Even for digital-only products, this remains true.
Time and again, I have been observing this hiring trend where a digital marketer has been hired and is expected to perform the overall product marketing role. When I asked the reason behind this from one of the companies whom I was consulting recently, the answer was:
“Oh we have a limited budget for marketing and we just want to do some Facebook campaigns”.
Ok, that could be for now but what about later?
“Even later, we think our prime marketing channels to promote our products will be digital only”.
Sounds simple and fair enough, isn’t it?
But it’s not that simple in the real scenario. It’s a small company and this marketer is expected to own up the overall “growth” of the product – from awareness to consideration, from lead generation to conversion. Yes, the channels to be used are of course digital.
Considering I have worked in startups for long, I totally understand the need for resource optimization in smaller companies. I have also been a huge evangelist for digital medium ever since the start of my career but, just because your prime channel of promotion is going to be “digital”, you can not expect a digital marketer to do the overall job of product marketing.
The candidate could be an expert in understanding Facebook or might be a specialist in search engine optimization but these can’t be the be all end all of product marketing.
The role of a product marketer ideally starts from as early as the market validation stage, right when the product team starts to conceptualize the product. A typical product marketing role during launch would look something like this:
These roles may vary a bit depending upon the product category and organization, but overall a product marketer needs to have a holistic understanding of marketing and not just channel-specific approach.
Depending upon the growth stage of your organization and product, you may decide to hire the person at an appropriate time but before hiring, do invest some time in deciding your goals and objectives and hire the candidate with the right skills accordingly. You may even decide to give your digital marketer the overall product marketing role in future but this upskilling will take time and may not necessarily work always.
Thank you for visiting my blog & reading this post.
This one is one of my favorite marketing quotes these days 🙂
Content and context matter the most today, isn’t it?
Before you proceed, can I request you to pause for few seconds and think about the last advertisement you clicked on any digital channel —just anywhere, any ad?
Before writing this post, I carried out this check multiple times and more often than not, I observed myself clicking on sponsored posts only if they were very appealing visually or the initial blurb looked emotional or entertaining or had the specific information I’d tried to find recently. In a nutshell, it’s the content and context that made me click. I am sure, it’s the similar trigger for many of you. There’s nothing new in this;since ages it’s the content and context that have been working for marketing but in this current era of digital excess and content overload, these are the only two things that matter the most – great content and right context!
You might be having great content but if you haven’t figured out the right channel and the right time to deliver your content, it’s gone. And same would be true vice versa, a perfectly planned campaign with the right audience segmentation is of no use unless you have content that can attract and connect with your audience.
While almost everyone is aware of the value of good content and context but the truth is, very few focus on the these holistically. Content is a lot more than beautiful visuals or infographics and context is much more than just geo-targeting or re-marketing. One of the most fundamental definitions of context marketing is, “delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, the more data we have about our user, the complex it gets to do contextual marketing. There are many framework and tools available that you can use to plan your content marketing but for context marketing, it’s evolving every day, simply because the algorithms and engagement level at each channel are changing at a very dynamic pace.
Personally, for me, the framework that always works for context is the traditional 5Ws & 1H model. As long as a marketer you spend sufficient time on your Ws and H, more than half of your task of segmentation and user understanding is done. Although it looks simple, I think very few follow it diligently. Next time you think of promoting your content, spend some time to address the following:
Who?: Like any other kind of marketing, setting up a context starts with “WHO”. Who is your audience? What’s his/her personality? How would you describe him/her? Sketch out the “who” part using any good persona template. The clearer you are about the “who” part of your target, the easier it would be to plan out your marketing campaigns.
Why?: Once you’ve defined your audience, it’s extremely important to address the “WHY”. “Why” should your audience notice you or click through you? If you don’t have a “why”, it’s highly unlikely that your audience will have a “why” to click through your content. Have a purpose and address your user’s needs. As long as you provide answers to their needs, they will always have a reason to be attracted and engaged with you.
What?: Delve deep into your audience’s behavior and you will get the answers to your “WHAT”s. What has been the purchase behavior of your audience? What kind of campaign interested them? What kind of campaigns escaped their notice? What are his interests, what stage of buying cycle is she at? The more you are aware of what interests him/her, the more contextual you can be.
When?: Earlier, the “WHEN” part was the simplest of all to define. Not anymore. In this multi-screen, hyper-connected age, this is the trickiest to define. Your audience could actually be looking out for you almost anytime, anywhere. Do some data digging and figure out if there is any “when” trend that exists, like, what time of the day, which day of the week, any seasonality during holidays or festivals etc.
Where?: “WHERE” forms a very important part of contextual targeting, from location to devices, from channels to platforms, know your user’spreferences and target them accordingly.
How?: And the last bit, “HOW” to do contextual marketing? Well, as long as we have the answer of all Ws and, then if we merge the demographics with behavior and needs, we can target the right audience, with the right messages, at the right time. A detailed post on “how” to do contextual marketing is coming up soon as the second part of this post.
Till then, I’d love to know more about your favorite tools and framework for context marketing.
If you found this post interesting, it would mean a lot to me if you could click on the “like” button below to let me know. Thank you!
I was recently conducting a workshop on digital marketing and while we were just at Instagram 101, some of the first few questions that I was asked were –
How to earn money from my Instagram page?
How to make brands pay me?
We have heard brands pay thousands of rupees for just one Insta post, how do we get such deals?
I want to be an influencer, as social media influencers make lots of money by just posting a photo or writing few lines.
This from an audience who was just starting with Instagram and other social channels!
Quick money attracts anyone and the idea of being paid thousands for just writing few lines on Insta or blog sounds very lucrative but in reality, it’s far from true.
Influencer marketing like any other channel of marketing requires some serious time and effort and unless you build your reach, credibility, and authority, there is no way you can establish yourself as a marketing channel.
To add to that, in this age of content clutter and media overload, it’s extremely difficult to cut through the noise and stand out in the crowd. I am no influencer on Instagram or elsewhere, so I don’t think I can give sure shot insights on how to be an influencer but I have been on the other side of the table for almost 15 years now – hiring endorsers, brand advocates, and influencers for all the brands that I have worked with till now. So, I can definitely give some insight on what all I look for when I engage with influencers for my brands.
1. Relevance: For me, this is one of the top criteria while engaging with an influencer. There are enough debates around reach vs relevance but in my personal experience, the subject matter credibility and relevance of influencer’s target audience matter a lot. Think of a juice brand being promoted by a food blogger or fitness expert vs. a travel blogger? Juice is a category that has a possibility of being consumed by almost any kind of audience but as a follower, your perception towards receiving a recommendation for a juice brand by a fitness expert will be different than from a travel blogger.
2. Reach: Of course reach is very important, no marketing channel can survive without sufficient reach but reach doesn’t mean only a very high number of followers. Reach is also a lot about engagement and interactions per post. For e.g., I definitely do a quick check on the quality of interactions on influencer’s last ten sponsored posts as one of the parameters to evaluate the effectiveness of the promoted content by the influencer.
3. Persona: Your brand has a persona and it’s extremely important to find influencers whose personas resonate with your brand. From the tone of voice to the type of content – it helps if influencers persona is aligned with the brand. While this sounds very simple but in reality, it’s quite a task to find the right fit. For a long time, I have been working for a photography brand. Now photography is a category, where almost anyone and everyone thinks he/she is an influencer. In this age of easy access to high-end cameras and millions of editing apps, it actually takes a few seconds to create gorgeous photos for your Insta feed. But I have observed it many times that just the ability to click perfect shots or having a large number of followers doesn’t necessarily translate to being an effective influencer for a photography brand. Sometimes the tonality doesn’t suit our brand and sometimes the quality of content. Finally, this is also a marketing channel and like any other marketing initiative, it’s important to have consistent brand persona while engaging with influencers too.
4. Content: The ability of influencer to create unique and authentic content is something very, very important for me. Influencer marketing is not only about promoting brand content as it is, but it’s a lot about engaging users with original content that’s relevant for brands as well as interesting for the audience. The more genuine the content would be with Influencer’s natural tone of voice, the more audience will trust. Influencer’s ability to create interesting content is a huge value ad to brand’s social media repository of user-generated content. There are many examples to highlight the same but one of the recent brands that I noticed doing it efficiently is Epigamia Yogurt. Many food bloggers participated in this campaign and they created beautiful Yogurt Art using Epigamia products and posted it on Instagram with hashtag #yogArt . Not only followers like me came to know of all the new flavors of Epigamia but we also got to know of many interesting ways this yogurt can be used in our day to day meals. And the best that I observed as a marketer was the gorgeous Insta feed of Epigamia – full of super creative user-generated photos using Epigamia products that would have otherwise taken huge time and investment for the brand to create! I know there are many brands who have created success stories like Epigamia but we also know of cases, like that of a recent mobile launch in India where almost all endorsers, celebrities, and influencers posted the same type of content on their social feed including the one where the influencer was praising the picture quality of this android phone but the picture was posted from an iOS :-).
5. Connect: The term “influencer” by definition is a person who has the ability to influence the behavior or opinions of others and it can only happen if the influencer shares a certain kind of relationship and connect with his / her audience. It’s important to evaluate the return visitors, comments, and quality of interaction between the influencers with their followers. And as far as authentic connect is concerned, there is no way one can do it through any shortcut, it has to be human and it has to be personal.
These are just some of the parameters that I take into consideration. I am sure others have some more parameters as well. In nutshell, it takes a whole lot of effort to be an influencer with credibility after whom brands run with a fat cheque. At least I haven’t met any real-life influencer yet who became an overnight success through quick hacks or digital bot programs :-).
Yesterday I received some 60+ messages on Independence Day promotion! And I am not even counting the emailers and notifications. These were just SMSes that I received despite my number being registered under DND! Yet the only campaign that I remember or that enticed me to browse more was of Amazon India.
A global brand implementing such a fantastic local campaign, isn’t it amazing? No “Patriotic Discount” or “Up to 71% Off”, no “Freedom From Shipping” or “Freedom Of Shopping”, yet a campaign that grabbed many eyeballs and love from all.
So what worked for this campaign? The answer is very simple and something that we all know of but do not necessarily implement:
The campaign was quite contextual, delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time and had a very local touch to it.Read More
On an average, 1 out of 3 or 4 posts on my Instagram timeline is an influencer plug these days. I did a quick check on if I am following influencers more? No, these are pretty much my own contacts who are doing brand plugs now. Looks like brands have become quite active with influencer marketing especially on Instagram and there are many brands that are opting for influencers as against ads on Instagram.
Influencer marketing works well for many reasons but if I have to quote one reason, it has to be the following blink from the book — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini:
Observing people similar to us can greatly influence our choice. We comply with people we like and it is easy for some people to make us like them.
So damn true, it’s just so easy for some people to make us like them and once we like someone, we get influenced by their behavior and choices. While many bloggers and social media personalities are open to do brand collaborations but how many are actually capable of influencing your users with authenticity? And no, it’s not a number game only. Influencer marketing is as much an art as it’s about science and numbers.
There are many resources available for you to check in case you are starting with Influencer Marketing on Instagram but for those who are already doing it, here are 4 quick suggestions from my side that are based on my own experiences of running campaigns and practical observations of some other live campaigns on Instagram these days.Read More
Visual storytelling works — from brands to babies. It has always worked for almost any kind of audience since ages but in this age of digital excess, it’s working like never before. Having spent good number of years in photography and digital industry, I can safely say that from communicating to comprehending, visuals have now become the prime language for many.
My personal litmus test for the power of visual storytelling? My 5 year old :-). 3 scenarios that are regular in my household-
I narrate a story to him;
I narrate a story to him and show him the pictures;
I narrate a story to him, show him the pictures and then let him play with his book asking to observe the pictures for few seconds;
Without fail, connect as well as recall of the stories are highest in the third scenario.
Just because it’s easy, let’s do it and just because it’s cheap, let’s plaster all over the media. We have seen this happening earlier with other digital channels and we can see this happening now with Instagram too. It’s quick to start and pause, so why to spend time in planning or thinking? When I see these poorly shot or awfully cropped pictures in a sponsored post, I cringe. When I see the messages so long that you need to zoom or a sponsored posts that only speak of X% discounts, I wonder why? I understand the general impulse of — “Instagram is popular, let’s do a campaign there”, but considering it’s a sponsored post and that too with such high frequency, I am assuming there is money being spent with some business objectives in mind. Then, why not spend some time in understanding the platform and engaging with your audience accordingly?Read More
Love me, or hate me, but you can not ignore me — Sincerely Yours, Facebook!
Even if certain set of users won’t agree to this statement but considering Facebook & Instagram are still dominating the charts of most downloaded and most used apps, it would be better to accept that Facebook is one of those beasts which marketers can’t ignore if they’re going for a paid digital campaign especially for a consumer product category.
I know there are enough pro and anti Facebook advertising arguments all over the internet but this post is not about whether to go for Facebook advertising or not, it’s more about when you are doing it, do it right. No point in spending money without fixing the basics first.
It’s 2017 & why I am still talking of basics of Facebook advertising? I mean, even a school kid knows how to advertise on Facebook? What’s the big deal about it when it’s just so simple and easy to set up a Facebook campaign? Well, that’s the exact problem — it’s just so easy! And almost everyone is setting it up without much effort or thought put behind understanding the platform or learning the best practices.
And when something is very easy, it’s also easier to mess it up. Isn’t it?
In last 15 days I have met four startups who are spending big money on Facebook advertising and three of them have digital agencies managing their accounts. While we discuss CPA and efficacy of the medium, there is this general sigh that CPA is not coming down and the effectiveness of their campaign is decreasing with time. I got a chance to analyze their campaigns and surprisingly, I found the problems common across — ignoring the basics and one-size-fit-all campaigns.
And all it takes is 3 simple steps to fix the same.
So startup A, with whom I was interacting recently, is a food company with a potential target audience that could range in between any age group, i.e., teenagers to even 50+year old ones. Their agency was running a digital campaign for age bracket 18–45 years with same messaging and same creatives. Their logic — after all it’s a food category and anyone could potentially be a customer for this category. True, absolutely true. But what happened to the basics of marketing known as segmentation and customizing the campaigns according to each segment? The more granular we go with customization, the more effective the outputs are in digital medium. For e.g., in this case it took us a day’s exercise to go through each product variant and try to figure out the star appeal of each variant. The moment we were ready with product feature matrix, it was getting clearer to the founders that perhaps each variant needs to be targeted to a different segment, customized with a different messaging. And that’s what we did — instead of one master campaign showing different products in different units of carousel, we configured multiple campaigns with messages and visuals tailored to different audience type. Going granular and customization upto the last level was some task for sure but the results were obvious and in a week’s time the acquisition numbers were moving northward within the same budget.
Customization takes time and effort but it’s worth it. Just go for it. Go granular, go microscopic.
Are you targeting your ads to those who have liked your page as well? Of course, the logical brain tells you why do you need to especially when you have limited money? The ones who have liked your page are already getting to see your updates, so why not use the money to target new audience and acquire new customers? Start up A, B, C & D — all four had done the same. And earlier, even I used to do the same. But then after experiencing the diminishing organic reach of Facebook posts that perhaps is not even in the range of 2 to 5% these days, I had changed my targeting strategy. And I was surprised with the improvement in the conversion rate.
So, next time when you are trying to sell any new product or targeting your users for repurchase, connect with your existing base first, you’ll be surprised with your acquisition percentage and more importantly, your CPA. The rationale behind this is pretty simple — the ones who have liked your page are somewhat interested in you, the chances of them buying your product are much higher than the new ones.
When you have limited money, it’s all the more important that you prioritize it on targeting the interested ones first. Connect with your existing fan base, it works.
Startup D had spent some decent money in getting their products shot beautifully. The campaigns were doing well initially but with time, the CTR had reduced. On asking, when was the last time the images were changed, the answer was almost three months back. To add to that, all the good pictures were used in first burst itself. But then why do they need to plan for second or third bursts when the first one was doing so good? Well, simply because users get bored of seeing the same thing again and again. To add to that, this phone era has reduced our attention span to 8 seconds which is perhaps lesser than that of many living creatures. And the only method to grab attention these days is through striking visuals. Visuals attract attention and new images give a fresh perspective to your ads. Be it digital or any form of advertising, a good visual evokes emotions and enhances the consumer connect. This has been tried and tested since ages in all forms of advertising but is especially true in this digital era where we literally breathe and live our virtual life through images.
Change your ads frequently, especially the images. Even if you are advertising the same product or service, just change the visuals and see the impact on your CTR. In one of my last campaigns, it moved up by 3x.
Customize, Connect & Change — that’s it. Focus on these and your basics will be in place. And if basics are in place, we all know rest can be managed, enhanced and improved 🙂
Of late I have been interviewing people for content writer positions in my current organization. I had some content strategy in my mind and the goal as product owner was clear to me — create content for user engagement and offer content that the user is looking for. Yes, the operative word was “user”, loud and clear. But as baffling as it may sound, not even a single candidate whom I interviewed in last few weeks mentioned to me the word “user” in his/her opening pitch. It all started with writing content for search engines and ended with content quality being SEO friendly. To add to that, the kind of content that I am looking to create is sort of new initiative for my target audience, so it’s important for the candidate to have basic understanding of the category. When asked about industry experience, understanding of target audience, pat came the reply — you can let us know which words work for you and we will figure out the content that’s doing well for those words in search engines and create content for you accordingly, the written piece will have all those words with right density and frequency.
Density? Frequency? Engines? What happened to writing content for humans? Last I knew was search engines were meant for discoverability but consumption of content was still done by humans. Isn’t it? And search gods like Google have anyways changed their algorithm to focus on quality of content rather than quantity of keywords inserted in it.
Then, why this focus on promotion so much more than production?
I understand the importance of marketing the content esp. in this age of too-many-of-any type of content but being a hard core marketer I can only say one thing — you try to market whatever, be it product or service or content, if the foundation of it is not in place, then your marketing can only help you just as much and not that much.
I know there are many golden rules that exist for creating engaging content, marketing the content etc but based on all my practical experiences in product & marketing, especially in digital, here is my quick list for new age content creation process:
User first — As basic as it may sound, but this is really important — put your users first above everything. Write for target audience and not for target channels. Content to me especially when I am looking for user engagement is exactly like a product. If you put your users in the heart of your content creation process, half of your battle is won. Speaking of user first, I actually love this quote by Jamie Turner:
As a simple practice when I write or approve any piece of content for my products, I generally check it on 3 quick parameters — is it offering value to my readers, is the language easy to understand for my readers and is it engaging, inspiring or thought-provoking for my readers? Yes, “readers” it is, in all three parameters.
Quality can never be outdated — Whatever changes may happen in our content search or content consumption behavior but one thing that can never be changed is the importance of “quality” of content especially in today’s age where there is a content jungle out there. You may adapt many tricks to get discovered but once the user has landed on your page and if sufficient substance is not there in your content then she will lose interest and is bound to navigate away immediately. To add to that, average attention span of readers has further reduced by more than 30% in last 3 years. While there are many methods to get your content promoted, and content marketing seems to be one of the most fashionable jargons these days but there is no substitute to the quality of content that you produce if you want your marketing to really work for your content.
Engage with readers — Again a term that we have heard quite often but it’s one of the most ignored parameters when it comes to content. Like any product or service, user engagement in your content is a must. Connect, interact, converse and accept the feedback or criticism graciously. The more the user is engaged, the easier it is for them to act or decide.
To sum it up, if the content is unique, offers value to its readers and is interesting enough to hold reader’s attention, then there is no reason why the reader won’t share and spread the word around it. “Share”, isn’t it the reason why content has suddenly become one of the most important marketing channels in the digital world?
Digital marketing is agile. Heard it, said it and experienced it many times earlier but I think the recent #CWC15 trend on Twitter is just one of the simplest and most perfect examples to explain this agility. Twitter this time definitely upped its engagement quotient manifold with its live cricket dashboard. It was a very well crafted and well promoted initiative with prompts and alerts at most visible places. Even a non-cricket lover couldn’t miss to notice it.
Twitter riding on an event is nothing new, neither marketers trying to grab consumer’s attention on all possible screens. But what was interesting to observe was the speed at which marketers could change their communication on this medium, engaging their audience in the moments that mattered, with messages that were contextually relevant at that point of time.
Just look at some of the screenshots grabbed on Twitter last week. Many brands came out with interesting messages that were very different from their general marketing communication, though some surely appeared to be force-fit in their quest to be different or relevant to the game. But overall the noteworthy point was the number of brands advertising on Twitter this time or the number of messages that brands could promote everyday depending upon which match it was and who was winning or losing the game. Imagine coming out with so many options during traditional advertising days? Imagine the cost implication or effort required to do it then? And no, I am not at all comparing the new age vs. traditional medium like television for things like reach. No doubts, television wins hands down at least in Indian market when it comes to reach but if I have to just take the digital medium as a second screen option, then the flexibility that this medium offers to adapt and be real time is fascinating!
And to me, the one brand that stood out completely on Twitter during ICC World Cup 2015 was Cadbury 5 Star. Not only were they smart in their content, they were also nimble enough to change as required. This Ramesh-Suresh duo knew how, when and what to speak. Otherwise, remember the reactions on seeing those super upbeat ads for any team during the commercial break on television esp. when that team was losing the game.
If I have to quickly jot down the steps on how to engage with your audience real-time without going into too much theoretical details of agile marketing, then I would sum it up in just three simple steps:
Easy, isn’t it? Think again :-). How many of us listen carefully before communicating? How many of us communicate judiciously instead of reacting? How many of us react immediately without listening properly? Sometimes the simplest things are actually not so simple to handle and so is the case with digital medium. While the medium is very easy to use but not everyone knows how to use it to its full advantage. And those who have figured it out are already excelling in engaging with their audience on second, third or multiple screens.
BTW, I started my post with digital medium but when it came to referring to this year’s world cup, I only used Twitter as an example. I am myself wondering why I could notice all of it only on Twitter and not anywhere else? Is it just me who thinks that Twitter was the most preferred second screen option during this world cup? Would love to read some numbers by other sites but for now I would leave you with this latest post by Twitter that officially states on how #CWC15 played out on Twitter across the world.
Blogging Journey Since Last 15 Years
Dreamer, Doer, Mother, Marketer - that’s how Kanupriya likes to describe herself and the order of these roles keeps on changing for her every hour of the day :-). Entrepreneurial in nature with strong product leadership skills, she has established brands and built products that have been industry differentiators in the Indian market. Digital media is her great passion and she is an active contributor to some of the country’s leading technology and marketing publications.
Kanupriya currently lives in Bangalore with her husband and son. When not working, she loves to spend her time with books, oven or paint-brush.