Top Digital Marketing Courses in India

With the Indian internet population at over 500 million users (as of early 2019), the digital marketing industry is growing. With the industry showing an enormous projected growth potential and an expected paucity of trained professionals, many students, graduates and young professionals are looking to get on the digital marketing bandwagon. This has led to choice in terms of digital marketing courses in India.

To cater to the growing need for these courses, a number of companies and organizations have started various courses on Digital marketing. There are tons of books written on Digital Marketing and YouTube Channels covering digital marketing. Below is a guide on some of the best institutes that you could choose from.Since this is an extensive article we’ve split it into sections to make it easier for you to navigate and read through.

  1. Criteria for evaluating digital marketing courses
  2. Online Digital Marketing Courses in India
  3. Online Vs Classroom courses 
  4. Classroom and Offline Courses 
  5. Executive Programs on Digital Marketing
  6. Global Online Digital Marketing Courses

Short Video Guide on how to select the right digital marketing course in India:

Criteria you should use for evaluating social media & digital marketing courses

Before opting for a digital marketing course online or offline, here are some pointers to evaluate the desired institute or course structure.

  • Certification: Certification is no substitute for skills learned and hands-on industry experience but, nevertheless, can add to the CV of a fresher making an entry into the field or for a professional looking to make a career switch. Opt for certification courses recognized by various educational bodies and corporates.
  • Course Curriculum & Faculty Expertise: Gauge the Institute or the course offered based on the curriculum, faculty expertise, training modules and relevance to the current industry trends & practices.
  • Reviews and recommendations: Check for reviews and recommendations from industry experts & former students through online education portals or discussion forums. Reach out to alumni on LinkedIn/Twitter for their direct feedback, where possible.
  • Placements: Explore the institute’s placement opportunities or institutional tie-ups for live projects & hands-on experience on acquired digital marketing skills.

Here are some of the popular websites/companies/institutes offering Digital Marketing courses (in no particular order) which will save you a considerable amount of time in research if you’re looking for one for yourself. While some of them are online, some are offline and some hybrid and offer classes across Mumbai, Gurgaon, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai etc. Please do also read our post on top digital marketing blogs in India as these blogs can help you get started on the learning path.

Online Digital Marketing Courses in India

Digital Vidya

Digital Vidya is Asia’s leading Digital Marketing training company and the first to launch Social Media Marketing course series in India. Since 2009, they claim to have had participation from over 20,000 professionals and students, from over 10,000 organizations and institutions such as Philips, Google, eBay, Reliance, Star TV, Cisco, SAP, Naukri, Citibank, GM, Toyota, ITC, CNBC, NIIT, IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Lucknow, in more than 1,200 Digital Marketing training programs conducted by them.

Digital Vidya also offers Digital Marketing (CDMM), Mobile Marketing (CMMM) and Social Media Certification programs (CSMMP) in association with V-Skills, a Govt. of India initiative. They conduct a free weekly digital marketing orientation session for those who want to understand how digital marketing can help them grow their career or scale their business. They also have an active placement cell with digital marketing employment opportunities for their alumni.

Disclaimer: Rohit Uttamchandani of Social Beat is a Trainer for Digital Vidya.

Manipal ProLearn

Manipal Global Education Services is a reputed organisation that offers online and classroom-based courses on digital marketing. Their online certification program spanning 30 hours of learning covers various aspects of digital marketing such as SEO, SEM, ORM and Analytics. Those interested in learning Google AdWords and advanced online marketing techniques can opt for their Digital Marketing Professional Program – a joint certification by Manipal ProLearn and Google India, that comprises of e-learning, classroom training and live projects.

Upgrad

MICA has partnered with Upgrad to help young professionals turn into digital marketing leaders of tomorrow. The course PG certification in Digital Marketing and Communication is a dedicated course that covers various facets of digital marketing such as social media marketing, content marketing, branding and marketing analytics. The duration of this course is 6.5 months. Some of the interesting aspects of this course are certifications from MICA and Facebook, case studies, projects and one on one mentoring with industry experts.

TalentEdge

TalentEdge provides a Specialised Executive Programme in Digital Marketing from MICA, Ahmedabad, ideal for early beginners and working professionals. They claim to have reached over 8,00,000 registered learners who have benefitted from the live lectures, case studies and content structure designed by MICA faculty & industry experts. Amit Kishore from MICA is the current lead faculty and comes with over 18 Yrs. of experience in strategic media planning & media research in India, Middle East, and West Africa & South East Asia. Apart from this, TalentEdge also offers an Executive Development Program in digital marketing from XLRI. The executive development program is a course for marketing managers who wish to understand the nuances of digital marketing techniques and tools to execute a campaign.  If you are an entrepreneur looking to scale up your business, then this is the digital marketing course you should take. The course curriculum is designed to help you understand the impact of digital technology and media on the growth and performance of your business.

Simplilearn

Simplilearn is one of the leading platforms for online training and professional certification programs. They have around 30 courses in digital marketing that provide hands-on experience in various Digital marketing domains. Accredited by OMCP, these courses are aimed at helping working professionals & aspirants stay ahead of the digital curve with relevant skills.

Internet & Mobile Research Institute(IMRI)

Internet & Mobile Research Institute, headquartered in Bangalore is a full-service international digital media training centre. IMRI conducts a one-month Executive Programme course in SEO, PPC advertising, SMM & Web Analytics, a six-month Professional Program In Digital Marketing (EPDM) and a one-year Graduate Program for aspirants to jumpstart their digital marketing career.

AIMA

The All India Management Association (AIMA) along with Digital Vidya offers a joint Certification Programme in Digital Marketing and Analytics. The major digital marketing tools covered in this course are email marketing, SEO/SEM, pay per click, affiliate marketing, digital display, mobile marketing, online video and social media analytics. Spread over a period of three months, this online course is divided into 6 modules, costing Rs. 36,000 + service tax.

Digigyan

Digigyan, a digital marketing institute based out of Delhi NCR region, offers e-commerce and digital marketing courses and training to students, professionals, entrepreneurs and corporates. The online course is certified by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

How to choose between Online and Classroom courses for digital marketing

Online Courses are generally more convenient for most people, especially working professionals as they can be attended from the comfort of one’s home/office without having to travel to a training centre. The travel might even have to be to another city for those who live in cities where good classroom training courses are not conducted.

Also, with technology having improved, online instructor-led virtual classrooms are as good as actual classrooms, with webinar software allowing for both peers to peer interaction as well as student-teacher interaction. Webinar recordings are also available for those who miss out on sessions.

Classroom programs would only work best for you if you are the personality type that prefers learning in a classroom environment or if you’re not too comfortable with learning in a live webinar format.

Classroom & Offline Courses for digital marketing

For those of you who prefer classroom or hybrid training, here is a list of institutes which conduct digital marketing classroom courses and workshops in various Indian cities:

IIDE

Located in Mumbai, the Indian Institute of Digital Education offers two courses on digital marketing and full stack programming. The digital marketing programme is designed to give freshers a robust introduction to the world of digital marketing and help professionals intensify their existing knowledge of all things digital. The programme is divided into a 6-month with classes conducted thrice a week, and independent certification courses conducted for three hours over one week.

The full stack programming course is an exhaustive 6-month program that gives students a profound understanding of the technical and practical aspects of web development and coding.

IIDE has two centres in Mumbai – Andheri and Jai Hind College and promises 100% placement to all students across Mumbai’s top digital agencies.

NIIT

NIIT Imperia, in association with Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) Ireland, offers a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing for graduates and working professionals at their centres in most major cities in the country. This course is accredited by Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) of Ireland.  Apart from this, NIIT also offers two digital marketing programs for aspiring professionals namely advanced program in digital marketing strategy from IIM Lucknow and the second is an Executive program in digital and social media strategy from IIM Calcutta. These are exclusive courses which are designed for graduates and working professionals. The duration of these courses is 6 months. Apart from the course completion certification, the professional will also receive the IIM alumni status.

DMTI

Digital Marketing Training Institute conducts a Post Graduate Program in Digital Media Marketing in Mumbai. The course is a one-year, full-time program that focuses on the strategic and practical aspects of Digital Marketing. They have an active placements cell as well which helps course participants get jobs in the digital marketing space.

EduPristine

EduPristine is one of India’s leading training providers for international certifications in Finance, Accounting and Analytics. They also conduct digital marketing classroom courses in 11 Indian cities. The course covers 60 hours of digital marketing classroom training over 12 Sundays. They also have a 48-hour online course spread over 6 weekends. On completion of the course, the participants are awarded a Certificate of Excellence in collaboration with the “Microsoft IT Academy Program”.

DSIM

The Delhi School of Internet Marketing conducts an all in one advanced digital marketing live classroom course for working professionals, business owners and job-seekers, at their training centres in Delhi and Bangalore. They conduct an online instructor-led course as well on weekends. However, they do not seem to offer any digital marketing certification for participants who complete the course.

Simply Digital

Simply Digital, started by a group of IIT-IIM alumni conducts digital marketing and big data courses at their centres in Delhi and Gurgaon. They also have a placement cell to help students get internships in digital start-ups & final placements at all levels across sectors.

Learning Catalyst

Learning Catalyst, based out of Mumbai, specializes in niche web/mobile/digital related programs directed towards a wide segment of individuals with marketing, design and tech backgrounds. They have centres in 7 Indian cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad) where they conduct courses of various durations on SEM, SEO, SMM and a 6-week integrated digital marketing program. They conduct an online course on Google Hangouts as well.

Digital Nest

Digital Nest conducts an Advanced Digital Marketing Training Course in Hyderabad. The course includes 48 hours of classroom training with weekday/weekend classes. They also conduct workshops/seminars and webinars for corporate bodies and educational institutions.

Social Samosa

Social Samosa, one of the most popular social media news and information portals in India, conducts workshops and seminars on the basics of Social Media, Facebook and Twitter marketing in Mumbai. These one-day sessions can serve as a primer for those who want to gain a basic knowledge of the space.

Executive Programs & Management Development Programmes on Digital Marketing in India

Most of the courses listed above are best suited for students and working professionals. If you are someone in a fairly senior role who has more than 5 to 10 years of work experience under his/her belt, then it might be worthwhile considering doing an executive digital marketing course.

It’s surprising to see that not many business schools in India are offering executive or management development programs around digital marketing. The few that do exist have been showcased below and we have tried to find a mix of programs that focus on digital marketing, e-commerce and analytics. If you have attended any of these programs please do leave your feedback in the comments below.

Indian School of Business, Hyderabad

ISB Hyderabad has a 3-day executive program titled “Digital & Social Media Marketing Strategies” priced at Rs.1,00,000 + GST. It is specifically targeted for professionals and leaders in the marketing and strategy domain. The program aims to give an overview of digital and social media marketing and how to get ROI from the medium.

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

IIM Bangalore has a programme called “Digital Marketing for Business Growth” which they conduct mutiple times in their academic year. The programme aims to give an overview of digital marketing with a focus on the different social media marketing channels, search engine marketing (both search advertising & search engine optimization) and digital analytics. So it aims to give an overview of each of the key elements that can enable brands to get better engagement, leads and conversions. It also touches upon analytics and what metrics can be used to measure the performance of the digital campaigns.

Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow

IIM Lucknow does seem to have a programme on Digital Marketing by renowned Professor Moutusy Maity. She has done extensive research in e-commerce, m-commerce and CRM so the quality of the programme is likely to be very high. She has worked in the Industry (at Nielsen) and handled clients like PepsiCo and Eveready Batteries so she would definitely bring a practical experience to the table. We are yet to receive more details on the programme from them so we shall update it here shortly.

Great Lakes Institute of Management

Great Lakes has a very interesting Post Graduate Program in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence for working executives which has a large focus on digital analytics. It is a blended program with classroom & online sessions. It also gives exposure to tools like SAS, R, Tableau. The entire programme is designed by experts in the Industry and the students have to complete a project under the mentorship of industry leaders. It is offered in Chennai, Bangalore, Pune & Gurgaon at the moment.

Global Online Digital Marketing Courses

HootSuite Social Media Certification

Hootsuite, one of the most popular tools for social media scheduling and monitoring offers a program called HootSuite Podium covering the fundamentals of social media marketing, with six free online courses. They also offer a paid certification exam, after passing which participants are listed in HootSuite’s public directory of social media professionals.

Hubspot Academy

Hubspot Academy offers a free Inbound Marketing Course & Certification marketers, entrepreneurs and students. They also conduct classroom training but only in the United States.

Apart from the courses listed above; there are various courses available on online learning sites including Udemy, which covers the basics of digital marketing and advanced concepts such as programmatic advertising,  Udacity, Coursera and Gyaanexchange. If you are a self-learner keen on understanding the digital marketing space, there are various digital marketing blogs, articles, books and real-time case studies available online. You can also join relevant LinkedIn groups to participate in discussions & connect with industry experts.

All said Digital marketing is a field where just taking courses or following the industry trends alone will not make one an expert. Maximum learning can only be gleaned from actual hands-on, on-the-job experience. Hence, the success of these courses will eventually depend on the quality of digital professionals they send into the industry and how well they execute the acquired knowledge & digital skill sets.

If you are looking out for digital marketing or social media career opportunities in Chennai, Bengaluru or Mumbai then please check out our Career Opportunities. Reach out to us if you are looking for the top digital marketing agency in Bangalore, the best digital marketing agency in Mumbai and Chennai and grow your business.

Have you taken up any of these courses? Please share your experiences with us in the comments!

10 Best E-commerce platforms for your online store

Updated in Feb, 2019

With the global & Indian ecommerce market growing at a rapid pace, we are seeing a lot of new trends. When starting out a new ecommerce venture, there are a lot of elements that need to be figured out – right from the ecommerce platform (which this post explains in detail), payment gateway to integrate with your ecommerce site, product photography, social media strategy, customer acquisition, customer retention, search engine optimisation & a whole lot more. There are a whole lot of specialists out there who can help you with each of these elements or you could take a digital marketing course or buy a book on digital marketing to familiarize yourself.

The first step when starting out is the ecommerce platform and the number of such platforms and content management systems available has grown over the years. In such a scenario, figuring out which platform to use when you’re looking to build your online store can be a fairly confusing task – especially if you aren’t from a technical/ecommerce background.  This post intends to make your research work easier by helping you choose the platform best suited for your needs.

Managed e-commerce platforms vs. Content Management Systems (CMS)

There are two options available for building an e-commerce website – one can either use managed (hosted) e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce or open-source Content Management Systems (CMS) like WooCommerce or Magento.

As the name indicates, a hosted ecommerce platform is hosted on a server that you will not have access to, while CMS-based websites are self-hosted on server space (such as Bluehost) you will have to purchase. Which option to choose will depend a lot on your specific needs as well as your level of technical involvement. Below is a list of benefits of both which could help you make a choice between the two based on your business’ current requirements:

Benefits of using Hosted ecommerce platforms

  • Lower development and maintenance – There is no coding expertise required, thereby eliminating the need for a development team. Also, the hosting is shared, which lowers the server costs.
  • Better technical support – Most online store creators have a strong tech-support team to assist users with any issues that may arise.
  • Less complex to work with – The back-end for most of these platforms is user-friendly and is built for ease of use keeping in mind users with limited technical knowledge.

Benefits of using a CMS

  • Better functionality – Multitude of plugins, add-ons and themes available for content management systems allow the addition of advanced functionalities that would not be possible in the case of self-hosted platforms.
  • Better customizability – Content management systems allow the freedom of adding/modifying features as well as building a customized design unique to one’s brand. They also allow for constant improvements and enhancements to the user experience on the site, which plays a major role in today’s highly competitive ecommerce space.
  • Can support large stores and sophisticated websites – Content Management Systems, being self-hosted do not have a limit to the number of products or categories allowed, so they can handle much larger stores as well as sophisticated websites.

The server can also be an important aspect of how your ecommerce site is built and we usually use the Linux based servers being provided by Bluehost or Amazon Web Services. We usually refrain from using Windows based servers.

You could use this flowchart below (Click on the flowchart to enlarge) to help you arrive at a decision on whether you should go ahead with a hosted ecommerce platform or with a CMS, based on your requirements:

Hosted-ecommerce-platforms-vs-open-source-Content-Management-Systems

Once you’ve made your choice on going ahead with either of the two platforms, here is a list of the 5 best options you could explore in each niche:

5 Best Content Management Systems

If you’ve decided that a CMS is what will suit your needs best, then below are the 5 best ecommerce CMS available in the market at the moment. The most important factors which will come into consideration when zeroing in on the CMS would be the availability of extensions, availability of support, functionality, customizability and the cost of development and maintenance. All of them are open source and have free community versions and paid enterprise versions.

WooCommerce:

WooCommerce is a WordPress platform used for building ecommerce websites and now almost 22% of the top 1 million ecommerce websites are hosted on it, making it the most popular platform. A large number of WordPress themes have the WooCommerce functionality built-in. The plugin provides almost all the features that are available in the other open-sources CMS’ listed here. WooCommerce might work out more user-friendly and cost-effective for smaller businesses as well as for those familiar with WordPress.

Pros:

  • Easy setup – WordPress requires very little time to get familiar
  • Runs on Wordpess – so does not have powerful servers requirements
  • Good number of lower-priced add-ons and themes available
  • Huge WordPress support community
  • Easy Integration with emailing platforms such as Mailchimp so that you can stay in touch with your customers

Cons:

  • Might not work for mid and large size businesses or for businesses looking to scale up soon

Magento:

With nearly 13% of the world’s top 1 million ecommerce sites (in 2015 21%  of the websites) are built on the Magento platform*, it is a popular and one of the best ecommerce CMS’ being used today. Its biggest advantages are the large number of plugins and extensions available which allow the addition of any new functionality, the ease of availability of experienced developers as well as a lower overall development and maintenance cost.

Pros:

  • Robust platform with a high level of functionality and customizability
  • Large number of marketplace extensions available
  • Highly active community for assistance with tutorials and troubleshooting options
  • More SEO-friendly as compared to most other platforms
  • It is highly-scalable – no need would arise to upgrade to another platform while scaling up in future
  • Easy Integration with emailing platforms such as Mailchimp so that you can stay in touch with your customers

Cons:

  • It requires sufficient server space to operate efficiently at high speeds. Smaller servers may cause speed and other related issues
  • Might be too complex for businesses that are too small

osCommerce:

osCommerce is one of the earliest open-source platforms available, it has a huge support base and a very active forum, though some users find that updates to the platform have not kept up with the times.

Pros:

  • Easy installation and an easy-to-use interface
  • Active forum with a large support base
  • Large number of plugins and add-ons allowing the addition of most functionalities

Cons:

  • Some users find that the software updates and designs have not kept up with times and remain slightly outdated

Top 1 Million ecommerce websites using Open Source technologies – Source – Builtwith.com

Drupal Commerce:

Drupal used to be a popular open source website content management system after WordPress and Drupal commerce is the plugin for ecommerce sites built on this platform. Its seamless integration with Drupal makes creating a blog or forum much more convenient than most other ecommerce content management systems.

Pros:

  • Seamless integration with the Drupal CMS framework gives it an edge over other platforms when it comes to blog integration and content marketing
  • Allows for easy implementation of SEO strategy

Cons:

  • The support community/forum is not as large or active as Magento or osCommerce.

Opencart:

Opencart is another open source CMS for ecommerce. Though it has one of the easiest to use backends, its support systems are not as comprehensive as compared to the other platforms listed.

Pros:

  • Easy to use back-end
  • Feature rich with large number of plug-ins
  • CSS can be edited from within the admin

Cons:

  • Some users report difficulty in installation of some themes
  • Support documentation is not comprehensive enough

Magento vs Woocommerce vs Drupal Commerce vs Opencart vs osCommerce Magento vs Woocommerce vs Drupal Commerce vs Opencart vs osCommerce

5 Best hosted ecommerce platforms

If you’ve decided that an online store creator would better suit your business, then below are the 5 best platforms available for you to choose from. Two of these – Zepo and Kartrocket have been chosen with the Indian market in mind, as being mostly domestic players, they might have a better understanding and feel of the local market.

Shopify:
Shopify is one of the first names that comes to mind when one thinks of an online commerce platform. With close to 7,75,000 sites using Shopify*, it is the most popular hosted ecommerce platform, coming second only to WooCommerce.

Pros:

  • Large number of add-ons as well as beautiful and professional templates to choose from for a beautiful storefront
  • 24/7 customer support – Can be reached by phone, online live chat or email.
  • SEO Compliant

Cons:

  • May work out slightly more expensive as compared to other platforms
  • The back-end UX is slightly complex to understand in the beginning

Pricing**: Basic – $29/month, Professional- $79/month, Unlimited – $299/month.

BigCommerce:

Bigcommerce is another popular platform, with 17% of the top 100,000 sites using hosted ecommerce solutions; and 51,977 sites overall*, being built on Bigcommerce.

Pros:

  • A large knowledge base – The Bigcommerce university provides extensive help resources
  • Easy-to-use interface

Cons:

  • Some users claim that customer support is a little unreliable at times

Pricing**: Silver – $29.95/month, Gold – $79.95/month, Platinum – $249.95/month

Volusion also has nearly as big a share of the top 100,000 sites using hosted ecommerce solutions – nearly 17%*; with over 90% of its market share is in the United States

Pros:

  • Wide variety of features
  • Personalized service from account specialists
  • Easy to use interface

Cons:

  • Volution stores use a mobile site as against a responsive design
  • Add-on store is not as large as Shopify or BigCommerce
  • No Blog setup available

Pricing**: Personal – $29/month, Professional – $79/month, Business – $299/month

Zepo:

Mumbai-based Zepo supports more than 1200 ecommerce stores at the moment and has also raised an undisclosed amount of funding in December 2014 to drive its expansion plans.

Pros:

  • Local brand – local support as well as a better understanding and feel of local market
  • An easy interface, especially for newbies
  • Hosted on Rackspace servers – so you can expect a better speed as compared to most platforms.

Cons:

  • Limited Images per product on the lower priced plans

Pricing**: Custom Pricing based on requests

Kartrocket:

Delhi-based KartRocket has powered over 1900 stores via its platform and snapped up close to $2 million investment in January 2015 to fund its expansion as well as develop innovative and India-focused product solutions

Pros:

  • Good choice of storefront templates
  • Usability – Clean backend interface
  • Local brand – better understanding and feel of local market

Cons:

  • Comparatively new player in the market as compared to the others above

Pricing**: Essential – Rs. 3500/month, Premium – Rs. 7000/month, Platinum – Rs. 12,000/month

Top 100000 websites using Hosted Solution technologies - Builtwith.com

Top 100000 websites using Hosted Solution technologies – Builtwith.com

 

Conclusion

Every platform and CMS has its plus and minus points and choosing the right one depends on your business model and requirements. If you are going in for a hosted platform, Shopify or Zepo (if you prefer a local player) might be the best options, while if you are looking for a Content Mangement System, then WooCommerce would most definitely work best. This, however, is based on our experince and we would love to hear what your experience says.

As the last word, switching platforms or content management systems after a store is up and running is not really a straightforward process and can truly be a nightmare. So, make sure you take a prudent and informed decision with a good amount of foresight.

If you’re a retailer looking to get onto the e-commerce bandwagon, please feel free to contact us and we would be glad to assist you.

Once you’ve zeroed in on the right platform for your ecommerce business and need to decide on the best payments solution you could use, you can check out our blog on the top payment gateways for e-commerce websites.

*Statistics from builtwith.com
** All price data is from the respective websites as on 5th January, 2019

The most definitive guide to Voice Search Marketing

Did you know that 28% of search queries in India are already done by voice? And that by 2020, 50% of all global searches will be voice searches? In fact, India is seeing 270% year on year growth in voice searches, as revealed in the recent Google for India event.

The rapid adoption of personal assistants – Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana – is changing the way consumers search the internet. Voice search is fast becoming the preferred mode for people to interact with their connected devices. The Mary Meeker 2018 Global Internet Report also noted the advancements made in voice technology and its growing adoption. 

So how do we as marketers adapt to this change? Well, that’s what this article is all about!

We’ll talk about the growth of voice search, what it means for you as marketers and how you can use it to drive awareness, engagement and sales for your brand.

Well, to start with…

Why is voice search so important?

The traditional screen interface is losing out to voice

Over the last decade, laptop and mobile screens have been the primary ways users have interacted with the internet. However, with the advent and growth of voice assistants, particularly smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo, this is changing.. and changing fast!

The interaction has now started happening through voice, with smart speakers, without using a screen in most cases.

As marketers, we have spent years optimizing for screen User Interfaces and screen User Experiences but when there is no screen anymore, then these aspects become obsolete. The focus is now shifting to building conversational User Interfaces and screen User Experiences, which we will talk about later in this article.

For new internet audiences, voice is the preferred mode of input

The second thing which makes voice so important is the ability to reach new audiences.

Think about it – the next wave of India’s Internet growth – the next billion or so internet users – are going to be largely from smaller cities and towns. For most of them, voice is a much easier and effortless way to interact as compared to typing on a small screen device. While there are indic keyboards to help these new users, voice is also a natural way to ask a question or query. Google is seeing a 270% year-on-year growth in voice queries in India. As a marketer, voice is your gateway to reach them.

Great, so now that we’ve seen why voice is important, how do we leverage it?

How you can make voice a part of your marketing strategy:

1. Relook at your keyword strategy:

Almost all the keyword research that we do today is based on keywords that are typed into a search box.

However, the queries that people type in are drastically different from queries that people ask a personal assistant.

Think about it – let’s say you wanted to know who the CEO of Google is. If you’re using a laptop, you would just head to Google and type “Microsoft CEO”.

If you’re using a personal assistant like Siri or Alexa, you would ask “Who is the CEO of Microsoft”.

The first query was two worlds long while the second one was 6 words long!

Voice queries are almost always conversational, tend to contain questions and tend to be much longer. The average query length on desktop is 1 to 3 words, while voice is 7 to 8 words.

In fact, Moz pulled out data for query length for Cortana searches and compared that with the query length for general text searches. This is what they found:

voice search

 

This changes the way we as marketers should approach our keyword strategy. Brands will need to start optimizing for longer voice-based queries, as compared to shorter keywords that are more used with traditional typed search.

2. Optimise for the Answer Box:

For those of you who use voice assistants frequently, where do you think the assistant pulls up most of its answers from? Well, most of it comes from something called an answer box.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you ask – “Hey Google, what are the top marketing blogs in India?”

Google gives you this answer:

 

Your browser doesn’t support HTML5 audio

You can see that the assistant credited the brand site here, from which it pulled out the answer.

Now, type in the same query into a Google search box and you will find that the assistant actually read out the answer from the first search result:

top-marketing-blogs-in-india-answer-box

 

This is the answer box, also called a featured snippet or “position zero”. To ensure your brand gets featured in answers to relevant voice queries, start building and optimizing content for the answer box.

Here’s a great guide from Moz on how to optimize for featured snippets.

3. Prioritize Local SEO:

A good percentage of voice searches are for local queries. For example, “What are the best Chinese restaurants around me” or “Where is the nearest coffee shop?”

Owing to this, optimizing for voice search becomes all the more imperative for businesses with a local physical presence. Ensure your local SEO strategy takes into account location-specific conversational based queries.

Here is a useful article on how to capitalize on voice search for Local SEO.

4. Leveraging Google Home Actions and Alexa Skills

The smart speaker market, led by Amazon Echo and Google Home is projected to reach 225 million installed devices by 2020.

Currently, there’s no way to run sponsored ads on Amazon Echo or Google Home, though I personally feel this will roll out at some point in the near future. However, as marketers, you can use Alexa Skills and Google Home Actions to drive audience engagement, product use and even a new point-of-sale.

Quite a few brands have already started doing this. Just search for Alexa skills in India and you will find all the skills that are currently available.

voice search

 

Brands like ClearTrip, UrbanClap, Byju’s and FreshMenu have been early movers here and are already using this to engage their audiences in different ways:

 

voice search

voice search

 

voice search

 

voice search

 

In the US, Tide has a very useful stain remover skill, with step-by-step voice instructions on how to remove over 200 types of stains – a great example of digital marketing for FMCG brands tailored for voice.

voice search

 

Another example of a brand using Alexa Skills really well is Nestle Purina, which helps you find the best canine companion for you, based on your lifestyle.

 

voice6

 

5. Build a conversational UI and UX

As the interface to interact with the internet moves from screen to voice, brands must start focusing on building more conversational user interfaces and experiences, modelled on natural human conversation. To start with, this could be as simple as adding voice functionality to the search bar on your website, which can now be done fairly easily by using the Google Web Speech API. Chatbots are another example of a conversational user interface

Voice is here to stay

Voice is one of the biggest trends in digital marketing in India at the moment. As marketers, the faster you begin adapting to it the better.

So, which of the points that we have just talked about are you going to act immediately? Are you going to relook at your keyword strategy? Are you going to optimize for position “0”? Or are you going to try building Alexa skills? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

Marketing for Real Estate Companies: Time to shift from print to digital media?

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In this age of new media marketing, digital marketing has proved to be a game-changer. While any proponent of an effective marketing mix model would suggest a healthy mix of conventional as well as unconventional modes, digital media certainly leads by a margin when you bring the ROI perspective into play for real estate industry. The advent of digital media has paved way for a marketing approach that now wants to track penny-to-penny spend on each marketing effort and the returns derived from it.

Digital marketing is predominantly being used by every firm out there and is proving to be an extremely successful means of spreading awareness and creating a brand value. The same is true for the real estate businesses.

The challenge is stiff competition in the real estate industry

The biggest challenge for real estate companies is that in this highly competitive space, the brands are looking forward to boosting their digital presence and generating leads. In order to enable the real estate companies to establish a digital identity and leverage upon it, they need foolproof innovative digital marketing strategies with lead generation at the centre-stage.

The website should be user-friendly & mobile responsive

There are a couple of things to be kept in mind while designing a website and implementing digital marketing strategies for real estate companies. First and foremost, it is the website that needs attention. The purpose of the website could vary from capturing leads to brand-building. A website must be user-friendly and must ensure “call-to-action”. Great content always helps in increasing visibility on the digital platform.

Creative usage of social media to build brand & generate leads

On social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, what matters is how creative your contents or posts are. The frequency is not an issue as long as your posts are able to garner enough audience engagement. Real estate companies need to project their unique strengths in the most creative manner possible on the digital space. A lot of online tools and applications are available nowadays that help in automated updates on the social media sites.

SEO to rank higher in search results

Social media follows SEO (Search engine optimization). Earlier, the pre-conceived notion was that just having a website is enough. But actually just having a website takes us nowhere. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing play a key role in the integrated approach towards getting traffic on the website and generating leads. SEO results give an imperative method of ranking on the digital space and the higher the company is ranked, the better chances of gaining leads from their websites.

While SEO is usually only associated with Google search, brands should not ignore YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world. 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.

Print media v/s Digital media: Digital gives a better ROI

Traditionally, the real estate companies invest highly in print ads, but the returns they get on their investments is comparatively lower when compared to the Google ads. Our research in the space throws up a couple of interesting facts. The research results clearly show that on investing the same amount of money in digital marketing and the print media, the real estate companies are able to realize results which are at approximately 2.5 times better. The detailed statistics are as shown below in the table:

digital marketing for real estate *ROI comparison for Print v/s Digital media

A 1/4thpage advertisement in a newspaper costs about Rs. 7 lakhs, which is bound to target one million or more audience. However, the conversion rate is surprisingly low. One print ad worth Rs. 7 lakhs results in about 400 website visits, out of which about 130 leads are generated. In the end, the company gets only 3 to 4 buyers for the properties at an average. In comparison, Google ads, with the similar investment of Rs. 7 lakhs results in about 400 leads which convert into more than 10 buyers.

Leverage the power of YouTube advertising

If pictures speak a thousand words, it is safe to say that videos speak a million. Videos are the new bannermen of content marketing and advertising on video platforms like YouTube can be a tipping point for your brand. You can tailor-make your video campaigns for YouTube by displaying your ad when a potential home-buyer performs a search with relevant keywords. This will help you reach out to a hand-picked audience that is genuinely interested in buying a property – a feature which is still foreign in traditional modes of advertising like television, radio and print.

According to YouTube Brandcast 2018, seven out of ten viewers watch ads on YouTube with the sound on. This only proves that apart from detailed targeting, YouTube ads offer a plethora of other benefits, pushing brands to switch to YouTube ads from traditional media. Few of the key advantages are discussed below:

Track your performance:

You can easily link the video ads to your AdWords account and track the results of your campaign. From the number of views generated and the reach of the ad to the amount of engagement caused, you can track every level of the marketing funnel and make most of your allocated budgets.

Reach the right audience:

Unlike traditional media, YouTube ads give you the power to pick your audience for higher conversion rates. You can create a customised target group based on a wide range of factors like the demographics, interests, content consumption behaviour and the keywords used to search, to name a few.

Choose from a multitude of ad formats:

There are numerous YouTube ad formats to choose from, based on where you want your ad to be displayed, how long your ad is and the objective of your campaign. For instance, TrueView ads are the ads that play before a particular YouTube video. You can opt for skippable ads that can be up to 6 minutes in length or non-skippable ads that have a limit of 20 seconds.

The other common type of ads is the bumper ad which plays before the YouTube video but are only 6 seconds long. These ads are great to showcase the launch of a new property or an irresistible offer. Featured below is the bumper ad created for Asta Properties for the launch of their premium project – Asta AVM.

Get the most out of your marketing budget:

The best aspect of Youtube ads is the cost-effective approach they provide. A TV ad, during the main time slot, costs around Rs. 2000 per second, with no targeting options or tracking benefits. The same ad played in the form of a bumper ad on YouTube will cost just Rs. 1.20 for 1000 impressions. To add to that, you can also retarget the people who have viewed your ad or visited your website for a higher rate of conversion.

Widen your reach with regional ads

Advertising your property through regional content is a great way to break into the tier 2 and tier 3 cities of the nation and engage with the next billion Internet users in India. The free data plans launched by Reliance Jio and the drop in the prices of smartphones have sparked the growth of regional content in the nation. It is time real estate developers took this to their advantage and re-designed their campaigns in vernacular languages to widen their reach.

CG Miro regional ad

Casagrand – one of the leading real estate developers in Chennai – leveraged the reach of regional ads to showcase their new project. The ad helped in increasing brand awareness and generating high-quality leads, creating a win-win situation for the developer.

The way forward for real estate companies: It’s never too late

Most of the real estate companies currently, do not have a commendable social media presence but it’s never too late. There is immense potential in the digital media to leverage for the real estate companies. The efficiency & optimization control should be at the forefront of any decision by an organization. And when that decision has the potential to catapult the number of leads by 250%, then there is no reason why the real estate companies should not go digital.

If you have feedback or any comments, feel free to reply to this blog post. You can also read our complete guide for digital marketing for real estate.

5 Ways Google’s Neighbourly App will impact digital marketing in India

Google announced the beta launch of its Neighbourly app last week. Neighbourly is a location-based app that connects you to people in your neighbourhood and helps you find the most up-to-date, relevant, and credible answers to your questions about the locality.

For example, if you want to know if there is a good, affordable math private tuition centre in the vicinity, people in your neighbourhood can help you find one. Likewise, if you’re looking for a reliable electrician near you or a place where you can quickly get a print-out, the app is designed to help you.

So, how is the launch of the Neighbourly app going to impact the digital marketing landscape in India? Here are five key points:

India’s internet population growth will accelerate

The Neighbourly app has been launched by Google, as part of their Next Billion Users (NBU) project.

India’s internet population stood at 481 million in Dec 2017. With the population at about 1.4 billion, there are still nearly a billion Indian’s yet to access the internet! It is these billion users that Google is going after with their NBU initiatives like Google Station (providing free WIFi to 400 railway stations across India) and now, the Neighbourly app.

These initiatives will accelerate the pace at which the next billion users come online and will rapidly increase the reach for digital marketing.

If you are looking for the best ways to reach the next billion users, here’s a deck that will help you:

The focus is on vernacular content

The Neighbourly app works in English, Hindi, Marathi and six other Indian languages. This is in line with Google’s recent push on vernacular language content and advertising.

Out of the next billion users yet to access the internet in India, over 90% of them are not proficient in English. That will bring about 900 million people online who will want to access the internet and consume content in their vernacular language.

If you want to succeed with your digital marketing efforts going forward, you must include vernacular language content and advertising as part of your strategy. Here’s an interesting case study of how a multilingual approach got us 90% growth in leads

Global companies are adopting an India-first approach

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, has said in an interview to The Economic Times in 2017 that “Over time you will see more global products that are developed in India first.”

India’s diversity in terms of languages, regions, traditions and social strata, combined with the fact that less than half of its 1.3 billion-plus population is using the internet, makes it a great testing ground for new internet apps and products, for large global companies like Google.

Neighbourly is not the first app or initiative which Google has built with an India-first approach. Payments app Tez, two-wheeler navigation on Google Maps and missed calls in Google Adwords are other initiatives where Google has earlier adopted an India-first approach.

Going forward, we could see a lot more global companies using India as a launch pad for their tech and internet products

Google will become more data-rich

One of the key reasons why Google is building apps like Neighbourly is to capture user data. With apps like Neighbourly, Google can capture a lot of hyperlocal user data from millions of users. Moreover, with the growth of voice search, we are hoping the same will be integrated with the Neighbourly App, leading the next billion internet users in India to have a seamless experience. This data is invaluable and can be used not just for extensive research but also to enhance ad targeting capabilities. Which brings us to the next point.

Google Adwords will become much more powerful

Google Adwords has been constantly enhancing its targeting capabilities to make the platform more powerful for advertisers. Some of the more recent additions have been the inclusion of custom intent audiences and life events targeting. All these improvements become possible only when Google knows more and more about each individual. As Google becomes more data-rich with its various NBU initiatives, Adwords will become a much more potent tool for digital marketers.

It’s important to keep an eye out for these feature enhancements and test them as soon as they come in to stay on top of the game.

What are the other ways you think Google’s next billion users project could impact digital marketing in India? Do let us know in the comments below.

 

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Content Amplification Strategies to promote content

Why content promotion is essential

Good content can go a long way in effectively building brand recall and trust with a brand’s target audience. This has made content marketing a key ingredient in every business’ digital marketing strategy.

With all marketers the world over dishing out content to reach, inform, engage, educate and connect to their target audience to build their brand, the amount of content produced on a daily basis has grown exponentially. Sure, the internet population has grown as well, but content creation and publishing is growing at a rate much faster than the growth in internet connectivity. In fact, as per a recent AOL and Nielsen report, over 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared every day! Even if we assume that only 1% of this content is great content, that’s a really huge number of great content pieces being published every day! In such a scenario, it is critical to ensure that content cuts through the clutter and reaches the audience it has been created for.

Content amplification strategies

Simply ideating, creating and publishing content does not work anymore and content distribution requires as much, if not more, effort as content creation. A word of caution here though – content amplification works best for content that has been ideated and created keeping in mind the interests and needs of the target audience. So, here are content amplification strategies you can use to effectively promote your content:

Respond to questions on Quora

Quora is recognised as the most comprehensive and trusted online forum. You can ask and answer questions relating to any subject matter. Since forums provide an open source for your Target Audience to discuss a topic, you can add value by responding to their queries using your existing write-up, if relevant. You can also link back to your blog or website, which effectively renders your work as a credible source.

Tweet various snippets from your content

Have interesting stats or facts that are share-worthy as individual pieces of content? Share those snippets on Twitter. The microblogging giant is one of the most active social media platforms today, so anything interesting that fits within 140 characters is bound to be retweeted. You can even take screenshots of other elements like pictures, infographics and quotes and use a shortened URL of your website for promotion.

Get featured in industry roundups

Roundups are collections of the best or most happening events in a particular industry. If your content is information based, you have a high chance of featuring in a roundup. Begin by searching for relevant roundups on Google (limit your search to the past month), then pitch your content to the roundup curators. If luck is on your side, the curators will feature your content in their collection. Roundups are searched extensively by business professionals, so your content will reach a niche audience, which works brilliantly for amplification purposes.

Contact people who have shared similar content

While researching for your content, you will surely come across existing articles that have written on the topic similar to yours. Content from reputed sources should already be generating traffic through social media shares. Your best bet is to copy the URL of the article and search for it on sites like Twitter and Facebook. You will be able to spot people who have shared the content, so contact these people through a direct message, requesting them to share what you have done as well.

Link to relevant sites/Mention entities when sharing

While researching, you may also come across interesting pieces of information that were quoted by credible sources. It is advisable to link to these sources while writing your article. When you publish your content and promote it on social media, use Twitter mentions or Facebook hashtags to prompt those sources that you’ve used their information. Doing so will increase the chance of your article being viewed by multiple individuals through the mentions.

Use Sniply to leverage the reach of content from more reputed sources

Sniply is a very simple yet effective tool that lets you create a one-liner message about your article and display it along with a button prompt. You can use Sniply to overlay your custom message onto any other piece of relevant content. The tool lets you drive conversions from one piece of shared content to another. Let’s assume you’ve found content that shares information about a topic similar to yours; you can use the Sniply tool to add your link to the topic, prompting the reader to delve deeper and gain more knowledge on the subject matter.

Post on relevant LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn is nothing but the Facebook variant for all things professional. If you’ content has information that can help professionals, LinkedIn is the best platform for promotional purposes. Much like Facebook communities, LinkedIn has an option where you can create groups. Find such groups that could make the most out of your content and share it on their pages.

Contact people who have linked to similar content

There is competition everywhere nowadays; you are sure to find a whole lot of articles similar to yours. Some of these articles would have gained immense social share yet may lack certain pieces of information that your article has. You can take advantage of this by pasting the URL of the similar articles on Ahrefs or Open Site Explorers. You will get a list of pages or sites that have used those articles as links. Reach out to those sites and ask them to link your fresher and better content.

Turn content into a ppt/pdf and upload to SlideShare

SlideShare is the perfect place to promote presentations to get the visibility you need. Once you upload your content on Slideshare, you can also share the link on LinkedIn as well. LinkedIn, as we all know, is fast becoming the go-to spot for business professionals when it comes to reading about industry related news and topics.

Leverage the reach of Influencers

Reaching out to influencers at scale is a good idea to amplify your content. Getting your content featured by some key influencers or getting them to share your content can amplify your reach drastically. Pick influencers that are relevant to your domain and engage with them. Contact more than one influencer and engage with them regularly for better reach.

The content mentioned above include promotion strategies that are used to their fullest potential by some of the best content marketers on the planet. Of course, some of these strategies may die out while others will evolve, so to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled and ears tuned.

If there are any content distribution channels which you have tried that could be added to the list, do let us know in the comments below.

Digital Chai Pe Charcha – Measuring ROI from Digital Marketing

The fifth edition of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha was held at our office on 9th July 2016. It received a wonderful response with about 25 participants including entrepreneurs, professionals, digital marketers and social media influencers taking an active part. The topic of discussion  was Measuring ROI from Digital Marketing.

Rohit-Digital-CPC

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

Types of Returns from Digital Marketing

There are two types of returns from digital marketing:

1. Tangible Returns:

These are metrics that translate into immediate business results such as Leads, Sales, Registrations and Traffic

2. Intangible Returns :

These are metrics that do not measure immediate business results such as brand awareness, customer engagement, customer satisfaction and brand reputation.

Which Metrics Should You Measure?

Metrics you measure will depend on your business goals and objectives.

For example, if your objective is lead generation, then you would measure metrics such as Leads/Enquiries Generated, Revenue from Sales, App Installs and Website Traffic.

On the other hand, if your objective is brand awareness, then you would measure metrics like likes/fans/followers, reach, impressions, mentions, social engagement, likes/comments/shares and retweets/reposts.

Tools to Measure Results

There are a number of tools available to measure the metrics mentioned above. They could be categorised as web, mobile, and social media analytics tools.

Web Analytics tools:

There are a number of web analytics tools that you could use. You could use Google Analytics to understand details about the volume and quality of your website traffic. Tools like Kissmetrics, help determine advanced analytics on the behaviour of your users.

Mobile App Analytics Tool

For those of you have the mobile app for your business, tools like Mixpanel and Appsflyer help you learn how people use your app. It also helps draw insights from this data to optimize and improve your marketing for better ROI.

Social Media Analytics Tools:

These tools help you analyze the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts by measuring metrics like likes/fans/followers, reach, impressions, mentions, engagement, likes/comments/shares and retweets/reposts. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn have inbuilt analytics tools for marketers to analyze the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. Other advanced analytics tools for social media intelligence include Radian6 and Simply Measured.

Call Tracking:

With the growth in mobile use globally, the number of leads coming through phone calls is increasing rapidly as compared to leads through web forms. In this scenario, it is important to use tools like Knowlarity and Exotel to track call leads effectively and attribute them to the right source.

Measuring ROI from a Digital Marketing Channel

The simplest way to measure if ROI from a channel would be positive, is by checking if the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) is greater than the cost of acquiring a customer through that channel.

The table below will help you with a simplified framework to calculate LTV. For more details on LTV calculation, you can read our article on Customer Lifecycle Value vs Cost of Acquisition in E-commerce.

LTV Metrics

Participants then did this analysis of LTV and cost of acquisition to calculate channel ROI for their businesses. They shared their learnings with the rest of the group. This was followed by an interactive discussion and Q&A session.

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

Edition 1 – Challenges Faced In Marketing A Startup

Edition 2 – Content Marketing Success In 2016

Edition 3  – 101 On Digital Advertising For Startups

Edition 4 – How To Use Instagram For Business

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

What methodology do you use to calculate ROI from your digital marketing efforts? Do share your method, experience, and learnings in the comments below!

Digital Chai Pe Charcha – 101 on Digital Advertising for Startups

The third edition of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha, held at our office on 23rd April 2016 received a wonderful response with about 25 participants including entrepreneurs, professionals, digital marketers and social media influencers taking active part in the discussion. The topic of discussion, led by Social Beat co-founder Suneil Chawla, was the effective use of digital advertising for customer acquisition and business growth.

DigitalCPC 1

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:

Digital Advertising Terminology:

For those who are new to the world of digital advertising, there was a brief introduction to the terms that are used in the space:

Cost per Click (CPC): How much an advertiser pays, on average, for each ad click. CPC is calculated by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of clicks generated.

Cost per Mille (Thousand Impressions) (CPM): Metric that shows how much it costs to serve 1,000 ad impressions. Also used as a standard measure for buying display ads, as inventory is generally sold on a CPM basis.

Cost per Lead (CPL): How much an advertiser pays, on average, for each ad click that results in a lead conversion. CPL is calculated by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of leads generated.

Cost per action (CPA):  A pricing method which calculates cost based on the number of times a user takes action based on an ad (conversions).

Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of impressions that results in a click through.

 

Digital Advertising Industry Benchmarks:

Following a brief discussion on how attendees were using digital advertising for their business, there was a discussion on the CTR, CPC, CPA and CPL benchmarks one can expect to see for different industries, based on the years of experience Social Beat has in the space. The table with the industry benchmarks is below:

Digital-Advertising-Industry-Benchmarks

 

Digital Advertising Exercises:

Event attendees then made four teams and brainstormed on a digital advertising exercise – Two teams worked on increasing the number of orders for an ecommerce client while two worked on expanding the business for a retail chain to 100+ stores across two Indian states.

The ecommerce exercise can be downloaded here and the retail chain exercise can be downloaded here.

DigitalCPC 2

Key takeaways from the exercises:

  1. While scaling up digital advertising spends, always allocate more budgets to the platform or channel that is known to be performing and delivering results. So, for example if Google Adwords is proving better leads/orders and sales, revenue then grow that channel further. For many brands it might be Facebook, for some it could be Adwords, Third Party Platforms, Linkedin or even Pinterest.
  2. Every platform will have some ceiling beyond which spends cannot be scaled up anymore without increasing CPA. Past data from individual platforms and from Google Analytics can help with this.
  3. It might be prudent to allocate a small percentage of your advertising spends (anywhere between 5% to 10%) to experimenting with newer channels and avenues for customer acquisition.
  4. Facebook tends to be the lowest cost of acquisition for most industries and is an excellent medium to target audiences who are not necessarily searching for your product/service yet.
  5. More detailed ideas on leveraging digital advertising can be seen here.

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

Edition 1Challenges faced in marketing a startup

Edition 2Content Marketing Success in 2016

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 challenges you face when it comes to digital advertising for your brand? Do let us know in the comments below and we will be happy to help you out.

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.

8 Digital Marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2016

In a space as dynamic as digital marketing where things change rapidly (Google, for example, updates its search algorithm 500 to 600 times a year), it is fairly difficult to predict with certainty how things will turn out in a year. Nevertheless, digital marketing is all about catching the best trends early and leveraging them. Here are eight key trends that we think would be ones to watch out for in 2016:

The mobile web will continue to grow rapidly

Mobile has already seen massive growth in 2014 and 2015. With Google announcing this year that mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic and also releasing its mobile-friendly update (Mobilegeddon), mobile-first has already gone from being a “nice to have” to an absolutely “must-have”. Also, despite the mobile web accounting for only 20% of the time spent on mobile (80% of the time spent is in apps), mobile browser traffic is twice the traffic from mobile apps. With mobile apps facing a massive challenge on the user retention front and the mobile web growing rapidly, mobile marketing strategy is where marketers are going to be strongly focused in 2016.

Mobile Web vs Mobile App Traffic Image Credit: Morgan Stanley

Newer channels like Instagram will continue to gain rapid ground

With a large number of marketers swarming the three most popular social media marketing channels – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (93% of marketers use Facebook!), there’s a great deal of competition for any audience you would want to target.  Relatively new and upcoming channels like Instagram (only 36% of marketers currently use Instagram), Snapchat (a meagre 2% of marketers currently use Snapchat) and Periscope, on the other hand, are fairly untapped and unlike Facebook, have seen a growth in organic reach over the last few years, as illustrated below. Early adopters to these channels are already seeing results and adoption will continue gain ground in the year to come.

Instagram vs Facebook Organic Reach
Image Credit : AdWeek

Influencer marketing will become mainstream

With organic reach of brand pages dropping across most channels, customers trusting social influencers more than brands and the growing use of ad blockers, influencer marketing seems to one of the most viable options for brands to reach out to their target consumers. The savvy early-adopter brands have already started adopting influencer marketing in 2015 and 2016 is when mass adoption will begin.

Spends on Programmatic buying and Real-Time-Bidding will rise

Programmatic buying uses the power of data to ensure the right kind of ads are served to the right kind of people in the most meaningful way, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the ads and the return on ad spends. An increasing number of advertisers are expected to allocate larger spends to programmatic in the next few years.

Programmatic Ad Spends
Source: eMarketer

Video will explode:

Video is no newcomer to the digital space but its consumption trends have seen a massive bump in 2015, especially with Facebook allowing auto-play of videos in the newsfeed. An increasing number of brands will direct a larger percentage of their marketing spends towards creation and promotion of video content. If you haven’t embraced video as a marketer yet, the time is now!

Video-Marketing
Image Credit – Social Media Today

Follower counts are dead, focus will be on ROI-driven marketing

With most social media channels cutting down on their organic reach, the concept of building a fan or follower base which a brand can reach out to for free is almost dead. Fan and follower counts have turned into pure vanity metrics with little business value. The focus in 2015 has already been on marketing that can drive direct return-on-investment in terms of measurable metrics like traffic and sales growth and this focus is only going to be stronger in 2016.

The popularity of Native Ads will increase

The popularity of ad blockers has seen a substantial increase in 2015 and Apple announced this year that its new mobile operating system, iOS 9 will allow ad blocking as well. In this scenario, native advertising, where ads merge into the platform on which they are displayed and do not seem outrightly promotional, is bound to see a huge spike in popularity. If you haven’t explored native advertising channels yet, now is the time to get started.

native-advertising-revenue
Source: Business Insider Intelligence

10X Content will be the new SEO

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. But, with large swathes of content being generated every day, only content that is not just the best content out there, but 10 times the best, will stand out. Creating this 10X content is going to be the way forward in 2016.

What are the other trends that you think brands and marketers must pay close attention to in 2016? Do share them with us in the comments section below!

Most definitive guide to managing comments on social media

Managing-Social-Media-Comments-Guide

Social media is two-way communication

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses and helps them stay connected to, and build a strong relationship with, their target audience. The best part of social media is that it’s not just limited to one-way brand communication – it allows customers to get in touch with and interact with brands as well,  giving brands (who are active listeners on social media) invaluable customer feedback, which they can plug back into their products and services to build better consumer experiences.

However, this two-way communication, if not managed properly can be more of a bane than a boon and can end up causing considerable damage to the brand’s reputation.

The guide to social media response management

Research shows that 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions. Also, BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2014 says that 85% of consumers read up to 10 online reviews before they can trust a brand. Hence the effectiveness with which you manage your comments could have a great impact on your business.

Here’s a detailed guide to social media comments management – monitoring, responding and managing comments on your social media profiles. Since the guide is a little over 3000-word beast, we’ve split it into sections to make it easier for you to navigate and read through.

  1. Infographic – Social media response management
  2. Tools for social media listening and monitoring
  3. Managing Negative Comments on Social Media
  4. Managing Positive Comments on social media
  5. Managing inappropriate comments and trolls
  6. The perils of automated social media responses
  7. Social media response management metrics
  8. The Social Media Response Management Team
  9. Tools for managing social media comments at scale

 

Infographic – Social media response management

Managing-Social-Media-Comments-Infographic


Tools for social media listening and monitoring
You should always be keeping a close watch on your brand mentions on social media and anywhere else on the web. Apart from this, it is also important to keep track of industry conversations to stay updated on what your competitors are doing.Here are 5 social media monitoring tools that will help you listen on and and keep track of your brand mentions:Entry-level toolsThese are free tools most suited for bootstrapped startups and small businesses:HootsuiteHootsuite is one of the best free social media management tools available. It allows you to monitor Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress blogs and a plethora of other networks and sites, depending on the plan you have. The free plan allows you to manage up to three social profiles.Hootsuite allows you to create streams to search for specific keywords and hashtags to keep your finger on the pulse of the social world. You can respond to these comments and mentions from within the platform itself.Tools-for-Social-Media-Listening-HootsuiteGoogle Alerts

Google alerts is a free tool to monitor mentions of your brand anywhere on the web. You can setup alerts for various queries – your brand name, competitors, industry specific keywords etc. and Google Alerts will send you emails notifying you whenever any of these keywords you specified was mentioned online.

You can even set the frequency of notifications to get notifications for every mention, or as a daily or weekly digest.

Tools-for-Social-Media-Listening-Google-Alerts

Mid-level tools

These are paid tools and are best suited for SMEs and mid-sized businesses.

Mention

Mention allows you to monitor in real-time any mentions of your brand not just on social networks but anywhere on the web. Like Hootsuite, it also allows you to connect your social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to your alerts and react instantly from within the application itself.

Mention has some interesting setup features which allow you to include specific keyword matches and also exclude keywords that may be irrelevant to your brand. This helps get rid of the noise coming from homonyms and spam. Another interesting feature is that it also flags comments from Twitter or Facebook users who are influential so you can take them up on priority.

Pricing starts at 29 Euros/month

Tools-for-Social-Media-Monitoring-Mention

Brandwatch

Brandwatch is a social media listening and analytics solution that helps you discover the conversations around your brand on the web and turn data insights into actionable business decisions.

Brandwatch has a pro package for small and medium brands and an enterprise package for larger brands

Tools-for-Social-Media-Monitoring-Brandwatch

High-end tools

These are enterprise level solutions and would work best for big brands with a well-established brand presence

Meltwater

Meltwater is a media monitoring and media intelligence platform used by big global companies like HSBC, HP and Nike. It monitors your media content from all over the web, scans billions of conversations and helps you filter out what’s relevant and important, with meaningful metrics.

It also helps you get to the right audience by finding and building relationships with key influencers.

Tools-for-Social-Media-Monitoring-Meltwater

 

Managing Negative Comments on Social Media

Managing negative comments is one of the most critical parts of social media comment management as it involves responding to customers who are at best unhappy and at worst frustrated or livid with your product or service.Here are twelve steps to effectively deal with and respond to negative comments and reviews on social media:

Do not ignore/delete

Deleting a genuine negative comment (trolls are an exception) is never a good thing to do on social media as it straightaway raises questions on the brand’s integrity. It may also stoke the customer’s anger and frustration and cause him to post a flurry of negative comments on various platforms, which may eventually boil over into an uncontrollable crisis-like situation. There are also good chances that the comment may have already been seen and possibly even saved as a screenshot by other customers.

Below is an example of what could happen if a you ignore a comment on your social media pages:

Ignoring-negative-comments-on-social-media

Respond ASAP

It is best to respond as quickly as possible to negative comments. Irate customers generally lack patience and expect quick resolution of issues. Undue delays could only make matters worse. The ideal time could vary from up to 24 hours for sectors such as real estate to 30 minutes for sectors such as ecommerce.

Here’s an example of a quick reply from Flipkart within an hour of the comment being posted:

negative-social-media-comments-quick-response

Apologize first & acknowledge the error

Always begin the comment with a polite and courteous apology. This gives the brand a human face and also shows any other readers that the brand does not shy away from accepting errors when they do happen that once in a while.

Here’s another example from Flipkart:

negative-social-media-comments-acknowledge-error

Ask for more info, where required

Sometimes, frustrated customers may not give all the info that may be required to help sort out the issue. In such cases, it is best to politely request them for the info and, where possible, also tell them why this info is required to help quickly resolve the issue.

Here’s an example of Amazon asking for more info:

negative-social-media-comments-ask-for-information

Be transparent

As a brand, it is important to be absolutely transparent and not make it seem to the customer that the brand is trying to cover up for the error

Give an explanation, where required

If there is a genuine reason for the issue, do not hesitate to communicate the same to the customer. However, ensure that the explanation is succinct and to the point. Irate customers are definitely not in the frame of mind to read stories. Also, ensure that the tone doesn’t seem like the brand is giving an excuse for the error.

Be absolutely honest – it pays

Lying about a fact or trying to hide facts is the worst mistake a brand can make. In the social world, lies get caught quickly and can cause the issue to snowball into a bigger one. Being honest on the other hand strengthens the brand reputation and builds trust, especially when the comment thread is viewed by other users.

Make it fun and interactive

Sometimes, making the conversation fun and interactive can go a long way in not only resolving the issue but also ensuring customer delight. Here’s an excellent example:

Fun-interactive-way-to-manage-negative-social-media-comment

Reassure them

For issues that might take a while to get resolved, it is best to notify them of action being taken as well as be proactive in giving them constant updates of the progress. This would help reassure them that their issue is being looked into and will definitely get resolved in due course

Offer an incentive, where applicable

One of the best ways to quickly turn an unhappy customer to a happy one is to offer an incentive. For ecommerce businesses, for example, this could be a coupon code for their next purchase, a reduction in price on the current one or even a complete waiver of the cost, where the situation seems appropriate.

Go private, if necessary

It may be prudent to take the conversation private in some cases. This could be either because of platform limitations, such as the 140 character limit on twitter or cases where the situation demands that the issue be taken out of the spotlight.

Here’s a good example of Hilton hotels taking the matter offline:

negative-social-media-comments-take-it-private

However, in such cases, once the issue is resolved in private, it is a best practice to close the issue on the social media comment thread as well, so other users know that the brand has responded and sorted out the issue.

Keep your cool – Be polite at all times

Irritated customers may get emotional and be downright rude, but it is imperative that you, as a brand representative, must keep your cool, not take things personally and reply with an absolutely calm state of mind.

Update and close

Always ensure that the comment thread has been updated once the issue is resolved, so that the same is visible to other customers glancing through the thread, while in the process of making a purchase decision.

On a closing note, each case of a negative comment would be different and would require a different handling of the situation. It is important that the team handling social media response management is trained to be able to judge correctly and rightly use their discretion in dealing with customer issues.

 

Managing Positive Comments on social media

Thankfully the two-way communication on social media is not only about negative comments. There are happy customers out there as well who are so overjoyed by your product or service that they revert with positive feedback of their experience.It is just as important, if not more, to reply to these positive comments, as it is to reply to negative comments. This could help turn those fans into loyal brand evangelists which could work wonders for your business.

Here are some key points to keep in mind while responding to positive comments and reviews:

Thank them

The bare minimum that is required while responding to a positive social media comment or review is to thank the customer for the feedback to acknowledge and appreciate the effort

Avoid canned, template-like responses

Canned template-like responses, like a standard “Thank you for feedback. We really appreciate your effort”, take away the brand’s human side and do not build a relationship with the customer.  These are best avoided.

Personalize

The response to every positive review must be personalized – addressing the customer by their name is a bare minimum. The more personalized the response is the more elated the customer would feel and this increases the chances of not only turning them into loyal customers but also evangelists for the brand.

positive-social-media-comments

Encourage them to visit again

Always encourage your customers to come back and bring their friends along as well. This helps build a long-term relationship with them.

Here’s an example of Raintree hotels, a popular hotel chain, interacting with a fan, who had left a comment on their post on Mangalorean cuisine:

positive-social-media-comments-example

Relay the feedback

If the comment or review mentions names of staff the customer was particularly impressed with, do mention that you will relay the feedback to staff member concerned. And do actually relay the feedback – you will make the staff member’s day as well!

Request reviews on other platforms

Where applicable, it might make sense to request the customer to leave a review on other platforms as well. For example, for the hospitality sector this could be Zomato or TripAdvisor while for local businesses, it could be a review on the Google Local Business page.

Leverage the feedback

Positive customer feedback can be showcased as testimonials on your website as well as promoted across your social media channels. This is the best way to leverage these reviews and make the most of them to help build consumer trust in your brand.

Here’s an excellent example:

Leverage-positive-social-media-comments

 

Managing inappropriate comments and trolls

The world is filled with different kinds of people and so is the social universe. You will invariably come across that one-off customer who just wants to create an issue where none honestly exists, or who is plain interested in causing trouble.It is best to verify their claims first and once it is confirmed that they are baseless, the best response strategy would be to ignore the troll, as engaging in conversation with them would only encourage them to troll further – these are people who generally enjoy the attention they get this way. The comment could be deleted at a later point in time, once the troll has moved elsewhere to seek attention.

On occasions though, at the discretion of the team in charge of managing social media comments, it may be appropriate to craft a tactical response to silence the troll and put him in place by stating the inaccuracies in his facts. This helps maintain transparency and may deter other trolls as well.

 

The perils of automated social media responses
Although auto-responders can help manage social media comments at scale and reduce the response time by a huge margin, when they go wrong they can go wrong terribly. Though automated response management tools are getting better at analyzing comments and responding appropriately, they still can’t make sense of things the way humans do. They can’t add a human touch to the response either.

Here are some examples of automated social media response bloopers:

automated-social-media-response-bloopers-Vodafone

 

automated-social-media-response-bloopers-Dominos

 

Social media response management metrics

You can’t manage what you cannot measure. Here are three key metrics to help you figure out how you’re faring when it comes to managing comments on your social media channels.Average First Response Time

The average response time can be calculated by taking the average of all the individual response times for each post. These can be calculated as the time difference between the first response to the customer comment and the time the comment was posted

The ideal response time would vary from industry to industry – ranging from about 24 hours for industries like real estate to 15-30 minutes for sectors such as ecommerce.

Average Time to Resolution

The average time to resolution is the time taken from the opening of a comment thread to the time the issue is resolved and the thread is closed. This will depend on the type and gravity of the issue and may vary from a few hours to a few days or even weeks in some cases. In these cases, it is important to keep the customer constantly updated on the progress.

Average number of replies to resolution

This is the total number of interactions it takes to resolve the issue. This number should ideally be one. However, this is seldom the case and the average tends to be a lot of higher.

 

The Social Media Response Management Team
Given the importance that managing social media comments has on your business in the long-term, it is extremely important to have a designated trained team in place for response management.Role of the response management team:This team will have to be trained to

  • Use one or more of the social media listening tools mentioned above to constantly keep track of any comments, feedback or brand mentions
  • Confidently evaluate the brand comments/mentions and respond appropriately
  • Use, where required, one of the tools listed below to manage comments and mentions at scale.

Outsourcing social media response management:

If you do not have an in-house team for managing comments and you don’t want to take the trouble of hiring and training, you can always explore the option of outsourcing this to an agency specialized in social media or in customer response management. The agency would normally listen for mentions and respond to comments and consult you for any customer response information they may need from your end. They would also normally send you reports covering response metrics to evaluate your performance as well as sentiment metrics to evaluate how people feel about your brand.

 

Tools for managing social media comments at scale

For big brands, especially in sectors such as ecommerce, where customer engagement is high, the number of mentions, comments and reviews across channels and platforms may become difficult to keep track of, and reply to, without a software solution in place.Thankfully, there are quite a few online customer support softwares and help-desk solutions to help you streamline your social media response management process and keep your customers happy.

Here’s a list of the 5 best customer support softwares you could choose from. All of them offer a free trial – so you can try a couple of them that you think would work best for you and evaluate which one you could go ahead with.

Desk

Tools-for-customer-response-management-Desk

Desk.com is Salesforce’s customer support software solution. It is mainly targeted to small and medium businesses but is also powerful and comprehensive for large enterprises. It can be integrated with over 50 applications including Mailchimp, Cyfe, Shopify and Trello

Pricing:

The cheapest paid plan starts at USD 30/month, billed annually.

Zendesk

Tools-for-customer-response-management-Zendesk

Founded in 2007, Zendesk is probably the largest cloud-based customer service platform available with over 50,000 companies as clients. It can be integrated with most content management systems, customer relationship management tools, and web apps – the number of apps that can be integrated with its API exceeds 300.

Pricing:

Its base plan starts at USD 1 per agent per month (billed annually), while the regular plan costs USD 25/month (billed annually),

Freshdesk

Online-customer-service-software-Freshdesk

Founded in 2010, Freshdesk has scaled up quickly to become a major player in the space, with over 40,000 customers.

Apart from being able to be integrated with 70+ popular applications, Freshdesk is also tightly integrated with Google Apps including Analytics, Contacts, Calendar, Hangouts, Drive, and Gmail. These enable a slew of additional capabilities including the ability to schedule customer calls, attach large files to tickets, and much more.

Pricing:

Freshdesk is the only tool on this list that offers a freemium solution – with a free forever plan for up to 3 agents.

Kayako

Online-customer-service-software-Kayako

Founded back in 2001, Kayako was one of the original pioneers of the multichannel helpdesk and the first to bring the helpdesk to the cloud. Apart from its cloud-based customer support solution, Kayako also offers a downloadable on-premise, self-hosted solution for Windows users.

Pricing:

The base plan starts at USD 24/month, billed annually.

Happyfox:

Online-customer-service-software-Happyfox

Happyfox is not as big a company as the ones listed above, but it is quite popular for its absolute ease of setup and no-nonsense user interface.

Pricing:

The cheapest paid plan starts at USD 19/agent/month, billed annually.

 

Is there anything else about managing comments on social media that you’d like to know or have any questions on? Do reach out to us in the comments below. Have any experiences to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Facebook announces product ads for ecommerce

Facebook has announced that they will shortly be introducing product ads, wherein advertisers can showcase and promote multiple products and even entire product catalogs through ads on the social network. This seems to be great news for advertisers, especially for ecommerce companies as this will enable more products to be shown to a wider audience.

 

Facebook Product Ads
Image Courtesy – Facebook for Business

 

Quoting from the announcement,

“Product ads can be customized for use throughout the customer journey, from discovery/awareness through purchase. Here are some options:

Advertisers can automatically reach people who visited their website/app (via Custom Audiences), or reach people based on specific interests, locations, etc.

Advertisers can curate ads as they see fit. For instance, they can highlight products that were viewed on their website/mobile app or showcase best selling products. Or they can create a multi-product ad that highlights the different benefits of a single product.”

Advertisers can upload entire product catalogs and then use advanced Facebook Ads targeting techniques to reach the right customers who would be interested in those products.

We can’t wait to try out this new feature and share our experience on the results acheived. Do share your experience with it as well.

Real Estate a big hit at GOSF – Social Beat featured on the NDTV Property Show

Indians seem to have become increasingly comfortable making high-value purchases such as apartments and plots of land online – if the stats of the recently concluded Great Online Shopping Festival are anything to go by. The GOSF turned out to be a big hit amongst real estate developers, as can be seen in this story on the NDTV Property Show which has Social Beat’s Rohit Uttamchandani featured in it:

Real Estate at GOSF 2014:
Here are some of the key stats from the shopping festival which indicate that real estate seems to be well on its way to becoming a mainstream ecommerce commodity:

  • 36 real estate companies including Tata Value Homes, Brigade Group, Purvankara Developers, Artha Property and Provident Housing were part of the event. This is as compared to just two developers being part of the previous edition in 2013 and none in the festival’s maiden edition in 2012.
  • Real-estate company Brigade Group recorded its first sale at 1am, an hour after the GOSF was opened.
  • Real estate developer Puravankara sold over 125 homes within the first 12 hours of the shopping event and had 507 online bookings over the 3- day period.
  • Tata Value Homes secured over 10,000 registrations for their homes across five projects in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Boisar near Mumbai.

For more information on the changing landscape of real estate, read our complete guide for digital marketing for real estate.

Stats Source: The Times of India

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 is you are looking for the best digital marketing agency in Mumbai and digital marketing agency in Bangalore.

Social Beat becomes Google Partner

The Team at Social Beat is excited to announce that Social Beat is now an accredited Google Partner for Google Adwords/Pay Per click Advertising.

Our newly acquired Google Partner badge certifies us as a company trusted by Google which is capable of providing the highest levels of service to clients.

 

Social Beat becomes Google Partner Social Beat becomes Google Partner

 

We have fulfilled Google’s three main requirements for being a Google Partner

Certifications

Google requires the team handling Adwords to prove their advanced AdWords knowledge by getting certified in AdWords.  All team members handling Adwords campaigns at Social Beat are certified by Google to have the required levels of competency and proficiency to run successful campaigns.

Best Practices

Google Partners are required to demonstrate that they have mastered the essentials covered in the Google certification exams and are maximizing their clients’ performance by implementing Google’s recommended best practices in client accounts.

Google reviews Partner agencies’ client accounts to make sure that their clients are getting excellent service, including the type and frequency of the changes being made, client retention, and whether they’re making the most of their clients’ budgets.

Spend

A minimum spend of at least USD 10,000 over the last 90 calendar days is required to indicate the state of an agency’s business health.

Being awarded the honour of being in the elite group of Google-approved marketing agencies reaffirms our expertise and ensures that our practices conform to Google’s advertising guidelines and are proven to drive ROI.

Contact us to get your Adwords campaign started or to optimize an existing campaign for better ROI.

LinkedIn Showcase Pages – Why you must use them

The social media space has always been extremely dynamic with all players constantly rolling out changes to their platforms. It was LinkedIn’s turn last week when they announced that, from 14th April 2014, they will be doing away with the Products and Services tab from Company Pages.

Exit Products & Services Tab

The move has evoked mixed reactions from users with most being unhappy with it. A large number of businesses have invested a lot of time and effort to showcase all their products and services on the page and to get recommendations from their clients. Come April 14th, this page will disappear and all the work that has been put in will be gone. All the recommendations will be gone too, and the official Linked In announcement suggests you “copy them from the tab into your own document” or request a copy through a support request, if you want to keep them.

Another group of users believe that the move to do away with the tab makes perfect sense since a very small number of visitors to the page actually clicked on the Products & Services Tab. The tab also lacked images, and the Static content on it is not as much as viewed as content updates, which have a far greater reach. In fact, analytics for the Social Beat company page on LinkedIn show that barely 10% of page visitors clicked on the Product & Services tab.

 

Social Beat Product & Services Page Analytics Social Beat Product & Services Page Analytics

 

Many also view the change as LinkedIn’s attempt to do away with static content (which, once written, remains on the page for people to see), thereby forcing users to use dynamic updates to communicate with their follower base. These could be monetized much more easily using LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates.

Either way, change has to be embraced and the best made out of it. So, now that the Products and Services page has been done away with, how do you showcase your businesses products and services and get visibility for them on LinkedIn? The answer lies in LinkedIn Showcase pages.

Enter Showcase Pages

Introduced by LinkedIn in November 2013, Showcase Pages are dedicated pages that allow companies to highlight different aspects of their business, products and services and build relationships with the right community. They are like sub-pages of the main company page and each of them can be used to promote specific products and services to a specific buyer persona.

LinkedIn is a powerful marketing tool and it is worth investing time and effort to make the transition to Showcase pages. Here are the advantages of Showcase pages, which is why you must use them.

 

SEO Showcase Page - Social Beat Social Beat – Showcase page for SEO

 

Why you must use Showcase pages

  • Build a Targeted audience – You now have a dedicated page to post updates for each particular aspect of your business and build a targeted audience for that product or service. And if your content is appealing enough for your audience to share it, you will be able to organically expand your reach for each product/service.
  • Focus: Showcase pages focus entirely on the product or service. There are no careers, products, or services tabs on them as they are on Company pages.
  • Analytics: Showcase pages have their own analytics on follower engagement, trends and demographics.
  • Two-column layout: Unlike Company pages, where updates show up in a single column format, Showcase page updates show up in two columns which make it easier for users to scroll through content. Showcase pages also have a larger and more prominent hero image.
  • All showcase pages branch off from the company page and link back to them, creating a centralized page structure. You can create upto 10 showcase pages.
  • Users can follow only that part of your business that they are most interested in and receive updates tailor-made for them.

 

 Showcase Page Structure Showcase Page Structure

 

Teething Trouble

Showcase pages do have some limitations and constraints as well, a major one being the trouble with choosing a name for the page URL. Although LinkedIn showcase pages are centralized under a single Company Page, the URL for each Showcase page is not currently nested under the Company url. For eg, the Social Beat showcase page for Social Media carries the url  http://www.linkedin.com/company/effective-use-of-social-media while it should have ideally been http://www.linkedin.com/company/Social-Beat/effective-use-of-social-media. This has made it extremely difficult and challenging to choose names for Showcase pages.

Some other Showcase Page constraints include the need for each Showcase page to be managed, updated and edited separately, and the 10-page limit which may not work well for larger companies.

However, Showcase pages are still in their initial stage and these constraints could just be considered teething trouble which LinkedIn would definitely work on improvising as these pages become more mainstream and popular. For now, it is best to work through these limitations and focus on leveraging this new feature for business growth.

 

What is your take on LinkedIn Showcase pages? Have you begun building them for your business?

Why every brand should be on Google Plus

A large number of people still consider Google+ to be a ghost town, sparsely inhabited and sans activity – not worth investing time and effort to create and maintain a presence on. If you’re one of them, it’s time to give this thought some serious reconsideration.

In less than three years of its existence since its launch in the second half of 2011, Google+ has shown tremendous growth with the total number of registered users recently crossing the 1 billion mark and the number of active monthly users crossing 540 million. To gauge the growth in activity – 1.5 billion photos are uploaded every week and +1 is clicked more than 5 billion times a day. If these massive numbers are not reason enough for you to include G+ as part of your social media strategy, here are seven strong reasons why you must begin using Google+ as a business marketing tool.

 

1. It’s a Google product:

No other social network has the kind of web assets leverage that Google has. Think about it. Apart from being the world’s most used search network, Google owns one of the most popular browsers in Chrome, one of the most-used mobile Operating systems in Android, the largest video sharing website in YouTube, the world’s largest email service in Gmail, one of the most popular photo-editing platforms in Picasa, a versatile cloud-storage application in Google Drive and the most popular mapping service application in Google Maps. Google is the leader of the online world and is already using all its might to ensure Google+ gains popularity and acceptance. Apart from this, the use of Google+ also provides seamless integration with all other Google services.

 

Google+ your business Google+ your business

 

2. Higher Search Rankings:

The boost to SEO is one of the biggest benefits of Google+. Almost all SEO experts will tell you that content on Google+ is indexed faster than other content across the web and any links on G+ positively impact SEO results. This is because unlike most other social platforms like Twitter, where all links are placed with a no follow tag, Google+ links are follow links and G+ pages are treated as web pages. This increases website visibility and accumulates Page Rank and thereby, by actively participating on Google+, you are increasing the visibility of your brand.

A recent scientific correlation Study by Moz to discover the qualities of web pages that have a strong association with ranking high in Google, shows that Google+ posts have multiple SEO benefits unlike other social platforms. The study also found a strong correlation between Google +1s  and higher search rankings, clearly indicating that sharing content on Google + has the potential to influence search rankings in many ways.

3. Enhanced search results:

When a user searches for your Google+ optimized business online, the results show the most recent G+ post, the number of followers, profile name and image, any +1 recommendations from friends and Google map directions to the business. And, if the person searching is already following your business on G+, the brands content appears even more prominently in the search results.

 

Recent Google+ posts in Search results Recent Google+ posts in Search results

 

Apart from the right hand space on the Search results page, where Google+ information currently shows up, Google is also experimenting with including recent posts, most relevant to the search query keyed in, in the Search results space itself. The example below shows a relevant Google+ post of a play school, displaying in the results for the Search query “play school in Velachery”.

 

Enhanced Search results with Google+ Enhanced Search results with Google+

 

4. Google+ Authorship:

Google Authorship includes the author’s photo and byline with the search snippet on search results pages. It is activated by linking the author’s Google+ profile to the website he is a contributor to, through an email address on that domain. Including the author’s credentials lends reliability and trustworthiness to the content and enhances ranking on Search Engine Results Pages(SERPs) while also improving click-through-rates, thereby increasing the reach of your content and traffic to your site.

 

Google+ Authorship Google+ Authorship

 

5. Unfiltered Updates:

Unlike Facebook, which constantly tweaks its Edgerank algorithm to decide which of your updates will be seen by your fans, updates on Google+ are currently unfiltered and chances of your updates reaching your fan-base are higher on Google+ than Facebook. Also, unlike Facebook, whose primary source of revenue is Ads, Google’s primary source of revenue comes from search advertising and it presently does not need to force users to pay to gain visibility on Google+.

6. Google+ Ads:

The above does not mean that Google will never attempt to monetize Google+ through ads. Google is already testing paid +Post ads for Google+ content and apart from Google’s experience with Adwords expected to make the Ads a great product, the possible game changer would be access to the whole of the Google Display Network through Google+ Ads.

7. Google+ Hangouts:

Hangouts are probably the best and most important feature of Google+. Think of it as a free webinar tool where you can include upto 9 participants and automatically broadcast live to your Google+ page as well as your YouTube Channel. Hangouts are an excellent means of communicating with clients and potential clients to educate them about a product/service and share ideas and case studies.

The world’s second largest social network is here to stay. So, get on it, establish your presence and learn how you can use it effectively to grow your brand. The proverbial early bird always gets the worm and being early to Google’s party is sure to have its benefits in the long-term.

Why measure Social Media ROI and How

An increasing number of business owners are now convinced that Social Media offers massive potential which can be effectively leveraged for the growth of their business and have been devoting resources to making it an essential element of their marketing plan. However, most of them are finding it difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of their campaigns and to measure the Return on investment to justify campaign expenditure.

Why ROI is important

After all, it is the bottom line that matters the most to any business and every business owner would want to know if all the time and money being invested in Social Media is making any difference to it. In addition to this, the inability to measure returns from a campaign makes it difficult to optimize it because it is extremely difficult to manage and optimize something you can’t measure.

 

Social Media ROI Social Media ROI

 

The Challenge in Calculating ROI

The textbook definition of ROI (the benefit from the activity divided by the cost input into it) is difficult to measure when it comes to Social Media because a large number of its benefits are qualitative(visibility, brand awareness, customer loyalty, trust and interaction) which cannot be accorded a fixed numerical value. And given the number of metrics that can be tracked, if you don’t choose the right ones for you, the calculations will just go nowhere. Methods and models to measure ROI are constantly evolving but no standardized best practice has been developed yet.

This is not to say that ROI cannot be measured. It is absolutely necessary and can definitely be done but it’s just that there is no One-Size-Fits-All method for all businesses. The calculation is wholly business-specific – every business has different goals and objectives and different metrics have to be employed to evaluate those targets. For example, a business which sells products online can calculate its ROI from Social Media more easily than one that doesn’t. Hence, it is extremely important that effectiveness of the campaign is measured in the context of one’s business goals to help determine its business value.

Defining Business Goals

You need to clearly define the outcomes and purpose for your Social Media Strategy – why you are doing it, what exactly do you want it to achieve and by when. This will differ from company to company and will include end-results like:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Increase traffic to website
  • Increase Customer Acquisition
  • Increase sales and revenue
  • Engage with Customers
  • Establish trust-based relationships with Target Audience
  • Reduce customer service cost
  • Improve customer retention and loyalty

 

Measuring Social Media ROI Measuring Social Media ROI

 

Measuring Intangible Benefits

Intangible benefits from Social Media – visibility, brand awareness, customer loyalty, satisfaction, trust and valuable customer interaction and feedback offer long-term business benefits. If the purpose of your social media strategy is to increase brand awareness and build an engaged and relevant following, then the key metrics like Reach, leads, Engagement and number of Fans/Followers would need to be tracked using Insights, Facebook’s built-in analytics tool or other applications. The data obtained can also be improved upon and by adding one’s own metrics such as post reach or post engagement relative to the number of fans.

Further, data concerning popular perception, feedback and sentiment about your brand can be gauged using tools such as SocialMention or Radian6. A good understanding and analysis of these metrics can help measure the effectiveness of the campaign in the context of building brand awareness.

Measuring Tangible Benefits

Website traffic, leads, conversions and sales are the most important metrics for a business which directly impact profitability. Google Analytics is an excellent free tool to track the number of website conversions that come from your various social media accounts while other paid tools like MozAnalytics and KissMetrics are also available. Keeping track of advanced metrics like Cost-per-lead and Cost-per- conversion help give a better assessment of the campaign and make it easier to quantify benefits relative to the cost of acquiring them.

Returns from Ad campaigns

Choosing whether to run a Facebook Ad campaign or a Google Adwords campaign for a better ROI depends entirely on the type of business, product/service and targeted audience. Facebook Ads offers extremely niche targeting and a number of Ad types to choose from but they typically tend to convert lesser than Google Adwords campaigns. However, Facebook Ads are much cheaper to run and hence, most often result in a better return on money spent. Eventually, the best way to choose between the two, from an ROI perspective, would be to try out both and see which works best for you.

When it comes to Social Media Ad campaigns, tracking returns on Ad spends is a much easier process than arriving at the net return from the entire social media campaign. Facebook Ad Analytics allows you to track conversions that happened on your website from of each of your Ads using the Conversion-Tracking option. This is done by placing a code provided by Facebook called an Offsite Pixel on your website which alerts Facebook once your conversion is complete. Facebook then gives you data on the number of conversions from each Ad and the Cost-per-conversion. Apart from helping arrive at an accurate value for Return on Ad Spend, this also helps optimize the campaign by determining which ads are performing better than others.

Arriving at the campaign ROI

All the Metrics and Data that we just discussed are not ROI. They are just indicators which dissect each portion of your campaign and tell you how it is performing. Each metric will have to be co-related with the results that come from it and translated into financial value to arrive at the total monetary gain from the campaign. This divided buy the cost of the campaign (Manning costs, outsourcing costs, Agency fees, Ad spends) will give you the net Return on Investment. To reiterate, the entire process will be a futile exercise if you don’t have clear specific goals in the first place, because then you have nothing to measure against. So get on with brainstorming that crucial first step and let the campaign roll. Social media done correctly definitely delivers excellent results. Keep monitoring what you’re getting out of it and optimize your strategy accordingly.

Do you have a different view/process for measuring ROI of your Social Media campaigns? Do share it with us in the Comments section.

How not to do Search Engine Optimisation

Every online business understands that SEO plays a major role in their profitability by bringing in organic (un-paid) traffic to their websites. The focus has always been on what “to do” to ensure high search engine rankings and hence enhanced traffic. However, in order to do great SEO, it is equally important to know what “not to do” with SEO.

 

Search Engine Optimisation Search Engine Optimisation

Unethical SEO techniques, known in SEO parlance as “Black Hat SEO” techniques are being used by certain businesses to dupe Search Engines into giving them a higher rank. This results in relevant websites becoming harder to find which neither augurs well for website owners nor for the search engines which strive to give their visitors the best search results. Most search engines therefore have systems and algorithms in place which can detect the vast majority of these spam techniques and demote it automatically or in worst cases, de-list them completely. This penalization is a serious issue and while it can seriously hurt even large businesses, it can potentially wipe out small ones. So, to make sure you do not head into dangerous territory, we’ve compiled a list of techniques which are rated as spam by search engines

1. Keyword stuffing:

While it is true that including keywords in your content will help in a better ranking, forced inclusion of keywords in your content or in Alt tags of your images can do more harm than good. Keywords should appear smoothly in your content as you write it and stuffing your content with keyword is definitely crossing the line. As a thumb rule, if your content doesn’t read well as your reading it, you’ve probably overused your keywords.

2. Cloaking and Hidden text:

Trying to force keywords on your site in a color which merges with the background or in any other way to ensure it is seen by search engines but not by site visitors is an old trick that search engines have become very good at getting hold of.

3. Sneaky redirects:

Attempting to redirect users to a different page than the search engine saw is a strict no-no.

4. Duplicate/Thin content with little or no added value:

Freshness of content and its recency plays a pivotal role in search engine ranking algorithms. Making regular updates to your website could therefore help in improving your rankings. However, trying to duplicate your content in an attempt to fool search engines will sooner rather than later get you on that dreaded blacklist.

Low-quality or shallow pages which do not provide users with much added value (such as thin affiliate pages, doorway pages, cookie-cutter sites, automatically generated content, or copied content) will also get classified as spam.

5. Unnatural links from/to a site:

Links play a good role in SEO results and are supposed to be earned by websites by virtue of excellent content. But trying to deceive search engines with artificial or manipulated links; purchasing or selling links, exchanging them or participating in any of those grey link schemes doing the rounds can attract strict penalty. Remember, quality links matter more than quantity.

 

Black-hat SEO Strategies Black-hat SEO Strategies

 

6. Spammed Meta tag descriptions:

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team in a recent Webmaster Help Channel video said it would be better for SEOs to leave Meta tag descriptions blank than have duplicate descriptions. This may seem inappropriate to a lot of SEOs but that’s just what reality is. As Cutts added, unique descriptions for some pages definitely do matter but it’s not worth investing time and effort in coming up with unique descriptions for every single page on your site.

7. Guest comments on blogs:

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines discourage forum signature links and consider it spammy. However, Cutts says that relevant comments on topically relevant sites is absolutely fine as long as it does not form the main part of one’s link building strategy. Having a large portion of back-links coming from blog comments can raise red flags with Google.

8. Doorway Pages:

Doorway pages (simple HTML pages that are customized to a few particular keywords and programmed to be visible only to search engines) trick search engines into giving these sites higher rankings. Once clicked on, they lead to a site totally unrelated from the search query. Search engines not only ignore these pages and domains but penalize those using them.

9. Low-Quality/Unresponsive DNS providers:

Site speed is one among many factors that Google takes into account when it is deciding how to rank sites. Using a low quality DNS provider may not only adversely affect your SEO but also increases the chances of spammy content on your website, which could result in you being blacklisted by search engines.

10. Search Engine Submissions:

Search Engine Submissions are a thing of the past. It is not required by search engines and serves no practical purpose. Don’t waste your time on it.

 

White-Hat SEO - The Right Way White-Hat SEO – The Right Way

 

SEO is dynamic and ever-changing:

These are the techniques one must definitely avoid in order to stay in the good books of search engines. However, one must also be aware that search engines constantly change their algorithms and what may seem to be a correct or “White hat SEO” technique today may be classified a black hat technique tomorrow. To give you an idea of how unpredictable it can get, Google runs about 40,000 search evaluations a year and it made 665 changes to its Search Algorithm in 2012 alone. That is almost two changes every day! This makes it increasingly difficult, even for the most competent and expert SEOs to keep track of and to incorporate these changes into their work. So, invest your SEO budget rightly in a value-added long-term SEO strategy and focus on getting a good return on your investment instead of trying to find ways to bypass the system guidelines and get yourself in trouble.

Google and other search engines spend millions of dollars and hire the best brains with the best knowledge in the space to ensure that they provide their visitors with the best search engine results. So remember, just in case you think you’re smart, search engine Bots are a million times smarter. Don’t do SEO just for the sake of doing SEO. Don’t head into Black Hat territory. It’s just not worth the risk.

For information on the right SEO techniques, read our posts on the key aspects of executing an SEO plan and the key takeaways from the Google GDayX-Chennai conclave.

For a discussion on enhancing your website traffic using ethical SEO techniques, you can contact us here

Infographic: Email Campaign Checklist

Infographic-Email-Campaign-Checklist

12 Salient Points you shouldn’t miss before you hit the “Send” button on your Email campaigns:

Even tiny errors in your emails can have a big impact on their Open and Click Through Rates. Most mistakes can be avoided if we adopt a Checklist approach to sending each email. So, we’ve put together an Email Campaign Checklist with the most important practical points which need to be checked-off before the email is good to go. We usually recommend using Mailchimp or Sendgrid for sending out emailers and tracking its results.

Subscriber list:

1. Has your distribution list been revised and cleaned of opt-outs and complainants?

From & Sub lines:

2. Does your “From” line include your company name or brand?
3. Is your Subject line clear, catchy and answers the reader’s question “What’s in it for me?”
4. Have you checked that no spam trigger words used in subject line?

Copy (Text and Content):

5. Have your Emails been personalized with correct names? Improves open and click-through rates.
6. Have you used Headings with short paragraphs, bold and bullet formatting to enhance Scanability?
7. Is your Call-to-Action, if used, strong and strategically positioned?

Important Details:

8. Is the Unsubscribe button/link clearly visible and working?
9. Is the link to web-based version (View Emailer on the Web) clear and on top?
10. Are all links working and have custom parameters been added to track in Google Analytics?

Images:

11. Are all images alt-tagged with correct links?
12. Have you checked the Image-text ratio? (Ideally 50/50; 80/20 acceptable for E-commerce e-mailers)

If you’ve answered “Yes” to all these questions, you can go ahead and send the email.

For any queries on your email marketing campaigns or if you wish to optimize them, please contact us and we would be glad to help.

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.

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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