Today, in India, the Internet is driving businesses’ growth. Now, no marketer can say his/her marketing strategy is complete without Internet/Online/Digital Marketing.
In coming years, as Forester said,
“Digital Marketing will be just Marketing”
In 2014, we’ve got to expect from digital marketing, and many trends are emerging and may emerge in the near future. I tried my best to research and spot trends that will be important to the digital marketing industry in India in 2014.
As we know it, this year again digital marketing going to be top on the agenda of many marketers, and they might be looking for innovative ways to market online, reduce cost per lead, increase click-through-rates and conversion rates, and discover what’s hot in digital marketing.
In 2013, we witnessed the rise of many trends in Digital Marketing that may continue to dominate or may fade away in 2014. For example, with Matt Cutt’s announcements Link Building came under scrutiny, mobile marketing rose but conversions remained abysmally low, content – text, audio, image, and video become highly important, Google’s algorithm updates, social media rising, and, use of analytics and big-data.
Now, in 2014, we have a lot in offing for Digital Marketing, and new trends are emerging, that I’ve listed below.
#1. Shift from Tactical SEO to SEO Strategy
Last year, with the launch of hummingbird update from Google, search engine behavior changed and search engine algorithm improved for better. Therefore, SEO has to evolve now from a tactical approach to long term SEO strategy.
Now, an SEO strategy is the need of the hour, where you’ll have to
- define your target audience,
- focus on keywords that are relevant to your audience, not search engines (which means not generic but long-tail keywords are required)
- enhance the quality of your content
- improve your presentation of search engine listings with markups
- reach your audience wherever they’re online
- engage the audience and help boost user-generated content
- integrate SEO with a complete digital strategy
- and concentrate on all organic such as organic SEO, organic link building etc.
It’s in the interest of SEOs in India to embrace this, otherwise, I believe it will be difficult for them to reach higher rankings, attract traffic and increase conversion rate.
#2. The rise of Social Media Marketing in India
At 82 million monthly active users, India is the second largest audience base for Facebook in the world and it may possibly dethrone US on Facebook soon. India is positioned second for a user population of LinkedIn at 20 million users, while for YouTube and Twitter user population from India goes up to 52 million and 42 million.
So, what this figure means to a marketer in India?
Just imagine, you get easier and cost-effective access to middle class to upper-middle-class people in India, that are mostly young and capable to spend large amounts, and they’re target audience to almost all brands. Most importantly, they’re 82 million strong.
I hope I may have triggered many thoughts, combinations, and permutations in your mind.
Yes, in India, if you’re selling/providing a product/services then you’ve to have the presence on social media, most importantly on Facebook.
It does not matter if you’re a B2B or B2C, you’ve unending opportunities on social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to reach your target audience in India.
You just name any brand/business/celebrity in India they’re on Facebook and other popular social networking sites.
Interestingly, local businesses are using social media especially Facebook to sell online in India. There are many e-tailers in India that started their business from Facebook such as Pelican & Penguins, Kamaali Couture, Legal Bribe, Maati, Buzzaria, and this creed of e-tailers is only growing in numbers, and they’re also using F-commerce to sell on Facebook itself.
Kamaali Couture Facebook Page
In 2014, F-commerce will also grow with the increasing popularity of Facebook in India, and with the building of trust and effective social media engagement campaigns.
Pony and Tails F-commerce Tab
These e-tailers and other big e-commerce websites such as Flipkart, Jabong, Snapdeal, Myntra, Yatra, 99acres, TripAdvisor, Shopclues, etc. are spending on social media marketing and advertising, and they’re not limiting themselves to images and text, they’re also developing videos and games, and running contests to attract, engage, delight and convert.
Jabong’s Facebook page
Almost all brands are trying every tactic in the book to reach their audience in India on social media platforms, especially on Facebook. In addition, many other social media platforms such as Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Goolge+ etc. will also increase their user base in India in 2014. But it’s yet to be seen if brands in India will embrace these networking platforms.
Hence, we can expect an unprecedented growth in social media users in India that will help social media marketing to experiment and become a more popular tool for branding, online selling and customer engagement among businesses/brands.
#3. Content Marketing
This year, ‘Content Marketing’ will all throughout be in limelight. In India, people are extensively searching, researching and consuming content – text, audio (not that popular), image and video. Largely, social media networks are pushing for improved, meaningful and creative content marketing.
For ease of understanding, I’ve discussed below each content type separately.
On NDTV’s Solutions summit, Google India head Rajan Anandan told us that Indians are researching extensively and deeply. This directly means that the demand for quality content hasn’t stopped and expected to increase further.
Moreover, the text is the foremost tool in SEO that will easily help you acquire higher ranks, reach a targeted audience, engage your audience and convert them. It’s at the top of all the game that you may be planning.
Your web content, blogs, whitepapers, how-to guides, e-books, press releases, and any write-up, should convey your online value proposition and voice. It’s a closely knit of words that may instantly appeal or dissuade your audience.
You can call it graphics, photos, pictures, designs, textures, infographics, cartoons, memes, trolls, etc. they come in all shapes and sizes. Images are usually subordinate to text and complement it, and they are highly popular among Indians.
This season of politics, political parties are spending moolah over trolls just to get the attention or bring a bad reputation to competitors. In India, marketers understand the importance of visual impact.
Just go to any Indian e-commerce website such as Flipkart, Postergully etc. their visual appeal is impressive. Moreover, on their social media, you’ll find a range of the image of their products.
Images are known to trigger imagination and help in building trust.
Last year, comScore reported that India’s online video consumption has doubled in 2 years and only increasing at meteoric speed. India has 54 million viewers that are spending uncountable hours to watch 3.7 billion videos per month.
Brands in India are now realizing the power of video marketing and now developing creative and innovative video marketing campaigns to build their brand identity. (I’ve discussed video marketing separately below)
All – text, image and video – constitute your content marketing. And more and more brands, businesses and organizations in India will understand its importance and will use it optimally in 2014.
#4. Key Performance Indicators and Return on Investments
Last year, brands and businesses were only investing without caring much for the returns on digital marketing. This year, they’ll ask many questions therefore, ‘conversion rate’, ‘key performance indicators’ and ‘return on investments’ will catch in trend across all sections of digital marketing in India.
In 2014, every investment in digital marketing will be questioned and reasoned, and many free tools and paid tools, and analytics will be used to prove their ROI.
With the availability of deep analytics and increasing awareness of clients in India, the marketers will have to explain digital marketing ROI. Furthermore, Indian digital marketing consultants will use KPIs and ROI to improve their conversion rate, enhance customer experience and brand reputation.
Today to convince an aware Indian client, we’ve to elaborate the possible cost-per-lead, each digital spend, return on each spends, and key performance indicators.
#5. Viral Video Marketing
With up to 250 million Internet users in India, it’s easy to go viral with something awesome. In that case, we’ve witnessed many videos in 2013 going viral both commercial and non-commercial videos.
In 2014, brands and businesses might be planning to use viral video marketing with the help of social media networks more effectively to reach a large audience in India.
Flipkart’s Facebook video post
Snapdeal’s Facebook video post
As I mentioned earlier, India’s appetite for video consumption is getting larger each year. Moreover, increasing the popularity of Facebook and YouTube in India with new platforms – Vines and Snapchat, video marketing definitely going to be huge in 2014.
However, ROI on video marketing going to be a concern, nevertheless, it’s highly cost-effective than TV commercials, and even small and mid-sized companies will invest in video marketing.
Essentially, with video marketing in India, it has become easier to build brand identity, improve brand storytelling and engage the audience, and enhance brand loyalty.
Viral video marketing will increasingly find many takers in India, given many advantages.
At present, big brands, Indian cinema, Indian music, the government of India, political parties, Indian educational organizations, and many others are successfully using video to entertain, educate and emotionalize audience in India.
Few of my favorite Indian viral videos. See below
Coca Cola’s Small World Machines – Bringing India & Pakistan Together
Little cricketers experience the joy of a little extra with MS Dhoni
#6. Responsive/Mobile Marketing
Frankly speaking, I’m no expert on mobile marketing, but I’ve started to take it seriously from this year. There are many reasons for it.
Firstly, the easy availability of smartphones, tablets, phablets, and touchpads that is redefining mobility in India. Secondly, there is a large audience (approx 130 million users according to IAMAI and IMRB) in India accessing the Internet through mobile devices. Thirdly, Gartner says India to have 72 percent mobile penetration by the year 2016. Fourthly, India’s mobile video consumption has doubled and more than 65 percent of Indians are sharing videos on mobile. Lastly, according to Facebook, there are 62 million Indians accessing Facebook through mobile.
I hope as a marketer, these numbers might have convinced you because they surely do convince me to the fullest. Mobile is the way forward in India, to reach Indians across India.
In 2014, mobile applications, mobile advertising, mobile video marketing, and marketing on popular mobile networking apps such as WeChat, Line, Whatsapp, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram and others will increase exponentially.
Return on mobile marketing investment will remain an issue that may disturb marketers. However, with m-commerce, mobile payments, and innovations by Google India, Flipkart, and many other market leaders, we could see some breakthrough that would increase ROI on mobile marketing.
In India, localization in 2014 will become endemic. I am sure it will gain further ground with the help of Google India search engine, Google Maps, online classifieds (e.g. Quicker), local online search engines (e.g. Just Dial), local listing websites (e.g. Grotal), vertical search engines (e.g. Zomato and ThinkVidya) and others. Moreover, websites will increasingly localize as well.
If you’re living in urban India, then just search for a popular food joint near you on the Internet. I’m sure you will easily find it.
In the digital marketing industry, localization will increase among brands/businesses. Many local joints, bars, clinics, superstores, shops, restaurants, clubs, pubs, discs, companies, organizations etc. will also invest in digital marketing to reach their audience online and specifically on mobile.
In localization – timing, limited budget, content strategy, mobile marketing, and advertising – will be great challenges that may disturb marketers.
Undoubtedly, personalization will evolve over time in to much larger, and it won’t end in any near future. However, there are privacy issues attached to it, but despite that, there are many takers for personalization to improve customer experience and delight.
Just recently, Google acquired NEST labs for US$ 3.2 billion. If you don’t know about NEST then let me tell you that NEST labs manufacture smart home thermostat. Now, just imagine, if Google uses the NEST to know more about its customer for better customer experience. How innovative and simultaneously scaring will it be?
The point is personalization will not expand the world, but also in India at much higher speed especially in the e-commerce industry. As all are trying to enhance customer experience to push sales, by providing them more personalized services.
For effective personalization, businesses have to deeply understand their customer behavior and clickstream, and analytics will help them a lot to understand this. Variety of analytics and testing will be used in 2014 such as heatmaps, deep analytics, customer journey, A/B testing etc. in order to know what their customers’ wants, needs, and requirements in any particular time, season and moment.
#9. Online and Social Customer Relationship Management
In India, I believe many Indian e-commerce websites, portals, and others do not have effective online customer-relationship management systems. The year 2014 could be the dawn for online CRM for customers in India.
Moreover, many customers are now comfortable on chat, email, mobile chat, and social media. Therefore, companies are expanding their outreach to improve their CRM systems and enhance customer delight.
Social CRM would be strategic of all, as many Indians are comfortable in using social CRM on the go. Just go to the Delhi traffic police Facebook page, where many people are voicing their concerns and issues, and even Delhi traffic police are actively monitoring and managing the page and responding.
Delhi Traffic Police Facebook page
I believe there is much to be seen in online and social CRM yet in India, and 2014 could be a tipping point for it.
#10. Conversion Rate Optimization and Testing
Recently, conversion rate optimization and testing in digital marketing industry of India are picking up fast due to the e-commerce boom in India.
In this blog, I’ve mentioned earlier about conversion rate optimization and testing, in 2014 these will be strategic to improve digital strategy, enhance outcomes and sales, and perk up customer delight.
At the helm of conversion rate optimization and testing is analytics, which is going to be big in 2014.
In India, many SEOs and digital marketers tend to ignore analytics, but in 2014, analytics will regain its due importance in digital strategy. Moreover, deeper analytics is bound to take place as Google has improved Google Analytics for a deeper understanding of customer online behavior and background. In addition, analytics will largely drive CRO and testing in India.
The CRO in mobile in India might also take place, as we know it increasingly in India users are purchasing through mobile apps on their smartphones and tablets.
The biggest challenge for CRO and Testing will be the limited budget and ignorance.
#11. Innovations in Online Payment System
2014 is an exciting year for innovations in online payment system with new launches expected this year and boost in the Indian e-commerce industry.
Just recently, Visa and MasterCard launched new mobile payment services. With this technology, you can make payment through KitKat OS and NFC powered smartphone. It uses Host Card Emulation feature of Android to save card details remotely in encrypted form and can be disabled remotely if the phone is lost. This mobile payment system will be available by June this year.
I know it’s unrelated to the topic ‘online payment system’ but this technology can work wonders for the Indian e-commerce industry, which is facing a high cost of ‘cash on delivery’.
In 2013, Flipkart launched ‘PayZippy’, which is an online payment system made for Indian e-commerce websites. Similarly, PayU India also emerged as a prominent contender, which is increasingly becoming popular among small/niche vendors.
I believe more and more, online payment systems will emerge in 2014, which will increase competition leading to a drop in cost, increase in quality and improvements in the systems.
We already have ‘Paypal’ for India, but hopefully, PayPal will optimize its system according to Indian situation and needs.
For the digital marketing industry, all these happenings will help them increase the conversion rate of e-commerce websites and improve customer delight. Because most of the time in India, the cart abandonment take place because of the limitations in the online payment systems.
For now, it’s a wait and watches the situation, where the first mover may get the advantage.
#12. Ad Micro Targeting and Re-Targeting/Re-Marketing
In India, online advertising is set to reach INR 7,000 crore by 2015, according to Indian e-Retail report. This growth will be further fueled by improvements in ad targeting and re-targeting.
In social media, Facebook has introduced promoted posts, customization in the audience, whereas Twitter, improved interest, device selection, geo-targeting and others of a promoted post, and while LinkedIn, also improved targeting. In 2014, more customization, micro-targeting, and re-targeting features and tools can be expected from these popular social media networks.
Google also has improved its re-marketing/re-targeting capabilities, and many special and exciting updates can be expected in 2014.
At present, the e-commerce industry in India is extensively using re-marketing and micro-targeting online.
In India, businesses are spending huge in advertising, therefore, we can witness the rise of many startups offering innovative solutions in advertising itself.
#13. Ever-Evolving UX and Web Designs
In the world of digital marketing, user experience and web design are ever evolving, where interactivity, rich content, and speed are essential components.
In India, we’ve not taken up the user experience and web design still not seriously but I hope, in 2014, we’ll see some innovations in user experience and web designing. Mostly, e-commerce websites in India will drive these innovations, and more will jump into the bandwagon.
In CRO and testing, user experience and web designing are strategic, which directly enhance incredibly conversion rates with simple and innovative changes and improvements.
In India, news sites and e-commerce have been experimenting with web and user experience designing. I believe 2014, will be the year, where marketers will invest more in designing and try new techniques of improvements.
#14. Humanization of Digital Marketing
Not just in India, but in the world, digital marketing will humanize further, where brands/businesses will understand the importance of conversations and engagements.
Moreover, Google ranks higher only those contents that have higher likes, shares, comments and other customer engagement signals.
Companies will try to connect and converse more through digital marketing with their target audience. And we can expect, this will only increase customer retention, brand loyalty, and word-of-mouth.
Digital strategies in 2014 will be based on Gaurav Bhalla’s co-creation and collaboration concept, where humanization of business, interactivity, and engagement will help in delivering value.
#15. Multi-Channel/ Integrated Marketing
I’ve deliberately kept this topic for the last, due to the importance of it. In India, multi-channel/integrated marketing in 2014 will grow in popularity and effectiveness. As many brands/businesses in India are increasingly embracing this concept to attract and engage customers on all online and offline platforms.
2014 will be the year, when almost all businesses/brands in India, will try to integrate their marketing efforts, especially their digital marketing with offline marketing.
In India, brands are realizing of importance integrated marketing communications, in which conveying single message across all platforms helping them to improve brand experience, brand loyalty, keep brand top-of-the-mind, and increase sales.
However, there are challenges such as mobile and disintegrated marketing teams, which are plaguing the effectiveness of integrated marketing leading to no credible business value generation.
Nevertheless, given advantages of multi-channel marketing/integrated marketing, in 2014 a large number of businesses in India will embrace it.
In recent research, digital marketing career is listed as one of the top 5 careers to watch out in 2014. This shows that in India businesses are getting serious about digital marketing and investing in it heavily.
So, lot’s coming our way in the digital marketing industry this year 2014.
I know, the list is not complete, there may be other avenues I missed or you may not agree with some listings. If so, then voice all your suggestions, positive criticisms, views, and opinions, or just say ‘hi’ in the comment box below. 🙂
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