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

How mobile search can help offline retailers in India

While some might say that digital has opened the doors to online players and has blurred the existence of local retail stores, new research says that the relationship between digital marketing & in-store shopping is far more interconnected than that. Foot traffic & word-of-mouth which were the assets of offline retailers before digital & mobile entered the lives of people, are not anymore the only assets which can be relied on.

Local retailers, in general, believe that online marketing works only for e-commerce websites. But, digital doesn’t just drive e-commerce, it actually gets consumers into local stores.

Connecting offline retailers to the mobile users

We are living in “always-on search world”, where people are always able to search. When they want to buy things or when they do have a query, they turn to their smartphones. Consumers now spend more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones.

Impact of mobile on the store visit

There was a time when people would have to get to their computers. But now, searches on the desktop have dropped as mobile is always in reach. It is found that 21 percent of in-store shopping in urban India is influenced by digital and 18 percent is influenced by mobile. If you have a physical store, then mobile search is the new threshold to your store.

Store visits after online research

Most offline retailers in India are not aware of various mobile marketing techniques which they think are only for e-commerce players. This has led to them not making efficient use of the web to provide necessary information to the customer. Whereas, according to research customers are likely to go to an offline store when they find the store they are looking for listed in search results. It is found that 3 out of 4 shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores.

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    Image source- https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/

The retailers need to realize that consumers shop digitally before going into the store and they should make sure they provide all the information that customers are looking for online. Thus, retailers should have the right digital marketers as this will help to drive more customers to visit the stores.

Online Advertising Techniques To Create Online Presence

What most offline retailers lack is the right guidance how digital marketing can be leveraged to bring sales. There are many different ways in which the visits to their local store can be boosted.

  • Search Advertising

This is the most effective method to reach out to as many customers as possible as shown by recent statistics. Many big companies engage in Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. This is because PPC ads work in a way that brings best customer attention with minimal expenditure.

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Brand Search Advertising reinforces the brand name, increases brand value and brings about brand awareness. These ads are so effective because they give the customer all the information he/she needs to know about the brand within a few lines. This way the customer does not spend a lot of time reading the ad, but manages to get the required information.
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Also, ads can be shown to the people who search for the products using relevant terms. For example, one who is looking for a laptop store close to his location can be targeted using relevant search terms like laptop store near me, laptop stores in Chennai, which people normally use.

Another advantage of the PPC ads is that they can be targeted to the desired audience of a particular location, preferably places around their stores using Radius targeting. This way the ads are shown only to the people who might be interested in the product or service and more likely visit the store.

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Since the retailer is charged each time these ads are clicked, showing these ads to a targeted audience will result in an increased conversion rate which will in turn result in an increased ROI. Where they appear is chosen by the retailer, but its ranking is decided by Google based on a number of factors.

  • Organic Search Listings

This is the most traditional method by which offline retailers can show up on a customer’s search field below top PPC ads without having to pay a penny. A link to the retailer’s website automatically shows on the customer’s screen when he/she searches for something relevant to the products offered by the local store.

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Where the retailer’s website is listed is again decided by Google based on the relevance of content and other factors. What the retailer should ensure is to provide the right and relevant content on the website of the store so that it shows up higher in the  organic search listings. Hence, by this way the store can get a few more customers to visit its website by making sure it has a user -friendly website.

  • Google Business Local Listings

An important feature that drags customers to stores near their current location is the store locator available on Google. Using this feature the customers can know exactly how far the store is located from their present location and they can head straight to the store with the navigation feature of Google maps. Hence it is essential that all stores add their location on Google using Business map locator.

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When a customer searches for something like textile stores, a list of textile stores nearby his/her location shows up with the address information of each store. By clicking on any of these stores in the list the customer can know exactly how far the store is and how long will it take to get there with the help of Google maps. Hence, if a customer knows that a store is close by to his/her location, then it drives the customer to visit the store.

  • Tracking Results

In order to track the source of the leads that we receive through the above advertising methods, it’s recommended to generate unique phone numbers for each advertising channel. This way we can measure the effectiveness of each channel.

Digital bridges the gap between customers and stores

Today the consumer’s path to purchase is becoming increasingly mobile. Retailers that provide relevant, local information online will increase both reach and sales. While helping to drive customer in-store it will also help to enhance the customer’s experience once he/she has entered the store. Mobile has reshaped the way the people shop, that is in a good way and retailers who make use of this in the right way will see themselves moving ahead.

 

Retail 2020: Trends In India

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in association with the Retailers Association of India, recently published a report that highlights the trends in Indian retail. As the world’s leading advisor on retail strategy, BCG has evaluated India’s high-value opportunities in the retail market. Partnering with RAI, the unified voice of Indian Retailers, the report aims at formulating solutions to key challenges faced in the market. The following is a brief summary on the findings.

The Scenario
Retail in India has taken a remarkable transformation over the last two decades. Rising income levels, urbanization, and changing consumer behaviour has given an optimistic outlook to the retail sector, promising an undoubted growth in the future. The digital medium has influenced retail with a powerful strike, reshaping customer behaviour and expectations. To summarize, retail business are in a constant need to retrospect their strengths, reinvent their offerings across the purchase pathway, and rewrite their approach of retail economics.

Trends
Based on research and some stringent analysis of data, the report captured key trends across the following broad categories.

1). Certainty of Growth
A promising growth forecast is one of the primary findings made from the study. The Indian retail sector is projected to double from $600 Billion to $1 Trillion, by 2020. This rapid growth will be determined by factors such as Income Growth, Urbanization, Nuclearization, and Attitudinal Shifts. Modern trade is also expected to grow 3 times, with Rapid Consumer Evolution, Supply-side Evolution, and Positive Regulatory Environment, being the drivers that will materialize this growth. As a key implication from this finding, Indian retailers should sharply identify the emerging opportunities and customer segments and be clear about what to not go after. Retailers should also re-adjust propositions to remain relevant and also allow room for experimentation, though it might not always turn out to be successful.

Certainty of Growth

2). Reality of Digital
The E-commerce market in India is expected to quadruple to $70 Billion, over the next 5 years. With the rapid increase of smartphone users, competitive costs for connectivity, and expanded reach, internet users are expected to reach a mark of ~600 Million. Customers are attracted to superior value propositions like broader assortment, higher discounts and greater convenience. Indian retailers should conceptualize digital strategies with clarity and leverage on social media to create brand awareness. They are also expected to deploy a seamless and connected customer journey, as shoppers migrate across channels. It will also be a lot more seamless for e-retailers to sell across multiple offline & e-commerce market places.

In our view, digital will increasingly drive offline retail sales as well. It is already easy to track phone calls to the store or to track the number of people looking for store directions. Retailers will become more sophisticated (along with measurement tools from platforms like Google, Facebook, etc.) to attribute offline sales to a specific digital marketing effort.

Reality of Digital

3). Challenge of Capability
Omni-channel business is becoming increasing relevant. Customers expect a seamless experience and do not tend to distinguish between online and physical channels, while shopping. Traditional strengths are insufficient here. In addition to being omni-channel, a well conceptualized talent management strategy is critical. It has been noticed that retail businesses suffer from high attrition rates and limited capabilities in the middle and top management, as a result of inadequate specialized training and experience in the sector. Supply chain also needs an evolution, as the market is viral with long lead response times and infrastructure challenges. It’s high time that Indian retail businesses develop a comprehensive omni-channel offering and adopt a targeted approach to employee training, appraisal, and retention. It is also very vital for businesses to build a demand-driven supply chain that is equipped with a real time flow of information.

Challenge of Capability

4). Importance of Economics
Several economic challenges plague Indian modern trade. Please find them listed below.
On the demand side:
– The level of processing is not high enough, as the Indian consumer gets used to modern trade.
– Pricing and promotions are poorly executed , not leveraging on customer willingness and purchasing power.
On the supply side:
– Inflating costs of real estate and rentals.
– Increasing costs due to low bargaining power with suppliers due to limited scale.
– High cost incurring supply chain due to poor connectivity, excess and deficit inventory.
– As an immediate implicative measure, the throughput problem should be address first. The other cost and margin issue will fall subsequently.

Importance of Economics

5). Need for Transformation
Fundamental transformation is the need of the hour. Businesses should avail the growth opportunity and serve digitally empowered consumers. As mentioned earlier, they should also build capabilities in quality omni-channel experience, talent management, and supply chain optimizations. This requires working on four pillars simultaneously. They are as follows.
Fund the journey – Generate quick cash from existing operations by relooking at the core of the business.
Win the medium term – Identify the winning consumer proposition formula for the next 6-8 years.
Take measured bets – Invest in emerging but important trends.
Enable the transformation – Invest in people and technology to improve efficiency, productivity, and morale.

Need for Transformation

Leadership Perspectives
The latter part of the report is its most credible engine, bringing perspectives from over 20 CEOs of top retailers in India. Some of the most thought-sparking lines have been quoted below.

“In times when the economy is tight, we face the brunt of lower discretionary spend. But right now, we are feeling very positive about the future and our industry.” – Ajay Kaul, CEO, Jubilant

“There is some form of a lack of supplier assistance to modern trade: somewhere they will have to accept that this is the way forward.” – Randall Guttery, CEO, Reliance Retail

The future of retail will compose of 3Ds: Daulat (wealth sharing within the retail ecosystem), Depth (in channels and category execution) and Digital (significant part of the operating model).” – Shailesh Chaturvedi, CEO, Tommy Hilfiger

The full report can be found at http://www.bcgindia.com/documents/file181823.pdf.

Customer Lifecycle Value vs Cost of Acquisition in Ecommerce

You cannot acquire a customer for life. In ecommerce, loyalty is a thing of the past. Many startups and new businesses struggle to find the right balance between customer acquisition & retention. This is especially true for the ecommerce industry. In the quest to growth hack to the next level, ecommerce businesses go all out to acquire new customers sometimes at unsustainable costs.

Over a longer term, online retailers might want to discontinue the channels that have a consistently higher cost of acquisition (CoA). But customer acquisition cost alone is not the right metric to evaluate the performance of an acquisition channel. Ecommerce businesses should instead be including average customer lifecycle value for customers from a particular channel as an important metric for strategic decision-making. This article can help ecommerce businesses garner a better perspective to guide their business decisions.

Customer Lifecycle Value (CLV)

In simple terms, customer lifecycle value is the projected value a customer generates over the entire lifetime of their interaction with the brand. Focusing on CLV can help a company determine optimize the marketing spends, allowing it to focus on more profitable customers.

CLV as a metric assumes greater significance when put together with CAC. The CLV:CAC ratio is a powerful metric to define the Return on Investment (ROI). Focus on both the levers can help you devise a winning strategy.

Let’s take a look at the comparative illustration of 3 customers from different acquisition channels (A, B & C) assuming 1 year as the time period under consideration:

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How to calculate the Customer Lifetime Value

First step would be to segregate the customer acquisition and purchase data on the basis of marketing channels. Once this is done, there are 2 principal models of calculating the customer lifecycle value:

  • Historic Model

Under this model, the gross profit from all historic purchases of individual customers is summed up & divided by the total number of customers. This gives the average CLV for each acquisition channel.

  • Predictive model

This is an advanced method built upon the historic model. Predictive model uses the past customer behavioral pattern to predict the lifetime value of customers. This factors taken into account by this model are as follows:

  1. Number of visits per month (N)
  2. Average customer basket size per visit (B)
  3. Average profit margin per customer (m)
  4. Historical customer retention rate (r)
  5. Discount rate for future cash flows (d)
  6. Average customer lifespan (l)

Assuming next 10 years as the time period (T) for consideration, let us look at the formula that can help you arrive the lifetime value.

Average customer value per month (v) = N*B

Total customer value per year = S = v*12

Total lifetime spend of the customer = L = S*10

Average gross margin per customer lifespan = G = L*m

CLV 

= N*B*12*m*[r/(1+d-r)]*T  

= S*m*T*[r/(1+d-r)]

= G*[r/(1+d-r)]

 

The final CLV value obtained can be plugged in the ROI ratio (CLV:CoA). Greater the ratio, the better the impact on the company’s growth strategy.  The ROI ratio can be used as a good measure to evaluate the performance of the marketing channels and accordingly optimize the budget allocation.

Factors boosting customer lifecycle value

For the CLV model to work, the data set under consideration has to be long enough to provide. CLV is not just for evaluating the marketing channels and campaigns, it can be a great lever to look at the overall business strategy for ecommerce businesses. There is nothing wrong in looking out for new customers. But, it’s important to look at the value brought by ten new customers acquired vis-a-vis ten retained customers. From the cost perspective, it mostly turns out cheaper to retain existing customers. With the wide array of choices thrown open to the consumers with just a click of a mouse, brand loyalty and customer retention becomes more important.

A quick look at Nielsen’s Global Loyalty Sentiment Report provides good insights into the consumer sentiments that result in switching retailer & brand-hopping.

blog-customerlifestyle

The 5 factors listed above- price, quality, service, selection and features; can together drive the lifetime value of your customers. Doubling the CLV of existing customers is equivalent to doubling the customer base. Here’s some handy tips that can help online retailers increase the CLV:

  • Loyalty programs has been used by offline retailers for a long time to create long term loyalty and drive repeat purchases.
  • Do not charge for product returns. It does put in a load on the operations side but brings in the baggage of good experience and more future purchases.
  • Size Fittings is one of the major reasons for product returns. Interactive tools for size fittings can go a long way in aiding customers to find the right size for categories like footwear, apparels, etc.
  • Ecommerce is all about providing easy access to products and services from the comfort of the home. Similarly, customers expect an excellent 24*7 support to aid them for their queries and complaints.
  • Wider range of custom delivery options is required. Ecommerce players like Amazon provide different delivery options that allow you to get the product delivered even in 1 day. Other possibilities can be incorporated like the option for nominating friends, etc. to be delivered the product in the absence of the customer.
  • Being in touch is important. Sending post purchase emails and festival wishes can be a way to continue to have relevant mind space. We usually recommend using Mailchimp or Sendgrid for sending out emailers and tracking its results.
  • Do not fail to surprise them. Sending a small reward or gift along with their purchased product can win their heart and create a long term goodwill for your ecommerce brand.

Don’t stop marketing on unprofitable customers but start actively engaging with profitable customers

In the rapid-growth ecommerce boom, it’s easy to get lost in the race for acquiring new customers. Brands go upto the extent of acquiring new customers at 10x the historical averages. They fail to remember that retaining your existing customer can cost lesser and would pay in the longer run to get hold of these low-hanging fruits.

For any marketing and strategic assistance with your ecommerce business, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

Top 10 tools for Instagram

Instagram allows companies to tell a visual story, to develop brands and to be engaged with customers. But just 28% of marketers currently use Instagram for their businesses. Popularity of Instagram in Google Trends shows a really fast growth for the last years.

Posts-Reach

So it’s time to start with Instagram marketing. Here is a list of top 10 tools to help your business to build, manage and grow a strong presence on Instagram.

  1. Iconosquare 

Iconosquare is one of the leading analytical tools for Instagram. It allows you to manage your Instagram activity, analyze your performance and engage your customers. With this tool, you can track which top hashtags are being used on Instagram, get detailed dashboards with graphics on engagement with users and use comprehensive tools including functionality to create contests.

Best-time-to-Post

  1. Schedugram 

Is Instagram a part of your social media marketing? Schedugram, a startup in Australia, is an excellent tool for Instagram users and social media managers to manage multiple Instagram accounts. Instagram was designed as a mobile tool, but Schedugram gives the opportunity to post pics from your desktop or laptop. It allows you to schedule your posts and post photos as well as videos. You can also edit your pictures, including cropping, adding filters, adding light and saturation properties and other cool effects before posting.

Schedugram

  1. Repost 

Repost app is a good tool to make customers feel involved and appreciated. This application allows brands to demonstrate their user-generated content. Search a photo you like and easily repost it. You can find your customers by hashtags and follow them. Appreciate your customers by mentioning them on your page, to earn customer loyalty.

repost

  1. Like2buy 

Like2buy is “Instagram’s missing link”,  a tool to sell products on Instagram. This app gives an opportunity to drive traffic and revenue from Instagram. Like2buy transform images into gallery of products, available for purchase with a click. User should clicks on the link and it will take them to a page of the brand’s featured products.

Like2Buy

  1. Tapshop 

 Tapshop also helps your Instagram followers in shopping. With Tapshop, you can make any image in your brand gallery shoppable by adding a product or category page link. Once your fans find a custom page of their desirable products, they will get an email with direct links to your product pages.

Tapshop

  1. Wispond 

Wispond is Instagram Hashtag Contest App. Gather Instagram photos and showcase them in a voting gallery on your Facebook page, website or mobile. Invite followers to submit their photos from Instagram and vote on their favourite ones. Add Instagram contests into your marketing plan to give your channels a viral impulse.

Wispond

  1. Flipagram 

Create, share and discover fun photo-video stories along with your favourite music! Flipagram allows you to make slideshows, musical videos, stop-motion effects and more, with millions of free music clips for your Instagram page. You can demonstrate how one of your products can be used in different ways or create a slideshow with interesting photos with your team. The more pictures you have, the better the effect.

Flipagram

  1. Piclab 

Piclab is a tool that allows you to add text to your pictures. If you want to have written information on our images this is a perfect programm to do it. Choose from different fonts, shapes, put stunning filters and photo effects, and add a collection of textures, borders, patterns, and more to your photos.

Piclab

  1. Hyperlapse 

Hyperlapse is owned by Instagram and creates beautiful time lapse movies. Capture video, choose the acceleration (from 2 to 12 times) and the program will do the rest for you. The video helps in making a nice video that is easy to share with your followers.

Hyperlapse

  1. Instagram for Business 

 Instagram for Business is one of the best places for businesses to find tools to grow their brands. The Instagram for Business blog has tips, brand spotlights, case studies, and news from Instagram. Use Instagram’s visual language to create your visual story and drive business growth.

Insta for business

Instagram is a powerful tool to connect with consumers and build a community. The key is to stay authentic to your brand and create content and engage with your customers. This will ensure that users not only “follow you” on Instagram, but also become your brand advocates.

 

 

Best payment gateways in India, for your E-Commerce website

Irrespective of how great your business idea is or how your e-commerce store may look and function, achieving your ROI goals majorly depends on the ease of transaction experienced by a customer. A payment gateway is a powerful way to ensure hassle-free payments and to reassure the visitors of your e-commerce store about your trustworthiness.

In short, a payment gateway is an e-commerce element that allows a customer/merchant to use internet transactions via credit/debit cards, securely. A bad payment gateway results in bad payment options, ultimately leading to a decline in the total sales. The server can also be a challenge in having a smooth payment gateway and we usually use Bluehost or Amazon Web Services.

The following is a list of best payment gateways that can aid your e-commerce business, depending on your requirements.

CC Avenue
CC Avenue is one of the biggest payment gateway providers in India, with over 85% e-commerce business that currently run on the engine. The platform includes 100+ payment options, Multiple Currency Processing, Retry Availability & Customization, Audit, Analytics and a large window for active users. If the website is already live, one can integrate the CC Avenue payment gateway for free.ccavenue-logo

Citrus Pay
Incepted by Satyen Kothari and Jitendra Gupta, Citrus is a 4 year old venture that claims to to make online payment quick and effective. We have signed up with Citrus Pay for our product, Influencer, but were quite disappointed with the onboarding process. Citrus Pay has a long list of documents and they first need a scanned copy of the documents and then a hard copy, all of them attested. This is actually more cumbersome than CCAVenue, which would send a hard copy of the documents. While it would be fine for an SBI to have such bureaucratic process, one would have expected a new company to have simplified the process.

Citrus_Payment_Gateway

Direcpay
Direcpay is an arm of the Times Group. It is essentially the safest payment gateway in India. The PCI DSS certified and Norton Secure gateway offers easy integration to ecommerce business, a simple registration and a flexible payment process, besides providing EMI options. However, Direcpay requires 5 days for account activation, after the documents are verified by concerned authorities.DirecPay-logo-India

Google Wallet
Google Wallet is a simplified platform to send and receive money. The Google Wallet Card which is linked to a user’s account can also be used a retail businesses. Since most of the world’s population is already addicted to the Big G, the ease of online payment can be left unexplained. Merged in 2011 with Google Wallet, Google Checkout allows users to use their mobile devices to pay for products (at agreed-upon locations) and enables the sale/transfer of funds through an automated process. In addition, customers can use Google Checkout to send and receive money through Gmail attachments. As most of the digital audience have gone mobile, Google Wallet can be a prudent gateway for an e-commerce business.

google-wallet-logo

PayPal
Processing close to 8 million payments every day, PayPal is one of the most widely used payment gateways in the world. Request and transfer of payments are very easy, as the platform has over 137 million active accounts across 193 markets, compatible with 26 currencies around the world. PayPal also offers perks like uploading of cheques through your smartphone’s camera and completion of transaction without having to exit the website. PayPal is a natural choice for Indian e-commerce businesses that have a large number of international customers.

paypal-logo

PayU India
Marking an impressive conversion rate of 12% and world-wide presence, PayU is one of the fastest growing payment gateways in India. With noteworthy customer service, PayU has roped in e-commerce biggies like Jabong and Snapdeal into their clientele. The platform offers four pricing packages that vary in covering aspects like Risk Management System, Multi Currency Gateway, Mobile optimised payment page, IVR Payment, Store Card Feature and Payment Analytics.

payu_logo

Razorpay

Razorpay is a relatively new member to the payments ecosystem in India and is backed by notable Silicon Valley investors and mentors. Founded by an IIT Roorkee alumni, Razorpay aims to revolutionize the online payments process through secure and easy-to-integrate APIs, which makes it easy for businesses to integrate and process transactions. It is an India-focused company that offers 24*7 customer support and a simplified experience to the customers.

Razorpay - Socialbeat Blog

Your choice between the above mentioned payment gateways may vary depending on your e-commerce business field, size, and location. Though all of them have the capacity to adapt to various requirements, we would like you to share your personal experiences about payment gateway providers in India. Let us know if we have missed out anything, or which one is the best according to you.

Payment Gateway Setup Fee (INR) Commission Per Transaction Popularity (In India)
CC Avenue 7,500 – 40,000 3% – 7% High
Citrus Pay 4,900 1.99% + Rs.3 Moderate
DirecPay 10,000 6% Moderate
+Google Wallet Free 2.9% Low
Paypal Free 2.2% – 2.9% + $0.30 Moderate
PayU India 4,900 – 29,900 0.75% – 2.90% High

How to Leverage Instagram for your business: A marketing guide

leverage_instagram_blog

If your brand has visually appealing products or a unique story to tell, there cannot be a better stage than Instagram. From luxury brands to media houses to automotives, each have carved a niche of their own and are leveraging Instagram for their businesses. In fact, automotive brands are the most engaged and well-represented. Lot of marketers contemplate whether Instagram can be an effective social media platform for their brand? Even if many marketers want to leverage Instagram for their business, they lack a quick guide that has the tips to build a successful presence on Instagram.

According to a McKinsey study,

  • 75% luxury shoppers carry smartphones
  • 86% brands among the Interbrand 100 have an Instagram account
  • 45% of these shoppers’ purchase decisions are influenced by digital content

A quick look at the above stats convey the fact that 50% of the sales funnel can be readily delivered to potential customers even before they step into your store. This raises an important question: does the might of premium luxury brand correlate to the might on digital platforms like Instagram?

Luxury & retail brands are way ahead of the pack: A Case Study

Hermes, that promotes a lifestyle rather than products, have leveraged videos, short poetic films on Instagram that strikes profound luxurious experiences. For brands like Gucci & Louis Vuitton, the majority of posts revolve around showcasing new collections and designs and getting engagement for the same. In many cases, they have also leveraged digital influencers to promote the products by tagging them and showcasing shots taken by them. Tiffany is another brand that a strong following on Instagram that is just not nominal. The strength of relationship can be gauged from the fact that the engagement on follower base is the highest among the brands mentioned. Let us look at some top tips to help build a strong Instagram presence.

Top 6 tips for deriving maximum returns from your Instagram presence:

1. Long captions aren’t a big NO! 

Including hashtags, the average caption length on Instagram is 135-140 characters which marks a significant focus from brands to avoid long captions. But there is no apparent proof of lower engagement rates for posts with lengthier captions as long as it adds to the visual story of the post.

2. Hashtags rule the roost! 

Hashtags allow access to specific interest groups and they are a great way to mark content that are discoverable organically. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags to be used, and studies show that posts with at least one hashtag get ~12% more engagement. Then, there’s no reason to shy away from using them.

3. Caption content is a NECESSARY integral!

@mentions generally results in more engagement underlying the fact that though the caption length may be immaterial, caption content definitely matters.

4. Geo-tagging boosts engagement 

The posts tagged with location gets ~30% more engagement when compared to their orphan counterparts because there are multiple apps and 3rd party discovery tools that allows location-based searches and content discovery.

5. Videos ≠ Photos 

It’s good to mix the content form and it’s true for any channel. On its own, videos are a great form of content but cannot replace photos on Instagram. Hence, it’s suggested to focus on photos as the central pillar of your Instagram strategy.

6. Call-to-Actions are important

A simple CTA like “select the design you like most” or “Tag your friend who would like this” would be ideal to help boost the number of comments and tags your post gets. The virality of your post has an exponential relationship with the number of comments and tags you get.

Instagram is cool, but it isn’t for our business! 

Does this quote have any resemblance to your boardroom discussions on your marketing strategy? The apprehensions are misplaced.

If your brand doesn’t have glamorous models to endorse your product or a Louis Vuitton bag to display, then does your brand have a place on Instagram? The answer is YES. There are ample examples of brands who lack stunning images but have succeeded in creating an engaged audience on sheer basis of their creative prowess and evoking original content.

From Google to conglomerates like GE to tractor manufacturers like John Deere, most brands are fast coming on Instagram and have many have quickly built an engaging community around their brand. In fact, General Electric is one of the biggest B2B companies on Instagram with ~180000 followers.

Intel definitely needs a mention considering the impressive posts that showcase their products and common problems to solve using technology. This gains good traction as it’s not just hard-selling Intel’s products. In recent times, Instagram has emerged as an effective platform for the hospitality industry with players like Raintree Hotels leveraging geo-location tracking to get walk-ins & bookings.

Measurement: The final frontier

Whether your brand is new on Instagram or have built a strong presence, measurement is an essential part of the strategy to optimize the efforts and extract maximum returns on your investment. Some of the metrics that can help you in this direction are:

  1. Total Engagement

The total engagement is the sum of likes and comments garnered by your posts. This gives basic insights on how well your strategy has worked to keep your audience active.

  1. Engagement per Post

When some posts get impressive engagement while others fall flat, this metric can work as a good measure to optimize the content being pushed on the basis of what is working well with your audience.

  1. Interaction Density

In a given time period, the total engagement gained divided by the total followers shows engagement as a %age of followers; which can be used to study the period-on-period impact of your strategy.

  1. Hashtag Volume

This is only applicable in case of unique hashtag campaigns with affinity to our brand. In such cases, it’s a fair measure of how ‘viral’ your campaign has been.

  1. Total followers

This is an important metric to track the popularity of your Instagram account. The higher the number of followers, the better the chances are of gaining engagements on your post, thus boosting the other metrics discussed here.

  1. Follower Sensitivity

It’s the rate of growth of followers, period-on-period; that can act as an essential measure to track the best performing campaigns and content types.

In case you would like any other information to be included that can be helpful for marketing businesses by leverage Instagram, please do let us know your thoughts as a comment to the post. We shall be more than happy to explore your feedback.

Top 10 live chat softwares for your website

Live Chat is an efficient communication medium for proactively engaging customers and converting them into leads. This can be done at ease with the help of well trained agents using some of the many Live Chat tools avalable. However, deciding which one to pick be a bit confusing. Hence, we have put together a list of the 10 best live chat softwares for your website that can help boost sales and service your customers.

Before we go into the details and the USPs of each of the live chat softwares available, here’s a quick comparison of the features these platforms have to offer and their pricing:

Top live chat options Social Beat

 

SNAP ENGAGE

USP: Social Discovery to help better understand the customer

Facebook ,Twitter and LinkedIn icons are bound with the chat option and if the agent feels that he/she can connect with the potential customer through social networking sites the customer can give a friend request or follow the customer directly from the chat area. This feature is called as ‘social discovery’, which is a unique feature and it also helps the agent to know about the customers better and further chats can be made more customisable. The details of the customers can be seen only after accepting the chat requests. Apart fom this, Snap Engage also allows the agents to remotely control the user’s browser and help them navigate to the right pages quickly. Also, tthere are blogs written in their website which helps the agent to enhance his/her skill to be a star agent. Unlimited access to sites is provided by Snap Engage. CRM and help desk can be integrated.

PRICING

The basic price is $60 in which 4 agents can be employed.

ZOPIM

USP: Competitive Pricing

Zopim is an affordable, easy to use Live Chat option. When you engage with a customer, a separate pop up doesn’t appear on the screen for every customer, instead all the windows and controls are integrated with the dash board they offer, unlike many other chat options. Automated chats are possible so that you can reach out to customers, before they complete their conversation. Integrating with Zen Desk can help in multi-channel support like emails and social media. Chat history is available by which it becomes easy for the agent to know the customer.

PRICING

Free version is available and the basic version costs for $11 (single agent) per month.

OLARK

USP: Customizable GUI 

The customisable graphical user interface GUI makes Olark stand out from the rest. When it is Christmas time, it gets updated to the Christmas theme. Every celebration can be more fun with the GUI it offers. The logo of the organisation can also be incorporated in the paid versions of Olark. After every chat, rating can be given for the chat from which instant feedback of the conversation through live chat can be noted. Another noteworthy component of Olark is ‘savethecart’ feature by which the agent can know what is the product that is stored in the cart and based upon this the chat can be done and targeting becomes easy.

PRICING

The basic version costs $15 (single agent) whereas the free version limits in the number of chats.

VELARO CHAT

USP: Geo targeting and content targeting

The geographical location of the website visitor can be tracked along with the content what they are looking for so that even the greeting by the agent can be of the language which the viewer  follows which gives a personal connect to the user and the user is more likely to buy the product. Keeping track of the content can also help in product that can be promoted through chat as a follow up.  Unlimited access to sites and can be managed centrally. There are three versions like other chats that include basic business, smart business and enterprise Omni.

PRICING

The basic price is $29.95 and free version is available with limited features

OGG CHAT

USP: Integration with G-talk and Instant Messenger

Ogg Chat can be integrated with G-Talk and Instant messenger. Separate desired departments can be created and operators can be added to the chat. Every operator can include a schedule chart to keep a track on the pending schedule. Some data are available that can be used to analyse like brief chat history but however real time monitoring of the viewers, usage of canned messages is a considerable setback.

PRICING

The basic version of the product costs $9.95 and all plans include a 14-day free trial

LIVE HELP NOW

USP: Real time translation

Internationalisation is possible as it offers real time translation feature. Languages are translated instantly which makes it easy to use in non-English speaking nations. The admin interface isn’t much cluttered. It is a simple, user friendly admin which the consumer may like to use. Prioritising the mails become easy with the email management system that is offered. All the information about the clients can be viewed in one click, but a separate window opens up every time which may be tough to view for a series of clients.

PRICING

A 30 day free trial is available with constraints and the basic version of LiveHelpNow chat costs $21 per month

KAYAKO

USP: Quick response through the Mobile application

Users find the mobile application very useful as the agents can respond to the queries from any place. However, the user interface doesn’t support any other language other than English which is seen as a drawback. Live Chat tickets can be administered through e-mail. Service Level Agreements are complex when compared to other chat options. Kayako allows the user to create a macro which enables automatic response to some of the basic and repeated queries as it reduces the response time of the agent.

PRICING: The basic version of the Kayako Live Chat costs $24 and three versions of Kayako are called as Case, Fusion and Engage

CASENGO

USP: Ease of file sharing

Casengo has one inbox for all the chats, emails and social media posts. The cloud based application allows the responders to post their answers in a quicker phase than other options. The customers of online retailers and other small businesses have the response in a very fast time period.  Most of the live chats, attachments can be sent only through downloadable links, where as the file itself can be sent as an attachment, however sending multiple attachments is not an easy task using Casengo.

PRICING:

The basic version costs $9.65 (9Euros), Free version can be used in which enables only the chat option

COMM100LIVECHAT

USP: Guaranteed 100 percent uptime

Comm100livechat, as the name suggests this live chat claims to produce 100 percent uptime. A typing indicator allows agents to see what their customers are typing before they submit their message. With ‘MaximumOn’ technology, the software also ensures that your live chat program runs continuously without interruptions, despite failures at both server and data center levels. Chats can also be extended onto mobile platforms; including on iOS and Android devices.A drag-and-drop file transfer feature allows agents to share a file that provides all the requested information. However, no real time translation is available and no co-browsing option is available.

PRICING

The basic version of the live chat costs $29 and there are different versions based on the Shared Server and dedicated Server

WEBSITE ALIVE CHAT

USP: An all in one live chat with email integration

If your business is a small firm and is looking for a one stop solution that integrates e-mail with your live chat options, website live chat can serve your business. It supports till 20 multiple chats with quick tabs to enable swift performance.  The user interface helps to edit the interface without coding. Internal operator chat that helps to interact internally when a query hard to manage by an agent can be used to clear his doubts.

PRICING

The basic version of the live chat costs $20 and there are different versions available with different pricing.

 

E-Commerce Product Photographers in Bengaluru

The way products are displayed online creates a great brunt on the buying choice of a customer. Amateur looking photographs can destroy a consumer’s expectations and trust on the website or the brand.  E-commerce websites need to display visually appealing products that will influence the customer to buy it from them, rather than making them prefer a brick and mortar store.

Business owners have spent a lot of money on building websites, hiring secured payment channels and other facilities. As a part of this checklist, it is time for them to look for people who would start taking photographs of their products and display on the website, in the most appealing way.

Here is a list of some top eCommerce Product Photographers and Studios in Bangalore.

G16 Studios
G16 Studios is one of the leading e-commerce product photography studios in Bangalore. They work with top Indian E-Commerce websites like Zara.com, HM.com & Mango.com. They have an exclusive approach to product photography and organize models from across the world for photo shoots. In addition to their photography services, the studio also helps large volume businesses to set up their own photography studio. This move is said to bring down the production cost by 60%. Contact: Abhijeet Sojwal +91-9886652280

G16 Studios

Aroun Kesavaraj
Aroun Kesavaraj is one of the most acclaimed professional photographers in India. With over a decade of photography experience, he has worked with Prasad studios (Prasad SFX) under various projects. He is also an Auto-desk Combustion certified professional. Widely known for his commercial and professional portrait photography skills, Aroun has a keen eye for detail and exquisite visual language. This makes him a natural choice for product photography. Contact: Aroun at +91-9900001943

Kiran Nama
An architect turned photographer, Kiran Nama is first in the city to start the digital photographic trend. He is a renowned product photographer who has closure with various high profile clients. He is much interested in trying out new things and hence does not practice single photography style, but most of his works are as a product photographer. Contact Kiran: +91-9845255406

Kiran Nama Photography

Jaggi
Experimenting with still life and lifestyle photography, Jaggi has been stinking awe and wowing clients as an advertising photographer since 2000. He brings a unique combination of skills to photography and is one of the most technically savvy and aesthetically inclined photographers in the industry .He also has the penchant being a virtual one-stop show when it comes to recreating, fabricating, or improvising with products, props or background, including pre and post production. His skills are admired and are proved to be very effective in product photography. Contact Jagadeesh +91-9845054400

Purnendu Bala
With over 6 years of experience as a photographer, Purnendu Bala owns an eminent fashion photography studio. While his expertise lies on his specialized skills required to groom a model’s personality, Purnendu also excels in product photography dedicated to provide professional level of quality of work which not only reach your business to your audience but give you Return on Investment. Contact Purnendu: +91 8147872032

Purnendu Bala Photography

Full House Labs
Established in the year 2012, Full House Labs is a media content production house started its operations to provide quality media ingredients for business promotion. The production house is a pool of innovative freelancers working on advertisements and social media branding. They also have a team of expert photographers and editors who work on product photography for Ecommerce websites, in which they are a prodigy at. Contact them at +91-7411167810

Have we missed any other Product Photographers in our list?
Do write to us or share their details in the ‘Comments’ section below.