How to retain talent at startups – Our Story

Getting your business off the ground is a challenge faced by all startups. The key to a successful business largely depends on the kind of talent you hire which will eventually make or break your startup. But apart from finding good talent, the challenge for most startups is how to retain them, so they continue to contribute to the company’s journey. As a five-year-old company, we at Social Beat have a vibrant team of talented members from diverse backgrounds. This has helped us establish a handbook of basic hacks which helps us ensure we are retaining our top talent.

Know what you are looking for

As a company, the first step to hiring good talent is figuring out what your definition of talent is. You don’t necessarily need another ‘you’ onboard no matter how likeable that obviously makes a candidate. Instead, you want to look for complementary strengths which will help in driving your company forward.

Before interviewing, identify the challenges you need this talented individual to solve. This can be achieved by using role-wise assignments or tests for the candidate so you can understand their skill set. To assess the depth of their expertise, you can look into the day to day work they have completed in previous roles. You can also ask them a set of questions that will give you a good idea of where their strengths and interest lie. Some of these can include:

1. What decisions were you accountable for in your previous role?

2. At what point do you pass on your work for inputs and approval?

3. What assignments do you enjoy the most and which ones do you find difficult or boring?

Position your Brand

Not everyone will be comfortable with the ambiguity and the lack of structure that can exist in a growing company. This is why, we at Social Beat always insist on giving a brief about our company to help the candidate understand our company, its values, and the goals we stand for. We encourage an open discussion on how the structures in place at their previous organisation compare to our company.

Every conversation is a dialogue, where the candidate receives as much information as they are sharing with us. A candidate’s decision to join our company is just as important as yours to make an offer, and therefore they should be well-informed!

Culture is the key

We cannot stress enough on how important the culture of an organization is for a team member to decide their future with the company. Defining your culture, the values you stand for and how they are inculcated within the team should be your first task. An organisation’s culture goes beyond what the leadership says they want the culture to be. Culture is created, perceived and passed on by the team members of the organisation through their interactions with managers and other team members. Their experience with the processes and workflows the organisation has put in place also contributes to their perception of the company’s culture. At Social Beat, we ensure we take our new team members through a proper onboarding process with a well-designed induction process. A major focus of this session is on “Social Beat Values“, which is taken by the Founders. We also welcome them onboard with a customised welcome kit comprising of a few goodies and office essentials. This contributes to their understanding of our company’s culture.

One of the most important factors for attracting talent is cultivating an atmosphere that makes your team members happy to come to work. This can only be achieved when they believe in you and the values you stand for. This is why we are very stringent in our hiring process. A great candidate with the right skills but not the right culture fit will never be our final choice. We believe if we find the candidate with the right culture fit, we will be able to hone their skills further. For us, the values they stand for make or break a deal.

We recently made the below video to showcase our culture – to give prospective team members a quick glimpse into our lives.

Create an attractive work environment

Your top talent will choose to work with you only if they believe they will be offered a role where they can learn and grow. Social Beat prides itself on ensuring we maintain transparency with our team members regarding their roles and responsibilities. We also take our team members’ satisfaction at work very seriously. This is why we provide flexi-hours, work-from-home options and a well-balanced leave policy (which includes perks such as a 6-day block leave) to ensure that our team members’ welfare is at the centre of our policies. We also encourage more women in leadership roles to ensure that our work environment promotes equal representation.

Team Member engagement and development

The famous saying: All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy stands true to this day. Fun@Work is a must if you want to ensure your team doesn’t burn out from stress. This is why we have Game Nights planned very often along with Chit Chat sessions every alternate week where we share the latest trends in digital marketing and some of our success stories. Apart from this, regular team outings like our Diwali lunch, anniversary celebrations, birthday celebrations with personalised cards, etc. are things we conduct on a regular basis. We also ensure we enable the scaling-up of our team members by having training sessions on alternate Saturdays and inviting guest lectures/trainers to interact with our team. By demonstrating that you respect the development of your staff and are invested in nurturing their talent, your leadership style will naturally catch the interest of top performers.

 Build your employer brand

If you have a good employer brand, you might not even need to post job openings -top talent will come to you. What’s involved in an ‘employer brand’? It’s simple: having a reputation as a good place to work and providing value to your team members rather than only asking for value from them. Stop being a ‘best-hidden secret’ and get yourself noticed. Conducting seminars in colleges, publishing papers and books and participating in conferences arranged by top companies across the globe is something our leadership invests in heavily. Social Beat’s participation in the NASSCOM Content Marketing Masterclass, at the I-CANN-ISOC Round Table on Security in India and our Social Beat’s participation in the NASSCOM Content Marketing Masterclass, are some of the examples of how we actively participate in the digital marketing space. We also encourage our team members to actively take part in the same. Find small ways to stand apart from the rest and your brand will immediately gain recognition.

Team Member recognition, career growth and benefits

One of the most common reasons people give for leaving a company is that they feel unappreciated. That makes team member recognition measures one of the best ways to ensure your talent remains loyal to your startup.

As a startup, you’re in charge of a relatively small team of team members. This gives you a chance to connect with your team members on a personal level and get to know them better. Use the information you know about your team members to make sure the recognition you give them for their efforts is personal. We at Social Beat have always believed in providing a personal touch while recognising an achievement of an individual. Being a startup also allows us to maintain flexibility regarding enabling career growth and fast-tracking our top performers unlike the rigid timelines followed by the big companies. We ensure we are flexible with our policies and keep them in line with the values we stand for. Our flexi-policies around promoting talent and providing career growth to our top performers ensure that we give them the right opportunity, at the right time instead of making them wait for the fruit they have so rightly earned.

As quoted by Henry Ford – “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

 

Digital marketing trends that are going to die in India in 2018

With close to 450 million Indians already online, the digital industry is fast-evolving. Since the launch of Jio, India has seen 9 times growth in usage of internet data. Owing to this, the dynamic platform of digital marketing has witnessed a lot of progression and development. The digital trends that worked a few years ago have reached their expiry date and newer, more effective trends have emerged. Let’s take a look at few of the digital marketing practices that are no longer effective in today’s day and age and their improvised versions that have taken over the online community.

Non personalised emailers

Nobody likes mass e-mailers that flood their inboxes with coupons and deals they are not interested in. Non personalised emails are clearly dying out as the content may not be relevant to the audience you are sending it out to. Email marketing work when it is done right. Mass emailers have been upgraded with personalized emailers that are guaranteed to catch the audience’s attention. Apart from mere personalization in the form of your potential customer’s name, you can retarget them with what they were previously searching for, and present them with irresistible offers based on their demographics, interests and past behavior on your website. This will not only pull them towards your website but will also leave them constantly refreshing their inbox in a quest for more such deals and offers.

Quantity over quality

Brands have always been misguided by the notion that the higher number of posts they put up on social media, or the higher number of blogs they put up on their website, the more traffic their content will generate. However, the truth is that with the abundance of content available online, it is more important to provide viewers with high-quality content that really stands out rather than a multitude of average blogs that will just get lost in the ocean of information.

The trend of bombarding your target group with a plethora of information till they ultimately get converted to loyal consumers is now a thing of past. Potential customers are now being targeted with a fewer number of posts comprising of content that the audience will find engaging. The secret lies in bringing out a primary purpose in the blogs, like showcasing a particular product, branding or luring viewers with an emotional connect. This strategy coupled with content amplification techniques will ensure that the content reaches the right target group.

Marketing on Twitter

Though Twitter is one of the leading social media platforms, the strategy of using Twitter as a marketing tool is on a decline. Though Twitter did post a higher revenue for the last financial year, we are not seeing a significant growth in the user base in India. Brands are flocking to other effective mediums like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram where they are more likely to get better reach due to the higher number of active users. Additionally, the cost of ROI and effectiveness of advertising spend on Twitter vis a vis the other platforms are very different. While twitter does well in some genres like news, entertainment and politics it is not a preferred platform for all brands in India.

Short-form blog content

Blogs are extremely important for any business. However, if you want to leverage the power of content marketing to showcase your brand and attract leads, it is time you bid adieu to short-form content. The average length of a blog is usually around 800 words but in order to rank on Google, you need to work on longer content with in-depth analysis, research and loads of information. According to data, a well-researched content that is around 2000 words have a better chance on ranking on page one of Google search. Pack your blogs with different types of content from infographics and videos to statistical research and relatable memes. Apart from different forms of visuals, optimize your content with keywords and related keywords while you sit back and relax as viewers come flocking to your website. Also, make sure you interlink your blogs well to provide readers with more related posts and keep them hooked on to your website.

At the same time, apps like Inshorts are growing due to its byte sized articles – brands may want to continue experimenting by giving both short form and long form content depending on the purpose.

Manual optimisation of digital ad campaign

Optimising your ad campaigns is of key importance to generate leads and widen your client database. However, it is quite challenging and time-consuming to create a campaign and to manually check out each digital ad campaign and optimise them as per industry standards. These practices are now being done using automated tools and Artificial Intelligence. For example, there are cost effective tools like Optmyzr that allow automated optimization of advertising platforms like Google.

Relying on organic reach on Facebook

As dramatic as it may sound, there is no such thing as organic reach on Facebook anymore. As a brand, you need to promote your posts and invest on Facebook ads to reach your target audience. Facebook has also rolled out a new feature called “Explore Feed” tab, specifically for brands. This tab is a new feature on Facebook where users can view top relevant posts which are hand-picked for them based on their demographics, interests and content consumption.

Last-click attribution

Last-click attribution is now being replaced by data driven attribution. This upgraded trend is a process in which the analytics model of the website credits the entire process of marketing, from attracting a potential buyer and procuring the lead to converting them to a consumer, rather than the last click that closed the sale. The last-click attribution model will let you understand that a recent buyer logged on to your website to indulge in a sale. But, the data driven attribution model will give you a detailed insight of the journey of the consumer, from the initial Google ad, to the Facebook retargeting and emailer they received to push them to make the purchase.

Everything comes with an expiry date and digital marketing trends are no exception. It is time you upgrade your digital marketing strategies and stay ahead of the online curve.

This article was originally published on Campaign India. You can read the published article here.

Are Mobile Apps close to extinction?

Digital technology has taken the world by storm. The labyrinth nature of the Internet has engulfed us with a blanket of convenience, making the world a much smaller place to live in. From booking a cab to ordering pizza, we have been spoilt for choice with the number of apps available in the market. Ever since the concept of applications was invented, these tiny widgets have evolved from the phone and tabs to laptops and even smart TVs.

In the past few years, there has been a drastic increase in the number of apps; however, the number of active app users have remained stagnant. According to a study, the average mobile app retention rate is just 20% after 90 days. Even if they have stayed on and not deleted the app, on an average, more than 75% of users fail to return the day after first use. These figures make us wonder – are mobile apps close to extinction?

While some of the essentials apps such as Whatsapp and Facebook will remain an active app on the phone, the rest of them will predominantly disappear. So, what is the future?

Progressive Web Apps – The future of apps

The newest trend observed on the Internet is the emergence of websites with app-like behaviour in a browser. A shortcut to these websites can then directly be added to your device home screen based on how frequently you visit them. The progressive functions of these app-like websites have coined the term Progressive Web Apps, which is the next big thing in the effervescent digital world.

Features of Progressive Web Apps

  • A Progressive Web App integrates the experience of an app in a website, providing you with the best of both worlds.
  • They look like normal websites that can be accessed from your browser. Based on your usage, the website will prompt you to add it as an icon on your home screen for direct access. With a direct shortcut, you can skip the process of visiting the website from your browser every time you log in.
  • These websites are typically displayed in full-screen without a website frame, giving the user an app-like experience.
  • With the progressive usage of these websites, you can experience full-fledged app behaviour by granting permissions to access your device camera and contacts, as per the functions of the page.
  • PWAs run on a javascript embedded with application shell architecture. These codes run in the background of the page and pre-load frequently visited images and information in the cache memory. This provides higher speed in loading the page with the combined benefit of easy offline usage.
  • A PWA requires minimal page refreshes as it works like an app and not a conventional web page.

Advantages of PWAs

  • A Progressive Web App eliminates the need to search for the native app in an app store and download it, consuming mobile data and time.
  • It will send you notifications over time only after repeated usage, living up to its progressive nature.
  • It loads very quickly, even in places of low connectivity, due to its exquisite application shell model.
  • Contrary to native apps, it does not take up as much space on the phone. It just provides you with a shortcut to the website which will behave like an app.
  • It does not hamper your privacy settings or permissions. Even if it does, it will be over a span of time, based on your usage.
  • The PWA does not need to be customized for iOS and Android platforms.
  • It caters to feature-phones and entry-level smartphones that do not have enough space for multiple apps.
  • While digital marketing is evolving in tier 2 and 3 cities, 4G connectivity is still an alien concept. PWA is the perfect alternative to an app in Tier 2 and Tier 3.
  • It also caters to the generation who are new to the Internet world for whom downloading an app is a tedious process.

How can PWAs benefit brands?

Apart from the plethora of advantages an app user faces, a progressive web app can widely benefit any brand or organization. Gone are the days when websites were merely developed for desktop usage and apps for mobile phones. Considering the fact that most of the organic traffic comes through mobile, it is now mandatory for organisations to take their digital game up a notch to cater to their target audiences. A PWA fills in the gap between an app and a website and is the perfect solution for increased sales or leads.

Furthermore, the cutting-edge application shell architecture used in progressive web apps makes it ideal for e-commerce websites. It eradicates the need to download the app and provides the user with the added benefits of higher page loading speed and enhanced performance in places of limited connectivity.

A lot of leading organisations have already incorporated the concept of Progressive Web Apps in their digital space. Flipkart and Ola are few of the early adopters of this technology. So, its time for mobile apps to move on and welcome PWAs.

Google awards Social Beat for Innovation in Digital Marketing

Since becoming a Google Premier Partner a year ago, we have constantly pushed the bar up to leverage Google AdWords and other advertising channels to deliver the best ROI. We are happy to announce that Social Beat has been awarded for Innovation in Display Advertising at the recently concluded Google Premier Partner awards in Mumbai. We were the only agency in India shortlisted for both Search Innovation & Display Innovation category.

Social Beat wins the Display Innovation Award from Google Premier Partners in India

The award is a testimony to the fabulous team at Social beat, which constantly pushes the bar to deliver results for clients. There are only 65 Google Premier Partners in India of which 13 were shortlisted for the awards and 5 won them.

Above is a picture  of Vikas Chawla collecting the award on behalf of the team, from Rajan Anand, Vice President, South East Asia and India of ‎Google India and below is a picture of the team that made it happen.

To learn about the innovation we do for our clients, please visit our blog showcasing the case studies.

Google-Digital-Marketing-Award-India-Social-Beat

Social Beat & Facebook conduct Digital Marketing Masterclass in Mumbai

In Apr 2017, Social Beat in partnership with Facebook India conducted the second edition of the Digital Marketing Masterclass. With a packed audience of 50, we had an insightful session on how to approach digital marketing to build a brand and to acquire quality sales or leads.

The top three expectations, shared by the audience, that was elaborated during the session were:

  • Reducing Cost Per Acquisition
  • Scaling Up Leads/Orders
  • Effective Measurement of results

So, if you are facing similar challenges, then read on!

Mobile First Marketing

From Facebook’s own research, users on average spent 3 hours on mobile per day that signifies that your consumer is on mobile for 3 hours and you have the opportunity of 3 hours to be in front of your consumer!

One thing we all need to understand is that Facebook is a discovering platform. Your brand personality has to stand out in the consumer’s mind and there need to be multiple touch points and impressions to make the connect. The Reach & Frequency category of campaigns can be useful in achieving this goal. Moreover, Facebook users are active throughout the day, unlike most other mediums (TV, print or radio) and in fact, 35%+ of Facebook Users are active at any given time.

Did you know that on average in a single day people check their Facebook feed 14 times? As many as 62% of the audience check their phones over 30 times a day. That means you are getting 14 times the opportunity to sell your product via Facebook. With over 184 million Facebook users in India, it gives brands a tremendous opportunity. Moreover, as per the report from NCCSAB, 210 million is the consuming population in India out of which, 142 million can be reached through Facebook.

Key aspects for a marketer to keep in mind when leveraging mobile

  • In a Facebook study, ~76% of video ads required sound to be understood, but most users watch them without any sound. So, it’s critical to understand these consumer insights when making videos and other creative content. E.g. Hotels.com Video which has received 2.3 million views on FB and cleverly used the video captions.
  • Since the speed of content consumption is faster on mobile, it’s important to have the brand and copy/captions to convey the message within the first few seconds.

Should we target to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India?

As per the statistics, 33% of the users are from metros. So 67% of the Facebook universe belongs to the population from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities – which is contrary to popular perception. This is also going to give rise to content creation and consumption in regional languages.

Understanding Marketing on Instagram

Facebook is the platform to keep in touch with family and friends whereas Instagram is the platform where people look for inspiration, photos and brands to follow.

Top Interests on Instagram are:

  • Music
  • Travel
  • Food
  • Photography

Moreover, the Instagram user is a more evolved and engaged user with a premium lifestyle. For example, while only 5% of the population in India has mobile postpaid connections, 25% of Instagram users have postpaid connections – highlighting that a luxury or premium brand cannot be ignoring a platform like Instagram.

The art of Audience Targeting

Facebook is 85% accurate and when further information like age and gender is included, the accuracy rate goes up to 90%.
The top reasons why Facebook is more effective is

  • Availability (with users active 14 times a day)
  • Flexibility (of audience and targeting)
  • Efficiency: Minimal Waste
  • Re-targeting
  • 100% Declared Audience Attributes (Not Inferred)

Types of Audience Targeting on Facebook

• Core Audience Targeting:

This feature allows us to reach a precise audience based on four main targeting types:

  • Location
  • Demographic
  • Interests and
  • Behaviours

For example: When targeting NRIs to sell your property – The audience which is core to Facebook is provided with age and gender information. Behaviour targeting will help us target people living in a joint family, who are frequent travellers internationally and nationally, who have travel apps and are newly married.

  • Custom audience: These set of the audience is created by uploading your customer database of:
  • – email addresses
  • – phone numbers
  • – website audience using Facebook Pixel
  • – facebook user IDs
  • – app user IDs and Facebook will match this data to as many user profiles as possible.

The custom audience is an excellent way to make use of CRM data. The CRM tool can also help in lead nurturing, which is critical to improving the final conversion of leads to home buyers. Research by Social Beat shows that there is a 60% better chance of converting if called within 2 hours.

Another medium we can customise our audience is with the use of Facebook Pixel, which creates a list of users who came to your website, converted into the site, visiting more than a certain number of times in the last 30 days etc.
The custom audience also helps in improving the quality of the leads. Users frequently visiting your website are more like to become home buyers and can be given more focus.

  • Lookalike audience

Lookalike audiences are a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because…

  • – Their profiles are similar to custom audiences you have uploaded
  • – phone numbers
  • – Their interests and demographics are similar to users who have visited your website
  • – They’re similar to users who have hit one of your conversion pixels

You’re telling Facebook that you want an audience created of people who are most like your email list, website visitors, people who have hit one of your conversion pixels, etc. Facebook will create an audience based off data points on a Facebook profile that would denote similarity.
You can also create an International Lookalike audience – because people are same everywhere! Eg: People have visited your luxury product landing page. You can create a lookalike of similar users internationally!

Coming to brand!

Facebook Brand awareness tracks people who look for sponsored content. If you plan to go ahead with lead ads in the first go, it will go to the people who have filled the leads in the past. You are missing out on the potential to reach a newer audience.

How does Brand awareness work?

  • Step 1: As a person, when I see your sponsored content on my feed, I will read. Once I find it interesting, I will go to your website to check your offerings, credibility, and products, etc.
  • Step 2: Next time, when your sponsored content again appears on my feed, I will go through your ad again.
  • Step 3: Multiple visibility of your content and ads, will make me curious and viola I fill your ad and I am one of your leads!

Point to note: Investing in your brand awareness is similar to running ads on radio and television. You need to frequently appear on the wall of the people!

For Brand awareness videos, relevant content and E-books along with the below ideas can be tried

  • Amplifying content and infographics (Facebook Canvas can be an interesting medium to do this)
  • Carousel ads to showcase different attributes of the brand
  • Amplifying with videos, 360-degree virtual tour
  • Engagement Campaigns to get shareability
  • Need for content experiment: Run regional ads in local languages
  • More formats: Video for leads ads carousel

Sequencing of ads is also possible by using custom audiences after using Reach & Frequency ads and we have seen some tremendous results come through this.

Case Studies

There are numerous case studies that one can find on the Facebook Business Success page but we discussed a few in detail and you can read them up via the below links:

Tracking Return on Investment & Scaling up Leads/Sales

We have a more detailed blog on tracking ROI from digital marketing, which you may find useful.

Mumbai Masterclass

Questions asked during the Masterclass

In spite of getting so many leads, why leads are failing to convert into a sale?

There are some common mistakes marketers make, which should be avoided in order to improve conversions:

  • Following up with your lead within 6 hours and not after 1 week of the lead being generated
  • Not disclosing the lead source to the sales person – leading to lack of clarity during conversation
  • Being able to attribute all digital leads by using cloud telephony – to understand the true impact of digital marketing

How can you improve the quality of leads via the Lead Gen Ads?

  • Add Customizable questions – which products/services are you interested in, ask a good time to call etc. This is because it is important to build a faithful relationship first then making a sale. Remember that buying a home is usually a very involved decision
  • Use Context card – tells users why they are filling the form

What are the elements critical in a lead generation focussed Ad Creative?

Its important to the have the below elements & approach to getting the best quality leads and conversion:

  • Visuals & Videos can be experimented with – For example if you are a real estate company, the exterior, interior, walkthrough video, video selling the project etc. Sometimes even generic images with family and kids can also work for specific projects.
  • Transparency is key – Location in the city, Price, Type of Property (Apartment, Villa, Plot etc), Expected Handover Date are some key details that can be included in the ad
  • Have the right Call to Action (Learn More or Contact Us or View More) and sometimes combining it with offers

We have tried regional content but it hasnt worked?

  • In our experience regional content and communication works if the entire experience is in that language, which means that the landing page, the customer care, email communication etc is also in the same regional language. WE need to provide a seamless experience for it to work – it can be messaging in hindi but then we take them to a landing page which is in English.
  • The other aspect is that, maybe the audience that interacts with regional content is different – maybe they would prefer talking to someone rather than give the enquiry online – so as a brand we need to make this easier and give multiple options to consumers.

8 Digital Marketing Trends to expect in 2017

With another year gone by, new technology, tools, and trends have emerged in digital marketing. Keeping this in mind, we have put together eight key trends that we think would be ones to watch out for in 2017.

Mobile UX will be a key focus area

With 90% of mobile usage on FB and more than half of the searches happening via mobile, its already a focus area. We are going to see brands invest a lot more in the mobile user experience, especially when it comes to speed. Google has already launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Facebook is expanding its Instant Articles feature, both of which is going to expand their reach in 2017. Google is also pushing the Progressive Web Apps (PWA) framework to enable websites to give theirs user an app like experience via the browser. Even social media engagement via mobile is going to change with brands adapting to how they can get more engagement on mobile devices.

Less is more when it comes to content

Brands often believed that more content is always better, but with millions of content pieces and social media posts going out every day, the opposite is true. 2017 is going to see a sharp trend towards brands focusing on high value content, which is engaging and far more personalised. With voice search growing in scale (currently at 20% of mobile searches in USA) many of our digital activities are going to be conversation. Even more a reason why content needs to be unique and stand out from the competition. Google also tends to pick more structured and details content for their “Answer Box”, which comes above the regular search results.

Everyone can run digital marketing at scale with automation and machine learning

With automation and machine learning playing a large role in advertising this year will see even smaller brands adapting programmatic advertising. With platforms like Double Click for Google as well as Power Editor for Facebook, a lot of elements will get automated. Google has also launched responsive display advertising allowing for brands to run ads of multiple sizes without having a design team. YouTube is also soon launching a feature to allow for automated product showcase below videos, wherein machine learning would determine which product it is, rather than the brand manually having to tag which videos showcase their products.

Regional language content will grow multi-fold in adoption

The last time Google reported data on this, it showcased that Hindi content was growing faster than English content and this is likely to grow even further in 2017. With Netflix, Amazon Prime and others spearheading the video content in multiple languages, we are also going to see written and visual content growing in regional languages, especially Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Bengali. Facebook has also launched an auto-translate feature for all the Brand Pages – though nascent it is bound to improve this year.

Even small brands will leverage the video medium

Building the brand is key and what better way than videos? Its never been easier to create videos with the help of free and low cost tools. As per statistics by Facebook, users watch an average of 100 million hours of video every day and most of these are on their mobile devices. Facebook has made it even easier with its Facebook Live feature, which is a very engaging tool, especially for the entertainment, fashion and hospitality industries.

Attribution will continue to be grey area

Especially for online/offline the attribution will continue to be a grey area. While there have been many initiatives launched and many in the pipeline, most restaurants, retailers and offline stores find it difficult to attribute walk ins and business results to the digital medium. Facebook and Google Maps have been improving their proximity data to understand if users are at a specific location and encourage them to review the location. Google is also in early stage testing of beacons to allow for better attribution but it’s still 1.5 – 2 years away from mass adoption.

Consolidation in the social media networks

Brands have always found it difficult to be active on multiple social media networks and we do expect some consolidation. Twitter has been in talks of selling out and even growth of Snapchat has not increased. As platforms evolve and mature, we will see brands also focusing on select platforms that make sense – usually a maximum of 2-3 platforms.

Virtual Reality will not take us over by storm, just yet

There has been a lot of talk around virtual reality devices, including the launch of the DayDream by Google. While the experience it provides is phenomenal, it is not going to be main stream yet. While the cost of devices is getting lower, the adoption of these rather bulky devices is still limited to a select few tech savvy individuals at least in India.

The article was originally published at Business Standard

Demystifying the basics of Search Engine Optimisation

Optimising your website Google search results is probably one of the most important things a brand can do. This is usually called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and is one of the least understood concepts in the marketing world. While SEO has changed over the last 10 years, its fundamentals remain the same and I have highlighted what are the key things to keep in mind when getting started.

Understanding what your customer or users are searching for

The first step is to understand what kind of content your customers or users want. You could use the free Google Keyword research tool or a paid tool like Moz Explorer to get a sense of it. We also use interesting tools like Answer the Public, which groups search terms together to give you a better understanding. It might be also useful to use Buzzsumo to understand what kind of content consumers are viewing and sharing via social media channels.

It’s important to understand that content here doesn’t mean only written content – it could be in the form of infographics, videos, interactive graphs, tools/calculators etc. So do the research to understand what consumers are searching for or intuitively would want.

Creating content that caters to the user’s need

Virtually everyone in the digital marketing space has finally boarded the content marketing bandwagon. We know now that creating good content for a brand is the best way to get a good ranking in Google search results. So just writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ should do the trick right? Not any more.

Content marketing and blogging has risen by leaps and bounds in the last five to six years. The rules have changed and writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ is just not enough. Writing content that covers only the basic of any topic is very easy. A user may probably visit your blog and feel that they now know something about this topic and choose not spend more than a few minutes on it. Chances of such blogs, making into the top ten positions of the Google search results are very slim. The modern SEO’s demand are much higher and you need to have the best content in your category to make it into the top results organically. Take your regular content, make it 10X bigger and better. In fact, user experience also plays a big role in the ranking algorithm making it even more important for the need to move from ‘Good And Unique Content’ to a ‘10X Content’. Only then can you hope to try and rank for those keywords

Here is a detailed guide on 10 ways to ensure that your content is 10X times better than anyone else. You could also exploring creating content in multiple languages if you feel your users would engage with such content.

Amplify the content to ensure it reaches the audience and it gets backlinks

The content is only as good as the number of people its able to reach. If you create 10X content you are likely to start showing up in search results in a few weeks (8-10 weeks for sites that have been around). Till then its key to amplify the content via social media, paid advertising, social bookmarking as well as link building requests.

Social media and SEO are two interlinked strategies as both are organic driven and is dependent on fresh content appealing to the viewers. There is no direct mention by Google that increase in social media followers will directly improve the rankings for a specific set of reason. However, Google always insists on quality links and content rather than the quantity of shares and links. Read this blog on why social media matters to SEO to get a better idea of how to leverage channels like Facebook and Twitter to amplify your content.

Social Bookmarking is another way to ensure you not only get backlinks but improve the chance of being found. Quora is also an interesting platform to do that.

Lastly, its important to build backlinks as this is one of the corner stones on which rankings improve. Backlink is essentially any link pointing from an external site to yours. Though the number of backlinks is important but poor quality or spammy backlinks should be avoided. It can result in a negative penalty for your website by Google. Influencer marketing can also be an effective tool to get relevant backlinks.

Ensure website is fast and mobile responsive

One common mistake we see brands and websites doing is ignoring the speed of the website, which accordingly to google is one of the most critical aspects in ranking. They even have new features like AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to help websites overcome this issue.

Having a website which is mobile and tablet responsive is again a given today. Users consume content across devices and the websites need to be user friendly across devices too. Brands need to leverage every mobile micro moment of consumers and for that you need an amazing mobile website.

Technical SEO elements

This involves some help from your digital team as it requires SEO knowledge as well as technology/development expertise to execute. This includes elements like headings, tags (to allow Google to understand what content/images that you have on your site), structured data (to tell Google what kind of content it is – e.g. whether it’s a receipe or a product review or just a blog article), implementing speed elements including AMP and redirecting old urls to new urls.

Track Results & be patient

It’s important to track your return on investment for such SEO activities and we usually do that by tracking not only the rank of your keyword (which is less important these days) but by tracking the growth of traffic from Google over a period of time. It takes about 4-6 months to see any substantive results. Regular creation of 10X content is key to growth in traffic from Google and that should be the focus area on an ongoing basis.

The article was originally published at Business Line on Campus, where I write a column called Going Digital.

Social Beat participates in Google Partner Summit in San Francisco

It was a delightful day when we got the news of being invited for the Google Partner Summit and being upgraded to a Premier Google Partner. So when the time came, Rohit & I packed our bags and took the journey to cover 13,876 kms from Chennai to San Francisco. The journey was not just the distance, but the fact that at the Summit we were amongst 900 partners around the world, who together controlled about 8% of the global digital advertising spend. It was indeed a delightful experience to be part of it.

“Now is our Moment” was an apt theme for the Google Partner Summit with multiple interactions with senior Google product managers and account managers interspersed with knowledge on how to manage talent as well as clients. It was a holistic agenda to help agencies like us succeed.

While a lot of the inputs provided at the Summit were confidential, we have summarized what we are allowed to share. Below were the 5 key takeaways for us:

  1. Be there in the momentBeing there in the moment in the mobile first world is key and there was indeed a lot of discussion on the usual topics of mobile responsivness as well as website speed. There was discussion around the growing adaptation of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and infact Social Beat has already implemented AMP as well. With the responsive ads that Adwords has launched, the ads become a lot more immersive and adaptable to any device/ad unit size allowing brands to be there in the moment.The challenge with mobile has been that almost 75% of the audience start the interaction with the brand on one device, but complete it on another device. So measurement and tracking of ROI becomes a challenge. Fortunately, some tools like Optimizely help us resolve this.
  2. Measure across devices, channels, offline – Measurement being key, there was discussion around multi device, multi channel and offline measurement since many visitors who search online do visit the retail store. We do have an interesting article on how search can help offline and omni channel retailers in India. While store visits as a conversion metric is already live in Google Adwords, there are many more exciting developments that we can watch out for in the online to offline measurement.
  3. Leveraging Video for Brand Building & Sales – There is no doubt that video is the fastest growing medium in the digital space and many brands are creating engaging yet low cost videos for better brand recall and sales. Lucinda Barlow, Global Director of YouTube marketing pointed out that “There are only two things Americans do more than watch video: sleep & work” and that’s the reason why digital video is going to be even bigger going forward. YouTube has lined up some interesting features for ecommerce and omni channel retailers so watch our blogs for more info on this.
  4. Virual Reality / AR – Part of the swag given by Google was the Cardboard which gave us a glimpse into the low cost Virtual Realty but what amazed us was the Google Day Dream (with Pixel) which is a very immersive VR experience and with devices becoming better and cheaper we are surely going to see more of them around. The experience brands can provide via VR is going to be a game changer and we look forward to exploring it. While Adwords is yet to integrate to VR/AR we do see that happening in the near future.
  5. Machine Learning – Machine learning not only refines the experience we get at Google but is also helping agencies like us with programmatic advertising, some of which we have started experimenting with our clients using Double Click. Its only going to get better, allowing brands and agencies to deliver relevance at scale.

Apart from the product learnings, it was amazing for us to network and meet Google Partners from around the world and we even got to visit Googleplex and interact with product managers one on one (though we cannot share the details of these discussions yet).

 

Social Beat part of Facebook SME India Council 2016-17

Small and mid sized businesses are indeed the backbone of India’s economy and digital marketing can be a powerful medium for SMEs, especially when you can get more through targeted marketing. This is the purpose with which Facebook India launched their SME India Council last year and this year we extremely excited to be part of it and are looking forward to working closely with Facebook.

As Facebook reported in 2015, more than 1.99 billion interactions have been made between people and the 2 million small businesses with Facebook Pages in India. And of the close to 160 million people (as of Oct 2016) on Facebook in India (95% on mobile), more than half of them are connected to at least one small business in the country.

Social Beat on Facebook India SME Council 2017

The Facebook SME India council is made of a group of small business from various industries and geographies across the country and will meet throughout the year to share feedback, discuss new ideas and work with Facebook to build better ads solutions. Due to confidentiality, we cannot share many of the information shared during the 1st meeting that was held in Delhi in October, please do stay updated on our Facebook Marketing blog to see what’s the latest (as and when Facebook announces its new feature launches).

You may also find it interesting to read our Facebook Marketing Trends for 2017.

Vikas speaks at Retail Summit on Winning the Connected Consumer

Earlier today, I spoke to a packed audience of retailers (omni channel and offline retailers) at the Chennai Retail Summit held by Retail Association of India (RAI) at ITC Grand Chola. I spoke on Winning the Connected Consumer, The Digital Way and you can see my slides below.

Local SEO and digital marketing for retailers is very critical in this connected world. Its very important for them to leverage a mobile first strategy to capitalize on every micro moment.

 

How Omni Channel Retail can use digital to connect to consumers

Measuring ROI of Digital Marketing – Panel at the Digital Summit

When we conducted our Indian Industry Digital Marketing Survey we found that many brands were facing challenges in measuring the return that their digital marketing and social media marketing efforts were giving. Hence, we included an eclectic panel discussion on “Measuring ROI of Digital Marketing” at our Digital Leadership Summit.

We had four panelists moderated by Suneil from Social Beat: Mr. Vijay Anand – Sulekha.com, Mr. Arasu Shankar – Eshakti.com, Ms. Lavanya Hariharan – Zapluk and Mr. Shriram Sanjeevi – Oyethere.com.

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Summary of the Panel Discussion

    • Channels that provide higher ROI will depend on product and customer segment
    • Google & Facebook continue to dominate as primary digital channels for most businesses
    • For products/services wherein search volume is lower – then social would be a better channel to start with
    • Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest allow for better product showcase and for visual products these would be interesting channels
    • Building the brand and social trust is important for long term ROI and can be achieved through a mix of social media channels
    • Influencer marketing is a very strong channel for ROI and also gets higher trust from consumers
    • Instagram, Snapchat, Emailers are other ways to build ROI depending on the business.
    • Life Time Value (LTV) is an important metric as marketing spend cannot be attributed to just the first transaction
    • Tools like Google Analytics & Improvely can help in measuring ROI

Perspective on ROI from the Panelists

Suneil started off by asking the audience as to how many of them believed you could get ROI from digital marketing; it was a pleasant surprise to see that over 60% of the audience believed it could. We as a digital agency couldn’t agree more. The panel started with a discussion on what each of them feels about the results from digital marketing. We also have had a Digital Chai Pe Charcha on ROI of Digital Marketing, and you can read it here.

  • Lavanya from Zapluk highlighted that they got a lot of organic growth once they started using the digital medium and in fact got 80% increase in customer base in just a month. As she rightly pointed out, it was a combination of brand building and lead generation activities.
  • Vijay from Sulekha.com candidly shared that they were one of the highest spenders in the city on Google and that digital is critical to their survival. He shared that Sulekha gets around 250 million visitors via organic search and another 20-30 million via paid search in a year, and it’s their strongest channel for new user acquisition.
  • Shriram from OyeThere.com said they use a 360-degree approach with a mix of digital and offline marketing based on his two decades of retail experience. He rightly pointed out that it’s a myth that digital gives immediate returns. Startups need to focus on building a brand, building the consumer trust and scaling up the service – then results come over time.

Which digital channels are scaleable and to what extent?

The entire panel did agree that the choice of the channel varies with the services/products and the consumer segment. It’s also very important to be smart as you scale adverting, as Arasu pointed out. It’s essential to be clear on what is the message you want to give about your brand.

Vijay continued to be a strong propagator of Google Organic and Google Adwords and said it’s the most scalable as SEO efforts now start showing results in a few days, for existing/older sites. Since they focus on services with low engagement from end consumers they, tend to focus less on social media channels. They did spend 15 crores on their TVC campaign earlier this year it only gives 5000 incremental visitors a day which is minuscule for them as they get about 6-7 lakh visitors a day. Vijay added that for brand building to show results, you need to be at it all the time.

On the other hand, Lavanya, Arasu & Shriram all spoke on how social media and in specific Facebook Marketing has worked extremely well for their businesses to get scaleable results. Lavanya highlighted that for a service wherein the consumer still doesn’t know it exists, the search volume on Google is extremely low hence Facebook & Twitter were the driving growth as they were able to achieve leads along with building the brand and engagement around it.

Arasu & Lavanya also touched upon the importance of building the trust factor with consumers regarding answering their questions and doubts and also in terms of showcasing the products/service in a more holistic way. As Arasu rightly pointed out that Facebook allows for better product showcase via the carousel ads, videos, etc. Even brand awareness and the brand story is better executed via channels like Facebook and Instagram. Talking about the social trust that’s built out, Arasu added that they now see existing customers answering queries raised by potential clients and that it’s a game changer for them.

Shriram added that the approach they take depends on the message, the channel also changes. For example, when they ran a huge campaign around Kabali by selling t-shirts, giving away movie tickets and more; Facebook worked very well for that as it’s a mass channel.

Influencer Marketing & Platforms other than Google & Facebook

We couldn’t agree more with Arasu when he said that “Channel will depend on product and customer segment.” For example, if you are looking to target millennials then Snapchat would be an ideal platform. If your product or service is visual and you are targeting a sub 40-year-old audience, then Instagram would be an excellent channel but there is indeed a demographic difference across channels. eShakti also focusses a lot on Pinterest as it’s relevant to many a fashion brand.

Emailer Marketing still works if it’s with your own audience. Vijay of Sulekha spoke about how emailer marketing is an important channel and delivers results when done smartly with smart targeting, in spite of Gmail pushing a lot of emails to the Promotions tab. Of course, once a user is acquired it’s up to the brand to retain them and emailers is a great way to do that.

Influencer Marketing was another channel that works very well and eShakti uses it extensively. Arasu shared that they work with 1000s of bloggers and they have built their network over a period. They calculate the ROI of influencers via direct referral traffic as well as transactions driven by the unique referral code given to each influencer. He also gave an interesting insight that there is higher trust from a consumer that comes via an influencer, so the 5-10% off that they give is covered up there.

There was an interesting question from the audience – Dr. Manoj from Dr. Smilez Group of Dental Centers asked about how they got very low engagement low on social as customers were not very keen on sharing their dental experiences. Lavanya shared her similar experiences as not a lot of women would like to share they got a beauty service or a wax treatment as it’s a personal service. The way Zapluk approaches it is  to given them an offer or incentive but in the long run, content marketing is the key. Shriram added saying that ROI cannot always be attributed to direct sales – brand building and marketing is also to be measured

Importance of Life Time Value (LTV) of the Customer in calculating ROI

Everyone on the panel agreed that the return on marketing spend is not immediate; hence Life Time Value is an important metric to help scale up business and understand whether it’s moving towards profitability.

The LTV depends on different businesses, and we got varied perspective from the panel. Arasu spoke about phenomenal ROI wherein it just takes them 1.2 transactions to recover marketing cost as they have high-value transactions and very high repeat purchase. For Zapluk and Pamperazi it was three transactions to get the back marketing cost. Whereas for a brand like Sulekha, the end consumer was not paying anything, so it’s difficult to ascertain LTV.

Arasu mentioned that they look at the time taken to recover the marketing cost of acquiring the customer and for them, it’s usually the first 1-2 months whereas it is 3-4 months for Zapluk. Key metrics remain around customer acquisition, retention and finally on how to make them spend more and more often. It of courses varies by cohort, seasonality’s (for example, summer is a strong season for eshakti), types of customers, depends on the marketing channel and the marketing campaign that you run.

Shriram again had a very different perspective and said that “The word LTV is over done. Companies that boasted of High LTvs have shut down in the last couple of months because LTV was more of a myth.” He gave an example of Chennai’s leading retail chain Viveks wherein in many cases three generations have been shopping there and apparently they are also grappling with LTV. He also questioned how come Flipkart only had 32% growth in spite of the perceivable high LTV.

Tools to Calculate ROI

One of the participants had a very relevant question – Sejal from Zoho asked what are the tools use for calculating ROI. In most cases, Google Analytics along with data from Google Adwords, FB Ads, Instagram Analytics and other social media analytics tools would suffice. Suneil added that Improvely could be a great tool to understand muti-touch attribution as consumers often interact with the brand multiple times before the sale is closed. This tool allows you to see the history of the person and how they interacted with your brand. Read more about Improvely and other similar analytics tools here.

Suneil also added that there is sometimes a time lag between generating a lead to sale and ROI can be improved if you can figure out how to leverage that time frame to communicate about the brand and the offerings.

Vijay spoke about Google Analytics Premium (GAP) which is more relevant for larger organisations as its costs around USD 90,000 a year. He talked about Google Analytics data being heavily sampled; wherein GAP has unsampled data which can also be downloaded. GAP has only around 15 clients in India but Vijay recommends it’s to e-commerce and digital businesses as repeat customers are harder to track in free analytics tools and attribution is not always clear.

How Digital drove success of Carat Lane – Digital Leadership Summit

Below is the gist of the talk given by Mithun Sacheti on “How Digital drove the success of Carat Lane” at the Digital Leadership Summit in Chennai in August 2016.

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Key Highlights from his talk include:

  • Discovery is going to be driven by digital, consumption will remain omnichannel depending on the product/service
  • Consumers often make the decision online, but still, like to see the product in high-value purchases
  • Omni-channel is the approach towards profitability and Carat Lane has seen that with their Delhi centre, which contributes to 38% revenue and is a profitable city for them.
  • Extremely data driven approach with 4000 data points being tracked every month
  • Even spends on TV are tracked diligently
  • Key metrics to track: Cost per lead, Cost per conversion and Cost per visitor/traffic
  • Early days for digital transformation with more to see in the coming years

Mithun started off by highlighting that Chennai as the choice for Carat Lane did not come from the fact that he was based here but based on research that Chennai has the fastest clearing airport in the country. He goes on to talk about how opening the first Jaipur Gems store was challenging. Their biggest learning over the initial years was getting a clear understanding of the top/key customers since they used to get only about three walk-ins a day when they started out. They soon realized that making customers discover the store and new products is key. So when they opened their next store in Coimbatore, they were able to combine their learnings to ensure that 500 key customers walked into the store just on day 1.

How did they get into e-commerce?

They realised that discovery of products is a problem because of the limited walk-ins in retail as well as the limited scope to discover products before walking into the store. E-Commerce fundamentally changes the discovery process.

Today consumers make a choice before entering the retail store – the decision is usually made online. This is why global e-commerce started with books so that the discovery & shopping can happen online. For other products discovery is still lead by digital, but consumption is happening across e-commerce, offline retail, kiosks, etc.

In 2011, Carat Lane opened its first retail store – but they got it wrong in many ways. Firstly, they did not put much jewellery over there, though in hindsight they understood that consumers come in to try out the product. In Mithun’s words “We assumed customers were as obsessed with technology, as we were”. This changed when they opened their future stores. Moreover, their Perfect Look app allows you try out jewellery real time, and this was a big hit amongst consumers.

Why do consumers have distrust amongst e-commerce companies?

Mithun highlights on e-commerce evolution in India and candidly pointed out that between 2000 to 2009 there were early adopters who did not focus on last mile delivery and consumer experience – players like Indiatimes, Rediff, infibeam. This mostly led to distrust from consumers because they went through such bad experiences from these brands. This, of course, changed when the new age e-commerce companies started, including Carat Lane in 2008.

Is ROI real in E-Commerce?

Mithun was candid in saying that “Understanding of ROI was missing when we started, but we understood it the right way.”

In 2012 when the company evaluated its results, it realized that cost of acquisition was so high; it would take three transactions to make the customer profitable but an Indian consumer shop for jewellery twice a year so there was something wrong in the approach.

Their retail stores were a game changer because the process of discovery started falling in place. Consumers now started coming to the store with the product photograph wanting to try the product. It became evident that conversions will happen where they have an omnichannel presence. Two years ago they opened six stores in Delhi and now 38% of their revenue comes from Delhi and is the only profitable city of operation at the moment.

Is it an analytics business or a jewellery business?

Carat Lane is an extremely metric driven business, as Mithun pointed out. They track 4000 data points every month, but the critical ones are

  1. Cost per lead
  2. Cost per conversion
  3. Cost per visitor/traffic

Mithun aptly put it “There is never too little data”. Data helps bring clarity, and while it took Carat Lane 6 years to figure it out, it finally made sense. In the early days, the cost of consumer acquisition was never in focus. You need to know how much you are willing to pay for each of the above actions, as the business profitability depends on that. Each company needs to create its own attribution model – based on customer type. Google Analytics is a good starting point.

Mithun spoke at length about the advanced analysis that is done on TV ad spends. They used tools to find out in which tv program & which ad break & which ad slot had the highest visitors and highest brand search of Carat Lane. As per Mithun, searches & traffic ultimately reflect in conversions & sales assuming you have a great product + great UX. Of course, it’s not a perfect model. You can have assumptions and capture the ROI, in case there are two ads at the same time

On Startups, Funding & more

Speaking on how they used the funding they got, Mithun admits “Money is like oxygen, the human body is like iron – money can corrupt you”. They have learnt it the hard way and now moving towards profitability with a data-driven approach.

Talking about his investor, Lee Fixel, he mentioned an interesting quote. Apparently, Lee said, “My Fund has ten lives. You as an entrepreneur has 2-3 lives. Carat Lane has one life. If you think omnichannel is the right approach, then let’s do it.”

On closing. Mithun said that Digital would own discovery and budgets will move digital – which was also reflected in the Social Beat Industry Report. We, of course, agree when he said that India would be driving the digital transformation and even today with the worst internet bandwidth ever we have achieved this much – it’s only up to our imagination what the future holds!

Vikas at MDI, Gurgaon on Role of Content & Influencer Marketing

It was an interesting evening spent at MDI Gurgaon with students of Consumer Behaviour. We were talking about the role of Communities, Content & Influencer Marketing on Consumer Behaviour. See the below slide share for details on the discussion we had.

The students had a lot of questions, especially around influencer marketing and its ethics. Many of these can be found in the FAQs of Influencer Marketing here.

MDI-Gurgaon-Influencer-Content-Marketing-Lecture-Vikas-Chawla

 

Social Beat held its 1st Digital Leadership Summit

Key Highlights from the Social Beat Digital Leadership Summit 2016:

  • Measuring ROI from digital marketing and content marketing are the biggest challenges faced
  • Carat Lane tracks 4000 data points in order to measure the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns – says Mithun Sacheti, Founder of Carat Lane
  • Lifetime value of the customer is key to understanding ROI from any medium, including digital
  • Different digital channels work differently depending on the brands and the right attribution model helps track the results effectively
  • Content Marketing is less about marketing and more about content. Brand are allocating as much as 15% of their total marketing budget towards content marketing.

Chennai, 5th Aug 2016: The 1st Social Beat Digital Leadership Summit 2016 was a congregation of over 125 CMOs, Brand Heads & CXOs from varied industries. Mithun Sacheti, the Keynote Speaker kick started the Summit and shared insights on how a data driven approach at Carat Lane has helped it acquire customers and build a brand. Carat Lane’s internal team analyses over 4000 data points, from across channels, including TV, Retail, Print, Radio and Online Marketing.

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Speaking at the event, Mithun Sacheti, Founder Carat Lane said “Digital is going to be key for every business in India. The discovery of products and services is going to happen via digital, through consumption will be omni channel across digital, retail and other channels.” Emphasising on the importance of data and analytics Mithun said “The beauty of digital is that you can analyse and measure everything. It’s never too much data to decide your action items. At Carat Lane we analyse over 4000 data points on a monthly basis.”

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The keynote session was followed by a panel discussion on Measuring ROI from digital marketing. Moderating the panel, Suneil Chawla, Co-Founder of Social Beat, said “Depending on whether the business has a product which has high search volume or is an impulse purchase, Google or social media will be more effective.” Arasu Shankar from eShakti.com said “Apart from tracking the cost of acquiring a customer, it is important to understand the lifetime value of the customer in order to be able to understand the profitability of the business”.

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Peshwa Acharya, CMO of Sterling Holidays speaking at the event said “Digital transformation has already happened from the consumer’s perspective. Now it’s time for brands to wake up to this opportunity. There will be many inflection points, for example, COD in ecommerce. Brands need to anticipate and leverage these inflection points to their advantage.”

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The last discussion was around How Content Marketing can work for your brand with two successful brands, Matrimony and Murugappa Group sharing their experiences. Vijaylakshmi D, Senior Associate Vice President at Murugappa Group speaking on their successful content strategy around Madras Song said “Murugappa Group always had a strong connect with the city of Madras and we have had ongoing activities around this. When we looked at how do we connect with today’s generation we decided to use music and video as the medium to create the Madras Song to engage people to share their live for Madras.”. Murugappa Group in fact allocates close to 15% of marketing budget towards content marketing.

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Rajasekar KS, GM – Social Media & Content for Matrimony.com speaking on their HappyMarriages content initiative said “Content Marketing is more about content and less about marketing. If you can understand your consumer’s problems and leverage that to build content, then it will strike the right cord with the audience.”

 

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Speaking at the occasion, Vikas Chawla, Co-Founder of Social Beat summarised, “The digital medium is a powerful medium and only creativity is the limit. We hope that the experience sharing by CMOs and Marketing Heads would enable the entire industry to learn and grow their digital presence.”

Thanks to the entire organising team at Social Beat for pulling off the Summit – Kudos to them! And a big thank you to our partners – Zarget, Sublime Factory & Brandwave.

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Social Beat releases the Digital Marketing Industry Report 2016

Highlights from the Social Beat Digital Marketing Industry Report 2016:

  • Brand Awareness & Lead Generation are the primary goals for most brands
  • Measuring ROI from digital marketing is the biggest challenged faced
  • 87% brands leverage digital & 38% of them allocate 1/3rd budget to digital marketing
  • Facebook & Google are still the most popular digital marketing channels

Bangalore, 18th Jul 2016: The Digital Marketing Industry Report 2016 was released by Social Beat, one of South India’s leading digital marketing agencies. The report is based on a survey conducted in May-June 2016. A total of 376 CMOs and Marketing Heads across India participated in the survey. The companies that participated in the study were from various sectors and verticals including e-Commerce, FMCG, Media/Entertainment, Healthcare, Education, Real Estate, and Travel.

Speaking on the report, Social Beat Co-Founder Vikas Chawla said “The report highlights the rise of digital marketing, though brands continue to use television and print mediums to have a 360-degree approach. It was encouraging to see that 87% of the brands surveyed leverage digital marketing. While brand awareness and lead generation/sales seem to be the primary goals set by the CMOs, digital marketing is increasingly being leveraged for Customer Engagement (46%) and customer service (35%) too.”

The responses from the survey indicate that digital marketing spends are about one-third of the total marketing spends. The results here are considerably different from the IAMAI – IMRB International Report which pegs the digital spends at 12% of the total marketing spends.

Speaking about the survey, Suneil Chawla, Co-Founder of Social Beat, said “Around 10% brands surveyed spend more than Rs. 1 crore annually on digital marketing while around 50% brands spend more than Rs. 6 Lakhs annually. Overall, 20% brands plan to increase their digital marketing spends by 25% in the next financial year. This is important in the context of growing internet and digital penetration in India – brands understand that digital is the way forward. With an expected 500 million internet users in India by 2017, brands understand the massive opportunity to reach out to their consumers.”

David Appasamy, who has recently joined Social Beat as Head of Brand & Strategy, added “The survey reflects the growing acceptance of digital platforms as an excellent means of engaging meaningfully with consumers, generating leads and increasing sales. It was particularly interesting to see that the digital marketing channels are already contributing to more than 30% sales for at least 40% of the brands surveyed.”

Tracking Return on Investment (ROI) is the biggest challenge being faced by brands, closely followed by content creation, quality lead generation and attracting talent. Currently, CMOs are using Sales / Leads, Engagement, Brand Reach and Mentions as the metrics to track the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Most of the respondents said they focus on Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing and Emailers for marketing their brand online. Not surprisingly, Facebook (89%) and Google (78%) have emerged as the most popular platforms followed by Twitter (56%) and LinkedIn (51%). Penetration of smartphones, faster internet connectivity and interesting video content have resulted in 51% brands targeting YouTube for marketing their brand. It would be interesting to track the growth of newer channels like Instagram and Snapchat in India for brand marketing in the near future.

Vikas added, “Most of CMOs that took the survey felt that they there is a lot of scope for improvement in quality lead generation, result tracking and creative campaigns. This presents a massive opportunity to digital marketers to fill the gap and help leverage the digital medium more effectively for brands”.

You may also find it interesting to read our book on Digital Marketing Insights for 2017, which can be purchased on Amazon.

Media Coverage for the Report

Economic Times Brand Equity: 38% brands allocate a third of their budget to digital marketing: Report

Business Standard: 87% brands prefer digital marketing: Report

Exchange4Media: 87% brands leverage digital; Facebook & Google platforms most preferred: Social Beat Report

Economic Times: 87 per cent brands prefer digital marketing: Report

The full report and infographic can be seen below:

Digital Marketing Industry Report India – 2016

ISB Program on Marketing & Analytics for Ecommerce

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At the beginning of 2015, we had spoken about how social media analytics is going to change in 2015, especially for ecommerce companies. Since then we have seen significant strides in multiple aspects. Each of the social media channels, their targeting and analytics has become a lot more powerful. In terms of integrated CRMs to build a single view of the customer we have seen lots of new products such as BetaOut which have made advanced personalization tools available to even SMEs and mid-sized businesses. In terms of content creation and using analytics, there are tools like BuzzSumo which help understand what kind of content is trending and being shared.

Introduction to the ISB Programme

ISB-Hyderabad-Digital-Marketing-Analytics-Ecommerce-India-2016

2016 is going to be an even more exciting year for such advancements & we hope to see a lot more interesting tools being launched. With so many advancements, one needs to be abreast with the new trends and how to effectively integrate it into a singular approach. In this context, we came across the programme on Marketing & Analytics for Ecommerce Industry by Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. We have a list of digital marketing courses in India and this programme is an essential addition to it. This is a 5 day programme and ideal for CMOs, Digital Marketing Strategists, Ecommerce entrepreneurs. With faculty from ISB & Emory University, the programme is designed to give a strategic and hands-on perspective of cutting edge topics in eCommerce & mCommerce marketing.

The programme gives a holistic approach to omni channel retailers who are leveraging the ecommerce market place model and brick & mortar stores. Aspects like the purchase funnel and lifetime value of the customer are essential for an e-business and the programme focuses on how return on investment can be optimized for such businesses.

Analytics is key to success

Website/app analytics and social media analytics is also a key element of the programme and that is absolutely essential for ecommerce startups. By using tools like Google Analytics or Omniture for websites or MixPanel for apps, companies can get a lot of structured data in terms of which channels of acquisition are working, what content & messaging is getting better results and as to which demographics of users are converting. At the same there is a lot of unstructured data because still a lot of startups don’t have a single view of the consumer – there are emailing tools like MailChimp, On Site engagement tools like WebEngage, Intercom & HelloBar and ofcourse the ecommerce platforms like Magento, WooCommerce. All these tools don’t talk to each other yet and tools like BetaOut are trying to fix the issue. There are also a lot of conversations & comments across social media channels and it can be challenging to manage this and to decipher meaningful insights because it’s unstructured data.

Cost effective Customer Acquisition & Customer Retention is the only way to make it sustainable

Experimenting with different channels, messaging & audiences is an essential way to optimize customer acquisition cost. Granular targeting & advertising has never been easier to accomplish and each of the tools – be it Facebook, Google Search, Twitter or even Native Advertising, the tools are getting better at segmenting the audience and their interests. To add to this complexity users have multiple touch points with an app or ecommerce site – across multiple devices, multiple locations and gaps during their interactions. So attribution becomes a challenge as the last touch point cannot be attributed just to the last touch point. Zarget or Improvely are great tools to set this right where it captures each touchpoint of the user so that attribution can be made appropriately. This allows for optimization of marketing spends in the right channel. With immense competition in ecommerce with each company vying to retain the customer, retention strategies and personalized messaging is key to success.

Optimising your website and especially optimizing the product pages is critical to effective cost per acquisition (CPA). As Neil Patel points out in the above article, product pages is where visitors become customers and that should be the page that needs to be made persuasive, not just the homepage. Tools such as ZargetCrazyEgg and Inspectlet help you understand how users are behaving on the site and how it can be optimized to get better conversions at lower costs.

The programme at ISB has a key component to understand how this structured & unstructured data can be used to get actionable insights on acquisition, retention and conversion optimisation. Usage of many of the advanced tools will also be covered. The ISB Programme is from 4th to 8th Jan at Hyderabad and would be a great opportunity to get practical insights into the above aspects and to also cross learn from other specialists who will be attending the programme too.

ISB has also introduced a new program on Digital & Social Media Marketing Strategies, and the first batch of the same is going to take place from May 22 -25th, 2016. More details can be see at ISB Centre for Executive Education.

Effective Digital Marketing to generate Business for B2B

On 9th Oct 2015, CII organized the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Conference with the theme “Strategies for the Future”in Chennai, India. Our Co-Founder, Vikas Chawla took a session on Effective Digital Marketing to generate Business for B2B to a packed audience at Hilton. It was followed by a very interesting Q&A on the challenges faced by B2B businesses and as to how they can leverage the digital medium effectively – especially for small and medium enterprises.

Top 10 ways to use Google Analytics for actionable results

Tracking results is paramount not only for an entrepreneur or a startup but also for large enterprises. Google Analytics is the most popular Website Analytics Tool with close to 20% of all websites using it (as per Built With).

Using the tool, one can analyse data on a monthly basis to understand who is coming to your website, what are they doing there and what is driving them to come to the website or transact with you. Google Analytics a powerful yet free tool which can help grow your digital marketing strategy. To get you started, here is a slideshare with list of Top 10 Things to Analyse your website using  Google Analytics.

Basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Entrepreneurs

As part of our in-house knowledge sessions we have created a slideshare on the basics of Search Engine Optimisation from the perspective of entrepreneurs. It include insights on creating content for users, site speed, creating good quality links as well as influencer marketing & blogger engagement.

We have also added our insights on how to track the results & ROI of your SEO & Content Marketing efforts.

You may also be interested in reading our earlier blog posts on How not to do Search Engine Optimisation & 10 Free Apps for SEO, Productivity & Social Media.

Workshop conducted on Digital Marketing for Startups in India

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

Social Media Analytics Trends for 2015

Focussed not just on social media metrics, but on business results

Till 2013 social media analytics was focussed on social media metrics like reach, impressions, page likes, post likes, number of retweets. It was only in 2014, that there was a focus on measuring business results (online orders, lead generation, sign ups etc). This trend is likely to get more entrenched in 2015, with even small businesses focussing on achieving their business goals via the digital medium. With free tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, brands can now track how many leads or online sales or signups they had and as to which digital medium helped them get these results.

For example, for some of our ecommerce companies close to 30% of revenue comes from Facebook and upto 5% from emailer campaigns. Moreover, we are able to identify which ads contributed to the revenue and leads. While it’s important to engage with the audience within Facebook, we have found it to be more effective to drive traffic via Facebook Ads directly to the website or landing page and track results there.

So it’s no longer going to be just about acquiring fans or engaging with the community, but about how the brand is being built and what results are achieved.

Using CRM to build a single view of the customer

Retailers, E-commerce sites and larger enterprises have started initiatives to integrate offline data with data from multiple online channels including website, emailer campaigns, Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels. Powerful CRM tools are going to enable brands to build a single view of the customer and to see what kind of targeting communication can be given to them. Around the world, tools like Marketo, Act-On & Sailthru have been doing this at an enterprise level but in 2015 such tools will become more accessible to small and medium enterprises even in India.

Focus on consumer insights to serve the right ads to the right people

Machine Learning Analytics & Automation will help brands focus on granular consumer insights and allow for right ads reach the right people. Tools like FanPlayr & Gigya already have powerful & intelligent tools to enable this and these are going to get more sophisticated over time.

For example, Planet Superheroes, which is into Superhero Merchandise has used FB to segment users who like specific superheroes and are online spenders in India. So superman t-shirt ads are targeted to users who like Superman and fit into the age & location demographic relevant to the brand. This level of granular targeting is possible only in social media.

Content creation based on analytics

Social media listening tools and content analysis is starting to happen where brands can predict what kind of content will help in engaging with their audience. Brands like Red Bull have kept content at the core of the digital strategy and that’s the approach many brands are starting to take.

Advanced Facebook Advertising Techniques to implement in 2015

With Facebook deploying constant tweaks to its news feed algorithm, the reach of organic Facebook Page posts have dramatically dropped over the last 6-8 months and is going to drop further in 2015, as per Facebook’s announcement on the News Feed.

What this means is that Business Pages will need to constantly innovate to provide interesting and engaging content to their users in order to reach their News Feed. That being said, advertising and boosting posts is going to be a more significant aspect of every brand that wants to leverage FB. To aid in battling this scenario, we have compiled a list of lessons learnt that includes certain targeting techniques which can help you make the most of your ad campaigns, reaching more number of potential audiences with relevant messaging.

Building Custom Audience

  • If you haven’t tried Custom Audience feature of Facebook yet, then 2015 is the year to leverage yet.
  • Your company can create a Custom Audience by uploading your email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook user IDs. This could be a list of your existing customers or prospects you met through your other promotional activities.
  • By uploading this database on FB, your Facebook Page can have unique campaigns targeted towards these audiences. Let’s assume you are running an ecommerce site and you have 1000 users who bought t-shirts from you in the last 3 months. By uploading this database onto FB you can feature your new T-Shirt launches to this audience.
  • The use cases for Custom Audiences are endless and it also comes handy in filtering down large audiences with a specific set of interests.
  • Even if your database is small, Facebook allows you to expand it by creating a “Look-alike audience” which creates an audience similar to that of your uploaded database – they take into account demographic data and interests.

Custom-Audience-Facebook-Advertising-India

Using a Landing Page to run Website Conversion Ads

  • If you’re going to run an ad campaign on Facebook, make sure that the traffic is driven to a dedicated landing page where your visitors can be converted into potential leads/customers. In our experience over the last one year, running page like ads and boosted posts can have limited impact on the end result of your business (i.e. conversions or leads or online orders). Website Conversion Ads or Website Click Ads on Facebook can be far more effective medium to leverage the large and relevant audience that Facebook has in India.
  • A landing page is critical to deriving results because the landing page has a single focus and is able to convert a higher percentage of visitors into leads or customers. Please do keep in mind that the Landing Page should ideally be an expansion of what the ad/promotion tries to showcase. Below is a snapshot of a landing page & ad for Saint-Gobain Glass.

SG Interiors Landing Page

SG WC Ad

Behaviour

  • The behaviour section of Facebook Ad targeting is an often underutilized feature, but actually one of the most powerful targeting mediums.
  • Using this section, your page can target FB users who have certain mobile/internet behaviour. For example, users who use 2G internet connection vis a vis 3G or 4G internet connection. Or users who run small businesses or manage a FB page of their own. Or users who are regular travellers or regular photo uploaders. Or users who use specific mobile devices (iPhone 6, Nexus 5, Note 3 etc.) or Feature Phones vs. Smartphones.
  • Another interesting targeting medium under behaviour is called “Online Spenders”. This has proven to be very effective for e-commerce companies. Facebook through its Website Conversion ads knows which users are spending online. This has immensely helped in making the targeting niche for online shopping sites that we have advertised for.
  • They also have an Expat Category if businesses are interested in targeting NRIs outside India or targeting Expats who reside in India.

Demographics

  • Apart from the regular targeting of Age, Gender & Location, there are interesting targeting filters under Life Events. They have categories like Friends of users who have recently engaged or recently moved homes – these categories can be interesting for a company into gifting. Another category is “Anniversary within 30 days” so it can be interesting for restaurants, hotels, travel companies and gifting companies who can target users whose anniversary is coming up. Another interesting category is called “Parents” where Pages can target expectant mothers as well as parents who have children of specific age groups – this can be very effective for a business like a kids store, play school, entertainment centre etc. Many such categories exist so check them out to see if its fits your business needs.

 Life-Events-Targetting-Facebook-Advertising

  • Job Role/Company – It can be useful for a B2B company to form a strong inbound marketing strategy by targeting users in a specific industry or job position.
  • Demographics, in general, will help you increase your ad’s performance and reduce the effective cost per click and cost per action, narrowing your audience to a greater extent.

More Demographics

Interests

  • Helps target those audiences who have expressed interest in subject matters or brands that are connected with the ads. This helps the brand/business tap the most responsive set of population who might be interested in the product.
  • For example, a business which is selling musical instruments, it can target users who have interest in Guitars, Keyboards, Yamaha & Casio. These interests span not just broad topics but even specific brands (i.e. Yamaha & Casio in the above example). This can also be used to target users of competitor brands or websites.

Creative / Images used in the Facebook Ad / Post

  • The right images & text used connects with the audiences and creates an appeal for the product being advertised.
  • While creating an ad, one must ensure that the text used must contain a brief (preferably 3-4 words) description of the product/service being advertised in the form of popular adjectives. This description along with a clear call to action can help in getting a higher click through rate.
  • Mentioning the price is also important since it gives the audience an idea of whether they can afford the product or not.
  • Images that are used for the creative should not be cluttered with too much text or design. The neater and confusion-free they are, the better the ads work. Facebook of course has the 20% text rule so Facebook ads cannot have more than 20% text.

Capture Ad

Kickstarting a Digital Agency – The Journey, Challenges and Expectations

Kickstarting-a-digital-agency

The entry barrier to starting a digital agency or an app & web development company is low and this has lead to the birth of companies with different focus and capabilities. So when we started out in 2012, it was imperative for us to figure out what is our USP, leveraging our strengths. We knew we wanted to create a full service digital agency which was not only creative but also delivered strong business results for our clients, in terms of revenue growth and lead generation.  Today, our agency is a leading digital agency, with strong results in Ecommerce, Entertainment, Real Estate and Healthcare.

Your Brand & the first crucial steps

The first decision possibly is whether to start on your own or look for Co-Founder/s. While selecting a co-founder, one should be ready to professionally complement each other in terms of working style, team handling style etc. Moreover, one should see if the long term personal and professional goals along with risk taking appetite are in sync with each other. For us it was easier as Suneil (the co-founder and my brother) were involved in another venture and were aware of each other’s working style.

A key element when starting the venture is finalising n the legal structure for the entity, which includes sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Partnership, partnership, or a Private Limited. We finally chose a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) to create the venture as a separate legal entity which ensuring appropriate governance.

Coming up with your brand name (and being able to find that domain), logo & your own website can be a time consuming process. We brainstormed on ideas with the domain registrar’s website open in order to check whether the domain is available. More importantly, the brand name needs to communicate what differentiates you from the other agencies.

Getting the first client

Even before we incorporated the company, we had our first client. Suneil & I had experience in digital marketing and with a small team, the journey of Social Beat had begun. Having worked in different companies prior to starting up, both of us had strong professional networks that we started tapping into to get our first set of clients. Given our value of guaranteed business results from online marketing, we were able to quickly ramp up to a team of 10 members in a year and to 20 members now.

Apart from word of mouth, online marketing proved to be a pivotal tool for us as well and it has helped us scale up our client base. We initial leveraged social media and later on Google PPC, Remarketing and a strong content & SEO strategy. We practice all the tools and strategize that we propose to clients, and we treat ourselves as a client internally so that the content & marketing strategy can help us get more clients.

Scaling up the venture

Growth is the critical oxygen for a startup. The key drivers for the growth in any start-up are the initial team members. For a digital agency, the key roles include a strong design & development team which can create responsive and engaging websites; Social Media & Community Managers who can help build the brand for clients with the support of creative designers; search Engine specialists, Advertising and Analytics Specialists.

Building the team with individuals having the right mindset and skillset is a continuous challenge and needs to be a top priority. At our agency, each team member takes strong ownership. This has resulted in many internal referrals for hiring, which also ensures the right fit for the team. We have also tried other channels for recruitment – HR consultants (some which are specific to start-ups), Linkedin, Word of Mouth and Job Sites etc. Depending on the role, different channels work better.

Given the evolving digital space and the need for strong growth, training becomes a critical role and we are working on putting in practices to ensure cross functional learning.

Being ready for the big challenges

Doing a startup is one big challenge and if you love to take on challenges, there is nothing like starting a venture or joining an early stage venture. We regularly have to address key challenges: Like setting up of processes to scale the organisation, knowledge sharing and training to stay updated on the latest developments in the digital marketing space, surpassing client expectations and delivering strong results. The energy of the team is what drives excellence every day. So, if you’re planning to venture out, choose your team wisely. There is no better day to kickstart than today.

This article was originally published on Social Samosa

The Madras Song

In 1639, a Nayak ruler handed over a small strip of land to the East India Company to build its trading warehouse. Little was known that it would lay the foundation for one of the historic cities of India in years to come.

22nd August, 2014 would mark the 375th anniversary of Chennai, earlier known as Madras. As part of the 375th anniversary celebrations, the Murugappa group has launched the #TheMadrasSong to celebrate the occasion & give a fitting tribute to the history, tradition, and culture of this city.

Check out the song that captures the soul of Madras:

In fact, the Murugappa group has planned a notable month-long campaign to celebrate the 375th year with already underway contests such as #FavMadrasMemory Map & photo contest, daily Madras trivia and the upcoming Murugappa Madras Quotient Quiz 4th edition on 6th September.

#FavMadrasMemory Map app that asks people to mark the spots that has given them their fondest Madras memory, has turned out to be very popular among the citizens here. It gives them a chance to reflect back to the memorable times spent in the city.

This is the time to be in Madras and enjoy the city at its best. Umpteen other events have been planned across the city such as quizzes, heritage walks, photo exhibitions, lectures, etc. Social Beat is proud to be associated with the #Madras375 Celebrations.

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