The team at Social Beat is ecstatic to announce that in recognition of its excellent performance and contribution to the field of digital marketing, its co-founder Suneil Chawla has been awarded the Outstanding Digital Person Of the Year award at the Digital Marketing Conclave & Awards 2014 conducted by Think Media Inc and VIT University Business School.
The conclave was held at Hotel Trident, Chennai on the 25th July, 2014 and hosted eminent speakers including Prof. Dr. M.J. Xavier - Former Director IIM (R) & Executive Director, VIT University; Mr. Vijay MichihitoBatra - Motivational Speaker, Author & Founder – Think Media Inc and Professor Jagdish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Emory University Goizueta Business School.
The jury for the awards included Rajat Batra, CEO Sternum Asia; Ranjith Ramanujam, Director and Lead Architect of Netrix Software Services; KV Nagendar Prasad, COO, HITEX Exhibition Centre; Samir Patra, Director, Branding & Strategy, BrandEx, India and Rama Brahmam, Director UX Design at Think Design Collaborative Pvt. Ltd.
In a recent report by Assocham, it was reported that Real estate firms throughout India spend about Rs 2,500 crore annually on publicity across different media and digital marketing apparently accounts for about 25 per cent with a share of about Rs 625 crore. In our experience, this percentage is much lower and is in single digit percentages. That being said, it is on the rise. For instance, Tata Housing expects online home sales to make up for 30% of total revenue over the next 3-5 years.
I recently spoke at ET conference on Digital Marketing for Real Estate Companies and below are they key takeaways from the day long conference that was held in Delhi.
The Indian home buyer has changed over the year’s - younger, tech-savvy but still carry out extensive research
Jogy Thomas, the CEO of real estate firm ATS Greens was on the panel with me and he had interesting insights on how the consumer has changed over the years. 25 years back when they started, the average buyer’s age was over 50. Of course, the financial markets and availability of loans was not easy then and hence the buyers needed a lifetime of savings to buy a house. Fast forwarding to today, the fastest growing segment of buyers is between the age of 30 to 45 and some even in their mid twenty’s. Easy availability of loans and with the ability to pay over a course of 15 or 20 years has driven consumption.
One thing that has still not changed is the fact that home buying is a family decision and not an individual’s impulse decision. Most buyers carry out a lot of research and consult family and friends before taking the big decision of buying a house. This means, it’s a very social process and real estate companies need to take into the mind of the lifetime value of their previous customers and how their social circle can be impacted by the experience they had.
Digital is being used by more than 50% of home buyers
Guneet Singh, Head of Consumer Marketing for Google India pointed out a recent study by Google and Zinnov which showed that more than half of home buyers are influenced by their online research, so it’s not a segment that can be ignored. Another interesting insight from Jogy from ATS Greens was about their affordable housing projects which range between 7 to 12 lakhs. He pointed that more than 50% of the buyers for this project interact with them over email. So, the question real estate companies need to ask themselves is which medium – digital, OOH, TV or print gives them better ROI .
Manish Vij from SVG Group who was also on the panel with me has had experience in ecommerce and media selling. He pointed that the biggest benefit of going digital is the ability to target the right audience and measure the impact. So, depending on the project, one can identify the right digital channels and target the right demographics to get results. So if it’s a premium project maybe Linkedin and display ads across business news sites (Money control, Economic Times) might be more relevant.
ROI can be in the form of lead generation or brand building
Since real estate companies have always spent on mass media, they have never had a ROI approach to their marketing. On the other hand, digital marketing is driven by ROI. As Sachin Kapur, CMO of Groupon pointed out during another panel discussion, culturally Indians have a trust deficiency compared to the West. This means, that ROI cannot be just about lead generation. While digital can give 2.5x to 3x better ROI (read our previous blog post on this), brand building needs to be an important goal for the digital marketing efforts.
Companies need to build a community on social media to create the trust. For example, project updates to showcase that the timelines are being met can be a great way to build trust with existing customers. A 360 degree walk through of the project on the other hand can be a good way to build trust in prospective customers. While consumers research online, they do see reviews of previous customers and this is when online reputation management becomes important. Another insight from the Google & Zinnov study was that many consumers pointed at the lack of accurate, in depth and updated information on the developers and aggregators. Companies need to use their website and social media to communicate the right information on a regular basis to tackle this.
Analytics can make or break the sales funnel
While digital is more measurable than any other medium, it is important for real estate companies to use the analytics for key actionables. For example, using sales and marketing automation systems, the real estate companies can identify what the top leads that the Pre Sales team can follow up with. Analytics tracked over a few weeks (or months) can throw up data on which source of digital marketing is working better for which projects. This can be then be used to take decisions on marketing spends for future projects. In the absence of analytics and data points, it’s difficult to optimise campaigns. Real time tracking now helps in taking quick decisions which can impact the sales funnel.
Messaging needs to vary depending on purpose of home buying
While there are no readily available stats, but home buyers in India can be split into buyers who want to move into the house after buying and buyers who are using in an investment. The kind of messaging and digital channels required for these two would be very different. While a home buyer might need a more emotional messaging of buying a dream house, an investor mindset requires messaging which showcases that it makes business sense to buy the house.
If you are interested in knowing more about how and social media marketing can help your real estate business, please contact us.
Read our comprehensive guide for digital marketing for real estate for a more in-depth analysis.
Anuradha Nair and Sunil Elango from Social Beat attended the GDayX event organized by Google Business Group - Chennai last month. The event which was held in Hindustan University, Padur included inspiring sessions, business presentations, a panel discussion and an unconference on latest trends in digital marketing and internet technologies from various speakers including Sunil Rao, the country head of Google Outreach programs. The conclave had a good mix of entrepreneurs, social media experts, SEO professionals and web developers. Below is a partial list of key takeaways from the day-long conclave.
Google India has launched an ambitious initiative to empower women in India. This initiative aims to bring 50 million Indian women online by the end of 2014. On August 20th 2013, Mark Zuckerberg released a draft plan titled “Is Connectivity a Human Right?” that explained in depth how to make world more open and connected. Exactly three months later, now, Google India comes up with this commendable initiative to make women aware the benefits of Internet and how it could uplift their lives and their families.
The Digital Divide
As per the IAMAI report, the number of Internet users in India has reached 205 million this October. We are all set to overtake the United States as the second largest country in the world after China in online penetration. Yet, only 30% of the women users in India have access to Internet which is a stark contrast. Google aims to decrease this disparity by bringing 50 million women users online by the end of 2014. But, that is definitely not going to be a cakewalk taking into account the online penetration in rural India. In rural India, there were 68 million internet users in October and it is estimated to reach 72 million by December 2013, says the IAMAI report. Also, 40% of the internet users use community service centers and cyber cafes in rural India. This clearly indicates the lack of access points to surf the web in rural India.
About the initiative
‘Help Women Get Online’ is a website launched by Google to kick-start this campaign. Google has also planned for a mass media campaign including a TV commercial to promote its exclusively designed website. The website has a number of step-by-step guides on various topics including computer basics, internet skills, chat & email and watching videos online. Each topic has different chapters ranging from how to start and shut down your computer, how to create an e-mail account and of course, how to download Chrome. In addition, the website also offers contents on various interests of women such as childcare tips, household tips, beauty tips and cooking/recipes tips. It also provides assistance through toll free helpline at 1800-41-999-77. All learning materials and video tutorials are available both in Hindi and English.
To accomplish the target, Google has joined hands with a number of partners like HUL, Johnson & Johnson, Axis Bank and Babyoye. For example, Shaadi.com is the partner to offer Relationship Tips. So, whenever someone clicks on Relationship Tips, they are bound to visit Shaadi.com which is nothing but more visibility for the partner’s website. Interestingly, Google also has a “Partner with us” option in the website to invite brands to partner with Google to provide internet access points across the country and help spread awareness about the campaign.
All we can do is educate the women in our family and our neighborhood about the basics of Internet. That would be one of the first steps to empower women and for an inclusive growth in the digital world.
The day started with the long journey to SRM, situated in the outskirts of Chennai. "Aaruush" is SRM's techno-management fest (but they do have a pro show; mind you) and 'Unconference' is the event for which Vikas Chawla was invited to be one of the panelists. Down to SRM auditorium. We're warmly welcomed by the hospitality team and met one of the other panelists, Raghav Srinivas, an interesting persona with interests ranging from neural science to social media to philosophy. And in next few minutes, we're duly joined by the other panelists. One of them is a lawyer in High Court, Aruna Ganesh, who holds the credit for handling Chennai's first cyber crime case. And the other one is a fascinating person, J Walt, a professional who performs on virtual reality video concerts (also, he is the one doing the pro show). And, our own Vikas Chawla, a multi-faceted personality who is experienced in Marketing, Sales, HR and currently the Co-Founder of Social Beat. That's all about the diversified panelists.
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The screen goes up "UNCONFERENCE : Social Media - SOS or LOL" (You guys can always google SOS and find out what it is, I did that too). And the whole conference was moderated by a student called Arvind, who was articulate enough to put forth what the audience thought and kept the momentum going. For most of the time, the discussion was confined only to Facebook and other social media platforms were not exploited at all, let alone twitter.
The debate started off with the clichéd "How many of you check out Facebook the moment you wake up and before you go to bed" question, to which except the wall (not the Facebook wall) in the auditorium, everyone raised their hands. Let me quote few excerpts and anecdotes shared thereafter. Vikas said "Facebook says the most visited page of a user is their own profile." Raghav added the brain connection to this, "The impact of pre-frontal cortex plays a huge role in our subconscious thinking." Then, the discussion gradually moved on to the grey area - the legalities governing internet in India- which was neatly elucidated by Aruna Ganesh. Most of the audience was not aware of the IT Act 66A and the legal implications. Thanks to my Twitter TL during the most happening days, it didn't seem Greek and Roman to me at least. Aruna spoke in length various issues concerning the netizens and quoted few brilliant examples. For instance, she told "A person from Oman filed a complaint with the Chennai police stating that he was guaranteed employment by a party here. He submitted the e-mails sent to him by the employer. The cyber crime branch tracked the IP address to the complainant's personal laptop. Then came the shocking revelation that the complainee was found to be none other than his own son." J.Walt quipped on this bizarre act as "What a rotten kid! How messed up this family is." He pitched in good amount of humor time and again that left us all in splits.
The crux of the discussion and also the crucial takeaway was the IT Act 66A. Our ignorance on the law of the land governing social media was a grim reminder to all. Also, there was an interesting student in the audience who actually echoed everyone's feelings by saying "I post a really good and sensible status - 10 likes. And my girl shares it - 100 likes." And he also questioned why people are not taking responsibilities. Vikas made a quick reply saying "Responsibility has to come from within. You should be the change you wish to see in the world."
Unconference finally came to an end with various thoughts and conclusions consolidated and narrated perfectly by Arvind. So, who had the last laugh? Social Media :)