Are Mobile Apps close to extinction?

Digital technology has taken the world by storm. The labyrinth nature of the Internet has engulfed us with a blanket of convenience, making the world a much smaller place to live in. From booking a cab to ordering pizza, we have been spoilt for choice with the number of apps available in the market. Ever since the concept of applications was invented, these tiny widgets have evolved from the phone and tabs to laptops and even smart TVs.

In the past few years, there has been a drastic increase in the number of apps; however, the number of active app users have remained stagnant. According to a study, the average mobile app retention rate is just 20% after 90 days. Even if they have stayed on and not deleted the app, on an average, more than 75% of users fail to return the day after first use. These figures make us wonder – are mobile apps close to extinction?

While some of the essentials apps such as Whatsapp and Facebook will remain an active app on the phone, the rest of them will predominantly disappear. So, what is the future?

Progressive Web Apps – The future of apps

The newest trend observed on the Internet is the emergence of websites with app-like behaviour in a browser. A shortcut to these websites can then directly be added to your device home screen based on how frequently you visit them. The progressive functions of these app-like websites have coined the term Progressive Web Apps, which is the next big thing in the effervescent digital world.

Features of Progressive Web Apps

  • A Progressive Web App integrates the experience of an app in a website, providing you with the best of both worlds.
  • They look like normal websites that can be accessed from your browser. Based on your usage, the website will prompt you to add it as an icon on your home screen for direct access. With a direct shortcut, you can skip the process of visiting the website from your browser every time you log in.
  • These websites are typically displayed in full-screen without a website frame, giving the user an app-like experience.
  • With the progressive usage of these websites, you can experience full-fledged app behaviour by granting permissions to access your device camera and contacts, as per the functions of the page.
  • PWAs run on a javascript embedded with application shell architecture. These codes run in the background of the page and pre-load frequently visited images and information in the cache memory. This provides higher speed in loading the page with the combined benefit of easy offline usage.
  • A PWA requires minimal page refreshes as it works like an app and not a conventional web page.

Advantages of PWAs

  • A Progressive Web App eliminates the need to search for the native app in an app store and download it, consuming mobile data and time.
  • It will send you notifications over time only after repeated usage, living up to its progressive nature.
  • It loads very quickly, even in places of low connectivity, due to its exquisite application shell model.
  • Contrary to native apps, it does not take up as much space on the phone. It just provides you with a shortcut to the website which will behave like an app.
  • It does not hamper your privacy settings or permissions. Even if it does, it will be over a span of time, based on your usage.
  • The PWA does not need to be customized for iOS and Android platforms.
  • It caters to feature-phones and entry-level smartphones that do not have enough space for multiple apps.
  • While digital marketing is evolving in tier 2 and 3 cities, 4G connectivity is still an alien concept. PWA is the perfect alternative to an app in Tier 2 and Tier 3.
  • It also caters to the generation who are new to the Internet world for whom downloading an app is a tedious process.

How can PWAs benefit brands?

Apart from the plethora of advantages an app user faces, a progressive web app can widely benefit any brand or organization. Gone are the days when websites were merely developed for desktop usage and apps for mobile phones. Considering the fact that most of the organic traffic comes through mobile, it is now mandatory for organisations to take their digital game up a notch to cater to their target audiences. A PWA fills in the gap between an app and a website and is the perfect solution for increased sales or leads.

Furthermore, the cutting-edge application shell architecture used in progressive web apps makes it ideal for e-commerce websites. It eradicates the need to download the app and provides the user with the added benefits of higher page loading speed and enhanced performance in places of limited connectivity.

A lot of leading organisations have already incorporated the concept of Progressive Web Apps in their digital space. Flipkart and Ola are few of the early adopters of this technology. So, its time for mobile apps to move on and welcome PWAs.

Google awards Social Beat for Innovation in Digital Marketing

Since becoming a Google Premier Partner a year ago, we have constantly pushed the bar up to leverage Google AdWords and other advertising channels to deliver the best ROI. We are happy to announce that Social Beat has been awarded for Innovation in Display Advertising at the recently concluded Google Premier Partner awards in Mumbai. We were the only agency in India shortlisted for both Search Innovation & Display Innovation category.

Social Beat wins the Display Innovation Award from Google Premier Partners in India

The award is a testimony to the fabulous team at Social beat, which constantly pushes the bar to deliver results for clients. There are only 65 Google Premier Partners in India of which 13 were shortlisted for the awards and 5 won them.

Above is a picture  of Vikas Chawla collecting the award on behalf of the team, from Rajan Anand, Vice President, South East Asia and India of ‎Google India and below is a picture of the team that made it happen.

To learn about the innovation we do for our clients, please visit our blog showcasing the case studies.

Google-Digital-Marketing-Award-India-Social-Beat

Social Beat & Facebook conduct Digital Marketing Masterclass in Mumbai

In Apr 2017, Social Beat in partnership with Facebook India conducted the second edition of the Digital Marketing Masterclass. With a packed audience of 50, we had an insightful session on how to approach digital marketing to build a brand and to acquire quality sales or leads.

The top three expectations, shared by the audience, that was elaborated during the session were:

  • Reducing Cost Per Acquisition
  • Scaling Up Leads/Orders
  • Effective Measurement of results

So, if you are facing similar challenges, then read on!

Mobile First Marketing

From Facebook’s own research, users on average spent 3 hours on mobile per day that signifies that your consumer is on mobile for 3 hours and you have the opportunity of 3 hours to be in front of your consumer!

One thing we all need to understand is that Facebook is a discovering platform. Your brand personality has to stand out in the consumer’s mind and there need to be multiple touch points and impressions to make the connect. The Reach & Frequency category of campaigns can be useful in achieving this goal. Moreover, Facebook users are active throughout the day, unlike most other mediums (TV, print or radio) and in fact, 35%+ of Facebook Users are active at any given time.

Did you know that on average in a single day people check their Facebook feed 14 times? As many as 62% of the audience check their phones over 30 times a day. That means you are getting 14 times the opportunity to sell your product via Facebook. With over 184 million Facebook users in India, it gives brands a tremendous opportunity. Moreover, as per the report from NCCSAB, 210 million is the consuming population in India out of which, 142 million can be reached through Facebook.

Key aspects for a marketer to keep in mind when leveraging mobile

  • In a Facebook study, ~76% of video ads required sound to be understood, but most users watch them without any sound. So, it’s critical to understand these consumer insights when making videos and other creative content. E.g. Hotels.com Video which has received 2.3 million views on FB and cleverly used the video captions.
  • Since the speed of content consumption is faster on mobile, it’s important to have the brand and copy/captions to convey the message within the first few seconds.

Should we target to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India?

As per the statistics, 33% of the users are from metros. So 67% of the Facebook universe belongs to the population from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities – which is contrary to popular perception. This is also going to give rise to content creation and consumption in regional languages.

Understanding Marketing on Instagram

Facebook is the platform to keep in touch with family and friends whereas Instagram is the platform where people look for inspiration, photos and brands to follow.

Top Interests on Instagram are:

  • Music
  • Travel
  • Food
  • Photography

Moreover, the Instagram user is a more evolved and engaged user with a premium lifestyle. For example, while only 5% of the population in India has mobile postpaid connections, 25% of Instagram users have postpaid connections – highlighting that a luxury or premium brand cannot be ignoring a platform like Instagram.

The art of Audience Targeting

Facebook is 85% accurate and when further information like age and gender is included, the accuracy rate goes up to 90%.
The top reasons why Facebook is more effective is

  • Availability (with users active 14 times a day)
  • Flexibility (of audience and targeting)
  • Efficiency: Minimal Waste
  • Re-targeting
  • 100% Declared Audience Attributes (Not Inferred)

Types of Audience Targeting on Facebook

• Core Audience Targeting:

This feature allows us to reach a precise audience based on four main targeting types:

  • Location
  • Demographic
  • Interests and
  • Behaviours

For example: When targeting NRIs to sell your property – The audience which is core to Facebook is provided with age and gender information. Behaviour targeting will help us target people living in a joint family, who are frequent travellers internationally and nationally, who have travel apps and are newly married.

  • Custom audience: These set of the audience is created by uploading your customer database of:
  • – email addresses
  • – phone numbers
  • – website audience using Facebook Pixel
  • – facebook user IDs
  • – app user IDs and Facebook will match this data to as many user profiles as possible.

The custom audience is an excellent way to make use of CRM data. The CRM tool can also help in lead nurturing, which is critical to improving the final conversion of leads to home buyers. Research by Social Beat shows that there is a 60% better chance of converting if called within 2 hours.

Another medium we can customise our audience is with the use of Facebook Pixel, which creates a list of users who came to your website, converted into the site, visiting more than a certain number of times in the last 30 days etc.
The custom audience also helps in improving the quality of the leads. Users frequently visiting your website are more like to become home buyers and can be given more focus.

  • Lookalike audience

Lookalike audiences are a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because…

  • – Their profiles are similar to custom audiences you have uploaded
  • – phone numbers
  • – Their interests and demographics are similar to users who have visited your website
  • – They’re similar to users who have hit one of your conversion pixels

You’re telling Facebook that you want an audience created of people who are most like your email list, website visitors, people who have hit one of your conversion pixels, etc. Facebook will create an audience based off data points on a Facebook profile that would denote similarity.
You can also create an International Lookalike audience – because people are same everywhere! Eg: People have visited your luxury product landing page. You can create a lookalike of similar users internationally!

Coming to brand!

Facebook Brand awareness tracks people who look for sponsored content. If you plan to go ahead with lead ads in the first go, it will go to the people who have filled the leads in the past. You are missing out on the potential to reach a newer audience.

How does Brand awareness work?

  • Step 1: As a person, when I see your sponsored content on my feed, I will read. Once I find it interesting, I will go to your website to check your offerings, credibility, and products, etc.
  • Step 2: Next time, when your sponsored content again appears on my feed, I will go through your ad again.
  • Step 3: Multiple visibility of your content and ads, will make me curious and viola I fill your ad and I am one of your leads!

Point to note: Investing in your brand awareness is similar to running ads on radio and television. You need to frequently appear on the wall of the people!

For Brand awareness videos, relevant content and E-books along with the below ideas can be tried

  • Amplifying content and infographics (Facebook Canvas can be an interesting medium to do this)
  • Carousel ads to showcase different attributes of the brand
  • Amplifying with videos, 360-degree virtual tour
  • Engagement Campaigns to get shareability
  • Need for content experiment: Run regional ads in local languages
  • More formats: Video for leads ads carousel

Sequencing of ads is also possible by using custom audiences after using Reach & Frequency ads and we have seen some tremendous results come through this.

Case Studies

There are numerous case studies that one can find on the Facebook Business Success page but we discussed a few in detail and you can read them up via the below links:

Tracking Return on Investment & Scaling up Leads/Sales

We have a more detailed blog on tracking ROI from digital marketing, which you may find useful.

Mumbai Masterclass

Questions asked during the Masterclass

In spite of getting so many leads, why leads are failing to convert into a sale?

There are some common mistakes marketers make, which should be avoided in order to improve conversions:

  • Following up with your lead within 6 hours and not after 1 week of the lead being generated
  • Not disclosing the lead source to the sales person – leading to lack of clarity during conversation
  • Being able to attribute all digital leads by using cloud telephony – to understand the true impact of digital marketing

How can you improve the quality of leads via the Lead Gen Ads?

  • Add Customizable questions – which products/services are you interested in, ask a good time to call etc. This is because it is important to build a faithful relationship first then making a sale. Remember that buying a home is usually a very involved decision
  • Use Context card – tells users why they are filling the form

What are the elements critical in a lead generation focussed Ad Creative?

Its important to the have the below elements & approach to getting the best quality leads and conversion:

  • Visuals & Videos can be experimented with – For example if you are a real estate company, the exterior, interior, walkthrough video, video selling the project etc. Sometimes even generic images with family and kids can also work for specific projects.
  • Transparency is key – Location in the city, Price, Type of Property (Apartment, Villa, Plot etc), Expected Handover Date are some key details that can be included in the ad
  • Have the right Call to Action (Learn More or Contact Us or View More) and sometimes combining it with offers

We have tried regional content but it hasnt worked?

  • In our experience regional content and communication works if the entire experience is in that language, which means that the landing page, the customer care, email communication etc is also in the same regional language. WE need to provide a seamless experience for it to work – it can be messaging in hindi but then we take them to a landing page which is in English.
  • The other aspect is that, maybe the audience that interacts with regional content is different – maybe they would prefer talking to someone rather than give the enquiry online – so as a brand we need to make this easier and give multiple options to consumers.

8 Digital Marketing Trends to expect in 2017

With another year gone by, new technology, tools, and trends have emerged in digital marketing. Keeping this in mind, we have put together eight key trends that we think would be ones to watch out for in 2017.

Mobile UX will be a key focus area

With 90% of mobile usage on FB and more than half of the searches happening via mobile, its already a focus area. We are going to see brands invest a lot more in the mobile user experience, especially when it comes to speed. Google has already launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Facebook is expanding its Instant Articles feature, both of which is going to expand their reach in 2017. Google is also pushing the Progressive Web Apps (PWA) framework to enable websites to give theirs user an app like experience via the browser. Even social media engagement via mobile is going to change with brands adapting to how they can get more engagement on mobile devices.

Less is more when it comes to content

Brands often believed that more content is always better, but with millions of content pieces and social media posts going out every day, the opposite is true. 2017 is going to see a sharp trend towards brands focusing on high value content, which is engaging and far more personalised. With voice search growing in scale (currently at 20% of mobile searches in USA) many of our digital activities are going to be conversation. Even more a reason why content needs to be unique and stand out from the competition. Google also tends to pick more structured and details content for their “Answer Box”, which comes above the regular search results.

Everyone can run digital marketing at scale with automation and machine learning

With automation and machine learning playing a large role in advertising this year will see even smaller brands adapting programmatic advertising. With platforms like Double Click for Google as well as Power Editor for Facebook, a lot of elements will get automated. Google has also launched responsive display advertising allowing for brands to run ads of multiple sizes without having a design team. YouTube is also soon launching a feature to allow for automated product showcase below videos, wherein machine learning would determine which product it is, rather than the brand manually having to tag which videos showcase their products.

Regional language content will grow multi-fold in adoption

The last time Google reported data on this, it showcased that Hindi content was growing faster than English content and this is likely to grow even further in 2017. With Netflix, Amazon Prime and others spearheading the video content in multiple languages, we are also going to see written and visual content growing in regional languages, especially Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Bengali. Facebook has also launched an auto-translate feature for all the Brand Pages – though nascent it is bound to improve this year.

Even small brands will leverage the video medium

Building the brand is key and what better way than videos? Its never been easier to create videos with the help of free and low cost tools. As per statistics by Facebook, users watch an average of 100 million hours of video every day and most of these are on their mobile devices. Facebook has made it even easier with its Facebook Live feature, which is a very engaging tool, especially for the entertainment, fashion and hospitality industries.

Attribution will continue to be grey area

Especially for online/offline the attribution will continue to be a grey area. While there have been many initiatives launched and many in the pipeline, most restaurants, retailers and offline stores find it difficult to attribute walk ins and business results to the digital medium. Facebook and Google Maps have been improving their proximity data to understand if users are at a specific location and encourage them to review the location. Google is also in early stage testing of beacons to allow for better attribution but it’s still 1.5 – 2 years away from mass adoption.

Consolidation in the social media networks

Brands have always found it difficult to be active on multiple social media networks and we do expect some consolidation. Twitter has been in talks of selling out and even growth of Snapchat has not increased. As platforms evolve and mature, we will see brands also focusing on select platforms that make sense – usually a maximum of 2-3 platforms.

Virtual Reality will not take us over by storm, just yet

There has been a lot of talk around virtual reality devices, including the launch of the DayDream by Google. While the experience it provides is phenomenal, it is not going to be main stream yet. While the cost of devices is getting lower, the adoption of these rather bulky devices is still limited to a select few tech savvy individuals at least in India.

The article was originally published at Business Standard

Demystifying the basics of Search Engine Optimisation

Optimising your website Google search results is probably one of the most important things a brand can do. This is usually called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and is one of the least understood concepts in the marketing world. While SEO has changed over the last 10 years, its fundamentals remain the same and I have highlighted what are the key things to keep in mind when getting started.

Understanding what your customer or users are searching for

The first step is to understand what kind of content your customers or users want. You could use the free Google Keyword research tool or a paid tool like Moz Explorer to get a sense of it. We also use interesting tools like Answer the Public, which groups search terms together to give you a better understanding. It might be also useful to use Buzzsumo to understand what kind of content consumers are viewing and sharing via social media channels.

It’s important to understand that content here doesn’t mean only written content – it could be in the form of infographics, videos, interactive graphs, tools/calculators etc. So do the research to understand what consumers are searching for or intuitively would want.

Creating content that caters to the user’s need

Virtually everyone in the digital marketing space has finally boarded the content marketing bandwagon. We know now that creating good content for a brand is the best way to get a good ranking in Google search results. So just writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ should do the trick right? Not any more.

Content marketing and blogging has risen by leaps and bounds in the last five to six years. The rules have changed and writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ is just not enough. Writing content that covers only the basic of any topic is very easy. A user may probably visit your blog and feel that they now know something about this topic and choose not spend more than a few minutes on it. Chances of such blogs, making into the top ten positions of the Google search results are very slim. The modern SEO’s demand are much higher and you need to have the best content in your category to make it into the top results organically. Take your regular content, make it 10X bigger and better. In fact, user experience also plays a big role in the ranking algorithm making it even more important for the need to move from ‘Good And Unique Content’ to a ‘10X Content’. Only then can you hope to try and rank for those keywords

Here is a detailed guide on 10 ways to ensure that your content is 10X times better than anyone else. You could also exploring creating content in multiple languages if you feel your users would engage with such content.

Amplify the content to ensure it reaches the audience and it gets backlinks

The content is only as good as the number of people its able to reach. If you create 10X content you are likely to start showing up in search results in a few weeks (8-10 weeks for sites that have been around). Till then its key to amplify the content via social media, paid advertising, social bookmarking as well as link building requests.

Social media and SEO are two interlinked strategies as both are organic driven and is dependent on fresh content appealing to the viewers. There is no direct mention by Google that increase in social media followers will directly improve the rankings for a specific set of reason. However, Google always insists on quality links and content rather than the quantity of shares and links. Read this blog on why social media matters to SEO to get a better idea of how to leverage channels like Facebook and Twitter to amplify your content.

Social Bookmarking is another way to ensure you not only get backlinks but improve the chance of being found. Quora is also an interesting platform to do that.

Lastly, its important to build backlinks as this is one of the corner stones on which rankings improve. Backlink is essentially any link pointing from an external site to yours. Though the number of backlinks is important but poor quality or spammy backlinks should be avoided. It can result in a negative penalty for your website by Google. Influencer marketing can also be an effective tool to get relevant backlinks.

Ensure website is fast and mobile responsive

One common mistake we see brands and websites doing is ignoring the speed of the website, which accordingly to google is one of the most critical aspects in ranking. They even have new features like AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to help websites overcome this issue.

Having a website which is mobile and tablet responsive is again a given today. Users consume content across devices and the websites need to be user friendly across devices too. Brands need to leverage every mobile micro moment of consumers and for that you need an amazing mobile website.

Technical SEO elements

This involves some help from your digital team as it requires SEO knowledge as well as technology/development expertise to execute. This includes elements like headings, tags (to allow Google to understand what content/images that you have on your site), structured data (to tell Google what kind of content it is – e.g. whether it’s a receipe or a product review or just a blog article), implementing speed elements including AMP and redirecting old urls to new urls.

Track Results & be patient

It’s important to track your return on investment for such SEO activities and we usually do that by tracking not only the rank of your keyword (which is less important these days) but by tracking the growth of traffic from Google over a period of time. It takes about 4-6 months to see any substantive results. Regular creation of 10X content is key to growth in traffic from Google and that should be the focus area on an ongoing basis.

The article was originally published at Business Line on Campus, where I write a column called Going Digital.

Social Beat participates in Google Partner Summit in San Francisco

It was a delightful day when we got the news of being invited for the Google Partner Summit and being upgraded to a Premier Google Partner. So when the time came, Rohit & I packed our bags and took the journey to cover 13,876 kms from Chennai to San Francisco. The journey was not just the distance, but the fact that at the Summit we were amongst 900 partners around the world, who together controlled about 8% of the global digital advertising spend. It was indeed a delightful experience to be part of it.

“Now is our Moment” was an apt theme for the Google Partner Summit with multiple interactions with senior Google product managers and account managers interspersed with knowledge on how to manage talent as well as clients. It was a holistic agenda to help agencies like us succeed.

While a lot of the inputs provided at the Summit were confidential, we have summarized what we are allowed to share. Below were the 5 key takeaways for us:

  1. Be there in the momentBeing there in the moment in the mobile first world is key and there was indeed a lot of discussion on the usual topics of mobile responsivness as well as website speed. There was discussion around the growing adaptation of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and infact Social Beat has already implemented AMP as well. With the responsive ads that Adwords has launched, the ads become a lot more immersive and adaptable to any device/ad unit size allowing brands to be there in the moment.The challenge with mobile has been that almost 75% of the audience start the interaction with the brand on one device, but complete it on another device. So measurement and tracking of ROI becomes a challenge. Fortunately, some tools like Optimizely help us resolve this.
  2. Measure across devices, channels, offline – Measurement being key, there was discussion around multi device, multi channel and offline measurement since many visitors who search online do visit the retail store. We do have an interesting article on how search can help offline and omni channel retailers in India. While store visits as a conversion metric is already live in Google Adwords, there are many more exciting developments that we can watch out for in the online to offline measurement.
  3. Leveraging Video for Brand Building & Sales – There is no doubt that video is the fastest growing medium in the digital space and many brands are creating engaging yet low cost videos for better brand recall and sales. Lucinda Barlow, Global Director of YouTube marketing pointed out that “There are only two things Americans do more than watch video: sleep & work” and that’s the reason why digital video is going to be even bigger going forward. YouTube has lined up some interesting features for ecommerce and omni channel retailers so watch our blogs for more info on this.
  4. Virual Reality / AR – Part of the swag given by Google was the Cardboard which gave us a glimpse into the low cost Virtual Realty but what amazed us was the Google Day Dream (with Pixel) which is a very immersive VR experience and with devices becoming better and cheaper we are surely going to see more of them around. The experience brands can provide via VR is going to be a game changer and we look forward to exploring it. While Adwords is yet to integrate to VR/AR we do see that happening in the near future.
  5. Machine Learning – Machine learning not only refines the experience we get at Google but is also helping agencies like us with programmatic advertising, some of which we have started experimenting with our clients using Double Click. Its only going to get better, allowing brands and agencies to deliver relevance at scale.

Apart from the product learnings, it was amazing for us to network and meet Google Partners from around the world and we even got to visit Googleplex and interact with product managers one on one (though we cannot share the details of these discussions yet).

Social Beat part of Facebook SME India Council 2016-17

Small and mid sized businesses are indeed the backbone of India’s economy and digital marketing can be a powerful medium for SMEs, especially when you can get more through targeted marketing. This is the purpose with which Facebook India launched their SME India Council last year and this year we extremely excited to be part of it and are looking forward to working closely with Facebook.

As Facebook reported in 2015, more than 1.99 billion interactions have been made between people and the 2 million small businesses with Facebook Pages in India. And of the close to 160 million people (as of Oct 2016) on Facebook in India (95% on mobile), more than half of them are connected to at least one small business in the country.

Social Beat on Facebook India SME Council 2017

The Facebook SME India council is made of a group of small business from various industries and geographies across the country and will meet throughout the year to share feedback, discuss new ideas and work with Facebook to build better ads solutions. Due to confidentiality, we cannot share many of the information shared during the 1st meeting that was held in Delhi in October, please do stay updated on our Facebook Marketing blog to see what’s the latest (as and when Facebook announces its new feature launches).

You may also find it interesting to read our Facebook Marketing Trends for 2017.

Vikas speaks at Retail Summit on Winning the Connected Consumer

Earlier today, I spoke to a packed audience of retailers (omni channel and offline retailers) at the Chennai Retail Summit held by Retail Association of India (RAI) at ITC Grand Chola. I spoke on Winning the Connected Consumer, The Digital Way and you can see my slides below.

Local SEO and digital marketing for retailers is very critical in this connected world. Its very important for them to leverage a mobile first strategy to capitalize on every micro moment.

 

How Omni Channel Retail can use digital to connect to consumers

Measuring ROI of Digital Marketing – Panel at the Digital Summit

When we conducted our Indian Industry Digital Marketing Survey we found that many brands were facing challenges in measuring the return that their digital marketing and social media marketing efforts were giving. Hence, we included an eclectic panel discussion on “Measuring ROI of Digital Marketing” at our Digital Leadership Summit.

We had four panelists moderated by Suneil from Social Beat: Mr. Vijay Anand – Sulekha.com, Mr. Arasu Shankar – Eshakti.com, Ms. Lavanya Hariharan – Zapluk and Mr. Shriram Sanjeevi – Oyethere.com.

Return-Investment-Panel-Social-Beat-Digital-Leadership-Summit-2016-Chennai

Summary of the Panel Discussion

    • Channels that provide higher ROI will depend on product and customer segment
    • Google & Facebook continue to dominate as primary digital channels for most businesses
    • For products/services wherein search volume is lower – then social would be a better channel to start with
    • Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest allow for better product showcase and for visual products these would be interesting channels
    • Building the brand and social trust is important for long term ROI and can be achieved through a mix of social media channels
    • Influencer marketing is a very strong channel for ROI and also gets higher trust from consumers
    • Instagram, Snapchat, Emailers are other ways to build ROI depending on the business.
    • Life Time Value (LTV) is an important metric as marketing spend cannot be attributed to just the first transaction
    • Tools like Google Analytics & Improvely can help in measuring ROI

Perspective on ROI from the Panelists

Suneil started off by asking the audience as to how many of them believed you could get ROI from digital marketing; it was a pleasant surprise to see that over 60% of the audience believed it could. We as a digital agency couldn’t agree more. The panel started with a discussion on what each of them feels about the results from digital marketing. We also have had a Digital Chai Pe Charcha on ROI of Digital Marketing, and you can read it here.

  • Lavanya from Zapluk highlighted that they got a lot of organic growth once they started using the digital medium and in fact got 80% increase in customer base in just a month. As she rightly pointed out, it was a combination of brand building and lead generation activities.
  • Vijay from Sulekha.com candidly shared that they were one of the highest spenders in the city on Google and that digital is critical to their survival. He shared that Sulekha gets around 250 million visitors via organic search and another 20-30 million via paid search in a year, and it’s their strongest channel for new user acquisition.
  • Shriram from OyeThere.com said they use a 360-degree approach with a mix of digital and offline marketing based on his two decades of retail experience. He rightly pointed out that it’s a myth that digital gives immediate returns. Startups need to focus on building a brand, building the consumer trust and scaling up the service – then results come over time.

Which digital channels are scaleable and to what extent?

The entire panel did agree that the choice of the channel varies with the services/products and the consumer segment. It’s also very important to be smart as you scale adverting, as Arasu pointed out. It’s essential to be clear on what is the message you want to give about your brand.

Vijay continued to be a strong propagator of Google Organic and Google Adwords and said it’s the most scalable as SEO efforts now start showing results in a few days, for existing/older sites. Since they focus on services with low engagement from end consumers they, tend to focus less on social media channels. They did spend 15 crores on their TVC campaign earlier this year it only gives 5000 incremental visitors a day which is minuscule for them as they get about 6-7 lakh visitors a day. Vijay added that for brand building to show results, you need to be at it all the time.

On the other hand, Lavanya, Arasu & Shriram all spoke on how social media and in specific Facebook Marketing has worked extremely well for their businesses to get scaleable results. Lavanya highlighted that for a service wherein the consumer still doesn’t know it exists, the search volume on Google is extremely low hence Facebook & Twitter were the driving growth as they were able to achieve leads along with building the brand and engagement around it.

Arasu & Lavanya also touched upon the importance of building the trust factor with consumers regarding answering their questions and doubts and also in terms of showcasing the products/service in a more holistic way. As Arasu rightly pointed out that Facebook allows for better product showcase via the carousel ads, videos, etc. Even brand awareness and the brand story is better executed via channels like Facebook and Instagram. Talking about the social trust that’s built out, Arasu added that they now see existing customers answering queries raised by potential clients and that it’s a game changer for them.

Shriram added that the approach they take depends on the message, the channel also changes. For example, when they ran a huge campaign around Kabali by selling t-shirts, giving away movie tickets and more; Facebook worked very well for that as it’s a mass channel.

Influencer Marketing & Platforms other than Google & Facebook

We couldn’t agree more with Arasu when he said that “Channel will depend on product and customer segment.” For example, if you are looking to target millennials then Snapchat would be an ideal platform. If your product or service is visual and you are targeting a sub 40-year-old audience, then Instagram would be an excellent channel but there is indeed a demographic difference across channels. eShakti also focusses a lot on Pinterest as it’s relevant to many a fashion brand.

Emailer Marketing still works if it’s with your own audience. Vijay of Sulekha spoke about how emailer marketing is an important channel and delivers results when done smartly with smart targeting, in spite of Gmail pushing a lot of emails to the Promotions tab. Of course, once a user is acquired it’s up to the brand to retain them and emailers is a great way to do that.

Influencer Marketing was another channel that works very well and eShakti uses it extensively. Arasu shared that they work with 1000s of bloggers and they have built their network over a period. They calculate the ROI of influencers via direct referral traffic as well as transactions driven by the unique referral code given to each influencer. He also gave an interesting insight that there is higher trust from a consumer that comes via an influencer, so the 5-10% off that they give is covered up there.

There was an interesting question from the audience – Dr. Manoj from Dr. Smilez Group of Dental Centers asked about how they got very low engagement low on social as customers were not very keen on sharing their dental experiences. Lavanya shared her similar experiences as not a lot of women would like to share they got a beauty service or a wax treatment as it’s a personal service. The way Zapluk approaches it is  to given them an offer or incentive but in the long run, content marketing is the key. Shriram added saying that ROI cannot always be attributed to direct sales – brand building and marketing is also to be measured

Importance of Life Time Value (LTV) of the Customer in calculating ROI

Everyone on the panel agreed that the return on marketing spend is not immediate; hence Life Time Value is an important metric to help scale up business and understand whether it’s moving towards profitability.

The LTV depends on different businesses, and we got varied perspective from the panel. Arasu spoke about phenomenal ROI wherein it just takes them 1.2 transactions to recover marketing cost as they have high-value transactions and very high repeat purchase. For Zapluk and Pamperazi it was three transactions to get the back marketing cost. Whereas for a brand like Sulekha, the end consumer was not paying anything, so it’s difficult to ascertain LTV.

Arasu mentioned that they look at the time taken to recover the marketing cost of acquiring the customer and for them, it’s usually the first 1-2 months whereas it is 3-4 months for Zapluk. Key metrics remain around customer acquisition, retention and finally on how to make them spend more and more often. It of courses varies by cohort, seasonality’s (for example, summer is a strong season for eshakti), types of customers, depends on the marketing channel and the marketing campaign that you run.

Shriram again had a very different perspective and said that “The word LTV is over done. Companies that boasted of High LTvs have shut down in the last couple of months because LTV was more of a myth.” He gave an example of Chennai’s leading retail chain Viveks wherein in many cases three generations have been shopping there and apparently they are also grappling with LTV. He also questioned how come Flipkart only had 32% growth in spite of the perceivable high LTV.

Tools to Calculate ROI

One of the participants had a very relevant question – Sejal from Zoho asked what are the tools use for calculating ROI. In most cases, Google Analytics along with data from Google Adwords, FB Ads, Instagram Analytics and other social media analytics tools would suffice. Suneil added that Improvely could be a great tool to understand muti-touch attribution as consumers often interact with the brand multiple times before the sale is closed. This tool allows you to see the history of the person and how they interacted with your brand. Read more about Improvely and other similar analytics tools here.

Suneil also added that there is sometimes a time lag between generating a lead to sale and ROI can be improved if you can figure out how to leverage that time frame to communicate about the brand and the offerings.

Vijay spoke about Google Analytics Premium (GAP) which is more relevant for larger organisations as its costs around USD 90,000 a year. He talked about Google Analytics data being heavily sampled; wherein GAP has unsampled data which can also be downloaded. GAP has only around 15 clients in India but Vijay recommends it’s to e-commerce and digital businesses as repeat customers are harder to track in free analytics tools and attribution is not always clear.

How Digital drove success of Carat Lane – Digital Leadership Summit

Below is the gist of the talk given by Mithun Sacheti on “How Digital drove the success of Carat Lane” at the Digital Leadership Summit in Chennai in August 2016.

X42A3885

Key Highlights from his talk include:

  • Discovery is going to be driven by digital, consumption will remain omnichannel depending on the product/service
  • Consumers often make the decision online, but still, like to see the product in high-value purchases
  • Omni-channel is the approach towards profitability and Carat Lane has seen that with their Delhi centre, which contributes to 38% revenue and is a profitable city for them.
  • Extremely data driven approach with 4000 data points being tracked every month
  • Even spends on TV are tracked diligently
  • Key metrics to track: Cost per lead, Cost per conversion and Cost per visitor/traffic
  • Early days for digital transformation with more to see in the coming years

Mithun started off by highlighting that Chennai as the choice for Carat Lane did not come from the fact that he was based here but based on research that Chennai has the fastest clearing airport in the country. He goes on to talk about how opening the first Jaipur Gems store was challenging. Their biggest learning over the initial years was getting a clear understanding of the top/key customers since they used to get only about three walk-ins a day when they started out. They soon realized that making customers discover the store and new products is key. So when they opened their next store in Coimbatore, they were able to combine their learnings to ensure that 500 key customers walked into the store just on day 1.

How did they get into e-commerce?

They realised that discovery of products is a problem because of the limited walk-ins in retail as well as the limited scope to discover products before walking into the store. E-Commerce fundamentally changes the discovery process.

Today consumers make a choice before entering the retail store – the decision is usually made online. This is why global e-commerce started with books so that the discovery & shopping can happen online. For other products discovery is still lead by digital, but consumption is happening across e-commerce, offline retail, kiosks, etc.

In 2011, Carat Lane opened its first retail store – but they got it wrong in many ways. Firstly, they did not put much jewellery over there, though in hindsight they understood that consumers come in to try out the product. In Mithun’s words “We assumed customers were as obsessed with technology, as we were”. This changed when they opened their future stores. Moreover, their Perfect Look app allows you try out jewellery real time, and this was a big hit amongst consumers.

Why do consumers have distrust amongst e-commerce companies?

Mithun highlights on e-commerce evolution in India and candidly pointed out that between 2000 to 2009 there were early adopters who did not focus on last mile delivery and consumer experience – players like Indiatimes, Rediff, infibeam. This mostly led to distrust from consumers because they went through such bad experiences from these brands. This, of course, changed when the new age e-commerce companies started, including Carat Lane in 2008.

Is ROI real in E-Commerce?

Mithun was candid in saying that “Understanding of ROI was missing when we started, but we understood it the right way.”

In 2012 when the company evaluated its results, it realized that cost of acquisition was so high; it would take three transactions to make the customer profitable but an Indian consumer shop for jewellery twice a year so there was something wrong in the approach.

Their retail stores were a game changer because the process of discovery started falling in place. Consumers now started coming to the store with the product photograph wanting to try the product. It became evident that conversions will happen where they have an omnichannel presence. Two years ago they opened six stores in Delhi and now 38% of their revenue comes from Delhi and is the only profitable city of operation at the moment.

Is it an analytics business or a jewellery business?

Carat Lane is an extremely metric driven business, as Mithun pointed out. They track 4000 data points every month, but the critical ones are

  1. Cost per lead
  2. Cost per conversion
  3. Cost per visitor/traffic

Mithun aptly put it “There is never too little data”. Data helps bring clarity, and while it took Carat Lane 6 years to figure it out, it finally made sense. In the early days, the cost of consumer acquisition was never in focus. You need to know how much you are willing to pay for each of the above actions, as the business profitability depends on that. Each company needs to create its own attribution model – based on customer type. Google Analytics is a good starting point.

Mithun spoke at length about the advanced analysis that is done on TV ad spends. They used tools to find out in which tv program & which ad break & which ad slot had the highest visitors and highest brand search of Carat Lane. As per Mithun, searches & traffic ultimately reflect in conversions & sales assuming you have a great product + great UX. Of course, it’s not a perfect model. You can have assumptions and capture the ROI, in case there are two ads at the same time

On Startups, Funding & more

Speaking on how they used the funding they got, Mithun admits “Money is like oxygen, the human body is like iron – money can corrupt you”. They have learnt it the hard way and now moving towards profitability with a data-driven approach.

Talking about his investor, Lee Fixel, he mentioned an interesting quote. Apparently, Lee said, “My Fund has ten lives. You as an entrepreneur has 2-3 lives. Carat Lane has one life. If you think omnichannel is the right approach, then let’s do it.”

On closing. Mithun said that Digital would own discovery and budgets will move digital – which was also reflected in the Social Beat Industry Report. We, of course, agree when he said that India would be driving the digital transformation and even today with the worst internet bandwidth ever we have achieved this much – it’s only up to our imagination what the future holds!

1 2 3 5