Gayathri Vaidyanathan

Gayathri Vaidyanathan

AdvertisingContentDigital Marketing

Search Engine Marketing: Moving to the top in 4 easy ways!

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A staggering 81% of customers and 94% of businesses perform searches before making a purchase – so if you are not doing search marketing you are doing mute marketing! The crux of Search Engine Marketing in a nutshell is – ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. So, be seen and heard to make an impact!

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), a term coined way back in 2001, refers to gaining traffic and visibility by appearing prominently in search engine results pages (SERPs) either through paid ads or organic ways. By search we just don’t mean Google, but also Yahoo and Bing! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are those activities done both on-page and offpage to improve the page-rank of a website. For a successful internet marketing strategy, both SEM and SEO need to work in tandem. Going forward in our article, we will be using the umbrella term Search Marketing (SM).

It is common knowledge that the most critical step in SEM is to strategically select the right set of keywords that resonates with your company. Needless to say, it should be a good mix of phrases that represents the business and what a customer might be querying on the net for your product. Apart from having your pages indexed on the popular search sites and link building, we need to think outside the box to get results that spell success!

Focus on Mobile Ads

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70% of the traffic on the internet is now coming via mobile devices. Google and Twitter are focussing heavily on the open source initiative – ‘The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project’, and are leaning more towards mobile-enabled ads and websites. Not a surprising trend, as the advent of smartphones and PDAs have seen the mobile based searches far outnumber the ones coming from the desktop. To keep the competition at bay, it’s imperative that digital campaigns keep their content mobile friendly – both ads and websites.

Make Content the King

search engine marketing techniques

Content is the reason why search began in the first place. A recent feature on SERP is rich answers (there are many types like ‘direct answer’, ‘featured snippet’ etc). This attempts to address the user’s query directly and concisely, without requiring an user to click through to a website. Does getting your website featured in a snippet translate to more traffic? Well, of course yes!  An interesting observation has been that ‘rich answers’ often come from websites which are not the top ranked in organic search results. This translates to a coveted opportunity to gain better brand visibility over top competitors. Schema markup, in combination with best content practices, can help websites gain business by leveraging on these enhanced Google results.

Gear Up for New Search Opportunities

Best SEM techniques

Personal digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and the more recent Samsung Bixby are carving their niche in conversational queries. It might not be too far in the future when text-based searches on Google, Bing, and Yahoo might be passé. According to research, while ⅔ of the marketers recognize voice search as the next big thing, the rest plan to address the opportunity. Voice searches accounting for nearly 20% of all Google mobile searches is next big game changer in SEM. A perceptive marketer will appreciate the key differences between text and voice-based searches, and ideate to optimize their content for voice searches too. Unlike text-based searches, in a voice search the top answer is the only answer!

Keep an Eye on Your Competitor

search engine marketing techniques

Competitive search strategies are key elements in the ever-evolving SM campaign. Competitive analysis and competitor intelligence cannot be emphasized enough in the digital world. Looking at content of pages that rank higher than our own brands and analyzing the competitor’s keyword targets, rankings, and content strategies can be a two-pronged strategy to gain insights on what it takes to ace the game!

The intent of any SM is to outshine competition, rank well, have an impressive digital presence, and build a strong brand. The one who adapts and innovates always beats the competition by a mile! Like it is popularly said – ‘The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results’ – make sure your SM campaign does not take you there!

MarketingSocial Media

Make Pinterest Work for Your Business

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“The catalogue of ideas” on the web – Pinterest was started by Ben Silbermann along with his co-founders  Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp in 2010. From a paltry 200 test users to the current 150+ million monthly active users, it is one of the fastest growing social network sites in the world. Pinterest has become an integral part of corporate digital marketing strategies.The image driven virtual cork board helps to bookmark your ideas, thoughts, and just about anything that catches your eye! Pinterest is all about pictures and videos – upload, save, sort, and manage images—known as pins—and other media content (e.g., videos) through collections known as pinterest boards.

How does one get onto Pinterest?

Pinterest for Business

All you need to get onto the Pinterest bandwagon is an email address! The users can utilise the website for personal use or for promoting businesses called as “virtual storefronts”. Once you have registered, you are all set to roll. One can choose from a gamut of ideas and interests in the form of boards to follow and “pin” to their home board.

Deciphering the Pinterest Lingo :

Pinterest lingo is no rocket science and is quite self explanatory if you have been on other social network sites like Facebook or twitter.

Pin: The lynch pin of the logo is the (want a image of the board pin). Pin is an image that’s added to your virtual home board. It can be added either through a Pinit button on your web browser or an  image or video that has been uploaded by the user.

Board: A board is a categorised superset of pins.You can add or remove pins at your discretion.

Repin: For users familiar with twitter, rePin is akin to retweet. The most popular action by users helps to share a pin that one found interesting – making a pin goes viral.

Exploring: The guided search feature helps a user explore topics of interests based on the search terms.

Comments and Likes: The names are self explanatory. You can stamp your approval for a post with a like and/or an unlike button. Commenting (which cannot be deleted like in Facebook) and liking are ways in which you can expand your pinterest circle.

Follow: The home feed is a sum total of content from users and boards a user chooses to follow. To be notified what a user or business posts on his/her board you could follow the post. You can limit the notifications to either all that the user posts across boards or limit it to a board that interests you.

Pinterest for businesses

Businesses can use pinterest to drive their sales and traffic with promoted pins. Studies have found that marketing on Pinterest resulted in higher customer engagement and higher converts to sales. In one case study of a fashion website, users visiting from Pinterest spent $180 compared to $85 spent from users coming from Facebook. The reason could be the diverse features like Rich pins, Instant ideas, the shop button and the Shop the Look feature. Almost 55% of pinners, are using pinterest to research and make their next buy. Hope all the advertisers and marketers are listening!  

Etiquettes are important as much in the virtual world as in the real. Hence, share content without infringing on copyright or intellectual property rights and make sure what you share does not hurt other’s sensibilities. After all, a picture speaks a thousand word!

Industry Related

GST for Advertising and Marketing sector: A Blow or a Boost

GST

“The key to revenue growth is tax reform that closes loopholes and that is pro-growth. Then with a growing economy, that’s where your revenue growth comes in, not from higher taxes”

– John Hoeven

2017 has been a landmark year for the Indian economy. It has withstood a lot of churns and challenges owing to the demonetization drive, government’s push towards a cashless economy, and focus on expanding the tax base across sectors. The second half of 2017 witnessed the rollout of Goods and Services Tax (GST), the biggest game changer in taxation since independence. An act which was in the pipeline for 16 years, GST subsumes as many as 15 indirect taxes, making India one large market-place. A plenty of expert opinions and in-depth analyses are available for the discerning on the roll out, and the sectoral outlook post-GST. Our attempt here is to present a 10,000 ft view of the tax reforms on the segment that is close to our heart – Advertising and Marketing (A&M).

A&M fall under the ambit of Service industry. In the 5-tiered GST tax slab, this sector will be subjected to a service tax of 18%, an increase by 3% from the earlier 15%. While this increased tax burden may seem like a damper for the industry, the verdict on the consequences is divided. The short-term effect of the rate differential might be negative to neutral to absorb the tax load. The long-term effects, however, can be better evaluated if we familiarize ourselves with the standout addition of the GST tax reform – Input tax credit.

The Input tax credit is expected to be a shot in the arm for all sectors, and advertising and digital marketing agencies are no exception. The accrued benefit from the input credit system, could mean more money in the coffers for clients to invest in ad spends. While the first few quarters might be a learning curve for all involved, the overall assessment is that the advertising costs will come down and investments would grow. In the immediate future, a revenue neutral fallout of the GST is the most likely outcome.

A reform of this magnitude always comes with its teething problems. Initial hiccups will exist with deciphering and cracking the new ‘Good and Simple’ tax, especially in the A&M sectors that share close synergies with other sectors. Ad agencies with operations across geographical locations need to fine tune their implementations to demarcate the state, central, and inter-state GST taxes while invoicing their clients.

The GDP is projected to grow eventually once the benefits of GST percolate through the system, bringing in the much needed transparency and compliance. The general rule of thumb is that a fillip to the economy translates to more business to advertisers, typically in the order of 1.25 to 2 times the GDP. With the ever expanding digital revolution and e-presence of the consumers, cyber creatives might get the lion’s share of the new ad spends. The earnings from the Indian operations of the foreign technology juggernauts – Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo were not subject to any tax in India till recently. However, the 6% Equalization levy or ‘Google tax’ imposed since June 1, 2017 brings these non-resident companies under the tax radar. This might elevate the  advertising costs of a company using their online services.

Spending where it matters (Sectoral spenders and thrifters)

The potential big spenders post-GST are FMCG, automotive, and consumer durables firms which have seen a tax rate cut. These sectors also enjoy a cess tax credit of 0.5% to 1% which could translate to inflow for the ads. Though the percentage is small, the number becomes significant especially for the industry behemoths.

Banking, Realty, E-Commerce, Financial services, and Hospitality might cut their marketing budgets or alter their go-to-market strategy to compensate for the higher tax rate.

The pricing and marketing strategy are likely to see a welcome departure from the usual eyeball grabber schemes like discounts, freebies, and offers post-GST.

For the Indian businesses, change is the new constant. Will GST be a ‘Good and Simple’ tax or a ‘Guiled and Stumped’ tax – it’s a wait and watch game for everyone!