Traditional Advertising - cover'

Ask any successful marketer, and they’ll tell you stories of how they experimented with various media before coming up with the perfect marketing media mix. You keep mixing and testing until you find ways in which they will complement each other. Not just that, they’ll also advise you to find campaigns that are working for you and the costs associated with it.

However, with the dawn of the age of the internet, the world has embraced a “Digital First approach”. And we have all the reasons in the world to do so. With the amount of technology that is available today, the number of media on which marketing users can advertise has also increased. One such platform, which has gained momentum is mobile technology. Even the marketing giants bear witness to this fact and proclaim that mobile users have surpassed desktop users, way back in 2014.

But, after all this rightful upheaval, the question still remains, ‘Is a marketing campaign complete without traditional advertising and media?

At first, the answer would seem like a ‘Yes’. However, once you take a step back, you get the bigger picture. Marketing and advertising activities cater to a broad spectrum of people. And these people are spread across various demographics, interacting with and consuming content in a multitude of ways. There is no denying the fact that the world has gone digital, but the importance of traditional advertising and marketing exercises still holds its own.

Traditional Advertising- Media Buying

Traditional Advertising is in no way dead. Not yet. There is a reason it’s called mass media. Radio and television alone reach users far and beyond, and they continue to add a massive chunk to driving sales. This is the reason that most tech giants and other consumer driven products rely heavily on these outlets.

Apple recently launched a massive ad campaign engaging in media buying activities to flood all major hoarding sites with their campaign.

But, that does not mean that traditional media alone can help you run a successful campaign. The key lies in finding the balance between traditional and digital, and leverage on it so that the campaigns you run has a positive outreach.

Traditional advertising media is for humans

Traditional media sources and above the line (ATL) marketing activities are crafted for humans. They devotedly work towards catching as much attention as possible. The audience that come in from digital activities is usually a mix of real users, spammers, hacking activities and bots.

The thing about traditional media like TV and newspaper ads is that they interact with real people in real time, generating the impact that digital media sometimes can’t, and that is what makes them still relevant.

The above ad by Google, seeks to advertise their services, while creating an emotional link that can bring a smile on your face. That is the human element that digital ads have not yet managed to achieve.

As effective as it gets

According to a study conducted by the Ogilvy Media Influence, 72% of people deemed traditional sources as more trustworthy in comparison to new digital age sources. Another report states that 60% of the total time spent by an average person is in watching television and listening to the radio.

That, in itself, is a metric that should help you in understanding the importance of traditional media for your campaign.

Traditional media is by far the most accepted and trustworthy form of content consumption. Yes, there are a multitude of digital channels catching up, but you cannot ignore something that is proven to be effective, simply because you think it is old-school. Traditional media is easier to process because it’s more trustworthy. We pay more attention to a source we trust, rather than random news that shows up on our social media feed.

Multi-screen users prefer traditional advertising

In a recent study, it was found that users with access to multiple screens like their smartphones, laptops, tablets and others prefer consuming advertisements on their TV screens. The reason is simple, it’s less intrusive.

Imagine being impatient to get to the next level in your game and an ad pops up, or trying to watch the new music video from your favorite band, but you have to wait while the advert finishes.

Most marketing campaigns fail to understand human nature: we want simple things that cater to our priorities in the best of ways. We don’t want to wait for an advert to complete or a popup to close.

Striking the balance

As an advertiser or a marketing strategist working on a campaign, one needs to understand the importance of both digital and traditional media buying. The goal is to reach as many people as possible and this should be independent of the means we use to do that.

One of the best ways to approach this is to weigh the costs involved versus the outreach. Keeping your campaign flexible enough to accommodate changes is something that needs to be on your priority list.

In its recent campaign, Tropicana utilized the power of digital media and integrated traditional marketing channels to get the outreach it needed. The campaign revolved around dispensing information pertaining to the nutritional coefficient that a glass of Tropicana brings to your table. The brand used massive digital billboards to engage audiences and bring them to their social media pages. Alongside a massive TV commercial campaign, the brand struck the balance engaging its massive audience and thus boosting sales.

It is still relevant

Traditional Advertising media is still one of the most effective and efficient ways of reaching the masses. It offers the flexibility you need to be present everywhere at all times and does not rely on digital metrics. Billboards, TV ad campaigns, Radio spots, Newspaper ads and other such outlets let you ensure that you get the outreach you need. Though traditional media buying can hit your purse, they help you reach a much wider demographic and drive sales in real time.

Traditional Advertising- media

The trustworthiness of traditional advertising media outlets is irreplaceable, at least in the immediate future. Digital media still has a long way to go before it can totally replace traditional media and its outreach. Keeping traditional media in your marketing mix is one of the best things that you can do to your marketing campaign. You give it the means to grow and reach out to an audience who would otherwise get ignored.

Now that the importance of traditional advertising has been emphasized, you should seriously think of incorporating in your marketing mix. Let me know in the comments how it worked for you.

Why video marketing - cover(Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse).

An amazing year comes to an end, with mobile numbers sky-rocketing, viral videos breaking the internet, organic reach nose-diving and content marketing becoming mainstream*. If 2016 saw the rise of online video, 2017 will see the explosion of video content on tiny mobile screens. It’s raining videos everywhere, from Facebook news-feeds to family groups on WhatsApp.[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]
More than 50% of mobile data is already dominated by videos and this trend will see a sharp rise next year.[/perfectpullquote]
NASSCOM estimates India to have 700 million smartphones by 2020, and 2017 will see the curve climb north, with majority of those consuming video content. With 4G expected to become the norm, we’ll be getting a lot more videos in our news-feeds.

Why video marketing should not be ignored

From Branding To Kick-ass ROI

Facebook is planning to add a dedicated video tab in their apps in a major redesign, aiming to become the home of videos on the internet. That’s just Facebook, YouTube is paddling hard to stay relevant, new platforms like snapchat are right at the border and LinkedIn has jumped in the race with native video for B2B.

For me, this year videos came full circle, from just being conduits of branding, to impacting ROI. Just this year, we experimented with share-worthy videos, which reached millions (one almost broke the internet), drove massive app downloads, and even had impact locally, where a viral video increased footfall and enquires at a local restaurant.

Uphill And Against The wind

The challenge for creating branded video content would be to tailor the videos for short attention spans for the mobile only generation, make them native to tiny mobile screens, be free of blatant brand promotion and provide value. With distribution of videos becoming expensive (Facebook organic reach nose-diving), the content will need to work harder, coz it’s not the views we’re after, but organic, earned ‘shares’ from users. And organic shares help in beating platforms at their own game, as the content gets shared like wildfire, be it on Facebook on WhatsApp. [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Views can be bought, but shares are earned! And that’s how you beat the big guys at their own game![/perfectpullquote]

This is the time when brands become their own media companies, creating and distributing content to their own communities on Social. When users are migrating to tiny mobile screens, so will the budgets from TV ads to online video. All in all, exciting times for India and opportunities for marketers and storytellers. With eye balls migrating to tiny mobile screens and time spent on social rising by the year, video will be a phenomenal growth channel for 2017.

My Seven Secrets of Viral Video Marketing

And slide-deck for reference :)

One More Thing..

If you would like to be in the know about my ongoing content experiments and why video marketing should not be ignored… join my mailing list, tweet me up, connect on LinkedIn or check the blog :) An FYI for 2017, ixigo is taking limited clients for videos.

Happy New Year :)

* As confirmed and validated at DMAi’s Content Marketing Council Leadership Breakfast, December 2016

Why LeadSquared is the Right Marketing Automation Platform for a Small Business?

BusinessLaunching a company is not easy. Apart from the financial aspect, owners need to think about staying on top of their game to sustain in the market. Spending money in the right areas is key to its success. Of course, there are other factors  but being a small business, keeping a tab of the money spent is imperative. Things like how much should be spent on the marketing, what tools need to be bought for that purpose, are just some of the expenditures involved.

The goal of every business, regardless of its size, is to make a profitable business. Having the right marketing automation platform can do wonders for a small business. As VentueBeat puts it, Almost one fifth of companies adopting marketing automation boost revenue 75% or more.” 

ManagementThere are several marketing automation tools out there – some expensive and some, not so expensive. When you think of marketing automation, the most probable names that come to a marketer’s mind are HubSpot, InfusionSoft, and Marketo and with that comes a huge monthly bill. Is it affordable for small and medium-sized business? Not really. Is there an alternative that is just as good and is affordable for small and medium-sized business? Yes, LeadSquared! It addresses most of the common asks of a marketing automation solution and is priced for small businesses. It delivers the best of marketing automation and CRM in one powerful platform.

Here’s why you should use LeadSquared marketing automation platform:

LeadSquared helps you create beautiful, conversion optimized landing pages, capture, track, score and segment your leads, send email campaigns and autoresponders, improve your marketing through analytics, and integrate with your other business software ecosystem using API and connectors.

What are these connectors?

  • Drive actions in third party applications on events like lead capture, lead update and landing page submissions with Webhooks
  • Automatically capture phone leads with Super Receptionist integration
  • Capture all the new leads attending your webinars and track the attendance of your leads in different webinars with GoToWebinar integration.
  • Capture leads from website and blog comments using WordPress Plugins.
  • Capture leads and conversations with your prospects through Olark chat.
  • Capture leads sent from Mandrill or SendGrid accounts in LeadSquared
  • Track ‘opens’ and ‘clicks’ of emails thorough Outlook integration


Will these integrations affect the marketing and lead management process?

AnalyticsNot at all. The integrations won’t affect lead scoring, link tracking, etc., as they are all captured and reported in LeadSquared. In other words, no matter where the leads come from, they are all reported in LeadSquared, making marketing seamlessly systematic.

How is it different from a regular marketing automation platform?

Lead score may sound very interesting to lot of businesses at first but very soon they figure out it is not a true indication of lead engagement. To address this, LeadSquared has come up with a concept of engagement score. There will be an “engagement index” for the marketers to identify the percentage of engaged leads at any point, and for sales people to focus on engaged leads rather than leads with just a higher lead score.

Want to know more? Click on this link to view the webinar recording.

The power of visual media in today’s world is undeniable. A picture goes viral in seconds, while even the most well-written article might need time to attract readers. As a smart marketer in tune with the trends of the time, you know how marketing works and you must have by now realized how important good images and visual content are to a brand’s overall marketing strategy. 

Infographic marketing - Visuals

Infographics marketing, too, falls under this content bucket and we see their engagement rates anywhere between videos and text content, and sometimes even more than video! You know what they are, you may have used them once or twice, but did you really you could use them to generate leads and build email lists?

Welcome to Infographics Lead Generation 101: Using infographics the right way to maximize lead generation and email subscription signups. 

The Infographic Marketing Rule-book

Rule 1: Use infographics as hooks

When your goal is driving conversions in terms of generating leads or to get more subscribers, Infographics should always be used as a gateway to promote other content and not as the primary content piece themselves. In a visual storytelling medium, infographics act as hooks that reveal the pre-climactic conflict and intrigue the audience enough for them to want to check out the rest of the story – characters, plots, resolutions et al.

(Take a look at how Neil Patel has tried to keep his audience’s attention in this post)

Since the basic need here is to stand out from the rest of the online chatter and attract attention, we suggest you use the most compelling bits of your article to design infographics and create emotional hooks to draw your readers to the main source of the story i.e. your blog, an eBook download page, your email newsletter, a landing page or your website.

Rule 2: Always, always, ask for the contact details

The inherent purpose of every infographic is to engage and direct readers to a certain course of action. Now that you have your audience hooked, you can use a quid-pro-quo strategy to convert their interest into leads by asking for the user’s contact details in return for access. Infographics can be used to direct users to landing pages where the promised content is revealed only in return for a subscription or contact information.

Infographic Marketing - Contact Details

This strategy works in various scenarios:

  • Infographics can be used as teaser links to bigger content like eBooks and videos which can only be accessed when the user fills in contact details
  • Some users might want to embed an infographic on their site or blog, and can do the same by filling in a lead generation form
  • Users might wish to download a high quality version of an infographic for personal use or re-distribution and can be given access in exchange for contact details
  • If an article shows industry stats and facts, then use the infographic to highlight important numbers, and let users download the expanded data after filling in a subscription form

Rule 3: Make your infographics easily visible

To grab eyeballs, you need to be out there. Don’t just rely on traditional social media sites for promotion but also try using other options from SlideShare to list.ly and infogr.am. You can also create a page on your website dedicated solely to infographics so that they’re easy to find and to capitalize on their SEO value. Make sure you ask users to subscribe in order to view all your creations. If you have a cool design on your hands that you would love to share with the world, using content sites like Huffington post, Medium and Buzzfeed to get the word out will also work in your favor.

Rule 4: Make the CTA communication unforgettable

It takes time to create a good infographic, so don’t give it out for free! Put up your CTA button – whether you’re asking users to subscribe or fill in a contact form – where it can be easily seen. We recommend placing it directly on the infographic or prominently on a landing page which the infographic links back to. Nobody likes filling up long forms – so keep them short and concise and ask only for the important details.

(Bonus: Here are some form design ideas that can fire up your Lead Generation!)

Ensure your communication is clear and understandable; if your users know that a download or a video is awaiting them at the end of the form they’d be less hesitant about filling it.

Infographic Marketing - CTA

Inforgraphics, of course are not the only method of lead generation. Here are 18 more ideas, exclusively for B2B sales lead generation. I am sure you will find them useful.

We also recently wrote a piece on how to re-purpose existing content as infographics. Do check out the blog to know the different types of infographics you can create and then use them to create more leads by applying these tried-and-tested rules. We would also love to know more about your experience using infographics for leads and to get more subscribers. If you’re looking for infographics and other design work for your business, do write in at connect@mapplinks and share your story!

As the year draws to a close, there are plenty of speculations about how marketing automation in 2017 will evolve.  AI, predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics, adaptive tech – the works; Companies invest in sophisticated technology in a desperate battle to understand what the prospect would want and then cater to him seamlessly.

Marketing automation in 2017 - depend more on tools

I can’t help feel that we are missing a crucial point here. You see, we as marketers, are programmed to listen to our customers (or should be doing it). Technology was introduced to help us with that. Do you think at some point that we will come to depend on them more than what the consumer is telling us directly?

Stay with me for a minute and I will explain. The latest cartoon from the marketoonist is what got me thinking. It shows Santa giving a boy ‘Barney’ toy as Christmas gift. The boy has come to tell Santa what he wants, but is instead surprised with a smiling Barney toy. How? Why, clever Santa used ‘data-driven insights’ of course!

The boy however did not look too excited. I like to think he was taken aback yes, but not in a good way. In fact, I would go as far as saying he looked positively disgruntled.

I like to think that he had requested something else – something that struck his fancy at the very last minute and he wrote to Santa about it before coming to meet him.

marketing-automation-in-2017-santa-letter

The elves at Santa’s were totally confused by it. You see, Iam Goodboy could not have actually wanted a Barbie – data reveals that boys his age play with other things. Also, a closer look at his own play- history reveals that he has never ever shown an inclination towards toys like that ever! In short, their Elfalytics predicted that Iam should get a Barney – a toy that is more in sync with his ‘habits’ and still sounds a bit like Barbie.

And so they went ahead with it and thought they would surprise Iam when he comes to describe what he wants to Santa.

Well, you know what happens next.

The analogy is simple to follow – Iam is the customer, you are the elf. Santa – the company you work for is expected to deliver what the customer wants. And hey, you just committed a big boo-boo. You were too blind to the consumer’s very vocal requirement and entirely depended on the data that was provided to you and got it wrong!

This is a very real trap that we can fall into in this rapidly evolving era of technology-centric marketing.

Consumers change their minds. They modify their requirements. They change their likes and dislikes and happen to be very impulsive creatures (sometimes). Technology for the most part will make it a lot simpler to understand what they want. But in the end, it will not do our job! It falls to us, as marketers, to keep our eyes and ears open and understand what the customer is telling us.

Please note that I am not discrediting technology in anyway. I am just saying that even with such amazing technology, the soul of who we are and what we do as marketers will not change. We still listen, watch, cater to their demand and encourage them to buy from us. The technology is here to just make it easier – not to lull us into a false sense of security.

In the coming years, it is only going to get more sophisticated. Technology will modify how we function and connect to customers. It will give us new and exciting ways to market to them. (Oh, what an exciting time to be a marketer!). It will make our jobs a lot simpler in plenty of ways. But we still need to tune up our ‘marketing ears’ and listen even closer to our customers.

Marketing automation in 2017 - how do you listen to consumers?

Ultimately, the consumers interact with us directly and we are in a great position to identify their requirement. The heart of the heart, the bud of the bud and the truth behind all of marketing is never going to be technology. It is marketers like us! It is our skill in listening to customers and then delivering what they want. No amount of cool technology is going to change that and if we want to succeed, that is what we have to hold on to!

Don’t you think so?

P.S. I would like to acknowledge that the marketoon mentioned in this post belongs to @tomfishburne and we in no way claim it to be ours.

(Editor’s Note: We recently discussed a few experiments we did at LeadSquared to increase Adwords CTR. To carry the conversation further, here are a few insights from our guest author Vishal Kataria, the founder of Aryatra discussing how to improve CTR for your PPC campaigns further.)

The digital world is no longer what it used to be. Just half a decade ago, you could have a website, bare minimal content and safely assume that at least some of your target audience will find you. Today however, millions of social media status updates and blog posts are published every single day. Just take a look.

How to Improve CTR - Content published

Data Sources

Visibility is a challenge for every business, even for the popular ones.

Everyone is talking. So, how can you make others hear (and pay attention) to you?

Some might say it’s simple enough. Through paid advertising – not just on search engines but social media too. But, is it really that simple?

Many businesses make the mistake of just allocating a budget for paid advertising. But, without right targeting and proper optimization, you might not achieve the goals that you have set for the campaign.

One of the metrics that will get you closer to your goal of high quality leads is a good Click-through-rate (CTR), given the targeting is right. Below are five more hacks to help you with them.

How to improve CTR for your campaign?

1. Get Feedback

I’m not talking about feedback from your boss. (Okay, protocol might demand that you must get it from them.) The most important feedback source is your existing customer base.

Ways to get this feedback:

  • Create a survey for them.
  • Fill it with open ended questions like “What questions did you have before buying?” and “What ultimately convinced you to buy this product?”
  • Offer a lucky draw as incentive, and
  • Reward the winner with a big prize.

The money you spend on the prize will pale in comparison to the goldmine of information you receive. Utilize this information to create effective ads for potential customers.

Focused, relevant ads that run based on customer feedback, will enhance your CTR, CPC, and increase your conversion rate.

(Bonus: Read this very entertaining guide to help you with your impressions)

2. Use Specifics

Run a quick search for the keywords you are trying to rank in paid search for (you can use Google’s ad preview tool).

How to Improve CTR - Ad preview

Most ads would seem similar to each other. What should you do then to rank higher than your competitors in paid search results? Not only that, but how can you also enjoy a better CTR than your industry average? Here are a few tips:

Include Numbers

They make your benefits more tangible. ‘Save up to 30% on the latest running shoes’ will outperform ‘Buy the latest running shoes from us.’

Include a timestamp

If your company has been around for quite a while, highlight that. This will instill confidence in your target audience.

A medium-sized business we handle has been functional for twelve years. They benefited tremendously with this tip. One line on the ad had text like:‘Providing [benefit] since 2004.’

The ad didn’t just get a double digit CTR, but also returned an eight to nine percent conversion rate. Not bad eh?

(Watch this Google AdWords Tutorial for more tips).

3. Speak the Audience’s Language

Picture this: You go to a gym to get fitter. One instructor uses complex terms and boasts about how good his regime is. The other uses simple terms to explain how specific exercises will help you achieve your goal of getting fit. Which instructor will you trust more?

Nothing works better than speaking to your target audience in their language. Focus on your product’s benefits over features. And offer your benefits in a language your target audience uses. The first point (getting feedback from customers) would help you a bit in this regard.

  • Set alerts in Google for your keyword.
  • Track what media and other websites say about it.
  • Use Warble, Mention and Hootsuite to track what people say about your category, not just your product.
  • Google’s auto-suggest is also an underutilized avenue to discover your audience’s preferences.

How to Improve CTR - Auto suggest

Accordingly, customize your ads to match their needs.

4. Use Pareto’s Law

80 percent results come from twenty percent actions. Most of you might already know about it in various contexts: 80 percent sales come from 20 percent clients, or 80 percent of errors occur due to 20 percent causes.

In paid ads also, 80 percent clicks will originate from 20 percent of your ads. This makes A/B (and C/D/E) testing important. If you write ten different ads, two will generate maximum clicks.

Wordstream founder Larry Kim suggests to create eighteen different ads – not refurbished text, but different ads. Out of the eighteen variants, four will get you 80 percent clicks. To optimize your budget and clicks, pause the fourteen non-performing ads and continue with the four successful ones.

5. Leverage Quality Score / Relevancy

In the ‘Keywords’ section of your ad group is the ‘Quality Score’  column. The higher the relevance of your ad to the keyword (therefore, higher CTR), and better the landing page experience (and therefore better conversion rates), higher the Quality Score would be. It helps your ad rank better, and reduces your cost of conversions. Now, if your quality score is high, this means that your “keyword to ad” relevance and therefore the CTRs are probably already good. However, it again amplifies the CTRs further, by pushing the ads higher up.

How to Improve CTR - Adwords tool

However, when you see low quality scores, you need to find out what’s causing it, and try to improve it.

Maybe the keyword is not relevant to you, maybe the ad copy doesn’t match what the user is searching for, or maybe your landing page is completely different from what you conveyed on the ad copy. 

All of these things can bring down the user experience, and therefore the Quality Score. After trying to improve all of these things, even if your Quality Score doesn’t go up, you should pause the low score keywords. This would improve the overall performance of your campaigns.

Likewise, social media platforms offer a Relevancy score which you can make use of.

How to Improve CTR - Relevance Score

Use these metrics to improve the quality of your ads. Ads with good relevancy scores and high QS keywords deliver better CTRs and lower cost of conversion.

[BONUS] The Significance of the Landing Page

Despite all your precautions to optimize your campaign to drive traffic, it would all be for nothing, if you do not have a good landing page . The key aspects of an effective landing page today are:

Mobile friendliness:

We ran a campaign for a landing page which was not mobile friendly. The results were dismal. When we revised the landing page and restarted the campaign, we saw a 400 percent increase in clicks. If your landing page is not mobile friendly, search engines and social media platforms will limit the visibility of your ad, regardless of the quality of text. Use this free tool to detect whether your landing page is mobile friendly. More and more people are adapting to mobile devices, as shown below.

Just looking at the reach that mobile devices have, running only desktop based ads seems short-sighted.

Message match:

Your landing page should offer what your ad promised. Else your visitor will instantly hit the back button. This indicates to ad platforms that your landing page is not relevant for visitors. That harms your ad’s visibility and increases your CPC.

Distraction free:

Your landing page should have just one call to action. Don’t get tempted to add more. Too many CTAs will confuse your visitor. She will leave without taking any action. Remember the old saying ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth”? That is exactly what would happen if you add too many CTAs.

(Additionally, learn about bad landing page habits that kill conversions)

In conclusion:

CTR is not a metric just for your data sheets. It is an insight into your audience’s needs, preference and behavior. A good CTR shows that your audience likes what you offer. A mediocre CTR means there is scope for improvement.

Keep improvising and try permutations and combinations. You never know, you might just become a rockstar in the online marketing world. Trust me, the scope for high value services is still massive.

Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on your landing page conversion rate, as this could affect your CTR and CPC.

What are your best practices for paid campaigns? Do share in the comments. I would love to hear from you.