5 Digital Marketing Trends transforming the Travel industry

Over the last decade, digitisation has transformed the travel industry quite dramatically. Gone are the days where travellers visit the counter to make a booking. To plan a travel is now a click away; right from the research for the trip to booking the tickets and hotel accommodation.  Driven by digitisation, the travel sector, now an online sector, feels the constant need to build and foster relationships with its customers. This practice provides them with seamless experiences to retain customers and sustain themselves in this competitive marketplace. Since the travel industry is a highly competitive space, it is essential to keep up with the latest trends for greater success.

Here are five most trending digital marketing developments in transforming the travel industry. 

Create Mobile Responsive Websites

In today’s fast-paced world, everyone prefers getting information on-the-go. From finding a cab to booking tickets, the internet has taken over our lives and has given us the convenience of getting things done right from our phones. This revolutionary trend has led to the increase of mobile first approach.

Travel companies, too, are making effective use of device-optimized solutions in fresh ways to draw more and more guests towards their travel services.  They have observed how users find it a lot easier to Google search destinations or travel portals on their mobile phones or at most on iPads / tablets. They know mobile-responsive websites is the up and coming trend. If your travel company website is not mobile optimised, you are out of the radar and you are losing out on a large chunk of the audience.

A classic example is that of a Business traveller. Business travellers have traditionally made their travel decisions and hotel bookings online. Due to time constraints, they seem to be switching over to their cell phones to do these bookings. These travellers are constantly checking out new, attractive travel packages and affordable hotel stays. They then try their best to align them with business trips to convert their business trips into leisure (Bleisure). They are on the constant lookout for seamless experiences on their mobile phones.  

Sterling Holidays one of India’s leading holiday experience companies have optimised their website to connect with their potential customers.

Social Media Marketing

Today’s digital times has seen the emergence of Facebook as a household name. Gone are the days when Facebook was just considered as a networking site to keep in touch with family and friends. It is now a highly effective marketing platform to showcase your product or service. It even has the power to influence users and inspire them to travel and explore new places.

social media marketing of a traveler

Online research and studies have shown that travel companies that engage with online audiences on Social Media, tend to leverage their brand image more effectively. This leads to an increase in the number of followers, reviewers and influencers which, in turn, results in higher ROI. Travel companies are regularly making their presence felt on influential digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter through creative posts, carousel ads, canvas ads and Call to Action (CTA) ads, depending on the nature of the advertisement.

Let’s take a quick example of Thomas Cook. They run ads with strong CTA that not only reaches out to their target audience and promotes favourable brand identity but also boosts online sales to a great extent.

Thomas cook

Your brand too can be a preferred choice for travellers, if you have adequately engaged audiences on your social media pages. Be active on your social media handles to create an engaging post, which inspires your followers to travel. Do not forget to use relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of your brand and make the post go viral in no time. Twitter users generally tend to create a positive buzz around travel brands by sharing good travel experiences. Most travellers today, post pictures while on vacation on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. You can simply repost them on your page to showcase your credibility to prospective targets.

Recommendations work wonders in influencing most people’s spending habits. It can bring in more leads than expensive promotional digital advertising as nearly everyone today wants to check the reliability of the travel services they are planning to purchase online. However, you need to ensure that your services are always up to the mark and are of top quality as a single negative comment can take your entire marketing strategy downhill. Online reputation management can make or break your brand so when such an unfortunate event occurs, the key to spring back up is to respond to the customer immediately and do the needful as quickly as possible. To know How You Can Efficiently Track And Respond To Feedback On Social Media, See Our Detailed Blog

Personalisation with Big Data – Targeting and Retargeting

Retargeting is a foolproof strategy to generate quality leads for your business. In this technique, travel companies create a custom audience of travellers who have either visited their resorts or posted about their services online. From check-ins to reviews, all the users who have remotely been associated with the brand are clustered into a custom audience. Ads are then generated keeping this target audience in mind. Since these users are already familiar with your brand, converting them into long-term customers is easier than approaching first-time users.

It’s also quite interesting, how booking portals have begun to integrate social media profiles of passengers to offer personalised deals. They use pop-up questionnaires as a medium to ask customers their preferences. The customers too, don’t mind filling up a couple of questions if they were to receive customization in their bookings. Scanning through social media profiles of passengers, to seat them next to people of similar interests on flights, is the latest development. This analysis is usually done at the time of bookings itself. The right data helps travel companies in assessing their customer needs, based on interests, demographics, possible budget range, desired vacation destinations, etc. and ultimately creating a better travel experience for them.  

Content is King

Content is the backbone of all the digital marketing efforts undertaken by a travel company. Just like how reviews and recommendations can bring amazing results in generating leads, securing a top rank for your travel website through SEO certainly helps your business grow further and increases your popularity among other holiday companies. Content plays a significant role in SEO efforts in the form of blogs, infographics, videos and imageries. It is important to create content which your target audience will find engaging. As far as travel companies are considered, relevant videos work as the best SEO strategy.

The videos used to market a travel company can feature panoramic views of the hotels (exteriors/room interiors), the amenities offered, local attractions and the things to remember before visiting places, to name a few. These low-cost videos can tell your brand story and can be as simple as white board clips, GIFs, simple animations or even a series of beautiful pictures. Sterling Holidays have attracted thousands of viewers through simple but innovative videos.

video content

Content creation through imagery has also proven to be very effective for many digital marketers. Coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to buy. For instance, Instagram and Pinterest are all about visually appealing content through pictures, GIFs and videos. This resonates well with the travel industry. Akbar Travels is the perfect example of how to make your content stronger to attract more visitors to your travel website. Their Instagram page has a mix of beautifully captured images and GIF videos that are visually appealing. This inspires users to travel which in turn leads to a higher rate of conversion.     Akbar travels social media

Few of the top travel-related searches performed on Google are as follows:

  • Best holiday packages
  • Best travel companies
  • How to travel to a particular destination
  • weather forecast for today
  • Best outfits to suit today’s weather
  • Directions to get to XYZ hotel

If your website, blogs, or videos address any of these concerns, you have nailed it. However, there is a catch here. Curating content is not a one-time effort. Google algorithms change time to time, which makes it crucial to keep your travel website as updated and as optimised as possible to maximise the relevance and generate higher revenues.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing, as the name suggests, is marketing your brands through specialists whose opinions, reviews and testimonials draw the attention of the press and public. Travel influencers are specifically those, who are avid travellers either to a particular destination, specific resort or a type of destinations (mountains, beaches, holy, spiritual places). They also include profound travellers who have a huge fan following on Instagram or Twitter and those whose profiles reverberate with demographics of your target audience.  They are paid for curating content for travel holiday packages. Their words are generally taken at face value as their content is constructed to strongly fit in, contextually. If you are looking at using influencer marketing, read our blog on tips for your first Influencer marketing campaign.

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However, to ensure that influencers hired to write for your brand are making a mark, it is important that they know what your brand stands for, its aims and objectives and whether your brand reflects well with their style of writing. For instance, if you aim to lure readers into a strong call to actions (CTAs), it primarily will require you to look for an influencer who invites followers to experience the travel adventures for themselves. On the contrary, if you are only inclined towards promotions, you can explore a range of influencers to engage with your brand and post images with captions on your company’s social media handles.  

For example, Sterling Holidays were on the look out for an influencer to promote their latest resort in Goa. We approached renowned travel blogger Anuradha Goyal and offered her a two day stay at the plush new resort. She wrote about her memorable time at the spectacular location in her blog and posted the same on all her social media handles.

Influencer marketing for travel  

Though these top five trends are few of the most effective digital trends a travel company can take up, there are a plethora of other strategies which can also be used for a guaranteed increase in ROI. With endless nuances coming up in the online environment, new additions are always welcomed to the existing lists at any given point in time. To illustrate this, let’s take an example of the newest trend that can overwhelm travellers before they make purchase decisions – Virtual Reality. This trend has begun to show its effects in technologically advanced parts of the world and will soon be replicated around the globe.      

Social Beat partners with Orange Flower Awards in Bangalore

We are glad to Partner with the Orange Flower Awards, organised by Women’s Web. The Orange Flower Awards are India’s first awards for women for digital excellence. The initiative aims at recognising women who are digital creative superstars. This encompasses women who are writers, cartoonists, social media mavens, photographers.

The Women’s Web is an online platform that enables women around the country to talk about their real stories and experiences. The organisation is the largest online community of women in India with 8 million readers since 2010. An inspiration to 800+ women entrepreneurs, the platform hosts 1500+ writers and bloggers. There is a wide diversity in the kind of topics that are featured on the platform. One can find women’s views on social issues, parenting advice, relationships, entrepreneurship, travel, lifestyle and even Tech and Finance! Started in 2010, Women’s Web has been growing with the love and readership of women in India and has been applauded by The Hindu, Deccan Chronical, PepperTV and won many awards such as the Women Icon and Biz Divas award.

The premise behind hosting the Orange Flower Awards is that women in India are continually innovating and reinventing to change the digital world we live in. Any woman above the age of 18 years can nominate themselves or someone else for the Awards. Although the awards are meant to recognise the work that women have done in this field, nominations from men are also welcome in specific categories where their work has empowered women in some form.

The Jury panel comprises of renowned journalists and authors like Gita Aravamudan, Kiran Manral, Ashok Banker, Mita Kapur, Samhita Arni and Sowmya Rajendran. Other panellists include Archana Doshi, Natasha Bhadwar and Aparna V Singh, who is the Founder and CEO of Women’s Web. The structure planned is going through digital and also has on ground events in 5 cities – Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad. The gala awards night is scheduled to take place on the 8th of January, 2017 in Bengaluru.

You can catch all the action and the recent happenings of the event on their page. You can also choose to attend the event in any of the cities.

How to drive conversions with Instagram

By now, everyone knows what Instagram is – the social media platform that enable its users to take pictures and short videos and share them in the app (and on multiple other platforms as well, but that is a completely different blog for another day). Nevertheless, a new day is on the rise… Instagram is not only hashtags and pretty pictures. Over the last few years, the app has evolved from a teenage forum where girls would hit like when their BFF uploaded yet another selfie, to becoming a platform of huge potential revenue when it comes to all sorts of business.

As of now, Instagram drives sales with a high average in orders, and according to Shopify, Instagram referrals actually results in an average order value of $65, which is second only to Polyvore’s $66.75. Even though most visits will not end up resulting in a purchase, the ones that do, will result in considerably higher revenue than other social networks –take for example YouTube’s $37.63 average order value. Another major piece of the puzzle is the number of active users, and seeing as the user base for Instagram in India alone is estimated to be almost 6 million active mobile users every month the question should no longer be “should your company have an Instagram Handle”, but rather “how do you maximize your income through your Instagram”? E-commerce, Fashion, Real Estate, Hospitality, Medical Care… you name it, every single industry can profit from Instagram, when used correctly. Read on, and we will make sure that you are fully prepared to dive into the ocean of endless possibilities by teaching you how to leverage Instagram to build relations that ultimately can help to drive conversion with this unique social media platform.

Your Images

Just like the key to any good fairy tale is to start it off with “once upon a time” and end it with “and they lived happily ever after”, the key to crack the Instagram code, is your pictures. They are easier to digest than text, and they are more effective for evoking emotions, which will enhance the chances that your message will be remembered. When it comes to visuals on social, Instagram is supreme. You want to use images that drives sales, and studies show the first real data on Instagram’s capability to drive sales and perhaps more important, the essentials of a picture that boosts sales conversions. The University of Wisconsin conducted a study and learned valuable insights, which we are more than happy to share with you. Here follows a list, in random order, of what their study showed was important when it comes to what type of pictures that drives sales:

  • No filters
  • High level of the colours blue and yellow
  • No question marks or exclamations
  • Longer captions
  • From infrequent posters with a high number of followers

This knowledge can be seen as somewhat of a hurdle for some, since the elements that used to inspire engagement (likes and comments) are not the same as the ones that now trigger sales conversions. No need to worry though, this simply means that one must now use a mix of criteria when creating Instagram photos.

You can use multiple tools for Instagram including some focussed on e-commerce.

User Generated Content

Posting user generated content is one of the most powerful ways to boost the credibility of your company. As consumers, we tend to perceive content originating from our peers as being authentic, because we trust that the everyday community has less of a vested interest in making a corporation look god compared to its employees. Keep in mind that consumer decision making is not always driven by price or quality, but in fact, a lot of consumers choose brands they associate with a lifestyle that sits well with them.

For example, if you buy a BMW, you are not just buying a car, you are buying into a lifestyle. Visual user generated content, which basically is the foundation Instagram is built on, is all the more impactful, as it allows us to see products being used in real-life situations, which again makes it easier for us to imagine ourselves using these products or services. So re-post your followers content if it aligns with yours, because not only does this help to create a bond with the consumer through shared interests, it also portraits the product in real life. The emotional bond that is created when using UGC is exactly why ads with this content converts better on Instagram than the refined studio shots created by professionals.

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Another very important tool to use is to leverage the reach of influencers on instagram. It is a known fact that consumers are more likely to trust a recommendation from friends and family as opposed to a brand or a vendor. This is why it is good business for companies to use social media Influencers and user generated content to get the word out about their product, offer, service or whatever they wish to convey to their online audience. Influencer marketing has the power to drive sales, sign ups and app installs by using links and promotion codes which can be tracked. Tracking and analysing the data and ‘Call Per Click’ are numbers that are going to help you modify your spend in order to generate revenue from Instagram. Instagram also its own analytics tool now.

Determine what metrics you care to track and make sure you keep a weekly or maybe a monthly report to monitor your progress. You also have to take advantage of targeting since Instagram now has the same targeting, creative and measurement abilities as Facebook. It is up to you to use the features and get the best possible results from your Instagram ads and campaigns.

Brands are excited about the success they have seen with website conversion ads on Instagram and the potential the platform has to offer –and quite frankly, so are we! Tell us what has been your experience in using Instagram. Click here to continue reading blog articles around Instagram.

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Secret to Successful Influencer Campaign – Digital Chai Pe Charcha, Chennai

The sixth edition of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha was held at our office on 27th August 2016. It received an excellent response with about 15 participants including entrepreneurs, professionals, digital marketers and social media influencers taking an active part. The topic of discussion was the secret to a successful Influencer marketing campaign.

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Here’s a quick summary of the key takeaways from the session:

What is Influencer Marketing?

  • Word of Mouth – Digitally
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Key/Celebrity Influencers, Social Influencers and Peer Influencers

Word-of-mouth advertising has always been the most powerful tool, and influencer marketing is WOM Advertising 2.0.  In simple terms, it means shaping the opinions about your brand using the most influential people amidst your potential customers. If you are a brand, you make friends with the most influential people at a place where you want to sell. Now, they talk about your brand and recommend you to their followers (potential customers).

Why use Influencer marketing?

The main reason that brands are looking at influencer marketing are:

  • Ad Blockers
  • Neutral + Engaging – Not an Ad
  • SEO + Organic Growth

Given that word of mouth, marketing generates more sales than paid advertising; more brands are beginning to think about influencer marketing as part of their branding strategy. In the last 12-16 months, we have seen many interesting influencer marketing campaigns in India run by the likes of Cadbury, Allen Solly, Ford & much more.

How to identify right influencer?

For any influencer campaign, selecting the right influencer and partnering with them is crucial. Checking the influencer’s reach is the first thing you would need to do. This can be measured in terms of the number of followers/fans or the number of visitors to their blog/posts. Always remember to choose quality over quantity.

The following are the parameters you should be using while choosing the right influencer.

  • Moz Domain Authority– This is a score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.
  • Reach in Social channels– This will include page likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
  • Estimated traffic from similar web – This tool provides user engagement statistics for websites.
  • Blog Alexa Ranking – This tool provides commercial web traffic data and analytics.

Challenges in Influencer Marketing

  • Inability to attribute to ROI
  • Getting the right influencers and Lack of large quality influencers
  • Focusing on wrong goals/metrics – e.g. Twitter Hashtag
  • Transparency of Pricing – No metrics/benchmark

What ROI to expect?

  • Short Term: Engagement, Content Creation
  • Mid Term: SEO
  • Long Term: Brand Building, Loyalty, Sales

Challenges for an Influencer

Based on our interactions with influencers, the survey we ran amongst influencers, and learnings from various events such as Social Media Week Bengaluru, there are a few challenges in influencer marketing.

  • Brief is not always clear
  • Not enough freedom given
  • Payment delays
  • Changes mid-way during campaign
  • Not communicating expectations upfront

Those of you who missed the first four editions of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha can check them out below:

 

You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Check out the hashtag #DigitalCPC for more details on the next Digital Chai Pe Charcha meet.

Vikas at MDI, Gurgaon on Role of Content & Influencer Marketing

It was an interesting evening spent at MDI Gurgaon with students of Consumer Behaviour. We were talking about the role of Communities, Content & Influencer Marketing on Consumer Behaviour. See the below slide share for details on the discussion we had.

The students had a lot of questions, especially around influencer marketing and its ethics. Many of these can be found in the FAQs of Influencer Marketing here.

MDI-Gurgaon-Influencer-Content-Marketing-Lecture-Vikas-Chawla

 

Learnings from Social Media Week, Bangalore

It was a full house at the Social Media Week, Bangalore this year! A great line up of speakers and interesting mix of panel discussions kept us all hooked to our seats. The event was organized over two days and witnessed some great industry experts share their knowledge and experiences with the crowd. Be it two 18-year-old drop outs building a child-caring app – ‘MyChild’ which is now used in more than 135 countries or a ladysingle-handedlyy fighting against one age-old social stigma – Menstruation by using comic books and social media – It was everything a Social Media Week should be.

The event started on a high note with India’s Ad Guru, Prahlad Kakar’s session on Brand Building Through Story Telling. He took us through a journey we would never forget. Sharing stories from his personal life and experiences captivated the audience. A maestro at storytelling, he gave away some important tips on how to build a brand by telling its story in a manner that makes the brand a hero!

Following Kakar’s session, we had Arnav Ghosh from Blippar India talk about Visual Marketing and Changing Consumer Context. The session addressed the scope of Visual Search and how we’re moving towards a future where Physical reality and augmented reality will blend into one. He was highly lauded for his talk and presentation of Blippar, an app that turns everyday objects into consumer-centric interactions. We will be writing a blog post later this month on how Visual & Voice search are going to change digital marketing forever.

Speaking of Visual and Voice, how can one not mention one of the most interesting sessions on cricket by cricket journalists Prem Panicker, Gaurav Kalra and Bengaluru-based popular Twitter personality Ramesh Srivats. Cricket has not only changed as a game but also how people look at it now and what they have to say about every little aspect. Apart from taking part in debates and writing out blogs, Twitter has become the new medium to express or oppose one’s opinion. Though Twitter is infamous for its social media ‘Wars’, it has also given an option for fans to follow the game through live-tweeting. Ramesh agrees saying, “Discussions on cricket are like everything else on Twitter; part stupid and trolling, part insightful and intelligent.”

There were a couple of more interesting talks on People Intelligence and Monetizing Digital Content by Amartpreet Kaur and Mahesh Narayanan, Saavn respectively. There was a very interesting panel discussion with Ganga Ganapathi, VP, Ogilvy as the moderator and Anshul Chaturvedi, G.M, Wohoo and Anjali Gupta, IBM as panel members discussing on ROE (Return on Engagement). They talked about how digital has become an integral part of marketing strategies for brands and what engagement means to the brands. The three of them shared their views and thoughts on how to measure engagement and the effectiveness of campaigns online. Many a times engagement is a great short term goal before arriving at return on investment (which for many brands is leads, sales, revenue and referrals).

The evening continued on an exciting pitch and witnessed digital expert Kiruba Shankar shared his knowledge on the future of communication and how podcasts play an important role in it. The session was interactive and had a lot of guests sharing their thoughts and ideas. Kiruba himself has multiple podcasts which can be seen here.

Day one of the Social media week ended on an exciting note and anticipation for the second day was higher. Sandy Carter from IBM shared her views on Social Intelligence and how important it is for a marketer to identify negative and positive sentiments. She is responsible for IBM’s worldwide focus on startups and having her kickoff day 2 at the event was an absolute delight. She spoke at length at about how even startups are starting to leverage big data and actionable people intelligence to connect with consumers around the world. She gave an example of Chocolate Jhony who has been able to leverage SnapChat and other social media channels to expand to multiple geographies.

Following Sandy Carter’s sessions were various more interesting sessions on Influencer Marketing, Snapchat and on breaking a taboo through social media. A gripping debate on “The ugly face of influencer marketing” amongst some of the industry experts like Kiruba Shankar, NanditaIyer, Karthik Srinivasan and G.Nivedithwas probably one of the best sessions of the day. There was a lot of discussion on whether influencers should sell their soul by reviewing and writing about topics that they don’t personally use. For example, should a technology blogger partner with a beer brand or a fashion brand. Challenges faced by influencers were also covered and many of these are similar to the Influencer Industry Report we had launched earlier this year.

There was also a stand-up comedy by Satish Perumal whose rib-ticklers cracked up every single soul in the room! His joke of the day had to be – In a city where people are dying because of potholes, the only person who can use a helipad has left the country!

A jolly-good week with people from all walks of life coming together to tell their story on how social media – a medium – is more than just Sharing, Liking or Commenting, was what SMW’16 was all about. While leaving the event with the same enthusiasm was one thing, learning to ‘Tell A Story To Sell Your Brand’ was another insight that we take back to our working desks.

For those who could not make it to the event, here are some key bytes from the sessions from both the days –

Storytelling is the heart of every communication” – Mr. PrahladKakar

Visual Marketing is the bridge between the physical and digital worlds” – Arnav Ghosh, Blippar

Content is always paid for, either the brand pays for it or the users pay directly to consume the content” – Mahesh Narayanan, Saavn

A brand is the strongest when it is clear about what it has to offer to its customers” – Ganga Ganapathi, VP, Ogilvy

As the industry matures, most Influencers will have disclosures and be more true to their identity” – Kiruba Shankar

Social media gives you a new kind of surround sound from cricket matches. – PremPanicker

Social intelligence moves the needle of your social media presence to social business”. – Sandy Carter, IBM

Occasional trending does not build long-term emotional connect with consumers” – Alokedeep Singh, Titan

For those who attended the event, do share your experiences and highlights in the comments below!

Blogging as a Career Option

Have a particular interest that you are extremely passionate about? Then blogging is the perfect way to start exploring your interest. Blogging is a hobby or a way to build your brand. It is a powerful tool, which can be a great PR for you and your brand. A blog is a simple, easy-to-use platform for connecting with and sharing timely and relevant information with customers. It’s your direct communication channel.

From an online journal at 1,000 words per post to a simple 140-character Twitter feed, blogging has taken center stage largely because of how useful it has proven itself to be in almost all areas of business. If successful, blogging can be a good way to make money and a full time career path as well. However, before we start talking about making a career out of it, the first step is to determine a topic of interest and set up the blog.

 Top Blogging Platforms

To set up your blog hardly takes 30 minutes.  If you are planning to start the blog, then here the various top blogging platforms that you can use.

  • Word press

WordPress is one of the most popular free blogging platforms that is excellent for the bloggers. It has numerous templates to choose from. Apart from this, have the option to go for the WordPress customization to personalize the blog with your own designs.

  • Blogspot

Blogspot is an extremely convenient platform and it is also one of the most common one that people use.  It has few template designs at your disposal, but the good thing here is that the Blogspot allows you to customize the blog and create splendid fonts, images and lots of other important things

  • Tumblr

Yet another free blogging website, Tumblr has gained a significant amount of reputation over the years simply because of its user-friendly interface and easy to understand features. There are plenty of stunning blogging themes and awesome features that help you to create a fine blog. The best feature though is the fact that you can synchronize Tumblr account with the various popular social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter to update your feeds made in the social sites at a distinct location.

  • Weebly

Weebly comes with a drag and drop feature to create a website. It’s simple and easy to understand interface makes weeebly one of the best blogging platforms. A very unique thing about this particular website is that you can also use it as a content management system that provides you an opportunity to earn some money by designing the websites for the other clients.

  • Livejournal

A service for journals and blogs, that also offers privacy controls, photo storage, publishing tools, style templates, and online communities for many interest.

 Driving Traffic To Your Blog

Once you have finalized on the topic and template, you need to concentrate on increasing traffic and your following. For a blog to be successful, you need more than great writing. You need to market your blog to the right audience and generate traffic to your blog. So how do you build that traffic? Here are a few tips you can follow.

  • Participate

Commenting on other blogs and participating in social media networks and groups is vital to building traffic to your own blog.

  • Marketing

Even a great blog post in useless without a little bit of marketing and promotion.  Promote your blog on social media like Facebook or twitter and post links more than once to get some attention. Whatever method you choose for your blog, take it seriously and don’t leave marketing your own blog up to chance.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Get your blog SEO optimized by using common search queries throughout your writing. This will move your blog closer to the top of search engine result pages, and make people more likely to read your posts.You can also access the traffic by using website traffic statistics software Google Analytics or the simpler traffic statistics software that should come for free with your hosting account.

  • Guest blogging

Guest posts are the articles, which a blogger writes for some blog/websites other than his/her own blog. Such guest posts have a link-back to the author’s blog, this helps in getting recognition, reader’s attention and search engine’s attention as well. Writing on other’s blogs is a great way to tap into their audience and introduce yourself to new people. Find blogs you enjoy would be able to write great content for.

Monetizing the Blog

The blog is now popular? So how do you make a living out of blogging? A common misconception is that bloggers in India cannot make substantial income via blogging alone. However this is not the case. There are many leading Indian bloggers who are making lakhs of rupees from blogging. So if you have a blog and have not monetized it yet, now is the time! There are a number of things you can do that will help. Here are a few tactics that you can use to monetize your blog:

  1. Be an influencer

Influencer marketing is a new concept that is picking up in India, where brands connect with popular bloggers and influencers who promote products by creating original articles, reviews, videos & social posts to over their followers. With increasing internet penetration and digital spending, influencer marketing is all set to grow in the near future. According to a McKinsey study, marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate. Bloggers have become important influencers because they are seen as authentic and have loyal followings. When a blogger recommends a product it seems more trustworthy than traditional advertising.  Websites like  influencer.in lets you register as an influencer and be part of their campaigns.

So keeping this in mind, brands are willing to pay influencers to promote their product. There are bloggers who work for free as they are passionate about writing, but there are bloggers charge a huge fee and we most brands are willing to pay for them.

  1. Freelance

If you have a popular blog running for a while now on a particular subject, then a lot of websites, paper or magazines will be willing to let you write for them and pay you for it. Freelancing is a way of earning money through your skills and expertise. For example, if you have a fashion blog that is doing well, you can write for fashion lifestyle websites. You will be amazed at the number of people willing to pay you money for your advice, which you were probably giving out for free until now! To implement this, you can have a landing page on your blog and have a catchy title like “Hire me” for potential recruiters to find you.

  1. Direct ads on your blog

This is a great way to make money out of your blog. How it works is that you get to choose which ad will be displayed on your blog and you also set the price for the ads. In this method advertisers get in touch with you directly to place ads on your blog, thus eliminating the middleman. When a reader click on the ad, you get paid a commission or you can choose to charge a flat fee to the advertisers on a monthly or weekly basis. Advertising networks such as Google AdSense, BuySellAds, TribalFusion, and BlogAds have made it relatively easy for bloggers to monetize their work.

Top Platforms to discover Influencers for your Brand

With the quick rise in demand for Influencer Marketing, there is a need for tools and platforms to aid brands identify the right influencers and engage them. Many platforms have cropped up that either aid you to identify the influencers yourself via a DIY tool or connect you to the right influencers for your brand based on your requirements. Some of them are free while others are either freemium or paid platforms. Let us take a look at the top platforms to discover Influencers for your brand and help you connect and engage them in your marketing campaigns.

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1. Klout

Klout is one of the most well-known tools in the Influencer Discovery and Engagement space. Launched way back in 2008, it analyzes the social network presence of an individual to arrive at Klout score. Last year, the tool was updated to serve as a content curation and content discovery platform for users.

Main features:

  • Research, segment and manage influencer lists
  • Quick overview of the social influencer of your brand’s potential influencers
  • Perks program feature to engage influencers (in Klout for Businesses)
  • Amplify reach via native ads (in Klout for Businesses)
  • Keyword search for influencers, though the functionality is not as advanced as others

2. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a paid tool that offers content marketing plus influencer identification on a single dashboard. Quite useful for content marketing by brands, it allows you insights into what type of content works best in your industry / target audience. There are multiple subscription plans available based on requirements of your brand, with the basic plan starting at $79 per month.

Main features:

  • Topic Search for the most popular content being shared
  • Research and track influencers based on keywords & hashtags
  • Influencers search has an option to segregate influencers based on different profiles like bloggers, journalists, etc.
  • Option to export data(csv/xls) for deeper analysis

3. Kred

Kred is a paid tool for influencer measurement that helps you to identify and engage with influencers based on its Kred Scores. The metrics behind the Kred Scores is more complex in comparison to Klout. The platform provides two types of score- the main Kred Influence Score and the Kred Outreach Score.

Main Features:

  • A more comprehensive scoring system that takes into account all aspectsofinfluencer activities on Twitter to arrive at the synopsis of an Influencer’s influence
    • Kred Influence Score based on followers, retweets, mentions and replies for a profile
    • Kred Outreach Score based on the frequency of the tweet/retweets, replies and mentions
  • Community level influencer filtering like sports, technology, marketing, etc.
  • Additional services like Rewards Service and Email Marketing to engage influencers

4. FollowerWonk

A simple tool from the house of Moz, FollowerWonk is a search engine & analytics tool that focuses exclusively on Twitter for Influencer discovery and tracking. Rich engagement metrics and competitor influencers following are some great insights provided by the tool.

Main features:

  • Twitter Profile Search based on parameters like bio, location, name & url to help you identify influencers based on your requirement
  • Breakdown followers based on Follower count, tweet count and authority
  • Audience Comparison Tool that allows comparison of profiles to check audience overlap and mutually exclusive audience vis-à-vis your competitors
  • Visual infographics and interactive charts for your tweets, followers and RTs
  • Export reports for future reference

5. Keyhole

Keyhole is a freemium Hashtag tracking tool to discover content & influencers associated with an event or campaign on social media. It can pull-out influencer profiles, conversations and top trending content using a particular hashtag.

Main features:

  • Currently available across Twitter & Instagram
  • Detailed insights such as top influencers, recent conversation sources, top links/sites & top posts
  • Easy exporting of any data to your clipboard
  • Additional features like Audience Intelligence Reports for paid subscription users

6. Influencer

Influencer.in is one of the leading influencer marketing platforms with more than 5000 influencers listed on the platform. The platform offers brand influencers across a wide range of categories such as lifestyle, fashion, sports, travel, healthcare, technology, etc.

Main features:

  • Tracking and identifying the right influencers for your brand
  • Campaign ideation and Influencer engagement
  • Customized Campaign Analytics and Tracking reports
  • Content marketing and amplification
  • Strong influencer network for the Indian market

7. Topsy

Topsy is an interesting tool that allows you to track the influencers who are sharing a specific piece of content – it can be your competitors article, link or a tweet. It allows you to pull out all users who share a content relevant to your industry and automatically filter the most influential sharers. It supports upto 10 different languages that includes English, French, German and Spanish.

 

Popular Influencer Marketing Campaigns in India

The latest buzz word in the digital marketing world that is steadily catching up with brands is ‘Influencer Marketing’. Western companies have leveraged this strategy of marketing for the past few years and the trend is quickly catching up with Indian brands as well. Brands in India have actively come up with successful influencer campaigns for the past 2-3 years.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a term that has risen from the realization of brands about the power, peer influence and customer recommendation has over other forms of marketing. Especially in a time, where consumers have started using social media in huge numbers and have been public about their views about brands and products. Brands have realized that people are largely influenced by second-hand information from opinion leaders and this has led to a lot of brands identifying top influencers in their respective fields to try and reach out to consumers better.

Once brands have identified Influencers in their particular domain, it is important that they find a means with which they can connect to them and make them speak about the particular product. The engagement plans have to be well thought out and shouldn’t look too commercial. Here are a few popular influencer marketing campaigns in India, that companies have used to engage and leverage the power and reach of influencers.

  1. Lenovo Yoga 2 tablet – YoGa2bFree

One of the top influencer marketing campaigns in the country came from Lenovo for their Yoga 2 tablet range. Lenovo hired four famous twitter celebrities namely film critic Mihir Fadnavis, gadget guru Ankit Vengurlekar, actor Ashwin Mushran and food blogger Kalyan Karmakar. Rather than using these four influencers to simply do the customary sharing of features of the tablet, they were actually shown being trapped inside a box.

The campaign invited consumers to answer questions and find clues that could help free their favorite Twitterati. Participants who answered all their questions rightly would win a free Yoga Tablet. 

  1. Launch of Cadbury Glow

 A few mid-range twitter influencers along with Bollywood fashion and lifestyle blogger Miss Malini were roped in to promote Cadbury Glow which targeted the super-premium chocolate market. The campaign focused on the key aspect of Cadbury Glow which allowed people to share personalized notes, songs, photo albums and videos along with it.

One of Miss Malini’s friend made a video for her and shared it on twitter which she retweeted bringing in a lot of traction towards the product.

  1. Philips Air Fryer 

Philips had introduced its latest kitchen appliance Air Fryer in 2012 and there were very few who knew its application and use. It allowed deep frying of a variety of food items with 80% less oil consumption. Despite such a huge feature, the Air Fryer remained relatively unknown in the market.

This is where Philips along with its digital agency Ogilvy One roped in Sanjay Thumma who is known for his cookery channel on YouTube called Vahchef. The campaign started a six month long show called “Philips Superchef” that managed to create a lot of awareness amongst consumers.

  1. Colgate Charcoal Toothbrush 

Colgate launched its new SlimSoft Charcoal Toothbrush and decided to bring it into public view using an innovative and unique campaign. The campaign was for 3 days where key influencers targeted by Colgate were sent an item that was completely black in color each day. The first day was a black mug followed by a WhatTheBlack Times newspaper and on the final day the black charcoal toothbrush.

At the same time Colgate also started a #WhatTheBlack contest on Twitter where bloggers and top Twitteratis had to write their top 5 black things without actually revealing anything about the brand or product. This led to a lot of speculation among consumers who came up with a variety of guesses as to what the product was going to be. These two campaigns brought about a great deal of attention to the debut of the Charcoal Toothbrush.

  1. The Madras Song 

The Madras Song was released by the Murugappa Group to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Madras. Murugappa Group teamed up with socialbeat.in and roped in bloggers from diverse fields to blog and talk about the song. The song went viral and within 5 weeks generated almost 2.5 lakhs views.

Twitter hashtags like #FavMadrasMemory and #Madras375 Celebrations were created which turned out to become very popular among Chennaites.

  1. IBuyFresh

IBuyFresh’s campaign to reach out to its audience interested in cooking & recipes online invited influencers to visit their warehouse and blog their experience to help spread the word. The campaign received attention from local bloggers in the respective field and helped a great deal in popularizing the brand among consumers.

  1. Raintree Hotels

Popular luxury hospitality chain Raintree started an interesting influencer campaign to promote their recently renovated hotels. They invited top travel bloggers to stay and share the experience to fellow travel enthusiasts following them. The campaign worked remarkably well in letting people know about the renovation and the various special services offered.

  1. Opera Coast Campaign 

Opera’s latest browser, Opera Coast had features that would change the way people would use a browser in the iOS. The browser was designed without an address bar, forward and backward button and other features that made it completely unique from any conventional browser.

The campaign used kinetic sand which is a soft, stretchy and non-sticky sand that can be used to make innovative shapes. The brand identified a particular set of creative professionals as influencers which included artists, media & ad folks, illusionists, entrepreneurs and musicians. Each of the influencer was sent a surprise package containing kinetic sand and a personal note asking them to spend time making something with the sand.

The influencers pleasantly surprised by the package, shared their experience about the iOS browser and also how they liked the surprise campaign.

  1. Ford India Campaign 

Ford launched Ford Fiesta Powershift Automatic via social media to promote the ‘Real People, Real Experience’ approach. It invited auto enthusiasts in the country to drive the newly launched car and thereby prompted them to share their experience through their respective media.

The event was held in Buddh Racing track in Noida and the track was specially designed for drivers to discover the key features in the car. The list of people included bloggers, businessmen, photographers and designers who were all known to be auto enthusiasts. The campaign drew a lot of attention from people across various social media like Twitter, Facebook etc.

  1. Allen Solly #ShootforSolly 

To promote the brand’s entire chino range, Allen Solly came up with the #ShootforSolly campaign. The brand handpicked 22 people across 7 cities in India consisting of 11 eminent personalities and 11 budding photographers.

The models were asked to pick up a pair of Allen Solly chinos and shirts and then coordinate with the selected photographer for a photo shoot to be planned completely by the model and photographer.

Allen Solly not only managed to make the 22 influencers talk about the campaign, but also created a buzz about the chinos and how they suited different styles and body types.

All these campaigns focused on the essential aspects of Influencer Marketing. They targeted the right influencers and built a campaign that would naturally make influencers directly or indirectly endorse their product. These campaigns are excellent examples of Influencer Marketing done right.

Click here to launch your Influencer Markerting campaign in India

Influencer Marketing–Final nail in coffin for traditional marketing?

Voice of the Brand or Customers?

Social media marketing has brought about a quantum shift in the way marketing is done. It has moved the focus from “The Voice of the Brand” to “The Voice of the Customer”. The balance of power in the purchase funnel is now more skewed towards the customer & his peers, slowly changing the way brands market themselves. Earlier, the entire focus used to be about roping in a brand ambassador and roll out your story. Today, your story is okay but what really matters is the story that’s going on between the millions of bubbles on the social cloud. Add to that, the “bigger bubbles”- the social media influencers, and you are in for a different game altogether.

Word-of-mouth results in 200% sales in comparison to paid advertising

Yes, the above statistic is true, according to a McKinsey study. To delve deeper, they also result in 37% higher retention rate of customers1. Riding this trend of word-of-mouth/recommendation marketing, a form of marketing has gained prominence – Influencer Marketing.

What is Influencer Marketing?

The term “Influencer” in itself can be defined in 10 ways by 10 different people. And, each can be vindicated. A 2014 study by Augure2revealed the following:

  • 79 percent say influencers are able to mobilize opinions and create reactions
  • 73 percent say influencers have large online communities focused on specific topics
  • 62 percent say influencers have a significant share of voice on a given subject

In simple terms, it means shaping the opinions about your brand using the most influential people amidst your potential customers. If you are a brand, you make friends with the most influential people at a place where you want to sell. Now, they talk about your brand and recommend you to their followers (potential customers).

With the explosive growth of social media, the process explained above happens digitally. The influencers talk about your brand on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or on their blogs, which impacts the purchase decision of their followers.

How do you get to know if he/she is the “right influencer”?

Who knows, he might be! Okay, so a brand wants to engage with influencers to talk about the brand and their product / offerings. But, who to connect with? It can be quite tempting for a brand to connect and partner with an influencer with large number of followers but is “number of followers” the right metric?

Brand Influencer selection is very important step for a brand before jumping in. This has to be dealt with in 2 steps:

1.  Qualitative Filtering

The first step is Qualitative Filtering that allows you to filter out the “Social media influencers” who cannot be “Your Brand Influencer” no matter how many followers they have. The parameters to be considered here are:

  • Content Relevance & Quality – Look at the domain of the influencer and whether the domain matches your brands requirements and the quality of the content being churned out is right for your brand to be associated with. Example- A sports blogger cannot be the right influencer for a packaged food brand)
  • Audience Relevance & Quality – The followers of the influencer might or might not be the audience you are looking out for. Example- If you are a lifestyle brand, targeting a premium audience, then it would pay to target influencers with a similar audience following.

2.      Quantitative Selection

Once you have a shortlist of Influencers you can associate with, comes the next step of finalizing the list of Influencers you would like to reach out to. This can be done based on the following formula:

Influencer Influence = Audience Reach*Audience adhesiveness*Quality Score

Audience reach: calculated by the no. of followers

Quality score: a relative scale of 1-10 for the expertise & credibility of the brand

Audience adhesiveness: Engagement with his audience; can be based on the number of retweets, likes and replies over the period of last 2 months

This approach can provide you a decent shortlist to kick-start the influencer marketing efforts for brand-building and lead generation. There are umpteen case studies that showcase how brands have been able to amplify their marketing efforts. Most importantly, it has not been the case only with the medium/smaller brands but the bigger brands too, are laying focus on influencer partnerships.

Miss Malini makes Cadbury ‘Glow’- a case study!

When Cadbury Glow was launched in India by Mondelez International, it turned to social media influencers to create buzz around the offering. It roped in Miss Malini and other Twitter Influencers to talk about Cadbury Glow, its special features like personalization with notes, songs, photos or videos. For example- Miss Malini’s friend did a video of her and uploaded on Cadbury website. The link was then shared and tweeted by Miss Malini.

Start building influencer relationships before need them – it’s a coin with 2 heads!

Building relationship with influencers and leveraging them, works on a foundation of quality offerings and superior customer experience. In cases of mismatch between expectations and offerings, social media easily amplifies negative sentiments about your brand. This not only puts your brand at stake, but also marginalizes the credibility of the influencers associated. It is possible for some brands that at this point you may not require influencer marketing. But, as the proverb goes – you don’t dig a well when you are thirsty. Drawing an analogy, this is the time to build a strong influencer network. Moreover, influencer partnerships act as a validator for your own content marketing campaigns. So you see it’s not a zero-sum game. One of the few ones that give you a win-win hand! Whether this rings the death bells for traditional marketing, only time will, tell but what’s for sure is that marketing shall never be the same again.

References:

  1. http://tribalmedia.co.uk/blog/2015-online-influencer-trends/
  2. http://www.augure.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Influencers-marketing-Report-2014-Augure.pdf