. I’ve deeply observed how most of the digital businesses operate in India. And my post is based on this personal observation.[/su_note]

1. They fool their clients.

I’ve observed that, when it comes to digital marketing, clients are generally not aware of what’s good and what’s bad for their business. Unfortunately, these online marketing agencies try to take this advantage and fool these innocent clients by showing just the numbers – the number of links that they have made for them, no matter how spammy those links might be. In the name of off-page SEO, I’ve seen them making lots of links on spammy and instant approval article directories. If that’s not enough, they also make those stupid social bookmarking and classified links and fool the clients. Then, once a Google penalty strikes the client, they again make money by offering penalty removal services. This is similar to an unscrupulous quack who gives less effective and irrelevant medicines to his patients with a sole motive of keeping the patients unhealthy and he keeps making money in this vicious cycle.
Friends, my heart weeps when I see this. And this was the number one reason why I decided to terminate my employment with that digital marketing agency.

2. The work is by and large focused on quantity, rather than the quality.

If you’re a fresher who is looking for an entry-level position, be prepared to burn yourself working for long hours, sifting through an overwhelming amount of stupid data in spreadsheets, and not to forget that utterly no-brainer copy-paste task. Smart digital marketing companies invest in high-end research and development, and smart tools that make this whole mundane task minutes of fun.

3. Use of “poor quality” digital marketing techniques.

Ok, I can digest the fact that good quality links can be bought in the name of off-page SEO. But, what about those 100s of spam classified and social bookmarking links? And what about those useless efforts made on free and instant approval submissions to article directories? Is this called SEO? Is this content marketing? Shame on these digital marketing agencies! Sooner or later, this inevitably invites hefty penalties by Google. And the poor clients don’t even have a clue that they are being intoxicated with this spammy off-page injection.

And those super-fake social media shares and buying likes and tweets to impress the innocent clients. Dang! How can I forget it?

4. No research and development.

While doing a link audit for a popular brand, I still remember how I manually checked each link for a no-follow and do-follow tag. Can you guess the number of links that could have been on the spreadsheet? They were close to 20,000! Now imagine my plight! It took me more than three weeks (working non-stop in the office, staring at that computer screen) and I did it all by myself. Duh, this was no-brainer.  Then I discovered a smart tool on the internet, worth only 20 pounds/month which could have done this all mundane task in a matter of minutes! But my company didn’t even had a clue that it even existed. Neither did they show any motivation to invest in such sophisticated tools.

One more similar incident happened when I was given a task that required manually collecting email addresses and contact details of over 1000 unique websites. They needed this for an outreach campaign. I was supposed to open up each URL and retrieve the contact details of the webmasters. Yuk! What a terrible waste of time and efforts. Courtesy to my friend Puneet Bhalla, who discovered a nifty tool that could do this task in just a matter of minutes.

This was certainly not digital marketing. It seemed like a cheap-slavery. Open the website, search for and copy the email address and paste it on the spreadsheet. That’s all what I was doing for almost a week. Being a qualified post-graduate, I felt very low from inside. My motivation level went down day after day, and one day I finally yielded! Enough.

My genuine advice to someone who is keen to start a career in digital marketing:

  1. Avoid working for SEO agencies (especially Indian origin) – They might have a big list of clients to brag about, but as I mentioned in my point number #3, the quality of work that they do for the clients is just terrible. Sure, you’ll get exposure to some industry standard paid tools like Moz and SEMrush, but those hours of non-brainer copy-paste and data-entry task on spreadsheets will surely make you feel dumb in a few months if not years. It’s a sad fact of all client-based SEO companies.
  2. Look for good “in-house” digital marketing positions, where you can work just for the company. Like OyoRooms, HCL, Accenture, etc. The work pressure will not be much and there will be a good learning curve also. But these companies generally prefer experienced people, mostly in PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) domain. Of-course, some good added certifications can certainly help.
  3. Keep updating yourself by reading lots of trustworthy digital marketing news and resources. Moz blog is an excellent place to start with. Additionally, you can also refer to Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. Having your own blog/website and implementing on it what ever you learn online will be a great personal asset for your career.
  4. Currently, there’s no formal specialization like MBA in online/digital marketing in India. The companies however do expect at-least a graduate in any field. My advice is, get an MBA in marketing if you can. Adopting digital marketing as a career will then surely boost your career prospects ahead.

What’s my plan?

Having experienced this ordeal of working at a client based company, I’m certainly not joining one in the future. I can’t tolerate anyone ordering me to do a shit (like building non-sense article directory links) for the clients. I’m more on an entrepreneurial side now, where I’m planning to set up my own digital business. But that’s for the near future, and I promise to lift the curtains off once it’s ready for the launch. Till then, shhhh. 🙂

I hope my experiences will certainly guide you making a wise career decision. Do let me know what you think about this post. I’m ready for a heated discussion on the topic.

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Abhishek Raj

Abhishek Raj is the Founder of Budding Geek. He is an inveterate blogger with a decade of experience in the internet technology & online marketing industry. Abhishek takes pride in being featured in some of the top industry websites like Marketing Land, Social Media Today, LifeHacker & ProBlogger. Learn more about Abhishek

6 thoughts on “Digital Marketing as a Career in India: Why It Ain’t So Sweet!”

  1. Thanks Abhishek for this eye-opener. I consider myself a qualified post-graduate too and was thinking and researching this profession. I had an idea that this particular job entails copy-pasta and data entry a lot.
    These lines sum up the complete article for me.
    ” but those hours of non-brainer copy-paste and data-entry task on spreadsheets will surely make you feel dumb in a few months if not years.”
    Thank you so much for the guidance.

    Reply
  2. Abhishek, first of all your writing is very engrossing. I enjoyed reading each and every word of this post. I Truly complement your efforts yar. I’m myself working at an SEO agency in Vasant Kunj and the condition remains more or less the same. They don’t care about quality work. And yes, spam is a reality of the industry. Your post has nailed it.

    Reply
  3. I completely agree with you. There are some companies who still follow traditional SEO practices like directory submissions, etc. Even, some of them don’t even have any research department which allow their employees to showcase their understanding of how things work in Internet Marketing domain. But on the other hand, there are some brilliant companies too, in the market which are very research oriented. Anyways, well written article.

    Reply
  4. Hey Abhishek ! I loved this post and wish you luck for the future. True practical experiences are the need of today’s misguided and rat-race following college graduates.. Nice work ! 🙂

    Reply

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