5 Digital Marketing Trends transforming the Travel industry

Over the last decade, digitisation has transformed the travel industry quite dramatically. Gone are the days where travellers visit the counter to make a booking. To plan a travel is now a click away; right from the research for the trip to booking the tickets and hotel accommodation.  Driven by digitisation, the travel sector, now an online sector, feels the constant need to build and foster relationships with its customers. This practice provides them with seamless experiences to retain customers and sustain themselves in this competitive marketplace. Since the travel industry is a highly competitive space, it is essential to keep up with the latest trends for greater success.

Here are five most trending digital marketing developments in transforming the travel industry. 

Create Mobile Responsive Websites

In today’s fast-paced world, everyone prefers getting information on-the-go. From finding a cab to booking tickets, the internet has taken over our lives and has given us the convenience of getting things done right from our phones. This revolutionary trend has led to the increase of mobile first approach.

Travel companies, too, are making effective use of device-optimized solutions in fresh ways to draw more and more guests towards their travel services.  They have observed how users find it a lot easier to Google search destinations or travel portals on their mobile phones or at most on iPads / tablets. They know mobile-responsive websites is the up and coming trend. If your travel company website is not mobile optimised, you are out of the radar and you are losing out on a large chunk of the audience.

A classic example is that of a Business traveller. Business travellers have traditionally made their travel decisions and hotel bookings online. Due to time constraints, they seem to be switching over to their cell phones to do these bookings. These travellers are constantly checking out new, attractive travel packages and affordable hotel stays. They then try their best to align them with business trips to convert their business trips into leisure (Bleisure). They are on the constant lookout for seamless experiences on their mobile phones.  

Sterling Holidays one of India’s leading holiday experience companies have optimised their website to connect with their potential customers.

Social Media Marketing

Today’s digital times has seen the emergence of Facebook as a household name. Gone are the days when Facebook was just considered as a networking site to keep in touch with family and friends. It is now a highly effective marketing platform to showcase your product or service. It even has the power to influence users and inspire them to travel and explore new places.

social media marketing of a traveler

Online research and studies have shown that travel companies that engage with online audiences on Social Media, tend to leverage their brand image more effectively. This leads to an increase in the number of followers, reviewers and influencers which, in turn, results in higher ROI. Travel companies are regularly making their presence felt on influential digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter through creative posts, carousel ads, canvas ads and Call to Action (CTA) ads, depending on the nature of the advertisement.

Let’s take a quick example of Thomas Cook. They run ads with strong CTA that not only reaches out to their target audience and promotes favourable brand identity but also boosts online sales to a great extent.

Thomas cook

Your brand too can be a preferred choice for travellers, if you have adequately engaged audiences on your social media pages. Be active on your social media handles to create an engaging post, which inspires your followers to travel. Do not forget to use relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of your brand and make the post go viral in no time. Twitter users generally tend to create a positive buzz around travel brands by sharing good travel experiences. Most travellers today, post pictures while on vacation on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. You can simply repost them on your page to showcase your credibility to prospective targets.

Recommendations work wonders in influencing most people’s spending habits. It can bring in more leads than expensive promotional digital advertising as nearly everyone today wants to check the reliability of the travel services they are planning to purchase online. However, you need to ensure that your services are always up to the mark and are of top quality as a single negative comment can take your entire marketing strategy downhill. Online reputation management can make or break your brand so when such an unfortunate event occurs, the key to spring back up is to respond to the customer immediately and do the needful as quickly as possible. To know How You Can Efficiently Track And Respond To Feedback On Social Media, See Our Detailed Blog

Personalisation with Big Data – Targeting and Retargeting

Retargeting is a foolproof strategy to generate quality leads for your business. In this technique, travel companies create a custom audience of travellers who have either visited their resorts or posted about their services online. From check-ins to reviews, all the users who have remotely been associated with the brand are clustered into a custom audience. Ads are then generated keeping this target audience in mind. Since these users are already familiar with your brand, converting them into long-term customers is easier than approaching first-time users.

It’s also quite interesting, how booking portals have begun to integrate social media profiles of passengers to offer personalised deals. They use pop-up questionnaires as a medium to ask customers their preferences. The customers too, don’t mind filling up a couple of questions if they were to receive customization in their bookings. Scanning through social media profiles of passengers, to seat them next to people of similar interests on flights, is the latest development. This analysis is usually done at the time of bookings itself. The right data helps travel companies in assessing their customer needs, based on interests, demographics, possible budget range, desired vacation destinations, etc. and ultimately creating a better travel experience for them.  

Content is King

Content is the backbone of all the digital marketing efforts undertaken by a travel company. Just like how reviews and recommendations can bring amazing results in generating leads, securing a top rank for your travel website through SEO certainly helps your business grow further and increases your popularity among other holiday companies. Content plays a significant role in SEO efforts in the form of blogs, infographics, videos and imageries. It is important to create content which your target audience will find engaging. As far as travel companies are considered, relevant videos work as the best SEO strategy.

The videos used to market a travel company can feature panoramic views of the hotels (exteriors/room interiors), the amenities offered, local attractions and the things to remember before visiting places, to name a few. These low-cost videos can tell your brand story and can be as simple as white board clips, GIFs, simple animations or even a series of beautiful pictures. Sterling Holidays have attracted thousands of viewers through simple but innovative videos.

video content

Content creation through imagery has also proven to be very effective for many digital marketers. Coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to buy. For instance, Instagram and Pinterest are all about visually appealing content through pictures, GIFs and videos. This resonates well with the travel industry. Akbar Travels is the perfect example of how to make your content stronger to attract more visitors to your travel website. Their Instagram page has a mix of beautifully captured images and GIF videos that are visually appealing. This inspires users to travel which in turn leads to a higher rate of conversion.     Akbar travels social media

Few of the top travel-related searches performed on Google are as follows:

  • Best holiday packages
  • Best travel companies
  • How to travel to a particular destination
  • weather forecast for today
  • Best outfits to suit today’s weather
  • Directions to get to XYZ hotel

If your website, blogs, or videos address any of these concerns, you have nailed it. However, there is a catch here. Curating content is not a one-time effort. Google algorithms change time to time, which makes it crucial to keep your travel website as updated and as optimised as possible to maximise the relevance and generate higher revenues.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing, as the name suggests, is marketing your brands through specialists whose opinions, reviews and testimonials draw the attention of the press and public. Travel influencers are specifically those, who are avid travellers either to a particular destination, specific resort or a type of destinations (mountains, beaches, holy, spiritual places). They also include profound travellers who have a huge fan following on Instagram or Twitter and those whose profiles reverberate with demographics of your target audience.  They are paid for curating content for travel holiday packages. Their words are generally taken at face value as their content is constructed to strongly fit in, contextually. If you are looking at using influencer marketing, read our blog on tips for your first Influencer marketing campaign.

Lakshmi sarath

However, to ensure that influencers hired to write for your brand are making a mark, it is important that they know what your brand stands for, its aims and objectives and whether your brand reflects well with their style of writing. For instance, if you aim to lure readers into a strong call to actions (CTAs), it primarily will require you to look for an influencer who invites followers to experience the travel adventures for themselves. On the contrary, if you are only inclined towards promotions, you can explore a range of influencers to engage with your brand and post images with captions on your company’s social media handles.  

For example, Sterling Holidays were on the look out for an influencer to promote their latest resort in Goa. We approached renowned travel blogger Anuradha Goyal and offered her a two day stay at the plush new resort. She wrote about her memorable time at the spectacular location in her blog and posted the same on all her social media handles.

Influencer marketing for travel  

Though these top five trends are few of the most effective digital trends a travel company can take up, there are a plethora of other strategies which can also be used for a guaranteed increase in ROI. With endless nuances coming up in the online environment, new additions are always welcomed to the existing lists at any given point in time. To illustrate this, let’s take an example of the newest trend that can overwhelm travellers before they make purchase decisions – Virtual Reality. This trend has begun to show its effects in technologically advanced parts of the world and will soon be replicated around the globe.      

Social Media Trends for Real Estate in 2017

Over the past few years, social media marketing has been one of the key marketing strategies for leading real estate developers to reach out to their potential buyers. For some developers, over 1/3rd of their sales comes from the digital medium. Advertising your property on social media platforms is a guaranteed way to showcase your property to the real estate investors and increase the possibility of a sale. However, just posting images of your next upcoming project may not be captivating enough. Here are some new trends that real estate developers can leverage upon.

360 Degree Videos & Photos

What if you could give your potential home buyers the luxury of a walkthrough of their new apartment without them leaving their homes? Sounds too good to be true? The latest trend of 360 videos will let you do just that. It is an excellent way to connect with your target audience and show them home buyer what is in store for them if they buy your apartment or villa.

While virtual reality is making an entry in the marketing scene, it is not mainstream yet because of the cost of the VR gears. However, if you are looking for an engaging video, then a 360-degree video is a good starting point. These videos can be created through low-cost tools as well. 

This trend is highly beneficial for real estate for developers to showcase their upcoming projects. Apart from the 360 videos, developers can also use 360-degree photos to showcase an immersive 360-degree experience. Both the 360 video and photo produce more engagement and message retention than regular videos or photos.

Casa Grande, one of India’s leading real estate developers, have used this marketing strategy to connect with their potential customers. For the launch of one of their projects in ECR, Chennai, they used 360 videos to exhibit to the potential clients what is in store for the project.

360 videos to showcase your brand

Growing importance of interactive ads

With organic reach on Facebook almost dead, brands are using focused advertising to reach their potential audience on Social Media. While the regular lead generation and website conversion ads are a great way to reach your target audience, it is also important to engage with the potential audience to understand them to improve the quality of your leads. A good way to do this is by using interactive ads. Interactive ads are the next generation of ads, which has taken social media marketing by storm. These ads increase the engagement by interacting with potential customers. A typical example of an interactive ad are the Facebook live polls hosted by companies to produce user-generated data to study what the customers are interested in buying. For example, a real estate developer can put up a poll on Facebook to check if their clients prefer sea-facing apartments or pool-facing apartments. This will give them a rough insight of what their customers want and can even use this data in pricing their property.

If you are looking at the next level of interactive advertising, try out M-Canvas ads, a mobile-only advertising service with very interactive and engaging ad formats. They are unlike any other format available on social media. They are highly interactive and uses a mix of images, video, and carousel to create a memorable and stunning visual experience on mobile. Moreover, these ads allow you to interact within the publisher i.e while you are reading your news article on the same page you can interact with the ad, rather than going to a different page. Once you click, the ads expand and give your further information and ensure the viewer interacts with the ad to take the next steps.

It is one of the best ways to showcase real estate products. For example, if your end goal is for your customer to enquire about the project, you can show a sneak preview of the project’s interiors with Call to Action that prompts viewers to take the next step. An audience who’s interested enough to swipe all the way through your ad is likely willing to click through to your website and make the enquiry. These canvas ads are a new concept that is catching up, and we see it as a trend that is here to stay.

Micro-Targeting

Micro-targeting is a marketing strategy of using consumer data and demographics to identify the interests of specific individuals and then influence their action of making a purchase. If a property is for sale on OMR in Chennai or in Whitefield in Bangalore or BKC in Mumbai, with three bedrooms, three baths and is close to the IT corridor, then it is most likely to be bought by a working professional in his 30s with a family of two kids. With the help of micro-targeting, real estate developers can reach out to their target audience by specifying the demographics and the geography of the potential customer on Facebook. You can even target users around the world whose hometown matches the city where the project is. Hence, their ads are displayed to a more specific and niche crowd making the probability of selling the property even higher than before.

Growth of regional content and regional ads

Hindi Content has been growing faster than English content, and this is likely to increase even further in 2017. This is not only the case for content but also advertising. if you looking to reach a wider audience, especially in the tier II and III cities, then using regional content is a must. Ads in regional languages have started rolling out, and marketers have begun incorporating this concept into their marketing strategies to reach out to their target audience. When a potential home buyer reads an ad in his regional language, he develops a bond of trust and comfort with the seller and is more likely to make a purchase, or at least recommend that product to a friend.

For example, Aryan Housing, one of the leading real estate developers based out of Mumbai, ran a campaign of ads in Marathi to connect with their local audience and received a phenomenal response.
Aryan - MarathiUnderstand this trend; Google has also recently started ads and keyword targeting in Indian languages to widen their reach.

Adwords
Integrating Offline and Online marketing

While the majority of the first time home buyers are researching online, they make the end decision of buying the property offline only. So for a real estate company, integrated offline and online marketing efforts is highly essential. While it is important to run ads and get leads, it is also important to understand that consumers do not make purchase decisions based on a single ad or message alone.  Potential buyers gather all their information from various channels and this data gathered through several stages of the buying process are the building blocks of sales.

If you have a potential lead from an online ad and your sales team is following up with them, it is important to also reach out that potential lead online as well. You could use automated email or drip email to reach them until they actually make the purchase. Real Estate developers can target and constantly stay in touch with a group of people based on certain criteria. Let’s say that a customer has visited property website and shown interest by coming for a site visit, digital marketers can use the information provided by the customer to send emails about the development and completion of the property and news on various other related properties. Drip emails are a powerful lead nurturer, with statistics showing an 119% increase click-through rate via trustworthy emails.

“Across the funnel” marketing

Advertising across social media platforms is all about building your brand and making it a household name for people to connect to and rely on. In “Across the Funnel” marketing, real estate developers build their brand names through four essential steps. They initially start the process by running engaging campaigns on social media, which explain their products and attract potential buyers. Then, they work towards increasing traffic to their websites and drive site visits and enquiries through their conversion data. Lastly, they customise their audience by eradicating cold leads and focus on customers who have actively shown interest in their marketing campaigns.  With Facebook’s Brand Reach & Frequency campaigns, brands can even get assured visibility and reach, similar to what a front page newspaper ad gives.

All of these social media marketing strategies are currently trending in 2017 and are here to stay! Which of these techniques will you be adapting in your social media marketing strategy? Tell us in the comments below.Content marketing blogs to follow.

This article was originally published in Realty Plus Magazine. 

 

Social Beat & Facebook conduct Digital Marketing Masterclass in Mumbai

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

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

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

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

Mobile First Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Marketing on Instagram

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

Top Interests on Instagram are:

  • Music
  • Travel
  • Food
  • Photography

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

The art of Audience Targeting

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

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

Types of Audience Targeting on Facebook

• Core Audience Targeting:

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

  • Location
  • Demographic
  • Interests and
  • Behaviours

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

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

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

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

  • Lookalike audience

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

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

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

Coming to brand!

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

How does Brand awareness work?

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

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

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

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

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

Case Studies

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

Tracking Return on Investment & Scaling up Leads/Sales

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

Mumbai Masterclass

Questions asked during the Masterclass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have tried regional content but it hasnt worked?

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

2017 Digital Marketing Trends – Digital Chai Pe Charcha

The ninth edition of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha in Chennai was held on 25th February 2017.It received an excellent response with about 35 participants including entrepreneurs, professionals, digital marketers and social media influencers taking an active part.  The topic of discussion was Digital Marketing Trends to expect in 2017.

Here’s a quick summary of the key takeaways from the session:

You may find it interesting to read our other blogs on Digital Marketing.

8 Digital Marketing Trends to expect in 2017

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

Mobile UX will be a key focus area

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

Less is more when it comes to content

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

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

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

Regional language content will grow multi-fold in adoption

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

Even small brands will leverage the video medium

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

Attribution will continue to be grey area

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

Consolidation in the social media networks

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

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

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

The article was originally published at Business Standard

Social Beat participates in Google Partner Summit in San Francisco

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook Marketing Trends: What to expect in 2017

Facebook Marketing has become an integral part of any digital marketing strategy and it has revolutionized the way we look at the online marketing industry. Over the last 12 years, Facebook has seen a 360-degree shift, transforming from a simple social networking site to the face of a multi-billion dollar company allowing brands to find new customers, increase their sales, create brand awareness and much more. When we ran an industry survey amongst CMOs and Brand Heads across India we found that close to 90% Brands in India are already leveraging Facebook. Advertisers are spending more money than ever before on Facebook as it has emerged as one of the biggest platforms to engage with their target audience. Keeping this in mind, new features are being regularly added to Facebook and marketers have to constantly make alterations to their strategies to ensure their content is still reaching its target audience. Below are a few points that have been gathered keeping in mind the recent changes which may give us clues as to what 2017 will hold for both consumers and businesses.

Less Is More – Page Posts & Organic Reach

Following the decrease in the organic reach of Facebook page posts last year, Locowise conducted a small study to analyze how page posting frequency impacts reach, engagement and negative feedback.

Locowise study about facebook page frequency

The study reveals that pages that posted once a week or less on their official page reached an average of 15% of the audience who liked their page per post. Interestingly, pages that posted two to four times a week reached only 10% of the page audience and pages that posted once a day reached a lower average of 8.42% per post. This means that organic reach drops with an increase in the number of posts, and over posting content is a common mistake marketers tend to make on FB. This also means that the quality of content and FB posts needs to be extremely high and we are likely to see many brands evolving into fewer but highly engaging posts.

Another study by social@ogilvy reveals that for large pages with more than 5,00,000 Likes, the organic reach has seen a remarkable decline when compared to other smaller pages. It is believed that marketing managers can expect the organic reach to further approach zero in the future. The detailed analysis and data interpretations along with the recommendations are available to read here in the full white paper.

socialogilvystudyorganicreach

 

The number of users on Facebook has doubled from 845 million to 1654 million over the last five years. There are more brands than ever who are joining the bandwagon of Facebook marketing and these brands are posting multiple posts every day. All of this creates more noise and unimaginable amounts of content that will simply be filtered out and never reach the news feed of a specific user. With so much information to be filtered, Facebook uses complex algorithms to pick and show content to users they are most relevant to them and those that they are most likely to engage with.So it can be assumed that increased brand post frequency is aiding in the drop of organic reach.

However, the only exception to this organic reach debate was seen in the news & media industry.  The organic reach of news publishers seems to remain steady, even with a higher posting frequency. Here’s the result of analysis of 3,318 profiles, by Sotrender.

sotrenderstudy1

sotrenderstudy2

Videos – Future of Marketing For Brands

Videos are the next step in the social media evolution and will most likely dominate the online advertising and marketing industry. As per the stats by Facebook, users watch an average of 100 million hours of video every day and most of these are on their mobile devices. Daily views have increased from 1 billion to 8 billion in the last one year. These stats are proof that users have started consuming more of video content and it is essential that brands leverage this in their favor to engage with the potential customers. Video content is the best medium for storytelling and is a great opportunity for brands to connect with their audience.

Live videos were one of the major updates announced earlier this year by Facebook. This gave live videos prime placement in the Facebook app and also adds new ways to find, create, share, and react to them. This move efficiently makes live videos one of the central features of Facebook. Live videos offer a new way to interact on a platform that can feel so familiar that it risks feeling stale. Broadcasting live to your social circle gives you a certain thrill or even just watching a friend’s live broadcast, can bring in a fresh feeling of excitement and make you want to interact on the same old platform in a new way. On an average, Facebook says people are commenting 10 times more on live videos than they do on regular videos. This clearly means that brands must explore Live videos over recorded videos as this would help drive higher engagement levels with the audience. Facebook also rolled out an update where advertisers could add a video element for FB Carousel Ads.  The shift towards video as a tool for marketing is evident and is definitely here to stay.

We also have an interesting blog on how to create low cost videos to tell your brand story – in case you are creating videos for the first time.

Mobile Is King

The fact that a business needs to have a mobile-friendly website is much talked about and is not a new concept. Last year, Google announced that, for the first time mobile searches surpassed desktop searches.  This eventually led to a new situation where Google’s algorithm started to penalize sites that were not optimized for mobile devices.  For the last few years, marketing experts have been stressing on the fact that there is an obvious need for businesses to optimize the sites for the ever-increasing number of mobile users. Facebook Inc announced that it has over 142 million users in India, of which about 133 million access the social network via their mobile devices. This means that a staggering 90% of users are using facebook on their phones in India. It is essential that marketers who are trying to engage with and attract potential customers in order to redirect them to their website, ensure that their website is mobile optimized and are able to leverage every micro moment of Indian consumers.  In today’s Smartphone era, mobile-optimization is the norm and an essential item that can no longer be placed on the back burner to address later.

Ads are Inevitable

A few years ago, advertising on social media platforms was a very niche concept with not too many players in the market. In this new age of online marketing, many brands have become aware of the importance of ads across various social media channels, especially Facebook.  Today, with the various targeting and advertising options on Facebook, we can reach out to millions of potential customers in any part of the world. Facebook advertising is a strong tool that can be used by brands to meet their marketing objectives.

facebookads

Facebook ads allow you to choose from a wide range of possible adverts including but not restricted to Page Post Engagement, Clicks to a website, Conversions on Website, App Installs, Video Views, Lead Ads etc. Over the last few years, Facebook has evolved into a paid marketing platform more than an organic one so it is essential for marketers to leverage the power of the various adverts available. You can read our detailed guide on measuring ROI from social media.

Shop On Facebook

In an attempt to make it easier for brands to reach out to potential customers and drive sales on mobile devices Facebook has started rolling out the Shop section in phases. This section allows a brand to list out their products and let consumers browse through the catalog and purchase products that they like from within Facebook. The social network does not charge you to add a shop section to your Page nor does it take any percentage of the money you make through it. In the upcoming year, more businesses will start selling stuff directly from Facebook as this new section is set to change the way we look at e-commerce and social selling. Ofcourse it also has had Product Ads for E-commerce companies for a long time now – these can be also be leveraged parallely.

shoponfb1 shoponfb2

 

We have left out Instagram Marketing from this conversation, as it warrants its own blog. We are also seeing some interesting developments around Instagram analytics and Instagram targeting going forward.

Do let us know what other features you expect FB to evolve in the coming months.

Social Beat releases the Digital Marketing Industry Report 2016

Highlights from the Social Beat Digital Marketing Industry Report 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media Coverage for the Report

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

Business Standard: 87% brands prefer digital marketing: Report

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

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

The full report and infographic can be seen below:

Digital Marketing Industry Report India - 2016 Digital Marketing Industry Report India – 2016

 

 

 

Top Learnings from the comScore Advertising Benchmarks Report – 2016

ComScore recently published a report that highlights the advertising benchmarks for the year 2016. As a leading global cross-platform measurement company that accurately assesses audiences, brands, and consumers, comScore has analyzed and published a report on how ad blocking, invalid traffic, and viewability of ads are impacting delivery of advertisements across the globe. The report also lists what the concerned industries can do to tackle these challenges. The following is a brief summary on the key learning from the report.

The digital marketing industry, particularly the digital advertising industry, has experienced constant and powerful growth that has not show any signs of decline, so far. However, in order to continue its global rise, the industry needs to guarantee clean ad delivery, i.e. ads should be viewable to the consumers, and it should be free from fraud. Nevertheless, an ad that is not seen by consumers cannot have any impact.

Based on research and data mining, the comScore report enlightens us with some key learning across the following three extensive categories.

1. The growing global phenomenon of ad blocking

Issue:

Young users aged 18-24 are more likely to block desktop ads than any other average user. In fact, young males are 100% more likely and young females are 42% more likely to block ads in comparison with other users from the US. Moreover, users from higher income segments block ads more than average users.

How to resolve this:

The sole way to resolve this issue is to refocus on user experience. These statistics are a wake-up call for all the digital advertisers to improve their ad quality in terms of content as well as user experience. Seeking less invasive options, with or without advertising, can also be a good alternative.

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2. The rise in sophisticated ad fraud

Issue:

In December 2015, almost 80% of the global invalid traffic (IVT) was sophisticated. Additionally, ads that have less transparency like video ads on programmatic exchanges are almost 4.5 times more prone to IVT than its direct counterparts. In general, with wider CPMs, videos give a higher chance for IVT than display ads.

How to resolve this:

Sophisticated IVT requires advanced analytics to detect. Therefore, it is very crucial to protect websites and all ad campaigns using latest methods like comScore Triple Detection Technology, which goes beyond the standard filtration. This sophisticated IVT detection tool uses three key data assets, viz. ad tags, census page tags and a panel of humans. Detection methods like these not only measures invalid traffic, but also provides more protection. If sophisticated IVT detection methods are not in place, the whole advertising processes might go into waste.

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3. 50% of the ads worldwide are still not seen

Issue:

According to this comScore global report, more than half of ads worldwide still don’t have the opportunity to be seen. The desktop display viewability ranges from 39%-50% across all markets. Video viewability is even lesser; this is due to IVT on programmatic video exchanges. According to research, direct buys see higher viewability than their programmatic counterparts.

How to resolve this:

For better viewability and impact, one needs to improve delivery. Invalid traffic together with low viewability can create mayhem in any campaign. Therefore, when the performance of a campaign is evaluated only by using ads that have an opportunity to make an impression, advertising can be made two times more efficient. This will help publishers prove the worth of their advertising and marketers measure the true return on investment (ROI).

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To summarize, ad blocking, invalid traffic (IVT), and low viewability are the three key challenges in digital advertising. However, by taking the above mentioned steps, clean campaign impressions and potent results can be guaranteed.

Learnings from Social Media Week, Bangalore

It was a full house at the Social Media Week, Bangalore this year! A great line up of speakers and interesting mix of panel discussions kept us all hooked to our seats. The event was organized over two days and witnessed some great industry experts share their knowledge and experiences with the crowd. Be it two 18-year-old drop outs building a child-caring app – ‘MyChild’ which is now used in more than 135 countries or a ladysingle-handedlyy fighting against one age-old social stigma – Menstruation by using comic books and social media – It was everything a Social Media Week should be.

The event started on a high note with India’s Ad Guru, Prahlad Kakar’s session on Brand Building Through Story Telling. He took us through a journey we would never forget. Sharing stories from his personal life and experiences captivated the audience. A maestro at storytelling, he gave away some important tips on how to build a brand by telling its story in a manner that makes the brand a hero!

Following Kakar’s session, we had Arnav Ghosh from Blippar India talk about Visual Marketing and Changing Consumer Context. The session addressed the scope of Visual Search and how we’re moving towards a future where Physical reality and augmented reality will blend into one. He was highly lauded for his talk and presentation of Blippar, an app that turns everyday objects into consumer-centric interactions. We will be writing a blog post later this month on how Visual & Voice search are going to change digital marketing forever.

Speaking of Visual and Voice, how can one not mention one of the most interesting sessions on cricket by cricket journalists Prem Panicker, Gaurav Kalra and Bengaluru-based popular Twitter personality Ramesh Srivats. Cricket has not only changed as a game but also how people look at it now and what they have to say about every little aspect. Apart from taking part in debates and writing out blogs, Twitter has become the new medium to express or oppose one’s opinion. Though Twitter is infamous for its social media ‘Wars’, it has also given an option for fans to follow the game through live-tweeting. Ramesh agrees saying, “Discussions on cricket are like everything else on Twitter; part stupid and trolling, part insightful and intelligent.”

There were a couple of more interesting talks on People Intelligence and Monetizing Digital Content by Amartpreet Kaur and Mahesh Narayanan, Saavn respectively. There was a very interesting panel discussion with Ganga Ganapathi, VP, Ogilvy as the moderator and Anshul Chaturvedi, G.M, Wohoo and Anjali Gupta, IBM as panel members discussing on ROE (Return on Engagement). They talked about how digital has become an integral part of marketing strategies for brands and what engagement means to the brands. The three of them shared their views and thoughts on how to measure engagement and the effectiveness of campaigns online. Many a times engagement is a great short term goal before arriving at return on investment (which for many brands is leads, sales, revenue and referrals).

The evening continued on an exciting pitch and witnessed digital expert Kiruba Shankar shared his knowledge on the future of communication and how podcasts play an important role in it. The session was interactive and had a lot of guests sharing their thoughts and ideas. Kiruba himself has multiple podcasts which can be seen here.

Day one of the Social media week ended on an exciting note and anticipation for the second day was higher. Sandy Carter from IBM shared her views on Social Intelligence and how important it is for a marketer to identify negative and positive sentiments. She is responsible for IBM’s worldwide focus on startups and having her kickoff day 2 at the event was an absolute delight. She spoke at length at about how even startups are starting to leverage big data and actionable people intelligence to connect with consumers around the world. She gave an example of Chocolate Jhony who has been able to leverage SnapChat and other social media channels to expand to multiple geographies.

Following Sandy Carter’s sessions were various more interesting sessions on Influencer Marketing, Snapchat and on breaking a taboo through social media. A gripping debate on “The ugly face of influencer marketing” amongst some of the industry experts like Kiruba Shankar, NanditaIyer, Karthik Srinivasan and G.Nivedithwas probably one of the best sessions of the day. There was a lot of discussion on whether influencers should sell their soul by reviewing and writing about topics that they don’t personally use. For example, should a technology blogger partner with a beer brand or a fashion brand. Challenges faced by influencers were also covered and many of these are similar to the Influencer Industry Report we had launched earlier this year.

There was also a stand-up comedy by Satish Perumal whose rib-ticklers cracked up every single soul in the room! His joke of the day had to be – In a city where people are dying because of potholes, the only person who can use a helipad has left the country!

A jolly-good week with people from all walks of life coming together to tell their story on how social media – a medium – is more than just Sharing, Liking or Commenting, was what SMW’16 was all about. While leaving the event with the same enthusiasm was one thing, learning to ‘Tell A Story To Sell Your Brand’ was another insight that we take back to our working desks.

For those who could not make it to the event, here are some key bytes from the sessions from both the days –

Storytelling is the heart of every communication” – Mr. PrahladKakar

Visual Marketing is the bridge between the physical and digital worlds” – Arnav Ghosh, Blippar

Content is always paid for, either the brand pays for it or the users pay directly to consume the content” – Mahesh Narayanan, Saavn

A brand is the strongest when it is clear about what it has to offer to its customers” – Ganga Ganapathi, VP, Ogilvy

As the industry matures, most Influencers will have disclosures and be more true to their identity” – Kiruba Shankar

Social media gives you a new kind of surround sound from cricket matches. – PremPanicker

Social intelligence moves the needle of your social media presence to social business”. – Sandy Carter, IBM

Occasional trending does not build long-term emotional connect with consumers” – Alokedeep Singh, Titan

For those who attended the event, do share your experiences and highlights in the comments below!