Category Archives: Web Marketing

Marketing In A Digital World

Digital and Social Media Marketing – Strategic Framework: Introduction

Digital and Social Media Marketing – Strategic Framework

More often than not, digital marketers or social media marketing managers tend to chase their next successful campaign. There is ample advice on the web around campaign management. Typically, such content address tactical issues such as how to initiate a digital or social media campaign, how to optimize it, how to improve click-through rates, how to perform better on conversions, which analytics tools to use, how to integrate multiple campaigns into one platform etc. If you find often find yourselves consuming such advice, there is a good chance that you manage such digital initiatives for your employer or you work at an agency that manages them for clients.

This series of blog posts is for companies or managers how haven’t aren’t there yet. Which direction would you take if you are starting from scratch? Which factors would you consider if you are asked to set up digital marketing at a company? Below is a framework that direction to think about this.

In upcoming blog posts, I will elaborate on both strategic as well as tactical aspects of this framework. I will also present another framework aimed at providing direction towards establishing a self-sustaining unit that creates value.

The most significant value proposition of this model is that it envisions the measurable parameters right from the beginning. The problem I am trying to solve it simple; never lose the sight of the “measurable”. What gets measured gets done. What gets done gets rewarded.

Digital and Social Media Marketing Strategic Framework

Digital and Social Media Marketing Strategic Framework



Digital mediums and digital marketing – influence on healthcare industry

Before I start, you may read about “7 Predictions For How Health-care And Our World Will Evolve by 2020” from Rohit Bhargava’s Influential Marketing Blog.

In my following post, I will focus on the role digital medium in general and digital marketing in particular, will play in influencing the healthcare industry. Please note that the following are my views and not a commentary on the above mentioned post.

Digital medium will strongly influence various aspects of the healthcare sector, not just in India but globally. Although US / Europe uses the digital world for creating, consuming, sharing and enhancing health care related content extensively and this phenomenon is being increasingly adopted in India as well. More and more healthcare professionals including doctors, general physicians, healthcare service providers, surgeons, pharmaceutical distributors etc. are spending time online and with smart devices. So are patients and that is a good news for digital marketers. This holds a special significance for the healthcare industry.

Let’s take a look at why and how digital activities around medicine and healthcare will growth and shape the healthcare industry in a significant way in future.

Trust and social media – A big part of consumer behavior revolves around the “recommendation” game in social media. As much as social media is considered powerful by modern marketers, it’s been a difficult challenge for marketers to generate authentic referrals in social media. And it is not a function of amount of money spent on social media promotions, but far more dependent on how good the product is. Good products will get good recommendations. If one’s health is concerned, trust is single most important factor. A strong recommendation from a close friend about a certain treatment or medicine will surely push it in the consideration set of the customer, if not drive its adoption. Social media makes it quick and easy.  People are more likely to trust recommendations from their close friends on a social network, more so when it comes to healthcare.

Behavioral targeting – The nature of the health care industry is such that behaviorism targeting is difficult to achieve using mass media marketing. Every person has a different problem, a different medical condition, a different patient history and a different requirement. Almost all treatments start with a personal consultation and a customized plan. The beauty of the digital medium is that it allows total personalization. Sending relevant messaging to an individual based on his medical problem and healthcare needs is easier through the digital medium than traditional medium.

Data based decision making – We have come a long way from the times of printed heath records, transcription records and patient history reports. Modern software, such as Amalga and HealthVault by Microsoft, allow for online data storage of medical records and health care information, not only at an enterprise level but also at an individual level. Imagine a team of doctors, getting access to a patient’s medical history before he is admitted or arrives for consultation. Decisions based on digital data of medical records, patient history, previous prescription details will make the process far more quick, accurate and efficient. That will make everyone’s life easy.

Smart devices, integration and sharing – The instruments such as Heart Rate Monitors, Blood Pressure Monitors, are becoming more and more nimble and compatible with other devices. These can be plugged into computers and their data can be captured and stored into online accounts. Smartphones are becoming compatible with such devices. In future, a wide range of healthcare devices will be smarter and will have inbuilt digital sharing capabilities, and they will also be able to integrate with mobile computing devices such as tablets, netbooks, notebooks, and smart phones. This will makes access to critical data fast and convenient. Doctors can surely make use of these data sharing capabilities during critical situations in ICU and emergency rooms and literally save lives.

Marketing and promotions – The digital medium has proven very effective in generation buzz and running promotions. By promotions, I mean sales, discount schemes, seasonal promotions, online offers, e-commerce deals etc. The beauty of the digital medium is that it gives marketers an opportunity measure what they have spent on and optimize campaigns. Healthcare providers and related businesses such as diagnostic centers will have to make efforts to get attention of online consumers. The opportunity is large and so are challenges. Social commerce websites such as Groupon, SnapDeals, will prove to be useful in generating bulk business for healthcare service providers. Pharmaceuticals companies, hospital chains, diagnostic center will implement digital engagement programs and these will consume significant marketing dollars.

Widget and applications – Here comes the fun and exciting part. Technology companies can design and develop diverse range of applications and widgets for diagnosis and knowledge sharing. The capabilities of these widgets will extend well beyond the simple BMI calculators available today. These apps will be designed around symptoms and treatments, disease classification and diagnosis, drugs and remedies, alternative and therapeutic healthcare remedies etc. Although the widgets will not be replacement for personal physician consultation, they will surely help in deciding the direction of the treatment. These will be hosted on the web, on smart phones, on smart medical devices, and will be sharable on blogs and social networks.

Online presence of related industry – There are various industries associated with the healthcare industry which increasingly rely on the online medium for growth and survival at times. For instance, life and health insurance companies spend large chunks of marketing budgets on display advertising, online lead generation and online customer engagement. Life and health insurance industry, closely related to the health care industry, present ample opportunities for online collaboration for active customer acquisition and engagement. Another such industry is medical tourism. In future, health tourism packages will be sold online and travel industry will also have a share of it. In future, western hospitals will tie up with their eastern counterparts, work with a certain insurance provider and healthcare services providers to sell medical tourism packages and a ton of these will be researched and sold online.

Clinical research and development – Needless to say, the digital world provides ample opportunities for breakthrough innovations in developing cures for hitherto unconquered diseases. The Human Genome Project, is a live example of how people around the globe made use of the digital medium for mapping the genome. A single platform used by experts around the globe to share, analysis and interpret clinical data, design and test solutions to healthcare problems and invent new theories for complex disease is only possible through the online medium.

All the above points make a strong case for the healthcare industry to think of new ways to leverage the internet and other smart platforms, for reaching customer with solutions that they need. Digital marketing is a simple, effective, cheap and measurable way to reach healthcare customers. Once this catches momentum, the health care delivery process will change forever.

Please share your views on the above.

Google India Launches Google Music Search (India) – Ads Galore! (My Analysis)

Google India launched Google Music Search in India for Bollywood and related music on Friday. Google announced this on their blog with a brief explanation on features and facilities.

Google Music Search India

Google Music Search India - Indic Music Google Labs

As a music lover and an occasional strummer, this news is nothing less than delightful. As a full time digital marketer, this news is much more than exciting.

Let me state the basic features of Google Music Search here and thereafter I will comment on the advertising part of the game. I heard that this thing was also called as Indic Music in Google labs. Firstly, the music search combines songs (and their searchable databases) from three sources; the Indian music site Saavn, and India’s leading record label Saregama. These partners stream the songs directly on to user’s computer. Music can be searched by names of artists, movies, album, singers etc. The search algorithm also offers related music results, movies etc. There are advance search options which enable search from a certain era say 1980’s, or a combination of artists,  for instance “Kumar Sanu Alka Yagnik” and many more.

Google Music Search combined artist search Kumar Sanu Alka Yagnik

Google Music Search combined artist search Kumar Sanu Alka Yagnik

Results can be sorted by date, by relevance and it also allows for search by time. A list of albums and their record covers are also featured on the home page which includes some recent launches, some classics etc, as you can in the first image.

One issue is that the search results are restricted to what is offered by the three sources. In some instances, I found that there may be more music available for playing online from traditional Indian music sites such as Smashits, Raaga, Dhingana, and Dishant.

What might be the purpose behind this? Different publications have given varied discourses on this. For instance, FastCompany mentions the launch of Indic Music with the headline “Google Launches Music Service…in India?”.  I wonder why that question mark is there in the headline. Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement of the fact that music business in India is different than that of the US.

Digital Journal says “Google launches legal music search in India to combat piracy”. They also mention a study by Ernst and Young, which says that the total loss to the music industry in India is estimated to be $ 325 Million, of which optical disc piracy makes for a large chunk of $ 255 Million, internet piracy is $ 58 Million and cassette piracy is $ 12 Million.

Google’s own blog says that they receive millions of searches for Bollywood songs, latest and classic. They seem to serve the noble cause of letting people spend more time enjoying music than looking for it.

All this seems well intentioned, no doubt, but one can’t deny the fact that wherever there is Google, there’s got to be ads.

So I tried seeing where the ads are being shown and what types of ads are being shown. I find this question intriguing, because, the nature of the product is largely “music” and people aren’t going to search for ERP systems or insurance policies or automobile parts or diabetes related or Spas related information here.

So, my question is, will Google serve ads that are irrelevant to music queries?

Ah ha! Needless to say, I found them immediately. I typed in a long tail song query for a song that I used to like in my teenage. I did it deliberately since not many people would search for this song, and it has a higher chance of getting an not-so-popular ad. I searched and played the song, and this is what it looked like.

Song with ad on Google Music Search

Song with ad on Google Music Search

Now interestingly, if you play this song on Saavn itself, there is no ad. Even then, Saavn has used the ad space below to advertise itself. They are inviting people to check them out on Twitter

Long tail song search

Jadu Hai Ye Naya Naya from Humko Ishq Ne Mara

There it is. You can see the ad in the bottom part of the player. It’s worthwhile to mention that there aren’t too many of them, perhaps because Google launched this music only a couple of days earlier, but the ads are surely there. Yes, the ads are of all types. If you click on that ad, it takes you to this page.

Swank Unisex Salon Bangalore

Swank Unisex Salon Bangalore

Of course, the deal part of the Swank Unisex Salon has nothing whatsoever to do with the song name that I type. If anyone finds a relation, please tell me.  The point is, a new avenue for advertising is now open, it’s called Google Music Search, India.

Let me also say that if you happen to click on the small (i) in the circle towards the bottom right corner of the ad, it takes you to the Google AdSense page. So there you go! More advertisement for Google AdSense as well, good going Google! You guys are great!

Mr Yusuf Mehdi, any ideas?

Facebook’s new groups – opportunities for social media marketers

Facebook recently launched new group features for its users in an attempt to make the social networking platform even more social and collaborative. Also, as more and more marketing folks want access to Facebook data for targeting specific customer segments based on interests, Facebook seems to be making conscious efforts to make their Graph API for groups nimbler and developer friendly.

One of the new features is that Facebook users can now download their information.

Let us take a quick look at how brand marketers or social media marketers can use these new features for engaging Facebook users in a more social and collaborative way. Before I start, you may want to take a quick look at Hubspot’s brief of the new features.

Unlimited Groups – Now that users can form unlimited number of groups, this can be leveraged by brands to drive product or service adoption and use their users’ social influence to enhance the process of adoption .For instance, if you are a tech start up that just launched a fantastic social app, you may design a promotion around groups. One loyal user of the app can form a group and invite others to join the group and download the app. Depending on the number of app downloads contributed by this loyal user (Will post another blog post on how to measure this!), he can be rewarded with movie tickets, or entry passes for a rock concert etc.

Group Chat – Although at this point it is challenging to conceptualize the exact nature of the promotion that can be designed around this, this feature can certainly be used for crowdsourcing ideas in conjunction with the unlimited groups feature. For instance, if you are a therapeutic medicine that benefits different people in different ways, a promotion can be designed as follows. Ask fans to form groups of 3-5 users and through group chat, ask them to come up with a comprehensive one- liner that captures the benefits provided by the medicine. The best line can be a declared winner and rewarded with the product itself, of course, each for every member of the group.

The condition here is to submit the chat as an entry. The product company can get some insight into the thinking process of the group. This idea is presently unstructured, but I think it can be extended.

Mailing list – This needs the least amount of creativity. But this is not a no-brainer. That’s because the mailing lists feature is for users and not for businesses. Users or fans can be gathered around a single idea and they can be asked to form their own mailing lists. Brands or businesses can send specific targeted messages to these mailing lists through their fans. But to achieve this feat, the reward will have to be really enticing. Remember not to cross the limit out of desperation and spamming them since that is a proven way of killing your brand’s image and getting banned on Facebook.

Docs – Using Facebook docs for promotion is fairly unconventional. This can be used to crowdsource ideas for product features. Since this is an unconventional concept, the target audience will also have to be unconventional. Wiki type applications surely have a strong social element to them. Imagine a certain brand helping a certain group of people in a difficult situation. A story can be written around the incident. Brands can engage users by asking them to develop a story using Facebook docs and submit that in the doc format to the promotion administrator. Seems farfetched at this stage? It’s really not that difficult. Best testimonials can be sourced using such a technique. A promotion can be designed to reward the best story created using Facebook docs.

Alternatively, this can also be used as a supplement to other promotions, for instance say a video contest. Imagine the video makers sharing their experience of making the video. That is great content to share both publicly and with the company. So, along with the video contest, a “best-video-making-story” contest can also be designed.

These ideas are in their nascency. As the social media platforms evolve, we will see more marketing innovations around them.