Digital Transformation

Marketing during and post Covid 19 – Guide for Indian Marketers

  • Rhea
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  • 22 April , 2020
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    • 6 min read

There are few instances in a brand's lifetime when it encounters a real litmus test. A test to see if the brand values it professes and communicates time and again to its audience are genuine or just marketing fluff. Today, we see ourselves right in the midst of this test. As the Covid-19 coronavirus spreads rapidly across the world with a complete disregard for national borders, class or gender, communities everywhere are seeing a complete overhaul of 'life as we know it'. In this time, marketing, which has always focused on staying relevant by leveraging trending topics, sees itself in a conflict. Not creating posts around the coronavirus might make the brand sound out of touch, but talking about the virus for the sake of it can come across as insensitive. 

So how does a brand stay true to its values and build equity during these challenging times? Here are some essential points every brand should keep in mind. 

Do not stall marketing activities

It's clear that the overall public health crisis and the drastic changes in buying behaviour caused by the Coronavirus have led the economy to go into a slowdown. In fact, the economic impact of the Coronavirus is expected to continue long after the last patient is treated. While companies across sectors have been hit, the biggest blow has undoubtedly been to the travel and hospitality industry. The chart below illustrates this best.

If you are noticing a steep fall in your organic and paid traffic, it might be tempting to pause all activities until the situation stabilizes. However, sustaining marketing during the Coronavirus period is important because it ensures that you don't lose brand visibility and recall among your target audience. Pausing your campaigns could mean that you will have to work twice as hard to regain your brand presence once the Coronavirus disappears. We recommend that brands continue to invest in brand marketing, even if it’s at a minimal level.

While marketing your products and services might not result in any impact at a time like this, you can start posting positive and informative content that can help your consumers. Posts that create public health awareness or uplift your audience's spirits during this time can be the best way forward.

Steer clear from scare tactics

With so much false information making the rounds, it's important that brands stay true to official facts stated by the world's leading health organizations. Given the immense reach and power to influence that every brand has, it's crucial that we evaluate every piece of information we put out. Brands should also keep a close eye on the tone of their communications. Doomsday-esque messages might bring in the shares and engagement, but our responsibility as brands is greater than that. Always include credible sources whenever you share a post on Coronavirus facts or safety tips. This could go a long way in ensuring every person takes the necessary safety precautions to combat the virus.

In one survey of what customers expect from brands during the coronavirus period, 28% said that brands should be a trusted source of information, while 27% said that brands should attack the crisis and show that it can be fought and 15% said that brands should offer practical advice that can help consumers face their new normal. Achieving these three goals can help your brand far more than sending out negative messages can.

You can learn more about the survey and other strategies to build a strong marketing plan in times of crisis through this video.

 

Build goodwill through user-centric initiatives

The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic doesn't necessarily mean that brands have to go into damage control mode. This could be one of the best times for a brand to create a lasting positive impression on their audience by providing something of genuine value. LinkedIn is one of the best examples of this, having come out with a number of complementary courses and resources on working from home and maintaining productivity to help those in self-quarantine. You can also use this time to branch into new techniques like influencer marketing and vernacular content, or a combination of the two, to reach your audience and build credibility. For instance, influencers can spread social awareness messages in the various regional languages your audience is most comfortable with to get the word across. 

Of course, brands in the healthcare space are best positioned to launch medical marketing strategies during this time. A hospital specializing in the treatment of diabetes can provide content specifically designed to help at-risk diabetes patients protect themselves from the virus. Below is an awareness video created by Dr. V Mohan, which exemplifies this: 

 

But virtually any sector can offer content of value during this time. For instance, an early learning education brand can start offering online webinars to continue a child's education despite schools being closed. These strategies can help users build a positive association with your brand that will outlast the pandemic. 

The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that empathy is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience. Brands need to listen closely to what their audience is saying and sharing on different platforms and then respond accordingly in a way that builds solidarity. It will also be useful to take a step back and audit your new marketing campaigns and messaging to check if they are having the intended effect. All too often, a well-meaning ad can be downplayed by an insensitive 'Subscribe Now' button that pops up at the end of it.

This presentation covers the blueprint that brands should follow to engage with their customers during the coronavirus crisis and examples of some of the brands who have been most successful at it.

Use the down-time to update your brand assets

Are there any existing evergreen brand assets like ebooks and whitepapers on your website that need to be updated and improved? Or perhaps, there have been long-standing plans to create new guides, a new video or webinar series or new pages on your website. Most companies have ideas in the pipeline which never go live because of a lack of time or organizational bandwidth. The relative slowdown due to the Coronavirus could often translate into a lesser workload. This means you can finally take all of those ideas off the backburner and actually start bringing them to life! You can approach this time as an opportunity to revamp your existing brand assets and create new ones that will rake in results once the Coronavirus clears up.

Keep your store information updated

Just as important as spreading accurate information about the virus is spreading accurate information about your brand itself. Since most physical outlets are shut, you should ensure that the most accurate information about your working hours is updated on your GMB listings and on social platforms. Change your working hours to 'Closed' if you have a physical presence and are not operational. If you are an e-commerce brand and are unable to ship products, make sure that your database of consumers receives a notification about it and that this information is displayed on your website. 

Prepare for post-Coronavirus marketing

While the situation might be grim now, there's no doubt that it will pass eventually. Brands need to gear up for when this happens by putting in place a contingency plan. This is especially true of the travel, hospitality and entertainment industry. Once the pandemic clears, the world isn't going to go back to normal overnight. Post-Coronavirus consumers are very likely to still be fearful of travel or of visiting crowded locations like malls and movie theatres. Experts postulate that there will be ten major shifts even once the coronavirus pandemic clears up:

  • Increased levels of anxiousness and depression
  • Decreased trust in hygiene of people and products
  • Travel restrictions
  • Permanent shift to work-from-home setups, at least for some job roles
  • Rise in conflict
  • High levels of unemployment
  • Increased home deliveries
  • Lesser contact with older people
  • Expanding our identity beyond just our job role
  • Value of certified immune consumers

This presentation goes into the above ten factors and breaks down how brands can navigate through them to increase their ROI on post-COVID-19 marketing.

In this scenario, brands need to put in place a holistic full-funnel marketing plan to instil confidence in their audience and reassure them of the safety of their safety. Special promotional activities and offers might be required to help brands gain traction.

 

The sudden spread of the Coronavirus has certainly come as a shock to consumers and brands everywhere. But with the right strategies, brands can emerge from this trying period with greater brand equity, more engaged audiences and powerful new assets. The most important thing to focus on now, of course, is to stay safe until this tides over!


Why a full-funnel marketing strategy on digital is a game-changer

  • Roshni Chhabria
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  • 20 April , 2020
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    • 5 min read

With the advent of technology and social media, a consumer’s journey to make a purchase has become very complex. Consumers can now easily discover new brands on various social media platforms and are researching multiple brands, choosing to compare the pricing/offers before making a final decision. This new consumer decision journey has given rise to a highly evolved and aware consumer. 

So, how can brands modify the marketing funnel to engage with this new digital-age consumer? The full-funnel approach is one of the most significant aspects of a marketing strategy as this helps brands convert the prospective audience into customers. This can be done on digital platforms by showcasing relevant messaging to the target audiences, moving them along the funnel from ‘Awareness’ to ‘Consideration’ and finally ‘Conversion’. 

Most marketers, however, tend to focus on the bottom-of-the-funnel directly and optimise all digital campaigns to drive consumer action. However, this could lead to increased cost per acquisitions and lower conversion rates. While performance-based campaigns are key as these drive business results, it would not be an optimal strategy to focus on these alone as consumers need to be aware of the brand and build an affinity towards the same before making a purchase or enquiring.

With the shift from traditional to digital, it is also essential that a brand adapts their marketing funnel with a digital-first marketing strategy. This approach implies that it is essential for the brand to have a mobile-first approach for all digital assets in order to reach and engage with potential customers. Brands should leverage Accelerated Mobile Pages to improve the speed of landing pages and interactive ad formats to ensure the best experience for consumers. 

Create brand awareness by using video for top-of-the-funnel campaigns

In the first stage, the focus should be on creating awareness of the brand and its legacy. It is considered a good idea to leverage short videos in this stage to engage with potential buyers. Brands should also look at highlighting the benefits for the consumer by showcasing how the product or service can help them and resolve a pain point. 

The top-of-the-funnel should be looked at as a process of casting a wider net to reach potential consumers. The users at this stage might not be familiar with the brand and only be cold prospects. Using the full-funnel marketing strategy, brands could push consumers towards the next stage of the marketing funnel.

Brands could explore various options like masthead on YouTube or Reach & Frequency campaigns on Facebook/Instagram to drive the high-impact reach for the brand’s top of the funnel strategy. One other interesting option could be to explore vernacular videos for brand awareness depending on the brand’s target audience. With the launch of Jio, smartphones and data plans have become quite affordable, leading to increased consumption of vernacular content. In the current scenario, brands should look to adopt a multi-lingual marketing strategy to tap into the next billion users

Which Ad Inventory To Explore?

YouTube: Bumper Ad, Masthead, TrueView For Reach are the best ad inventories to explore using YouTube.

Facebook/Instagram: Reach & Frequency Campaigns and Brand-Awareness are instrumental in ad inventories to explore using Facebook/Instagram.

What metrics to track?

The metrics to track go as Cost Per Thousand Impressions and Cost Per Video View.

Keep In Mind: As brands, avoid using product-specific/sales material in this stage of the funnel. 

Prompt video viewers to consider the brand

Users who engage with the brand’s top-of-the-funnel activity will have to familiarise themselves with the brand through more details about the product/service via relevant content. It is recommended to leverage the power of thumb-stopping content to re-engage with these users. Brands should share more context about the product/service so that consumers could consider engaging with them and finally making the purchase. The middle of the funnel should be looked at as a broad set of interested audiences who are not customers yet but are strongly considering the particular brand. 

At this stage, the key focus should be on showcasing educational content in order to build trust and consideration for the brand. Case studies, Blog posts, White Papers, Ebooks, etc. are simple yet very effective tools for the brand’s middle of the funnel strategy. On Facebook, brands could explore Instant Experience ads which can help nurture intent and further drive engagement.  

Which Ad Inventory To Explore?

YouTube: Bearing Ad Inventory in mind, Trueview In-Stream Ad is typically explored on YouTube.

Facebook: In terms of Ad Inventory for Facebook, the way to go is through Traffic, Engagement, and Video Views.

What metrics to track?

To track metrics, CPC, Ad Recall and Landing Page Views are taken into account.

Keep In Mind: Alongside sharing educational content, brands should start positioning their product/service at this stage. 

Drive the brand’s most engaged audiences to convert

Once users are aware and have developed consideration for the brand, it is time to drive action with focused creatives and clear Call-To-Actions. At this stage, the consumer is already aware of the brand and is in a ready-to-buy frame of mind. With the right communication strategy, the users can easily convert into customers from a prospect lead. The focus here is to make the final pitch and keep it straight forward with the brand’s product/service details and pricing. Some potential buyers might require the extra push in the form of a time-bound offers/discounted prices to make the final decision. In the last state of the funnel, brands should highlight why consumers should opt for their product/service instead of their competitor’s as part of the content strategy.  It might also be interesting to segment different audience types based on demographics/behaviour and show customers highly personalised content in this stage to drive the conversion. 

By following a full-funnel, approach brands should be able to generate high-quality leads as the users have gone through the entire customer journey of awareness and consideration before purchasing or enquiring from the brand. This is especially important in industries such as Real Estate where the purchase cycle is relatively long, and consumers are continually researching options. 

Which Ad Inventory To Explore?

YouTube: TrueView For Action is often explored bearing YouTube Ad Inventory in mind.

Facebook: The best Ad Inventory to explore using Facebook is Lead Gen/Website Conversion.

What metrics to track?

CPL is typically used to track metrics. 

Keep In Mind: Showcasing a time-bound offer in this stage can create an urgency and prompt consumers to take action. 

For a more in-depth explanation on full-funnel marketing, take a look at this video:

Analyse those leads, work on strategies that converts them to customers, and drive revenue to the business. At the end of the day, a full-funnel strategy involves a lot of work and time, but with an efficient marketing machine, the battle is half won. 


Voice Commerce – The Future of E-Commerce in India

  • Nandita Raman
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  • 19 April , 2020
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    • 4 min read

By now, we’re sure you’re aware that smartphones play a huge role in driving sales in retail. But did you know that 28% of the search queries in India are done by voice?

BigCommerce reports that by 2021, mobile eCommerce sales are said to account for 54% of the total eCommerce sales & it also projects a 270% growth in voice-based queries in India.

What’s the current trend with Voice Search?

Most e-commerce brands are looking at voice as an opportunity to grow and expand their businesses. Reports state that 43% of brands surveyed agree that Voice Search in e-commerce is an opportunity to harness while 26% agree on the same to a reasonable extent. With added risks, the benefits still seem to outweigh for most brands. Voice assistants are now part of most homes’ everyday life, starting from morning alarms, reminders to turn off their cookers to even playing music. This seems to be a promising touchpoint for e-commerce as consumers could soon begin online transactions through voice, as the technology becomes more pervasive in their everyday lives. 

To learn more about Voice Search trends, watch our video on The Complete Guide to Voice Search Marketing 

Voice shopping happens to be one of the latest trends shaping the future of eCommerce and as we all know, retail is growing faster than anything else.

So, how did it all begin?

IBM, a tech giant, started way back in 1961, the first-ever speech recognition software. When you look back at the iPhone, Siri, for example, was started in 2011 followed by Amazon which released Alexa in 2014. It's not novel but it has certainly become more relevant these days with more households using voice assistants in their daily lives. Voice assistance technology is definitely creating a large impact on E-commerce.

What is Voice commerce? 

Voice Commerce is a technology that provides the user with an alternative option to purchase a product online instead of using a keyboard and mouse. It is 3 times faster than the web interface. In other words, it screams convenience. 

How would Voice commerce enhance a customer's buying experience?

  1. Shopping through Voice Search technology evidently simplifies and eases the process of transacting online. For starters - It is hands-free. Multitasking happens to the new fad for most busy households these days. All that the customer needs is to search and buy something online using a virtual Voice Search assistant such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri etc. With the assistance of voice shopping, completing a purchase becomes simple and can be done at any time of the day - even when you’re in the shower or eating if your voice assistant can hear you!

  2. Apart from being extremely convenient for first-time orders, it is also useful for repetitive orders. Since the Voice Search algorithm knows what you’ve purchased previously, it can help you with repeat orders.

Here are some disadvantages to keep in mind:

  1. You may face a slight difficulty in browsing, especially in the B2B space when product names are difficult to pronounce or if you have too many product codes or multiple colours, the technology might not be developed enough to grasp the subtle nuances and modify the searches just yet.

  2. Privacy concerns. Research states that many people do not feel comfortable about having a voice assistant or a microphone that’s always listening to private conversations in their household or office as they see this as a  breach of privacy. However, customers are gradually adapting to it in the current scenario and brands are leveraging the fact that Voice Search is growing rapidly in the market and if you do wait too long to optimise your technology for Voice commerce, you will fall behind.  

3 ways to leverage voice commerce for your brand to drive more sales:

  1. Build Google Norm Actions / Alexa Skills

With voice being the future, it is important that E-Commerce brands grasp & leverage these trends for their growth. Both Google and Amazon have made this easy for brands to get started with easy-to-use Voice Search assistant templates.

Jetson Ai is an all in one platform to manage your brand’s voice strategy - It is a voice-first market place which helps you connect with consumers across various voice assistants. With Jetson Ai, you can manage all your voice interactions from a single dashboard. Apart from this it also studies and learns about your consumers’ past purchase behaviour and customises their future interactions, making the journey as frictionless as possible.

  1. Build a multilingual voice experience

Various brands have seen rapid growth in consumption of vernacular content overall social media platforms.

Niki.ai is one such company that has a multilingual voice experience which enables consumers to interact with you in their preferred language. This is an interesting strategy which would help you reach India's next billion internet users.

Niki ai helps consumers from tier 2 & 3 cities make purchases online through voice on Redbus, Cleartrip and BookMyShow.

  1. Build conversational experiences across the customer’s purchase journey

The second thing you could explore is to build a conversational user experience across the consumer purchase journey starting from research, product queries to FAQ’s even. This has kindled companies’ interest by presenting a super-intelligent interface that’s going to help grow their businesses. Not only do they understand the text transcription of the consumers, but also the intention behind using those words. 

One such platform is Haptik. An intelligent voice virtual assistant which builds Voice Search based conversational Ai chatbots to help business enable voice commerce. 

These are three possible ways to build delightful voice commerce experiences for your consumers.

How have brands leveraged voice commerce?

A lot of brands have successfully leveraged voice to enhance their business. Some classic examples include Big Bazaar, Dominos, Whirlpool etc.

Smart search was introduced by BigBazaar in 2017 where anyone who searches with a prefix of Big Bazaar on Google was also given exclusive offers. With the success of this campaign and to reach out to more customers and benefit them, Big Bazaar also leveraged voice. 

Early last year, Dominos, rolled out their voice ordering app to make ordering pizza more accurate and efficient for their customers. This turned out to be an extremely successful campaign. With their inbuilt voice technology, they had a headstart over all other competitors!

What does Voice commerce hold for the future?

Voice commerce is not only a trend but is a complete shift in the way we communicate and share things with the world. This also helps brands innovate and launch campaigns which further enhances the brand reputation and in turn leads to a better ROI - This also widens the consumer base to newer audiences. Brands already selling on platforms such as Amazon need to start looking at ways to optimise their listings and create new opportunities on the platform itself starting today. A lot of research and surveys show that optimising for Voice Search definitely gives you a competitive advantage. This is why retailers have already started to use Voice commerce to expand their ROI and keep up with fast-growing technology.


Is your brand’s marketing mix model digital-ready?

  • Nandita Raman
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  • 28 November , 2019
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    • 6 min read

The ubiquitous term ‘marketing mix modelling’ has been around for decades and with good reason. This strategy allowed marketers to identify the best channels and marketing techniques to maximise product performance. But as the channels themselves change, new digital trends emerge and customers begin to evolve, how relevant is traditional marketing mix modelling? Do the factors for a brand’s success still solely rest upon product, price, place and promotion? And if so, how has each of these 4 P’s evolved in the digital age? 

The changing face of marketing mix modelling

The concept of the 4 Ps was created at a time when data remained largely stable, technological advancements were slow and consumer habits were predictable. Today, in the age of digital disruption, each of these facets has undergone a wave of change. In this climate, traditional marketing mix models are simply not equipped to deliver a realistic marketing strategy and accurate channel-wise attribution. 

 This change is primarily because of the following features of the digital environment:

1. Advertising mediums do not exist in a vacuum

A typical consumer today is bombarded by more advertisements on more platforms than at any other time in history. They might be exposed to a brand while watching a video, while reading a blog, or while listening to music, to name just a few. Because of this, it can be close to impossible to evaluate the performance of each ad in isolation. Each instance of exposure has a cumulative effect on the buying decision of a consumer. Most marketing mix models are not equipped to handle a multi-touchpoint customer journey.

2. Technology and data is in a state of flux

Traditional marketing models are built on data extending from over one year. Marketers generally analyse long-term patterns of data to reach a conclusion on future trends. The digital age, however, does not afford the luxury of long-term analysis. Technology, platforms and algorithms can change within a matter of a few months, throwing even the most carefully crafted marketing mix model into disarray.

3. Speed and adaptability are critical

In a traditional marketing plan, platforms and budgets would be decided upon based on a marketing mix model, the plan would be executed and the learnings would be dissected later on. Today, however, digital marketing empowers marketers to completely overhaul their budget allocation and platform-wise strategies at the click of a button. A modern marketing strategy isn’t truly over until budgets are exhausted. Marketing mix models need to be adaptable and scalable in order to be successful. 

How to build a digital-ready marketing mix model

Today’s changing market is completely different from what it was in the 1960s, which was when the concept of a marketing mix model was first introduced. Naturally, as a result, the traditional understanding of the 4 P’s needs to evolve to adapt to our current reality. 

Here’s how marketers can reimagine the 4 P’s and build digital-ready marketing mix models for a full-funnel marketing strategy.

1. Sell experiences, not products

Reduced manufacturing costs, less expensive advertising channels and the rise of a thriving startup culture have lowered many of the entry barriers for new companies. As a result, the market is more competitive than ever before, with numerous similar products vying for the same customer. In this scenario, a brand’s product cannot sell based on a utilitarian guarantee alone. Customers now want to purchase a product that sells them an experience. They want a product that they believe will help them reach their ideal self, aligns with their values and sells them a lifestyle. Brands who capture this essence will ultimately capture the market. 

2. Be present where your customers are

Previously, the concept of ‘Place’ in a marketing mix model referred to the selection of optimum distribution channels to reach a customer. These channels in the modern age, however, are not as clear cut as they once were. Customers divide their time between numerous platforms; watching videos, scrolling through social media, reading blogs or listening to podcasts. Additionally, they can also make a purchase decision at any time of the day and in any place, for instance, during their morning commute to work. The introduction of Whatsapp for Business has allowed brands to penetrate even further into a consumer’s routine. Because of this, the focus needs to shift from having a physical presence in an area where the target audience is present to simply being everywhere each member of the target audience is, virtual or otherwise. 

3. Influence rather than promote

On the whole, customers today are a more cynical lot than customers from previous periods. They seek information on product ingredients, are more discerning of what they consume and are more aware of marketing strategies. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that a consumer will believe your product’s USPs at face value. Brands need to eschew a hard focus on promotion alone and instead supplement it with efforts to build credibility. Two tools have become indispensable for brands looking to do so: influencer marketing and content marketing. Influencer marketing builds awareness of a product using ‘influencers’ whom consumers already trust while content marketing helps brands inform and educate customers and develop long-term relationships with them. 

4. Shift the focus away from price

Price is no longer the key differentiator it once was. This change can be attributed to two reasons:

(i) Improvements in technology and efficiency have allowed average prices of consumer products to hit an all-time low. Today’s customers need to pay less for a product than at any other period. As a result, most products are similarly priced and a consumer’s final purchase decision will rarely depend upon the price alone. 

(ii) With customers seeking experience over utilitarianism, many are willing to pay a higher price for perceived quality. For instance, an eco-friendly sustainable brand might be priced higher than similar products, but customers will be willing to pay the higher price for what they believe is greater value.

How to ensure accuracy in modern marketing mix models

Ushering in the age of digital marketing might mean saying goodbye to traditional marketing models, but it opens up endless possibilities for marketers. The availability of granular details, real-time analytics and diverse platforms enables marketers to create more effective marketing strategies than ever before. 

1. Create a shorter time frame

With rapid technological innovation, analyzing the impact of channels and strategies for a period longer than 6-12 months would be futile. Technology and ad formats from over a year ago might be irrelevant or non-existent today. Limit your analysis to just 6-12 months at the most - anything extending beyond that is ancient history. To ensure accuracy of the analysis despite the shorter time frame, you can use more granular details at multiple relevant geographic and demographic levels. 

2. Delve into granularities

Most digital marketing strategies today are characterized by their hyper-local, hyper-personalized nature. Unlike nationwide TV campaigns of the past, digital strategies now revolve around delivering personalized communication to customers. For instance, marketers might choose to speak to newly married women working in an IT job in Bangalore to promote their women’s health product. With such a wealth of targeting options available, it becomes critical for marketers to evaluate campaigns at an equally granular level. This allows them to uncover patterns and identify key drivers to further improve campaign performance. 

3. Split marketing elements by ad formats

With traditional advertising, budgets are usually allocated platform-wise, for example, separate budgets for television, radio and print. A common misconception is that the same technique can be used for digital platforms, for example, creating a separate budget for YouTube, Facebook and Search. However, digital platforms cannot be as easily segregated because multiple ad formats can co-exist within a single platform. On YouTube, for instance, brands can choose between masthead ads, 6-second bumper videos, TrueView videos or In-Stream ads depending upon your marketing objective. Each ad format will thus require a separate budget allocation.

4. Analyse format-wise performance

In the same way that budgets need to be segregated by format not platform, performance analysis also needs to be done format-wise. The wealth of ad formats that digital marketing offers requires marketers to do an in-depth analysis of the performance of each to uncover which format resonated the best with the target audience. This type of analysis is important because marketers might uncover that whereas one platform as a whole performed better than the others, a specific ad format on another platform out-performed other formats. This can help optimize future budgets and campaign strategies. 

 

Case study: How we generated 6000+ leads in 100 hours through a digital marketing mix

Objective

Our client, a leading real estate developer based in Chennai, approached us to help them reach a massive goal. For just 100 hours, their projects would be available at highly-discounted prices. Within this limited period, we had to maximize their reach, ad efficiency and results. 

Strategy

To achieve this ambitious goal within such a limited time period, we had to set up a flexible and adaptable digital marketing mix. We developed two strategies: one aimed at raising awareness among a consumer base who was not aware of the developer's luxury segment and one who were aware of the brand, but needed the final push to invest in a home. 

As part of the marketing mix, we leveraged a number of platforms and formats, including YouTube bumper ads, promotions across social media channels, Gmail video ads and countdown ads on Google. To create a holistic approach, we also launched roadblock ads on traditional print media, including many of India's leading newspapers such as The Hindu and Times of India. 

Results

This highly-segmented strategy delivered phenomenal results. Within the 100-hour window, we were able to generate an incredible 6,152 leads. These results highlight the fact that an adaptable digital marketing mix is critical for brands looking to drive business results. 

Watch the youtube bumper Ad below:

 

Marketing mix modelling has long been an indispensable part of marketing literature. Rather than do away with this tried-and-tested method completely, marketers should adapt each of the principles of traditional marketing models to the digital world.

 


10 Best E-commerce platforms for your online store

  • Rohit Uttamchandani
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  • 19 January , 2019
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    • 9 min read

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of using Hosted ecommerce platforms

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

Benefits of using a CMS

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

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

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

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

5 Best hosted ecommerce platforms

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

Shopify:

Shopify is one of the first names that comes to mind when one thinks of an online commerce platform. With close to 1.18 million sites using Shopify*, it is the most popular hosted ecommerce platform, coming second only to WooCommerce (4751 Shopify sites are live in India, as of 23rd Dec, 2019).

Pros:

  • Large number of add-ons as well as beautiful and professional templates to choose from for a beautiful storefront
  • 24/7 customer support – Can be reached by phone, online live chat or email.
  • SEO Compliant
  • Pay as you go pricing, which is great for newer startups
  • Option to upgrade to Shopify Gold, an enterprise solution being used by 3600 brands
  • 15+payment gateways and 10+ logistics integrations for India

Cons:

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

Pricing**: Basic Shopify - $29/month, Shopify- $79/month, Advanced Shopify - $299/month.

Zepo:

Mumbai-based Zepo supports more than 1500 ecommerce stores at the moment and its been almost 9 years since it first launched (in 2011). Zepo offers a payment gateway, integrated logistics and courier services as well as other ecommerce services.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Limited Images per product on the lower priced plans

Pricing**: Custom Pricing based on requests

Wix:

Wix has over 2000 ecommerce stores live in India, with 7% of ecommerce sites in India on the platform.

Pros:

  • Easy to use Wix editor
  • Hundreds of templates to choose from, trusted by over 160 million people users as per their site
  • They have simple to use logo makers
  • Free hosting - and upgrade required only to get extra storage, connect your own domain or to remove Wix ads

Cons:

  • May not be scalable beyond a point
  • Logistics and Payment Gateway integrations in India may be limited

Pricing**: Premium - $29/month

StoreHippo:

StoreHippo is a new entrant into the ecommerce market in India, starting in 2014.

Pros:

  • First ones to have Progressive Web App (PWA) version of ecommerce stores, allowing brands to leverage the latest technology
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Supports B2B business model as well - which is a first in the segment
  • Offers domestic and international gateway integrations and logistics integrations

Cons:

  • Plugins may be limited
  • Support may not be as robust as Shopify and others

Pricing**: Professional - INR 2999/month, Premium - INR 5999/month, Business - INR 9999/month, Enterprise - INR 25,000/month

BigCommerce:

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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

Top 100000 websites using Hosted Solution technologies - Builtwith.com

5 Best Content Management Systems

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

WooCommerce:

WooCommerce is a Wordpress platform used for building ecommerce websites and now almost 26% of the top 1 million ecommerce websites are hosted on it (and 32% of ecommerce websites in India), making it the most popular platform. A large number of Wordpress themes have the WooCommerce functionality built-in. The plugin provides almost all the features that are available in the other open-sources CMS’ listed here. WooCommerce might work out more user-friendly and cost-effective for smaller businesses as well as for those familiar with Wordpress.

Pros:

  • Easy setup - Wordpress requires very little time to get familiar
  • Runs on Wordpess – so does not have powerful servers requirements
  • Good number of lower-priced add-ons and themes available
  • Huge Wordpress support community
  • Easy Integration with emailing platforms such as Mailchimp so that you can stay in touch with your customers
  • One of the fastest growing platforms so support from developers and plugin creators is going to be good in the long run.

Cons:

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

Magento:

With nearly 9% of the world’s top 1 million ecommerce sites (in 2015 21%  of the websites) are built on the Magento platform*, it used to be a very popular CMS. Its biggest advantages are the large number of plugins and extensions available which allow the addition of any new functionality, the ease of availability of experienced developers as well as a lower overall development and maintenance cost.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • It requires sufficient server space to operate efficiently at high speeds. Smaller servers may cause speed and other related issues
  • Might be too complex for businesses that are too small
  • It has not been growing as a platform, and over time developers and plugin creators will reduce their focus on it

Opencart:

Opencart is another open source CMS for ecommerce. Though it has one of the easiest to use backends, its support systems are not as comprehensive as compared to the other platforms listed. 16% of all ecommerce websites in India use OpenCart.

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

osCommerce:

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

Pros:

  • Easy installation and an easy-to-use interface
  • Active forum with a large support base

Cons:

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

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

Drupal Commerce:

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Magento vs Woocommerce vs Drupal Commerce vs Opencart vs osCommerce

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

*Statistics from builtwith.com
** All price data is from the respective websites as on 23rd December, 2019


5 Social Media Strategies To Boost Your E-Commerce Business

  • Pooja Patil
  • |
  • 13 May , 2017
  • |
    • 7 min read

The e-commerce market is getting competitive by the day, and e-commerce businesses need to find unique ways to build relationships with their customers to create a loyal customer base. For any e-commerce business, website traffic is the most important segment, and yet it is the most challenging one.

Social media is playing a very powerful role today in the evolution of online shopping. It provides a platform for conversations, reviews, information and expression. An e-commerce business can leverage on the opportunities provided by the social media platforms for their own benefit. According to an article by Magento, 93% consumers turn to social media to help them make buying choices, while 90% say they trust recommendations from their peers.

Several strategies have been listed by digital marketers on how e-commerce businesses can use social media to drive traffic to their website. Listed below are five powerful tactics you can use to embrace the reach of social media for higher benefits.

Smart Targeting and Dynamic Product Ads

Leaving your ad open out there in front of the masses is not such a great idea. Once you have figured out your prospective customer base, you can use targeting options provided by social media sites like Facebook to target your ads to the relevant customer base. Facebook provides you with numerous targeting options based on location, demographics, Interests, device type, etc. It also provides you with features like custom audiences, lookalike audiences and retargeting. Using these targeting options, you will be able to reach your potential customers and engage them more effectively. Smart Targeting will help you increase your ROI on Advertising to a great extent. Dynamic Product Ads can be used to retarget customers who have earlier shown interest in your products or services. To drive more sales across devices, dynamic product ads now provide a lot of flexibility and variety in functionality to e-commerce advertisers.

A classic example would be that of Cathay Pacific Airways. They used dynamic product ads for travel, to reach people who had earlier performed a search on their website. The ads featured an image of the destination city that people searched for to inspire them to act. The ads also included a "book now" button that linked directly to the booking process on the Cathay Pacific website.

Another example is that of eBay. eBay is successfully using dynamic product ads and retargeting to motivate their customers based on the customer's interest. They connect with their customers by showing them personalised and relevant products in their ads.

Facebook Carousel ads are also a great way of showcasing e-commerce website products. They not only help to showcase the products in detail but, when used creatively, also help drive traffic to the e-commerce websites.

Using Influencers

Influencer marketing is the new buzz word and has currently penetrated in the marketing mix of many industries. Mostly food, travel and fashion are the three major industries where influencer marketing is really going up the ladder. Influencer marketing is a newer and organised term for the old-fashioned word of mouth marketing. The way people work through the buying process has changed due to the advent of the internet and social media. People now have become more efficient in their search process, and they look for comprehensive and authentic information online. While associating an influencer with your business, it is important to consider the influencer’s likability, credibility and trustworthiness. Remember that Influencers act as brand ambassadors for the audience and thus the information they put out there should be in sync with what the business stands for.

Influencers can be used in numerous ways: For product launches, reviews, engagement, campaigns, events and so on.

A very good example of this is the Influencer campaigns done by Nykaa.com. Nykaa is an e-commerce store that deals with skincare, beauty and makeup products. Nykaa.com engages with various beauty bloggers and influencers and weaves campaigns with them.  Beauty and fashion are two areas where people rely heavily on reviews and opinions of influencers. Nykaa leverages this very well.

Using Product Videos

The majority of online shoppers have agreed to the fact that not being able to physically touch and feel the products on e-commerce websites is their least favourite part of shopping online. This is especially true in the case of fashion and beauty industry. Product images from different angles and views may not completely explain a product's functionality or provide a proper overview of the product. Videos are the new preferred form of media and e-commerce businesses should leverage on the high acceptance of videos among customers. Ecommerce businesses can use videos to bridge the gap between offline and online shopping experiences. Product videos can help in providing a holistic buying experience to the customer and also provide a clear overview of the different scenarios in which a product can be used. This makes it more appealing to online buyers. Product videos can not only be used on product pages but also on social media feeds of the e-commerce brands as well as part of Facebook or Google ads. Not only can these videos be used for Facebook and Google advertising, but they can also be used for advertising on YouTube. There are several versions of videos that are gaining popularity on social media. A few of them are live videos, 360-degree videos, 30-second videos, time lapse videos, stop motion videos and animated or white videos.

Product videos can be used to introduce a new product and show how the product works with other similar or commonly used products, from the brand, and to encourage conversions from existing customers.

On1y is a food brand that caters to a very niche market segment. It provides spices, herbs and exotic seasoning. On1y uses a lot of innovative ways to engage with its audience on social media and at the same time create a buzz around its products. In the screenshot below, On1y has shared a Facebook live video of a food influencer interacting with customers and cooking up recipes using On1y spices.

Focus on Engagement

Social media for e-commerce is not simply about pushing across products and promotions. Many e-commerce companies fail to understand this. Social media can be used very well for engaging audiences online through high value textual and visual content. Ecommerce brands can find it very tempting to simply fill timelines with product promotions and advertisements. However, social media provides numerous ways by which e-commerce brands can make online shopping a delightful experience for consumers. You can engage audiences through live polls, live videos, user generated content, contests and much more. Topical posts and festive posts can also be used to attract audience attention. To garner high level of engagement, it is important to understand the need of the customers. Understanding this will help brands to curate content accordingly.

Social media can also be used by e-commerce brands to provide better customer service. Nowadays, a lot of customers look for solutions on the internet and prefer quick communication over the internet rather than going through a long phone call. At the same time, brands must encourage satisfied customers to write reviews and rate the products/e-commerce brands. Reviews and ratings go a long way in building a brand’s credibility online.

Content Marketing via Blogs & Infographics

Blogging is a great way to drive traffic to your e-commerce website. It helps your site rank higher in SEO through several internal links and backlinks. Blogging is also a good way to reach out to customer problems and be a problem solver. Most customers search for solutions to their problems online and blogging can be a great way to provide solutions to them. Long form content helps to drive more traffic and definitely helps in higher search page ranking. Blog posts also help to subtly introduce products or promote products in an indirect way. For instance, a blog post on the topic "summer dressing" by a fashion e-commerce site could consist of summer looks using products from the e-commerce site. This will not only create attractive and useful content for the readers but will also serve the e-commerce brand's purpose of showcasing their products. Similarly, a blog post on "Top 10 budget smartphones" by an e-commerce brand like Flipkart or Snapdeal which sells mobile phones could include descriptions of each smartphone comprising of unique features and direct links to the products on the e-commerce site.

Finally, it is important for e-commerce brands to identify the right social media channels to leverage their brand. Social media platforms, if used creatively and strategically can help e-commerce businesses reach their target audience in a much faster way. The importance of social media has been adequately realised by fashion and food industries among others. However, e-commerce brands can also leverage the benefits of social media by strategizing and creating fool-proof social media plans.


E-Commerce Product Photographers in Chennai

  • Krithika Ramani
  • |
  • 31 March , 2015
  • |
    • 3 min read

Product Photography is an important design element for an e-commerce portal, as the sense of sight plays a major role in online shopping. One of the challenges for an e-commerce site is to satisfy the needs of a customer wanting to touch and feel the product before buying it. Visually appealing product images have the power to impress & persuade a customer into buying a product and tend to affect your website’s bounce rate and conversion rates.

Product images should not only be appealing, but also match your brand’s image and the overall aesthetics of your website. Instead of solely relying on your vendor for product images, one needs to plan and make use of the best product images that have the potential to sell. This is where professional product photographers come into play, to bring out unexplored angles of a product and visually explain the product functionality in the simplest way possible.

Through this blog post, we bring to you some of the top e-commerce product photographers in Chennai:

1. Kunal Daswani Photography

Kunal Daswani is one of the leading photographers in Chennai with a unique style and eye for detail. Much known for his fashion and commercial photography, Kunal has worked across various brands & industries. Contact Kunal: +91-9840823223

2. Prasana Photography

Specialised in advertising and commercial photography, Prasana is one of the most sought after professional photographer for major retail and corporate clients. He has won awards in recognition of his work and is now the official photo mentor of Nikon School for Tamilnadu & Pondicherry. Contact Prasanna: +91-9884878101

3. Sukil & Khushboo Photography

Sukil & Khushboo are professional photographers with experience across various fields and have assisted iconic photographers such as Iqbal Mohamed & Sundar Ram. Their strong technical knowledge and passion for the art has helped them go a long way in accomplishing projects for clients in the field of fashion, food, architecture & consumer goods. Contact Sukil & Khushboo: +91-9841226201

4. John Sudhakar Photography

Backed by a well-equipped studio and an image processing facility in Chennai, John Sudhakar has produced some of the remarkable works in the field of Photography. He’s been teaching Photography at various ad clubs &training institutes over the last few years and has represented many iconic brands photographically. Contact John: +91-9382148000

4. Dewakar Photography

Dewakar is a Chennai based professional photographer with more than 10 years of expertise in this field.
He has worked with a wide range of corporate clients as well as advertising agencies and specializes in identifying and highlighting the uniqueness of each product through his camera lens. He infact owns a product photography studio that gives him the flexibility to explore new techniques and styles. Contact Deewakar: +91-9840053133

5. Muthukannan Photography

Muthukannan is not only a successful wedding & commercial photographer in Chennai, but is also known for his photography institute called the Visualite Academy. He strongly believes that a good product photograph can increase its chances of selling and uses his several years of experience in creating the right product portfolio for his clients. Contact Muthukannan: +91-9790836256

Are there any other Product Photographers that you know of and we've missed them in our list?
Do write to us or share their details in the 'Comments' section below.


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