In the first half of our digital marketing article, we introduced you to the different options available and how to access them. Given the number of online shoppers in the country and the ones using the internet every day, digital marketing is an attractive tool to tap the correct audience. But, does it offer favourable results?
Advertising is a costly affair irrespective of the medium. So, the question: ‘Is digital marketing worth the spends?’ must have certainly crossed your mind. IOS decided to investigate the same. We reached out to online sellers who have tried out digital marketing. Based on our interactions with these sellers we learned the following:
Social media for direct customers
Akshay Arora the owner of the women’s online fashion brand Koastub said he promotes his brand himself through Facebook, Instagram and Google Adwords. Out of these options he claimed that the social mediums have presented him with the best results. And, from the two he uses, Instagram has provided the most returns on investment.
“Instagram is more specified compared to Facebook in terms of the audience I am targeting. Instagram brings me direct customers. That is what I need to do business as direct customers translate into sales for me. I promote my products on Instagram by posting product images with a caption and the link to these products. I receive 90% sales from marketing products on Instagram,” Akshay disclosed.
It makes a huge difference, but it’s a tedious task
Shradha Arangil creator of RovingMode, an online fashion brand, informed us that she tried out digital marketing for about 2 months. She stated that there was a noticeable difference in her sales but this form of marketing takes a lot of time and effort to get the desired results, in terms of ROI.
She said, “I tied up with fashion bloggers with their own Facebook and Instagram accounts. They would click pictures and write fashion articles about my products then share these on Facebook and Instagram.
I feel that no one really browses through blogs and websites as much as social media. That is what makes this such a great idea.”
When asked if which social medium showed her the best results, Shradha pointed out to Instagram.
“Instagram is better than Facebook because it’s mostly image centric. Also, I received most of my orders from there compared to the other channels of digital marketing,” She added.
The bloggers Shradha partnered with wrote posts like outfit of the day and offered free giveaways on their blogs (which were advertised via social media posts). This got her more attention from social media. For the free giveaways, people were requested to like and comment on the blog posts and three lucky winners were selected for the free goodies.
“These kinds of things help you collect new customer details like email ids and phone numbers. We can then send out emailers and SMSs about new products, deals and promotions to these new contacts,” she mentioned.
It is important to choose bloggers carefully, Shradha cautioned. You must review their blogs based on comments they receive. Likes can be bought so it is important not to research bloggers based on this factor alone. Review their content and comments on existing posts.
Shradha also said that digital marketing is a time-consuming task and requires a dedicated team for good response in the form of sales. So, she uses the services of third party, Storyboard.
Digital marketing needs expertise for results
“Digital marketing is a common term used by everyone. But, it’s evaluating aspect and doing it effectively requires expertise and strategy,” claimed Rahul Pandey of MotoCult, a brand of jackets and T-shirts.
The seller promotes his products on Facebook and Instagram himself through product campaigns. He also posts pictures of his products on the above socials along with catchy captions, a link to their pages and their images.
However, he hasn’t been able to measure the success of these efforts.
Rahul said, “We haven’t exactly figured out the parameters essential to measure the success of our digital marketing efforts. That is because we are not specialists in this field. Digital marketing is continuously evolving and posting on Facebook and Instagram, like we are doing, is just a basic step. There is more to be done when you consider the concept of digital marketing.”
Target the right audience
Fashion brand, Posh Affair’s Kriti Gandhi said that for now, she has only tried out Facebook and Instagram through the services of a third party. Based on the digital marketing services she has availed of so far she has seen a 4 times increase in her sales. According to the seller, Instagram is the perfect platform for reaching out to youngsters and Facebook makes it easy to target customers within the ages of 35–40 years.
Invest in a channel that works for you
“We tried a couple of things under digital marketing. Promoting our products through Facebook was one of them. Every day we spend around Rs.1,000 on Facebook ads. These ads however are linked to our brand on Amazon,” said Sahil Bansal, the owner of high-fashion luxury bags label, Fur Jaden.
The reason behind promoting his listings on Amazon are so he can avoid:
- Slow delivery
- Hassles with reverse logistics
- High logistics costs
- Creating a brand new system to earn returns
- Hampering the customer experience
Coming back to digital marketing he mentioned that Facebook ads are contributing to his sales no doubt, but it is tricky to quantify this amount.
The seller pointed out that Instagram lacks the buy button which makes it a long procedure for customers to make a purchase that arose based on instinct and not a need. So, a lengthy buying process can put off a customer resulting in them giving up the idea of buying the product.
When it comes to Google Adwords, he said that his main keywords like sling bags and handbags are already bid on by Flipkart and Amazon. Bidding against them is a futile effort, that will cost a large sum of money. So, Sahil has been concentrating on advertising through Amazon and Flipkart with a budget of Rs.1 lakh on each platform.
*Notice in the above image the search word is ‘sling bags’ and the sponsored ad space for this keyword is given to Amazon.in
Popular channels among online sellers
As more sellers responded to our questions about digital marketing, we realised that many began and preferred social media over other channels of digital marketing. Mostly because they –
- Marketed their products themselves
- Found these easiest to begin with
- Required less investment of money and effort
Returns from Social Mediums
Arbaaz Shaikh, a gourmet category online seller with ecommerce experience of 6 years said, “We market our products ourselves through Facebook and Instagram. These have been effective so far. They contribute to 20% sales.
Huzaifa Electricwala also market their own products through social mediums. They promote mobile accessories and as seen on TV products via Facebook and Instagram. They find Facebook the most effective and their digital marketing efforts contribute to 50% of sales.
“We have an in-house team to manage our digital marketing activities,” said Ali Reza Zariwala, an online retail specialist in the sale of dry fruits and spices.
He uses a number marketing channels, for his brand DryFruit Mart like:
- Google ads
- PLA ads
- Dynamic remarketing
- Display remarketing
- Facebook carousel ads
- Facebook remarketing
- Mass email
- Bulk SMS
He said, “Google shopping ads, remarketing on Facebook and affiliates are the most effective mediums of digital marketing. We generally generate 70% of our sale through ads like these.”
Online seller Mathew, has been selling online since 2011, under the health and beauty category. The seller said that 15% of his sales come through ads on Facebook.
What works best for online sellers?
Since sellers expressed that they had trouble quantifying the sales generated through digital marketing beyond marketplaces, we got in touch with the founder of Storyboard, Kartik Rao, to learn more about this concept of marketing.
“Ideally, online marketplaces are your best bet, since they offer the requisite tech/ distribution infrastructure that is needed to get your shop up and running really fast.
Young brand garage start-ups within the space are riding the wave of native storytelling across social channels, thereby driving traffic to their brand, and influencing buying decisions through their influencer networks.
There is no one right answer: the choice of channel needs to correspond with the target audience — who it is, where it is, the seamless consumer digital journey that’s enabled, the cost of entry into the channel and the associated costs of maintaining it, the size of business, the marketing/ sales budget and the turnaround time.”
According to the young digital marketing entrepreneur, all businesses are content oriented and since content powers targeted messages, you can start marketing even before your product is available in the market.
He said, “The barriers to entry for getting your message across to consumers are very low, giving an opportunity to those with the will to take on the challenge. Facebook with its over 2 billion participants offers an enviable access to digital audiences.
Digital marketing ought to be strategic and ought to begin even before the product hits the market. Tune your audiences to your message, before you make your sale.”
He mentions that if digital marketing is done in the right manner, results may show anytime between 3-6 months.
But before you start your campaign it is vital for you to determine what your goals are and who your target costumers are.
Marketing channels based on goals
*Note the above can be used as your starting step, the best combination of channels will depend on your product, goals and audience.
Kartik said, “An important step before flagging off marketing initiatives is to conduct an audit and set forth a marketing budget. Today the price on digital marketing is far greater than what’s being offered by traditional marketing, hence this along with the growth across these mediums ought to be factored in before marketing asset allocation.”
Note the amount you will need to set aside for:
- The persons/third party service provider handling you digital marketing
- Campaign budget
- Content creation charges
Digital marketing takes time and effort. Like other forms of marketing, it is a continuous process that takes a while to grow and bear the results you desire. However, with the proper guidance and knowledge from your past efforts, you can devise a strategy that works best for you.
In case you already have your strategy figured out, let us know how digital marketing has affected your sales and through which channels. And, in case you are new to digital marketing, let us know how your attempts at it are going.