The real problem that Google solves, is the problem of availability. When you have a problem and are searching for the solution, Google provides you with a list of most likely content that can address the problem. The problem is created by information asymmetry. You just don’t know and are willing to try out or read about the different solutions.
However, over a period of time this has turned into a problem of plenty. So many content providers are creating content for the average internet user, that the options tend to give all the creators a sliver of traffic. This has led to a bulk of copy-cats and me-too content providers eyeing for their search visibility. So much so that one of the default rules of inbound marketing is to start a content creation cycle and hope that you keep attracting traffic via Search.
What can new brands do?
Stay away from the whole attack of the clones! All marketers would swear on grabbing the attention of the customer as many times as possible in order to drive a higher brand share. However, at the cost of what?
Instead of creating very similar content? How about solving things that matter instead?
How about identifying a niche area where there is a genuine need and people are struggling to find answers?
This might seem contradictory to what I was saying, but once a brand (or a team) starts engaging with the customers, then you start seeing a slew of issues that no content provider is addressing. Talking about these issues and solving them via your product or service is a far better way to get discovered, rather than to keep talking about how your me-too offering is different from the competitor’s me-too offering!
Engage with customers to discover what message and positioning you need to take when it comes to working in a crowded market.
As someone who has been in the area of Digital marketing for the past few years (close to a decade now), it’s interesting to note and see how it has evolved. Right from the open market economics that AdWords grew upon to the game theory dynamics of Search Engine Optimisation, the way the entire industry has been changing is fascinating.
This article on English Tax and building for the next billion Indian users by Sajith Pai makes you stop and think. At this point, all the marketers and brands are busy selling to that sliver of audience who are online and are english speaking, affluent, willing to whip out their credit cards and make a purchase.
The next Billion
However, there is a larger audience out here, 10 times as much. A billion people, who may not be comfortable with English, who may not have approved credit cards and credit lines … but who are online.
Thanks to the launch of Jio, you now have an audience who may not be affluent, but who are there online. The same audience is being targeted by brands in a language that is not native to them.
What is the English Tax? It’s the overhead that a user has to go over to understand what is being said. English is not my mother tongue, however after just under 4 decades of being subjected to both formal and informal education, I have started to think of English as my primary language.
However, that may not be the case of the next Billion. They may not even understand English, and thanks to Google or Apple, they would still be able to browse the web online without even typing a single English letter!
To top it all off, this audience is not being targeted online, not because they do not have a foot print, but because they do not understand the language in which they are being targeted.
This is bad.
Not only would they need re-phrasing of communications, but also a lot of mis-selling and mis-communications would be currently done to them.
Responsibility in Media
Yeah, this section is a joke! However, as digital platforms evolve, can the major players like GAFA take a much more responsible stand on exposing the India2 to the internet?
It’s not as if something is wrong with them. Please note, I am not saying that. However the internet which is most relevant for India2 is in the making and a lot of players are just ignoring this huge blue ocean that needs to be made.
There are content oriented players like BhaDiPa (Bharatiya Digital Party) and TVF (The Viral Fever) who are making content in regional languages, pretty sure there are many more as well. However, one look at the keyword search volumes in Hindi and Marathi, and I know that we have still miles to go.
This audience for instance may not be doing a lot of searches, however, they definitely are there on Facebook, on WhatsApp, etc.
What can we do to engage as brands and marketers with this audience?
One step is always to speak the same language. I always loved the devnagri script, it just looks graceful when in comparison to the English script. Call me biased. However, as a marketer I would love to see some really good creatives, copy and content being pushed out there in regional formats.
I have seen this being done by some organisations, and just going by their data consumption numbers makes one re-think the language in which they are publishing! Similarly, the concepts of marketing wont change, but since the language is changing, so would therefore the format and forms. Just taking a Facebook update and translating it to Marathi won’t do. It has to be not just re-phrased but even re-thought … some of the memes and mental models that one language/culture has may pretty much ensure that the whole line of messaging be irrelevant.
I think as an industry based in a country that’s slowly emerging online, we are barely scratching the surface on these things.
One of the major shifts in online advertising that I have observed recently is the rampant use of re-marketing campaigns of late.
What are remarketing campaigns?
I like to think of remarketing campaigns in the form of a popular ad campaign that Vodafone (then Hutch) ran in India.
This brilliant ad campaign that was run in India talks about how the network follows the user and ensures that the telephone network is always available to the end customer. Keep in mind those were the days when network connectivity was a major issue.
Re-marketing campaigns are very similar, instead of the network, its the ad network that follows and ensures that the user is targetting off different websites who are running ad inventory.
If done right, remarketing campaigns can be seen as a serendipitous, even.
For example, let’s say if I went to a Flipkart or Amazon to purchase a particular product, and then I added the product to my cart, because of that particular action, I could be included in a Remarketing audience, and this audience is then shown an ad across different Display Networks. One of the most popular display networks out there is the Google Display Network (GDN).
However, this is not the only display network, there are multiple networks out there who can provide the same facility to the marketer.
It’s all about the spends for Display Networks
Now, you have to realize that for all Display networks and even for Social Media sites, the primary revenue model is advertising. That means, they want to grab more and more wallet share of the brand. A few years back, Google was ruling the roost in India, however, Facebook is now giving Google AdWords a run for its money.
Therefore, whenever a new feature is available on one network, the other ad networks simply duplicate the feature. Did you know that at present if you wanted to run Remarketing campaigns you could do so Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube? The list goes on, and the ability to create Custom Audiences and Lookalike audiences is also available across all channels.
Simply put, all the old and new marketing networks out there are willing to provide the features that marketers need in order to target (and re-target) their customers.
So where does that leave us?
Over zealous re-marketing
It leaves us with a whole bunch of over zealous marketers who want to get in front of the user and keep bombarding him/her with their offers. No matter what.
Take this case, I recently visited a website that was being promoted by a known agency. I was doing a routine check of their tag implementation. Satisfied that most of the obvious issues were taken care of, I left the site. Notice, there was no purchase intent.
Now, everywhere I go, I am being bombarded with impressions of this site. On Instagram, on Facebook, on GDN. Cute, but am I going to click on the ad? Not really. Are these impressions wasted? Yes, on me, they are.
I never intended to buy!
Is such a bombarding of the user the only mechanism to deliver results?
So what can be done to make remarketing more effective?
As a marketer who is in charge of running these remarketing campaigns, there are a couple of things that you could immediately do to reduce the spends and therefore increase the efficacy of your campaigns.
Put a frequency cap on each of your creatives. If I am not going to click on your ad the last 20 times, theres a snowflake’s chance in hell that I will click on the ad the 21st time!
Create remarketing campaigns based on user actions on the site, and not just a blatant site visit. If I have done certain things on the site that indicates my intent e.g start filling a form, downloaded a brochure, done an add to cart, etc, then it makes sense for me to be included in the respective remarketing list.
Exclude the users who have already converted from your remarketing lists. If you do not do this, then the ads would also be shown to users who have already converted. Thereby wasting a lot of impressions. If you don’t do this, then its just plain lazy.
Plan your remarketing campaigns on paper first before, think through the entire process and then kick-off the campaigns. Most of the time, remarketing campaigns are launched after the firsst set of campaigns, since you need visitors to be included in your remarketing lists. That means, you have time to plan and think through. Don’t waste that time.
If after all this, your remarketing campaigns still don’t deliver results, do let me know!
After thought on Remarketing campaigns
In the day and age where individuals online are slow to wake up to concept of online privacy, we as marketers often don’t realize that remarketing campaigns being done to death can turn a meeting of chance into oh-my-god-the-brand-is-stalking-me kind of feeling.
The next time you are thinking of remarketing, do tone it down a bit please.
Life is short. It is time to point out an ugly truth, and to be the brave person that you are, the intelligent rational assessor of reality that you are, and kill all the organic social media activity by your company. All of it. Seems radical, but let’s take it one step at a time.…
Any Social Media Marketer would take this as an affront, but the wealth of insights based on pure data that’s being shared by Avinash in the above article is something to think about.
Social Media Platforms are not to be confused as Owned Platforms
There are platforms which we build (such as our very own discussion forum) or a blog. These are Owned Platforms … and then there are platforms where people exist and we simply establish our brand’s presence on those platforms. Such as any Social Media sites e.g Facebook, Twitter.
In such cases, your brand’s outreach is subject to the policies dictated by that platform. Zuck’s Death Spiral (ZDS) is one such example that Avinash is talking about.
Shouldn’t brands adopt Social?
By all means adopt social and engage with your customers online. However, keep in mind that when in Rome, you do as the Romans do. That means, on Facebook – you follow the rules that Zuck lays out. Ergo, the same rinse repeat formula of posting 4-5 Social Media posts a day may not work.
What is required instead, is a concerted effort to truly wow your fans. If you do not wish to do that and want to instead rely on the same well worn formula of doing selfies of your brand, then your social media team is doing you a grave injustice.
India has the second largest online population (at 354 million), beating that of the United States (at 266 million). We are still miles to go from China’s 650 million.
However, with the largest population based in the world, and with the highest rate of Internet penetration in the developing countries, India is seen by many online businesses as the geography to target.
There are the naysayers and folks who debunk the entire populace as freebie seekers and saying that thirld world economies are not there yet. However, when it comes to e-commerce, India clearly has shown great traction.
Airtel recently (March 2016) launched a series of Television Commercials (TVCs) bringing out the benefits of it’s 4G network.
This followed by a slew of Ads featuring the Airtel 4G Girl (if you don’t know who, then Google this). So now, apart from claiming a lifetime of free telephone bills (I don’t know how many people did attempt the Airtel 4G Challenge), the new set of advertisements talk about how broad and wide the reach is of the Airtel 4G network.