This article is not about fancy numbers to show changing trends in the world, but a simple take on what is happening all around.

I got my first home desktop when I was in college. Although I studied Engineering, I was never a tech geek. My interest was always people, and while I hoped to get into HR, I landed in the world of PR, which took me to social media, and finally to making me a digital marketing trainer. I like to be chilled out and not change too frequently. I resisted buying my first BlackBerry,  immensely resisted moving to a ‘Touchscreen’ and am still to make the transition to the Apple family. The world may move fast, but some of us are more in love with the past.

The present day problem or let’s call it the revolution is extraordinary. A host of technological advancements is coming together to change the face of the planet. While there are developments in almost every field, digitally we are surging ahead at top speed. Now I like presenting thoughts in a point wise manner and will try to do the same right now.

1. SMS is Dead, WhatsApp killed it

Yes, we still get promotional SMSes and some others too, but just look at how swiftly and conveniently, a small startup with less than 50 engineers, took over the world with its chat application and practically killed the short messaging service industry. They didn’t have to build the infrastructure, Tim Berners-Lee built it. They didn’t have to build the platform, the people at Google and Apple built it. They didn’t have to worry about making money, Facebook bought their app. Airtel, Vodafone, Idea combined lost to a 50 member team?

2.  The local transport industry is rattled, a Taxi App shook them up

Uber. Why didn’t anybody think of this earlier? A simple app to solve your travelling woes. Go to any major city in the world; no haggling, no worrying, just call an Uber. A company, which has had its fair share of controversies, is globally today, one of the most valued companies in the world. A simple solution that connects taxi drivers with commuters, thus eliminating all the red tape that was involved in allowing somebody to drive a cab, eliminating all the hassles of delayed payments for the drivers, and eliminating the trouble of finding public transport at odd hours, all through a simple mobile app.

3. Turning watches into accessories

digital

On one hand, watches are getting fancier and more expensive by the day; on the other, the industry is bleeding because nobody wants a watch anymore! Not as a necessity that is. The Titans of the world (pun intended) are facing the wrath of the smart phones and even smarter watches. I don’t need to look at my wrist to know the time, my mobile takes care of that. Are mobile phones disrupting the watch industry of the world? Thought nobody, ever.

4. The Idiot Box. A title that finally makes sense.

Video killed the Radio star. And now YouTube killed the TV star. The numbers be damned, just look around and see how many people actively watch TV, and you would hopefully be surprised. Blame it on The Pirate Bay, YouTube, Netflix or whatever else; when the quality of what I get elsewhere is much better than what I see on TV, then why should I keep watching TV? No wonder then, Netflix is already a rage in parts of the world, Star network launched Hotstar and you would have seen your first Chromecast at somebody’s home already. Cable TV is old news, on-demand entertainment is the need of the hour. It’s an entertainment democracy, and people will watch, what they want to watch when they want to watch. The television will eventually be reduced to a screen that will be used to stream. 10 years tops.

5. Newspapers. The beginning of the end of an era.

digitalI love my daily supply of newspaper. There are many others who do. But that can’t allow you to deny the obvious. Online media consumption is taking over. People don’t have time. People are lazy. People don’t like reading too much. People read what others are reading. People suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). People need their news. But people need it right now. Facebook, Twitter, inShorts, news apps, news sites and multiple other online multimedia outlets are helping people get what they need, fulfill what they crave, replace what they used to read. The rise of online portals like BuzzFeed, HuffingtonPost, of Exchange4media taking over the Business World magazine, of The Quint and the YourStory becoming primary sources and authority of their domains, are just some of the many factors that tell you that this is the beginning of the end of an era. When you want to see what the future holds in store, simply look at what the youngsters are up to. If the average 20-year-old doesn’t read it, you can be rest assured that the next lot of youngsters wouldn’t either.

6. Rate of loss of Jobs will far exceed the rate of creation

This one hurts, it truly does. And most would like to turn a blind eye to this reality. But while it hurts, here’s the truth. Technology is responsible for creating a lot of new jobs, and the same technology is going to eat them too. The average American does not feel too happy about their job having been outsourced to India. Yes, cheaper workforce did it, but technology enabled it. Skype and GoToMeetings and a thousand other products make the world feel like a small village. India scored because companies could scale up easily here, and we spoke English. The next phase now begins.

Many companies have reported that they will invest in automating their processes, thus cutting down on their workforce, while many multinationals have already started shifting their base to other Asian countries. While this may not affect a large population all at once, but even a tiny difference or shift will create a huge dent. This holds true for not just the IT industry, but many other industries too. Functions like sales, marketing, and recruitment are all becoming more automated, and more focused online. What took 10 people to complete a job before can now be completed by 2. Companies are happier to pay fewer people better salaries than keeping all 10 on the rolls. Only way out? Skill Up.

(Editor’s plug – you might want to check out LeadSquared if you are also thinking about automating your sales and marketing process)

digital

LeadSquared Marketing Automation Software

7. Banks are worried by what was once a Phone Recharging App

How in this world can a phone app, meant to recharge mobile phones threaten the biggest banks in the country? Only Paytm would know. First came the banks, then the cheques, then came ATM, online banking followed and now mobile wallets are taking over. No, it is not a replacement for a bank, but it can well become the replacement for banking transactions. What you paid for through an ATM Card, controlled by a bank so far could be (is being) done by wallets, what you paid for in cash can be paid for through the wallet, what you withdrew at the ATM may not be required, if and only if they scale up and encompass various sectors and industries. The banks are not worried that they will lose customers, but when a customer doesn’t transact or contact the bank that often, then it leads to loss of cross sell and up sell revenue, and more importantly slowly eliminates the card economy. Seems difficult to believe? You wouldn’t have ever believed that a plastic card and a website could replace bank queues and the use of cheques either, could you?

digital

8. Digital made global giants fall to their knees

Kodak and Nokia are prime examples of the catastrophic collateral damage of the digital world. The digital camera made Kodak go bankrupt while the smarter Samsung and Apple made Nokia leave its pole position (yes, they are making a strong comeback, but what a fall that was). BlackBerry went from talk of the town to an outsider in no time, and Samsung itself fell behind the cheaper and costlier competitors after winning the war from Nokia. These are companies which are standing tall for multiple decades, but a decade is all it took for digital to defeat them.

The writing is on the wall and hope you are reading it as clearly. The world changes dynamically with dynamic changes in the web, in the world of digital. There is lesser permanence, lesser stability, and lesser scope for showing complacency. You may have been the best there ever was, but if you don’t change with the changing times, then you for sure will be left behind. There is no one answer to what will happen next, but you can only gear up for what lies ahead. There is nothing you are supposed to suddenly do, but a wake-up call to that mind of yours wouldn’t hurt too.


 

This article was originally published here, and has been republished as a part of LeadSquared’s partnership with DigitalDefynd.

The challenge you face as a content marketer is three fold. Not only should the topic interest the audience and add value, but it should also get easily discovered.

One way to nail it lies in identifying the trends and publishing content (blog posts, or any other form of content) related to that. I mean, when everybody is already talking about a trend that has taken the market by storm, creating content based on it will definitely give more visibility. Especially, when you are one of the first few to bring out relevant content in that area.

The challenge lies however, in finding such trends- before it becomes too saturated! If you are asking yourself “where do I find such trends at the right time?!” this post is for you.

Trends from around the world

The best place to start for identifying the top trends across the world, would be by checking the news. Google news, offline and online news channels and even news on social media (like Twitter and Facebook) can all give you great insights on what exactly the public is interested in. Hashtags on social media are pretty powerful, as you well know.

You cannot definitely do it all manually. But, there’s technology at your fingertips. Here are a few tools that you can use:

Google Trends:

Lets you type in a search term and shows you its search trends across time. The best part is that you can also compare it with other keywords you have in mind to see which one is more talked about or suitable. For example: you can check the trends for “Inbound marketing” and “Marketing automation”, find out which one has garnered more attention in the past, which term is likely to become talked about in future (there is a “forecast” button that tells you that info) and then decide accordingly.

Google_trends-1.1

Google trends can also map it across regions. So, if you want to develop content specific for a particular region, you can check the increasing popularity of a particular topic in that region and then structure your content accordingly.

Google_trends2

 

Google Alerts:

Delivers the latest happenings in a particular field (that you specify) right to your inbox. If you happen to be interested in “Real Estate News in Bangalore”, then simply go ahead create an alert for the same. You can manage the frequency of updates and the geographic area, according to your requirements.

The Google alert page looks something like this:

Google_alerts

So go ahead – create an alert and get happening content delivered right to your inbox!

Buzzsumo:

Is an excellent tool that tells you what kind of content is trending. It in fact, goes one step further and tells you the key influencers for a particular topic and their social media clout.

Buzzsumo

Keyhole:

A useful way to track hashtags across social media.

keyhole

As you can see, not only does it list the top posts, it also tells you the number of posts within a particular time and the reach and impressions gained! A very useful tool indeed!

You can use it to give you an idea of the topic you decide – whether it is indeed trending and who is writing about it.

Mention

Now comes the paid tool. If you are interested in finding out what the public is saying about a particular term, then this is the one to use! It gives you a complete overview, across channels on how the term is mentioned. It is also popularly used by brands to find out what is being said about them by the populace.

For eg. this snapshot shows how LeadSquared has been mentioned across channels.

mention

Not all trending news will be of relevance to you. For e.g. real estate trends in Japan might not make sense to an indigenous realty owner who focuses only on the internal market. On the other hand, happenings in Japan are definitely pertinent to someone in the Travel and Hospitality Industry. Identifying what kind of information is relevant and how it could be used is also something you have to give considerable amount of thought to.

How to use these trends?

To add value by suitably tweaking your offering

Staying updated is not just relevant for creating content. It’s important to help you tweak your offerings as well.

Take the recent example of how brilliantly Ola used it recently. It began with simple jokes on Twitter and Facebook on how due to the Chennai rains, one has to book an Ola boat. Within a matter of hours, it became a trending topic, with memes and wisecracks splashed across the social media. Now, smart chaps at Ola come up with the idea of actually launching a boat service – boats that help in the flood relief operation, complete with Ola logo and umbrellas. That my friend is how powerful social media can be!

Ola boat final

And also, you know that as businesses, providing value to customers is at the heart of everything we do.

So, this is also a wonderful example of how exactly to use the kind of information that you get. Ola could have easily made a couple of witty remarks to the posts. Instead, they used this opportunity to bring actual value to people, when it was most needed, that built them enormous amount of goodwill (and also made a difference to the relief efforts).

Coming back to the online turf, these trends can be harnessed in a totally different way too.

To create content

Placement Ads on Google and Social media, content sharing through blogs and videos and even participating in discussions to give your opinion are all effective methods.

However, don’t try to hop on to any trend to promote your service. The wrong tone or latching onto a trend related to a sensitive issue can be disastrous for your brand.

Remember the 2014 soccer world cup? That was when Luis Suarez bit an Italian soccer player. Now, at the outset, it seems like a news update for sport fans – something that might not be relevant to businesses. Snickers proved otherwise! They put up an ad claiming “Bite into Snickers – tastier than Italians” and Trident chewing gum said “Chew Trident, not soccer players”.

Snickers_Italian

The reason I spoke about this is because it is very different from the Ola example above – the event was totally unrelated to the business. Yet, marketing guys found a way! I had no idea that a gum called Trident existed, until that day (visibility win!). Already being a fan of Snickers, I thought about this ad the next time I saw it in the supermarket. I didn’t hesitate to pop it in my cart (repeat sales!). To be frank, had I seen Trident gum nearby, it would have gone in too.

Here is how some other brands used it:

Biting all ads

Learn also to predict a few trends. The “Back to school” or “Exam results” trends are two popular ones to keep an eye out for. For IT services, it is “new technology”. Take the Facebook LeadAds for example. Within a few weeks of Facebook rolling out its LeadAds update, all CRMs and marketing automation tools (ahem, even LeadSquared) had come up with that integration! Blogs were written about it, videos made on how to use it and you could even see ads for software that have introduced that update!

How you use the popular trends is limited only by your creativity (and common sense). Keeping up with trends is not just to drive traffic (for sometimes, you get totally irrelevant traffic). It is to catch the wavering attention of the fickle audience! When you emerge as an automatic thought leader, you gain popularity, build credibility and develop the trust of your audience… that is one less hassle for your sales team to deal with.

inbound marketing ideas

Last week, Sanchit Malik, the founder and CEO of Townscript, hosted an insightful webinar for us, on the importance of inbound marketing for businesses.

View the webinar recording

Here’s a breakdown of the riveting Q&A session that followed the webinar!

Q1. How we can use blogs and whitepapers for inbound marketing, and what kind of tool you suggest to curate in other places?

 Creating content that is of value to your prospects is the essence of inbound marketing. It enables your prospects to come to you, instead of the other way round.

Blogs and whitepapers are amongst the many formats of content (others include e-books, webinars and videos) that you can create as a part of your inbound marketing strategy.

While both blogs and whitepapers can help you build your thought leadership and brand credibility,

  1. Blogs help you rank higher in search engines, for the ‘terms’ that your customers search for. For example, if you run an MBA institute, you can write on topics such as ‘full time v/s part-time MBA’ or ‘MBA loans’, so that students searching for this information land on your page.
  1. Whitepapers are usually gated. This means that they are accessible only when the prospect fills out a form (typically asking for their name and contact details). Hence, B2B marketers can use them to capture leads.

If you’re looking for content to curate, check out BuzzSumo. If you’re looking for a tool to manage curated content, Scoop.it can be a good option.

Q2. How can I convert a user into a lead, after he lands on our site?

 Firstly, make sure users do not land up on your home page when they follow a specific offer placed by you. For example, let’s say you ran a Google ad for the keyword, ‘buy Titan watches online’. Now if your ad redirects to the home page of your e-commerce website, you will end up failing the user’s expectations and confusing him, and hence the chances of conversion will be low.

Instead, for specific offers (whether on your blog, website, or ads) such as the above, create distinct landing pages that talk about that specific offer. For example, in the above case, the ad for ‘buy Titan watches online’ should redirect to the Titan watches page on your e-commerce portal.

Here’s the one secret behind great landing pages!

Now, on landing pages as well as home-pages, it is important to have a call-to-action or a CTA button, which encourages visitors to enter their information (name, email, etc.) to access a free trial, or a webinar, or an e-book, or any other item of value. This ensures that your website/blog visitors are captured as leads.

Q3. What are the ways I can avoid emails from ending up in the receiver’s spam?

 You can find this topic covered in depth in this post on email deliverability tactics.

Q4. How can we generate more leads for a B2B software company?

 Inbound marketing is a great strategy for generating more B2B software leads. For example, at LeadSquared, we regularly write detailed, valuable blog posts on the topics relevant to our target markets – real estate, education, financial services, software, etc. Besides, webinars such as this one are a critical part of our inbound strategy. More recently, we’ve also been dabbling with videos. You can check out our first video on viral marketing, here.

We also generate leads through outbound efforts such as market research (cold-calling and cold-emailing suitable prospects), PR, physical events, etc.

In fact, we’re coming up with an intensive guide on generating B2B software leads next week, as a part of our series of leadgen checklists. We’ll definitely let you know when it’s up! 

Q5. Great webinar. Wanted to know how one can validate whether the content written is quality or not? 

Before publishing the content, you can estimate its quality by trying to experience it from the perspective of your target reader.

For example, if you’re writing a post for a prospective student, ask yourself the following questions before publishing it on your blog :-

  1. Is the title of the post click-worthy enough to attract your target students?
  2. Is the first paragraph of the post engaging enough for your target students?
  3. Does the body of the post provide concrete value to your target students?
  4. Does your post have a CTA? Is the CTA persuasive enough to drive action from your target students?
  5. Would your target students want to share your post? Shares are social currency, without which any post will have only limited outreach.

However, these can only be ‘estimates’ of quality. You’re only going to find out whether a piece of content works or not, by putting it up and vigilantly analyzing the results. Define what metrics (likes, shares, downloads, hits, etc.) are most important for you. Then, keep track of how they change when you change certain things in your post. Slowly, you’d begin to understand what works and what doesn’t, and that will give you your definition of quality.

 Q6. We are a digital marketing start-up. How can we create brand value and generate leads?

 Creating brand value as a start-up would be a multi-pronged task. You’ll have to do a lot of things simultaneously.

Firstly, make sure you participate in the start-up ecosystem – that’s where most of your clients would be. Go to start-up meets, workshops, networking events, co-working spaces, etc. This will help you get your name out, and build critical relationships.

Secondly, go for inbound marketing. Since you are a digital marketing start-up, creating content about digital marketing tips, tricks, campaigns, expert interviews, etc. can attract potential clients to you. However, this is a long-term strategy and will not show immediate results.

For more immediate results, and to get the business running, try ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google, Bing, etc.

Focus tremendously on PR. PR is a great tool for building brand visibility on a shoestring budget. Get to know journalists who cover your beat and cultivate strong relationships with them. 

Q7. What are the good tools for retargeting other than AdWords and Facebook?

 Twitter and Bing have retargeting options, like Facebook and Google. Besides, in Adwords itself, Google has now rolled out identity-based advertising, so you can use that as well.

Q8. How effective is inbound marketing for service industry and how can we implement it? 

Inbound marketing is a great strategy for service businesses as well. If you check out the websites of the major consultancy firms in the world, such as Bain and Company, BCG, etc. –  you will see that most of them have well-maintained blogs, lots of freely accessible, highly pertinent research, and various other forms of content. This is all done to bring their target audience on their website, and build credibility with them.

In fact, inbound marketing is all the more helpful for pure service firms than it is for other types of businesses. For example, if you’re a career counselor, you can run a career advice blog, wherein basic and applicable-for-all insights are freely available, but customers can purchase packages if they want personalized consultation. Here, you don’t need to take any extra pains for your inbound marketing strategy – you can simply offer a basic level of your service, for free. Additionally, people will directly see a glimpse of your service from your content, which will help them convert faster.

Q9. How increase the conversion rate from Google Display Campaigns? We are getting upto 5-6 leads per day, but the conversion rate is really low.

 In general, the conversion rate of leads obtained from Google Display Campaigns tends to be low. Such campaigns are best used either for brand awareness, or for retargeting – and not for the sole purpose of capturing unique leads.

If you need to capture leads, use Google Search Ads, Facebook Lead Ads and Twitter Lead Ads instead. 

Q10. How to target my app users and website users in facebook remarketing? 

Facebook allows you to remarket to your website visitors, simply by installing a snippet code on your website. To know more, check out this instructive post by Facebook itself.

Facebook does not directly allow you to remarket to your app visitors. However, you can create ads for past visitors to your app. Here’s a post from Facebook on how you can do this.

 Q11. How to increase the number of followers for my company’s Linkedin Page?

LinkedIn is a terrific platform for B2B marketing and employer branding. Here are a few ideas to help you increase your company’s LinkedIn following :-

  1. Share useful/ interesting updates, regularly. Most companies on LinkedIn limit themselves to sharing internal updates or job openings, which is why they garner little interest.
  2. Make sure your LinkedIn activity is not one-way. Ask questions, conduct interesting surveys, invite participation.
  3. Encourage your employees to post regularly on LinkedIn Pulse, with a link to your company page.
  4. Unlike Facebook, groups on LinkedIn tend to be much more active and responsive. Encourage your team to participate regularly in relevant industry groups on the company’s behalf.
  5. Try LinkedIn Ads.

Q12. I would like suggestions for inbound marketing where the target audience is not on twitter/FB/Linkedin. They are only on SMS and WhatsApp. These are builders and contractors. One thing we are already trying is to make how-to videos and share them on WhatsApp.

A very interesting question!

Firstly, even SMS and WhatsApp can be used for inbound marketing. For instance, you can send short tips, statistics, or news about the industry through biweekly SMSs or WhatsApp messages. In fact, you can even create a WhatsApp group and build a community for industry professionals, where you share content (videos, images, audio recordings, text) that is relevant for them. You can also encourage members to participate and grow together.

More importantly, you should focus on educating your target market and bringing them online. If they have WhatsApp, they have a smartphone; and if they have a smartphone, there’s essentially nothing stopping them from becoming a netizen, except for a lack of awareness.

For instance, you can share links to your blog/videos on WhatsApp or SMS. Make sure the accompanying copy and CTA is persuasive, and make sure the pages you take them to are nicely designed and mobile-friendly. You can even ask them to like your Facebook page to get more updates, once you’ve gained sufficient credibility with them through WhatsApp and SMS.

Two more things :- 1) Do explore the option of email-marketing, and 2) Make sure that the how-to videos you circulate on WhatsApp carry your brand identity and have a strong CTA.

loan leads india

In a hurry? Get your hands on the meat right away! 

Download your loan leads checklist, now!

From a dismal 9% towards the end of last year, India’s loan growth rate has shot up to 11% in 2016.

loan leads india

What does this mean for you, as a person selling loans in India?

It means that the market appetite for loans is rising, and if you’ve ever wanted to outdo your sales targets – now is the perfect time to score those brownie points!

And to help you put that dream in action, here is a complete guide that you can use to sell more loans in India :-

Go where your prospects search for the product you give loans for

What is common to a real estate developer and a home loan sales manager? The customer!

This means that your market falls within the market of the product that you’re helping people buy.

So if you’re selling home loans, keep a track of any home buying requirements posted on QuikrHomes, Sulekha, OLX, Mitula, etc. Advertise on portals like 99Acres and MagicBricks, or try to strike partnerships with them.

In short, try all the tactics that real estate agents and developers use to get leads, because many of those leads will be relevant for you!

Similarly, if you’re selling education loans, advertise on sites like Shiksha.in, Pagalguy, CollegeSearch.in, etc. Keep track of the education related questions posted on Quora and Reddit. Try all the tactics that colleges use to get leads, because of many of those will be relevant for you!

The same principle can be extended to car loans, marriage loans, etc.

Partner with the sellers/agents of the product your loan is for

Since you share your target market with them, building alliances with the sellers/agents of the product that you provide loans for is an all-important strategy. It isn’t a tough nut to crack either, as it benefits both parties.

If you’re selling home loans, reach out to real estate agents and developers and strike partnerships with them. Depending upon your relationship with them, you could go for arrangements such as referrals, commission-sharing, lead-exchange, etc. You can also request them to distribute your flyers, pamphlets, or contact numbers to prospects, and do the same for them (co-marketing)!

Similarly, if you’re selling education loans, try to develop such relationships with colleges, schools, coaching institutes, etc. Whatever type of loan you sell, you need to forge partnerships with others on the supply side of your market, to get access to as many leads as possible!

Partner with e-commerce marketplaces 

Apart from sellers and agents, you can also tie-up with e-commerce websites that sell the product you finance. For instance, if you sell vehicle loans, you can approach Snapdeal (which has recently started selling bikes), to see if you can offer your loans (as EMI options) in partnership with it.

Network in or tie up with offices, societies, clubs, and other communities

Taking a loan is a decision that takes time and trust. When your prospect knows you, or someone who knows you, your become a lot more credible in their perception!

This is why having a large personal network of friends and acquaintances is a must for any person selling loans (or any high-value, high-risk product, for that matter).

You can cultivate this network by :

1) Identifying your buyer persona

2) targeting the spaces that your buyers are most likely to frequent.

For example, if you sell home loans, you are probably targeting office-goers who can pay EMIs and are from middle to upper-middle class backgrounds.

To develop a network of such prospects, you can reach out to corporate houses and ask them to distribute or showcase your marketing materials (such as brochures, visiting cards, etc.). You can also request them to let you conduct a free session on home-buying tips or other related, popular topics. You can also strike similar partnerships with societies/apartment complexes, social and hobby clubs, etc.

Go for online marketing

For loan salespersons, this includes :-

  • Content marketing – Building your own website and capturing leads through sign-up forms, building your own blog to rank higher in searches as well as capture leads through downloadable content, and running your social media pages, participating in platforms like Quora, Reddit, etc.
  • Digital marketing – Running ads through Google (as top search results, on their partner website through adsense, on YouTube) and other search engines, running ads on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, running ads on other websites which cater to your market, etc.
  • Online loan marketplaces – These include BankBazaar, LoanCircle, ApnaPaisa, RupeePower, etc. They help customers view loans available from different vendors, with complete information, in one place. Typically, they take a cut from their partner vendors based on the loan amount processed. They may also offer advertising options.

And that’s all – I hope you found this checklist helpful! What other lead gen tactics do you use? Do let me know in the comments!

Content Marketing ROI Cover

‘Content marketing is the way forward.’

You probably hear that promising statement at every other discussion about business. What is left unsaid, however, is that this ‘way forward’ is a tricky, uncertain one.

Yes, it takes a whole lot of patience and hard-work to reap results from your content marketing efforts.

Download your content promotion cheatsheet!

More importantly, even when the results do show up – it’s no mean feat to measure them!

While the time and the toil cannot be helped, I have a neat, simple process, using which you can measure your content marketing ROI (return on investment). Here goes :-

Step 1 : Define revenue-based objectives  

Content marketing can serve a spectrum of purposes – increasing brand visibility, ranking in search engines, directing traffic to your website, capturing more leads, engaging with your customers, etc.

However, all of these should tie back to one overarching business goal – making money for the company.

This is why, instead of relying on broad, vague ‘purposes’ as discussed above, you need to define monetarily measurable objectives for all of your content marketing efforts, such as ‘more leads’, ‘more customers’, ‘more revenue’, etc.

For example, a business that creates blogs and videos to generate leads and customers online (such as a coaching institute, a real estate developer, or a B2B software company like us), can assign the following objectives to their content –

content marketing roi objectives

Step 2 : Use appropriate CTAs with each unit of content

If you’re keen on measuring the impact of your content, you need to place strong CTAs (calls-to-action) within or around each unit of content that you create.

This is because the number of ‘actions’ taken based on your calls-to-action is what you will use to measure the ‘returns’ from that piece of content.

For example, we at LeadSquared use the following CTAs with our content :-

Content Marketing ROI CTA

Step 3 : Calculate the content marketing ROI

In the final step, you need to :

  1. Find the approximate life span of your content

Much of the content that businesses create is timeless in nature. Your content, once created and indexed, will continute to get you more leads (in most cases diminishingly, sometimes at a constant pace, and sometimes, it may become more relevant/popular in the future).

So, a graph for the performance of 1 e-book might look like this :-

Content Marketing ROI Lifespan

However, for the sake of calculation, you need to study your traffic statistics to find the ‘approximate life span’ of the type of content in question. This means, the ROI we calculate will be a conservative figure, as it will not reflect the long-term value of the content created, but only the ‘current’ gains from it.

For example, our posts on the LeadSquared blog get most of their traffic within one month of being posted, after which the visits become fewer and random. So, we can assume that the life of each post on our blog = 1 month.

2. Calculate the cost of the content marketing effort

To calculate the total investment in the content marketing effort, use the following formula  :-

Content Marketing ROI Formula 1

Continuing with the example above, let’s say that a Content Specialist at LeadSquared wrote and promoted 20 posts from January to May. She used 90% of her time in this (blogging), while the rest of her time went in routine office work. Her salary is Rs. 40,000 per month. Now,

Fixed Cost (of blogging from January to May) = 90% of (40,000*5) = 1,80,000 Rs.

If she spent an additional 50,000 Rs on distribution,

Estimated Cost = 1,80,000 + 50,000 = 2,30,000 Rs.

3. Calculating the returns of the content marketing effort

First, calculate the Average Revenue Per Lead (ARPL), using the following formula  :-

Content Marketing ROI Formula 2

Now, if you use a lead management system like LeadSquared, you will be able to track the ‘source’ or the origin of your leads. So, find the total number of leads you captured through the content marketing effort in question.

Then, calculate the Estimated Revenue, using the following formula :-

Content Marketing ROI Formula 3

In the LeadSquared example above, we will assume that the returns for the blogging effort between January to May will materialize from February to June (as the lifespan of 1 post = 1 month). We will neglect January when counting the number of leads, because that month will have leads generated from the efforts in December 2015 as well, and it is always better to underestimate returns rather than overestimating them.

Assuming that our ARPL = 50 Rs, and the number of leads captured through blogging (in the months from February to June) = 6000,

Estimated Revenue  = 6000*50 = 3,00,000 Rs.

4. Calculating the ROI

Finally, you can calculate your content marketing ROI using the formula :-

Content Marketing ROI Formula 4

In the example above, the return will be 3,00,000 – 2,30,000 = 70,000 Rs, so the ROI will be (70,000/2,30,000)*100 = 30.43%.

Using the ROI, you will be able to get a clear picture of how much benefit your content is bringing to you, in revenue terms. Besides, you will be able to compare your content campaigns with your other marketing efforts (such as advertising, PR, physical events). All of this will help you make sure you put in your money where there is most reward!

This post was first published in the Economic Times. 

Last week, we had a chance to discuss with our webinar audience, their challenges in content marketing, and the changing trends in 2016. Many great questions came in, and an insightful discussion followed. So, here’s the recording of the session, and the breakdown of the discussion.

View the Webinar Recording

Storytelling in Content Marketing

1. How would the story telling format be applied to a B2C company (in Banking, Financial Services and Insurance domain specifically)? Finance is traditionally ‘boring’ to the average person?

I think storytelling is important in each domain, B2C even more so. And, that’s the challenge right – making a traditionally boring industry, interesting.

In financial services, there are many opportunities as well. Let me point out a few:

a) Break it down

Finance is a complex thing for an average person to understand, so if you break the complex concepts down in a way that an average person is able to understand it, you are doing a great job at it.

Sometimes, it would be in the form of a story; sometimes, it would be in the form of how-to’s – as long as you are providing value, it will work.

b) Get stories from your prospects

Young professionals these days want to invest but aren’t sure of what their best bets are. In this case, when you create a character (an average IT professional, with “x” salary and with certain saving goals), every person in that age / salary group is able to relate to that character. Then, you tell them about a particular dilemma, in terms of savings, or a certain financial difficulty, and how she overcame it, and people would want to listen.

Now, this is a very basic example; if you talk to your prospects and customers – they’ll hand you the stories by telling you their motivations for saving (travel?), or their challenges. Now, your job is to weave a story around it.

There are many BFSI companies doing a great job at content creation – ScripBox is a good example.

There are several other companies, if you look westward. Check out this blog by NerdWallet for instance.

Content marketing 2016 - Nerdwallet

What’s so great about it? It is topical (Valentine’s Day is just around the corner), it has personality (quoting ‘Beatles’ right in the beginning), and talks about a set of audience they are targeting (millennials). They aren’t really telling a story, but they are making a boring industry interesting!

2. In today’s time of overload of content and communication, how does one create  content which appeals or rather stays 

I think the fundamental thing is to listen to the customer/prospect – their motivations, their challenges, and then weave stories around that. If you understand your target audience perfectly, you’ll be able to create content that sticks. It doesn’t necessarily has to go viral. If it has value for your target audience, it will work.

Newsjacking & Topic Selection

3. What is the most time effective way to research for content with respect to what’s trending, so i can write very good content that’s time bound as well?

There are several tools that allow you to look for trending topics. The easiest ones would be:

a) Google Alerts – You can setup alerts for the keywords/topics of your choice and get news articles/blog posts etc. emailed directly to you. You can choose the frequency of these alerts. There are several other tools for setting these alerts or monitoring mentions (Mention) etc. But, start with this. It’s free, and it’s great!

b) Twitter Trends – Look at Twitter trends to see what people in your industry are talking about

c) Buzzsumo – It’ll help you analyze what kind of content/headlines around your topic has done well in the past

d) Google Alerts – Tells you the rising or falling trends for a particular keyword/topic across years and months

e) Hackernews: If you are in the technology or startup domain, then you’d find great insights about what’s trending here.

Content Marketing 2016 & SEO

4. What are the new methods in Content Marketing for SEO?

There is only one thing you have to remember now from an SEO perspective – context. Don’t write to rank for a keyword, write to provide an answer to a specific question. Other than that, of course you would pay attention to your basic SEO rules – proper URL structures, focus keyword, meta-titles/descriptions, but everything has to stay true to the context of search.

5. Does Google penalize barter transactions among two blogs? 

Not if the content is high-quality, and you do canonicalization well. Google has ways to find out if content is actually stolen, or written by the same author, so as long as you are doing it well (legally virtually) you won’t be penalized. Frequency also you have to monitor. If syndication is what you are looking at, publish the post on your blog first. And then send it to the 3rd party publisher. And always always ask them to use canonical urls.

6. If two blogs enter into a partnership, where bloggers from both the parties write guest blogs on each other’s websites. Now this content is not plagiarized and unique. Does google penalize this sort of link building. 

As long as your content is truly unique, it won’t be penalized. But it wouldn’t really help in link building either. It would instead help in getting through to other people. Because there are only so many links that you can get from the same domain again and again. But, if you look at other high quality blogs, and get into a sort of partnership with them, it would definitely help your readership.

7. When somebody copies your entire content without permission, how do you stop it?

This is a very common problem, and we have seen it happen too. In most cases, the copycats are too dumb to remove the referencing links to your blog, and you benefit. :) However, this problem is big, and you need to take action sometimes, especially if you are suffering as a result.

This KissMetrics article explains all the steps of what you need to do.

Interactive Content

8. I often see there are many articles that claims that their are some of the tools available to create interactive content. Your thoughts?

Yes, there in fact are a lot of tools available to create interactive content. There are tools to create videos, tools to create Quizzes (Typeform, Qzzr, Articulate), Surveys (SurveyMonkey) and whatnot. But, again, before you invest, take a step back, and try to understand what type of content your audience would like, and would also communicate what you want to convey about how you can help them.

9. With video expected to become 69% of all content by 2017,what role would the content writers and content managers play? 

Video is one form of content – even if videos become the bulk of all the content created, other type of content would still exist. And, the process of creating a video also requires writing a script, writing dialogues if needed, among other things, so storytellers and good content writers and managers would always be relevant.

10. Any YouTube hacks for video marketing?

You can listen to this guest session by award winning viral video marketer Aashish Chopra from ixigo.

Content Strategy

11. Are there any learnings on whats more effective – content for strategic communication or for consumer engagement? (by strategic content I mean, PR story, corporate news, etc.)

You should do both simultaneously, as both have different aims. Of course, if you need to score more deals, you need to have the consumer at the forefront (so, content that answers customer queries is very important), but PR has its own benefits – people get to read about you on other more trusted sources (so, your visibility increases).

However, whether you need content as a part of your strategy or not, is the first thing you need to answer, and then based on that go about it.

12. What type of content methods should a consulting company use?

You can create all types of content, if you have the resources to do it.

a) For searchability – Blog posts, YouTube videos

b) For lead capture – E-Books, Whitepapers, research reports, webinars (which can later be uploaded to YouTube for searchability again)

c) For nurturing – Blog posts, webinars, e-books etc.

Again, the question remains, are you answering your prospects’ queries, or are you talking just about yourself. Understand your prospect before you try to create content.

13. How does Content Marketing help in sales or lead generation for IT Market/Product? (B2B)

It depends on how much time and resources are you willing to spend, and are you looking for a long-term strategy, because content marketing as a strategy is a long-term process. The chances are, you won’t get the best results in one day. So, it’s an investment. If you want quick results, invest on PPC first. Of course, we like to use both as parallel strategies, instead of choosing one over the other.

And, to answer the question, yes, it does help, if you are willing to work on it as a long term strategy. We are B2B and we run webinar sessions, write blog posts, create e-books – content of all kind, and it definitely helps.

Content Marketing & Social Media

14. Do we need to target content separately with different social media platforms in Travel industry?

You can promote the same content, if it is high quality, however the way you would promote it would be different. Take for instance a simple image post, you would need to share it in different dimensions on different platforms, and with different usages of hashtags etc. You can get travel & hospitality content ideas in this post, and this webinar.

15. How to counter Facebook reducing organic reach favoring paid reach instead?

This is an old and ongoing debate, and I had discussed it in an old post. You can read it here.

16. In the present time, the LinkedIn pulse is a great way to publish content and google giving a special attention to pulse but my concern is URL structure of pulse posts. I always find pulse posts in google search results in the top without author name but now we cannot publish without author name in URL.

I think this might be the reason. Some time ago LinkedIn Pulse used to be invite-only (meant only for influencers), however, now that LinkedIn has opened the platform to everyone, their URL structures have changed. The posts without the author name you would have found on Google search would be older ones.