Digital Marketing – Ask Me Anything (FAQ)
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Digital Marketing - Ask Me Anything (FAQ)

Entrepreneurship is not easy. To some it comes naturally, to some its a learning along the way. My personal opinion is that whether it comes to you naturally or you learn along the way, ultimately it is a series of processes that you follow to make your dream turn into reality. While you follow those processes, you find answers to your problems at hand and you carve the path to your success. And to each his own! Here’s an insight into a concise course –  7-Step Digital Startup Success Formula for those who don’t know where to start. 

Along this journey of Entrepreneurship, I have been asked many questions by aspiring Entrepreneurs. Here are some of them, which  even gave me an insight into some things which I had not always known but researched just to help these people out to the best of my capabilities. 

  • What do you measure
    • Traffic (Unique)
    • CPL (cost per lead)
    • CPA (Cost per acquisition)
    • ROAS (return on ad spend)
    • CLTV (Customer Life time Value) – Upsells
    • Ranking
  • Calculations
    • I am a big advocate of using tools. Google Analytics is good but gives you traffic , ad conversions very well. But if you need a consolidated view of you ads, social media, Search engine traffic etc. using a tool like Zoho One or Hubspot makes a lot more sense. 
    • Zoho allows you to plan your paid marketing. Specify your target budget, captures your actual ad spends and gives you ROI
    • But then there are other expenses like what you pay for content development, marketing tools. That has to be taken in separately for the final ROI.
  • Long form content is content which is  > 2000 words
  • Depends on
    • Product
      • Some products have extensive documentation e.g. a marketing tool, B2B product.
      • Till you convince the user that it is easy to use he will not buy from you. There you need ebooks, white-papers, infographics – long form content.
      • Also brings you across as an expert
      • Some products like an online shop doesn’t have complex processes. So you can just pitch and sell – short form content
    • User Intent
      • If the user is just at the awareness stage you need long form content to make him understand well about your product
      • When the user is deeper down in the funnel, a short clear pitch is good enough to sell
    • Channel
      • Social media – short form – people have less time
      • SEO – Long form with keywords
    • Bottomline
  • 20 cr people use whatsapp so its a big medium
  • How to sell
    • Get a Whatsapp business number
      • Can be  landline number also
      • Business name
      • Publish it everywhere
      • Different from personal or convert if u want to sell to your personal contact
    • How is it different from whatsapp
      • You have to install the Whatsapp Business App which is a different app
      • Business Profile Settings
      • Verified seller – so trust is established
      • Product Catalog can be exhibited
      • Auto reply (Using Automation)
      • Greeting and Away Message
      • Quick Replies – define a keyword and a message for frequently used messages
    • Where to sell
      • Known contacts / groups
      • Whatsapp selling groups
        • Find them by
          • asking someone who is selling (who has sent you a message),
          • groups on FB where people are selling – they must be part of these whatsapp seller groups
          • websites which list whatsapp seller groups – Groupya
          • create your own group
    • Payments
      • Whatsapp payments
      • Other payment apps like PayTM, PhonePe
    • Pricing
      • Messaging is free
      • API – connect to your systems – may be chargeable
        • reminders, tickets, order delivery through your apps
      • Twilio
      • They structured their pricing in such a way that it will cost money only when a business responds to clients messages beyond 24 hours. All messages that were responded to, within 24 hours period are free. Beyond that, they would cost anywhere between 5 cents to 90 cents for sending response messages. Or In Indian rupees we can say around 4 rupees – 60 Rupees roughly.
  • Hands down – Video – as per statistics
    • Youtube is now a dedicated video search engine in itself. Optimising your video searches for relevant keywords is the sure-shot way to success. 
  • Webinars and Facebook YouTube Live shows have maximum visibility.
  • Automated Webinars (Pre-Recorded Webinars) are for those product owners who cannot find a suitable time to connect with all their audience. The webinar can be pre-recorded and posted at a given time. Questions can be replied to then and there if you are available or later. 
  • Sometimes an image says it all – infographic
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
    • Takes time but content driven so good quality leads
    • Backlinks from influencers, partner websites, barter
    • User generated content (comments)
  • Effective Social Media Marketing
  • Community Engagement
    • Social Media Groups
    • Forums like Quora, Reddit
  • Cross promote (up-sell)
  • Guest blogging
  • Commenting
  • Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
  • Free Press Releases
  • In-person networking
  • Referral program
  • Influencer marketing
    • Sometimes this comes with a cost, but if you also have something to contribute some influencers appreciate that and dont charge you.
  • Grow your email list
  • Organic Youtube marketing
    • Optimise your video descriptions with relevant keywords
    • Engage with audience
  • Shop from within FB
  • Integrate shopify or any other existing ecommerce store 
  • FB Ads integrated
  • FB Stories for featured products
  • Tagging
  • Reviews
  • Insights
  • If your audience is on FB (B2C) then it would help in a great way
  • Pros
    • Mentioned above
  • Cons
    • Security – always there in the back of the mind
    • Cant mix personal and professional
  • Zoho Social
  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • All of these have basic versions as free but as you scale you have to pay which you wouldn’t mind if you can still effectively be in positive ROI since you are scaling
  • Let’s take the example of an Online Course Marketplace
  • Paid Ads for drawing in the traffic on your website or landing pages will come in handy of course at the initial level.
  • The funnel for Edtech  focuses a lot on awareness in terms of what you are going to teach in the courses that you provide, what is the benefit of learning that course, interesting articles about the course topic.  So the key has to be to get users interested and make them understand that the course is beneficial for them. So content marketing (pdfs, ebooks, white-papers etc) will play a big role for the top end of the funnel and make you come across as an expert in your field for people to trust you and your brand. 
  • If you have good content, your SEO will anyway have strong base to make you rank well for your industry related keywords. 
  • Social Media will play a role in Customer Retention where you interact with enrolled students – provide customer support and up-sell other courses where you see scope
  • Quora and Reddit are excellent channels for projecting yourself as an expert. Go and answer questions on Quora, solve people’s problems and see how people are drawn to you and your brand. 
  • The CAC would really depend on the kind of Fintech product that you are selling. For e.g if you are selling insurance the CAC is way beyond reach for any Small or Medium Fintech player. That’s because there are huge Insurance companies who will anyway be ranked topmost almost always if we talk about SEO. However, if you talk about a product like Wealth Advisory the competition as of today is not that much, so the CAC is not high there
  • Just like Edtech, for Fintech too the key is awareness. So content marketing would act more efficiently here than spending money on paid ads because people want to understand finance better in simple words for him/her to be able to buy from you. 
  • Besides content marketing makes you come across as an expert in your field so there if you have won the trust of your customer you have won half the battle. 
  • Quora and Reddit are excellent channels for projecting yourself as an expert. Go and answer questions on Quora, solve people’s problem and see how people are drawn to you and your brand. You have zero CAC there unless of course you want to go for paid ads on Quora – this would have a less CAC than other channels and much more effective since you are being seen as an expert already since you are answering questions there
  • Brand building is one aspect of the entire Digital Marketing process. 
  • What channel we use for Brand Building would depend on the product we are selling. For e.g. if I am selling an online course I may not want to build a brand offline for it. So, there are cases where brand building would be done only online via digital media. 
  • Whether Digital Marketing is effective for a B2C business – Yes, without an iota of doubt! Your reach on FB, Twitter which is the haven for B2C Digital marketing – is way beyond any other channel. 
  • Again content marketing is the king of all methods. Strong content pulls traffic on social media, boosts SEO. 
  • LinkedIn is the most effective channel for B2B. Having a FB ad for you B2B would be burning money. But having a LinkedIn ad for B2B would be a very effective medium. 
  • Referrals and Word-Of-Mouth play a very big role in B2B marketing because companies need testimonials and references from someone else who has bought from you since the stakes are high. So getting referrals is a key here. These strategies cost nothing but play a very big role in B2B marketing
  • Content wise case studies would really help. Even boosting a post which has a case study on LinkedIn would be a safe bet. 
  • So ultimately it is how intelligently you spend the money – what you spend it on and where you spend it. 
  • I have always followed Neil Patel (www.neilpatel.com) very closely. I subscribe to the notifications (he almost publishes one article daily). I make it a point to read that article
  • To get in-depth knowledge you can also take courses on Udemy. Following is a list of courses that I bought:
    • Mobile App Marketing
    • Complete Social Media Marketing
    • Twitter Marketing
    • Facebook Marketing
    • Youtube Marketing
    • Complete SEO 
    • Lead Generation Strategies
    • Google Adwords for Beginners
    • Google Analytics for Beginners
    • Marketing Automation
    • Copywriting
  • There is a plethora of information out there. Just narrow down on one subscription which you relate to best and buy short courses (2-3 days max). The best way to learn is to apply the concepts to your business. 
  • You might want to read 13 Effective Marketing Tips for Small Businesses for a quick overview of what it takes to get your message out there.
  • Automation is the best thing that happened to the Digital Marketing industry!
  • Very recently I created a workflow in GetResponse for an Online course. The fact that you can judge the user’s intent by the fact that he/she has read your message or not and accordingly take different actions is no less than an instance of Artificial Intelligence in Digital Marketing
  • So, yes, automated messages are a good idea. 
  • Automated comments – it all depends on how intelligently you setup the automation. 
  • In the same context, chatbots which are automated chats are also recommended no matter what you are selling
  • Having said all of this, automation should be complemented by human intervention at the end of the chain. E.g. When we built a chatbot Minty for wealth advisory, we knew that we could only build automation in it upto an extent. At the end of the day, I would not take a financial decision on the basis of what a chatbot tells me. I need a human at the other end to verify the plan.
  • So, bottomline, using automated messages / comments / chat is needed, but only at the top end of the funnel. Complement it effectively by closing the deal with human intervention
  • First and foremost, I would not be right if I would say that X amount is a justifiable budget for Digital Marketing. It depends on a lot of factors which vary widely across businesses
  • It depends on
    • The product you are selling. For e.g. if I am selling insurance I better be ready with a huge budget because it is a highly competitive product and there are large players in the market already.
    • Affordability – Obviously, if your business cannot afford it, no matter the requirement, you will not be able to budget that much. But it also goes the other way round. I have seen businesses where people come into a lot of funding all of a sudden and they spend without careful strategising and ending up with a negative ROI. That is the other end of the spectrum which is more scary than not being able to spend at all
    • Quality of the ad campaign – There are ad campaigns that have the capacity to go viral and then there are those which do not generate even a single click. So if you are spending on ads it is important that whosoever is doing it for you knows the tweaks that make an ad sell. Formal education in paid marketing is a must so that whatever budget you have allocated generates a ROI for you. 
    • Each social media channel has its own voice. What would sell on FB may or may not necessarily sell on Instagram. So yes, budgeting for both should be separately done based on historical performances for your product. How much should that budget be really depends on the above and many more factors. 
    • A tip here would be to find out (if possible) how much your competitors are spending. 
    • Start off with what you can afford, observe and analyse for 2-3 cycles and then take the best judgement. Give yourself enough leverage for errors and adjustments
    • Check out one of the questions above where I have listed Zero Cost Marketing Techniques and see if they help you minimise your costs
  • Let me put up some statistics here – 96% of all B2C marketers use social media posts for content marketing. Out of those 97% use Facebook. If everyone is using it, it must be working right?
  • There are some aspects of Facebook marketing that we need to consider and keep in mind to succeed at it
    • FB is not a place for cold selling or direct pitching. It is a social media channel. “Social Media” is built on relationships. It is important to understand the Content Marketing Funnel. Start with a lead magnet – a resource that your customer will be interested it, give it away for free. Yes, post an ad for it for a small budget. You may not get a direct sale out of the ad, but someone who is genuinely interested in the resource will click on your ad. That is the beginning of the relationship. An FB ad alone can give a sale but a better bet should be placed on a content marketing funnel, where you attract using FB marketing and then nurture the lead. 
    • Even big businesses spending a lot of money sometimes lose money on FB Ads if they try to directly pitch. 
    • Have a complete strategy in place. Its not about creating ads and pushing them, you should know exactly where you are starting and how you will get this customer to buy from you. 
    • Build an ad, post it, measure its results and optimise. Continue this cycle with a lot of A/B Tests
    • Invest time. Spending a designated hour on FB marketing will not help. Monitor and improvise continuously – whatever money you can spend as a small startup will give you effective results if you give it enough time. 
    • Bottomline, it is not about how much you can spend. FB marketing could be just one part of your entire content marketing cycle. So, aim on completing the entire customer journey and I’m sure FB Ads will play their role wherever they fall in the journey. 
    • Having said that, keep your mind open to the fact that there maybe some leakage in terms of irrelevant leads and consecutive loss of money there, but that is to be considered as the buffer in your strategy. 
  • The biggest challenge was building a cyber presence for a company which belonged to the Finance domain. Challenge because, this was my first large scale stint with a Finance company. Understanding wealth advisory and distribution myself and making the stakeholders understand IT was a journey in itself
  • Forming an IT Division of Financial Hospital from scratch was the second challenge. There was a time when I was the HR, the Business Analyst, the Project Manager, and also sometimes the Team Leader because I sat down with the programmers and solved bugs. Writing content with the Marketing team was also one of the things I did initially and that was the most enjoyable of it all. These were challenges, but they taught me things I had never done before. Starting from a team of 3 to a team of 25 has been a good enjoyable challenge
  • We were always bootstrapped since 2015 since we had an offline customer base from earlier efforts by our CEO Mr. Manish Hingar, before we went digital. We successfully kept it that way with a lot of effort and struggle. Finally, after enduring that struggle we are now branching out and looking for investments in the company since we want to scale after having created Minimum Viable Products for our niche brands www.fintoo.in and www.mintyapp.in . But convincing the Functional Stakeholders for each Digital expenditure till we are bootstrapped is very difficult. 
  • These were the 3 biggest challenges, of course there were a lot more small ones – all of them finally taught us something along the way
  • Like I mentioned in an earlier comment, building the bridge between Finance and IT was my biggest challenge. When we started off we  never thought that our niche products Minty and Fintoo could go such a long way where we could build Artificial Intelligence into them. 
  • We visualised  Minty where what the Financial Planners are doing offline today would be done by a Robo Advisor. At first, it was laughed at. Then when we came up with the mind map there was also resistance from the Functional Teams because there was a wave of concern that AI could take jobs away. However, I had to convince them with a clear Static Prototype that this was to aid them rather than taking their jobs away. This was a proposed hybrid model where the initial mundane activities like answering basic financial queries would be done by Minty but at a point it would direct the user to a Wealth Advisor for detailed guidance. Data Gathering which was a mechanical job would be done by the user at his/her own pace. The financial plan would be on the human advisor’s judgement
  • Also finding good technical resources for AI and Machine Learning is hard. There are a lot of people doing courses but hardly anyone with a good hands-on experience. I did a course myself on AI/ML to get the ball rolling. 
  • I was invited to setup an IT Division in  Financial Hospital (a financial product distribution company which had an offline presence headed by Mr. Manish Hingar since 2004). There were only 3 members – a Digital Marketing Head, a Social Media Executive and a Search Engine Optimisation executive
  • My first and obvious question was where is the website that you are here to market! There started the journey of creating a Software Development Team first. I recruited PHP programmers for the website and for data collation in a CRM system since there was a lot of existing client data
  • Along the way we visualised Wealth Advisory as Minty and Wealth Distribution as Fintoo. Mind maps were created, the team was split as per product. The web version was launched in 2017. Then we recruited Android and iOS developers and the app versions were also released last year.  
  • Even the marketing team was scaled to handle the increasing traffic. The key has always been content generation. A huge collection of blog articles on the Financial Hospital website has drawn in a traffic of more than 10K per month. The apps are in a nascent stage but slowly picking up and that has given rise to the need of now moving on to seek funding for our venture. 
  • The interest that VCs have shown has been encouraging and we hope to be in the news soon for attaining our first round of funding, so keeping my fingers crossed for that one!
  • Bulls eye! I was just speaking about this to the teams this morning! 
  • The only process that you can draw around this is effective strategisation and planning around a clear vision. 
  • You know what you want to build, you know how you want to market it. It just has to be timed effectively, padding both the activities with enough buffers so that you have the scope to adjust in case of glitches on either side. 
  • At Financial Hospital, we follow Agile methodologies for both Development and Marketing. There are small releases so that the scope of adjustment is also small in iterations. 
  • The Product Development plan and Marketing Plan (content calendar etc) runs 15 days ahead of the actual development. When the actual development starts the Pre-Marketing starts. Enough buffer is allocated in the marketing efforts to ensure that in case of a development delay we can still keep the users interested for the upcoming feature launch. 

Hope, this gave you a deep insight about Digital Marketing from the aspect of Startups and even on a general Digital Marketing level. For more, do visit the 7-Step Digital Startup Success Formula page to get step-by-step guidance on how to implement the Digital Marketing Strategy for your organisation.