Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Posts tagged ‘Google’

Leveraging Digital Marketing May Not Be So Easy

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

The numbers are in favour of digital marketing agencies, as companies in India both B2B and B2C are moving towards capitalizing on free and paid online platforms.

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.

In an Era of Super Specialty, Everyone is an Expert

The internet has made inroads into every little area of our lives. It has seeped in like water and we have soaked it up like sponge. Today, we hardly even recognize where our own thought begins and where it merges with the virtual space; it’s just one big interconnected database. Get into an argument and how do we resolve it? Google!

The advantage of course is that most of us today are well read, knowledgeable on a host of topics and if we feel we need to know more on a particular topic, or that someone is pulling the wool over our eyes, all we need to do is turn to the internet, or Google precisely.

This ‘know-it-all’ attitude which is growing increasingly common can also be annoying. Everybody believes they are experts on everything and because they have downloaded a few PDFs, read a few articles, have at hand a few how-to-manuals for dummies, and own a few half-backed ideas, move forth with the confidence of a veteran.

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Take a quick look at Twitter; you will see hordes of ‘social media experts’. Most of these folks are still in school, check out their tweets and they are all copy -paste content, try and find something original they have to say and its full of grammatical and spelling errors, and yet, they are self appointed, self proclaimed ‘experts’.

A while back I had a colleague who was a software developer turned business manager. To upgrade her skills, she was asked to try her hand at writing. So off she went, copy pasted a paragraph each from five different articles and mailed it over to me. “Look, this took me an hour, how can you writers take two days to do this?” was the questioning look. Of course I had to look back in exasperation. Are you kidding me? You think this is what business writing is about?

Another colleague downloaded Google’s how-to-do-it-yourself SEO manual and said, there you go, now we should be on page 1 for all our keywords!

In another incident, a friend of mine was getting a little pain on the right side of the abdominal area. Oh my god, could this be appendicitis. He had worked himself into a frenzy after reading a few article off the net, and noting that his symptoms tallied with the write-ups. Later that evening when the doctor heard the diagnosis he threw his head back and laughed. “Really, you people read too much and believe everything you read on the internet, it’s just some swelling of a nerve and nothing to do with appendicitis” he said and shooed my friend away.

In a strange way, the internet has trivialized professional rigorous learning and made an ‘expert’ of us all. It has taken away the authoritative voice, and made us mistrust anyone who specializes in a field. “oh that, anyone can know that”, “you can read that off the internet”, “oh, isn’t that obvious”, “aren’t you update” are the comments that are thrown back. Its especially sad when these comments come from other professionals and I think, “didn’t you spend years studying to be a programmer, then how can you say anyone can do that after reading off the internet”, “didn’t you spend years doing your MBA, and working hard at perfecting your skills then how can you say, oh that’s child’s play’.

In this world run over by information oozing off the internet, everyone is a guru, because they believe knowledge is theoretical, it does not come from practice, it does not come from intuition, it does not come from the heart or soul.  With the internet loaded over with information as it is, it’s not surprising, but is it time we did a rethink before we claim mastery over areas of which we know but two cents. We need to differentiate between theoretical, untested knowledge, versus some ones experience and years of study. We need to get rid of our ‘know-it-all’ pride and let someone be the expert of and in their own field, while we try to master ours.

This blog post may seem like a rant, but it is the result of my growing dismay when I see people increasingly trivializing someone else’s knowledge and falsely positioning themselves as knowing better.

So who cares for your website?

Have you had this experience when someone calls you and says they are calling from so and so company, you search them on Google and come upon a really shabby website. Your image of the company you are talking to falls apart. Now would you want to do business with a company like that or would you consider taking up a job with them?

I’ve had this experience more than once, and the astounding part, many of them claim to be online marketing companies. What?… With such poor content, little or no SEO, nothing to distinguish the site as a 2.0 website, precious little information on their services, I yearn to ask them how they manage to do business if any, but usually take the faster and more pleasant way out by saying a simple ‘No’.

If you don’t care for your website, why should I

In case you as a company have forgotten, your website is your public face. It is your advertisement for all to see, and a pretty cost effective one at that. Who in their sane mind would want to waste an opportunity like that to advertise themselves, yet so many companies would, and do.

A shabby website speaks volumes on how much you care about your own company, how much you have conceptualized your products and services, how much you strive to distinguish yourself from the myriad competition. Poor English, meagre content, indicates you’d rather be found chasing the money, or maybe that you haven’t looked at your site in years.

Updating a site with current information, making sure it displays the current year, means that you are concerned about your appearance, that you care to make the right impression; people who would like to do business with you find it easier to read about you, understand you and determine if they could gel with you. Prospective employees also get a better understanding of your style of business, learn about your products and are able to determine if they could fit into your organization. A well maintained website, helps you attract better talent and generate much needed leads, free of cost.

The first thing most people do when they hear the name of an individual or company they need to interact with is Google them, and if you don’t make the best first impression, it might create a lasting bad impression.

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