2012 is a momentous year for advertising, as for the first time since the inception of the internet; marketers are projected to spend more on online advertising than on advertising in print magazines and newspapers in the US. More countries will go this way soon. If you are a company in India and wondering if you should leverage the internet for your marketing, this is not just a wakeup call, it’s the alarm bell jangling.
There are numerous reasons why online advertising, be it in the form of social media marketing, SEO or PPC is the way forward for you.
To begin with, traditional advertising in print magazines and newspapers has a limited shelf life, secondly according to Google, when people need to know about a product, 58% of them turn to the internet. 65% of people purchasing retail products and 72% of people purchasing technology related products research online purchase offline (ROPO). Online advertising is far more cost effective, has a longer shelf life and most importantly has measurable return on investment (ROI).
Accordingly to more statistics by Google, there are 120 million internet users in India, which is also the third largest internet market. 48% of these users come from 2 and 3 tier cities which have a population of less than 10 lakhs which indicates that the internet is developing deep roots.
Where are your potential customers?
Interesting of these 120 million internet users, 50 million access the internet via their mobile phones, 43 million use the internet primarily for Facebook and 25 million are on YouTube, this is extremely telling and offers clear direction for marketers on how to structure their marketing strategy and where they need to be seen.
Even though internet penetration in India is growing by a low 9% YoY, the sheer size of the country means the number of users will still grow significantly.
Digital Marketing Companies are Smacking their Lips
Today, companies no matter their size are open to investing in websites even spending lakhs. According to Google, their India Get Online project which offers free online space to SBMs took off like a rocket, with 60,000 SMBs opening up websites in 6 months. Yes, it’s going to be a golden era for digital and online marketing companies, but are they ready?
My small experience of four years on both sides of the fence indicates not. Here’s why
Since social media and SEO can be done from free platforms, everyone has jumped in to grab a piece of the pie. Everybody claims expertise, from freelancers, novices and agencies, and that’s easy enough because there is no well-known certification other than for PPC from Google. Even then, most agencies are hesitant to certify their staff. High churn means agencies are reluctant to pay for employee training and since the Google algorithm is always in flux, it’s easy for half-baked experts to fool their way around.
Recently, my company needed to engage in SEO and our discussion with 10 odd digital marketing agencies was hilarious at best, sickening at worst. Sales people with fancy designations came in talking through their hat (so it wasn’t black or white), promising the sky when all we wanted was leads. If a sales manager of a digital marketing company does not understand the product he is marketing, it does not inspire confidence in the buyer, and so we chucked all of them and began to learn a bit of SEO ourselves. There are loads of companies like ours, who want to leverage social media with realistic expectations; can somebody help us with it? The answer is uncertain.
Since most digital marketing companies do not train their people, sales and account managers simple copy paste tried and tested methods from one client to the next. When we spoke to SEO vendors, we wanted them to give us intelligence, make a strong case on whether SEO was for us or not, and what we could expect from it. Rather, we got vendors asking us for keywords, (isn’t that silly?) and telling us our web content was great, when in fact we were certain the content per page needed to be urgently increased.
Its time digital marketing companies set their own standards, push for certifications and invest in training. This way they weed out ill trained people, professionalize the industry and avoid turning away potential companies like mine who is now very unsure about working with an agency.
As companies like mine acknowledge the value of an online presence, they are shifting budgets from traditional advertising to online, but this low hanging fruit is ignored as digital marketing firms do not develop the right sales strategy. The need of the hour here is trained sales personnel, who have a deep domain understanding, who can truthfully set client expectations and make an intellectual argument steeped in research on what channel can work for a client, and send in well-educated sales personnel who can make the right pitch, rather than blabber rubbish.