Three themes gathered from the two-day program:
SES launched its first conference in New Delhi, India on Tuesday as brand marketers and agency professionals networked and discussed search marketing, social media, and analytics.
Here are three themes I gathered from the two-day program:
1. Social media is important but commitment is lacking.
Consumer brands and those that target a younger audience would already have a strong presence in social media while pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and real estate industries have little social presence, according to Jessie Paul, CEO of Paul Writer.
However, funding for a social media strategy remains low and many marketers do not get support from senior management.
Nikhal Sarup, senior VP and chief digital strategy officer at Digitas India advised it is important when implementing social marketing to think what success would look like for senior management. For example, instead of just measuring awareness and shifted sentiment, look at how it would translate to sales and customer loyalty for the business.
Most brands want to do something on social media but it's not something to be outsourced to another agency, said Anjali Hedge, Reprise Media CEO.
"It's about engagement and clients need to be emotionally involved," she said.
While some companies are only interested to use Facebook to gain leads, Jet Airways is a good example of a local company that invested in social marketing. Managed by senior staff, the airline has a well-monitored page that actively responds to customers.
2. Brands need content marketing and media firms are filling the gap.
With social media and search gaining prominence, content marketing is becoming important. However, it doesn't always align with business goals and objectives.
For Tata Communications, the challenge is moving from talking about specifications to features and benefits to proposition, said Amit Sinha Roy, head of marketing audience and strategy.
A product manager might only be keen to talk about specifications but content marketing has to provide relevance to the customer and an understanding of what they are looking for.
Rintu Gupta, Dell India marketing director summed up that the key to content marketing is for a brand to be involved and engaged with customers to provide content that is relevant and share-worthy.
Meanwhile, MTV India has taken an aggressive approach to bypass media agencies to create content for brands on social and digital platforms.
Ekalavya Bhattacharya, head of digital at MTV India, said increasingly, MTV would produce programs in digital formats first and give free TV episodes to brands instead of the other way around.
MTV India has close to 20 employees in its digital team that actively produce content for brands online.
For example, its recent Nano Drive campaign has helped change consumers' perception of local automobile brand Tata Nano by tapping users' social graphs, uploading photos, and producing videos on YouTube.
3. Search and analytics nascent but growth potential enormous.
From meaningful metrics for SEO (search engine optimization) to the importance of right keyword research, attendees were hungry to learn the tips and tactics to search marketing.
At SES New Delhi, the terms "white hat" and "black hat" seem to come up much more frequently as presenters emphasize the importance of using white hat techniques in search optimization to avoid penalty from Google.
Considering that digital marketing represents only 7 to 8 percent of overall budget in India, it comes as no surprise that analytics is still nascent in the country.
Gaurav Chhaparwal, head of analytics at Snapdeals, said most marketers are more likely to use free analytics tools such as Google Analytics if at all and not invest in paid tools.
Hegde from Reprise Media shared the same sentiment. Most brands don't pay for data and analytics and there are few sources for data in the market, she noted.
To illustrate the lack of value in analytics, she said 30 to 35 percent of companies would not even pay for ad serving.
Nonetheless, online portals such as MakeMyTrip and B2B e-commerce firm OfficeYes have grown rapidly in recent years to spur digital in the country.
In one session, Siddharth Nambiar, MD at OfficeYes shared the lessons learned in B2B digital marketing. For instance, he explained why attracting the right quality of web traffic is critical and the importance of profiling customers as well as leveraging data to drive conversions.
Overall, I had the opportunity to meet with very knowledgeable speakers and attendees in New Delhi that were approachable and candid in sharing their views and daily challenges.
In this article, I might have over-generalized the state of digital marketing in India so it would be great if you could connect and share your insights with me.
Top tweets from SES New Delhi 2012:
@kmadhav: Expert session with RP Singh on What are the Basic Rules of Digital Marketing is very helpful.
@vijaysankaran: Day 2 at #SESND. Instrumental music playing before the first session "aa ja sanam" :)
@ashoklalla: It's been a good couple of days at #SESND: Meeting old friends & acquaintances, making new ones, exchanging ideas, learning new things...
@ranjeetnambiar: good presentation by @crispinsheridan. Holistic approach to planning and action
Other coverage on SES India:
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