Thursday, December 13, 2012

Online marketing–Where careers are happening!

The online space is no longer just another place to park information about a company, product or an individual. Over the years, it has metamorphosed into an astounding platform that connects marketers with customers and job seekers with lucrative career opportunities.  Among scores of other lingos, which are not within the purview of this article, online marketing is a buzzword that’s doing the rounds among the job seeking youngsters and seasoned professionals alike.

More and more net-savvy youngsters are already making a killing in the world of online marketing. When it comes to choosing a suitable online marketing job, a newbie would be spoilt for choice. Online Marketing Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, Social Media Manager, Search Analyst, Web Analytics Expert, Search Engine Optimizer, Link Builder, SEO Copywriter and PPC Executive are just a few of the positions that have cropped up in recent years. Though this is just a partial list of the career avenues, a wise web aficionado can explore and discover a multitude of new options.  But pragmatic youngsters usually zero in on what they are really passionate about, and make a mark quite early in their career.   

A seasoned digital marketing manager, employed by an integrated marketing communications company in Bangalore, urges most of his job seeking Facebook buddies to contemplate learning social media marketing from a professional training center.

According to Bavajan, Managing Director of the software and digital marketing training center Inventateq‘Online marketing is akin to an ocean; there are loads of opportunities waiting to be leveraged. But a career aspirant should first get a macro level understanding of this industry, and then choose a specialization––Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC), Web Analytics, etc.’

Online marketing has boundless scope for those who are planning to make a career shift. So it’s less wonder that scores of professionals from sales, marketing, creative design, advertising and media are already making a beeline for this happening space.

Qualification is no bar for this domain, though it could be a factor that helps determine the pace of growth. A fresh graduate, for instance, can work an account executive at an online/digital marketing agency. The role would involve the task of managing the online campaigns/promotions of a client. Today, companies are also recruiting trained online marketing professionals in their marketing/marcom teams. These professionals are given the onus of either managing campaigns in house or outsourcing it a suitable online/digital marketing agency. Whatever is the modus operandi, the value add such a person brings to the table will be enormous.

There are innumerable institutes offering various short term/long term courses and workshops in online marketing. Most of them do not really stress on any minimum qualification, albeit a degree/diploma would be a definite plus. Those who have excellent communication, analytical and computer skills are likely to have an edge.

NIIT Imperia offers an Advanced Program in Digital Marketing that introduces the student to almost every facet of online marketing. Echovme, a Chennai-based social media training company, conducts one-day workshops across major Indian cities. Furthermore, there are several centers that offer only SEO, Pay Per Click Advertising or Social Media Marketing.

Narasimman, a BE (IT) graduate who elected to become a creative designer, is ‘excited’ about everything on the web. He adds: ‘As a tech-savvy web designer, it was easy for me to grasp the fundamentals of online marketing. Today, I am eagerly trying to chip in and make a difference to my company’s online marketing strategy.’

Online marketing is likely to become a rage in the coming days since colleges are already teaching the same as part of their curriculum in various marketing, advertising and communication courses. But the challenge is to know what works for one and what doesn't. No matter how cluttered the future employment market is going to be, online marketing will surely open up a clear career path for net-enabled people from all walks of life–students, freshers, professionals, housewives and senior citizens, to name just a few.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lead Scoring: All About Getting More Bang for Your Lead Generation Buck.

What’s a qualified lead? Are qualified leads marketing ready or sales ready? Should 100% of the qualified leads result in conversions? Can a meticulous tracking and reporting system augment the efficiency of a lead generation program?
Quality is a paramount factor in lead generation; so is an effective lead scoring system. 
Since not all leads are equal, it is imperative to have a reliable methodology to gauge the quality of every lead that a program churns out. Experts in lead generation swear that a minuscule improvement in lead quality results in an astounding increase in sales productivity.
Lead scoring refers to a method where every prospect is assigned a point based on his interest in the product or service offered. These points are in turn based on a set of criteria defined jointly by the lead generation agency and
the client’s marketing/sales team. The higher the score, the more likely a prospect becomes a customer. The scorecard could either have an alphabetical rating system (A,B or C) or a numerical system (1,2 or 3), where the first is a hot lead, second a warm lead and third a cold lead.
Both explicit and implicit information need to be considered while creating an accurate scoring model. The former usually refers to the basic data–designation, company size, vertical, location, etc. The latter is a lot more complex–it’s about tracking and analyzing a contact’s responses and behaviors. When a comprehensive scoring system is adopted, the true potential of every record in the database is realized. It’s also easy to figure out the list that needs to go to sales for immediate conversion, and the one that needs to go to marketing for further nurturing. What’s more, a provision has to be made for negative scoring too!

Different marketers and lead generation companies have different criteria for judging the quality of their leads. Some might focus more on the lead generation methodology, list quality and messaging perfection while keeping the scoring process simple. Some of the others might bank on an automated system that manages and simplifies the most complex of lead generation processes. So the most critical question now is: How can
a business pick the right scoring system for its lead generation program? The answer is quite simple–it’s again a question of whether the business wants to do it now or do it slowly and steadily! The smartest marketers and business consultants are the ones who like to make it fast, sure and steady. In other words, they are the ones who know where and how to get more bang for their lead generation buck. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to say ‘thank you’ the online way.

Are your last impressions good enough for your prospects and customers? Let’s do an analysis to figure that out. Saying thank you in the physical world is an art that calls for the fusion of diplomacy and verbal communication expertise. But in the digital world, it is both an art and a science! In other words, it is an intelligent interplay of strategy, creativity and technology.
The ‘digital’ customer is no different than a ‘brick & mortar’ customer. Both have the same emotions and expectations. Let’s now look at the myriad scenarios where a business or a professional with online presence has to say thank you the online way. Whenever a prospect or customer performs an action that was anticipated, the business is expected to reciprocate––either by thanking the person or by offering something handy in return. The aforementioned action could be an enquiry about a product/service, instruction to send a sales person, a request for a free trial or an online purchase itself! When it comes to responding to the prospect’s action, majority of the businesses don’t go beyond a simple page that says, ‘Thank you for your interest. We’ll get back to you soon!’. That’s because the number of form fills is often considered as the yardstick for measuring the success of an online initiative. But the question is: Will that suffice in the long run? Certainly not…
Saying thank you––and getting away––is just about meeting expectations. But in today’s ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of business, where the stakeholders are hitching their business wagons to the stars, ‘exceeding expectations’ is the new mantra for success. Can a ‘thank you’ page help? Why not? Of course, we aren’t talking about those run of the mill pages that exist for the sake of mere online presence. We are talking about thank you pages that raise eyebrows and touch hearts! A good thank you page should ideally help increase credibility and decrease post purchase anxiety.
Let us now delve into the components of a thank you page that makes a visitor say wow! At a macro level, the page has to be visually appealing. The expression of gratitude should be prominent. This message should be followed by more information on what has just happened (submitted for internal review, forwarded to the experts, registration confirmed, etc.) and what is expected to happen (a team member to revert, product delivery within a specific time frame, etc.). The next message in the sequence is the assurance that the information will be used in a responsible manner.
There are so many ways to turbo charge your thank you page. Here are some tested and trusted techniques to do it right…
Inspiring downloads
Since the visitor has already evinced interest, a free download like a desktop calendar or productivity enhancement widget would be accepted with alacrity.The intellectually inclined ones are likely to opt for a whitepaper, case study or data sheet.
Interesting incentives
Today’s smart, net savvy customer always expects a steal of a deal from every transaction. So it goes without saying that he’ll be open to the idea of bookmarking a discount coupon or a freebie offer for future purchases. Exclusive customer offers with a deadline are likely to work better.
Relevant options
Customers connect better with businesses that understand their preferences. A thank you page can be an excellent cross selling platform. For instance, a Bluetooth headset offer might pique the interest of a customer who has just bought a smart phone online. Whether it’s a list of related offerings or a link to the offerings page itself, the strategy is certainly a value add.

If the trust has been built early enough, some customers might be magnanimous enough to refer their friends and peers. Smart online marketers and loyalty management companies even throw in the incentive offer here. Because you can’t always expect everybody to put in that extra effort, without a benefit! Whichever way it is done, the navigation has to be simple and user friendly!
The social connection
Social media cannot be ignored by today’s businesses. Though the main website or the landing page might have the icons, it’s wiser to have them on the thank you page too. If the reason is convincing enough, the customer wouldn't mind following, adding, accepting or bookmarking a business to stay informed.
It is now quite obvious that the design of a thank you page cannot be an afterthought. It is in fact a crucial step towards building stronger customer relationships. If the last impression is as good as, or even better than, the first impression, the task of retaining the customer is likely to be a walk in the park! That’s not all… a thank you page that stuns the visitor can also be a starting point for another relationship. Well, you know how!
Got a lead generation campaign in the pipeline? Then get back to work on your existing thank you pages… across your websites, newsletters and landing pages. Thank you for taking time off to read this article.

Adding a Meaning and Timing to Corporate Gifting.

The concept of gifting has come of age! Now that the gap between personal life and work life has been bridged, the importance of maintaining cordial relationships has gone up. Since healthy relationships are critical for business success, most decision makers are turning to innovative corporate gifting ideas. They ensure that the chosen gift serves as a medium to express their feelings and intentions.

The reason, utility, emotional appeal and timing are just a few of the key attributes that determine the effectiveness of a gifting idea. Improved sales, repeated customer appreciations and brand loyalty are some of reasons why a company chooses the gifting route to connect better with the people who matter. A gift can also be a morale booster for underperforming employees, disinterested dealers and prospective customers. Put simply, a thoughtful gift is something that creates a memorable experience and a meaningful relationship. So it's not surprising that the most successful loyalty program management, b2b lead generation, business consulting and direct marketing companies often turn to on out-of-the box gifting ideas.  

Stress busters, innovative pen drives, travel pillows, world time wrist watches, fragrance gift packs and pocket projectors are some of the popular corporate gifting ideas. The conclusion is that the meaning and timing of a gifting idea is more important than the gift itself. 

The ABC of HTML Email Copywriting!

Email has become a powerful mode of communication thanks to its cost efficiency and speed of delivery. Writing for email is a different ball game; it calls for a different skill set and a different frame of mind. So it might be easy to get started but difficult to sustain the quality of writing--be it long copy or short copy.

The email writer needs to know the subject and objective of the mailer before commencing the job. After that, the first cut content has to be prepared by keeping all the relevant points in mind. The first round of editing has to be followed by a meticulous proof check. The next important stage in email writing is the assessment of the relevance and flow of content. Pruning has to be done depending on the required length and importance of the points to be covered. At this juncture, the writer can even go back to the master document and see if any critical points have been missed out. Then comes the value addition stage, where every sentence and every word is seen with a logical eye.

The writer has a critical role to play even in the design stage. Emailer design is quite different from conventional graphic design. In this stage, the designer-copywriter team has to start by dividing the content into various short paragraphs, and then go on to highlight important words/phrases. Product features and service offerings have to be in bulleted lists. The credentials of the company have to be highlighted for enhancing credibility. Vital facts, like testimonials and awards, have to be separated, in different colours, as islands of interest. Finally, a clear and compelling call to action has to be written and placed prominently.

Once the design is complete, another round of meticulous proof reading is a must. It is advisable to keep the headline on the top left hand side of the mailer. This ensures that the recipient gets the key message even if either of the email reading panes is turned on. What if the images are not visible at the recipient's end? Being an HTML emailer, it must have meaningful alt text for all the key images. Also, there has to be a proper balance between design aesthetics and content readability. Anything else? A powerful subject line that cannot be ignored in a cluttered inbox! With this, the HTML emailer is ready for launch.

Be it for lead generation or brand building, the aforesaid tips should surely be of help for they have been tried and tested by lead generation companies and email marketing specialists who have been in the business for quite a while. Happy emailing!

Lead Generation: Changing Leads Into Lucrative Deals

A lead is usually a prospective customer or someone who has evinced interest in a company's product or service. Sales personnel across industries are constantly on the lookout for quality leads, which in turn can be converted into profitable deals.

Lead generation is an activity that has gathered momentum in recent years, thanks to the advancements in technology. Today's smart businesses are deploying intelligent lead generation tactics to make things easier for their sales force. In fact, many have placed the conventional method of physical cold calling on the back burner. Alternatively, they count on online directories, credible references, telecalling, direct mailing, emailing, mobile marketing, blue casting, promotions and advertising, among others. Albeit most of these methods are not new to the marketing domain, the degree of sophistication in the modus operandi has undergone a major transformation...

When it comes to an effective lead generation program, the difference between success and fiasco lies in the level of experience, expertise and persistence of the people executing the same. This fact becomes more obvious, especially in the B2B space where the stakes are very high. And the cost of customer acquisition could also be on the higher side since the exercise might be outsourced to a specialist agency. Unlike B2C marketing, B2B lead generation is a lot more focused thanks to the reason that the target audience belong to a niche segment. Just to cite an example... a prospect for a broadband connection can be a student, homemaker, store owner, professional, or even a CEO. On the other hand, a person who evinces interest in ordering a dozen stethoscopes is invariably from a medical college or a hospital. Having said that, it's a no-brainer that the quality of leads has a direct impact on the sales performance of an organization.

Though the objective of every lead generation program is pretty much the same, the strategies vary. A typical B2B lead generation drive involves the steps of goal setting, prospecting, conversion, follow up, and analysis. If done right, the lead generation effort will help get more bang for the marketing buck. So a combination of all the aforementioned methods will work best, irrespective of the business or the geography.

So it's time to say good bye to labour intensive sales efforts! Let's get smarter and practice the next gen lead gen strategies. Because they really help build the sales pipeline and the company's bottom line too!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Creative Bookmarking Blog

I had stated earlier that this blog was born out of a premise that the net generation is seeking instant solutions to address their immediate challenges. I am now gearing up to transform it into a clutter breaker in a space that abounds in techno-gibberish and bizarre creativity (my apologies to the contributors!).

I wish to categorise this blog as a creative bookmarking blog that features a collection of useful links, informative articles and interesting tips. What’s so useful about it? If you juggle Google and Yahoo to search the web, I’ll introduce you to a search engine that combines the results of both! If you are fed up with the file attachment limits of your regular email service provider, you can switch to a service that allows you to do more! What’s so creative about it? This blog has been created to intrigue, inspire and tempt (no sarcasm intended!) the ones who believe in the efficacy of creativity. According to me, anything and anyone who helps simplify tasks, raise productivity and ignite innovation is expressly creative.

For now, let me start with a humble contribution of
 useful tools I happened to spot on the web. I am sure you'll love to bookmark some of them! 










I reckon that the one liners are self explanatory. Even otherwise, you can test them in the blink of an eye! If you chance to find anything similar, do forward it to me at


About Me

Bangalore, Karnataka, India
I am a creative wordsmith experienced in direct mail, email, online and print media communication. I wield Masters degrees in Journalism and Social Work. I have also completed the Advanced Program in Digital Marketing (NIIT Imperia). My current area of focus is copywriting and online marketing. You may write to me at