Digital Marketing Trends for India in 2014

There is no magic wand to predict what 2014 will bring for us. There will definitely be innovations in digital marketing and communication. Predicting trends is a fun exercise nevertheless and here is our take on key trends we can expect to witness in the new year.

Political Parties will invest significantly in Social Media

With the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the emergence of the AAM Aadmi Party, we can expect significant investment of time and marketing spends on social media. Gujarat CM Narendra Modi is already one of the most popular Twitter celebrities with over 30 Lakh Followers and newly elected Delhi CM Arvind  Kejriwal has nearly 10 Lakh followers. The action in the online political space is bound to heat up.

Social Media for Narendra Modi Social Media for Narendra Modi in 2014

10 Lakh Twitter followers for Arvind Kejriwal

2014 to be the year of the Mobile Web

Mobile Commerce has long-held promise in India, but looks like 2014 will be the year when the promise turns into reality. Large ecommerce websites like MakeMytrip, Flipkart and Myntra are seeing ~15%-20% of the transactions coming through mobile already. If you run a business, it’s the right time to think through a mobile strategy (just building an app won’t do!) and ensure that your customers can transact with you through their mobiles.

Social Media on Mobile in Chennai Mobile Phones has opened up many sectors for innovation

Improved User Experiences

In a bid to optimize websites for search engines, many websites had poor user experiences. With refined tastes of the Indian consumers, we are seeing even decade only businesses like Makemytrip.com go in for a fresh and lean User Experience. 2014 will see increased usage of tools like A/B Testing of the website, Heatmaps and consumer studies to get the User Experience right.

Social Media moves from Push to Talk

Social Media Communication Chennai Two-way Communication on Social Media

Many businesses have been using social media like a TV Channel. The story has been – keep pushing messages and spending on Advertisements to get your voice heard. Going forward, brands will need to create content which engages in conversations with users – else, brands can except to get lost in the sea of content being produced online.

Clear ROI on Digital Investments

Many Brands started investing seriously in digital marketing only in 2013. In 2014, brands will expect to see clear ROI for the digital investments. We can expect granular tracking of what’s working and what hasn’t, with a shift to online channels which have a higher ROI.

Would be great to hear from you on which trends you agree with and disagree with – please share your thoughts in the comments.

eBay India Online Business Index

eBay, India’s largest eCommerce marketplace, recently unveiled India’s first Online Business Index, a research report on Indian eCommerce businesses, covering both domestic and retail export entrepreneurs. The report has been compiled using a survey from over 700 of eBay India’s top sellers, who are truly passionate about the potential of ecommerce in their lives.

As 2013 draws to a close, this report gives a good insight into the major trends that have developed in the sector over the past year, the challenges it faces and the future outlook for the industry as we head into 2014.

TRENDS:

What sells most:
Electronics seem to be the most sought after goods in the online domestic market with Mobiles, Laptops & Tablets and gadget accessories making up a large quantum of sales followed by Home Décor and jewellery items.

Multi-Channel strategy:
While a majority (53%) of domestic and retail export entrepreneurs only sell online and do not have an offline presence, the remaining have adopted a multi-pronged strategy using eBay, their offline stores, own websites, other online marketplaces and their social media presence to sell their merchandise.

Confidence in E-commerce:
The major reason why the majority of domestic and retail export entrepreneurs only sell online
& do not have an offline business is that they do not need an offline store. Other reasons include the prohibitive cost of retail property rent, other costs, and the flexibility in schedule that an online store offers.

eBay India Online Business Index eBay India Online Business Index

Why sell Online:
Online entrepreneurs, both domestic and export, are excited about the potential of Indian eCommerce and want to gain their share of the growing market. The ability to reach a much greater number of potential customers, better profitability, flexibility with work hours and operating from home are the other reasons which motivate the sellers to sell online.

Profitability:
Savvy entrepreneurs find sales from eBay are the most profitable given the low transaction fees and that they are charged only as they successfully sell.

Healthy growth rates:
eBay entrepreneurs are overall seeing healthy eCommerce growth rates with over 36 percent of domestic sellers stating a 20 percent YoY growth rate and over 24 percent stating a 21 percent to 40 percent YoY growth rate.
eBay retail export entrepreneurs are also seeing healthy eCommerce growth rates with over 36 percent of exporters stating a 20 percent YoY growth rate and over 30 percent stating a 21 percent-40 percent YoY growth rate.
15% of domestic entrepreneurs have stated a growth rate of over 100%

Employment generation:
In terms of employment opportunities, domestic sellers and retail exporters, on an average, employ approximately 4.8 and 5.3 full time staff respectively. This number is projected to increase to 5.2 and 6.1 full time staff over the next year.

CHALLENGES:

The chief challenges that domestic retailers see which they feel could limit their growth are:
• The state of the Indian Economy
• Courier Costs
• Exchange Rates

Exporters on the other hand see these challenges ahead:
• Competition from international retailers and sellers
• Major Indian retailers moving to an online offering
• Cost of Supplies

eCommerce eCommerce

FUTURE OUTLOOK

Optimism:
With 77 million Indians now visiting online shopping websites every month (Comscore) & IAMAI projecting the online shopping industry will grow to $1.8 Billion, the high levels of optimism isn’t without good reason. 89% of domestic online sellers feel optimistic about the year ahead while 3 in 5 are “very optimistic”.

Mobile Commerce:
Both domestic as well as Retail entrepreneurs are excited about the potential of mobile
commerce see it playing a very important role in their future business growth. The reason they see a role for mobile commerce in their future business strategy is that they see mobile internet coverage improving, giving more customers access to mobile commerce and hence increasing their ability to attract new customers. They plan to invest in mobile commerce in multiple ways, by leveraging eBay as a channel since it invests heavily in mobile commerce, by optimizing their online content for mobile & by marketing to customers via mobile channels.

Mobile e-commerce isn’t without its challenges. Slow mobile internet speed combined with higher costs of access and unreliable mobile internet coverage, lack of knowledge about mobile commerce and high investing costs across different mobile platforms are the major factors that these sellers see which could pose limitations to them maximizing the benefits from this sector.

Logistics:
Logistics are a major part of the ecommerce industry shipping parcels form the sellers to the consumers and also impact the seller’s bottomlines. Ebay’s sellers want their logistics partners to come up with more competitive shipping rates, faster shipping times and greater flexibility of Pick-Up service

Get the pulse of India’s growing e-commerce industry. Read this interesting and informative report here.

Infographic: Digital Marketing by Real Estate StartUps

Digital Marketing Perspective on Indian Real Estate StartUps

 

As per the Indian Brand Equity Foundation report on the Indian Real Estate industry, Real Estate is India’s second largest employment generation sector after agriculture and contributes about 6.3 per cent to India’s gross domestic product (GDP). Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Indian Real Estate is expected to touch US$ 25 billion in the next 10 years from its current US$ 4 billion while the sector’s projected annual revenues is expected to be US$ 180 billion by 2020. This enormous growth potential seems to have lured a good number of startups to the industry.

Web Design and User Experience Perspective:

Most of the startups in the space seem to have invested a lot of time and attention in Web Design and User Experience to differentiate themselves from the bigger and more established players.

Housing.com, for instance, has an excellent interface with the property-search button in the centre. The interface is map-based and all property-search results turn out as places on a map. It also has a Shortlist button enabling the user to shortlist options and come back to them later to take a final call. While they have scored well with their interface, what sets them back is the fact they have yet to garner a large number of listings, leaving the user with very few options to choose from.

PropTiger differentiates itself by providing a portfolio tracking tool which enables the end user to know the status of their property investment in terms of pricing, construction progress, project and locality updates, price trends and market talk, which is intended to help them decide the right time to sell their property.

HomeShikari, a TTK services company started in 2011 and currently operating only for properties in Bangalore, is trying to crack the real estate problem by shunning the brokerage model and embracing complete transparency. HomeShikari too allows the user to search for properties via a map-based interface and has worked on a neat ad-free website with a good user Experience.

RealtyCompass claims to be a consumer centric property portal focused on providing the consumer with the information of every new project in the city. Started in July this year and based out of Chennai with a presence in 4 cities in South India, they are looking to expand rapidly to 10 cities pan-India.

Metroplots, also started out of Chennai in 2009, has witnessed good success in 3 major markets of Chennai, Bangalore and NCR where it currently operates and is on an ambitious expansion spree to 20 more cities. They have a strong online interface which offers investors an array of options to choose from while looking for deals and have also created a proprietary SAAS tool called Sales Desk to enable builders & agents grow their business.

Social Media Strategy Perspective:

All startups in the space have been actively using social media platforms to build their brands and engage and acquire customers in an attempt to revamp the industry.

Facebook seems to be the favorite tool with all startups to interact with their customers and promote their services. Housing.co.in, now Housing.com has over 236,000 likes, Commonfloor over 115,000 while HomeShikari, RealtyCompass and PropTiger have about 25,000, 22,600 and 10,000 each.

Amongst the other platforms, Twitter seems to be used more than the rest with Commonfloor being the most active of this pack with over 6500 Tweets and 3500 followers. Metroplots with over 3000 tweets and Proptiger with over 2800 seem to be catching up.

The use of Google+ and LinkedIn as social media platforms is just beginning to catch up while YouTube as a marketing platform has not been used much by either of these startups, with PropTiger being the lone exception. PropTiger has begun uploading videos of the projects listed with them on YouTube and currently has over 40 videos.

With big players such as Magicbricks and 99acres already established in the space, these startups are taking their Web Design, User Experience and social marketing strategy seriously and working on capturing a big chunk of this growing market.

Are you taking your Web Design, User Experience and Social marketing strategy seriously? Call us for a discussion. in the meantime, read our comprehensive guide for digital marketing for real estate.

Google Toolbar PageRank gets an update

In a surprising gesture, Google has rolled out an update for Toolbar PageRank yesterday after a time gap of 10 months. The last update for Toolbar PageRank came in February 2013. The update comes as a surprise for many because Matt Cutts, the head of webspam in Google thought otherwise (two months back) as you can see below. Now, don’t try your luck in searching for that tweet. It’s disappeared for obvious reasons.

Google Toolbar PageRank
Matts Cutts’ Tweet

PageRank has improved for a lot of sites including Social Beat’s. Have you checked the PR for your site?

PageRank – In a nutshell

PR is one of the many algorithms that Google uses to rank a website in search results. It tells you how reputable a website is to provide you the most relevant results at the top of the page. PageRank is not the sole algorithm used by Google to refine search results. For example, if you use a PageRank Search Tool to identify PR of websites in search results, you are more likely to see websites with even low PR listed above the ones that have a high PR. This substantiates the fact that Google doesn’t use PR as the only factor to rank websites in search results.

Why your website’s PageRank has not improved?

There are few indications that could explain this. One of the important factors for your PR to improve is that there should be an increase in the number of incoming links pointing to your website from other well established sites. The significance of your incoming links does play a vital role but it could not be the only reason.

The balance between the number of incoming links and outgoing links for your website should be maintained. There is no harm in giving outgoing links from your website, but ensure that they have a good PR. This provides a visibility for your website too and is a good optimization strategy. Hence, if the outgoing links are greater than the number of incoming links to your site, then your PR is likely to see a dip.

Do not chase the PR trends. If you create unique and fresh content for your website and leverage your social media presence, your content will certainly gain visibility. If not sooner, at least in the long run it will.

Click here to know more about Google Toolbar

Key Takeaways from the GDayX Chennai Conclave

Anuradha Nair and Sunil Elango from Social Beat attended the GDayX event organized by Google Business Group – Chennai last month. The event which was held in Hindustan University, Padur included inspiring sessions, business presentations, a panel discussion and an unconference on latest trends in digital marketing and internet technologies from various speakers including Sunil Rao, the country head of Google Outreach programs. The conclave had a good mix of entrepreneurs, social media experts, SEO professionals and web developers. Below is a partial list of key takeaways from the day-long conclave.

Google-GdayX-Chennai GDayX Logo

  • Google Web Academy: The most important announcement from Google was the launch of Web Academy for Small Businesses for India. The academy currently has five modules on Communicate across Platforms, List Your Business Online, Survey Your Customers, Create and Share your Newsletter and Meet Virtually for Business. “In the next 6 months, 25 – 30 modules will be added to the academy,” said Sunil Rao.
  • Make your site crawlable: Search engines use some programs called “crawlers” to index web pages. If the search engine can crawl through the entire content of your website without any difficulties, it means your website is crawlable.
  • Images & Flash: If your web page is loaded with images, ensure that you use the alt text attribute and title in HTML. Avoid designing your website with flash content. It makes it difficult for the Google bots to index your website.
  • Google Plus Authorship and Rich Snippets: Applying for Google Authorship is the best way to gain credibility to the content you create/write. Once your authorship is approved, the author’s name and the profile picture start to appear in search results. Rich Snippets are nothing but displaying author’s name and the byline in search results. So, authorship adds certain value to your content and of course, the search results.
  • Fresh and Unique Content: Create unique contents in order to gain good visibility in search results. Invest more time in content creation than chasing the SEO trends.

GDayX Chennai Event Hindustan University Auditorium – GDayX Conclave

  • Use Resources Effectively: Regular updates on SEO trends and tutorials on various topics are available at Webmaster Central Blog and the Support websites of Google. Glance through the sites and update your knowledge on the recent trends and optimize your business results.
  • Site Speed: It is one of the important ranking factors that Google pays attentions to. Site speed is crucial since a slower site speed means a bad user experience and ultimately belittles the customer satisfaction. So, pay heed to the site speed of your website.
  • Responsiveness and UI: Creating unique content is not sufficient to achieve your goals. It needs to be recognized and shared across the web to yield satisfying results. Websites which are more responsive allow users to look for contents on your page. If you want your content to be shared broadly, making a user-friendly website is a prerequisite.
  • Google Plus Integration: The integration of Google Plus with search results was not unexpected. But it culminated three months back when Google announced hashtag search options. To cut the long story short, when you search for a keyword with the # symbol, you are expected to see Google Plus posts related to the keyword on search results. Get on Google Plus and build your community if you already haven’t.
  • Keywords under “Not Provided”: The number of keywords listed under “Not Provided” is increasing day by day in Google Analytics. It makes it difficult to identify the keywords which are helping organically.  Running Adwords campaign seems to be only solution, at least for now.

Amazon Prime Air : A Revolution in Online Shopping

It’s one of those lazy Sundays. You’re surfing e-commerce sites for those lovely pair of shoes you’ve always wanted. You find them! You can’t resist placing the order. Less than thirty minutes later, you hear that familiar buzzing noise outside your door. You’re overjoyed – you’re shoes have already arrived, drone-delivered. Sounds like a scene from a Science fiction movie? Not really. And, you can go ahead and pinch yourself too, because is this is no dream either. Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos has revealed yesterday that they are developing a drone-based delivery system called Amazon Prime Air, the goal of which is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) also known as drones.

Amazon Drone Prime Air

As soon as your order is placed, it is packed in record time in one of Amazon’s 96 massive warehouses worldwide, also known as fulfillment centers – each about 1.2 million square feet in area – the size of 20 football fields! These will then be put on a delivery carousel from where they will be picked up by the drones – eight rotor helicopters which Bezos calls an “octocopter.”  These will then be instructed to deliver at designated GPS co-ordinates. They will be able to deliver within a 10 km radius and safely carry about 5 pounds in weight, which as per Bezos, accounts for about 86 percent of the items Amazon delivers.

This delivery system could account for massive reductions in Carbon emissions by reducing the number of delivery trucks doing the rounds. Further, they use electric motors which make them even greener.

However, for those of you expecting to be drone-delivered your orders tomorrow, Bezos says it will take a few, maybe four or five, years. The project is still on the anvil in Amazon’s next-generation R&D lab and has just about entered the experimental stage. In an interview to CBS’s 60 minutes, Bezos said the company is still working on redundancies and reliabilities and  the systems required to ensure that mishaps like the drone landing on somebody’s head while they’re walking around the neighborhood don’t happen. Get a sneak peek of Amazon Prime Air in the video below.

Apart from this, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations currently prohibit use of drones for commercial purposes. However, these are expected to change when a new set of rules for unmanned aircraft come into place by 2015. Security implications will have to be considered too. But Bezos is optimistic, telling 60 minutes, “Could it be, you know, four, five years? I think so. It will work, and it will happen, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Amazon is a pioneer in the field of e-commerce and has been the poster boy of e-commerce success ever since its inception almost two decades ago. Known for its innovative ways and attempts to streamline their processes and ensure the best service, this new innovation from the Amazon stable comes as no surprise. Also, coming within just a few days of Operation Blue Virus exposing the misuse of Social Media for nefarious reasons; drones, earlier synonymous with attacks causing death and destruction, now being used to make life easier and more convenient just goes to reiterate the fact that any technological advancement, used correctly, responsibly and ethically can be used to work wonders.

Operation Blue Virus – The Dark Side of Social Media

 

Scams, scandals and stings have become commonplace news in India lately. There’s a new one virtually every fortnight. The latest sting by Cobrapost, codenamed #OperationBlueVirus, exposes two dozen IT companies which put social media to nefarious use. The sting involved asking these companies to launch a branding exercise for a tainted politician and defame his opponent, even if it meant character assassination, which shockingly, none of the companies turned down. One company agreed to tear up the reputation of a fictitious company to shreds. Another agreed to launch a smear campaign against Cobrapost founder, Aniruddha Bahal, accusing him of not paying his employees, defrauding crores of rupees and being involved in a murder in a fictitious town. All this, despite being told who he was.

Some companies went further and offered disturbing “services” like making fake videos of political opponents in compromising positions go viral and spreading communal tension(one company even offered to plant bombs – real ones) to change the poll outcome. Worse, they claim to use tools that keep the calumnious content untraceable and leave no tell-tale signs.

Fake Like Image Courtesy : anti-socnet.com

Coming less than a month before four Indian states go to the polls, these stunning revelations seemingly vindicate the recent EC decision to bring social media campaigns under the code of conduct.

With some tweets making indirect suggestions that Narendra Modi could be a beneficiary to some of these services, this has further stirred the hornet’s nest and has #OperationBlueVirus trending on twitter.

The impact of this sting on the social media scenario in India remains to be seen. Given state elections round the corner and national elections in a few months, the demands for curbs and regulation over social media may get louder. Corporate India may sit up and take note since these “services” now exposed could very well be misused against them. And, unlike elections which come and go, their brands are evaluated on a continuous basis.

The Dark Side of Social Media Image Courtesy : ukmarketingnetwork.co.uk

The sting has once again raised the age-old debate of technology being a boon or bane. The history of mankind is dotted with examples where great minds invented or discovered something intended to make life easier for everyone on the planet; but which eventually ended up being misused for violence, death and destruction. TNT was originally discovered in the 19th century for use as a yellow die but later began to be used as a potent explosive and is still in use until this day. Airplanes were invented to fulfill man’s dream to fly like a bird but ended up being used for destructive means as well. So were rockets; made to explore outer space but also used as ICBMs carrying nuclear warheads. History is replete with such examples but eventually it comes down not to the invention or the advancement but the hands it is in; much like the analogy of a knife in the hands of a murderer and a surgeon.

Technology has advanced at a rapid pace in the last two decades and social media has been heralded for giving common people a voice, the best example of which was seen during the Arab Spring. Large corporates and now, SMBs have effectively harnessed it to build their brands, engage customers and expand their customer base. US President Barrack Obama’s victories in both 2008 and 2012 were largely attributed to his digital and social media driven campaigns. These campaigns have been so successful that they have been dissected and analyzed by digital marketing agencies and enthusiasts the world over.  It goes without saying, that social media, like any other technological advancement, used correctly, responsibly and ethically can be used to work wonders. Please share your comments here on what you feel about #socialmedia .

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