OTT & YouTube are main pieces of upGrad's marketing strategy: Arjun Mohan

e4m Conclave: upGrad CEO emphasised that TV can’t reach a certain niche population despite having a wider reach

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Dec 14, 2021 8:48 AM  | 4 min read
Arjun Mohan

“upGrad’s TV presence has been limited as we know TV can’t reach a certain niche population despite its ability to reach a wider audience. Rather OTT and YouTube are the main pieces of our marketing strategy,” says Arjun Mohan, CEO of the Bangalore-based higher edtech brand. 

Arjun Mohan was the headline speaker at e4m conclave 2021 which was held virtually Monday afternoon. In his session 'Scripting new marketing practices,' Mohan shared the success story of upGrad. The company started its journey in 2015 and it is recording an annual revenue run rate of INR 1200 Crore and is considered as South Asia's largest high edtech brand within a short span of five years. 

upGrad is an international online higher education leader offering 100+ courses in collaboration with top-notch global universities like Deakin Business School (Australia), Duke CE (US), Michigan State University (US), Liverpool Business School (UK), IIT Madras (India), IIM Kozhikode (India) and others. The edtech major has impacted over 1 million total registered learners over 50+ countries across the world. upGrad has ranked No.1 in the LinkedIn Top Startups India 2020 list.

He said, "We conducted in-depth interviews and surveys among learners to understand the problem statement and present a solution. We positioned ourselves in the skill education market with the ‘Naam Ki Nahi, Kaam Ki Degree' campaign to highlight that the degrees for the namesake have no value. Another powerful campaign was 'Specialisation is right, then future is bright”, Arjun Mohan explained, highlighting upGrad’s pitch that specialists are more valued than generalists. 

He said that the company’s campaigns created a mass awareness campaign around online higher education among employees and recruiters both. 

In his power-packed presentation, Mohan stated, “I would like to divide upGrad’s journey in two parts. In the first part, from 2015 to 2019, we were completely focussed on building our products. We tested multiple iterations before reaching out to customers.”

The upGrad collaborated with over 100 content creators to create high-quality and relevant content with them, produced web series and originals with an aim to break the stereotype around the word “education,” especially online education. 

“The placement of our content in the influencer’s content was very very organic and hence we got good traction. There was a 100% increase in BDO on certain contents like the one created by FilterCopy and Dhruv Rathee which helped us to engage with the highly attentive consumers. Three videos on fiction and comedy have been instrumental in the BDO lift. There has been a 90% increase in our Youtube subscribers as compared to 2020,” Mohan told the audience. 

“The upGrad’s content-driven marketing is focussed on social media, TV, OTT and PR in A&M magazines. We have partnered with OTT show ‘Shark Tank India’ which has a strong resonance with the brand. It will start on December 22. Our TV presence is limited, unlike other large education brands in India. We have a clear strategy on what we want on TV (advertising) and which cohorts we want to reach”, explained Mohan. 

In the second part of our journey, we thought that instead of going through influencers, let's create our own IP. We collaborated with BeYouNick and created an “office canteen” campaign on youtube, Mohan stated. 

He presented a few powerful ads of the brand, one of which showcases how a woman upgraded her skills with the online courses and became boss of her own classmates who used to make fun of her and online education.  

“BeYouNick’s office canteen campaign hit the chord with the consumers. The three-episode web-series, which was a humorous take on workplace-canteen situations featuring prominent influencers, drew 8.2 million views, huge uplift in search impressions and sales,” Mohan said, adding that the same theme was used in TV ads. 

“We used a donkey to present the lighter side of office politics although we remained focussed on our core business that was upskilling. Today, our consumers pick only customized courses.”

Mohan says, “TV advertising is the most premium one among all verticals and the medium has a wider reach as well, but TV can’t reach certain niche consumers. Hence, the company focussed on TV ads for huge properties like live sports, as we know, it will give us more reach because our audience follow these sports.” upGrad is one of the major sponsors of cricket championships like IPL, ICC world cup, Wimbledon and UEFA championship. Mohan says that upGrad focussed on data-driven marketing across all platforms. 

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