A product may be extraordinary, but only a stellar marketing approach will help give it the boost it requires to get the conversation going and keep it that way. In a digital age, leveraging growth marketing to lift your startup off the ground is a powerful way to grow your user base quickly, and growth hacking can be shaped to work with almost any marketing requirement.
But to begin with, what is growth marketing? And how is it different from traditional marketing?
Since your target audience isn’t aware of what you’re offering, your approach to marketing needs to be strategic. Simply put, growth marketing is a process of selecting and implementing scalable tactics used to swiftly drive a large reach on a budget. Experiential marketing allows you to test the waters, analyse trends and optimize marketing campaigns for optimal results. This helps increase acquisition, retention, recall, engagement, and a positive brand image, regardless of whether your company has a webpage, an app, or both. Growth marketing strategies will work for the common and unique components of both.
Traditional marketing focuses on the top of the funnel and follows the same principles in helping your brand build its market presence, but it does not implement optimized results the way growth marketing does. The latter nurtures the relationship with the audience, acting on the feedback of consumers, enabling growth in customer relationships, and thus, steady growth in the brand’s visibility.
With limited time, money, and manpower in the initial phases, it is unlikely that traditional marketing will be the right fit for bootstrapped startups that need to scale up quickly.
Growth marketing for startups uses a combination of tools to drive growth and traffic, which can ultimately culminate as a marketing mix model strategy. With a 360-degree approach, growth marketing also doubles as full-funnel marketing, with brand-building aspects like search engine optimisation, performance marketing, and social media marketing.
Here’s a look at how each element can work wonders for a brand.
Assuming a startup has reached its market, the next step is to run ads online and track and analyse the data generated from various sources. Continually tracking and optimising campaigns will always be impactful since insights help pave a tailored path to achieve the desired results.
Media buying through programmatic solutions automates the process and enables the analysis and optimisation of campaigns with machine learning and AI. Using automated dashboards for analytical reporting allows you to consolidate campaign insights from various platforms to make swifter business decisions with a data-informed approach. There are also tools that help calculate the effectiveness of a brand’s campaigns in comparison to its competitors’.
Use Google Analytics and other tools to analyse which pages are witnessing better traffic and lesser traffic, and optimise both. Information like location, gender, age, clicks, session durations, ad engagement, and more, can all inform you on audience interests, helping you to build an insightful audience profile.
For our strategy for KhataBook, we leveraged TikTok, Facebook and Google to increase app installs, customer events, and acquisition, with different campaigns and creative resources. Alongside this, by using features such as ad scheduling and retargeting, we were able to achieve 1 million downloads on the Play Store. This goes to show that playing with different strategies will help you reach your goals eventually, but a lot faster.
Social media combines content and performance marketing to offer a one-stop-shop for guaranteed engagement. With so many different platforms for different kinds of enterprises, a startup only has to pick and choose which to use - from the most essential ones, like Instagram and Facebook, to niche ones, like LinkedIn and TikTok.
Your growth marketing strategy must include the Facebook family of apps, which includes Instagram, Twitter and even WhatsApp. With target audience segments and tools to run optimised ads, social media also enables measured results and insights. Apart from this, social media platforms offer readily available insights and data for the audience base you want to tap into. With hashtags volumes, follower counts, engagement through likes and views, and even digital marketplaces, your brand can drive ROI swiftly.
New platforms like TikTok are growing at breakneck speed and should be leveraged to increase your brand presence. By tracking the performance of your posts on a variety of platforms, you’ll be able to discern which platforms work best in terms of lead generation, audience engagement, and data collection.
These platforms allow you to use multiple combinations of ad formats, such as video ads, HTML creatives, GIFs, and more. This is a great way to hack your content and see which creative resources are working best.
As discussed earlier, you can increase acquisitions by running referral campaigns. Audiences are always looking out for coupons, freebies, and bargains. Doing so will generate a buzz online around your brand, and will help to drive growth. While you should have these on your app or website, promoting these on your social media handles will give the campaign the boost it needs to generate and garner attention.
Social media is obviously the best way to engage with audiences far and wide, and it’s up to you to expand your strategy beyond likes and comments on posts. Explore the ‘stories' features that several of them offer, and come up with ways to be creative there. Data shows that over 400 million people engage with Instagram’s ‘stories’ feature daily. With both video and post formats available, adding elements like polls, countdowns, quizzes, filters, and stickers can increase your engagement rates exponentially. You can also ask customers to mention and tag you so that you can feature user-generated content as testimonials to your brand offering.
Social media is also great to connect with influencers and known personalities that can benefit your brand image. Seeking out conversations, tie-ups, and influencer posts work to create word-of-mouth marketing, amassing relevant audiences that are more likely to have a higher life-time value. Apart from the usual featured posts, other ideas include live streams on Instagram, re-tweeting posts, and following content based on viral social trends.
Content can be considered the driving force behind your organic marketing strategy. Continued and sustained audience engagement through authentic and valuable content will keep traffic incoming and ongoing, and your content will rank higher on search engines. It’s also more likely that these audiences will turn to you for trusted information over and over again, building customer loyalty.
The following growth marketing strategies are critical for increasing organic traffic and conversion rates.
Creating a blog is an essential hack to drive visibility and website traffic. Not only does it acquaint audiences with a startup’s product, but it also creates an opportunity to grow leads by offering relevant content in exchange for the visitor’s email.
Using out-of-the-box content marketing ideas will help your startup stand out from the competition. Based on the kind of product or service being offered, startups can choose to put out content through influencer marketing, customer testimonials, social media, by leveraging Quora and by creating multilingual content.
For startups, growth marketing with content also means efficiently using time and resources. Creating new content is essential, but it can also become time-consuming. In this case, repurposing existing content can help speed things up. For example, turn blogs into videos, ebooks, Instagram posts and more. This strategy builds your content base and simultaneously increases opportunities for shareability with your target audiences. It also offers variety to target different audience interests - someone who isn’t big on reading may be more open to watching a video on the same content.
Ask customers to leave reviews whichever way they can, whether it’s through feedback forms, emails, or social media messages. A lot of brands that are just starting out also request their first batches of customers to send in their thoughts about the product through a note included with the packaging. This personal touch to the product compels them to comply, and you can then feature these across your online handles. This will build an element of trust for future customers and users.
To understand the facets of content, we can turn to our strategy for our client mfine, a cloud-based app where users can book instant consultations. They wanted to build a strong content strategy for overall organic growth. Since they are a newage startup, we analysed what would help them grow exponentially, and suggested running aggressive SEO strategies. This included building high-quality external backlinks, optimising existing pages with highly competitive keywords, building long-form content, and interlinking blogs and relevant pages.
This resulted in organic and increased visibility of their medical speciality pages, with an increase of 3,00,000 sessions in the span of 4 months. Traffic also increased steadily month by month, and 1000 of the keywords ranked on the first page of search results. The interlinks also helped decrease bounce rates and increased the amount of time spent on pages. All this goes to show that building on an organic strategy guarantees astounding results.
Video marketing is a crucial part of content marketing as well but can be considered as a separate strategy owing to the number of ways you can go about it. Video content is one trend of the last decade that has taken off with virality, conveying dense amounts of information in a concise manner. To put things in perspective, 65% of viewers watch over 3/4th of a video, and 92% of viewers on mobile devices share videos with their circles.
By using a wide range of video ad formats across platforms, not only will you increase audience engagement, but you’ll also be able to track different parameters of data. From thumb stoppers, bumper and discovery ads to skippable and non-skippable ads, there’s a plethora of formats to play with.
The kind of content you create with your videos also matters, since these will increase engagement, traffic, session duration, and customer loyalty in the long run. Your videos may fall into three broad categories, namely awareness, educational, and entertainment. Examples of these include:
Implementing strategies in regional languages is, once again, another tangent of content marketing. With higher Internet connectivity in today’s day and age, new data users are increasing, and in India, it is estimated that there will be an unprecedented billion users that will make the move online. With this new wave of users, a new challenge is posed - ensuring that your content is in a language they can read and speak.
Since over half of these audience segments come from Tier II and Tier III cities, having a multilingual marketing strategy can bring your brand to the forefront in a line of competitors. Moreover, it will not be enough to implement this on your webpage, but with your app, videos, creatives, ads, and all other content as well.
For KhataBook, we leveraged the growth of regional content online and created close to 200-300 videos in regional languages across platforms. On TikTok, we partnered with influencers who created these videos for us, and their relatable content in different vernaculars, with a large focus on the top South Indian languages, helped us garner 1 million app downloads, making the campaign a huge success.
While traditional marketing shouldn’t be your sole approach to hacking your startup’s growth, it is not entirely redundant to your strategy. By using the strategy of online to offline attribution, a company can work to uniquely build a strong brand presence.
Combining all these strategies and tools might seem daunting at first, but they’re a lot easier to implement, and don’t take as much time to get started with either. Seeing results will take a few months, but with steady optimisation and performance tracking, you’ll be knocking your goals out of the park in no time. All it takes is an analytical approach to see what works and what doesn’t, and then tweaking it over and over again as you watch the numbers rise.
India’s regional language internet users are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 18% versus English language users at 3%. In fact, by 2012, 9 out of 10 new internet users will browse the internet in their own vernacular. Affordable smartphones and low-cost data plans have also acted as catalysts, further driving the growth of regional content online. Brands will have to focus their efforts on creating an effective multilingual marketing strategy if they wish to cater to India’s next billion internet users.
If you are new to the multilingual marketing bandwagon or would like to learn more about this new digital marketing trend, take a look at our in-depth guide on multilingual marketing, that speaks in detail about:
It’s no secret that the world of digital marketing is constantly in a state of flux. What works today might be completely obsolete tomorrow. If your brand is still continuing to use the same techniques in 2019 as you did in the previous year, expect to see declining results. To ensure your brands stay on top of its digital marketing game this year, here are nine of the most important trends to stay ahead of.
The online space in India is set to get even more colourful and diverse. As even larger numbers of users get access to low-cost internet and affordable mobile phones, there will be a greater demand for internet content in the languages they understand best. To cater to this growing internet audience, brands need to push vernacular to the front and centre of their digital marketing strategy. Right from their websites, to their apps, social media campaigns, performance advertising and even social media listening, Indic languages should be the focus.
Speaking to regional audiences involves more than just taking a brand’s main communication and translating it into various languages. Instead, it requires them to develop communications aimed specifically at these audiences, keeping their unique needs, challenges and desires at the core. Only by doing this can they create that all-important personal connection with consumers. 22 Languages, one of the top vernacular startups, is designed specifically to help brands reach out to a larger audience in vernacular languages.
Read our case study on How Multilingual Ads Helped Generate Higher-Quality Leads With Lower CPL to learn how vernacular techniques can produce unprecedented results for your brand.
The seeds of voice search were sowed back in 2018, but it is in 2019 that this trend will fully come into its own. Today, it isn’t just mobile that’s driving voice search, but the proliferation of smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Voice Assistant. The push for voice search will also be coming from the other end of the spectrum, from users who are just starting to use the internet or who might not even know how to type. But regardless of who the audience for voice search is, one thing is certain: SEO as we know it will have to change. Traditional keyword research will become obsolete since user queries will be completely different when using voice search. Voice also means that position zero, the ‘featured snippet’ will become even more coveted. 99% of voice search results draw from the featured snippet, so content creators will have to focus even harder on optimising their content for Google to pick it up.
Be sure to watch our detailed video on a complete guide to Voice Search Marketing for more tips and insights.
While videos have been around for decades, they have only recently started exploding on digital platforms and social media. In 2019, if your brand doesn’t have a strong repertoire of engaging, high-quality videos, you could be missing out on a sizeable audience. YouTube, the world’s second largest search engine, can become even more essential in 2019. Through techniques like YouTube SEO, brands can ensure that their content is visible to relevant audiences. For tips on how to rank your videos, read our in-depth article: YouTube SEO Tips: The Secret Sauce to Ranking Your Videos in 2019.
But the importance of videos extends beyond just YouTube. Videos on landing pages and in emails have been shown to improve performance and conversions. Facebook is also witnessing a growing popularity of videos. In one survey, around 44% of respondents admitted to watching at least 5 videos every day on the platform.
As videos gain momentum, multiple video formats are also being developed and explored. Interactive videos are emerging as a popular option due to the higher user engagement they deliver. In these videos, users are required to take some form of action which can influence the video. This could be either in terms of the content displayed or the storyline that the video takes. Apart from interactive content, live videos are also creating a stir. Currently, they are available on Instagram and Facebook, while YouTube is also starting to introduce it. Live videos are a great way for brands to showcase ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage and develop a more personal connect with their audience.
Chatbots have been slowly making an entry from 2017, however, chatbots in 2019 will be more intelligent than ever before. Most chatbots currently have a limited script, usually offering a fixed set of options that users can choose from. Once the query is narrowed down, users are often transferred to a human representative to resolve it. With the advent of AI, however, chatbots are likely to completely replace the human aspect previous involved. They are programmed to be smarter, respond to a wide number of queries in a meaningful way and resolve issues without requiring any human intervention. In fact, through AI, chatbots are likely to be able to keep up a long conversation with users without coders having to input a long script beforehand. As the technology matures, you can expect chatbots to become even more ubiquitous as brands capitalise on their low cost and higher efficiency.
AI isn’t just for smarter chatbots; it is also becoming the most accurate way for brands to identify their core audience and develop core messaging for them. Through a combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence, predictive customer analytics can eliminate much of the guesswork involved with digital marketing.
One way they do this is by assigning a ‘lead score’ to leads generated. AI can analyse large volumes of leads at a time, identify common patterns, group them into various buckets based on their behaviour and help you create hyper-personalised content for them. Since personalisation is key to nurturing leads, AI can almost certainly lead to higher conversions for marketers. AI can also identify similarities in current consumers and generate custom targeting options that marketers can utilise to ensure more accurate delivery of ads. This will help improve the quality of leads generated via digital.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was a crucial mobile ranking factor for websites in 2018. In 2019, the importance of AMP will not be limited to mobiles alone. Google recently made AMP available for desktops versions of websites as well. With this feature, users will be able to enjoy the same speed and easy navigation that AMP offers even while browsing on their desktop.
With the introduction of this feature, it’s time for brands to re-look at their website and how user-friendly it is. By making their websites (or at least critical, content-heavy sections like blogs) AMP-friendly, brands might be able to enjoy greater visibility on search engines. Since AMP pages are also easier for users to navigate through, an improved UX can encourage them to spend more time on the website and learn more information about the brand.
In 2019, almost 65% of all digital media buying will be programmatic. Programmatic is without a doubt the most cost-effective, efficient way for advertisers to purchase digital ad space. Unlike previous methods which required human intervention and manual bids, programmatic algorithms can determine the best media mix and automatically purchase it. This technology enables marketers to reach a scale previously unthought of. They can target larger audiences over a wider variety of channels with absolutely no time or effort lost. Since it can optimise in real-time, markets can do a lot more with their budgets and reduce their cost-per-leads.
With every new SERP feature that Google introduced, organic traffic takes a hit. Click-through-rates have been steadily dropping and 2019 will be a continuation of this trend. Answer boxes, for instance, answers a user’s query without them having to actually click on a link. So while your page might show up on a featured snippet, you might not notice a significant rise in organic traffic to that page.
So does this mean the sun has set on the SEO empire? Fortunately, no. This just means that marketers will need to re-align their SEO strategy. For example, they will need to start focusing more on creating brand awareness and driving up brand searches. When users start searching for your company’s name, Google cannot prevent users from clicking on your website. It also means tailoring your content specifically for higher click-through rates. You need to give users enough information that Google picks it up and displays it, but not enough for their curiosity to be satisfied. If users are only getting half an answer from your snippet, they are more likely to click on your page to get the full information.
Previously, organic reach on Facebook had taken a hit, with pages showing close to zero reach without paid promotions. In 2019, all signs are pointing towards Instagram going down the same route. As Instagram grows in popularity and adds new users every minute, it predictably wants brands to start paying for higher reach. If your company page doesn’t have adequate promotional budgets, then it’s time to scale up this year. But while showcasing your brand on Instagram might become more expensive, it’s still completely worth it. India currently has around 71 million active users and this number is only set to grow from here. Clearly, brands cannot afford to neglect this audience, paid or otherwise.
2019 is proving to be an exciting year for brands, giving them opportunities to experiment with new ad formats and strategies. By taking advantage of these upcoming trends, brands can gain a strong lead over their competition.
This article was originally published in Campaign India.
If you're looking for more information into digital marketing trends that will shape India in 2019, do check out our co-founder Vikas' in-depth video below.
As a part of our Second Digital Leadership Summit at Mumbai, a panel discussion was held on the future trends of digital marketing - AI, augmented reality and vernacular content. The two panellists were Ms Channan Sawhney - Head, Digital Marketing, Johnson & Johnson and Mr. Prathyush Kukreja – Head, Product Monetisation at Haptik. The session was moderated by Mr. David Appasamy, Head of Brand & Strategy, Social Beat.
Prathyush from Johnson & Johnson enlightened the
audience on how the perception of AI has changed over the years. He said that
in 2015, AI was just a buzz word and no one really knew what AI was. The
preconceived notion was that AI will automate everything, leading to
unemployment. But, in 2018, the scenario has changed. Expectations have become
realistic and technology has come to a place where it can add value to
achieving the necessary business objectives.
According to Prathyush, this is an era of Conversational AI, a subset of Artificial Intelligence backed with data collected by brands and advertisers. Brands must build conversational AI to communicate with the users based on their behavioural and transactional or historical behaviour. Unlike a television commercial or a radio advertisement, conversational AI is not linear and one-to-one. When you use conversational AI in advertising and branding, each and every customer is unique and the content will be customised according to the needs of that particular user. He further added that Artificial Intelligence considers several other factors such as the buying nature and purchase frequency of the user. This where AI is today. AI is no longer a buzz word today, but, it is a tool of competitive advantage. Currently, brands are competing with each other to develop better AI to deliver better ROI in terms of acquiring users and telling better brand stories.
Channan from Johnson & Johnson said that AI technology is not utilised to its fullest in FMCG industry. If used properly, AI has the power to break the clutter and make the brand stand out. Brands can convey right messages to the user in such a way so as to create a long lasting impact on the audience. Johnson & Johnson is employing AI technology rather than AR. Google and Facebook have already started their AI and AR journey. Other brands have huge benefits from this. But, for FMCG companies, implementation of AI technology is extremely important since this is an industry that communicates with its audience on a day-to-day basis.
According to Channan, consumers are always on a look out for good content on the Internet. In the case of Johnson & Johnson, there is a huge demand for content related to pregnancy and newborn care. It is observed that most of the customers prefer consuming the content in their own local languages. If you are a market leader in a particular industry, it is important to take the lead and provide the kind of content that the consumer is looking for. That’s why Johnson & Johnson has adopted an active native content strategy. One of the biggest priorities for Johnson & Johnson is to strengthen their regional content strategy so as to deliver the right brand messages for the audience in a manner that they want to hear.
Prathyush highlighted the importance of integrating voice search and vernacular content to build the effectiveness of conversational AI. Nowdays, majority of people are accessing the Internet using vernacular languages rather than English. The Internet has witnessed a commendable shift with the introduction of voice search. This technology is much user-friendly in the sense that users can directly talk to the device without even touching it. Hence the power of voice search is immense. According to data from Google, after the introduction of voice search, Hindi is the most preferred language for content consumption. Taking this into consideration, Haptik is also working on developing a conversational AI with vernacular capabilities. Many of the leading advertisers are also leveraging Devanagari scripts and other local languages in their lead generation and branding campaigns on various digital platforms.
Channan cited that one of the biggest wins of investing in AI is that market study has become easier like never before. With the adoption of AI technology, brands can provide efficient solutions to customers in a much faster manner. This technology has the huge power to transform the way in which data is processed and maintained for delivering business results
Prathyush spoke about an interesting campaign that Haptik had conceptualised for the Bollywood movie Thugs of Hindostan. Google Maps was a great digital marketing tool for this movie. When somebody asked for directions, instead of the usual voice, users could hear directions from Aamir Khan himself. These innovations by Google and Facebook can be adopted by companies specialised in AI technology in order to help brands and advertisers offer value to their customers.
Prathyush cited a recent case study on how HDFC Life
executed a branding campaign using AI. The brand wanted to create awareness
about importance on investing in Life Insurance among the millennials. For this
Haptik created an AI personality called Shayari
wala who educated the millennials on the importance of investing in the
form of shayaris. The main reasons why HDFC strategised their campaign in this
way is primarily because millennials love story telling and they consume
content that is fun and quirky.
According to Channan, Augmented Reality is a great
story telling tool for brands if it is used for delivering the right message.
For instance, some of the brands have incorporated AR for product packaging. A
well conceptualised AR lead can communicate great brand stories to the
On the contrary, Prathyush said that the use of AR in
branding and digital marketing is still vague and unclear. There is no clarity
on how brands can measure ROI, drive sales and generate leads using an AR
campaign. Augmented reality is a great platform for education and can be easily
adopted by real estate and gaming industries. But, it will take a few more years
for AR to establish itself in the digital landscape.
AI plays a huge role in automation of ads, said
Prathyush. The time taken for education and lead generation have become much
faster with the use of AI technology. According to Channan, marketing
automation is all about programmatic ads, best custom audiences and precision
marketing that help in delivering right brand messages for the right target audience.
Channan also highlighted the importance for brands to
identify ways to migrate content users to vernacular chatbots. For this, brands
must focus on investing in real time machine learning and customised content
that can play a huge role in understanding your customers, drive sales and
This was indeed an insightful panel discussion and brand strategists from across sectors understood the need for adopting such advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality to drive sales, generate leads and withstand competition.
Ashok Leyland is a pioneer in the commercial vehicle space and is the 12th largest manufacturer of trucks and 4th largest manufacturer of buses in the world. Below is a case study of a video campaign we executed for them.
Being one of the leading manufacturers of trucks in the nation, Ashok Leyland wanted to honour and express their gratitude towards truck drivers for their love, support and unrelenting efforts. The brand was looking for an engaging video with an emotional connection to celebrate the true unsung heroes this Diwali. The objective was to bring out the fact that it is because of the tireless efforts of these truck drivers that the entire world can celebrate Diwali with great pomp and gaiety.
Since a majority of the target group for Ashok Leyland are small business owners from the tier 2 and tier 3 cities of the nation, we took up a multilingual approach for better reach. Affordable data plans and drop in the prices of smartphones has led to an increase in consumption of vernacular content. In this regard, adopting a multilingual marketing strategy is crucial as it has enormous power to influence the next billion internet users in India. Since most of the truck drivers communicate in regional languages, we recommended a Hindi vox-pop video as the best medium due to its engaging and interactive nature. Hence, the video “Diwali Ke Asli hero Kaun Hai?” was born. As part of this vox-pop digital marketing campaign, people were questioned about various aspects of their Diwali celebrations. They were also asked to guess the people who worked continuously without taking a day off even for Diwali. The most common responses of the people were soldiers, doctors, milk vendors and security guards. Few respondents spoke about the role of truck drivers in transporting raw materials from various production hubs. Due to its conversational nature, the video was extremely powerful in recognising the valuable contributions of the truck drivers towards nation building.
“Diwali Ke Asli hero Kaun hai?” was promoted on all the major social networking channels of Ashok Leyland with the hashtag #YehDiwaliBadiNirali. This was also one of the most trending vernacular vox-pop videos of 2018. The video garnered over 2.5 lakh views across platforms with 3.1K comments and 400+ shares. Another highlighting feature of this video is that it was extremely successful in tapping the emotional chord of the audience. The viewers were enlightened on how happiness reaches them with the help of these truck drivers. The campaign has greatly uplifted Ashok Leyland into a socially responsible brand by throwing a positive light on the company and portraying it as a goodwill ambassador of its stakeholders.
These numbers are proof that multilingual marketing is the way to go. The reach of vernacular content and interactive nature of videos go hand-in-hand in widening your audience and telling your brand story. For more tips on how to rank your videos, read our in-depth article: YouTube SEO Tips: The Secret Sauce to Ranking Your Videos in 2019.
A billion faces and a million tongues – there’s no better way to describe a country as culturally and linguistically diverse as India. According to the latest census, there are 22 major languages written in 13 different scripts and over 19, 500 dialects.
The recent and comprehensive ‘Year in Search’ report by Google India shed light on the way Indians consume content. With close to 450 million internet users, the report projects that number to go up to 650 million by 2020.
Taking advantage of affordable smartphones and low-cost data plans, India’s digital growth story has shifted from the metros to Tier I and Tier II cities.
Another April 2017 report by KPMG and Google showed two key findings:
Suffice to say these vast numbers clearly indicate a potential for vernacular content in India’s digital market and the overall growth of regional content online. Considering how these numbers can drive and impact digital use and revenue, there are now several startups that have chosen to focus on indigenous content to enable and accommodate India’s next billion Internet users.
Here’s a quick rundown of the top twelve vernacular startups in India:
Founded in 2009, DailyHunt is one of India’s leading news and local language content platforms. The brainchild of former Nokia employees, Chandrashekar Sohoni and Umesh Kulkarni, DailyHunt is headquartered in Bengaluru and offers its users over 100,000 news articles in 14 vernacular languages licensed form 800 publication partners daily. Daily hunt also lets you advertise on their platform, making it convenient for marketers to target the right audience.
22 Languages is a platform that helps brands create content in 22 official Indian languages. With this, you can create ads, website ads, Apps and blogs in local languages. With a large network of native writers, this platform is perfect for brands that are looking to tap the next billion users with their multilingual marketing strategies.
In an attempt to leverage and drive the number of vernacular content users, ShareChat proposes to be India’s answer to Facebook, Twitter and similar social networking platforms. Headquartered in Bengaluru, ShareChat was founded in 2015 by IIT-Kanpur alumni Bhanu Singh Pratap, Farid Ahsan and Ankush Sachdeva. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, ShareChat enables users to post and share videos, songs, images and other content, as well as discover content that is topical and trending. Users can interact with content in several Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu, etc.
Roposo is a social media sharing platform that lets its users create images, video and other shareable content using editing tools. Based out of Gurugram, Roposo was founded in 2012 by IIT Delhi alumni Avinash Saxena, Mayank Bhangadia and Kaushal Shubhank. The app is currently available in 8 languages namely Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada Gujarati, Punjabi and Bengali, for users to explore and expresses themselves in. Roposo further plans to introduce languages like Odiya and Assamese among others and state that users can share content on their app without the risk of their message being lost in translation.
Similar to Roposo, Clip App is a digital media video sharing startup that lets users watch, create, edit and share funny videos and images in the local and regional languages. With over 97% of videos in India being consumed in non-English languages, this platform can be used to find and edit videos for a brand’s social media. The content created can then be shared on various platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. The Bengaluru-based startup was founded in March 2017 by Ashish Gupta, Nav Agarwala and Swapnil Upadhyay. Clip App is available for download on the Google Play Store.
Founded in 2017 by Mayank Bidawatka and Aprameya Radhakrishna, Vokal is a P2P knowledge-sharing platform that enables its users to ask queries and receive responses in the local language of their choice in the form of audio. The founders wanted to provide Indians accessing the internet in their vernacular, the chance to assimilate quality indigenous content.
Based out of New Delhi, BetterButter is a recipe-discovery platform that allows its users to discover and share local, regional and international recipes in their indigenous languages. Founded in 2015 by Sukhmani Bedi and Niyaz Laiq, BetterButter has a repository of over 50,000 recipes and videos. The site currently offers its recipes in Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and English and is gearing up to add Gujarati, Telugu and Bengali in the first quarter of 2018-19.
BetterButter’s Hindi service was launched in March 2017 and has seen more than two lakh hits, while Tamil reached over 25,000. Marathi, started in December 2017, saw over 5,000.
It is safe to say that Chatbots are the next big digital marketing wave and a personal way of connecting with your customers. Using this strategy for your website can increase leads and help you understand your customers better. But what if your customers prefer vernacular content? That is where Vernacular.ai comes in.
It provides its clients with multi-lingual chatbots to help their users interact in their preferred local language. The AI-enabled startup utilises National Language Processing to create its products. Headquartered in Bengaluru and founded in 2016 by Sourabh Gupta, Akshay Deshraja and Manoj Sarda, Vernacular.ai’s chatbots enable businesses to provide their users with a seamless customer experience enhanced by Artificial Intelligence and multi-lingual support.
Samosa Labs is a chat entertainment app based out of Hyderabad and provides its users with a platform to create audio files and GIFs that can be shared across Facebook and WhatsApp and other social media platforms. In order to penetrate the regional language market, Samosa Labs gives its users the ability to create content in several Indian languages. It was founded in 2015 by Rahul Reddy Koora, Abhilash Inumella and Abhimanyu Pamulapati.
Bengaluru-based local news startup, Lokal is the newest one to join the pack. Founded in July 2018 by Vishal Chaudhary and Jani Pasha, Lokal provides users with a platform to read local news based on their location and choice of local language. The news is delivered through a curated network of local journalists in a given area and freelancers. You can download the Lokal app from Google Play Store.
NewsDog is a news aggregator founded in 2016. It aims to provide Indian users with content in 10 different Indian languages. Based out of Beijing, the startup was founded by Maggie Ma and Forrest Chen and currently serves 50 million users.
With Voice being one of the newest marketing segments poised for exponential growth in the near future, a number of companies are looking to ride that wave. Bootstrapped firm Agrahyah Technologies is one of them. Founded in Mumbai in October 2016, Agrahyah Technologies is the brain-child of Sreeraman Thiagarajan, Uppal Shah and Rushabh Vasa. The software company is a solutions provider for voice-first platforms like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, etc. Their suite of Indian language digital content, mobile apps and voice products aims to help the average Indian access the internet by removing the barrier of English.
Regional languages have the power like no other to truly connect with your target audience. For example, our YouTube channel Arrear Irundalum Career helps budding entrepreneurs to make it big in life with useful insights shared in Tamil. Check out one of our best-performing videos below. Be sure to also visit our Arrear Irundalum Career website for further career guidance tips in Tamil.
India is a multilingual nation in the true sense of the word, and now startups and established companies alike are looking to tap into the power of vernacular interface and content. We at Social Beat, too, have witnessed first-hand the power of vernacular content by coming up with a ground-breaking social media campaign in regional content for our client Cholamandalam Finance.
India is at a crucial moment in its digital story where it is slowly emerging as the most important internet audience in the world. While the global number of internet user growth has more or less peaked at around 10 percent annually, India’s internet users grew by an incredible 28 percent up until 2016. Currently, there are about 450,000,000 internet users in India and going by current trends, 635.8 million Indians will be online by 2021. These developments offer both a unique opportunity and a challenge for brands. In order to make full use of the growing digital audience, brands need to find the best strategy to engage with the next billion internet users in India.
Indians are a sizeable presence across almost every major digital platform. Facebook is, by far, the most popular social media platform, with 240 million Indians users and most accessing it through their phones. These numbers prove that Facebook is a goldmine for brands looking to engage with their audience in the most impactful way. By effectively utilising the top tools for social media analytics, brands can understand their consumers better and create more targeted campaigns.
There are currently 225 million Indians on YouTube, making it the second most used digital platform in India. This is significant, because YouTube ads can be a very effective way to attract and engage new consumers. There are also 50 million Instagram users in India, while there are 45 million Indians on LinkedIn. WhatsApp has quickly surpassed the previously used SMS as India’s favourite text messaging service. 240 million Indians use WhatsApp daily to send around 50 billion messages globally. This points towards the use of WhatsApp for business becoming increasingly important for brands.
While internet usage in India has been steadily growing over the years, there was a definite tipping point where the number of internet users in India exploded. There are two main catalysts for this development: the availability of low cost smartphones and most significant of all, the launch of Reliance Jio. Jio started its services in September 2016 with a bang, offering its users free data. Even once the offer ended, the data plans for Jio remained much lower in comparison to other network providers. This sudden easy access to the internet led to India having the highest amount of data consumption in the world. Of the 150 crore GB consumed by Indians, 100 crore GB was consumed through the Jio network alone. What is perhaps the most exciting part is that internet penetration currently stands at only 27 percent. This means that the number of Indians online is only going to grow from here, offering a huge advantage for brands.
With India’s internet audience growing by the minute, the stage is set for brands to tap into this huge market and engage with their consumers. Consumer engagement requires brands to realign their priorities from solely revenue-generation to actually creating value for their consumers. In India, brands can do this in a number of ways.
In order to create content that consumers will actually find valuable, brands need to know who they’re speaking to. By 2020, almost 40 percent of all internet users in India will be women. This points towards the growing importance of creating content that women will find relevant. Doing so will also involve challenging long-held assumptions with regards to gender and interest areas. For example, 60 percent of those who shopped for sporting goods and viewed related videos on YouTube were not men, but women. Additionally, 60% of those who searched for car-related information online were also women. Having an intimate understanding of audiences can help brands generate content that their users will actually find valuable. This is a crucial step in building a relationship with audiences.
Brands can create user-centric content to rank organically on Google as well as on YouTube. For tips on how to rank your videos, read our in-depth article: YouTube SEO Tips: The Secret Sauce to Ranking Your Videos in 2019.
One of the most interesting characteristics of India’s internet usage is that most Indians haven’t followed the general pattern of internet adoption. While globally, most people first used a computer and then migrated to mobile phones, Indians seem to have skipped the computer stage completely. According to a survey by Statcounter, Indians use their phones to access the internet almost 80 percent of the time. This means that brands should be producing content specifically designed for mobile phones if they want to engage the next billion internet consumers.
While the number of English-speaking internet users in India is largely static, the number of regional language users is growing at a breakneck pace. One of the key reasons for this growth is internet penetration in tier II and III cities, along with villages. Digital marketing is constantly evolving in tier II and tier III cities and brands need to take note of this growth. In fact, Google estimates that about 30% of users in India are from rural areas. If brands want to develop a personal relationship with their consumers, then a strong regional language strategy is crucial. Tamil is the leading regional language used among internet users in India with 42 percent while 39 percent of users are Hindi-speaking.
Voice search in India might still be in the nascent stage at the moment, but it is growing at a steady rate. Google estimates that 28 percent of all searches are voice searches. Even more promising is the fact that there has been a 400 percent growth in Hindi voice search. Voice search has vast implications for SEO because traditional keywords aren’t used when speaking naturally. For brands, this means that they have to find new ways to become discoverable through voice search results to stay visible on digital platforms.
Adding call extensions to your ads can significantly increase click-through rates as well as conversion rates. But with a sizeable number of mobile users in India, especially in smaller cities and towns, using prepaid connections, the cost of making a call might stop them from contacting your business. This is why AdWords has recently rolled out a ‘Missed Call’ feature which can help address this concern. When a user selects the Missed Call option on an ad, a call is placed and is then immediately cut. After this, the user will receive an automated call telling them to stay on the line while their call is connected to the business. During the same time, the business will also receive a call from Google. Once both the user and the business are on the call, they will be connected to each other. This feature can help brands engage with their consumers better as well as track conversions more effectively.
Digital marketing allows brands to not just speak to their consumers, but also to listen to them in return. This unique opportunity for a two-way conversation is crucial for building consumer engagement. To be able to have a meaningful conversation, brands need to understand exactly who their audience is, where their interests lie and what their concerns are. In the context of the current Indian audience trends, brands can only reach out to the next billion internet users once they look beyond the urban metros.
The Indian internet audience is more diverse than ever before. Only by gaining a deep understanding of India’s unique audience can brands develop marketing strategies that will resonate with their consumers.
With the Indian real estate space getting increasingly crowded, it has become a significant challenge for developers to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In order to stand out, real estate developers need to try something unique to gain the upper hand. With the tier II and tier III cities being active on the Internet and most of them using vernacular language to consume content, Casagrand formulated an innovative vernacular ad strategy to engage with India’s next billion internet users. Here’s how Casagrand utilised vernacular content in their ads as one of their key real estate digital marketing strategies to reach this market and achieve an incredible 90 percent increase in leads.
Casagrand Builders is one of the biggest real estate developers in South India, with a large presence in Chennai as well as projects in Bangalore and Coimbatore. They are committed to building aspirations and providing homes that offer families the highest quality and value. Casagrand had two main objectives:
In order to meet these objectives, we formulated a multi-targeted approach which would capture the attention of potential buyers at various stages of the buying process. This would ensure that Casagrand would occupy a high position in the consumer’s mind space and give it an edge over its competitors. To do this, we utilised three main strategies:
According to the Google and KPMG report, the number of regional language speakers online in India will reach 76 million within the next five years. As this audience base grows in size and influence, it’s important that brands start creating multilingual content targeted towards them. Casagrand capitalised on this opportunity and developed a regional language-focused approach in their marketing strategy. We identified the Tamil-speaking consumers as the primary target audience since most of Casagrand’s projects are located in Chennai. Based on this, we began developing vernacular ads in Tamil so we could reach out to these consumers directly. We used vernacular ads extensively for specific projects like Casagrand Uptown. Speaking to this regional audience in the language they were most comfortable with, Casagrand was able to develop a relationship built on trust and comfort with their target audience. This played a pivotal role in helping us generate high-quality leads for Casagrand.
We identified the Google Display Network as the most effective way to reach our target audience to create maximum impact. Google Display Network allows us to find the right target audience and deliver our message contextually. One of the tools we used to maximise reach through custom affinity audiences. Building bucketed Custom Affinity Audiences allowed us to reach out to our specific target audience to ensure the right people were coming across our message. Gmail Ads displayed at the top of a user’s inbox also proved very effective in creating awareness and generating leads.
One of the most important ways digital marketing is transforming the real estate sector, is by creating brand awareness right from the initial stages of the buying process. As one of Casagrand’s primary objectives was to occupy the mind space of potential buyers, maintaining a high impression share across relevant keywords was very important. Through competitive bids on generic keywords (eg. 2 BHK apartments in Chennai), as well a brand-specific keywords, we ensured that users would continuously come across Casagrand’s ads in their search results. This helped increase the number of quality leads generated.
Through this extensive and in-depth approach, we were able to generate an unprecedented increase in the number of leads for Casagrand. Our strategy of utilising vernacular ads helped grow Casagrand’s leads by 90 percent QoQ and also increased the overall click volume by 85 percent QoQ. Vernacular ads were extensively utilised in the Casagrand Uptown project marketing strategy, with 50 percent of total spends being allocated to Indic Display Creatives and targeting. This approach delivered significantly higher leads and a CPL that was 60 percent lower than that of normal display creatives. These results prove that vernacular ads offer massive benefits not just in terms of increasing brand awareness, but also in delivering higher ROI.
As the number of regional language users growing at a faster pace than English language users, they are quickly becoming one of the most important segments for brands to focus on. The phenomenal results Casagrand achieved by implementing a strong vernacular ad strategy is proof that brands cannot afford to ignore India’s regional audience. To learn more about our work with Casagrand, you can also read how we helped Casagrand generate a record 190 crores in revenue via Facebook.
In today's competitive digital space, Social Beat and Murugappa are proud to have bagged four prestigious awards at MADDYS 2018 - a flagship event hosted by the Advertising Club Madras. MADDYS identifies and appreciates creative brilliance and industry benchmarks in media agencies from across the nation in more than 30 creative and media-oriented categories. 2018 witnessed the 37th edition of the MADDYS which was indeed a special one for us! We won 4 MADDYS in the following categories:
These awards were presented to us for our ground-breaking work on the Netizen campaign. Read on to know more.
Have you ever heard of the saying “If it is not on Social Media, it’s like it never happened”? Most of us are so addicted to social sharing platforms that the moment we spot something even remotely cute or unusual, our first instinct is to capture and share it. How would you feel if someone kept telling you what their day is looking like?
There is no doubt that social media has taken over our lives and has become an alternate universe that showcases the supernatural life we love to portray. However, in this quest to show the world how perfect we are, we tend to go overboard and become bad netizens. Addressing this issue, the Murugappa Group has come up with a series of funny yet thought-provoking videos that remind us how we are unintentionally causing havoc in the online space. They also create awareness on the right usage of social media. From snippets targeting the over-sharers in Social Media to the those who constantly update their feed with outdated posts, each video has a clerly cut-out target group with the common aspect of relatability.
With a total of over 14 million views on Facebook, almost 2 million on Youtube and 1.5 lakh shares across social media, it is safe to say that the "Good netizen good citizen" campaign has broken the internet. One of the the most popular videos is Update Azhagi.
As the name suggests, Update Azhagi is a shout-out to all the obsessive sharers in the digital world. These people love to share every instant of their day with the rest of the world, not realizing that their followers also include mere acquaintances and borderline strangers who really do not need to know every detail. If this post reminds you of an Update Azhagi in your life, tag them and let them know how you feel about it. After all, sharing is caring!
This video currently has reached more than 6 million people with 70,000 shares and is almost touching 5 million views. Since this video was conceptualised in Tamil, it was well accepted by the Tamil speaking community, proving that multilingual marketing can be a great approach.
Watch this space for more humorous videos with strong messages to ensure we all strive to be good netizens.
There is no doubt that reaching your target audience through vernacular content is one of the biggest trends of digital marketing. Though the early internet users in the nation are predominantly fluent in English, marketers have noticed that the current crop of digital-savvy individuals find multilingual content much more engaging and relatable. Keeping a tab on this trend, many brands have leveraged the reach of vernacular content to engage with India’s next billion internet users.
We, at Social Beat, took advantage of the reach of vernacular content and the engagement of video content to come up with a ground-breaking social media campaign for our client Cholamandalam Finance. Since the brand mostly caters to small-business owners and entrepreneurs from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, we targeted their audience with an animated video featuring the life lessons we can learn from an ant. The video was initially made in English and gained a traction reach of 409,609 with 3k shares. Seeing these numbers, we released the same video in Hindi which went viral.
The Hindi video currently has reached 2.2 million views with 94% of it being organic. Furthermore, 2 million of these views are unique. The post has reached 7 million users through 79k shares and 50k reactions. These stats are a testimony to the fact that the digital space is evolving and adapting itself to the needs and preferences of its new breed of internet users.
Need more convincing that vernacular is the need of the hour? Follow our Hindi YouTube channel Paisa Pujari for financial tips for individuals from all walks of life. Here's a video to get you started: