ecommerce marketing

Best Ecommerce platform in India to build your online store – 2021 edition

  • Rohit Uttamchandani
  • |
  • 5 November , 2021
  • |
    • 10 min read

If there is one thing Covid 19 has taught us, is that brands now have a stong and viable channel to connect directly with consumers - and that channel is digital. With thousands of direct to consumer brands springing up, setting up your online store has never been more easy.

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. While they are plug and play, many of these offer custom software and platform solutions. 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.

If you want to skip reading the blog and want our best recommendation, then head to Shopify. With over 16 lakh businesses leveraging Shopify globally its an ideal choice for most.

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 1.6 million sites using Shopify, it is the most popular hosted ecommerce platform, coming second only to WooCommerce (8108 Shopify sites are live in India, as of 17th Dec, 2020).

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 29% of the top 1 million ecommerce websites are hosted on it (and 59% 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. While it has a larger user base, entrepreneurs looking for a plug and play solution will find Shopify to be more suitable.

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

Elementor:

Elementor is a website builder that enables you to create WordPress websites without writing code. Boasting a powerful WooCommerce website builder feature, Elementor can be leveraged towards creating WordPress-based online stores, as well. Users can choose to create their ecommerce website from scratch, using Elementor’s dynamic drag-and-drop editor. Alternatively, they can opt for a Full-Site Kits. Complete websites, Kits are designer-made and can be effortlessly customized for immediate launch.

Pros:

  • Industry-leading drag and drop editor
  • 20+ ecommerce widgets
  • Ecommerce Full Site Kits
  • 300+ templates
  • 24/7 Chat support

Cons:

  • Free plan doesn't cover ecommerce websites

Pricing**: Essential - $49/year, Expert- $199/year, Studio - $499/year, Agency- $999/year.

Here is a link to their WordPress website builder

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 might be the best option, 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.

*Statistics from builtwith.com
** All price data is from the respective websites as on 17th December, 2020


Scale your growth by 10x on Digital Marketplaces

  • Arshiya Ahamed
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  • 11 October , 2021
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    • 3 min read

Identifying the right digital marketplaces is fruitful for e-commerce brands. Essentially these online marketplaces are Apps & websites for 3rd party vendors for selling online in India.

From a consumer’s perspective, the online marketplaces enable them to compare a wide range of products. Thus, not only are they advantageous to consumers but also are favorable to sellers to showcase their products on these websites & apps.

Another advantage of marketplaces is that they eliminate the hassle of shipping & delivering and that they attract a huge consumer base. Therefore sellers can leverage this vast consumer base to drive sales easily.

In today’s digital ecosystem, with an increase in e-commerce platforms in India, there are various marketplaces for sellers to choose from. These digital marketplaces would aid in streamlining the selling process facilitating an increase in sales. Let’s look at some of the top online marketplaces in India these sellers can leverage:

Exploring the online marketplaces in India:

  1. Amazon India

Launched in June 2013, Amazon set up its Indian online marketplace known as Amazon.in. This marketplace now caters to approximately 5 lakh sellers from around India, aimed at seamlessly facilitating the buying and selling of products from consumers & vendors.

Advantages of Selling on Amazon:

Here are a few reasons why sellers should consider selling on this platform:

  • Renowned Platform- Amazon is regarded as one of the most visited online shopping destinations for consumers 
  • Excellent Delivery Network- The ease in the platforms delivery network enables delivery to almost all pin codes in India 
  • Starter Kit- Amazon provides sellers with special offers on Imaging, cataloging & other services that help the sellers sell their products easily.

How to sell on Amazon?

With the following simple steps mentioned, one can sell their products efficiently on the Amazon:

  • Product Listing- The first step into selling online in India through Amazon is to list them accordingly on the platform. Sellers can now list their products within 15 mins and enjoy the host of selling benefits from Amazon.
  • Shipping- Amazon offers shipping services such as Easy Ship and FBA. These services ease the burden of shipping and delivery for a seamless selling experience. Moreover, sellers can also deliver the product themselves to unlock local shop benefits.
  • Funding- Once the sales start pouring, every 7 days the funds will automatically be deposited in your mentioned bank account.
  1. Flipkart

Being one of India’s largest platforms for online selling, Flipkart allows vendors, suppliers & sellers to sell their products with a minimum investment. Moreover, the platform offers exclusive seller workshops, training, and seller support.

Advantages of Selling on Flipkart:

  • Wide customer base- Sellers can now reach a wide consumer base of 1 billion to grow their business easily 
  • Product List- Sellers require only one unique product to start selling on the platform 
  • Cost-efficient- The platform offers the most competitive rate card that is highly cost-effective for sellers

What do sellers need to sell on Flipkart:

  • One unique product 
  • To begin selling GSTIN details are essential to be filled out
  •  While registering a copy of a canceled cheque the seller's bank account is required
  1. Paytm

Paytm serves as one of the leading mobile platforms that provide mobile-first, easy setup & chat options between consumers & sellers. This e-commerce platform offers a wide range of products for consumers to choose from.

Why sell on Paytm?

  • Vast delivery network- Sellers can now reach almost 39,000 pin codes in the country 
  • Huge customer base- Paytm now offers a consumer base of 10 Cr+
  • Product categories- Approximate 100K+ merchants sell their products successfully across 500+ categories 

How can you get started?

  • Log in/Sign up with your Paytm credentials 
  • Verify your details such as name, phone number, and email address
  • Submit your documentation such as bank account, GST details, etc 
  • Set up your catalog and start selling online
  1. Snapdeal

Snapdeal is one of the biggest digital marketplaces that delivers to more than 3000 towns & cities in India. Moreover not only do they sell more than 30 million products but also have a great consumer base, reaching up to 4 Cr happy consumers on their platform.

Why sell on Snapdeal?

No registration fee- Snapdeal has zero registration fee for sellers

Easy online selling in India- Sellers can sell their products 24x7 across 3000 cities in India 

Here are a few simple steps to start selling on Snapdeal:

  • Registration- Register your business and update your product catalog on the website.
  • Documentation- Verify your documents & product cataloging via a professional service provider.
  • Payments- On the completion of the orders, receive quick & easy payments into your bank accounts.

Conclusion

Thus, knowing and identifying the right online marketplaces in India for your brand is essential to scale your business. With the help of these digital marketplaces, you can now display your products on these websites that further paves the way to increase the growth of your business accordingly.

 


Scaling E-commerce Brands by leveraging on Topical content

  • Arshiya Ahamed
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  • 2 June , 2021
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    • 5 min read

Popular events play a vast role in capturing the consumer's mindshare. Brands need to understand how they can leverage the topical season to drive maximum growth.

Why Must Brands Leverage Topical content?

  1. Build the Top of the Funnel: With video and image ads, engaging campaigns for these events can help build massive Top of the Funnel audiences. These audiences are most inclined to conversions when remarketed to, hence reducing the CAC. 
  2. Build Brand Resonance: With massive viewership and following, topical events allow for subtle brand placements to build brand resonance among the masses. With the effective use of Social Media features like Polls, Quizzes, and AR Filters, brands can build a strong resonance of their brand message. 
  3. Low & Affordable Cost of Advertising: Low & affordable cost of advertising allows even SMEs & MSME’s to take part via advertising in such a mega event.

Now that we know why it is important to leverage the season, let’s look at some of the topical events brands can leverage this year

Key Events & Topicals in 2021

  • The Olympics 2021: Holding a massive Indian viewership of 5.6 million (Source: Brand Equity, 2020), the Olympics is a great event for brands to leverage on. Brands can use key highlights of the games, the opening & closing ceremonies, and even star athletes of the tournaments. 
  • T20 World Cup- India is a nation where cricket is nothing less than a religion. Scheduled to begin in October 2021, brands can inculcate content of top players like Virat, Dhoni, Rashid, etc, team-specific conversations, and constant highlights about your offers during matches.
  • UEFA EURO 2020: Scheduled between 11 June and 11 July 2021, brands can focus on relevant engagement-focused activities such as quizzes, polls, and contests relating to the matches, winning moments and even base their communication on team players.
  • Other Events: Brands can also look at non-sporting events that have huge traction in India. For instance, last year 18% of the Indian consumers were occupied by the reality TV show Big Boss and 9% of them enjoyed the Femina Miss India event. 

(Source: Facebook & InMobi, 2020). Focusing on these events can enable brands to push their audiences into the marketing funnel that eventually leads to conversions.

  • The Festive season: Moreover brands can leverage the upcoming 4 month-festive season that ranges from Diwali to Christmas. These festivals hold a positive sentiment for businesses as the consumer buying process has facilitated a new way of online shopping, aiding online shopping sites. A few shopping categories that usually dominate this season include apparel, home appliances, gadgets, home furnishing, and gift packs.

Let’s explore some of the key platforms & ad formats businesses can leverage to sell online and drive sales.

Leveraging Disney+ Hotstar 

In 2020, Disney+Hotstar was able to scale 86.8M total paid subscribers with 30% of them belonging to India (Brand Equity, 2020).

  • Brands can now focus on creating short videos in the form of Pre-roll & mid-roll ads, streaming before and during the topical content to drive awareness of their products. Marketers can then leverage the intent of these audiences and remarket to them to drive sales.
  • Remarketing to these audiences during the consideration stage serves fruitfully to the brands as audiences that have watched the videos would already show an inclination towards the brand. 

Leveraging Facebook:

  • Your brand content can revolve around the top players and teams that can drive Engagement through this to build an audience and re-target this engaged audience to boost sales
  • Make use of different short and catchy creative formats on facebook to push your fast-moving products like short videos, gifs, thumb stoppers, instant experiences, etc, that are attention gripping. Create different audience clusters and remarket them accordingly.

Leveraging Instagram:

  • On Instagram, video scripts for influencers can promote sales with the use of unique coupon codes or exclusive offers during the topical season along with brand integration. This would increase brand credibility & value hence push your audience into the consideration level of the funnel.
  • Engagements lead to brand awareness and eventually to conversions hence make sure you keep content as engaging as possible using various formats like contests, Q&As, quizzes, and polls with the topical theme, leverage cashback offers to make it more enticing for your audience to participate and win exciting prizes. Eg: have a poll with 2 products “this or that” with a swipe-up link to the offers or Announce winners/offers with Tap to reveal stickers.

Leveraging YouTube

  • Behind the scenes content, highlights, key moment videos of the events are popular videos with extremely high viewer retention rates. Leveraging these on YouTube could help the brand gain visibility.
  • TrueView in-stream ads are one of the known heroes in the video format field. The diversity in the lengths of the ads (i.e Communication Strategy offering 10s, 20s, and 40s Ad messaging) maintained engagement, avoided creative fatigue, and ensured higher CTRs.

Leveraging Twitter

  • Twitter is most crucial to leverage moment marketing content. These Twitter moments can include news, entertainment, or even fun topics. For example, brands leveraging on the 2020 Superbowl performance
  • Creating twitter campaigns with a blend of statics, gifs, and relevant hashtags can be fruitful to brands to increase brand awareness and eventually drive sales.
  • Brands can also focus on the ‘website clicks’ or ‘conversions’ objective that Twitter has to offer to boost sales. 

Getting creative with the formats

-Playable ads: It offers an interactive preview of the app with playable ads thereby creating an immersive experience and engaging the audience. 

-3D Swirl: 3D Swirl is an immersive ad format and it runs across Google Ad Manager. Swirl Ads allow the user to have an immersive experience as the users can rotate, zoom in and expand the creativity in the ad. 

-Flipbook: Flipbook ad is an outstream video format for the mobile web. It provides an interactive experience to the audience. The video played in a flipbook ad pauses & plays as per the viewer's scrolling movement. 

- Branded content ads: Branded content ads are ads where the creators on Instagram can allow the business partners to promote their post or story and turn their content into an ad. The ads can be run through Ads Manager. 

Case Study- boAt

Creating an integrated digital marketing strategy for boAt during the topical event -IPL:

Key objective- To drive an increase in brand and ad recall.

Our Strategy 

Via Video Sequencing on YouTube, our team was able to retarget the audiences that engaged with the video in the first sequence to view the next and so on. We leveraged catchy GIFs on Google Display Network to run ads for maximum clicks that directed to the amazon product page to drive sales. With the help of leveraging YouTube Trueview for Reach, we aimed to reach maximum people over time. 

Key Results

Through our strategy & execution, we were able to achieve 44.4 Million+ Impressions, a 15.5% increase in product lift, a 59% decrease in cost per click, 3.9 Lakh+ clicks, and a 158.7% increase in brand interest. 

Conclusion

In the E-commerce industry, brands have immense potential at gaining visibility through topical posts. They must utilize the same for awareness, reach, recall & conversions. Leveraging relevant platforms with creative ad formats in their strategies would help the brands get a 360° understanding of their campaigns to gauge the impact on driving growth & sales.

Sources:

https://www.socialsamosa.com/2020/10/e-commerce-brands-youtube-strategy/

https://www.InMobi.com/2020FestiveSeasonGuide

https://www.facebook.com/business/news/festive-insights/


Understanding Facebook Ads for E-commerce

  • Arshiya Ahamed
  • |
  • 7 May , 2021
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    • 3 min read

Facebook Ads for e-commerce is a great way to not only generate traffic to your website but also increase sales for your brand. Running a blend of Dynamic Product Ads as well as conversion Ads for your e-commerce business can help increase your ROI on several online marketplaces.

Facebook enables the retargeting of users who may have visited your page but not purchased anything during their sales funnel journey. Thus, this retargeting of the audiences paves a way to further increase e-commerce sales & ROI on the platform.

Choosing the right objective for your Ecommerce Ads is crucial for your business. Let us look at a few objectives one can choose for running these facebook Ads for ecommerce.

  1. Catalog Sales

This objective is the best way to retarget consumers who did not convert. The Catalog Sales objective allows you to advertise your product sets or catalogs on Facebook. Moreover, it enables you to pick either a particular product category of products or choose all the products listed on your website. You can further decide to showcase the name, price, discount amount, short description, etc by choosing dynamic product sets. 

  1. Conversion

Apart from having dynamic product ads, with the Conversion objective, one can decide to display a few of your business’s best sellers in your E-commerce Ads. Similar to other conversion advertisements, now you can pick to include plain product images as carousels, single images, etc.

Now that we know what objectives we can explore, let us identify the types of target audiences in advertising.

Types of audiences

Some of the types of target audiences in advertising are people who have:

  • Viewed or added to cart but not purchased
  • Added to cart but not purchased
  • Broad audience targeting (demographics, interests)

Types of Custom Audiences

Website: These audiences are primarily all website visitors. They can be retargeted with Facebook ads for e-commerce based on the time spent (5%, 10%, 25%) on your website on either specific product categories or particular pages.

Customer List: With these audiences, you can upload details such as your customer name, email ID, location, order value, etc to define a value-based audience. These audiences are a great way to reach potential customers who resemble current high-value customers.

App Activity: Considering your business possesses an app that is linked to your account, you can now retarget your app users on their app behavior, this can include- the number of purchases made, the number of times users have opened the app, etc.

Offline Activity: If your business has offline retail stores, one can track the offline data along with the online data to assess the number of people who have transacted with your offline business after viewing the online ads.

Facebook Sources: This is a great way to retarget your e-commerce ads via using various social media sources. These audiences would be high intent customers who have previously interacted with your brand.

Having known the audience sets we can cater to via our paid Ads let us explore what kinds of creatives we can look at to best showcase our products on the platforms.

Types of creatives:

Single Image Ads: These ads work best for products that have clear pricing and CTA. This is because the audience grasps what the brand has to offer at their first glance

Video Format Ads: Video Ads are focused on telling your product’s/ brand’s story. These ads can further be customized on the platform they are being showcased on. For example, Instagram Story Ads are highly impactful as they are a great way to grab the viewer's attention. 

Multiple Products: Through multiple Product ads you can now display a wide range of products using catalogs, product sets, and dynamic ads.

Carousel Ads: These ads are focused on a series of images which can be either of the same product or different ones

Catalog ads: A catalog entails the brand’s inventory inclusive of images of the products, sizes, and more picked from the website.

Collection Ads: Generally these formats are a blend of both videos and images. Moreover, they are immersive e-commerce ad formats that make it simple for users to interact with the advertisement.

One can follow the following best case practices for Product ads:

Best Practices 

  • Creative adaptations: Resizing the creatives for feed as well as story format is recommended to have a better impact on sales.
  • Product-Centric- Products must always be in the focus along with displaying the CTA and price.
  • Minimalism- Simple and neat templates are the best way forward to grab the attention of the audience

Conclusion

Now that we know the basic objectives, audiences, types, and best practices for running Facebook Ads, you can now use them to grow your E-commerce brand accordingly.  Choosing the right objectives to cater to your audience, coupled with the best practices of running these ads can serve to be extremely beneficial to increase e-commerce sales, ROI and drive growth for your business.


E-Commerce in India : After an era of change

  • Lalitha Shukla
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  • 22 April , 2021
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    • 4 min read

The pandemic, last year, brought about a wave of digital transformation in the country. Due to lack of choice or concerns about safety or just plain convenience, consumers started taking to digital ways to fulfill their needs. This change in behaviour boosted the growth of the e-commerce industry in India. The last few years had already witnessed a rapid growth in the segment due to increase in internet and smartphone penetration, but the pandemic accelerated that growth by 3x. Right from groceries to clothes to books to personal care products, every item was now being purchased online. The Indian e-commerce industry is expected to be a USD 200 billion market in the next 3-5 years.

An interesting thing to note here is that the consumer behaviour underwent massive changes at a very fundamental level. Most of them started adopting new ways of shopping online out of necessity first, but soon this changed into a habit due to the sheer convenience of sitting at home and having everything delivered to your doorstep. This caused a chain reaction to everything around - right from products, services, to brands and categories.

For marketers like us, consumers are the centre of our universe and therefore, it became imperative for us to dive a little deeper into their behaviour to understand how the growth of e-commerce changed their lives. In order to do this, we conducted a survey online and asked a series of questions to consumers to understand their shopping behaviour and patterns.

Our report on the E-commerce sector in India has a detailed account of the changing consumer behaviour pertaining to the e-commerce industry, key takeaways for brands and businesses in this space and some interesting insights. You may also find it interesting to read our recently published book, Decoding the Digital Jungle.

Key takeaways for brands & businesses in the e-commerce space -

1) The path to purchase is indefinite & complex -
The number of touchpoints in the digital environment for the consumers has increased, so has the number of avenues for a brand to be present at, innovate at and be interactive at. As per a recent Amazon report, consumers use 4 platforms on an average before making their decision. The report also says that more than half of the consumers visit Amazon with the purpose of research implying that the platform is not just a point of purchase/action area in the consumer journey. As per a study conducted by Google, the journey between Trigger and Purchase goes through a messy middle which consists of a process of exploration and evaluation. The loop can be broken only by a brand that is present at the right touch-points providing appropriate information to help evaluation quickly. An important marketing tool post-pandemic is to advertise on Amazon and Flipkart if the product and services are relevant. The advertising need not be limited to conversion objectives but it should be about driving consumers through the funnel. Brands also need to ensure that ad messaging is tailored to the needs of shoppers who are in the evaluation phase. As per a study conducted by Google, there are behavioral biases that influence our shopping decisions. We need to put out our messaging by aligning our biases and category aspects. For example, scarcity bias plays a role when it comes to the Lifestyle and Fashion/luxury/premium category. As stock decreases, the products become more desirable to purchase. Brands should also form tailored email marketing campaigns to aggressively engage with potential customers. Retargeting and basket abandonment message to engage with evaluative shoppers before they make a decision. Need of the hour is for brands to have a robust social media strategy and a full-funnel marketing plan to drive consumers to purchase. More Social Media platforms need to be explored and defined as per the target audience and objectives. This will assist consumers to evaluate and come out of the “messy middle” quickly.

2) Grocery Shopping : A clear winner!
When it came to understanding the key categories which were a boon to E-commerce, Grocery came out as a clear winner as per the survey results. Availability of items on grocery apps and websites is a major driver for a consumer to be loyal to that platform. Continuous non-availability can drive consumers to reconsider loyalty. Also, consumers have a strong affinity towards buying from local stores, familiar shops and brands they know about. The experience on the User Interface makes a lot of difference to a customer's preference. There are instances where consumers expressed that they distinguish Zomato and Swiggy based on their user interfaces. A simple, self-guiding and clutter-free UI can change the game.

3) Brands with a purpose -

The global pandemic has elevated the idea of a company's purpose or the idea of a meaningful business - how brands give back to the community and the environment. There were a few key attitude shifts during 2020. As per a research conducted by Google, 86 % of the respondents say that they have become more environment conscious due to the pandemic. Consumers have expanded their
horizons and hence, they are open to more choices, rather better choices. As it is rightly said, it takes one downfall to make you learn for life. As per our survey, 70% of the respondents said that they started using sustainable brands post pandemic. Giving a higher purpose to your brand is essential now as it is no more just a differentiating factor - consumers might place more importance on this
than on customization.

4) A shift towards Digital payments  -
As per a recent KPMG report, In October 2020, digital transactions jumped to 23.7 million amounting to around 4000 crores. Through our survey, we found out that 70% of the respondents preferred using digital payment methods while shopping online. People in India feel more secure while transacting with physical cash than paying digitally as per the prevalent consumer behaviour. The findings imply that there has been a phenomenal shift in consumer preferences. It is very evident that the consumers of today are experimenting and trying newer platforms for financial transactions. The brands in this sphere need to be very proactive in forming strategic partnerships with fintech platforms.

In conclusion, we’d like to say that today’s ecommerce brands cannot be complacent anymore. Consumers today are well-informed and smart and have very high expectations of brands. An E-commerce brand of today has many more touchpoints, many more potential consumers and a complicated consumer journey to look after. Let us get on with it and adapt better!


IPL 2021 – A Marketer’s Dreamland

  • Mansi Paun
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  • 21 April , 2021
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    • 5 min read

IPL - it's that time of the year again and we are as excited as you are! Yes, it's not the same as before and we can't cheer our favorite teams directly from the stadium but we know our enthusiasm has not died. Also, the safer we are the better, right?

 

Who doesn't love a good cricket match with some of the world’s best players and a side of outside-the-box advertisements that leave you awestruck? The marketing fever has already started with CRED doing something we never thought was possible and it's safe to say that Rahul Dravid is now a marketing sensation. To understand this landscape a little better, our Consumer Insights and Market Research team conducted a small survey and we are here to tell you that this is just the beginning. 

 

Marketing on the IPL Platform has been growing ever since it started back in 2008 and it only knows one direction - UP! Throughout 13 seasons we have seen various brands leverage the IPL Platform to connect with their consumers on a large scale. This hasn't been just through sponsorships but also specific advertising campaigns that brands came up with on their own using the IPL platform. According to our survey, 73% of brands think that IPL is one the most effective platforms to market their products and services. 

 

Why is the IPL a good platform for marketing? 

 

Since it started in 2008, the Indian Premier League has taken the internet by storm. The whole concept of having cities in one country play a sport that is loved by all, against each other has created an audience filled with love and passion for their home teams. The loyalty that was created by this league has only seen a rise, not just in India but the whole world. What better way to market your brand, right? You hit all your target audiences from kids, teenagers, adults to the aged on one single platform. It's a JACKPOT!

Brands pour so much money into sponsorships that it has become one of IPL’s biggest revenue streams. As a result, the valuation of the league was 6.8 million in 2019 according to Your Story. Although we saw a lot of tension during 2020 around the league, they still pulled through. According to our survey, 90% of brands are spending their marketing budgets on Digital & Social Media Marketing this IPL season. So what are you waiting for? If you haven't thought of it yet, it's time you do! 

The IPL network is worth Rs. 47,500 crores and its brand value only keeps growing with a rate of 13.5% as of 2019. Brands are investing a huge part of their budget for marketing during this season, some spending Rs. 50 lakhs and above. Not only are they spending a lot of money but they are also increasing their budgets every year. 63% of brands have increased their budget this year as compared to 2020 with regards to Digital Marketing. 

 

What Digital Platforms to use for IPL Marketing? 

 

We have various platforms to advertise on starting from Instagram & Facebook to Twitter and YouTube. But before we start with which platforms, there is one thing you need to be sure of - who are you marketing to. Your key demographic plays an important role in selecting your ideal advertising platform. After this, choose a platform that is content relevant but make sure you don't extend yourself to too many platforms. It's always good to stick to quality rather than quantity. 

Facebook is a definite platform of choice even though it is not the newest or most interesting one. With over 2 billion monthly active users, it is one of the biggest platforms to advertise on. This followed by Instagram which has over 1 billion monthly active users is the best way to reach a younger audience. According to the survey conducted by Social Beat, 46% of brands are advertising on Instagram during this IPL season. Twitter & YouTube are two other platforms that would work great for IPL marketing and will help create a buzz to interact with your audience. 

 

What are brands looking to achieve through IPL Marketing?

There are various objectives and goals that a brand wants to achieve when it is marketing on digital platforms. They range from awareness, branding to sales and product launches. While conducting our survey, we found that during the IPL season, 57% are only looking towards branding of their product and services, while 22% prioritize product awareness. A small percentage of the business industry look at this as a Sales or Product Launch platform for their business. 

Brands That Have Leveraged IPL In The Best Way

 

  • CRED - RAHUL DRAVID’S NEW AVATAR


CRED is a credit bill-paying platform that is known for its creative advertising. Their most-awaited and recent IPL Campaign has blown the minds of every cricket fan, every cricketer, and every marketer. They unleashed a side of Rahul Dravid that we would have not even thought of and this has taken the internet by storm. The instant tweeting by cricket players, the memes made on the advertisement by many different brands have made this campaign a raging success. The immediate recognition and fame show that IPL is the right platform to gain excessive awareness and reach.

  • GULF OIL - CONSISTENT PERFORMERS

Gulf Oil India is a leading lubricant brand for automobiles in the Indian Lubricant Industry. They started their partnership with the iconic IPL Team Chennai Super Kings in 2011 and have been going strong ever since. Their most recent ad with MS Dhoni shows an interesting conversation between a young Dhoni and the present Dhoni and the fans love it because what's better than one Captain Cool? Two! For Gulf Oil, cricket is not just a sport but an emotion and through this, they have won every Indian’s heart. 

  • VIVO IPL - INDIA KA APNA MANTRA

The Indian Premier League themselves have come out with an interesting ad to promote the league and teach us an important lesson. In their newest ad starring Captain Cool aka MS Dhoni who takes the avatar of a monk, VIVO IPL wants to show that India now has a new mantra for success. In the ad, MS Dhoni teaches his students how greed is not a bad thing if pursued in the right interest giving an example of Mumbai Indian’s Captain Rohit Sharma and how the team has won the league 5 times. 

  • CRED - JACKIE SHROFF’S SECRET

As mentioned earlier CRED is a credit bill-paying platform known for their creative advertising and they have held that reputation proudly. With an addition to their previous ad with Jim Sarbh & Rahul Dravid, they have created yet another eye-catching advertisement featuring Jim Sarbh & Jackie Shroff. CRED lets the audience in on a small secret about their credit bill-paying platform along with Jackie’s secret to staying fit - ZUMBA! Talk about how to get a customer's attention, huh?

  • MAGICPIN - THE SPOOF

After the viral CRED ad with Rahul Dravid, Magicpin found a way to troll the brand by creating a spoof of their ad bringing out some interesting points. It is true that all things have a positive and negative side and Magicpin just hit the right spot! The ad is a perfect contrast of the CRED ad and has been executed brilliantly by Vijay Raaz in order to bring out how Magicpin is down-to-earth. 

The Indian Premier League 2021 started not long ago and we are already seeing some super innovative ads from brands all around India. We are excited to see what more is in store from them. Our small survey has led us to see that the Indian Premier League is a marketer’s dreamland and we sure will get lost in it!


5 steps to creating a successful Market Research survey

  • Mrinal Gaur
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  • 15 December , 2020
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    • 5 min read

Einstein once said ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning’ But does the count matter? Does every question lead us to the desired learning? The trick is not in asking questions but knowing how to ask the right questions. 

Holistic market research requires us to either own that skill or learn it. This is all the more pertinent now that businesses are becoming more and more consumer-centric. We can reach a consumer-oriented solution only by knowing what our consumers want, when they want, and how they want, and we need to ask them the right questions first.

 Let us first understand what market research is. A new opportunity in a business and its related domains should be analyzed first through market research as it gives us an idea of the viability and feasibility of the decisions to be taken. As precisely explained in one of our previous blogs, market research plays a vital role when we have to spot business opportunities, to understand our consumers in-depth, to understand our competitors and their approach, to grow in business, and to identify the right channels of marketing for our business.

A very powerful form of market research is primary research, which is best described as an entirely new form of data collected by asking questions to the existing and prospective consumers of our brand. There are multiple types of primary research implemented depending upon our objectives - Interviews, Focus groups, Surveys, and Observations. When it comes to collecting information from a large number of people systematically with a decision orientation, a survey is highly effective.

After a market research survey has been generated, rolled out and after our data points are in place, the next logical step is to analyze these points and derive actionable insights. This is a lengthy process through and through. In fact, the data collection process alone can take months, even years sometimes, hence, it is all the more important to start off on the right note. Mind it, Surveying could be cumbersome and non-conclusive if the number and type of questions are not appropriate.

Hence, we have put down steps involved in making a successful market research questionnaire to ask meaningful questions to our audience.

 

First and foremost, we define our Research Problem & Target Audience

A simple way to define our research problem and target audience is to answer the following questions first.

What is the goal of this research?

What problem are we trying to solve with this data? What sort of decision will this survey lead to? Where will it be implemented? 

How will it be useful to the consumers, brands and products? What information do I want from this market research questionnaire and why? 

What do I hope to understand about my target audience through this research? 

What market is this survey targeting? Which segment is the perfect fit and will help in the decision making process with reliable insights?

While answering these questions, we need to keep in mind the following - the size of our audience sample, the channel, and medium of our survey, and the detailed characteristics of our audience. Several data points with only a handful of them qualifying the characteristics is a waste of resources with no conclusive results.

We can use a few online tools to also build our consumers’ persona as explained in detail in one of our previous blogs.

 

Divide the information to be collected into Information Areas

After defining our research problem, we put down all the information that needs to be collected and group them in logical heads which are our key information areas. This list needs to be exhaustive, because a single missing piece can lead to an unsolved puzzle in the end and the process cannot be practically repeated. We also make sure that these key areas are not overlapping or contradicting each other.

Let us take an example to understand this better. 

For a market research survey conducted to design a marketing strategy for an existing FMCG product, the information areas could be Usage of product, Purchase behaviour , Profile, Perception, and Brand health.

 

Logically sequence your information areas

After the information areas are in place, we order them as per logic to ensure that the survey nurtures respondent friendliness. The flow of the market research questionnaire is kept such that the respondent does not get mentally fatigued in between, hence, it is also a good practice to keep the questions about the core purpose of the study right in the beginning. Some common criteria to decide this order are chronology, expected bias, and the level of critical thinking. 

 Some of the common structures that are followed include -

  1. Introduction of the respondent
  2. Screening questions
  3. Category behaviour
  4. Brand health and image
  5. Respondents’ Attitudes/beliefs
  6. Additional/ secondary data

 

Start asking questions now!  

Now, we can start forming questions within the Information areas. An effective way to create questions is to divide the information areas further into Variables and Indicators. 

For example, under ‘Category behaviour’ mentioned in the previous head, the variables are ‘Purchase behaviour’ and ‘Usage behaviour’. Furthermore, the indicators under ‘Usage behaviour’ are ‘frequency’, ‘purpose’, and ‘type’.

Within these heads and subheads, the questions belong to two categories - Open-ended and close-ended. When it is important to capture spontaneous answers or when we can’t put together an exhaustive list of responses as an aided list, we use open-ended questions such as ‘what do you particularly like about Product X?’ or ‘What are the reasons for not using Product X?’

On the other hand, Close-ended questions are easier and quicker to answer for a respondent as they have options to choose from. The respondents are given an aided list, which is an exhaustive list of all possible answers. Here, we make sure that the options are mutually exclusive and are not open to interpretation. 

We always go for short, simple, and clear questions. For example, rather than asking, 

‘Have you used the conditioner at least twice in the last two months?’, 

we should be asking ‘Have you used the conditioner two or more times in the last 1 month?’ 

Similarly, ambiguous questions are avoided because they don’t lead to a thoughtful answer.

 

Proofing, and Piloting

Now, when we have put down our questions in the market research questionnaire, it is imperative to check for errors and test it once. We examine questions against the initial information areas in terms of completeness and we run a need test (for knowing if there is any question that is not required). Finally, we run it informally to know if the flow works, to check if any contradictory answers are emerging, or if any questions are heavy on the respondents' memory, and to assure the length of the survey is correct. 

Before rolling out the market research survey online or online, it is crucial to examine the survey as a whole once. Hence, we ensure to provide context to the respondents in the form of reasons. Also, we set the expectations for the participants concerning length, time taken to complete it and a progress bar within the survey is always a great option. 

While these are the steps involved in creating a market research survey, one wise thing to do not just while making it but also executing it is to follow logic and common sense. Remember, a true researcher should always remove his cloak of views and biases before starting to work on a survey because it is more important to know what others think.

Voila, our survey is ready to go!

Reach out to our research experts to know more about how you can create the right market research strategy for your business! 

 

 


Why every brand in India should leverage AR in 2020

  • Tejasvi Batria
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  • 28 May , 2020
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    • 6 min read

Interest and investment in augmented reality and immersive digital marketing is greater than it’s ever been before. Through the journey of evolving brands, we have witnessed the adoption of a mobile-first creative approach. Augmented Reality marketing provides brands with a highly desired tool in their belt when it comes to driving sales and enhancing brand value through mobile devices. 

The explosive growth of immersive marketing saw big brand wins during the early days of the adoption of AR in marketing. Because of this, AR emerged as one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends, alongside voice commerce and the use of first-party data. Industries ranging from e-commerce to fintech and FMCGs raced to leverage AR marketing for their brands.

This growth has been witnessed with Augmented Reality marketing playing a key role in social media marketing as well. While Snapchat was one of the first social media giants to adopt AR, Instagram was quick to follow. Google, too, launched AR powered 3D images in searches for products on various e-commerce brands early this year. This proves that AR can be used in multiple ways for a number of different reasons, whether it’s increasing user engagement or offering interactive elements for consumers.

Tech giants fueling AR adoption

The first step to creating a space to build AR-powered apps, experiences and campaigns were taken by tech giants like Facebook, Apple and Google. They created platforms like Spark AR, Apple’s ARKit, and Google’s ARCore which made it simpler to leverage AR in marketing and products for any brand.

But the doors for AR marketing only really opened with the conception of Facebook’s augmented reality suite Spark AR Studio. This tool allowed anyone to create their own filters and campaigns which could be utilized for Facebook and Instagram Stories. Free for all to use, Spark AR by Facebook has provided a platform for many brands to create their own AR effects and filters. This quickly launched Augmented Reality marketing to new heights.

While e-commerce brands, specifically beauty and lifestyle, were quick to tap into the feature by allowing customers to try out products, brands also leveraged AR for high impact brand awareness. A prime example of this was Adidas Original’s decision to create a custom AR effect that was in line with the trend of vintage filters and retro photographs at the time. Their filter added a nostalgic look to your stories, including a ‘glitch’ effect. This custom AR effect was extremely share-worthy, very on-trend and was perfect for building brand awareness!

AR marketing witnessed a peak in the entertainment industry as well, with several well-known media giants tapping into Augmented Reality marketing for the launch of largescale projects. Known celebrities and producers used AR in marketing for movies, TV shows, and even new music. This was seen most prominently with Netflix. One of their largest campaigns tied up with the New York Times and Google Lens for readers to scan and discover images that led to a Stranger Things reveal.

India AR Adoption - Slice of the Consumer Pie

The use of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is expected to steadily grow as more brands across sectors leverage it to engage their core audience. India is projected to increase both the creation and consumption of immersive media following the global trend. Brands in real estate, media and entertainment, automotive, and retail are expected to showcase the maximum adoption due to clear use cases, as per the Nasscom Graphic: Geetanjali. 

By 2022, over $6.5 billion would be the estimated size of the Indian immersive media market, with a higher percentage of it pouring in from the Augment Reality market. Around $5.9 billion is expected, in comparison to the $0.5 billion estimated from the VR market, due to higher costs for creation and execution. The explosive growth of 172% from 2018 to 2022 can be attributed to the easily accessible tools and adoption of Immersive media by top Indian brands.

Top reasons for your brand to adopt AR Marketing

Branding and Buzz

AR marketing has the capability to improve and create an immersive experience thereby leading to better brand perception if created well. As such, it is essential for brands not to use AR for novelty purposes, but to build a more seamless experience that would provide a positive AR experience while thinking about the long-term benefits of the experience. 

Brands like Pepsi, with their #SwagStepChallenge and Lifebuoy, with #LifebuoyKarona, have used AR filters to create hashtag challenges on channels like TikTok to increase buzz around the brand. They roped in celebrities and influencer marketing campaigns to further amplify their AR filters. This helped create a massive awareness of their brand recording explosive cumulative reach of over 85 Billion views on both hashtags on TikTok, without the notion of driving sales or action. 

Better Product Visualization

Augmented Reality is often perceived with the restricted utility reserved for selfies or social media filters. However, the Augmented Reality market can stretch further this with the capacity for much larger impact. The ability to allow a customer to try out products without leaving their home or their screen is a level of immersion and interaction that even interactive ads cannot offer.

By creating AR versions of a product or set of products, brands can provide customers with a better idea on the actual look and feel, while simultaneously setting the right expectations for them in terms of the deliverables.

Brands that have most heavily used and relied on leveraging the tool are present in the retail, beauty and lifestyle segments. L’Oréal’s virtual makeup tool was a path-defining AR creation which helped customers across the globe test and try their makeup virtually anywhere. They added another step helping to enhance the marketability - the option to try the superimposed makeup in real-time with the filter, or take an existing picture to upload and have the filter tested on.

On the other hand, providing a vision to home and interiors, IKEA paved a way for real estate companies by allowing customers to view their products in real-time within their own homes. This increased the possibility of purchase with increased visualization, leaving very little to the imagination. 

The real estate sector now faces the need to implement AR in product visualisation as well, especially to keep up with marketing during COVID-19. With fewer brokers and agents taking on home visits due to the restrictions imposed by authorities, it has become difficult to meet the existing demand for house hunters. While many have turned to virtual tours, AR can significantly drive sales, during and after this pandemic.

Deeper Engagement and Rewards

Your core audience is bombarded with a colossal amount of marketing messages every day, making it hard for marketers to ensure their message is heard. Providing your brand with the parachute of AR and adding a layer of immersive marketing can place it above other brands in a consumer's mind.

Making the brand more interactive, healthcare brand Medlife leveraged Facebook Augmented Reality marketing to educate viewers on the CPR procedure. This created deeper engagement for the audience by providing learning and greater rewards to their subconscious mind as well.

Assistance for Improved Customer Relationships

For brands who are dependent on the physical store experience to drive business, Augmented Reality provides the potential to amplify this by creating a digital experience simultaneously. A frequent example of this is seen with QR codes and bar codes that can be scanned. Doing so pulls up an AR manual or experience with detailed information on the product and brand.

Two popular examples of Hyundai and Mercedes have showcased how the auto industry has utilized AR to improve customer experiences. While Hyundai created AR-powered manuals for drivers,  Mercedes created an app integrating AI to ‘Ask Mercedes’ any questions relating to the product and brand similar to a chatbot.

B2B Marketing

Augmented reality is a tool which can transform the B2B customer-vendor experience with the help of a single click. Limitations of what a vendor is able to provide, along with the misaligned customer experiences, is eliminated with the help of AR.

Creating dynamic sales presentation material to the customer with AR-powered content can provide a virtual 360-degree look at their product lines, and is one of the most used technologies in the B2B space. 

Use Cases Within An Organization, Going Beyond Marketing

Ever imagined that you could be in two places at once? With the help of a VR headset, this can be achieved. This novelty soon became a reality as the COVID-19 outbreak caused many companies to shift to a work-from-home model. Business continuity is a key focus for organizations while they are also looking to stay home to stay safe, but also want to provide real-time experiences. VR technology plays an important role to achieve this. 

Companies like Quess, which is focused on sales-driven marketing and human interaction has their employees getting AI-powered training on their mobile devices. The face-reading AI also provides them with real-time feedback on their voice modulation, tone and facial expressions and key notes to focus on for improvement. 

Kickstarting the AR and VR Journey for Your Brand 

The biggest learning digital marketers can take from this is that it’s time to adapt. Investing in the available AI technologies to maximize your results has become the need of the hour. It is critical for your brand to reach the objective of managing more data effectively and improving your consumer experience.

The creative potential of using AR in marketing can provide your concepts and campaigns with an increased potential for brand awareness and recognition. 2020 is the year to explore immersive marketing to maximize your brand’s potential. At Social Beat, we implement a mixed marketing strategy which includes AR to enhance our efforts and deliver results.


How AI and first-party data can be leveraged for better audience targeting

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

In a constantly evolving economic landscape, there are many challenges that marketing leaders need to overcome. They are under constant pressure to improve the efficiency of marketing campaigns by lowering acquisition costs and increasing profitability. There has also been a significant shift in the data landscape along with increasing privacy concerns after the GDPR and Cambridge Analytica data scandal. 

A cost-effective way to overcome these challenges would be to start looking internally and utilizing existing business assets. Leading companies like Nestle, Ikea, and others, are also looking to leverage high-quality first-party data in their marketing strategies. First-party data becomes an important factor for a successful marketing campaign and marketers who don’t adapt would be missing out a great deal. 

Death of third-party cookies

Earlier this year, Google declared that Chrome, which is the most widely used browser in the world, would start eliminating support for third-party cookies. Third-party cookies are a simple line of code placed by websites on a user’s hard drive. These cookies form the basis of building behavioural profiles of users on the internet and help marketers in their targeting.

Companies who are at the centre of consumer data, including Facebook, Twitter and Oracle, are slowly moving away from third-party data. On the other hand, a widespread concern around data privacy has led to consumers becoming more aware and demanding increased levels of data privacy. Browsers like Chrome, Safari and Mozilla are now blocking third-party cookies in their browsers. 

All of this combined would have a large impact on the targeting options available for advertisers. With third-party cookies now becoming irrelevant, first-party data in marketing automatically becomes a brand’s best option to track and target customers for their online campaigns.

The rise of first-party data

Any data that you collect directly from consumers and with their consent is known as first-party data. This data is usually reliable and trustworthy and can help drive high-value leads and limit unnecessary ad spends. For a brand, their online sources for collecting first-party data in marketing would be the company’s website, app, CRM, social media, email marketing, surveys etc.

In November 2019, sportswear giant Nike had announced that they will stop selling on Amazon and focus on selling direct-to-consumer via its own website and app. This decision comes as a part of their vision to elevate consumer experiences and build direct and personal retail experiences with its consumers. Selling directly through their own online properties and retail stores would also mean Nike can completely control and own their first-party data. This move by Nike shows us that they are confident in driving all traffic to their own website to enhance the consumer experience and also lower acquisition costs and improve profitability. This might just be the tip-of-the-iceberg and actually be indicative of the start of a massive shift in how brands sell online and start opting for the direct-to-consumer strategy. And this, in turn, could lead first-party data in marketing to become a new digital marketing trend in the making.   

Tap into the power of first-party data using telephonic conversations with customers

For brands looking to accelerate their adoption of first-party data in marketing, one of the most important and invaluable assets they already own are in-bound consumer calls. As per a recent survey, consumers are increasingly turning to phone conversations during the path of their purchase journey. A lot of research happens online but they also prefer to call a brand when they want some specific information and are nearing the end of the decision-making process especially in case of high-value purchases or time-sensitive products and services. 

Consumers are having important conversations and asking brands for more information that is relevant to them. They are sharing their concerns, their purchase intent and so much more on these calls. These inbound calls are a treasure trove of highly valuable information and it’s time for brands to pay attention and listen to what their consumers are saying.

Policy Bazaar, India’s leading insurance aggregator strives to provide its customers with a smooth hassle-free experience by digitizing its processes. Considering that insurance is not a one size fits all sort of industry, Policy Bazaar has been constantly implementing AI and latest tech solutions including chatbots to understand their consumer personas and ensure to sell the right product to the right consumer. They were one of the earliest companies to discover a goldmine of consumer insights in their 35 million minutes of monthly talk time via voice analytics. One of the key insights they found after analysing the word cloud of their conversations was that a lot of their customers were using the word cashless. The marketing teams assumed that consumers would be more concerned with premiums, claims, bonuses etc., and so there was no focus on showcasing the cashless network. Within a week’s time, the team launched a new feature that would show the customers a list of cashless networks that were available in the policies they were interested in. 

AI in marketing intelligence can help turn calls into rich first-party data with actionable insights. Analysing these customer conversations and deriving key insights which can be implemented into the marketing campaigns and communication strategy will in-turn lead to a highly effective communication strategy, increase in conversion rates and lower acquisition costs. 

Improving customer engagement with personalized content 

Brands that are activating and collecting first-party data should be using this data to personalize the content on ads that are being shown to a particular user. In the case of e-commerce companies, understanding past purchase behaviour and knowing what your consumer likes or has added to their cart before will help you segment your audiences and show them relevant messages based on which step of the consumer journey they are in. Another key aspect is that brands should ensure to deliver personalized experiences across the entire marketing funnel of their campaigns. 

Tata Mutual Funds, a leading mutual funds investment company had launched a campaign called #SayNoToKatauti which aimed at striking the right chords with personalized content to deliver higher engagement and reach. The campaign had a series of four brand films that had a common messaging point of tax-saving investments. The protagonist in each of the videos was in different relatable and everyday scenarios, like watching a cricket match or ordering food, which was then targeted and shown to people based on their own interests. 

Personalized campaigns with AI marketing and first-party data would also automatically mean higher efficiency and reach of your campaigns across all your digital marketing platforms. On Facebook, you can create lookalike audiences from your first-party data which are very powerful and can help build the right mix of good quality and scale both. Google has also recently launched combined audiences which is enabling advertisers to narrow down their target audience and serve impressions to people who fit into two categories. For example, you could target people who have visited your site in the last 60 days and also are part of the in-market audience for your category. This combination makes your targeting more efficient and helps you spend your money effectively thereby improving your ROI.  

AI in marketing is also quickly becoming the future of digital. With AI marketing, you can make a campaign immersive and experiential for a user, encouraging them to engage with a website or ad better. AI can use first-party data to leverage information and display content or information tailored to their liking, thus increasing the likelihood of driving them through to the end of the funnel. A prime example of this is the streaming services that have taken the world by storm - whether it’s television or music. By using AI, these companies display personalised recommendations that push the user to engage further with the service, optimising their experience with first-party behavioural data. 

In today’s marketing scenario first-party data is becoming an increasingly popular choice and marketers are looking to utilize it across all platforms to accomplish their key marketing objectives. It is crucial for brands to take control and utilize their first-party data to improve ROI across their marketing efforts. Businesses must invest in building trusted and personalized relationships with consumers and raise the bar for transparency and data privacy. At Social Beat, we analyse first-party data from different sources to fuel campaigns and leverage different types of engaging content for target audiences to drive conversions. Is your company making the shift to first-party data? 


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.


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