7 reasons why your brand should have a digital-first marketing strategy

Are you still stuck in the paradigm of an offline marketing strategy with a 60-second TV commercial being your leading mode of communication, supported by print and outdoor advertising? If you are nodding your head in approval, you are being rapidly left behind by those who have adopted a ‘Digital-First’ marketing approach!

Brands are steadily transitioning from traditional advertising to digital marketing because of the higher reach, better engagement and increase in generating high-quality leads. Read on for the top seven reasons why your brand should adopt a digital approach.

Your prospects and customers are all online

With over 450 million Indians online today, your prospects and customers are spending more of their time online than ever before. And this number is slated to grow to 735 million online by 2021. Of these, 199 million will be English speaking, and 536 million language speaking, with over 70% of them accessing the Internet from a smartphone throughout the day. They are increasingly spending more time online than on any other medium. Is there a better way for your brand to engage with India’s next billion Internet users and reach the tier 2 and tier 3 cities in India as well?

A digital-first approach will mean a mobile-first approach for your brand’s digital assets

The online population accesses digital platforms over 150 times a day for various reasons including search. Additionally, 80% of Indian users use their phones to access the Internet. This only proves that it is imperative for your brand to adopt a mobile-first strategy to rank higher than your competitors and leave a stamp in the digital world. From accelerated mobile pages for lightning-fast speed to optimising your web pages for better visibility on a mobile search, you need to leverage a custom-made digital strategy with a mobile-first approach to reach your potential consumers. Everything starts with the recognition that your digital marketing assets need to be optimised for the way consumers are behaving online now and in the future.

We leveraged the speed of accelerated mobile pages for a landing page developed for India Home Health Care, a top provider of home nursing and related healthcare services. The page helped reduce the cost per lead by a whopping 33% with a 20% increase in conversions.

Your brand or business needs to be easily discoverable

How discoverable is your brand or business? Search Engine Optimisation today is very different from what it was a few years ago. Deep and relevant content, like pillar pages and other long-form content, which is easily discoverable and distributed across multiple platforms, or amplified using social media works well. Consumers today are information seeking, with a ‘discovery mindset’, using search many times a day for multiple purposes- both business and personal. So why not market your brand by making it rank on the most used search engine in the world? Featured snippets are a great way to increase brand visibility and drive organic traffic to your website.

This is exactly what we achieved for Casagrand – one of India’s leading property developers with a strong presence in the south. Their blog on the best places to invest in Bangalore got highlighted as a featured snippet with an image and a list of all the locations presented in the blog.

Your brand or business needs to be easily discoverable

Being discoverable is a key result area for your digital marketing assets so that consumers find your brand when they are searching for something they need. From using SEO plugins for WordPress to leveraging local SEO and Google Maps for your business, ensure your brand gets the visibility it deserves.

The world’s second largest search engine, YouTube, is also a great platform to reach your target audience on. For tips on how to rank your videos, read our in-depth article: YouTube SEO Tips: The Secret Sauce to Ranking Your Videos in 2019.

Online consumers want to engage, not have information thrown at them

Is your online communication primarily elements of your offline marketing campaign? If you have to spend to reach your target group with your advertising, what makes you think they will choose to come to your social media pages to see your ads? Instead, your online marketing campaigns must seek to engage consumers by rewarding them in some way with relevant communications on social media platforms. Make sure all your online assets are designed in such a way that they trigger engagement and ultimately result in conversions. You need to leverage the two-way communication model that digital platforms offer to understand what your audience finds intriguing and feed them with high-quality content that converts.  Read our blog on how a redesign strategy for Chola helped increase social engagement for more insights.

The most watched channel today is YouTube

YouTube is the second most used search engine in the world after Google with over 100 million Indian users watching YouTube videos every single day! To add to that, according to YouTube Brandcast 2018, 9 out of 10 users consume videos that are in regional languages. This means that you must have a strategy for YouTube that could involve videos on your YouTube channel, or advertising on YouTube to maximise impact. Your channel must be optimised with effective YouTube SEO tips for discoverability, and the videos disseminated on social media platforms. And your ads on YouTube can be optimised based on brand objectives including calls to action. What you cannot afford to do is be absent from a burgeoning channel teeming with users.

Showcasing your brand through engaging and informative videos on your YouTube channel is one of the most effective ways to reach potential consumers and widen your clientele. Social Beat’s YouTube channel features a section on “Digital Bytes”, where experts share their insights on the top digital marketing trends of the industry.

The most watched channel today is YouTube

The rise of language content

With the introduction of affordable data plans by Reliance Jio and the drop in the prices of smartphones in India, Internet usage has seeped into the tier 2 and tier 3 regions of the nation. This has unlocked a huge database of online users waiting to be targeted. The only way to connect and convert with these users is by incorporating an end-to-end multilingual marketing approach in a language your consumer is comfortable in – which is exactly what we offer at 22 languages. With the growth of regional content online, we tailor-make a language roadmap for your brand from landing pages and website development to social media campaigns and search engine optimisation. The sooner you start, the faster you will become proficient in the use of language content and communications to grow your business.

For instance, we tapped the reach of vernacular content for Cholamandalam Finance by creating an engaging video about the financial life lessons you can learn from an ant. The English video reached 96,000 users with 3,113 shares. However, the same video in Hindi reached 2.3 million users with 80,524 shares, proving that going regional is the best way to increase your brand’s visibility and reach.

The ability to interact with consumers during the decision-making process

Today, digital platforms enable you to interact with consumers when they are in the decision-making process to positively influence their choice towards your brand. From information search, comparison of brands, to the sites they visit, consumers signal their intent with their digital footprint. They can be addressed during this process to move them down the marketing funnel to fulfillment. Affinity and custom intent audiences of consumers who have expressed their interest in certain kinds of products or services can also be addressed to get their attention at the top of the funnel. Your offline marketing efforts should drive people online to your content or messaging so that you can engage with them positively to influence their decision.

Keeping these fool-proof reasons in mind, it is time you shift from print to digital media and give your brand the launch pad it needs. Whether you are a leading real estate developer, a top FMCG brand, a renowned financial organisation or a celebrated B2B firm, unleash the power of going digital and take your business to towering heights.

Social Beat: Brand new identity, same bold promise

Over the five years since our inception, Social Beat has consistently pushed the envelope and stood at the helm of digital innovations. This relentless drive towards perfection has been a key factor in the successful business results we have achieved for each of our clients. But the digital landscape within which we operate is continuously changing and with it, so are we. As we progress from being a startup to a meaningful player in the digital ecosystem, we are charging head-first towards a phase of rapid growth and impactful creativity. To keep up with our constantly evolving nature, we have re-launched our brand identity to better reflect the values we strive to embody today. But while the overall look of our brand might have changed, our core promise remains the same: to achieve measurable milestones for our clients through ROI-driven digital marketing.

What sets us apart?

Social Beat today is a powerhouse of talent, creativity, strategy and innovation. With our vibrant 80-member team spread across our offices in Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, we have the best resources to help brands meet their business objectives. With our unparalleled capabilities in the field, we can say with full confidence that no one understands the digital landscape of India better than us. Social Beat has several unique tools at our disposal to meet the challenges and potential of India’s consumer audience today.

As the importance of video marketing continues to grow, our expertise in creating engaging, insightful video content is one of our biggest strengths. With a talented in-house video team, we offer brands a special edge to capture the attention of their consumers. Influencer by Social Beat is one of our most important services, capitalising on the rapid emergence of influencer marketing. Through Influencer, we put brands in touch with key influencers in the category, helping them achieve greater brand awareness and trust. As tier 2 and tier 3 cities in India benefit from easier access to high-speed internet and low-cost phones, regional language marketing is crucial to help brands engage with India’s next billion internet users. This is why 22 Languages by Social Beat helps brands create engaging content for their audiences in the language they are most comfortable in. This focus on results through a comprehensive marketing strategy is perfectly encapsulated in our new brand identity.

The meaning behind our new brand identity

The new brand identity symbolises the progressive vision of our company. From the choice of contemporary fonts to the colours used, every aspect of the logo is an embodiment of the values, culture and innovative methods used by us. After weeks of brainstorming and ideation, our in-house creative team led by Creative Head Panisa Shah finally conceptualized a logo that was the best representation of all that our brand stands for. We adopted a clean, minimal and contemporary look to symbolise our progressive approach to digital strategy. Aside from our new logo, our brand relaunch also involves a redesign of the Social Beat website. In keeping with the minimalist theme, we are giving our website an uncluttered, clean layout that is captivating in its simplicity.

A journey through our logo

The brand new Social Beat logo is minimalistic and contemporary with clear-cut edges and a bold, yet refined design language that is reflective of our distinctive identity. It successfully captures our passion, energy, creativity and professionalism in a memorable way.

SB logo

Every component of the logo has a symbolism of its own that throws light on the values, ethics and passionate spirit that defines who we are.

logo symbolism

Solid colours with a rock-solid approach: The colour strategy behind the logo was to combine the enthusiastic vibe of orangish red with the reliability and expertise of royal blue. A typical day at Social Beat is replete with vibrant minds working towards reinforcing our clients’ trust and confidence in us. This is why we chose a vibrant red to represent our fresh ideas, passion, creativity and energy, while royal blue represents our dependability and trustworthiness.

Bettering the lettering: We opted for an uppercase, clean, sans-serif font to portray the professionalism we offer. The straight lines reiterate our commitment towards providing polished, masterful end-results for our clients.

Forward is the way to go: The forward arrows represent the result-driven business generation approach and the progressive vision of the company. We are constantly scouting for the latest trends in digital marketing to ensure that brands stay ahead of the curve.

Energetic, enthusiastic and youthful: The strategically placed flash symbol symbolises the energetic and dynamic nature of the team, driven by fresh ideas and new-age concepts.

Strategy comes full-circle: The circle encompassing the logo stands for the holistic digital marketing solution that Social Beat offers to each of our clients.

Our re-envisioned brand identity will accelerate us towards our goal of becoming amongst India’s top companies offering digital marketing solutions. This new identity resonates with our USP of boosting ROI for our clients across a variety of sectors like the finance industry, FMCG industry, real estate sector and more by being a holistic digital marketing partner. It’s a brand new identity but the same bold promise!

Social Beat at ICANN-ISOC Round Table on Security

The Internet Society’s (ISOC) Chennai Chapter held a Round Table discussion on how Security has become a mainstream concern as part of the ICANN’s Domain Name Security Seminar (DNSSEC seminar) in Chennai on Sunday, 9th July 17. David Appasamy, Head-Brand & Strategy, Social Beat co-chaired the event along with M Sivasubramanian, President, Internet Society, Chennai Chapter, who organized the event.

The Round table was made possible by host ICANN as part of their DNSSEC initiative represented by Samiran Gupta, Head India for ICANN, and Champika Wijayatunga, Regional Engagement Manager, Security, Stability & Resiliency for ICANN Asia Pacific, who were also part of the Round Table.

security

The Round Table was attended by a multi-stakeholder group comprising law enforcement, academia with both students & faculty, business & start up representation, civil society with NGO participation and solutions & network representation. The discussions were wide ranging and served to sensitize those present to the increased security risks in today’s environment, both online and offline.

The conclusions arrived at during the Round Table were:

  • That most participants felt an increase in security risks in both offline and online worlds today.
  • The world today is far more complex than even a decade ago with issues of terrorism, a divided society, external threats, internal unrest, fake news, online fraud etc. all contributing to the rise in perceived increased security risk offline and online.
  • Governance & regulation cannot be left to only the experts and law enforcement but must be the collective responsibility of everyone who uses the internet.
  • Every user must display responsible behaviour online much as they do offline to ensure that security risks are mitigated.
  • However, this is far easier said than done in a country like India where online user growth is significant month on month and digital marketing is growing leaps & bounds. And when new users are from all strata of society, and not well versed with online etiquette and secure behaviour. In rural areas, for example, bank accounts are operated by groups of people using the same PIN at a government centre from where they have online access. Even in urban areas, people routinely give their credit card PIN numbers to petrol pump attendants or at restaurants while settling their bills.
  • Society is much more complex, demanding & divided today across the world, with law enforcement increasingly having to request online content sites or applications to remove content or pages placed there with the express purpose of inciting division and violence.
  • The Internet began from a defense research project, and was further developed by academia and think tanks. In the early days, users were responsible, aware and value driven so that the idea of the Internet being free, open and available to all made sense and was easily developed. Today, however, whilst it remains free and open (in varying degrees depending on countries), the need for oversight to ensure content is not misused is a reality.
  • While the need for oversight is a reality, self-regulation is still the best approach as a best practice. This is widely seen across the world where light touch regulation, ie facilitation, is the best way. Estonia and France were cited as benchmarks for Internet regulation. Law enforcement officers present also stressed that individual responsibility is still the key.
  • The Round Table concluded with the realization that to facilitate individually responsible behaviour online is a humongous task and will take enormous and sustained effort, especially in a country like India. It will have to be not just and individual responsibility, but a collective one across all multi-stakeholders.

The need for widespread awareness, and for key stakeholders to take the lead in this effort, whether governments, ISPs, online sites or applications, banks & financial services companies, payment or other apps, educational institutions, companies & businesses, parents and role models becomes key. Today, with close to 4 billion people online, the need for secure behaviour online is felt more than ever before. And will only increase in future.

How can brands market themselves in the digital age?

Much has already been said and written about managing brands: creating awareness and loyalty, refreshing them, launching brand extensions successfully and increasing revenues from a brand’s franchise year after year. Companies like P&G and Unilever honed this to a fine art and became sought after employers by eager MBAs raring to manage brands.

This was when the television commercial and its production was the high point of months of research, mapping, positioning and creative options. Print and outdoor media supported the core TV effort, while promotions drove an increase in sales through value offer to encourage brand switch and sampling by new users. It was always about using mass media to build brand image, and influence the audience to buy a brand based on promised benefits and lifestyle cues.

The disruption of the Internet

With the advent of the Internet and digital content, many things changed fundamentally. The Internet was mass media, but in a very different way: instead of being a ‘one-to-many’ communication (broadcast) that was information push, the Internet offered the chance of engaging (conversations) with many in an interactive manner. For it is a ‘many-to-many’ medium, with users generating content as they engage with each other.

The nature of the medium itself changed how brands reach out to audiences:

  • From brand message to rewarding the viewer

Digital marketing is, in a sense, permission marketing. How would you like it if a brand manager came in and put up a poster on your living room wall? Yet, when we advertise on Facebook, that is what we are doing in a sense! Their ‘walls’ belong to the users, not Facebook, not you. So if you’re going to be there, then you better reward them in some way: with a great story, with humour, with new information, with emotion or a new idea – commonly known as content marketing. It not only has to be worth their while to view, it must earn that place on their wall. And if it does, they will, in turn, share it on their friends’ walls like it was their own.

One example is this video by the BBC on Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday.

  • From awareness to the audience owning the message

It is no longer about just pushing out information on a brand or product and building its image based on benefits and lifestyle cues. It’s about engaging with audiences and starting conversations.

In the nineties, as the Internet spread and broadband began to proliferate, BMW was doing a big push into the US market which was then dominated by Mercedes. But BMW did not have the financial strength and budgets that Mercedes had on conventional media. The spread of broadband was an opportunity that BMW capitalized on with the famous BMW films. Only, instead of commercials on mass media, they produced short films by well-known directors starring Clive Owen and other stars based on the storyline. Central to each film and a star in its own right was, of course, a BMW: BMW Star and BMW Ticker.

In all, some ten films were produced over a three-year period and went viral quickly. The viewers it was aimed at, a younger, highly successful, independent thinking audience as compared to the older Benz traditionalists, owned the films and shared them widely with their peers. The result was electric, with BMW’s sales in the US surging without having to spend on mass media.

  •  From mass messaging to personal engagement

In the days of conventional marketing, it was all about the message. Consumer research threw up problem statements and provided insights, based on which, brands were tweaked. Then came the all important messaging based on the problem that was being addressed. At all times, the communication was from the brand to its audience; one to many; a one way communication. Creativity played an important role as audiences were being bombarded with thousands of messages a day, from when they awoke to when they went to sleep. The power of an idea is what got the brand past the filter of the mind through relevance and originality-enough to get their attention. Still, it was one more message that they absorbed, with the outcome still in doubt!

With the Internet, everything changed. Ideas are still important, as is creativity, to reward the audience for viewing the message and provoking them to engage with the brand. This starts a conversation, and the beginning of building a relationship with the audience that relates to the brand based on the idea. The idea must reward the reader or viewer in some way: either through humour, or by giving them information of value they were unaware of, or by simply capturing their imagination in a sociable way.

Like this Nike ad which uses Messi as a role model.

In conclusion:

Large media houses do not own the Internet, its users do. They not only ‘own’ it, they initiate its use according to their convenience. Their use of the Internet, depending on time of day and context, can be to consume the news, network with friends, send emails, work or entertain themselves. A single medium serves to satisfy all their needs depending on time or context. A good marketer knows what kind of message to reach to them, when and in what context, always keeping in mind that the message must earn its place on their walls with relevance and reward them. Done well, it will gain their ‘ownership’, so they share it with their friends.

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