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Kaushal Thakkar is a digital marketer who has developed award-winning search campaign strategies for Myntra, Zivame, Dream11, ICICI Prudential and others. He believes in the sheer power of numbers with proficiency in creating solutions that drive long term growth. Kaushal has been an integral part of growth stories at The Times Group, Myntra and Craftsvilla in the past. His time with Myntra, in particular, triggered a key realisation. Organic channels possessed an untapped potential.  

Kaushal decided to harness that with a new company that he set up called  Infidigit. Founded in 2017, the fast-growing company has  won immense praise for its innovative strategies. The accolades included a win at Search Engine Land Awards 2020 for Superbalist’s Search Marketing campaign, the first-ever for an Indian agency. Infidigit also won Best Use of Search B2B Award at APAC Search Awards 2021. 

Kaushal continues to diversify his vision for digital marketing in India, promoting a growth hacking approach in SEO and beyond. When not accelerating growth stories, Kaushal hosts The Growth Genius Podcast, where digital marketing experts discuss and decode success stories as well as trends online.  He charts his journey to top of the search campaign  world in an exclusive interview.

How did you fall in love with Digital Marketing?

Ans: I began my career as a software engineer developing technology solutions for various clients. But the dot-com bubble had created immense demand for websites. So, I made the switch from software solutions to web development. Only a few offered this service in the early 2000s. This move also introduced me to digital marketing. 

Today, digital marketing is an expansive niche of services. But this wasn’t the case at the beginning of the millennium. It was much more limited in scope because we were just dealing with basic websites. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was mostly clubbed with website development and thus my journey in the Digital Marketing world was initiated.

I was both surprised and intrigued by the evolution of digital marketing in India. The rise of Google as the preferred search engine of masses brought the relevance of SEO into the limelight and went on to become a strong influence on revenue for internet businesses. So, it was a natural move to delve into this niche; and a successful one. Through my start-up Softstar Solutions, I was able to accelerate online visibility and growth via digital marketing for 100+ businesses. 

Even as I explored project and  product management in Tata Interactive Systems, The Times Group and Myntra, I kept close tabs on digital marketing trends. By the time I was a part of Myntra, I had already deep dived into the world of Analytics and could see the potential of data-backed solutions to boost organic visibility for websites and apps – the future of business in India. That’s when I embraced digital marketing as my primary focus and went on to head the SEO team at Myntra. My experiences from this phase played a key role in shaping my perspective towards the niche and set the foundation of my dream with Infidigit.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey? Working from corporate to starting to your own company Infidigit? 

Ans: The idea of being an entrepreneur had always appealed to me. After graduation, many friends went on to look for jobs. But I searched for projects. I took on freelance assignments for a couple of years and then founded Softstar Solutions, a web development and digital marketing agency. Eventually, Softstar got acquired by Webspin, a company funded by ZEE. It was during this phase in 2005 that I led the development of Ordercop, the first hyper-local e-commerce store in India. The venture was off to a good start, but it was seen as too ahead of its time. We could not receive additional funds to take the idea to the world, and it had to be shelved. 

For the next step in my career, I decided to explore an arena I had avoided till now – the corporate life. So, for the next decade, that’s where I learnt and grew. With a strong focus on digital marketing, I was able to see and understand major companies from an insider’s lens. This helped me create robust products and  systems at Tata Interactive Systems, ICICI Lombard, the Times Group, Myntra, and many other notable brands.

But among these profiles, my time in Myntra proved to be a turning point. During my tenure there, I was looking for an Indian agency with technical SEO expertise to partner with the brand. However, despite months of searching, I didn’t find any company that met the criteria required for Myntra. While the project eventually went to an international company, it made me realise the potential and need for an SEO focused agency in India. This is the point where the idea for Infidigit germinated.

After understanding the needs of prominent brands while working in the corporate world for 12 years, forming an SEO driven organisation in India seemed like the way to realise my vision for the market. The company would not only serve as a platform to create growth stories for several organisations simultaneously; it would also help me build fulfilling employment opportunities in the digital marketing space, and groom future market leaders. 

In my heart, I knew Infidigit was a dream that had to come alive. However, the decision to switch from a well-paying corporate job to entrepreneurship needed courage and determination. As it’s said, kill your fear; else it will kill you. Fortunately, a ten-day Vipassana retreat in 2017 helped navigate my doubts and provided the last push to found Infidigit. And the risk paid off. 

Within days of making the decision, I secured my first project from the largest e-commerce fashion platform, Myntra. As my past paved the way for my future, it felt like life came back in a full circle, and Infidigit has continued to expand that circle of success ever since. In less than four years, Infidigit has grown into an 80+ strong team and has worked with more than 20 clients across multiple niches. Our work in e-commerce and enterprise SEO has received immense praise as we grow further to encompass other digital marketing verticals. Looking back at the journey, words do not suffice the satisfaction I have experienced from entrepreneurship and the impact it leaves on the industry.

What does infidigit stand for? What are its key USPs?

Ans: With Infidigit, the idea has been to accelerate the growth and profitability of internet businesses, focusing on providing a good return on investment for our partners. Also, while we do aspire growth for our clients, the culture I envision for the company can be summarised as a win-win-win situation. By that, I mean striking a balance between the best interests of our clients, us as an agency and our employees. 

Also, Infidigit has always been a place where data and research reign supreme. All our decisions stem from a strong research base. The approach has rewarded us with not just great project performance but also praise from clients. The awards we received from prestigious platforms such as Search Engine Land and Indian Digital Marketing Awards are like the cherry on a cake. I am truly humbled by the recognition our innovations have received in the niche.

As for USPs, there are three – SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), ASO (App Store Optimisation), and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation). The common thread that one can find in all these niches at Infidigit is the data-driven perspective that continues to evolve by observing digital marketing trends and insights from thought leaders in the industry. Once we identify an opportunity to transform these insights into action points, we assess and carry out calculated experiments. Hence, the brands associated with us have notable success stories.

Inifidigit recently associated with brands like cure.fit and ixigo? What are your views on fitness and travel industry (keeping in mind the pandemic situation)?

Ans: India was already embracing digital platforms for its travel and fitness needs. But when the coronavirus pandemic triggered a nationwide lockdown, the adoption of online platforms for fitness, in particular, became a necessity. As a result, many brands went online to tap into this growing audience. 

Now, months after the unlock phase began, people continue to prefer online fitness platforms because of their sheer convenience. The travel industry too is witnessing a gradual return to normalcy. Also, in both niches, the safety of digital services and cashless transactions further reassures the general public in a time where social distancing is still needed. I feel this puts the fitness and travel industry in an advantageous position.

What are your views on the importance of digital marketing and the SEO industry?

Ans: Talking about the former, it has been evident that digital channels give access to a large audience of millions of people, much faster than traditional mediums. With platforms like TV and newspapers, it is also often unclear whether it will reach the intended target audience. On the other hand, the digital medium promises precision with maximum reach. There are also many customisation tools online that help make more informed decisions when it comes to running campaigns that traditional mediums do not offer.

As for SEO, we all search for things online now, whether it’s clothes or insurance. As an SEO marketer, we act as a bridge, minimising the distance between users searching for services and platforms providing them online. Hence, the conversation rate from the channel is higher as the user base has already been refined. 

As a result, the conversion rate on organic search channels is much higher as compared to other mediums. Almost all our clients get a much higher return on investments from organic search as compared to other channels. This makes it a win-win for the client, and a reason for building strong professional ties with SEO focused agencies such as Infidigit.

Few words of inspiration for the budding entrepreneurs?

Ans: I understand that entrepreneurship brings in an element of unpredictability and dynamism that can make leaving the comfort of a well-paying job. But if you are certain that your idea can make a difference in the market, go ahead. Be cautious with your approach but don’t let fear cloud your judgement. Also, something that my coach Rajiv Talreja says comes to mind, `Perfection is a Myth, Progress is the key.’ 

Irrespective of the outcomes, make the best out of situations and keep moving forward to progress. The universe loves speed, and it will always help you in this progressive journey. But most importantly, I feel one should always remain humble and express gratitude to the universe because it has given you an opportunity to lead several others via your entrepreneurial journey.