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BY Anjana Naskar

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Q] Tell us about Udemy’s newly launched ad campaign for India. What was the objective behind it and what consumer reactions have you received so far?
There is such huge anxiety among people about jobs and careers because of the pandemic.

Hence, skilling is really the new currency for success, especially in this competitive and crazy corporate world. And within that, when we talk about skilling, Udemy is globally the number one professional skilling platform and India is the second largest and one of the fastest growing markets right now.

The key objective of this campaign was to make a broader set of consumers aware of Udemy is, and how the platform can really help them equip themselves to succeed at what comes next at work in all the uncertainty. And so far the reactions have been pretty good.

Q] What was the media mix and budget allocated towards this campaign?
The idea was to reach out to as many people as we can and to maximize the reach, to showcase the power of learning to people and how it can impact their lives.

What we arrived at was a visual storytelling medium which was Television and OTTs because they have seen a huge surge during this pandemic and we also used YouTube. Currently, this is a South focused campaign.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Udemy is the world’s largest online learning organisation that helps students, businesses and governments acquire the skills they need to compete in today’s economy.

Millions of students are mastering new skills from 57,000 of Udemy’s instructors teaching over 150,000 online courses in topics from programming and data science to leadership and team building.

Media agency: In-house
Creative agency: In-house
Digital Agency: In-house
PR agency: Candour Communications

Q] As India is the second-largest market in the world for Udemy, what took the brand so long to launch an ad campaign in India?

Udemy is a global company established in 2010. However, it was in the past few years that we opened an office in India.
The objective behind it was to be closer to our consumers (both learners and instructors), to try and understand them better and essentially, tweak our experience and content from the insights that we get from the market. Of course, the idea is to also grow the region and grow it profitably.

Therefore, marketing is one of the investments that we are currently making and will continue to make with a fantastic product-market fit that we had seen in India even before we had opened our offices. That continued for a long, larger part of the past year as well as a large part of this year.

So, we thought that now is really the best time for us to reach out to a larger set of consumers. And our mission to improve lives and livelihoods through learning is one of the prime reasons why we thought this is a good time to approach the market.

Q] Unlike other sectors, e-learning platforms have been least affected by the ongoing pandemic. In fact, the current situation has caused more people to turn towards online learning platforms. Tell us how these extraordinary circumstances have impacted your business.
People have really changed dramatically because of the pandemic and I think a lot of those anxieties are also getting reflected in the way the white collared working professionals are approaching this pandemic.

They have realised the need to continuously learn to stay relevant and have got the time to really upskill themselves in their areas of work.

We’ve seen about 80% increase in corporate learnings and a huge surge in both new learners as well as new instructors and 5x increase in soft or hobby courses like ploughing, fitness, musical instruments, cooking for kids, etc. So it’s encouraging to see that but at the same time it’s also disheartening to see people suffering in general.

Q] Looking at the current scenario, what different marketing strategies have you adopted to boost the business for Udemy?
Udemy is a start-up and it’s really in a good growth mode. We are definitely the number one online learning platform for professional skills. And with our campaign during this pandemic, we wanted to amplify what Udemy means to the world at large and hence, the idea is to broaden our reach and speak to a lot of new consumers and really tell them about the benefits of online learning as well as learning on Udemy. So that’s basically been the shift in our marketing strategy.

Q] Udemy focuses on skill development courses and business learning more than academic education. Is the latter not a booming sector in the light of the pandemic, as parents across the country are looking for good online learning options for their kids?
Every mode of education is absolutely important and critical. So, people will continue to study in academic institutions, from books, and from new sources like audio books and webinars.

However, the pandemic has led to a lot of innovation, specifically around virtual delivery of such forms of learning and across all the audiences. Udemy is a marketplace where anyone who has a passion to teach can create a course and anyone who wishes to learn can learn from their choice of teachers.

And what we’ve also observed is that almost 80% of Udemy instructors are actually practitioners and not really academicians. Hence, when they create courses on the platform, those are very practical skills and hands-on courses. So the way our platform has evolved, our focus has been on professional skills, and of course even non-academic skills for all ages.

Q] How do you think online learning can benefit rural students? What steps has Udemy taken to reshape education in remote and rural areas?
One thing that Udemy is particularly doing is that it is democratizing education and skilling for everyone. One just needs an internet connection and a device – that could be a desktop, laptop or a smartphone.

At Udemy, you can learn from the world’s best instructors at affordable prices, so the platform provides access to the best quality content and skills to anybody from anywhere including remote and rural areas. In fact, the kind of courses that are consumed on Udemy are spread across the country.

And that’s also to do with the breadth of courses that are available on Udemy. We have courses on basic things like use of Excel, PowerPoint, English or how to use computers. It’s for someone who really wants to learn and with access to the internet.

Q] At a time when the educational system is at a crucial juncture, how do you see the future of higher education or professional courses through e-learning vis-à-vis the conventional form of learning?
Udemy’s mission is improving lives through learning and we believe that all modes of learning are important.

However, the pandemic and lockdown has accelerated the adoption of online learning. That’s primarily because online learning comes with a lot of advantages – there’s no time constraints, you can learn at your home and at your own pace, complete one course per day or just one chapter a day, whatever suits you.

So when it comes to a comparison between online and conventional learning, the new normal will definitely emerge, where consumers will possibly be a little more appreciative of online modes of learning. And those transitions have already started happening across schools, colleges and corporate firms.

Siddharth Bakshi is the Head of Marketing for Udemy India. He is an experienced data-driven marketer with a decade’s experience in conceptualising and managing growth campaigns. In his current role, Bakshi is responsible for driving the brand and its growth strategy and execution for the market. He has also previously worked with Lenskart and media agencies such as GroupM and Madison.

Today, data is a marketer’s best friend, so read from the data, learn what the data speaks, analyse the insights and scale up

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