Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Career Chit Chat for Digital Marketers

  1. Be a Marketer:Gone are the days when digital initiatives was considered to be a part of IT team. Once the spend increases you would be required to link it with business objectives. I would suggest you to learn basics of marketing,a B-School degree or certification from an institute of repute would certainly going to help you in your career.
  1. Know the Jargons:I have seen many digital marketer's career stagnating because of scarcity of right words and right sentences to explain their work. It becomes more important when you are in a leadership position or running your own business. Keep yourself abreast with industry jargons like CTR,Server Laod etc.
  1. Online Presence Management:Participate in right forum .Be present in right forum and create buzz at right time.
  1. Jack of All but Master of Some:If you are eying digital consulting as a career you should project yourself as solution provider. B logging on complex and technical issue in Digital marketing is a good idea. For more information check my blog: www.vinaytosh.com
  1. Attend Industry Meet ups and Conferences:You get real contact and business after meeting real& like minded people.
  1. Keep a Pulse on the News:Keep your self update with industry and marketing news. It will help you in managing different products and campaigns.
  1. Get Technical:You have to handle technical guys like designer and back end developers. In order to understand their language and problem ,you should have at least superficial knowledge of web 2.0 technologies.
  1. Perfect Your Resume: Perfect your professional presence at Linked In and other important forums.
  1. Let Curiosity and Passion Drive You:Always be receptive and early adopter of changes coming towards you. It will help you in differentiating yourself in crowd. I will name it as "Creating Blue Ocean" for your career.
  1. Living with Internet:More time you spend on INTERNET, more you will be aware of trends and patterns. Reports can never replace observations,MIND IT.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Online Shopping :Are We Ready ?

I still remember my childhood days when we used to stand in queue for hours to get a railway reservation. Now people hardly visit station to book a railway ticket. Online shopping is an easy and comfortable way of shopping for a large range of products.

There is a survey conducted by The Nielsen Company, which suggests that around 85% has already used to make a purchase online which shows an improvement in the online shopping trends. Another claim is that around 50% of the people using Internet around the world, are active online shoppers. 

A survey conducted about two years ago, about number of online shoppers, suggested the number to be around 627 million which has risen to about 875 million as of now. People from countries like Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan and United States of America, are very fond of online shopping. Many manufacturing companies are aggressively marketing their products considering the change in the online shopping trends using E-commerce web hosting to attract more and more customers.
Facts in favor of online shopping:
1.      You save a lot of time & Transportation cost. You need not personally go to the retail shop for shopping.
2.      With advent of new technologies information assimilation has become easier and catalogs are making personal visit irrelevant.
3.      With penetration of Internet /Mobile, online shopping is in reach of millions of Indians. There is lot of opportunity untapped.

Strategy for Indian Consumer:
1.      Indians are adopter of technologies, when it becomes affordable and reliable.  
2.      The association with government provides Indian a sense of security and It was reason behind success of IRCTC online ticketing system.But the things are changing fast with transparency and proper guidelines.
3.      Indians go for deal! There should be incentive for using online channels.
4.      The benefits for online shopping should be immediate and if possible “reduced price”.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Greatest Friend is Biggest Enemy

Sometime a friend do a lot of favor to you, whenever you ask for anything he always gets it done for you .You considered him best friend of yours and he was happy for importance he was getting. One given morning you came to know about a genie which was open to offer you all those services at very nominal price .You thought: why unnecessary bug my friend? Let it outsource and concentrate on end result only. You were able to concentrate more on your work and your results improved. Then you witnessed sudden change in your friend's behavior, he started complaining about your attitude and quality of outsourced services. In this story, read your tech team as your best friend and “outsourced service/open source” as genie.   

During last eight years ,I have interacted with many tech teams of all size & might and some of them being top notch companies in their domain. I was representing business in almost every case and my objective was to make sure that technology does not eclipse end user’s comfort and experience. To become advocate of end user you need to think like him/her and accept the hard truth that technology is only enabler and business of business is to keep client happy and hence business profitable.

During my interaction with tech teams, I am always adamant that “for end user web 2.0 technologies is not about    knowing PHP, .Net, Ruby on Rail or Pearl” it is about “effective use of applications and platforms developed with use of that technology”. Following table lists some Web2.0 technologies and categories it.

Image Source: Mckinsey Report on Web2.0 Technologies

I know that I am inviting ire of technology experts .But I want to make one thing clear ,I am grateful to you for creating such platforms(read wiki,Blog,RSS  etc) using which we can achieve our business objectives. Let's these tools remain technologies for us and make them as simple as possible.

I would highly recommend a Digital Marketing Team, which can effectively utilize technology to make web2.0 experience as pleasant as possible and is not engrossed with technology.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Technologies Do Not Make Communities

Importance of communities is increasing in life of common man as well as marketers. Popularity of communities has created a virtual worlds were people are more frank in sharing their opinion about product, services, need and solutions.

Every marketer wants to harness the power of online community for client acquisition as well as product development. There are so many free and paid solutions available in market and a marketer can easily make a community around her product and service offerings. But apart from technologies and features there are some other dimension for community and those are participation and feasibility. Following are some of important points must be considered to make successful communities.

1.       Set and manage clear business objectives for your community. Whether you want to collect customer response or you want to run a promotional campaign etc.
2.       Implement a strategy a strategy in sync with your business objective.
3.       Any initiative need sustained effort hence we should try to instill collaboration and feedback into the culture.
4.       There is difference between data and information .We should make a mechanism for information management.
5.       Integrate "social" throughout existing channels like CRM, Email Marketing, Recruitment and Sales etc and there should be metrics to measure the ROI as well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Google Launches Separate Page for Real Time Search

With increased use of Social Media it became a platform of knowledge sharing and interaction. People started relying on peer group for product and service review or even basic information search. Information through web 2.0 was more timely and customized. Google realized that its search engine would lose its importance without inclusion of real time search and few month back Google included real time search in their search result. Since then users were demanding a separate interface for their real time search.

Google has now moved its Real-time search to a dedicated location, separate from the "Updates" section of the regular search. The new emphasis comes with several new features like the ability to filter results by location as well as see the entire messages ion a conversation. You can check Real-time search at www.google.com/reatime

"Today we’re making our most significant enhancements to date, giving real-time information its own home and more powerful tools to help you find what you need," Dylan Casey, Product Manager at Google, wrote. “Now you can access Google Realtime Search at its own address, www.google.com/realtime," he announced

"On the new homepage you’ll find some great tools to help you refine and understand your results. First, you can use geographic refinements to find updates and news near you, or in a region you specify," he explained."In addition, we’ve added a conversations view, making it easy to follow a discussion on the real-time web," he added.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thinking about redesigning your website?

Website redesign is always done with a certain objective and the investment done in projects should be justified by the returns. Every department of an organization has an opinion on how the website should look and feel and try to influence the web master for the same. I would recommend that there should be am interdepartmental meeting to freeze the scope of website project and technical details before the project is awarded to some vendor. The web master should be candid in explaining the effect of different features on user experience,business value and site performance.
                          Image Source:www.proceedinnovative.com 

Some of the common mistakes during redesigning projects are:

Site map: The site map should be structured in such a fashion that distribution of content on pages are even. Don't get carried away if you have more content for certain pages.
Content: Be truthful and don't boast about your capabilities. The client visit your website before awarding an order to you. They would be having false expectations and that may result in dissatisfaction and payment delay etc.
Flash - For an example of how Flash can ruin the user experience before it ever begins. It should not be used to make website more interactive and not to showcase your creativity.
Too Many Images - Adding too many images to your design can take away from the content and make it difficult for the user to find the compelling offers that you worked hard to create. When you do use an image, be sure to add an image Alt Tag, which helps Google associate a keyword with your image.

Yahoo recommends following techniques to optimize the images for a website:

1.CSS Sprites are the preferred method for reducing the number of image requests. Combine your background images into a single image and use the CSS background-image and background-position properties to display the desired image segment.
2.Image maps combine multiple images into a single image. The overall size is about the same, but reducing the number of HTTP requests speeds up the page. Image maps only work if the images are contiguous in the page, such as a navigation bar. Defining the coordinates of image maps can be tedious and error prone. Using image maps for navigation is not accessible too, so it's not recommended.

Load Time - Slow loading pages are less likely to be crawled or visited frequently by users and search engines alike.
Lack of Compelling Offers - While it's important to follow SEO best practices, it's also important to think about the true goal of your site - generating leads . Determine the offers you want to include on the home page of the new site.
Complicated Navigation - Complicated navigation makes it difficult for Google and your visitors to find information.
Dynamic URLs - Dynamic URLs are less SEO friendly than static because they do not include targeted keywords but instead include characters such as: ? = &. While Google can crawl dynamic URLs, static URLs give you control over the keywords that appear in the URL structure. Static URLs can also lead to increased click-throughs from search results because users can read the URL and know what the page is about before clicking.

  1. Six mistakes at time of website redesigning : www.hubspot.com
  2. Best practices for speeding up your website:www.developer.yahoo.com/performance/rules.html

Monday, July 19, 2010

Marketing Sherpa Social Media Hall of Frame!

Initially Online Marketing was limited to Banner Advertising and Email Marketing and so was the area of operation of knowledge leaders in domain but the things are changing with trends in digital media. I have been following Marketing Sherpa  since last three years and consider it as a reliable source of information about trends and news in online marketing.Recently they came up with Social Media Hall of frame.

B2C Inductees

1. Paramount Pictures' "Paranormal Activity" Nationwide Opening Campaign

This horror movie benefited from almost paranormal levels of online buzz when its marketing team released the film for limited midnight screenings in 13 college markets. But the campaign's call-to-action caused more than 1 million consumers to demand that the film open in their cities as well -- paving the way for a nationwide release.

See how this multichannel campaign used everything from websites to widgets to promote the film "Paranormal Activity." The results were so good, they were scary!

See Paramount's "Paranormal Activity" campaign

2. Chick-fil-A Free Chicken Mailer

A free meal is hard to turn down -- two free meals are even more difficult. See how this quick serve restaurant location added a dash of social media to a direct mail coupon for two free sandwiches and achieved a delicious viral response.

See Chick-fil-A's campaign

3. Jimmy Choo's Shoe Hunt in London

This luxury shoe retailer looked for the cutting edge in social media promotion and walked right over it. Wanting to combine offline and online promotion, the team ran a treasure hunt in London to promote its new line of shoes. Hints about the prizes' locations were sent via social networks. Contestants ran all over town, and the buzz ran all over the web.

See Jimmy Choo's campaign

4. New York Public Library’s 'Don’t Close the Book on Libraries' Campaign

Faced with a drastic budget cut from the city, the New York Public Library studied up on how to call attention to its dwindling resources. The team recruited an improvisational group to shoot a viral video in the library, which they heavily promoted via email and social media channels. The buzz spilled into online and traditional media, and donations exceeded the team’s goals -- twice over.

See the NYPL's campaign

5. ZAGG’s Free iPad Giveaways

Sometimes the right product, at the right time, with the right promotion can benefit from buzz from a completely different product. Take ZAGG’s iPad giveaways, for example. By giving away one of the hottest products in the country (Apple’s iPad) the team saw tremendous success in growing its email list and sales of gadget accessories. This simple effort had a massive ROI.

See ZAGG's campaign

B2B Inductees

1. Application Security, Inc.’s "The UNProtected" web film and comic book series

B2B marketers are sometimes so caught up in generating leads that they forget "leads" are really people -- and people like to be entertained. See how this database security vendor created a fun, entertaining way to educate prospects about the importance of database security, using an online film series, a graphic novella and a user-generated video contest they promoted across a host of social media channels.

In the end, 45% of visitors to the film microsite became qualified leads when touched with subsequent nurturing.

See Application Security, Inc.'s campaign

2. Qwest Communications 'Johnny Lee Ross & the MotherBoard 2010 World Tour' Campaign

Social media lets you inject a little more personality into your brand, but the team at Qwest Communications took this tactic further by creating an entirely new character for a trade show campaign -- Johnny Lee Ross, leader of the fictional heavy metal band MotherBoard.

See how they gave Johnny his own social media accounts to build buzz before the important event, and combined his rock and roll story with real business issues to attract 37% more of their targeted prospects to their booth in 2010.

See Qwest's campaign

3. Initiate's 2010 HIMSS Trade Show Campaign

Even if you don't want to go as far as creating a fictional character for a trade show campaign, social media channels are an essential component of any event marketing strategy. The team from Initiate took advantage of LinkedIn groups and Twitter hashtags provided by the trade show organizer, and incorporated these channels with their own email campaigns, blog and YouTube channel to stand out in the field of exhibitors.

The result was a 48.5% increase in meetings with qualified prospects during the show and a lift in new sales opportunities and advancement of existing opportunities.

See Initiate's campaign

Thursday, July 1, 2010

5 Step Strategy for Generating Traffic Using Web Content

Web 2.0 is all about content .According to leading internet marketing company Hubspot,” Every company is in publishing business” .We create content so that our prospects can reach us in search of that. The search may be initiated through search engine or social networking channels. In coming days, people will use twitter search to find out more information about celebrities and professionals and Google has acknowledged it, by incorporating “real time search” in its search results.
“How to use the content to drive a prospect to your landing page?” is a million dollar question now. Most of the people use social media for comparing the products and information and all this falls under first two stage of AIDA model only.
Image Source :Online Marketing Trends(www.omtrens.com)

The content on landing page should be so engaging that client feel like coming again and again. It will help the advertiser in improving their ROI on traffic acquisition. If a prospect comes through referral of a friend there is a chance that he move to next level in AIDA model easily.
 I propose five step models for efficient utilization of content to generate traffic for website. But gain the aim of business is not to generate traffic only .There should be sufficient “call to action” on website so that it can generate some leads for sales team.

 Fig1:Five Step Strategy 

Since the leads generated through this exercise are inbound in nature there is more probability of getting them converted.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is Email Marketing Still Relevant?

In recent time there is a lot of talk about email marketing as dying art. The evident of social media have made many pundits to augur that email marketing would lose its place as a preferred online marketing tool. I still believe that email to in-house lists is the most effective forms of online advertising. I am in Digital marketing since last five years and I have used email marketing to in-house lists with open rate as good as 20%.

Here are some facts about Email Marketing:
1.Despite spam, almost 80 percent of consumers subscribe to receive messages from companies.
2.45 percent of U.S. email users think that "e-mail is a great way for companies to stay in touch
3.Most B2C and B2B marketers expect the impact of email marketing to increase in coming days.
4.U.S. Internet users spend 15 percent of total Internet time one mail.
5.Email has among the highest return on investment (ROI) index of all marketing channels.
Figure: Integration of web presence using email

Following are some of Advantages of email marketing:
1. It is Inexpensive: Email is far less expensive on a cost-per-contact basis than other advertising options, including banner ads, print advertising, and telemarketing.
2. Email Marketing Campaign Results are Measurable: Reports can be generated on the number of emails opened by your recipients (open-ups) and the number of times your embedded links were clicked (click-throughs).
Figure:Sample of Report

3. Email Has Wide Reach: Email is most widely reached medium of the internet. People access their mails on mobile as well, hence you can reach customer any where anytime.
4. Email Drives Web Site Traffic and Lead generation: Links in mail can drive traffic to website and embedded “call to actions” can help us in generating leads.
5. Email Strengthens Brand Recall: Regularly delivered email messages that contain properly titled subject lines and logos reinforce company and product awareness.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Asia:Consumer or Producer?

Asia is emerging as one of the favorite destination for outsourcing the digitalized form of marketing. The very nature of job in BPO/KPO made India as favorite destination of outsourcing and same would turn true for Digital Marketing as well. For new media marketing location of marketer doesn't matter and hence companies from first world may reduce their cost of marketing operation by efficiently utilizing labor arbitrage.

"But in amidst of all these  ho hoopla ,we forget that Asia is emerging as one of the biggest consumer of New Media as well".I hope following stats would add some value to my statement .

Image Source:www.transactioncompany.com

1.In mobile,  China will have 1.3 billion subscribers and 957 million mobile Web users by 2014.

2Internet users in Asia Pacific spent more than 5.6 trillion minutes online in 2009, and bought $7 billion in virtual goods, according to the Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Handbook

3.Nearly half of all search activity (44.1 percent) across the region in September 2009 took place on Google; representing 17 billion searches. ~comScore

4.India's Internet population grew to 71 million, a year-on-year increase of 42 percent in 2009; 51 million of them are active users. ~Economic Times

5.Japan has around 21.8 million social network users. Around half of them actively manage their profiles, according to Universal McCann.

6.The Philippines has more than 10.6 million Facebook users and is ranked eighth in the world in terms of countries with highest number of using the social networking site, reports Inside Facebook.


Rising threat of Internet Security and Privacy

Brian and Dharmesh coined a word “Digital Citizen” in their best seller book, “Inbound Marketing”. The Digital Citizen is a person who has good rapport with web and achieves a lot of personal and business objectives through World Wide Web. One of the very renowned Digital Citizen is Barack Obama.

Advertising Age named Barack Obama as Marketer of the Year for 2008, weeks before the Presidential Election. The honor was the result of a vote from marketers, agency heads and marketing services vendors attending the Association of National Advertisers’ annual conference.

Some of the very renowned digital citizens from India are Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Mr. Lalit Modi and Ms. Barkha Dutt (I have started following 33% reservation rule, already).Jokes apart ,these people can influence the thinking of their followers .Now suppose, someone hacks the Twitter /Buzz account of these people. If you are one of digital citizen, you can guess the possible damage.

Good news is that Twitter and Google have started taking measures to protect your account and government is also serious about the threat. In last two days, I came across these two worth sharing news.

News1: Frenchman arrested, targeted Obama Twitter account, 25th March, 2010
An unemployed Frenchman has been arrested for targeting the Twitter accounts of US president Barack Obama and singer Britney Spears.

Read More

News 2: Gmail to alert users to suspicious activity, 24th March, 2010
Google launched a new feature in Gmail on Wednesday that will alert users when the system detects suspicious activity that might indicate the account has been compromised.

Read More:

Let us know about your thought on Internet Security and Privacy.Please comment .

LinkedIn Spamming: IDK and LION explained!

What is IDK?

Do you need an email address every time, when you invite someone on LinkedIn? If yes there is possibility that you are IDKed by some people. IDK is abbreviation of “I don’t know”. When you send an invite to a LinkedIn member they have the opportunity to say “I don’t know” to you. Suppose you are IDKed five times then there is a possibility that you can land up in LinkedIn’s blacklist. And it would hamper your cause of getting connected with the real connections if you don’t remember their email ID.

How to find out who said IDK to you?

• Go to your LinkedIn home page
• Expand the Inbox on the left if it isn’t expanded
• Click Invitations
• On the Invitations page, click Sent in the upper right to see the Invitations that you’ve sent
• Click Status just below it to sort by status
• Now you want to look for the status “Doesn’t Know”, but it will be in alphabetical order in the middle of the following:

o Accepted
o Bounced
o Doesn’t Know
o Replaced
o Sent

How you fix it?

1. Send an apology to LinkedIn’s customer service at cs@linkedin.com, and they will forgive you once for sure.
2. If you get the person’s who IDKed you, to invite you, LinkedIn supposedly removes them from your IDK count.

What is a LION?

LION is abbreviation on LinkedIn Open Networkers. So LIONs, in general, accept invites from anyone or at least will not give you the dreaded “I Don’t Know” as a response to your invitation. But be aware, I have seen some LION doing IDK to some people. Always visit the person’s profile before sending a request to him. If the person is important to have on your network, make your request letter very much compelling. Provide him/her a reason to associate with you. These are early days of social media and everyone is thing about quantity and not quality, but I can assure you things are going to change in near future.

Social media demands commitment! You can’t achieve results in a day !