Saturday, 12 May 2018

Flipkart, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the Future of Indian E-Commerce

For a long time, we have been told that the purpose of a business is to make profits. The neoclassical theories have taught us that the objective of a firm is maximisation of profits. But if Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal were to write their autobiography, it could very well be titled ‘How to become a billionaire by running a thousand crore loss making business.’

Indeed, the story of Flipkart and their journey from a two bedroom apartment at Bengaluru to a firm now valued at $20 billion is an interesting case study for entrepreneurs. Both Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, who were batch-mates at IIT Delhi, started their career as interns in Amazon. In 2007, they dropped out of Amazon and started their online business of book selling with a modest capital of Rs 4 lakhs. Their business model comprised of taking orders for buying books online and delivering them to the doorstep on a two wheeler. Their big break came when the Venture Capital Fund Accel Partners invested $800,000 in seed capital in 2008 and followed it up with more than $100 million in subsequent rounds. Flipkart also got huge investments from Japan based Softbank, South Africa based Naspers, New York based Tiger Global, Ebay, Microsoft, Google and China based Tencent Holdings. The company eventually moved into electronics, mobiles, games, fashion, footwear, toys, music and movies and became a dominant player in all these categories.

Along the journey, they introduced innovative approaches like Cash-On-Delivery (COD), created a strong logistic and delivery network through Ekart and created excitement in the market through huge sales driven events like ‘Big Billion Day’. The company also made several strategic acquisitions like Myntra, Jabong, PhonePe and All these strategic measures and acquisitions helped them to stay ahead of Amazon, Snapdeal and Paytm who also had big investor backings and aggressive approach in the Indian E-Commerce market.

Flipkart now boasts of 8.3 lakh square feet of central office space in Bengaluru and other offices in Delhi and Mumbai. The corporate office has shifted to Singapore. The consolidated revenue of Flipkart jumped to Rs 19,855 Crore in 2017 but the consolidated loss also jumped to Rs 8,770 Crore. It got a resounding appreciation for its success story when Wal-Mart picked up 77% of stake in return for $16 billion, thus valuing the company at $20 billion.

But the story of E-Commerce in India has been fraught with challenges. The E-Commerce Industry in India started getting traction when Sify bought Rajesh Jain’s for Rs 500 Crore in 2000 in a mixed stock-and-cash deal. Soon, we had several big bang launches like,,,,, and Most of them were engaged in grabbing eyeballs for their dotcom venture by giving gifts and lucrative discounts to customers. Some of them survived the long haul but many like Bababazar, Indya and HomeTrade either got closed down or were acquired by others.

Flipkart, coincidentally, started their journey in an interesting period. Mobiles were getting popular due to reduction in prices, the internet connectivity was getting better with introduction of 2G, 3G and 4G technology and cost of accessing the Internet was falling due to aggressive pricing by Reliance Jio. The number of mobile phone users is all set to cross the 800 million mark by 2019, out which half of them will be smartphone users. The number of Internet users is expected to cross 500 million in 2018.     
Shopping through the Internet is also on the rise. The E-Commerce Market has seen transactions worth $55 billion in the last fiscal year. This market is expected to register a 30 percent growth in this fiscal year to touch $72 billion. In the long term, the Indian E-Commerce Market is poised to touch $200 billion by 2025. 

Flipkart has been the dominant player in the Indian E-Commerce market with Amazon giving them a fierce competition. Snapdeal lost out their position due to funding problems and a spate of resignations at the top level. However, they are trying to make a comeback. Paytm, Shopclues, Infibeam and others are still fringe players who are battling it out to get business from niche areas.

With Wal-Mart buying out Flipkart, the Indian E-Commerce Market is sure to see some stiff competition. Wal-Mart has several advantages over Amazon and other online retailers. They have their own private labels which they sell at hyper competitive prices. With Flipkart in their kitty, Wal-Mart is both a physical retailer and online retailer thus having tremendous economies-of-scale. Wal-Mart also has the capability to take fresh farm produce through very sophisticated cold chains, which presently Amazon and the other online retailers do not have.

The entry of Walmart into online retailing is definitely a great news for shoppers as they will get great bargains from both Amazon and Walmart. But there are concerns that the small and medium scale producers and traders might end up suffering losses as Amazon and Wal-Mart both try to extract huge margins from them in order to give better discounts to customers. This is an area where the Government and Regulator need to keep a strong vigil so that the entrepreneurs in India do not end up closing down their shutters. 

Digital Marketing 2.0 --- Creating Effective Marketing Campaigns at Optimal Budget

In the Mobile Phone Handset Market, the brands which have the highest spend on advertising are Samsung, Vivo and Oppo. Samsung spends close to Rs 500 Crore on promoting mobile phone brands in India. Vivo spent Rs 2,199 Crore to get a five year contract of sponsoring IPL tournament. Oppo spent Rs 1079 Crore to get sponsorship rights of Indian Cricket Team for five years. Yet Samsung is number two in terms of market share and both Oppo and Vivo are far behind with market shares of 6% each. Xiaomi, who holds the number one position in mobile handset market with a market share of 25%, actually spends a fraction of what Samsung, Vivo and Oppo spends to promote their brand.
The area where Xiaomi beats competitors like Samsung, Vivo and Oppo hands down is Digital Marketing. Xiaomi stepped into the Indian markets with very innovative marketing strategies. They kept the cost of marketing very low by primarily investing on digital marketing and taking the services of Flipkart for sales and distribution. They opted for a disruptive marketing strategy called ‘Flash Sales’ wherein a limited quantity of products were made available every week. By keeping the cost of marketing and promotion low, they were able to offer products at comparatively lower prices and with high end features. Their aggressive digital marketing strategy ensured that they gained a considerable reach among their target consumers. The consumers also found ‘value-for-money’ in the range of products offered by Xiaomi, thus gaining the company a high degree of loyalty.
Digital Marketing has become very powerful and pervasive with the increase in smartphone usage, massive drop in costs of data packs and rock bottom prices of smart phones. There are 3.5 billion searches conducted through Google every day. There are 350 million photos uploaded in Facebook every day. There are 5 billion videos watched on YouTube every day. There are 500 million tweets sent through Twitter ever day. There are 55 billion messages sent through WhatsApp every day. The numbers are simply too humongous and very impressive for any brand manager to ignore.
However, there are also challenges in how the power of digital media can be leveraged to maximize the return-on-investment (ROI) from digital marketing campaigns. Google mainly relies on tools like SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), AdWords, AdSense, Remarketing and Google Analytics to help marketers structure their campaigns. Facebook relies on banner ads, news feed, messenger, boosting tools and event pages to market products and services. YouTube offers tools like in-stream ads, skippable video ads, dedicated channels, cards and mastheads. Twitter has tools like banner ads, periscope and cards to aid in digital marketing. However, with the mass usage of these traditional tools, the digital marketplace is now looking congested and saturated. Brands are having a tough time in getting the desired visibility --- Most of the companies are now spending high amounts of money and getting low return-on-ad-spend (ROAS). No doubt the brand managers and product and service owners are openly voicing their disappointment with digital marketing.
This is exactly where Digital Marketing 2.0 steps in. There are new age tools like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat who are giving an alternative platform against the traditional platforms offered by Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Instagram currently has 800 million users and is poised to touch the billion mark soon. Tumblr has 460 million users, Snapchat has 300 million users and  Pinterest has 150 million monthly active users.
The traditional Indian drinks brand ‘Paper Boat’ has effectively used Instagram to reach out to their target users and drive home their message. This young brand has become very popular with its homely flavours like Aam Panna, Imli ka amlana, Golgappe ka pani, and more, adding to its ever nostalgic array of instant traditional drinks made without artificial preservatives. The Paper Boat Instagram page is a treat to the eyes as well as a heady trip down the childhood days. A combination of cute doodles, two lovely puppies called Hector and Beverages, little visual stories around the brand and childhood memories tell the Paper Boat story in a very loving manner in Instagram posts by Paper Boat.
Tumblr is a micro blogging site that has 226 million blogs, 460 million users, and a highly active and young user base creating engaging content on a daily basis. Tumblr came into limelight in 2012, when Adidas launched an official soccer Tumblr blog and bought placements on the user dashboard. Since then, Coca Cola, Disney, Calvin Klein, Elle, Target, Lexus and many other top brands have been actively using Tumblr for marketing and brand building. Tumblr earns about $50 million in revenues from sponsored posts, sponsored video, sponsored day and carousel units. Tumblr further made headlines when it was acquired by Yahoo in 2013 for $1.1 billion.
Snapchat has been a hot favorite among teenagers and young people with the unique feature of self destructing messages. Another great feature of Snapchat has been the ‘Lenses’ which allow users to add fun real-time special effects and sounds, change their voice in videos, face swap with friends, or even super-impose a face from the photo gallery onto the face. Snapchat is mainly used for movie promotions but there are also brands like Taco Bell, Amazon and Burberry who are making the best use of Snapchat platform to promote their brands.
Pinterest is another creative social media platform that has been lapped up by the brand and product managers. Pinterest is a place where one can organize and share online images that he or she finds interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as “Pins”, which the user can place on customized, themed boards.  Pinterest has a “buy” button that lets users make purchases directly through the app. Pinterest also allows brands to market themselves through “promoted pins”. Pinterest is mainly being used by fashion brands, travel and tourism companies and also media companies to promote their television channels and magazines.
The ‘Digital Marketing 2.0’ also encompasses strategies like ‘Growth Hacking’. Growth Hacking incorporates tools like inbound marketing and lead generation, content marketing, viral marketing and online buzz creation. The company which has most successfully used growth hacking has been Dropbox. Dropbox has used growth hacking to grow at a stupendous pace with minimal investment in marketing efforts. Under the growth hacking strategy, Dropbox started a referral program. They offered incentives to users who would refer the Dropbox services to their friends and acquaintances. The Dropbox signups increased by 60% after they started the referral program. In the next stage of growth hacking strategy, Dropbox offered to give the users a 125 MB increase in storage space if they liked and connected with Dropbox on Facebook or followed the brand on Twitter. They got around 700,000 Twitter followers using this strategy. In the third phase, Dropbox ran a contest called Dropquest. In the contest, users had to go through different puzzles and scavenger hunts. Those who complete and got a place in the top 176 got free space. The announcement on their blog generated quite a lot of Likes and Tweets. Soon Dropbox was a wellknown brand with a huge fan following and a substantial user base.
The technology aided marketing or digital marketing is a very effective tool for marketers and can generate huge returns with optimal cost. The only challenge is that the marketers should carefully select which are the most efficient tools and how they are to be utilized to achieve the target objectives. And if Digital Marketing 1.0 is not working, you always have the tools of Digital Marketing 2.0 to create excitement in the marketplace.  

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Google Tools for the Digital Marketer

So you are now convinced that you would like to become a Digital Marketer. What would be your job profile? Of course, to run a great digital promotion campaign, optimize the campaign and get maximum reach, visibility and conversions at optimum costs.

In the endeavour to become a great digital marketer, Google is ready to lend you a helping hand with a plethora of tools that can make your task much easier and very interesting. These tools are Google Keyword Planner, Google Display Planner, AdWord Editor, Conversion Optimizer, Bid Simulator, Ad Gallery and Google Analytics.

Before we go deep into the Google Tools, let us understand how a digital marketing campaign is structured. To run a Google Adwords campaign, we need a Google Account. The Account is associated with a unique email address, password, and billing information. Once the account has been established, you can run multiple ad campaigns under a single account. Each campaign in your account has its own budget and settings that determine where your ads appear.

Under a campaign, comes Ad Groups. Each ad group within a campaign contains a set of similar ads and keywords that you want to trigger your ads to show.

Source : Google AdWords Fundamentals Refresher Guide

Google offers you two networks to advertise. These are Search Network and Display Network. The Search Network comprises of Google Search, Google Map, Google Shopping and Non-Google Search Partner Sites. The Display Network comprises of YouTube, Gmail, Blogger and Google Finance. Search Ads comprise of Text Ads and Ads with extensions. Display Ad formats comprise of Text Ads, Image Ads, Rich Media Ads and Video Ads. You can choose between Search only, Display only or Search Network with Display Select. 

Now coming back to the Google Tools, these are the ones that you can utilise to enhance and optimise your campaign:

1.       Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner helps to build your Search Network campaigns, getting keyword and ad groups ideas along with search traffic estimates. Keyword Planner helps you to develop a campaign around an advertising goal. You can get keyword ideas based on terms that are relevant to your product or service, your landing page, or different product categories.

The tool will automatically organize related keyword ideas into ad groups. You can also multiply two or more list of keywords, saving the time of manually combining keywords. Keyword Planner will show you statistics, like keyword search volumes, to help you decide which keywords to use for your campaign. You can also get traffic estimates, like estimated clicks, for a given bid and budget to get an idea of which bids and budgets to set.

2.       Google Display Planner

The Display Planner helps to plan your Display Network campaigns, getting targeting ideas along with impression estimates. You can also use Display Planner to expand the reach of your existing campaigns, finding new websites, mobile applications, and video channels where you can show your ads. You can get ideas for keywords, placements, and all other Display Network targeting methods to help you plan your campaign. See how your targeting ideas may perform based on past results and get historical costs to help guide your budget and bid decisions.

3.       Google AdWord Editor
AdWords Editor is a free, downloadable application for managing your AdWords advertising campaigns. The process is simple: Download one or more accounts, make changes offline, and then upload the changes to AdWords. AdWords Editor can help you save time and make it easier to make changes in bulk. It also allows multiple users to share archives and proposals for an account.

Any advertiser with any size account can use AdWords Editor, but it's especially useful for accounts with multiple campaigns and long lists of keywords or ads. For example, you can:

è Use bulk editing tools to make multiple changes quickly
è Export and import files to share proposals or make changes to an account
è View statistics for all campaigns or a subset of campaigns
è Manage, edit and view multiple accounts at the same time
è Search and replace text across ad groups or campaigns
è Copy or move items between ad groups and campaigns
è Undo and redo multiple changes while editing your campaigns
è Make changes in draft before uploading them to your account
è Keep working even when you're offline

4.       Google Conversion Optimizer

When a customer completes an action that you've defined as valuable, these customer actions are called conversions. Conversion Optimizer uses your Conversion Tracking, cross-account Conversion Tracking or Google Analytics data to get you more conversions at a lower cost. By optimizing your placement in each ad auction, Conversion Optimizer helps you to avoid unprofitable clicks and gets you as many profitable clicks as possible. Conversion Optimizer also makes managing your AdWords bidding a lot easier, while maximizing results.

Conversion Optimizer provides you with a recommended target CPA to help get you started. As with CPC bidding, the target CPA that you set is your primary control over how many conversions you'll get and how much you'll pay for them. You can raise your target CPA if you want to increase traffic and conversions. If your average CPA is higher than you prefer, then you can lower it, which will probably decrease both average CPA and the number of conversions.
There are certain pre-requisites for setting up Conversion Optimizer:       
      Your campaign uses AdWords Conversion Tracking or cross-account conversion tracking, or is         importing data from Google Analytics
  The campaign should usually have received at least 15 conversions in the last 30 days

5.       Google AdWords Bid Simulators

Google AdWords Bid Simulators help you see how different bids might change your ads’ weekly performance. The regular Bid Simulators show you how changes to your Max CPC Bid might change the cost or the number of clicks, impressions, conversions, and conversion value your ads would have received for your keyword or ad group. You can find them on the Ad groups and Keywords tabs.
The Campaign Bid Simulator shows you how changes to your campaign’s bids might affect that campaign’s performance. Find it on the Campaigns tab. The Shopping Campaigns Bid Simulator shows you how certain changes to your bid might have impacted your product group's performance. You can find it on the Product groups tab. The Video Campaigns Bid Simulator shows you how changes to your max. CPV might impact your typical weekly video traffic. Find it on the Campaigns tab.

The Target CPA Simulator shows you how changes to your target cost-per-acquisition (target CPA) might affect your ad performance. Find it on the Campaigns tab or in the Shared library. The Mobile Bid Adjustment Simulator shows you how changes to your mobile bid adjustment might affect your ad performance on different devices.

6. Google Ad Gallery

The Ad gallery, formerly known as the display ad builder, is an ad-creation tool that offers various display ad formats in different categories, such as image ads, dynamic ads, Lightbox ads, and video ads, in any of your campaigns on the Google Display Network.
Here are some benefits of using the Ad gallery:
è Differentiated products and services
è More effective campaigns
è No-cost ad templates
è Customizable ad styles
è Industry-standard ad templates

6.       Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free Google product that provides in-depth reporting on how people use your website. It shows you how people found your site and how they explored it, giving you ideas for how to optimize your website. You can also link Google Analytics and your AdWords account to get an entire view of your customers' behaviour, from when they click your ad or see it to what they do on your site. This information can shed light on how much of your website traffic or sales comes from AdWords, in turn helping you improve your ads and website.

The Last Words

With such a rich treasure trove of tools, Google has made life much easier for the Digital Marketer. And the best part is that all these tools are free to use. All you need now is a regular hands-on use of these tools to ensure that you are getting the maximum ROAS (Return-On-Ad-Spend) with Optimized Digital Ad Campaigns for yourself or for your clients. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

How do I make money as a Digital Marketer?

My last blog was about how to learn Digital Marketing and get certified by Google. Now I have started getting queries --- Sir, how do I make money as a Digital Marketer? Well, there is actually a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Let me tell you how.

What are the tasks you can do as a Digital Marketer?

1)  You can be an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Expert

2)  You can be a Content Developer.    

3)    You can be an Online Marketing Analyst (You need to be certified in Google Analytics).

4)   You can be a Social Media Marketing (SMM) Specialist.

5)   You can also make money from your Blogs, Website or YouTube Channel through Google AdSense.

What are the jobs of an SEO Expert? Primarily, it is to give visibility to a website by ensuring that it gets a higher ranking in SERP (Search Engine Result Page). This can be done by optimizing the website so that the Search Engine can easily crawl, index and store the contents and give a higher ranking to the site based on relevance.  The process of optimization involves working on Title Tags, Meta Tags and Alt Tags to classify content and images , doing research on Keywords, placing Keywords strategically in the site, updating the site with relevant content, optimizing the images, getting back-links, doing directory submissions and doing competitor analysis.

What is the importance of Content Developer in Digital Marketing? It is said that “Content is King” in the SEO Process. Google has now changed the algorithm to favour sites with fresh, relevant and good content. So if you are a good content writer, you will be in high demand in digital marketing. However, you need to know how to write SEO friendly content. The Search Engine should understand what the article or post is all about and the readers should also understand the content lucidly.

The third role is that of Online Marketing Analyst. This is a person who is well adept in using Google Analytics or similar tools from Alexa, Kissmetrics, Hubspot, Chartbeat and others. Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Integrated with AdWords, it can review online campaigns by tracking landing page quality and conversions (goals). Goals might include sales, lead generation, viewing a specific page, or downloading a particular file. The Analyst needs to constantly work on data like Traffic, Unique Visitors, PageView, Session Length, Impression, Reach, Click-Through-Rate (CTR), Bounce Rate / Exit Rate, Return-On-Ad-Spend (ROAS) and several others.    

The Social Media Marketing (SMM) Expert needs to optimize and integrate the online marketing campaigns across multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and several others. The person has to know which platform will get the maximum reach as well as result in maximum conversions within an optimum budget. Of course, there are tools like HootSuite, Buffer, SocialHunt and many more. But you should also know Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, YouTube Analytics, LinkedIn Analytics and similar tools to have a firm grip whether your social media campaigns are achieving the desired goals.  

There are full time jobs available as SEO Expert, SMM Expert, Content Developer and Online Marketing Analyst. You can also pick up freelance projects from Elance (, Upwork ( and Freelancer ( You have to establish your credentials and bid for the projects. One you get the assignments, you can work flexi-time from your home, submit the work within the stipulated date and get paid online in your account.  

Last, but not the least, you can make money on your own by using Google AdSense. Google AdSense is an advertising placement service by Google. The program is designed for website publishers who want to display targeted text, video or advertisements on website pages and earn money when site visitors view or click the ads. Simply speaking, you can create a fabulous website, blog or YouTube Channel , attract a lot of visitors to your site, and then invite advertisers to place ads in your site. You will be making money every time someone views or clicks the Ad. The whole process is managed electronically by Google AdSense. Go to for further details.  

Hope the second query is also satisfactorily answered. Please mail your queries to me at and I shall be more than happy to answer them. Also, please leave your remarks in the feedback column so that I know if I am able to provide worthwhile content for the readers of my blog.  

Sunday, 27 November 2016

How to get certified by Google

When I was a small kid, the surest way to get a job was to become a typist. There were scores of typing school who taught you how to punch keys faster on the Remington Typewriter. The faster was your speed, the more you got paid. And if you could also get some training to take dictation in shorthand, you could get the glamorous job of a stenographer.

And then a man called Bill Gates changed all that. The typewriter disappeared giving way to Personal Computers, Laptops and Tablets. Microsoft came out with Word, Excel and PowerPoint and we did not need the secretary and stenographer any more. And with the advent of mobiles, we now do not need the computer any more. Let us thank Larry Page and Sergei Brin for the revolution that Google brought in by introducing Android that brought computing within the reach of the common man.

And now, the job opportunities have also changed. The E-Commerce Market in India currently stands at $17.5 billion. The number of digital buyers in India stands at 41 million. With the sector growing at 60-65%, there are currently 3.5 lakh people working in various capacities in companies like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm, Shopclues and others. There is a demand for another 2.5 lakh people to keep the growth machine running in electronic commerce. No wonder, you see a lot of jobs related to E-Commerce being posted in Naukri and LinkedIn.

One of the best ways to get an entry to this sector is by doing the Google Certification. The best part of this exam is that it is online, you can give it from anywhere and it is free. Just make sure that you have a reliable internet connection with good speed before sitting for this exam.

To become eligible for this exam, you need to register yourself as a Google Partner. To do this you can click on or type Google Partners in your Google Search Page. You will get two options "Äbout Google Partners"and "Join Google Partners". Click on the second option. You'll be taken to a page that says "Let's be Partners". Click on "Join Now" button. Give your Gmail Login Id and Password and you'll be taken to the Google Partners Home Page where you have to register by giving your details. There is a link on the sidebar called Certifications. You can do two certifications "Ädwords"and "Änalytics". Both are free and Google does not charge any money to take the exams.Both are important to further your career prospects and I suggest you do both.

To get the Google Adword Cerification, you have to pass the Google AdWords Fundamentals Exam and one more from the following options --- Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Video Advertising, Shopping Advertising and Mobile Advertising.  The Google AdWords Fundamentals Exam, Search Advertising and Display Advertising Exams are two hour exams where you have to answer 100 questions. The Video Advertising, Shopping Advertising and Mobile Advertising Exams are 90 minutes tests where you have to answer 74 questions, 60 questions and 70 questions respectively. It is mandatory to score 80% to pass the tests. If you do not pass in the first attempt, you can repeat the test after 7 days.

The Google Analytics is a standalone test where you have to answer 100 questions in two hours and score 80% to get the certification. Once you qualify, the certificates will be displayed when you click "My Profile" button. The links to your certificates for the exams that you have qualified is given just below your picture. You can click on the links and download your certificates.

The Google Partners Home Page also has a lot of Study Materials and Google Videos that you can download , read and watch to do self study. And believe me, it's like stepping into Alice's Wonderland. You will be surprised to know that Google has so many powerful tools that you can use to run an effective digital marketing campaign. And the best part is all these tools are free to use. And the use of these tools is very lucidly explained by experts from Google appearing in the Videos.

So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself registered today, delve deep into the world of Google and become a certified digital marketing expert. India needs a lot of experts to run the digital business and you could very well be the one among them getting a personal growth in career and also contributing to the growth of the nation.

For any queries, you are free to contact me at 91-8427288699, E-mail me at or visit my website And keep on coming back to this blog to gain more knowledge about digital marketing.

Goodbye till we meet again. Auf Wiedersehen. À bientôt. Shabba Khair.