Are you ready to kick start the digital transformation journey in your organization? Yes? Then I’d recommend you watch this very informative webinar recording on digital transformation. Expert speaker, Kanika Agarwal, Founder & CEO of Passion Peers (Asia’s fastest growing digital transformation consulting agency) talks about mapping customer journeys, data-driven decisions, organizational alignment and much more.

Watch it here:

Digital Transformation

Visit our blog for more tips on online marketing, past webinar recordings and other marketing blog posts.

Last week, we had our second most successful webinar ever – Online Marketing Tips! Guest panelist Vishal Kataria, talked about content marketing and shared online marketing tips that can help you generate more than just awareness for your brand.

Online Marketing TipsVishal is currently building Aryatra, a training and development organization. Prior to this, he spent over 6 years, developing skills in varied sectors – marketing, social (digital) media, BPO and customer operations. Now, that is someone I want online marketing tips from. Don’t you?

So here’s the webinar recording, in case you missed it:

Online Marketing Tips

View the webinar recording

Content Marketing & Distribution

1. For SMEs, what is the best start to increase visibility to content?

Facebook is a terrific place to start. Because everyone is present there. Use remarketing techniques to target website visitors to see your sponsored posts, or custom audiences to ensure that the right audience is exposed to them. Initially, work on getting more people to engage with your page (20% about yourself and 80% other interesting stuff – images, GIFs, etc.). After that start promoting yourself covertly.

2. How do you suggest we keep a balance between branded content (say sales related posts/content) & shareable content?

This has to be 80-20 percent ratio. Shareable and relateable content has to be 80% and branded content has to be 20% or less.

3. Can you share an example of a brand doing content marketing really well?

I’m a huge fan of Practo’s content marketing. Most of the stuff done by Practo is not about Practo itself. It’s about them adapting to the existing trends and not just putting something out because they want to put it or trying to leverage a hashtag.

  • They created a beautiful Mother’s Day video saying, “Happy Mother’s Day to the first doctor of your family.” You can watch it here:
  • When the lastest X-Men movie launched, they made caricatures or cartoons where they very cleverly leveraged the X-Men hashtag. Check them out here.

Online Marketing Tips

Online Marketing Tips

A lot of brands are doing really good content marketing. We just need to keep our eyes open.

4. For B2B, what kind of content do you suggest for SlideShare? Do you suggest repurposing technical blogs and such for it?

Case studies in the form of PPTs will work well on SlideShare for B2B content. Repurposing technical blog posts is a good idea. Also, if you can get C-suite executives (CEO, CMO, COO etc.) of your firm to share their lessons from the industry, it will add credibility to your brand, and drive relevant traffic.

5. What are some points that could be kept in mind while writing a blog post which can help market your content when the target audience is people coming from search engines like Google?

Keep in mind that search rankings are now semantic i.e. search engines are now mirroring user behavior. Stuffing keywords in a 500-word blog post are no longer effective. Instead, use long tail keywords (keywords with 3 words or more) and write top quality blog posts which are 1200-1500 words. Create infographics; they get shared a lot. Publish content regularly – once a week is good… anything better is awesome. But be consistent. Insert a link back (to your posts or other ones) in every 120 words. And most importantly, create content that is useful for your target audience. From there, you can create sales funnels to redirect visitors to your sales pages and convert them.

6. How should we put advertising content in an informative blog? What should be the strategy?

Look for how the service that you want to talk about enhances lives of readers. Find out the pain points which the service addresses. Then make a blog post around that. Mention and link to a few competitors too. That way, you can drop them an email saying, “Hey, we linked to you in this blog post.” Hopefully, they will share it, and that will lead to your content (and advertised service) getting more visibility. Buffer did this a lot in their initial days. Remember to keep the content relevant and interesting for your target group. Make it informative and preachy, and they will run away.

7. Is it advisable to create different angles or formats for a piece of content or just keep it single and simple?

Repurposing content is very important.

  • If a blog post of yours has done very well, why don’t you convert that into an infographic? You could also think of converting that to a SlideShare presentation. As time progresses, things will change. So when you repurpose that piece of content, make sure you update it.

Here at LeadSquared, we have repurposed several posts via SlideShare. Here’s an example:

  • Look at the comments or feedback you have received from your readers, in your blog posts. Maybe try to create a new post from that. You’ll be surprised to see how valuable their feedback is.

[We always ask our webinar attendees to give us feedback on our LeadSquared webinars. And based on their feedback, we have been able to come up with several webinar topics in the past] 

  • Try different things with your content. Be unpredictable.

8. Many companies are working without content marketing but they are still ranking well. How is it possible?

I can only speculate because I haven’t researched those companies: It’s probably because they invested heavily in content marketing during the initial years. They are now reaping the rewards. They are getting traffic organically and that is an indication to search engines that their content is really good. Hence, they are ranking well in search. Plus they may have got organic backlinks from high-quality sites, which further makes them important in the eyes of search engines.

9. What avenues should I look for, to bring more people to my blog? An average 10-15k people come on a monthly basis, however, the expectations are sky high. Current mediums used are social media (Facebook & Twitter), email newsletters & the growth has been not more than 5-7% month on month basis. What do you suggest to improve & increase the traffic on the blog?

Focus on influencer outreach. Quote relevant influencers in your post and link to them. Then email them informing them about it. Also work on guest posting and republishing your content on websites with much larger reach. Also use BuzzSumo to find people who have shared posts similar to your content. Email them informing them about your post too. Check out posts from Neil Patel, Noah Kagan, Brian Dean and Jason Quey on influencer outreach. It will take time to implement, but done right, your traffic will double easily. And all this time, keep working on increasing your email newsletter base and click through rate.

10. What kind of video content will help to engage the audience in B2B organizations?

  • Testimonials from customers: These testimonials should not solely talk about how amazing your product or service is. Rather, it should talk about, how this product helped my company improve its revenue by 20%-30% or other similar benefits.
  • In-house videos: These videos should capture the company culture, capture people having fun, etc. They appear genuine. It further humanizes your brand. Your clients essentially want to see how human your brand is.
  • Promotional videos: Make promotional videos which talk about your product but put it in a storyboard form. Check out the website, The Better India. They make some fabulous videos as far as storytelling is concerned. And check out Kickstarter, the online crowd-sourcing platform. Go through the most popular videos on their site and the most funded projects. You’ll find some phenomenal stories. And once you get the idea of story-boarding, put out videos like that. It works for both, B2B and B2C.

This webinar recording on Viral Video Marketing will help you get started. 

Online Marketing Tips

11. How can I optimize my distribution of content?

Optimizing distribution of content is a challenge that we all come across. The most successful content creators spend 20% of their time creating content and 80% distributing it. There are various ways to do it.

  • You can leverage your email marketing group. Just ensure that you get a large email subscriber base which again comes from really high valuable content.
  • Infographics are very useful. In my experience, I have seen that infographics are shared 4-5 times more than plain old text content. Try to make your content as creative as possible.
  • Find influencers in your field. You can do this by using a tool called Followerwonk by Moz. Check out their blogs. Try making your content relevant to their subject and link to them. You can also comment on their blog posts so that they notice you. And then reach out to them via email. However, don’t start with, “I wrote something about you. Please share it.” Just say, “Your content is amazing. I linked to it in my post. Just wanted to give you a heads-up. Cheers!” This has to be a consistent effort.
  • Use the MozBar extension in Chrome to find out whether a website’s domain rank is better than yours. Reach out to them. Try to get them to list you in one of their resources.

For content distribution, I highly recommend you read the blogs by Brian Dean, Neil Patel, and Jon Morrow.

12. How can content marketing help established brands? 

If you are looking to increase your audience size, content marketing really helps because you can reach out to a much larger demographic for half the cost, as compared to hoardings, TV and radio ads. Your target audience gets to see what people, similar to their age group or interests, are talking about and that can lure them to taking a decision about buying or trying out your product.

For an established brand, content marketing helps engage the existing audience, if you use storytelling well. It will help you increase your market share.

For more inputs on online branding, take a look at this webinar, Online Branding Strategies, Practical Ways to Reach Your Customers

Online Marketing Tips

13. Can I compare my product/service with my competition in my blog post? The idea is not to downgrade the competition but provide users with info they may consider while taking decisions.

You can do this once in a while. But ideally, I wouldn’t think someone would want to compare their product or service to their competition’s because everything is present on review sites and social media. When people want to buy something, they don’t generally read a blog post and decide unless it really touches an emotional chord with them. They go onto social media, review sites and other 3rd party websites to read reviews of products or services.

If you really want to do a comparison through a blog post, I would suggest you have your customers talk about your product or service, rather than you talking about it.

14. How to implement content marketing in case of expanding business in different regions of the world? In our case, it is India, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana.

Use Facebook to target audiences in specific countries. If possible, translate your website’s content into native languages, which will change according to the IP address of your visitor. Target Google ads specific for each of the countries where your business is present. This is a start. You can further research which platforms do people from these countries prefer, and be visible accordingly.

15. Which strategy is the best for content marketing in 2016?

A holistic strategy. One which is a blend of amazing content, paid ads, guest posting, email marketing, search engine optimization, content syndication, and everything that one can think of. All this must lead to your ultimate aim of increasing conversions.

16. What trends will impact content creation in the near future?

I still think we are going to be a 96-4 kind of world, where 4% of the content will be viewed by 96% of the world and 96% of the content will be viewed by 4% of the world. And as Meenu Joshi from LeadSquared said, distribution is important.

Content Distribution

Content doesn’t take off immediately. If you read Medium, a lot of posts on it actually start going viral after 2-3 years. A lot of people say that their posts show up on Google Search Results after 4 years of posting it.

  • Podcasts will get more emphasis as time progresses because when people commute, they would ideally want to hear stuff.
  • Video content is already getting a lot of push from Facebook.
  • Interactive content like giffs are being used a lot by marketers. More of interactive and engaging content is going to get emphasis as time progresses.
  • Blog posts will always remain evergreen.

But I still think it’s going to be a 96% to 4% ratio.


17. How is effective link-building done?

Effective link building is about organic link building (not trying to buy links). You can try the following:

  • Insert links to your post for every 120 words. So if you have got a 1200 word post, ideally you should have 12-15 backlinks which you have linked out to other people.
  • Using Google Alerts to find research and statistics related to your specific blog post, are really useful. Look for statistics from “.edu” sites. That gives search engines an indication that you are linking out to high ranked websites (because they rank anywhere between 81-98 on the Moz domain). And that tells Google that, the kind of stuff that you are putting out is valuable.
  • Use an app called BuzzSumo. Put in the keyword of the post that you are working on and find the top content out there and link to those posts. Email the respective writers saying, “Hey, I’ve mentioned / linked you in my post. Just wanted to let you know.”

In BuzzSumo, if a post has been shared a lot of times, it shows you the people who shared that post. You could find these people on Twitter or elsewhere and reach out to them saying, “I noticed that you shared this post. Here is something that might interest you as well.”

18. Blog posting and commenting help in getting ranking in Google?

High-quality blog posting will get you ranked better in Google (read the 10X content philosophy by Rand Fishkin to understand what high-quality blog posts mean). Commenting does not give a do-follow backlink. But if you leave a genuine and insightful comment on a high authority post, the author and other commenters in the community might check your site out. This is relevant traffic (although a trickle). Done consistently, this slight increase in traffic can lead to your building relations and genuine backlinks, which are good for search engines.

19. Do you suggest doing ‘On-Page’ optimization anymore? Do keywords matter today or is it all about powerful social media presence?

On-Page optimization is very important. Social media presence is good but social media is essential just a way of driving traffic to your site. On-Page optimization ensures that you target the right keywords, which if the content is valuable, will help your website rank higher in search engines.

A lot of factors come into play when you talk about search engines. The age of the website and the kind of keywords that are targetted are important. In fact, the keywords that you are using, are those keywords that are actually being used by your audience to search for something.

You need to interlink your pages to reduce the bounce rate. When people click on these links, it gives an indication to search engines that people are interested in your content. And when that happens, it gives signals to search engines that your website content is valuable.

Another point to remember is that Facebook’s algorithm has changed now. It is giving more importance to ‘users’ than it is giving to ‘pages’. It’s giving more importance to profiles.

You can create content and then promote it using Facebook (via the Boost option) or through Facebook ads. But you ideally would want to create content that users will share. So the amount of money that you spend comes down, plus your presence on social media improves. But that’s only going to happen if the content we see on your website, on a guest post or anywhere you are present, is useful for them.

Startup Marketing

20. What are the steps we should take as a start-up who has just started with digital marketing? What will make a strong foundation?

It’s a combination of online and offline marketing. Only doing digital marketing to reach out to a lot of people is not going to be as effective and you are going to spend a lot of money. As a startup who is just starting out with digital marketing, these are the steps I recommend:

  • Read Geoffrey Moore‘s book called Crossing the Chasm, in which he actually talks about how influencers help you develop your product and then they become advocates for your product. And this is similar to the concept of the sheep and the shepherds where the sheep follow whatever the shepherd says.
  • Reach out to influencers online and offline. Create really valuable content. Be seen at seminars, at orientations and not just as someone who shares visiting cards but as someone who interests people, who intrigues people, who holds conversations, etc.

With this combination of online and offline marketing, your startup will absolutely catapult.

Digital Marketing

21. How does digital marketing work in the training sector?

  • Blogging is the way to go. Create posts and infographics. Try guest posting as well. Go onto other sites with a better ranking and write insightful posts there.
  • Use Facebook retargeting. Once in a while, you could put out a sponsored post on Facebook about an upcoming program or a regular post.
  • Put out testimonials.
  • You can also put out photographs of training programs that you conducted where the responses from people were resounding.

For further reading, take a look at this post by Prateek Shah on Ways to Get Better at Digital Marketing in 2016! 

Social Media Marketing

22. What is the best rate of engagement for content on social pages? 

There is no such parameter because it’s all subjective. Facebook is essentially pushing content which more users are engaging with. Some of its metrics are the time between the content being put out and the first person engaging with it or the number of people engaging with it, etc.

So it’s not surprising that some of my clients have seen an organic reach of about 20%-25%. The engagement has been somewhere around 15% which is organic.  For some of the others who are essentially just pushing their stuff, it’s been as dismal as 2%-3%. So you can get up to 25% also.

It makes sense to see what is the kind of content your audience is engaging with and do more of that.

23. I work for a real estate firm. I want to know how can we target NRI audience through relevant content using targeting options like Facebook Display and Lookalike Targeting? 

Lookalike audience is good but I have seen that even if you don’t choose a specific age group, Facebook essentially shows it to those people also.

  • I would suggest retargeting. Get NRIs onto your website using Google Ads. Once that happens, ensure that those NRIs, even if they leave your page, see your content on Facebook. You could also use Facebook by the ‘designation / job’ targeting concept.
  • Email marketing will also be useful.
  • Reach out to banks. Although, I’m not sure if they will share those details with you. If you can find email addresses of NRIs, send relevant emails to them.
  • LinkedIn is also a good avenue.
  • Experiment with Snapchat. If it’s possible for you to target youngsters there, go ahead. In turn, they might go to their parents and talk about it.

Online Marketing Tips Since we are on the subject of real estate marketing, why don’t you check out these resources on real estate marketing

24. Any online marketing tools that you recommend? 

Try BuzzSumo, Followerwonk, SumoMe.

25. How to drive engagement on social media? 

Be regular, be interesting, and be human. Think about how you would consume content on social media. Make content accordingly. And be smart in your targeting of audiences.

26. Is Facebook a good tool for online marketing, especially for organic content?

Yes, Facebook is good for organic content reach if it is interesting. If you only share links, you will have to dish out money and target a specific audience. But photos which interest viewers in what you offer can get good organic reach. We have witnessed over 25% organic reach in the last year for specific updates, and got about 15-20 leads for a niche product when they clicked on the ‘Contact Us’ button and were redirected to the Contact page.

27. Is posting content on Facebook on a regular basis, a good idea? 

It is good. But it depends on the quality of content you post. If your content is good and appears regularly on your followers’ timelines, it is the best source of traffic for you.

Healthcare Marketing

28. What should a health care company which is into the B2C model do, to improve its brand and get deep market penetration? What modes of promotion do you suggest? The company provides discounts at various hospitals on consultations, all hospital-related expenses, etc.

It comes down to trust and value addition. Create a basic health blog with posts on better nutrition may be and how people can live healthier. Make small snippets of these interesting points and share it on social media. Create and publish images as well, addressing simple ailments that people have and provide solutions as well.

As you make the content interactive, as you make it more viewable, people will start checking it out and the word will spread. Once the word spreads, encourage people to download your app. When they contact you, direct them to a CTA such as Sign up for our newsletter or Share on social media (that they have downloaded your app) and get an additional 10% discount next time.

That also gives you a database which you can again use when you are targeting people through Google ads, Facebook ads, etc.

29. How do you funnel in legitimate leads in a health care firm (Specific to Infertility Treatment)?

Google ads and Facebook ads are an option. I would have suggested remarketing to website visitors on Facebook, but I don’t know if they will be comfortable with it. You will know that better. Also, write high-quality blog posts about health and diets which help in maintaining fertility. Republish these on Huffington Post and high authority health and fitness websites.

At the end of the post, share a link which drives interested people to a mobile-friendly landing page with crisp and enticing content, which converts them. Offer a session for people to get their fertility level checked in return for their name, email address, and phone number. These can turn out to be qualified leads.

Conversion Rate Optimization

30. In the education sector, we have a lot to communicate, making the web page content copy heavy. How should we tackle this?  

It comes down to one thing. It’s about one message that you want to drive. Find the three most important messages that you want them to see.

For instance, when Twitter was launched, it wasn’t launched with hashtags, mentions, retweets, direct messages, etc. It was launched with just 3 basic features and eventually it grew.

Understand who your target audience is. Give your target audience a form. Ask yourself, “What are the three things my target audience cares most about.” When you find those three things, write content which only addresses those.

Eventually, the goal of your website is not to give people information. It is to

  • Ensure the website does well in terms of SEO (by targeting right keywords)
  • Show that you are an authority in your field and you know what you are talking about
  • Accomplish your ultimate goal. For an education institute, it would be lead generation or scheduling school visits, or driving more enrollments.

Ensure that you pick the most important points and address them on your website just enough, to ensure that people complete the action that you wanted them to take.

Telephonic Marketing

31. What is your opinion on tele calling? 

Most of your customers are actually using their phones for social media and WhatsApp. They would prefer not getting a call. Polls have shown that 70% of the people would get ticked off if they received a phone call.

A lot of people are doing out-of-home advertising on hoardings but people aren’t looking at the hoardings. They are not even looking at the road. They are looking at their phones. Use telecalling if it works for you. But don’t place so much impetus on it. Look at the digital avenues.

So use telecalling if it works for you. But don’t place so much impetus on it. Look at the digital avenues.

Email Marketing

32. Is email marketing still important for conversion?

Yes. Most of your visitors won’t return unless you remind them to. Email marketing is the best way of doing so. The visitor has given you the permission to send her an email, which you can use to drive repeat traffic to your site. Optimize your site for conversion. A few visits to your site will increase trust in visitors. They will check your services out. And trust is essential for conversion.

For further inputs, take a look at our blog.

Everything you need to know about social selling was discussed in the webinar on social selling with the authors of this brilliant book, “You are the Key – Unlocking doors through social selling.”

Social SellingThe book, You are the Key, written by HCL’s Apurva Chamaria and Gaurav Kakkar, talks about the future of businesses using social selling and also about B2B social media marketing for social selling. The book answers the why’s, how’s, do’s and don’ts of social selling and includes real-world examples that compel you to understand and acknowledge the importance of social selling.

If you are looking for more insights on social selling, this webinar would be a great place to start:

View the webinar recording

Here’s a write-up of the Q&A from the session:

1. What is the difference between social media marketing and social selling?

Social media marketing is generally done for a particular brand with the objective of

  • Defining specific social media strategy for the brand and aligning all the activities to it
  • Communicating the brand value – Communicating the diverse portfolio of products and services of the brand
  • Keeping the audience updated about the latest information about the company.

Social selling is applied with a very focused objective, which is to reach out to a specific audience with a specific message, to make them aware of the product and services.

In social selling, you measure a lot of the bottom of the funnel metrics, like what are the number of contacts created, what is the increase in the size of opportunities, etc. You don’t have such in-depth metrics in social media marketing.

2. How do you build trust through social selling?

The right way to build trust is to be ready to help the other person on social media and make yourself dependable. Don’t start with a sales pitch and never try to sell in the first go. Try to understand the pain points. Try to understand why the person is looking for a particular solution. and how you can help him / her achieve their business objective.

3. Should we use paid marketing in social media?

Paid media can be leveraged if you feel that the relevant target audience is present on that social network. Within HCL, we use a lot of LinkedIn paid media to reach out to prospects. In fact, we did a multi-channel attribution last year where we found that there is a positive contribution of LinkedIn and other channels. So paid marketing definitely works and unless you try it, you will never know.

For attribution, use tools like Google Analytics Premium or any other software.

For more insights on paid marketing in social media, take a look at this webinar from last year on Paid Digital Marketing – The Year End Checklist

Social Selling

4. Do you think it is wise to ask the prospect for other connections? If yes, how soon do you think one can initiate this approach?

Not until and unless you have a relationship. I get several such requests. It should ideally be very very specific – which means, “I want to be introduced to somebody called Jayanth in Coca-Cola who is the marketing director. This is my proposition for him. I think it will be very useful for Jayanth. Would you kindly mind introducing me to him? If for some reason you find yourself unable to do so, it’s perfectly okay and thanks in advance.” [This is an example].

What should definitely not be done is doing large scale mass, non-customized, non-individualized prospecting towards others.

5. How do you deal with privacy while social selling?

Legally you can approach anyone through social media. If the person doesn’t want to be approached, they would generally have such settings in place. For instance, on Facebook you can opt to only receive friend requests from friends or mutual friends. Similarly, on Twitter, you can choose to make people send you requests before allowing them to follow you.

So you need not worry about privacy but the only thing you need to worry about is that you don’t bombard and don’t over engage with the prospect when they are not interested.

6. How do you align social selling with traditional selling methods?

Social selling is not a substitute for traditional selling methods. It’s complimentary. If you are going to approach an individual, it’s important to check the social presence of the individual. At least look at their LinkedIn profile. That is a very simple way to get to know the prospect. There are other ways mentioned in this book.

7. What should be the frequency of your social approach, like tweets and replies, as one normally loses interest after the first touch point?

At HCL, we ask our sales professionals to follow relevant handles on Twitter.

For instance, if you are in the IT industry, follow Gartner or Forrester and other handles that are relevant to the industry. In fact, there are handles for specific topics like IOT, Cloud Computing, which you can follow.

In the beginning, it is difficult to find content and is also difficult to start tweeting. But once you find that content, it’s easy to share your point of view, retweet it or share that with the relevant audience. This is one way of curating content.

One other way could be to use LinkedIn Pulse. If you have a point of view about something, publish it since that can reach out to your connections. The other thing is that you can cross market it on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter. You should also look at Quora. I have found that it’s a great content provider and you not only publish content but you can also curate a lot of content from Quora.

8. Should you carry on with social activities along after breaking the ice with the prospect over social media? Do you log social activities in your CRM?

Why not? You should carry on with your social activities but not like the way you started. In this case, the communication would be different (more casual) because you have already built a connection with the prospect.

The ideal way would be to log in the social media activities into the social CRM but from what I have seen, only a handful of organizations follow it. There are very few tools which allow that and it involves a huge amount of investment in terms of time (to log your activities to the CRM system.)

It is useful because if the sales person leaves (the organization for example), the next person can carry on the conversation. Most sellers also have the organization name on them. So although most of the relationship is formed with the person, there is a whole soft brand that is created for the organization. For example, when a Flipkart employee connects with you on Twitter, although the tweet is individual, he / she is still representing the brand. So you still need to be careful about your social activities even after breaking the ice.

9. How can you measure social success?

Go to Google and search for ‘Social Selling Index’. Log in with LinkedIn credentials. Anything above 80 is a very good score. I know of companies who are planning to use this social selling score in the performance review of sales individuals/professionals. It’s a global benchmark that you can use.

The other measurement platforms we use at HCL, apart from social selling score, are engagement rate, reach index and the cloud score for every individual. That’s how we are able to demonstrate the ROI of the program.

Ideally, you should measure social selling across the funnel. Start with, what is the number of impressions which are increasing, to CTRs, to actually getting down to engagement and shares. On Facebook it’s PTAT.

Here’s an interesting thing we tried at HCL: Once we launched the program, we enabled our CRM system to tag a particular opportunity if it comes through a social or digital channel, making is a very relevant way to prove the ROI of the program.

It’s very important because at the end of the project or while the project is going on, you start getting a lot of questions on what is the ROI, etc. So if your CRM is not integrated, and you are actually not measuring what is attributing directly to social selling, that’s a question which will always be tough to answer.

10. Is it possible to link social selling to specific ideas? Will its essence be lost then?

It is possible to link it to a specific idea. However, what one should be careful about is, like in real life, as soon as you meet a person, you won’t start selling to them. So you might want to share a thought or a proposition about your product or service but don’t start selling to them as soon as you interact with them on social media. Get time to know them. Appreciate their views. Exchange information and talk about topics of their interest and thereafter, it is a perfectly fair game to bring up something of your interest.

11. If people don’t see immediate ROI in the sales profession, they tend to abandon it. What is your take on this, which is particularly a problem among start-ups? 

It’s not really a problem for just start-ups. This, in fact, is a big challenge for big organizations like HCL also. For any program, it’s very important to keep the sales team excited about it. One of the ways is chain management.

For instance, we created simple weekly contests when we a launched a particular program, like, ‘which salesperson is getting maximum connections in a week, which salesperson is posting maximum original content in a week,’ and so on? We came up with various cuts. And that helped as a motivating factor.

In the case of startups, everything is about quick ROI action. One way to tackle this is to keep measuring what you are doing to see if the efforts are generating results.

In our book, a series of growth hacks have been described. There are ways to do things very very efficiently and cost effectively. Check them out.

12. How do we recognize buying signals real time?

If your target audience is present on Twitter, you can try this. Put alerts in place so that every time a specific prospect posts a tweet, you will be notified.

Here’s an example: I’m the head of marketing at HCL. Somebody from an advertising agency or a digital marketing agency has put a notification on my Twitter handle. So every time I tweet, they will get an alert. It will not get submerged in the field.

Buying signals are of two kinds:

  • Stated Signal – You can state a buying signal saying, “I’m looking for a vendor” or “I’m currently very unhappy with the level of service I’m getting from my current vendor.”
  • Unstated Signal – There are unstated or subliminal mind signals, which tells you what the person is thinking about. For instance, if a lot of my tweets are about VR (Virtual Reality), it’s obvious that there is something going on in my mind which is causing me to either tweet about it or write about it.

So sellers should be conscious about both stated and unstated signals.

You could also try tools like Hootsuite, Needtagger and other cloud software to monitor your prospects, relevant topics and identify buying signals.

13. Can you give an example of a particular digital media campaign that performed really well? 

HCL hires about 30000 people every year. Now, most of the job descriptions are very boring. They are usually lengthy pieces of text. If you remove the company name or logo, all of them read the same. So we did something different last year.

We decided to create video job descriptions which would be witty and interesting to watch. We created a campaign called Hirals, which was a combination of two words, ‘hiring’ and ‘viral videos’. That campaign did really well and we got about 20000-25000 job applications. And these videos were very inexpensive to make and completely shot on iPhone.

We not only use campaigns to create brand awareness but also demand generation and digital presence. And that’s something you should aim for as well.

14. Is social selling more effective for client prospecting over traditional methods?

Social selling is not going to replace traditional selling. You will still have to do direct selling, meet people, etc. You will still have to negotiate with them on the pricing. It is just a booster shot on traditional selling. If you do social selling well, it is going to pump up your traditional selling magnificently. You really don’t expect people to buy a 50 million dollar-100 million dollar deal on Twitter. (Breaking the ice, building trust and building a relationship can happen online / digitally but traditional/offline methods are still very important to actually close the deal.)

You really don’t expect people to buy a 50-100 million dollar deal on Twitter. Breaking the ice, building trust and building a relationship can happen online or digitally but traditional or offline methods are still very important to actually close the deal.

15. What precautions should be taken while using social media?

We have a list of what need not be done.

  • Don’t bombard your prospects with tons of messages if they are not responding to you.
  • Don’t start with a sales pitch.
  • Don’t say negative things about your competitors on social media, especially if you have your company name on your Facebook or Twitter profile.
  • Don’t talk about confidential information in public. [For instance, the project you have won, the size of the deal or who are the competitors, etc]

Never do anything on social media that you wouldn’t do in real life. Just because social media gives you a veneer of anonymity and you can sit in your living room, does not mean you can become disagreeable or rude. All of us should watch out for that.

16. Does social selling work for app marketing too?

Yes, social selling can be applied to any field of marketing including app marketing. Social selling enables a seller to identify the target audience, connect with them and engage, creating lasting relationships. App marketing is impacted by influencers and influencers can be targeted using social selling.

For more on app marketing, take a look at this webinar on Creating a Killer App Marketing Strategy to Get Tons of Users

Social Selling

17. For a new B2B manufacturing organization, how will social media have an impact on purchase department of customers (because purchase usually functions with their own database history)?

Social media impacts all the phases of buying and for all the industries. Before buying the product or service, a decision maker usually searches the information on the internet. Generally, a B2B manufacturing industry involves more than 3 decision makers during the deal and it is very important to leverage social selling as most buyers are looking for the information through online channels.

18. Is it advisable to invest in Facebook for social selling for B2B manufacturing company?

Yes, Facebook can be very useful for social selling as it:

  • Provides the information about the  liking and disliking of the decision makers.
  • Provides personal details about the individuals which can be conversation starters.
  • Can get you introduced to a new decision maker through common connections.

19. How is social selling relevant in the education space where students are the prospects?

Students have a lot of queries related to courses and programs which cannot be handled using traditional channels alone like website, phone, or email. An institute can introduce human touch and provide personalized responses to the students by adopting social selling. Moreover, social selling can be leveraged by existing students and faculty members of the institute.

For more inputs on education marketing, take a look at these resources on education marketing.

Social Selling

20. What is the difference between social engagement and social selling?

While social selling is always P2P, social engagement is a result of social selling. Any successful social seller has to first engage the target audience. But an important point to be considered here is that objective of social engagement can vary and can be different from social selling.

21. Do you see a profile ‘Social Development Rep’ coming up in marketing/sales team in the future?

It is already there. Many companies have social selling evangelist which can be either a contractual or a permanent role. The responsibility includes the success of the social selling program withing the organization.

22. Is there any one tool that can help us beat the competition, especially in social selling?

Hootsuite is one of the best social selling tools in this case. It can track not only the success of an individual’s social selling efforts but can also analyze how competitors are performing with respect to social selling.

Visit our blog for more tips on online marketing, past webinar recordings and other marketing blog posts.

Financial services CRM

I can’t remember the last time I paid cash.

I order my groceries at bigbazaar, book an Uber to commute, pay for delivery online and use my card for the rare over the counter transactions. Technology has definitely changed the way I live. It has also changed the way I interact with brands. Instead of  taking my concerns to a customer support agent, I resort to Social media to have a hearty vent.

And I am your average customer.

And because your average customer has changed with technology, his expectations from your brand has changed as well. Even from a financial business like yours. He wants things more personalized, he wants things on time, he wants things with lesser hassles and he wants a hundred un-identifiable things that will add up to a great customer experience for him!

Financial CRM

And unless you deliver an unrivaled experience, you will find yourself losing customers to your competition.

So, how do you deliver such an experience? An experience that will make satisfied customers and happy users? You can turn to the same technology for help – in this case, the technology that we call the ‘new-age’ financial CRM software.

I am not talking about a static CRM that an average sales person uses; I am talking about a solution that empowers your teams to do much more than just keep track of the inquiries and customers.  A solution that can help you tackle your day-to-day business needs, while helping you achieve better customer satisfaction; A solution that is called financial CRM.

Easier Information Processing 

“I have 100% tabs on my leads, without a software” said no one ever – because, given the number of sources you get leads from, some leads often get lost! This brings us to the first problem –

Losing leads to a complicated or sometimes a non-existent process

Think of the various sources you gather leads from – your Direct Sales Agents (DSA), call centers, partners (like or and the several ad campaigns (online and traditional) that you would be running. Typically, all these enquiries are recorded in various different systems, without a unified view.

lead capture sources

Doing so generally results in a lot of leads slipping through the cracks – doesn’t it?

Unified lead capture is the answer

The obvious solution is to have a single platform onto which all your leads are automatically captured. It will enable you to follow up with every single lead, without losing any to procedural errors.

High response time

One aspect that generally takes a huge amount of time is assigning leads manually to every sales person. It involves looking through every single lead and then delegating it to a particular sales guy. The longer this takes, the less interested your lead becomes in you.

Resolve it with automatic lead assignment 

What if you are able to automatically assign leads to various personnel? I am sure you have a set protocol in place – for eg. all personal loan inquiries to person A, all home loan inquiries to person B and so on. I do it based on region. So if a lead is from Delhi, then he is automatically assigned to Ankit from my sales team. This process is instantaneous and did I mention automatic? That means, there is no time lapse between lead capture and lead assignment! The minute a Delhi lead is captured – Ankit reaches out to them without my intervention. Faster response – so easier conversion!

Building relationships

Nobody invests in companies they do not trust. And trust can only be cultivated if the prospect perceives your sales guy as not just a sales guy. Despite knowing this, not all financial corporations are successful in establishing relationships. Why?

Lack of Lead Engagement

Here is a call I got from a bank recently:

Sales rep – “Sir, I am calling from ABC bank – would you be interested in home loans or personal loans?

Me – “No thank you”

Sales rep – “Ok Sir” *Cuts call*

And I never heard from them again!

Quite apart from the fact that he addressed me as “Sir” (yes, I have a deep voice, but really?!), he was selling to me right from the first second! I knew it was a sales rep – meaning that their objective is to make a sale and not my best interests. Why would I buy from them? Where was the trust factor?

Think Autoresponders and email campaigns

Imagine this though. I sign up for a loan inquiry. I then get an email from the bank confirming the same. Then before a sales guy calls me, I also get a list of the type of loans I can apply for and a few testimonials from previous clients.


Financial CRM

If, after the sales and the follow up calls I do not convert, I still get information about the various loan plans, how it will benefit me, perhaps how the budget affects the loan plans etc. and even a few offers.

Result? If I think of loans again, their business is definitely the first I will think of! Autoresponders triggered by lead action and frequent nurturing through emails can really make all the difference between a relationship built and lost.

No personalization

Right. So I keep getting a bunch of emails rather frequently. Suppose one reads like this:

Financial CRM

Do you think I will be tempted to call that number? Don’t guess. The answer is no.

And what is the missing ingredient? It is personalization! They did not even get my name and had they really paid attention, they would know that I was interested in loans and not insurance!

So, Keep track of their interactions!

How can you make it more personalized though? Why, by knowing what exactly what the prospect communicates – by keeping tabs on their interaction with you. Consider this:

Financial CRM

The second one is a clear winner! He mentions my name, signs off as a person and most of all – refers to knowing my activities online and even to the fact that I have a family! All clear signs of building or having built a relationship!

And it could not have happened without knowing my activities on the web and also my interactions with the sales person.

Simpler logistics

People want things fast! They want the approval yesterday. In fact, the finance industry is notorious for the time- consuming paper work and representatives who stand you up. Why?

Going back and forth for document approval

That is true! The document has to be first collected from your client (either manually or you ask him to submit it), then it is submitted for verification to another team after which you finally get back to the client about the outcome -which could be more information (a rather annoying outcome) or the news that the loan is sanctioned! Supposing the process takes about three days, it means that after three days of waiting your client is told that he might have to provide more documentation! So not the customer experience you are aiming for!

What if you could get instant approvals?

What if you could get the soft copy of the documents delivered to the verification authority the very same instant your sales rep gets it? Upload the documents given by the lead (scan and send through phone) to the appropriate authority who can then verify and send it back in a few minutes. The result? The frustrated wait period is completely removed – your customer satisfaction scores just shot up!

Financial CRM

Haphazard monitoring of  team

Let us come to the second problem – how to know where your sales rep is? Yes, we want to keep tabs on them – not just to know which clients they are meeting and when (and whether they indeed are meeting clients), but also to redirect them quickly in case of an emergency.

Get on board with geo-targeting

So, the answer to this is knowing where your sales person is at all times – with the geo targeting feature in the mobile app. You can immediately know how to re-allocate his client list (in case something comes up) and also know how many deals you can close that day!

Financial CRM

In short, the right CRM software can bring in revolutionary changes to your business, while adopting a customer centric approach. The technology is here, and it is here to stay. Are you in?