Top 10 Financial Startups in the World

Unlike corporate companies, start-ups are not about the limelight. They are about distortion, adjustments, hard work, dedication, integrity, taking responsibility, and struggle, especially financial startups. While founding a financial or Fintech startup seems to be a cool career plan, not every startup reaches the top of the ladder and has attributes that can help it become well-established. Some of the 10 well-known financial start-ups that caught the world’s eye are as follows:

1. Adyen

Headquarters: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Founding year: 2006

Industry: Multichannel payment services

Known for providing advance payment services to more than 3500 plus merchant brands like Uber, Facebook, etc., the company has reported over 100% growth in its revenue and almost 40% growth in customer acquisition by the year 2014.

2. Avant Inc.

Headquarters: Chicago, USA

Founding year: 2012

Industry: Financial Technology and services

Previously known as AvantCredit, this Fintech startup was originally planned to serve as a mid-prime lender. Gradually, they began offering loans to many states in the US. In the past 4 years, the company saw a sizeable growth.

3. TransferWise

Headquarters: London, England

Founding year: 2011

Industry: Peer-to-peer money transfer services

This Estonian developed startup supports more than 300 currency routes globally. With more than £3 million transferred, for the customers, the company’s money transfer policy looks no different from the traditional money transfer service. However, the difference lies in the backend on how TransferWise routes the payment.

4. Nova Financial

Headquarters: London, England

Founding year: 2015

Industry: Property and finance advisory firm

The independent startup, Nova Financial Ltd. is a privately owned firm, which specializes in assisting clients to identify the most suitable property investments for their specific personal situation based up on their goals and preferences.

5. Dianrong

Headquarters: Shanghai, China

Founding year: 2012

Industry: Personal finance & software firm

What started as a brainchild of Mr. Soul Htite, this startup is now China’s leading internet financial services company. With 2500+ employees and 25+ offices across China, this firm offers innovative financial solutions.

6. KnCMiner

Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden

Founding year: 2013

Industry: Bitcoin mining

This unique Fintech startup provides secure, effective, and green blockchain power to the world. In short, their aim is to design, build, equip, and run industrial computing centers on renewable hydropower.

7. Paytm

Headquarters: Noida, India

Founding year: 2010

Industry: E-commerce

What started as a mobile recharging and bill payment app is now a eCommerce startup. Now India’s largest mobile payment service platform, Paytm Wallet is used for various online payment services as well.

8. Number26

Headquarters: Berlin, Germany

Founding year: 2013

Industry: Modern banking services

Styles as a bank of the future, Number 26 provides free and flexible services that differs from the conventional, rigid bank structure. Launched in Germany and Austria, the firm has almost 10,000+ customers.

9. Freecharge

Headquarters: Mumbai, India

Founding year: 2010

Industry: Bill payment and recharge

Started as recharge and bill-payment app, Freecharge was named as one of the most promising technology startups from India by Pluggd.in, in the year 2011. By 2015, Freecharge was however acquired by Indian e-Commerce platform Snapdeal for a whopping INR 28 billion.

10. Prodigy

Headquarters: London, UK

Founding year: 2007

Industry: International student loans provider

This startup helps international students, who want to attend participating business schools or other postgraduate schools, by providing them student loans. In the current year, Prodigy Finance was included in the European FinTech 50.

Digital Chai Pe Charcha – Content Marketing Success in 2016

The second edition of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha, held at our office on 27th Feb 2016 received a great response with about 25 participants including entrepreneurs, professionals, digital marketers and social media influencers taking active part in the discussion. The topic of discussion was achieving content marketing success in 2016 and beyond.

DigitalCPC

As a recap for those who attended the session and for the benefit of those who didn’t, here’s a summary of the key takeaways from the session:

Why Content Marketing is essential:

Content marketing is a key part of any marketing strategy and is known to produce business results, as shown by the Hubspot survey below:

Hubspot Survey

Also, as compared to paid media, it has a more sustained long-term impact:

Earned Media Source: Neil Patel

Also, with most users being bombarded with ads from a large number of brands and with the use of ad blocking growing at a rapid pace, inbound marketing through valuable content works better and helps reach out to an audience that paid ads would never reach.

Ad Fatigue

“10x Content” is required to make your content stand out:

With over 27 million pieces of content being produced every day, creating content that is good and unique alone doesn’t work. You need to create content which as defined by Rand Fishkin is “Content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic.”

Creating 10X Content:

Read your audience’s minds:

The key is to find questions that your target audience is looking for answers to and problems they are looking to solve. Tools and platforms that could help you with this research are:

Combine User-focused content with search engine focused content:

Once you find topics that you could create 10x content on you would also need to check if there is a large enough number of users who are searching for content around those topics. This is where Google Keyword Planner comes into play and helps you figure out which topics you should create content on to get large volumes of organic traffic.

Find the most successful content around the topic:

Once you decide on a topic to create content on, you need to research the topic, do a competitive analysis and find the most successful content around it. This can be done by searching for different keyword variations on Google Search to identify top ranked content or by using a tool like Buzzsumo to find the most shared content on the topic.

Make your content better than any other top content out there:

Ensure your content:

  • Is longer, detailed, more thorough
  • Is more up-to-date
  • Contains better visuals – infographics, images, slideshares, videos
  • Has an enhanced User Experience

For more detailed steps on creating 10x content check out our blog on 10 ways to create 10x content. Some examples of what 10x content could possibly look like are listed below:

Content Amplification is Key:

Simply ideating, creating and publishing content does not work anymore and content distribution requires as much, if not more, effort as content creation. Some avenues for content amplification that you could use would be:

  • Promote on Social Networks
  • Use LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads & Promoted Tweets.
  • Notify your email list
  • Respond to questions on Quora, Reddit, comment on blogs, take part in industry forums
  • Leverage the reach of influencers
  • Get featured in industry roundups

You could also check out or blogs on 21 SEO Link Building Techniques for 2016 and the 15 Best Social Bookmarking Websites to promote your content. For other useful content amplification strategies, you can also take a look at our slideshare below:

Q & A from the session:

Some of the questions that came up during the discussion with the answers are listed below as well:

Q: Is content marketing the way forward for SEO as well?

A: The focus of SEO has shifted from just keyword optimization and link building to not only producing quality content that addresses users’ needs but also delivering that content to the user with the best experience possible. Content is now the new SEO and creating 10X content is going to be the way forward in 2016.

Q: How do you measure results from Content Marketing?

A: Three metrics would help measure the impact of your content marketing efforts:

  • The social impact – Shares on social media platforms
  • Organic and Referral Traffic – Number of visitors to the blog from Google Search, Social Media and other referral sites
  • Conversions from the blog – Enquiries generated from your content marketing efforts.

Q: How long do content marketing efforts take to start showing tangible business results?

A: There is only one right answer here and that is – it depends. There are multiple factors that will impact your success timelines like your existing domain authority, the time and effort invested in content creation and promotion and the content promotion budgets, if any. Typically content gets indexed in a few days and you can start getting traffic but time period to get business results can vary from 3-4 months all the way up to even a year. For example, when we started our influencer marketing platform, Influencer.in it took us 4 months before we started getting tangible results in the form of enquiries via our content or via google organic traffic.

Q: What tools can be used to create Infographics when one does not have a design team?

A: Piktochart, Infogram and Canva are good tools to help you craft beautiful infographics

Q: Does post regional language content help content marketing efforts?

A: Yes, translating content to regional languages can help reach out to a newer audience, provided that audience is relevant to your business. Regional language content can also help increasing search traffic to your website, as shown in this article on the growth of regional content as well as this case study by Neil Patel.

Q: How do I know my content is 10x?

A: Whether your content is 10x or not is a little subjective – what may appear 10x to you may not look like 10x to someone else. Nevertheless, below are some validation questions to help you figure out if your content is 10x:

  • Is your content longer, detailed, more thorough and more up-to-date than any other content on the web?
  • Does the content contain better visuals – infographics, images, slideshares, videos?
  • Does your blog have an excellent User Experience?
  • If you were your target audience, would you find this content valuable enough to link to it or share it?

Here’s what some of our participants had to say about the session:

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Those of you who missed the inaugural edition of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha last month can check out the meeting summary here. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter or check out the hashtag #DigitalCPC for more details on the next Digital Chai pe Charcha meet.

Are there any digital marketing challenges or problems you face in your organization? Do let us know and we would be happy to include them as discussion topics in upcoming Digital Chai Pe Charcha sessions.

11 ways to make email marketing work for you

Want to maintain a good relationship with your customers and clients? The best way to do that is by constantly keeping in touch and updating them.  Email is perhaps the easiest way to do this. Email marketing is the best resource for both start up and established companies, especially e-retail ventures. According to studies, the total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase from nearly 3.9 billion accounts to over 4.9 billion accounts by the end of 2017. In a 2015 study from BlueHornet, over 77% of consumers buy products and services from marketing/advertising emails at least once a month or more. So make sure you include email marketing as part of your marketing plan. Here are a few tips to make email marketing work for you. We also have a detailed checklist for emailer marketing.

1. Make it personal

Personalization increases response rates tremendously. Whatever be your vertical, your customers would rather want an email personalized to them than a bulk mail. Use names in email messages to grab attention. Make sure you spell the names right. You don’t want to send out an email with the wrong spelling. Tools like Mail Chimp make it easy to do this. You can read about their “Merge Tag” feature here.

2. Use interesting subject lines

People get a lot of emails every day and most of it goes unread. In order to get the attention of people, you need to write catchy subject lines.  Make sure the subject line is not too long either. As per Marketing Sherpa, subject lines with 9 to 10 words are the most ideal. Mailchimp also has some tips on Subject Lines.

Food Panda, an online food order website/app has mastered this concept well.  They promoted a ‘Buy one, Get one free pizza’ in a unique way.  The challenge for them was to make people open the same email with the same offer and same creative one day after another. So they used creative subject line such as:

  • Pizza, Oh! Pizza, I love you, Pizza
  • All you need is Love &…. PIZZA!
  • Invite your friends today – It’s Pizza Night again!
  • Did someone say free pizza?
  • Pollard’s throwing bats, we’re throwing offers!

 

pizza

3. Send a welcome email

If you have a prospective client or a new client, it is a good idea to send them a welcome mail. Introduce them to your brand and tell your story with the very first email you send them. If you start with sending new customers promotional emails, you won’t develop a lasting relationship with them. It is the first email they receive after subscribing so it is important to make an impression that counts. According to Yourstory.com stats, subscribers who receive a welcome email show, on average, 33% more long-term engagement with that brand.

If you are using wordpress, Gravity Forms can be an effective tool to send out automated emailers to new customers or new leads.

Here is an example of an ecommerce company, Nykaa that got the welcome email right. The brand not only gave all the information required but also personalized every email.

nykaa

4. Write exciting content

People do not want to read long boring copies on their emails. So open your email with compelling text or some great offer.  It is also a good idea to send them useful content from your blog that they might be interested in. Not all the time do your clients want to know about offers and products so make your copy easy to scan by using short sentences, simple language and bulleted lists.

5. Create a comprehensive data base

In order for your email marketing to be successful, you need to have a strong database. Build your own consumer database by gaining consumers’ permission through your website.  To build this, you can use tools such as SumoMe’s List Builder, which help in converting one-time visitors into lifelong readers and email subscribers.

6. Know your spam rules

The biggest problem about email marketing is the risk of spending all that time in creating the mail and it ending up in the spam folder. So before you start sending emails, read up on the SPAM rules. In India, there is no law as such but the closest thing that regulators have come is certain provisions in the IT Act. Under section 79 of the IT Act, Internet intermediaries must take care and diligence with regard to the services they provide, which read together with section 43A of the Act (compensation for failure to protect personal data from theft), can ‘indirectly bring into play a data privacy law’. To know more, read this article, which gives you more details on the dos and don’ts.

7. Have a strong Call to Action (CTA)

When it comes to email marketing no email is complete without a Call To Action. Always include a CTA button in your mailers. Customize the CTA to your audience and provide multiple links throughout the email to make it easy for users to take action. A CTA button will increase click-through rates by making it clear to the reader what the next step they should take is. So while designing, make the CTA button prominent and use enticing words on it to encourage your readers to click

8. Social links 

Adding your social media accounts in your emails is a great way to promote your social media platforms.  It will give you a chance to expand your community and connect better with your subscribers. Do not stop with just connecting with them; make sure you engage with them actively on social media.

9. Make the email responsive to all devices

Considering that many users will be opening the email on their mobile devices, you need to make sure that the email is responsive to all devices – similar to your websites. This is a common mistake we see in emailer campaigns where a promotional image is sent out – but these images are not responsive so the text becomes illegible.

10. Test

Different devices display emails differently. Send a test email to your friends and colleagues with different devices and test it out before you send it. Test reveals design mistakes and can predict whether or not a campaign will get caught in a spam filter. You could even set up accounts with a few different email services for easy testing.

11. Use email service providers

Email service providers are ideal for sending bulk emails. You can build email templates, personalize emails, send and track your campaigns on a larger scale. Here are two most popular service providers in the market that you can use:

Mail Chimp

MailChimp is the best tool for email marketing campaigns. They have a strong policy against spam and offers strong analytics package, full auto-responder functionality, and makes it easy to build, track, and segment campaigns of any type. Mailchimp accounts start at Free for up to 2000 subscribers.

SendGrid

SendGrid offers tools to make it effortless for developers and marketers to craft, segment, test, and successfully deliver emails.  It is a cloud based email infrastructure that eliminates the need to build and maintain a system in-house.

Digital Chai pe Charcha – Digital Marketing for Startups

 ‘Great Product + Great Marketing = Great Startup’

In Dec 2015, we had an idea of creating a platform and open community for discussing challenges faced in marketing a startup – and this was the birth of “Digital Chai pe Charcha”. It got off to flying start in its first edition at our office on 8th January 2016. With limited promotion, we had a full house with 30 participants. The open discussion threw up interesting questions and insights from the diverse community comprising first-time entrepreneurs, seasoned professionals, digital marketers, journalists, PR professionals to social media influencers.

We discussed 7 broad topics and have summarized them below:

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1. Validating Your Product

  • To kick things off,  we first discussed how entrepreneurs can get a quick sense of the market and customers, without spending months on building their product, website or ecommerce store.
  • While we usually recommend WordPress as the platform for most businesses – this can take anywhere between a few weeks to months to build. The quickest way to start off is to create a landing page for your app, business or store. Tools like Unbounce and Instapage allow you to develop landing pages within a day. They can also be a great medium to understand whether customers would like to take up your product/service and at the same time start building an emailer list. You can even get low cost images from platforms like PhotoConcierge.
  • Another way the digital medium can validate a product is to get feedback via platforms like Product Hunt, BetaList & Inbound.org or survey tools like Get Insights, Survey Monkey. Platforms like GetInsights have an existing audience panel so it helps in getting the survey results quickly. Some participants did raise concerns on the authenticity of these audience panels and in these cases, sending a survey (via Survey Monkey or Google Forms) to your own personal network might be worthwhile.
  • Reach out to your personal network for validation tests. Don’t hesitate in asking for initial feedback as it will help shape your product.

2. Acquiring your First set of Users

  • Leverage your Personal Network in acquiring your first set of customers. Reach out and ask for referrals and test users.
  • LinkedIn, if leveraged properly, can be a great tool for the purpose. The premium LinkedIn account allows In-mails to your potential customers. Moreover, directly targeting relevant customers on Linkedin & Twitter can be very beneficial in not only getting first time users but also getting valuable feedback on your product. If it’s a consumer business even sites like BetaList can help.
  • Offering free trials to induce usage can help in showcasing the value your product adds to your customers. If they like it, then they might want to turn into paying customers. Many SAAS based companies do have a freemium model to cater to this.
  • Contrary to belief, Email Marketing is still very effective. Build a database of email ids, but avoid purchasing databases – it doesn’t work. Effective ways to build your own database can be to have a prominent email/lead collection mechanism on your landing page. You could also use tools like SumoMe, attend networking events and create good content on your website to induce newsletter signups. Platforms like MailChimp can be used for Emailer Marketing and they have integrations with WordPress, Unbounce or other email collection platforms.
  • Adding a Live Chat feature on the landing page, app or website can also help directly interact with customers and build on to your emailer list. This way you can also find out what questions customers have, before they take up your product/service.
  • Quora is fairly popular in India. Search for people looking for solutions where your product can fit in. Answer questions with backlinks to your product page/website. It will help in the long term.

3. Marketing on a Shoe-String Budget

Startups do not have big pockets for marketing activities. In the face of budget constraints, how can they build a brand and acquire customers? Some ideas discussed were:

  • Create User / Google focused content to help your product get discovered at the right place & time. Long-form content has excellent SEO value as well as drive relevant traffic to your website. If you are interested in understanding the basics of SEO for Startups then do check out this slideshare. There are a bunch of SEO tools as well, which can be of use.
  • Creating Unique & Fresh content is important. Avoid creating duplicate content as you might not get much traction. It would be prudent to instead focus the time and energy on developing content that will be interesting for your users. Amplifying the content is also critical as there are millions of content pieces out there.
  • Plan well ahead of time. Nothing beats strategic planning. Develop a content marketing calendar with different placeholders for blog articles and social media content – this could be around relevant themes e.g. Valentine’s Day, Launch of a Movie etc. You can check out an investment & wealth management company leveraged Star Wars to showcase Investment Lessons from Star Wars. Be interesting, be regular.
  • Some interesting points that came up for discussion like the ideal number of hashtags to use and how to get your social media profiles verified.
  • Digital Advertising, while integral was not discussed as it warranted a separate discussion of its own.

4. Save Time with Free Tools

There is a whole host of tools out there that can be leveraged to help you amplify your marketing efforts. Some tools you can explore are:

  • IFTTT is a useful tool to create automated actions across a wide variety of platforms from Twitter and Facebook, Youtube to Gmail and Instagram. You can use it for different purposes by building your own custom recipes. One useful application can be to create automated twitter lists in area of your interest and track people in your domain. A sample recipe can be – when someone tweets in my area with #Offers hashtag, I add him to my list “OffersNearMe”.
  • Hootsuite can be a one stop solution to schedule and track your social media posts. It saves you the hassle of logging into different accounts every time you want to post. The Instagram post schedule feature was recently launched by Hootsuite and does not have automated posts functionality. For Instagram, Schedugram or Stribr can be a better tool to use.
  • BuzzSumo is the best in-class tool for content research. You can track the best performing content in your industry that will help devise a strong content marketing plan for your brand. It is also useful for tracking influencers in different domains based on geography and interest area.
  • Feedly, It & Twitter Lists can be explored to track curated content. They fetch content in your interest areas and present it on your feed which can be shared on your social media channels.
  • Many other free social media tools are available – you can check out a complete list here.

5. Build an online brand persona but strike a balance vis-à-vis traditional marketing

  • You need to be clear what your startup or product stands for. It will help you in creating the brand persona – this is important for online as well as offline branding for your company.
  • Brainstorm and come up with your brand colors, tone and maintain the uniformity across channels. While this may change over time, uniformity across channels and mediums is critical.
  • Not all of your customers are online hence, traditional marketing is here to stay and would be wise for companies to go for a balanced mix in their marketing budget.

6. Traditional Vs Digital Marketing

  • One of the questions that got asked during the discussion was, how do you split the marketing budgets between traditional and digital mediums. We are already seeing brands spend atleast 15% of their budgets on social media, but in our experience many of the forward looking businesses are going to spend as much as 50% on digital marketing in 2016. This of course depends on the industry and business model as well.
  • You can also see what trends we predict for digital marketing in India in 2016.

7. Track & Measure the results

Here’s what some of the participants had to say:

 

 

Based on the suggestions from the participants, we are going to make this a monthly initiative with each month having a focused topic. You can check out the hashtag #DigitalCPC for more details on the next Digital Chai pe Charcha meet.

Please feel free to comment below or tweet to us, in case you would like to add to the existing list of pointers for startups. We would love to add them in the article.

Workshop conducted on Digital Marketing for Startups in India

Recently, I conducted a workshop on Digital Marketing for Startups in India as part of the Weekend Ventures #StartupLounge. The workshop focused on the digital marketing methods that can help startups in building their brand & in getting results (in terms of app downloads, ecommerce sales or lead generation).

Social Media Marketing Trends in 2015 for E-Commerce Startups

Importance of Granular Targeting in Social Media

For e-commerce companies, social media is a critical channel for driving sales. While Google and the display network is an effective medium to reach the target audience, social media networks, especially Facebook are being used to target the right consumers having relevant interests. While it’s important to engage with the audience within Facebook, we have found it to be more effective to drive traffic via Facebook Ads directly to the website or landing page and track results there.

For example, Planet Superheroes, which is into Superhero Merchandise has used FB to segment users who like specific superheroes and are online spenders in India. So superman t-shirt ads are targeted to users who like Superman and fit into the age & location demographic relevant to the brand. This level of granular targeting is possible only in social media. Moreover, organic posts are not enough anymore owing to the recent policy changes for Facebook Pages. This means advertising on Facebook and other channels becomes essential. With the advanced features of Facebook companies can even target their existing customers, friends of their customers and even audiences having similar interests and demographics to their existing customers.

Most importantly, the return on investment is measurable to the last rupee using analytics and conversion tracking tools. This also makes digital marketing more transparent in constantly improving the cost of acquisition for ecommerce brands.

Other Social Media Platforms that e-commerce companies can leverage

Social Media has been crucial to the brand building of e-commerce companies. Not just Facebook but even Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have enabled even smaller startups find a niche in the crowded e-commerce space. The younger generation is more inclined to using Instagram and Whatsapp and brands are starting to experiment with these networks depending on their target segment. Even usage of pinterest and professional network, Linkedin have grown remarkable and depending on the audience being targetted, different ecommerce companies are using different channels. An interesting case in scenario is Cherrytin, a premium e-gifting destination which has used Instagram & youtube to showcase the premiumness and fun identify of the brand and thereby driving sales in the long run.

 

We see Whatsapp, Instagram and YouTube playing a pivotal role in the growth of ecommerce brands as the younger generation is adapting to these platforms even faster than they adapted Facebook.

Increased focus on Conversion Rate Optimisation

With tools like Zarget, CrazyEgg and even Google Analytics allowing data points to help improve sales, revenue and conversions, this is going to be a focus area for every ecommerce company.

Leveraging Twitter to drive conversations and build a strong brand

Twitter is the fastest growing social media platform & the significance of Twitter can be emphasized by a simple fact that 8000 tweets per second is the average around the world.

What it emphasizes is the fact that it gives a huge avenue for businesses to connect and engage with fans. But the question is how? Most businesses are coming online and have a social media presence on Twitter but not all businesses leverage it in the most effective manner to build a strong brand, engage and have meaningful conversations with the fans. Here are some of the key points that can help in the above:

  • Share unique and interesting content – This is the first step towards It is not about tweeting all the time, rather it is about tweeting content that can arouse the interest in your fans and help you gain new fans. People like to read and share great content. If this part goes right, re-tweets and favorites would follow automatically.

social beat twitter post

  • Track your brand mentions and keywords – With millions of conversations happening daily on Twitter, you are missing out on market intelligence and a certain competitive edge if you are not tracking your brand, keywords and mentions along with the competitors whom you would like to keep a close eye on. Search alerts and setting up RSS feeds can go a long way in helping out with this.
  • Be ready to handle a mixed basket – The biggest benefits of easy accessibility to customers can also prove true for the converse- it will also provide easy publicity for all the negative comments about your brand. But, how you handle it becomes more important. Acknowledge and reply to a positive comment, but also acknowledge a negative comment and immediately work towards addressing the concern. It can surely win you more hearts!

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  • Look out for interesting tweets on your brand or the industry and leverage it to engage and drive conversations

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  • Use the Twitter “Favorites” option effectively – The twitter favorites feature can be an effective tool to showcase interesting conversations with or about your brand. It can be made into a compilation of testimonials from fans.

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  • Use hashtags and images as far as possible – Different studies show that the tweets with hashtags and image links can get up to 2 times more engagement on an average than tweets without hashtags. But more is not always good. Usage of more than 2 hashtags results in a significant drop in the engagement rate.
  • Quick response management – Fans expect brands to quickly acknowledge their appreciation or respond to concerns raised. This is true for all social media channels, including Twitter.

Our co-founder, Vikas Chawla’s interview in LSE Alumni Echo (Nov edition)

Our co-founder, Vikas Chawla, was recently interviewed by LSE Alumni Echo, the alumni magazine of his alma mater. The complete excerpt of the interview, featured in the Nov edition of the magazine, is as follows:

Social beat Vikas chawla LSE

What do you find most interesting about working in the digital industry?

The digital marketing industry by nature is ever evolving. Be it user experience, social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, or Google – it is an area of constant innovation. This means that our team has to constantly keep learning and innovating so that our clients stay ahead of the curve.

The industry is nascent in India which gives us the opportunity to make a profound impact in the sales and revenue of our clients. The internet penetration in India is just 20 per cent and the digital marketing industry is waiting to explode once the penetration reaches 40-50 per cent.

Do you think there is an area of digital strategy that organisations often undervalue?

In India most businesses are devoting just 5-10 per cent of their marketing spends to digital media. They tend to undervalue the return on investment even though the measurement and tracking of results is more seamless in digital compared to traditional advertising. They tend to still rely on traditional marketing channels that have worked for them in the past.

While large brands and enterprises have started to measure and understand the ROI of digital marketing, smaller and mid-sized businesses are still coming to terms with it. We demonstrate it can help in achieving long term results of building a community and building the brand and also short term revenue and lead generation.

What has been the best and most challenging part of starting your own business?

Undoubtedly, the best part of starting out on my own is the ability to impact our clients and their businesses. We are partners in growing their business and this makes it exciting for us as we need to continuously surpass their expectations.

We have been growing 30 per cent quarter on quarter, though it’s from a small base. As we scale up the venture, the greatest challenge will be to outperform this growth while simultaneously ensuring the quality of solutions, along with knowledge sharing and training our team members. In a market like India, growth is bound to happen and we must capitalise. Currently we are a 20-member team; we want our clients to get the same high quality service even when we are a team of 100 with an evolved organisation structure.

What is the most important asset in your business?

Talent. Being in a creative industry, what differentiates us is the talent we have and the creativity of the digital campaigns we come up with. We have a fantastic team and finding the right talent to join this team is one of the most important tasks we have ahead of us.

It’s now five years since you graduated from LSE: what are your experiences as an alumnus of the School?

Since I left LSE in 2009, it’s been an exciting journey. I worked for three years in marketing and strategy across different companies of an Indian conglomerate. I then decided to start out on my own. What I took from from MG428 (Entrepreneurship) at LSE has served me well. We looked at the need in the market and started out with the idea of providing integrated digital marketing solutions with a focus on creating revenue growth for our clients. It was the best decision I have ever taken and it’s been exciting building our start-up and scaling up the team and client base. The network of LSE alumni that I have developed helps immensely, as they are a sounding board for some of the ideas we have.

What did you learn at LSE that has helped you most in your career?

One of the key things I learned at LSE was to understand concepts in their base form and then try to understand how they can impact various scenarios. This has been extremely helpful in understanding our clients and what differentiates them in the market. Also, the sense of curiosity honed at LSE is something we are trying to build into our team. We have a weekly knowledge sharing session where we encourage team members to learn, discuss and share ideas.

Who is your LSE hero? 

Professor Paul Willman from the Department of Management. We had some brilliant professors but Paul stood out. His understanding of the role and the conduct of traders in investment banks was brilliant. He could convincingly speak for both sides of the coin and have a plausible argument for and against the traders. His style of teaching always sparked interest in the minds of students. While class mates and study groups make a big difference, it was professors such as Paul that made learning at LSE fun and interesting.

You are an active member of the India – Friends of LSE alumni group. What do enjoy most about your involvement?

Our alumni are from different walks of life and it’s been interesting meeting alumni who are into fields completely unrelated to the one I am in. Meeting like-minded graduates and reliving our LSE days has been fun. It has been especially interesting to attend the LSE TRIUM evening that happens once a year in Chennai. The diversity of TRIUM students and what they have achieved is truly inspiring.

Describe the alumni group in three words…

Fun, dynamic and active.

 

7 Key Ingredients of a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital-Marketing-Strategy
In today’s rapidly changing marketing landscape, digital marketing has become an indispensable part of a business’ overall marketing strategy. Most marketers today have understood the importance of digital marketing and the mammoth difference that a well-executed, result-oriented digital strategy could make to the overall growth and profitability of a business. Going by the Marketing Budgets 2014 Report, 71% of companies surveyed are planning to increase the amount they invest in digital marketing this year.

Crafting a Result-Oriented Digital Strategy
Crafting a winning digital plan entails understanding the business in and out, clearly defining its goals and drawing up a profile of its target audience. All these differ from business to business and hence there is no one size fits all strategy. However, there are certain key ingredients listed below which must be effectively incorporated into every digital strategy to successfully drive business growth.

1. Website Design
The website is, and should be, the focal point of every digital strategy as this is where traffic from every other digital marketing channel would be directed. A poorly designed website can ruin most of the effort being put in on the other channels. Listed below are some key questions to ask, while checking if your website is optimized to convert maximum visitors into leads/customers.

  • Is the website responsive and optimized for all browsers and mobile devices?
  • Is it correctly Search Engine Optimized?
  • Does it have a Clear Call-to-Action?
  • Is it clean and easy to navigate?
  • Are there multiple lead capture points
  • Is the contact email/phone clearly visible and clickable?
  • Is there a link to the business’ Social Media pages?

2. Search Engine Optimisation
Amongst all other components of a digital strategy, SEO plays a major role in customer acquisition and sales. Almost every customer begins their search for a product/service on a search engine and ranking high in search results, for the right keyword, can drive a large volume of organic (un-paid) traffic to your website.

With paid advertising getting increasingly expensive across channels, it is essential that every business invests in SEO to attract a good percentage of organic traffic, reduce the overall customer-acquisition cost and boost profitability.

3. Blog
Maintaining a blog which constantly shares valuable, informative, engaging and relevant content plays a pivotal role in attracting the right kind of audience to your website. Apart from this, it also establishes your business as an expert or thought leader in the space and builds trust with prospective customers. Apart from the fact that a good blog can be an excellent source of inbound traffic and leads, the content helps your SEO efforts as well.

4. Social Media
Social media is an extremely effective medium for branding as well as lead generation and developing a cutting-edge social media plan should be a major part of your digital strategy. The plan would entail clarifying business objectives for social media, putting together a content plan (audience analysis, content categories, post frequency, post timings) and determining the main metrics and KPIs that would be used to consistently set targets and measure success

5. Paid Advertising – Google Adwords/Facebook Ads/LinkedIn Ads/Retargeting
Paid advertising is essential, especially for businesses that are in the startup stage, to help get the word out and extend their products/services to a greater audience. It can help get consistent and valuable traffic to the website while SEO and offline efforts are yet to begin showing results. For established businesses too, paid advertising is an excellent customer acquisition and branding channel and should be given due attention while drafting the digital strategy.

While paid search campaigns on Google Adwords offer the benefit of being highly targeted – displaying ads to people actively looking for your product/service, retargeting campaigns as well as campaigns on the Google Display Network, Facebook and LinkedIn offer a wide range of targeting that could help you reach out to the right audience with ease. Promoted posts on Facebook and sponsored updates on LinkedIn too help get the message out to a larger audience.
Each medium’s relevance and effectiveness for the business in question must be analyzed and ad spends allocated accordingly. Spends can then be re-allocated to the medium that is performing best and delivering the best results.

6. Email Marketing
With the growing popularity of social media, email would seem to be losing out on its sheen as an effective digital marketing channel. However, this is far from the truth and email marketing is still as effective as ever. If statistics are anything to go by, 95% of consumers use email and 91% check their inbox at least once a day. Also, a recent study by McKinsey found that e-mail is still a significantly more effective way to acquire customers with the rate at which e-mails prompt purchases being at least three times that of social media and the average order value too being about 17 percent higher.

7. Analytics & Reporting
As the digital strategy is being executed, it is of paramount importance to constantly analyze results and compare them with the set KPIs to check if all campaigns are on track to yielding the desired results. It is therefore essential to draw up a list of key metrics, for each of the channels listed above, that will be monitored and measured at pre-set intervals.
Keeping a close tab on analytics data can help drive the strategy in the right direction and correct any errors early enough before a considerable amount of money has been spent.

Right Integration is the key
Each ingredient in the digital plan has its own unique benefits and, in order to gain real value, they will have to be perfectly integrated keeping in mind the broader long-term goals of the business. It is this seamless integration that will eventually determine how successful the strategy will be and how quickly it will begin showing desirable results.
Offline Integration matters too
Digital Marketing definitely has its benefits but it still cannot replace offline marketing in entirety, at least for now. Forward-thinking marketers have understood this and are working on integrating offline and online marketing efforts into one synchronous campaign for a powerful lasting impact. Things as simple as on online check-in help customers communicate their physical interaction with your business, to the online world . Ensuring that your digital strategy integrates seamlessly with your offline efforts will go a long way in enhancing the bottom line of your business and boosting your ROI.

Is your digital marketing strategy working for your business? Contact us for a review of your online marketing activities.