Happy Strategy for Festivals #Celebrate #Wish #Engage

Sounds cliché, but it is true…India is a land of festivals, irrespective of the time of the year, be rest assured that there is always a festival being celebrated in some part of the country. The list of festive occasions in India is long and easily accessible. But, given we are so diverse, I am sure one will need some additional effort to ensure the list is comprehensive. There are festivals specific to locations, regions and states. And then, there are the festivals with a national celebration. Safely put, there is at least one festival every month.

g1369260305872389804As marketers, we keep finding various ways of engaging our consumers and emotionally connecting and relating with them. Digital Marketing has made it much easier to connect with consumers in a more focus manner with tailored communication to suit the needs of the occasion. The key here is to know, as a business/brand, if we should be seen on all the festivals, with the same kind of energy and resources Or, should businesses/brands be selective in choices?

When I started my journey as a Digital Marketer, we tried to leverage all the festivals by posting and promoting “Happy XYZ” (a term I use for a “Happy Holi” or a “Happy Diwali” post), from all our brands, for almost all the festivals and, on all Social Media handles. Imagine the kind of content developed and the money spent on each promotion, to leverage festivals. But as one learns by experience, so did we. When we analyzed the posts, it was clear that our “Happy XYZ” strategy did not work the way we deployed it. We learnt the hard way and stopped them. Soon, we realized that completely doing away with festive posts affected our page engagement rates during festival periods. We needed something more to support our festive promotion strategy. We needed to find the right balance and we needed to focus. Having lived the roller-coaster of making the most of the festivities in India, here are my key pointers for building a “Happy” Strategy, that works:

44098196_2231081160237837_7471312752053583872_n

  1. Pick the ones relevant – There are more than 33 festivals in the country, including ten big ones. Imagine the broad spectrum of content a brand/business would need to make the most of each of these. Hence, the key question to ask is, does one want to associate with all the festivals? Honestly, it would be insane to do that. One needs to keep the brand relevant in each post on Social Media. Ensuring relevance of the brand/business (and not force-fitting) by integrating into each festive post is often a challenge. Being selective and focused will make life easy and ensure relevance is maintained. A good example that comes to my mind is Cadbury. The way they integrate their brand/product is seamless. “Happy” strategy is to build innovative, relevant and engaging content – that makes consumers relate to both – the brand and the festivity.
  2. Plan – At the start of the year, one knows the festival calendar. 1118This information should be used wisely to plan for the festivals one wants to associate with and start building on campaigns around them. I also mean, when I say plan, that one should not just be ‘seen’ on the festival day but at least a couple of days before and/or after. “Happy” strategy is all about planning in advance and deploying the campaign at the right time.
  3. Make it a series – After finalizing the festivals the brand/business would want to associate with, build it as a campaign. Have a run-up to the campaign (no teasers please). Integrate well-designed and written communication pieces with relevant messages. Leave consumers wanting for more and bring the campaign to a logical conclusion. “Happy” Strategy is not one-off, but a series of engaging posts. Look up for Amazon, I personally feel they have mastered the art of festival advertising and have built properties around it. Their campaigns are well promoted and received by consumers.
  4. Drive engagements with contests – As one plans the festive communication, one needs to know that contests can add a lot of value. Not only will they help drive engagement but also help generate consumer (user) generated When designing contests, ensure that they are linked to the brand/business and consumers relate with them. The rewards should be exciting for consumers to participate and share with friends and family. My experience tells me that these two things can really help break the festive contest clutter and ensure the brand/business enjoys a good share of voice. Ensure all promises made during contests are kept. Live up to the “Happy” strategy by making consumers happy with exciting contests.
  5. Promote using offers and discounts – Festivals are times when people tend to spend, and one should know the ways to lure the consumers to one’s brand. amazon-great-indian-sale
    Each festival comes with an intent to spend on things like clothes, jewelry, appliances, utensils, vehicles, the list goes on. Consumers start planning and saving for the festive spending much in advance, but the final purchase happens during the day/week of the festival. Discounts always work with consumers of most types. A CTA (Call to action) with an enticing offer often results in a sale. “Happy” strategy suggests discounts and special festive offers to pull consumers to one’s brand because they are have the highest intention to spend and if one does not charm them, competitors will.
  6. Ensure best ad formats and placement – One can do everything right, but if the ad format and placement are not right, the campaign is up for a disaster. It is important to show the most relevant message to consumers and adapt the promotion basis the platform. Google responsive search ad, Programmatic and Facebook affinity targeting are ways of doing this right. It is certain that a well-optimized campaign can convert the consumer intent into a sale. Do not forget that the campaign should have a call to action at every step. Search is the door that brings sale and so, for the “Happy” Strategy to work, one needs to follow consumers as they search for products.
  7. Connect with the right causes – “Dan Utsav” during Diwali, “Save Water” during Holi” are some of the great examples of “cause” I really love the way brands build cause campaigns as they not only develop an emotional connect but also positively impact the image of the brand at large among consumers. 8CTr6zYOne such example is the recent campaign by Myntra where they would collect used clothes for distribution among the needy and offer Myntra points in exchange for consumers to redeem on the Myntra app. This was in partnership with Goonj. I found it do be extremely relevant, thought-provoking and engaging. Of-course, leading to the end objective of SALES.
  8. Use regional communication – A high decibel campaign specific to the region of the festival works One can decide to go for regional campaigns basis one’s priority markets and target the campaign just to that specific audience. It will help focus, avoid media wastage and make the most of the festivities where they are on. Think about it, would general consumers in Delhi like  see a Pongal related ad? The answer is NO. Apart from focusing on priority markets for festive campaign promotions, one should also use the local language for enhancing the impact. “Happy” Strategy is all about optimizing and taking some tough decisions for high impact.Berger-Paints-Boishakh-Offer

The best months of the year are from September to March. They are full of festivities. Starting with the Ganpati festival, leading to Holi, with Navratri, Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas, New Year in between. This period is the time to eat, enjoy with family and friends and most importantly, SHOP. Digital has made it so much easy to share and connect with friends and family across the world. Festivals are not just confined to the living room or the society, they also now enjoy a huge place on social media handles as well. And the advent of Digital Marketing has also ensured that brands/businesses thrive and make the most of the festival season from “Happy” Ganesh Chaturthi to “Happy” Holi.

Festive greetings from me! Be happy, be good and celebrate responsibly. Have a happy and ‘SALEFUL’ festive season!

* Image courtesy Google 🙂

Be Found – Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

While my last blog elaborated on how SEO is all about the hard work that goes into back-end optimization efforts to improve your website ranking, now is the time to understand how one can complement it with mSample-PPC-Resultsore focused, flexible and sharper work with “Paid” media in the Digital Space. As the name suggests, any online advertising you pay for is called “Paid”. It is easiest and the fastest way of getting visibility to your business/brand. It is the classic case of more money you invest (and invest correctly), the better visibility you get.

Like traditional mediums such as TV, Print, etc. even the Digital space is cluttered as more and more businesses/brands are using the it to reach out to their consumers. To get visibility and reach on any of the Digital platforms, it is important to support your efforts with paid advertising. Paid advertising is more focused towards a select set of audiences as it helps you reach them exactly when they are searching for the category you play in or specifically your brand. One such method of paid advertising is Search Engine Marketing, fondly called SEM.

SEM is a quick and easy way to increase the visibility of your business/brand and drive traffic to your website by featuring it in the search results. SEM, unlike other digital advertising methods, reaches consumers at exactly the right time – the moment when they are open to absorbing information. It is extremely helpful and non-interfering for consumers.

SEM, unlike SEO, is very simple to implement. Once you buy the keyword(s), your designed search ads appear at the top or on the side of the search engine result page – gaining prominent visibility as a result. The best practice is to do both SEO and SEM simultaneously and for a substantially long duration. SEM sounds easy but needs a lot of planning and analysis. Here are my key learnings:

  1. It’s all about the position – While we are teaching kids nowadays, that rank(s) do not matter, unfortunately, in SEM it is all about being The position of the search adrank-formulaad is called AdRank/ AdPosition. It is the result of factors like keywords, ad relevance, quality score and money spent behind each keyword.
  2. Keywords matter – Like SEO, keywords are the stepping stone in SEM. Keyword research is the most important step in running a successful SEM campaign. You do not want to miss your consumers by not running campaigns using the exact terms used by your them in their web searches. You need to carefully choose keywords and define results on each keyword search.

    For example – Picture yourself in the business of women’s clothing. While clothing is what you actually sell, women are not searching for ‘Clothes’. They have run more specific searches like workwear, salwar kameez, dresses, party dresses, ethnic wear etc. So if you do not optimize your ads on such keywords relevant to your brand you
    will lose out on a lot of potential customers.

    The right selection of keywords are important for your campaign’s success. You can make well informed choices in your key word selection with the help of the data available from each of the search engines. The mantra of selection should be a high volume of searches with low competition. Google and all the other search platforms have their own AdWords tool for analyzing the data and help you with the relevant information for you to decide.
  1. SEM can be a gamble – All search platforms work on a bidding system. You bid on keywords related to your category or The keywords are the ones which you want your brand to be featured or associated with. After selecting the keywords, you need to decide on the bid you want to make on each word. To help you make that decision, the AdWords tool gives details on the CPC (Cost per click) of each word helping you to analyze the average bids per keyword. The amount (bid) you pay Google or any search engine for every click on your ad, that results in your website view, is called Cost per Click. SEM is also called “Pay per Click” or “PPC”. So, the funda is – a higher bid leads to a higher AdRank i.e. top placement of your ad in the search results. The only addition to the bidding is the quality score of your ad which also affects your Ad Rank.
  2. Quality does matter – Imagine you are searching for a flight ticket and you see an ad for a car rental service. Will you be happy with it? Will you be happy with a search engine that throws up such irrelevant results? I am pretty sure your answer to both the questions is a NO! Hence, to enhance the experience of the consumers with the search engines, the quality score came into existence.
    quality_score_illustrationQuality score is determined by a couple of factors. Firstly, the click-through rate (no. of times a consumer clicks on your ad). Secondly, the ad relevance (to the search). Lastly, the landing page experience (bounce rate). The summation of these three gives your ads a quality score. The best part about a good quality score is that it is directly proportional to your average position and inversely proportional to your average cost per click. Simply put, higher the quality score, higher the ad position and lower the CPC.
  1. Well-crafted Search Ad – After setting up the bid system, it all boils down to the ad you show your consumers. If the ad is not interesting enough with an intriguing headline, your consumers are less likely to be interested in clicking on it. Grab your consumer’s attention with convincing headlines featuring relevant keywords. sitelink-extensions-enhancedThe most important thing is to entice your consumers to act on your ad with the help of strong call to actions like Learn more, Buy now, Call now, Sign up, The description below the headline also plays an important role and should be crafted very carefully. It should ideally convey your USPs and other important details, it works exactly like your one-minute elevator speech. A well-crafted ad with appropriate keywords, details, and URLs will also ensure relevant clicks on your website, eventually resulting in conversions.
  2. Complement SEM with A/B Testing – As you invest in Search Engine Marketing to bring traffic to your website, it is advisable to optimize your efforts for traffic conversions and increase efficiency. You should ideally have two to four different ads, each with varying headlines and description text. If you have more than one ad in an ad group, Google Ads will, by default, show the better performing one. It is also advisable to A/B test your landing pages to optimize results of spends. Optimizing your landing page and ads can increase your Quality Score with search engine marketing networks, reducing your average CPC.

So these were some of my learnings on SEM. I love Search Marketing, I know a lot of people feel it is not important and hence do not believe in it. SEM-SEONewsUpdatesBut, as a matter of fact, your Website and Search efforts help you to be available for your consumers when they seek you. I feel Search efforts are like moms, whatever your needs, you can rely on them and get the right answers. We are now also entering the era of voice-based search with the advent of Alexa and Google Assist. So imagine the opportunities you could lose if you do not understand the importance and implement search initiatives now.  The good news is, Google offers a certification course on Search Marketing which makes you proficient in AdWords. Here is the link to that AdWords certification and you can set-up an AdWord account there. With this, I come to an end of my blog. I would urge you to practice, and learn because there is no better way of learning than practice.
We are entering the festive season. Are you geared up to make the most of it?

Stay tuned to read my next blog on Festive Marketing – in the Digital Space.

Till then…enjoy!

An Enigma – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

At the outset, I must confess that this is an extremely tricky topic. I am still on a steep learning curve with SEO but I am happy to share what I have been able to understand till now. You will come across many who boast about knowing SEO in and out. But trust me, how it works is still an enigma. While I call SEO an enigma, I also cannot deny that fact that it is irreplaceable.

Consumers search for category/brand/product related information online and expect results in split seconds.  They even want Google to read their minds. They expect Google to show them just the right thing at the right time.

As a Digital Marketer, it is your job to bridge the gap between your consumer’s expectations from Google and your brand’s presence in the Digital space.

SEO helps a brand website’s ranking improve in an organic way – meaning marketers do not need to spend money to improve the ranking. An SEO initiative drives inquisitive consumers or those with a high purchase intent for your website.

There are two ways to run SEO. On-page Optimization which you run on your own website and it remains completely under your control. Off-page Optimization happens when you publish rich content on various other platforms and link it to the relevant pages on your website. SEO is a vast and complicated topic. I have tried to list some of the key steps which can help you successfully implement it:

  1. Analyze the Keywords Searched – Simply put, these are actual words used by consumers in their searches. To identify keywords pertaining to your brand and the category you are in, it’s important to get into the shoes of the consumer. a4aaa12fe42ec0d1e3babefccbf670ae
    The words you decide as your keywords, should be the ones that are most likely to be used by your consumers. It is important to have the most comprehensive list of possible keywords. The best way to list them is by segregating them under various themes like benefits, category, situations, signs, and symptoms, uses etc. After listing, shortlist the keywords basis the relevance to your website’s content (which obviously is complete and accurate with respect to your brand-related information) and volume of searches – the no. of times each of the listed keyword has been used by consumers. There are a lot of tools available for free to help you figure out keyword search volumes – some examples being Google, SEMrush
  2. Develop a Well-designed Sitemap – As stated in my blog “First thing first” on building your website, a sitemap is the blueprint of your website basis which Google navigates and reads the content published therein. A well-designed sitemap is your path to successful SEO. After finalizing the keywords, reviewing your sitemap is crucial. It is important to note that Google ranks individual pages as well as the website. The Sitemap has a direct correlation with the site visits, if the crawlers1 are not able to navigate through the site, the pages or website will not get indexed, and as a result, the content will not get ranked in search engine’s results pages. So you can imagine the situation if your page is not ranked within a search results page.
  3. Things to Note: On-Page Optimization – After finalizing the sitemap you need to ensure that your chosen keywords are an integral part of your The following are the key yardsticks of a successful On-Page Optimization:
    1. Title Tag – Title is the headline you see when you search for a website. Please note it is not your page headline. Google is like the headmaster in the school of SEO and the headmaster knows when you cheat. So, do not add random keywords but build relevance of the same in the title tag(s). A CCP (cut-copy-paste) of keywords can lead to a poor ranking for your website.
    2. Meta Description (Meta-Tags) – If the Title Tag is the headline, I am sure you can guess what the Meta Tag would be. You are right – it is the body copy. The description shown below the title tag in the search results is called a meta-description. It briefly describes what the page contains. It is important to integrate CTAs in your website’s meta-tags (be cautious in limiting the use of action words) to induce some action/next steps for consumers. While getting a good rank for your website is the first task, it is equally important to get more people to visit the website. Well defined meta-tags can do this job.
    3. Image Tags/Alt-Tags – Images play a very important role in running SEO for the website. Well written image-tags (descriptions) positively influence the ranking. The best part is that the image description can include more keywords as the image description does not have any limitations with respect to relevance to the image.
    4. URL Structure – Check your URLs thoroughly before making any change to run an SEO initiative. If the current URLs explain what consumers should understand and expect from a page, then you do not necessarily need to change them. Though keyword inclusion is important, it is more important to stick to a URL which describes the page correctly. Ensure that URLs are simple to understand and compelling for search engines and consumers.
      the-perfectly-optimized-page-by-moz-1-638
    5. Schema Markup – This is a tough one. The Schema is a description of the page, in brief, placed in the backend for Google to understand page content. It should ideally be done on the website during coding (HTML/development). It enables search engine crawlers1 to interpret the data and improve the ranking of the page.
    6. Content and Updates – This is not news. Content is the most important part of the website. While you should make sure that the content is easy to understand, relevant to search and intriguing to engage the consumers, also ensure that the content contains a high intensity of relevant keywords. Headmaster Google never punishes for having a low number of pages, short articles etc., but you will surely earn negative points for duplicate content (Google punishes those who try to be over-smart 😉). So, keep refreshing content, adding new topics, articles and images from time to time.
    7. Page Speed – The time needed by any web-page to fully load on the consumer’s browser is called Page Speed. A quick load time is not only important for a great consumer experience but also one of the key parameters used by Google to rank pages. Often, it is directly proportional to the bounce rate2. If a page takes too long to load, consumers tend to move to a different website. You can increase the page speed by optimizing the image sizes, improving the server response time and by minimizing the complex backend coding.
    8. Mobile Friendliness – As stated in my previous blog, you need to remember that a lot of searches now happen on a mobile device. You are doomed if the great work you have done on the desktop version of your website does not come alive on a handheld device. Some points to be considered while initiating Mobile friendly SEO:
      1. Page speed is more important for mobile users given connectivity issues. Minimizing images, codes etc. can help you improve the page speed of your mobile website
      2. Mobile friendly design for superior user experience
      3. Short titles, meta descriptions, and URLs (without losing the essence of the information)
  1. Things to Note: Off-page Optimization –
    1. Backlinks – Backlinks are links on one website that, when clicked, take the user to another site. As we know, the internet is nothing, but a network of the various portals interconnected like a web. It is important that your website, as a part of this complex network, has as many possible links directing consumer traffic towards it. There are various ways to back-link, but it is important to focus on some high-quality links directing to your website. The best way is through blog postings, PR articles, and social bookmarking. Curate content keeping in mind your target consumers, in this case, potential websites which can backlink to your website. Understand what kind of content they will be interested in and are likely to share. It is important to know the websites linking to yours to get rid of toxic links and analyze the links to follow or unfollow. There are various online tools available to know the websites blacklining your website like Buzzsumo, SEMrush etc.backlinks.png
    2. Social Media – I read somewhere Social Media Marketing and SEO are like friends with benefits. I am sure you know that the more your business is talked about, the better place it gets in the search results. Social Media Marketing is a great way to build a link. When you have a good follower base, there are high chances that your Social Media profiles/handles will show up in the search results when a consumer searches your brand.
    3. Company Listings (citation) – This one is extremely helpful in local SEO. List your business through Google’s “My Business” profile and on the other available platforms by sharing complete information about your offering, with images and other important details. By sharing complete information with regular updates, your website ranking is bound to improve.
  2. Track progress and redo – Progress is all that matters. While you need to give time for SEO to work, it is also important to keep a check on it. A monthly check on the progress will help you optimize and improve. Track only the most important and relevant keywords to avoid confusion. Other than the keyword ranking you should also check website progress on the following parameters:
    1. Organic website traffic
    2. Page speed
    3. Time spent on each page
    4. Bounce rate

Please do not get into a loop of changing your SEO strategy every time you see the report. If there are no gross issues, my suggestion would be to let your optimization work for three to four months and then initiate the required corrective actions. I would want to repeat – allow time for SEO to work.SEO
That is all on my understanding of SEO. I am sure you want to know more too about SEO. I would recommend you visit moz.com for detailed information and some cool tools as well.
With this, the “Owned” of PESO comes to an end for now. I will be now starting with “Paid”. In the next couple of blogs, I will shed light on the various paid promotions you can do in the Digital space to engage and enthrall your consumers.

I am super excited. Hope you are too…Stay tuned…

1. Crawlers are the programs that search engines use to scan and analyze websites to determine their importance, and thus their ranking, in the results of internet searches for certain keywords. Crawlers are also often referred to as spiders or robots.
2. Bounce rate is the percentage of site visits that are single-page sessions, with the visitor leaving without viewing the second It is typically used as a measurement of a website’s overall engagement. The formula to derive the Bounce rate is the no. of visits with 1-page view divided by total no. of visits
*Image courtesy Google 🙂

Go Social…

You must be thinking that in my two previous blogs I wrote about the most important parts of digital marketing without writing about the social media… Did you think that I missed it? Did you?

We have been talking about Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Mediums and in this blog, I will be writing about the second part of ‘Owned’.

If website is the hero, SOCIAL MEDIA is the SUPER STAR

Social Media entered our lives sometime around 2003, the likes Orkut (remember?) and Facebook were the new buzzwords and people were getting a hang of these platforms. Facebook as a platform grew over us and it turned out to be a great way for people to connect and communicate. It helped connect with old friends and even the new ones you wanted to know more about ;). More and more people got glued to various social sites so much so that now Facebook is now the third largest country in the world. How much ever people deny and say that they don’t like to be on Social Media, they are present and actively using one or the other platform. So, Social Media is something you can’t miss.

Even for marketers, Social Media is a great way to reach and engage consumers with interesting content. It helps in approaching consumers in a much more targeted way unlike any other traditional media like Television, Print, etc.

Having worked on a lot of Social Media campaigns from setting them up, to defining their success factors (KPIs), to driving them, I can share the following imperatives from my experience:

  1. Be omnipresent – Be available on all the relevant platforms. Be it Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Quora…anything and everything visited by your consumers. It helps consumers find and engage with you wherever they are. It also helps in search initiatives in many ways. By the way, just to clarify, by being present I do not mean you need to spend money on promotions. What you need to do is create your brand’s pages on all the relevant platforms by filling complete information on the profiles so that the page looks authentic. Also, post your brand’s communication on the Social Media pages regularly.
  2. Create engaging content – While product information is of utmost importance,  one must not forget that one cannot win on Social Media by just blowing one’s own trumpet. To engage with consumers, you need to do more. You need to post content which consumers would love to see or relate to. Content that not only engages your consumers positively, but also make them share it with their friends and family. Some of the content buckets you can consider can be celebration of important days, things to do/know related to the category you are in, inspirational quotes, contests, real consumer stories/ testimonials, DIY tips, etc. But again, the caution is to keep the content simple.
  3. Be always on – After setting-up the page and defining the kind of content you want to put on the page, you need to devise a calendar which will help you be present online. It is important to be present 24x7x365 days so that tdepositphotos_48042613-stock-illustration-open-24-7he consumers are engaged all around the year. Social Media gives you the chance to actually publish fresh content every day. But that is not what you should be doing. Define and schedule the posts and updates strategically, so that a variety of content is placed in front of the consumers, at the right time. Don’t be sporadic in your posting.
  4. Don’t complicate – Well, after having the content buckets and its posting calendar in place, it becomes really important to choose how much to say in one piece of communication. I would suggest the KISS strategy (Keep it Simple and Sexy). Choose your key communication messages wisely. Do not put too many things in one post. The ideal way to go about this is the “one picture one message” approach. For that matter, Facebook does not allow promotion of posts containing more than 2% text. . The writing is on the wall for delivering clear message it’s important to keep it simple… so go Kiss J
  5. Think mobile – Designing content basis platform and device is most important as we want consumers to not only see our content but also engage with it. Statistically, 80% of India consumes content on mobile. While designing content make sure your creative is mobile friendly. Pictures, fonts, and the call to action should be visible clearly on a mobile device. As an example, imagine sitting in a boring meeting, you browse YouTube or Facebook. Will you turn your phone horizontally to see the video? Most of the people see the content in a vertical format and hence creatives should be made keeping that in mind.
  6. Create Videos and GIFS – Video content is the new drug. We all love stories and videos allow us to show, tell and explain stories better. More video content helps consumers to engage better with. According to scientific studies, people retain 70% of audio-visual communication. It can be just a two slide story or a two-minute video. Don’t forget to have subtitles in your video. I am sure you know why I am saying that ;).124
  7. Link your website, shamelessly – While the page is yours, Facebook is owned by Mark Zuckerberg. You want your consumers to come to your platform i.e. your website. The same is applicable to all Social Media platforms. It not only helps you to engage with your consumers, but also indulge them with more brand related content available on your website.
  8. Link to ‘Shop now’ – This does not need any further explanation. One should not miss the opportunity to sell on any of the Social Media platforms. Consumers tend to spend money shopping online. You just need to promptly and redirect them to a page they can buy your brand from.
  9. Always reply/respond – Unlike any other traditional media, Social Media is all about a two-way communication with your consumers. Real time. When consumers engage with your content on Social Media, expect them to ask you questions, raise queries and post feedback. They know you are reading it and they expect a prompt response or issue resolution. Ensure you have the right people responding to consumers with the right messages/resolutions at the right time. Set-up a response time-frame and publish it on your handles for people to know. Set-up an escalation mechanism. There have been instances when I, as a consumer, have used Social Media to love or hate brands. When my issues have not been resolved on time, I have turned nasty. You would not want that to happen to your brand.
  10. Not everything will work right the first time – Well, I learnt this the hard way. Always be prepared to fail and learn. All your posts will not necessarily get the same kind of response in terms of reach and engagement. Every content piece is like an ad and not all ads you create work with consumers. Try to learn from posts that did not work well to avoid the same mistake in the past. The reasons for a bad result can be many – bad creative, bad timing, sub-optimal spend, etc. You don’t want your posts to just do “OK” but you want them to do “great”. So it’s important to fail miserably a couple of times to understand what exactly works and what does not.

Social-Media-715x400.jpg

While all the points above are applicable to all of Social Media, below is a brief description of each of the key platforms. This will help you understand them better and will also highlight specific purposes of each of them… So here we go:

Facebook 

  • Most actively used social media platform – with the widest reach
  • Helps reach and engage consumers
  • Promotion is really simple, inexpensive, and you can easily run it yourself
  • Important: Now it is imperative to promote every post you publish on your page. The new algorithm of Facebook does not necessarily show all your posts to all the followers of your page if people have not engaged with your posts. This can happen even if they have liked and followed your Facebook page

Twitter 

  • This is a micro-blogging network
  • Helps drive conversations and plays an important role in influencer marketing
  • Promotion, like Facebook, is simple, not as inexpensive, but you can easily run it yourself
  • Important: Most Twitter users use the platform to reach out to brands for complaints and review of the products & services and bad reviews tend to get more attention. So, beware!

YouTube

  • Most actively used video search platform. Today, YouTube is the No. 1 search platform in India. Yes, it has crossed Google!
  • People visit the platform to watch videos of interest across genres.
  • Promotion is expensive and needs experts on the job
  • Important: Interesting content once posted on YouTube works as hard as you do and can go viral in no time. What you should do is create content relevant to your brand and ensure people like it.  Link your YouTube content to your website and other social media pages to drive views

Instagram 

  • The most actively used platforms for visual and video content.
  • Extremely effective in influencer marketing
  • Promotion on Instagram works exactly like Facebook
  • Important: You can link your promotions on Facebook and Instagram – making them more efficient

LinkedIn

  • The most actively used platform for working professionals
  • People visit the platform to seek information on categories and organizations, company updates, selling B2B services and hiring/seeking jobs
  • Can be very useful if you have to do professional/B2B marketing and share updates about your product/organization. Promotion on LinkedIn is expensive
  • Important: Even if you are not into professional/B2B marketing, you should maintain a detailed, well written company profile to strengthen your reputation in the industry. Do not forget to share links of your website and social media pages on your LinkedIn profile

Quora

  • The most actively used Q&A website, where the questions can be asked and anyone can answer them to the best of their knowledge
  • People visit the platform to seek answers to their queries or specific questions and to seek consumer feedback
  • Important: You should definitely maintain a page on this platform. You can answer questions related to your brand or category and easily link them back to your website and social media pages. The only word of caution here is to be thorough with your topic

While I have tried to list the latest understanding of each of the platform, I strongly advise you to keep looking for newer updates on each of the platforms that you actively use. Change is the only constant when it comes to the rules of the game on Social Media. The algorithms, platforms and offerings keep changing and trust me you would not want to be left behind on the same.

Coming to the end of my blog, I want to confess that I love Social Media Marketing. My friends call me “Facebook Raonka” (Raonka being my last name). I am blatantly always online, looking out for conversations, trends and campaigns happening on each of the platforms I love calling it “social listening”. Imagine a job that pays you to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or for that matter even on WhatsApp. It needs a lot of hard work and dedication.

Uff I am working so hard all the time…I need a break 😉

In the next blog, I will cover the last (but definitely not the least important) topic – SEO. Until then, Go social…in the Digital space!

First thing first…

In my last blog, I shared how my digital journey began and the six key learning from my journey as a Digital Marketer. In this blog, I will focus on my first learning and elaborate on what goes into “Building the base” in the digital space.

Have you heard about PESO? At the risk of sounding jargonish, all the mediums available for marketing/advertising in the digital space are classified into four buckets of PESO. PESO expands as Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned. I will touch upon each of the four buckets in my subsequent blogs. But here, let’s start with the “Owned”. Owned, as you can already understand covers anything which is your own asset. Namely, a website, app, social media pages, blogs etc. So, the right thing for any Digital Marketer to do before anything else, is to have one’s own house built with a lot of care and love. And where do you think could that begin?

Well, it all starts with the hero… the WEBSITE

According to me, creating a website is the most important thing to start your presence in the digital space. Picture this: if someone wants to know about your brand, your company, your products etc, where would they go? People simply search for it on Google and more and more people use Google every day. Your own website would be considered to be the most credible source on your brand. Developing a website can really be a time-consuming and cumbersome process if you do it the right way. I would suggest you give it the time and effort it needs.

I have developed many websites, with multiple iterao-NAME-TAG-facebooktions and updates. In the process, I learnt that a ‘good’ website should feature the following:

  • An easy name – While Shakespeare said “What’s in the name”, when it comes to the name of a brand’s website, I would say everything. Choose something that is simple and associates with the brand’s name. Ideally, create a domain name that is your brand name. For example, http://www.apple.com.
  • A well-structured Sitemap – Now this one is really tricky. It is very complicated in beginning and one pays the least importance to it. Sitemap helps in laying out all the content one has in a structured way. It is like a path/network of pages in any website. Some of the sections which should be part of the website are ‘About us’, ‘Products’, ‘Contact us’ and ‘Media and blogs’. Sitemap is also helpful in SEO.
  • Rich content – Content is what consumers come to your website for. Content is KingA good website allows consumers to know what products are marketed, what their USPs are and how they differ from other products. It gives information about the organization, the contact details and where the products can be bought. Comprehensive FAQs make it easy for consumers to form positive opinions about your brand. Blogs are a good way to keep consumers engaged. Enough and more is spoken about on the importance of content in every Digital Marketing forum. Remember to keep the language simple and avoid use of jargons.
  • Attractive design – A good design is nothing but clarity of thought visualized. Your website should be pleasing to the eye and clutter free. Stick to the key colors of your brand and use the available visual identity assets. This will make it easy for existing consumers to relate to your website. Use light imagery to ensure your website opens easily, even in situations of poor data connectivity.
  • Mobile responsive – Smart phones have become an integral part of our lives. Many people disregard this fact while developing the brand’s website. Whilst creating the website, one needs to ensure that consumers have a seamless experience even while accessing the website on their phones. One needs to know that what works on desktop, does not necessarily work best on a handheld device.
  • Well optimized – One comes before the other and that is how it works best. Optimizing a website should not be an after-thought. You need to know the key words before you start putting the content together. The key words can be pertaining to both, your brand and the category. Optimizing the website early on will help in search initiatives and your website will be there, when your consumers need to see it.
  • Links to Social pages – We are in the world of social media and sharing with each other in the digital space is a trend. You don’t want to miss an opportunity images (1)there. Your website should lead consumers to follow your pages on social media to remain posted on new content. Consumers should also be able to share your website contents easily with friends and family. It is imperative to create social media handles on all key platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.
  • Contains contact information – Your consumer is like your spouse. Even after thorough preparation, there are high chances of something being amiss 😉. The contact information page actually bridges the gap between your brand and it’s consumers. Consumers can reach out to you on anything that you might have inadvertently missed in your content. The ‘Contact us’ page is a MUST have. You can add your address with a link to your location on Google maps, contact details and also an email id. Just ensure the consumers reaching out to you through your ‘Contact us’ page are attended to. And timely.
  • Leads to Shop Now – We are in the era of eCommerce. It’s growing leaps and bounds. When you have your consumers on the website, you do not want to leave them high and dry, you want them to buy. And the best way to convert them then and there is to give them an easy way to buy. If your brands can sell online, ensure your website links consumers to your product listings on the likes of Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, 1mg etc.
  • Easy to navigate – While consumers would often come to your brand’s website looking for something specific, you want to engage them further and keep them glued to your brand. Ensure your website is not designed like a maze. You need to make sure consumers do not get stuck and find it easy to browse through the pages. Weave in your brand story in a way one thing leads to the other and design your website’s interface accordingly. Page links, homepage links, back button, related articles/products and buy now are some of the important elements to interlink on a website. .

Having listed the above, I would say creating a website is a no-brainer.

keep-calm-and-make-a-website-4
image credits to google 🙂

There are a lot of portals where you can host your website in the digital space and have scores of information to guide you on how to go about it. Some popular ones are http://www.bigrock.in, http://www.godaddy.com; http://www.wordpress.com (used by yours truly) and many more. For less than Rs. 500/-, you can book a URL, create a website, try and test all your theories and have fun. It might take time but it is completely doable and will be worth all the effort. All you need is patience, time and a glass of wine.

Well… so get started and share your experience with me… Ciao…

 

An Accidental Beginning

I too, like most of us started my career in an age where Television, Print, Radio were the three commandments for any marketer. Getting to create a Television copy a year, print ad adaptations of the same and radio jingles (if the budgets allowed) was like a dream-come-true for any traditional marketer. But not so with me for my life changed and how…
One fine morning I was asked to lead “Digital Marketing” for ALL our brands. Initially, I was excited about the idea but I thought to myself if we are really ready and do we have the needed clarity of thought and focus for Digital Marketing in the first place. The answer to my questions was a clear NO. Though I knew digital was the way to go, I hardly knew anything technical about it. This was like running into an accident without insurance!
I was in a phase where the entire organization was only thinking about digital and people lay a lot of hope on me. I had to build the digital infrastructure and get people up to speed with it. Simultaneously. We were at a stage where there were no set rules for the game. Or I should say at least I had no clue if they ever existed. However, the best part was that only I knew about what I knew and what I didn’t 😉

Confused
Image credits to google.com

I loved the attention I got after getting into this role but it brought a lot of foes too. It’s human to feel insecure and threatened. To start with, brand teams very territorial about the brand’s budgets, campaigns, ideas etc. But at the same time, they also wanted to disrupt and take up digital initiatives. Having said that, some of my colleagues and my seniors were extremely supportive.
Whenever I had second thoughts about me being fit for this role, a friend of mine always said: “Whatever you know is much more than anyone else in the organization”. So, I kept my head high and started with it – shaky inside but appearing confident to the world.
With all this and more going in the background, navigating through ‘know-it-alls’ and ‘know-nothings’, I geared up to take on the challenge.
To begin with, I started looking for someone who could help me with a daily dose of digital gyan. I thought of reading books, signing up for a crash course etc. But after a lot of deliberation, I realized that the answer to all of these was a BIG NO. My rescue ranger in this expedition was Agent Google. Whenever I got stuck, I googled and read up. This became a habit and trust me, it still helps! When any jargon pops up, I summon agent Google and sound like a ‘knew-it-already’ 🙂
Some key learnings from my journey of coming to be called a “Digital Expert” are as follows:
1. Get your house in order – This is the first step. A brand needs presence in the digital space to do anything more at a later date. Brands need to develop digital assets keeping in mind the core TG, brand values its key proposition. Like in traditional media, digital too has many options… hence, it’s important to select the right mix of platforms to start with. Less is often more in Digital Marketing if done the right way.
2. Test and learn – One of the best things about Digital Marketing is that you don’t have to invest all the money at once. You can always pilot at various stages and make informed choices or decisions based on first-hand experience.
3. Manage the data overload – Well that’s a real challenge. The amount of data which is available is humongous and it is really difficult for one to choose what’s critical and what’s not. But what I realized is you need to set clear, well-defined objectives. Pick data that gives you meaningful information to see if you’ve met you KPIs and let the rest, rest in peace. That’s the simplest of things one can do.
4. Always be ready to answer a lot of questions – Like everything new, Digital Marketing initiatives create a lot of inquisitiveness across ranks. People want to know who, what, when, where, why and how and they want to know everything real-time.
5. Change is the only constant – While this might sound cliché, this is actually the truth of Digital Marketing. The rules of the game and the way things work change very frequently. One of the ways to tackle this challenge is to keep oneself abreast about the changes and be flexible to be able to adapt fast.
6. Don’t hesitate to ASK – Most of the time we live in this world of knowing everything and we want to hide our lack of understanding. But you can only learn by asking. Ask your friends, colleagues, agency partners, ask anyone you think can help or show a direction.

Taking one step at a time where everything looked good, I embarked upon my journey as a Digital Marketer. Little did I know then, that it will just change my life my career aspirations and me!