Digital Marketing Playbooks for Early Stage Startups by Vedanarayanan Vedantham

Today TiE Chennai had organized a webinar on “Digital Marketing Playbooks for Early Stage Startups” by Vedanarayanan Vedantham (SME Business Head at Razorpay), who I am happy to say is my cousin-brother. The topic he covered was a very relevant one for all the startups out there.

Below are from the notes (in no specific order) I took during the talk:

The benefits of Digital Marketing:

  1. Push or Pull marketing: Let us see a story, assume you are working in a restaurant and your boss has tasked you with eliminating flies in the place. You can do it in two ways: one you take a electric fly catcher and try to trap them; second was to allure the flies to a fly catcher machine. Similarly, in Digital marketing you can get the customers to come to you unlike traditional advertisements, say in TV. At the specific moment of truth I can insert myself in digital marketing. For example: when someone searches for a keyword, our advertisement can come. This is called inbound or pull, where your prospects are attracted to you.
  2. The targeting granularity you get is unbelievable, based on various demographics and detail
  3. It is real time, we will know the response, can tweak immediately. Compared to that, attribution is very difficult in say TV advt.
Till last year, Google (search) was the logical entry point for Indians. Last year, majority of Indians are discovering Internet through app stores. So you need to focus and have a strategy for mobile apps and optimizing your app listing.
Facebook gives you detailed metrics for even tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

We are seeing record growth in Razoy pay in these COVID days after the first several weeks.

Definition of terms:
  • SEM – Search Engine Marketing. Example: Like Google Search Ads, where you bid for the first 2 or 3 advt slots in the search results page.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization. This is determined by the merit of your content, freshness, speed of the site, and in the eyes of google other sites linking to you.
  • Facebook Advt – we are familiar with us.
Digital Marketing Playbooks for Early Stage Startups by Vedanarayanan Vedantham
Digital Marketing Playbooks for Early Stage Startups by Vedanarayanan Vedantham
An important question you need to ask: Is there a framework I can adapt on discovering the platforms. Is my product or category is a mass or niche? Example: Is it like you are selling T-Shirts which are mass, whereas the Silk Dhoti or Sherwani is likely to be niche.
  • Can I do the marketing campaigns objectively, yes, you can use tools like: Google AdWords which has a free tool-Google keyword planner or Google Trends.
  • Anything more than 10,000 searches per month in India is relatively mass. If it is mass market, and there is existing latent demand then prioritize Google.
  • If niche, ask the question whether it is high engagement, and has high visual quotient, then prioritize Facebook.
  • Till a few years for me, Facebook was always a brand channel, but now for the first time, the space like what I was operating on (health and fitness), it turns out to be a high engagement channel as well. We were leading the campaigns with Customer Testimony based engagements in Facebook, we introduced a strong visual element like  infographics or pictures and videos.
  • Don’t equate high frequency to high engagement. For example, Ola in their initial days they may done a lot of transactions but they might have got low engagements. If your’s is a Niche market, but low engagement, then go back to Google, prioritize SEO for neighboring keywords. 
  • LinkedIn can be thought of as Facebook equivalent if you are operating in B2B space.  LinkedIn also works if you are targeting working professionals.
  • I was working in Caselet – India’s largest Health track app, where users were happy to share their diet, what they are eating, their exercise regime and so on. We realized soon that Health and fitness is close to the identity of an individual.
  • You need to focus on App Store optimization
The variables that influence the need for stronger relationship management:
  1. Mature vs Nature Category
  2. Unknown vs omnipresent brand
  3. High vs Low ASP
  4. Long vs Short Sales Conversion Cycles
  5. B2B vs B2C
  6. Service vs Product
  7. High vs low levels of standardization
Lead engagement and nurturing: This is popularly referred as marketing automation.
  • A typical exercise will be to follow up with visitors to your app or website on regular basis. On the first day send them a welcome email,  three days later push them an information email/can we help you?, Seven days later send an email with a discount voucher which expires in 48 hours to create a FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) feeling.
  • Hubspot is the market leader, Zoho and FreshDesk also work very well and affordable. ActON is also an affordable option. MarketO is expensive. Almost all CRM systems have API integrations to marketing automation tools.
How can lead engagement and nurturing help a business? 
  1. Part of a transaction lifecycle for driving conversions.
  2. Driving stickiness/loyalty/repeat behaviour/engagement.
  3. Refunneling users and improving marketing RoI – gives a score to your sales team to help them to shortlist on promising clients to focus their efforts.
I was working for one of India’s top ethnic wear fashion players. They were selling Indian clothes to NRI in the USA, our USP was we allowed customization options. We wanted to drive “repeat business”, here marketing automation helped us. 
If you are starting a business or a small business, run low ticket experiments, if you are first doing this, don’t spend more than a lakh of rupees for the experimentation. Then, as you learn, customize and plan your spends.
I follow these sites for what’s happening in this space: Neil Patel, SEO Moz, Avinash Kaushik.

[Disclaimer: The notes above are not meant to be comprehensive or accurate, and if there are any mistakes they are due to my notes taking.]

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