Google Mobile-Friendly Update: Go Mobile and Rank Higher on Search Results

Earlier this year Google had announced that it was making changes to its search algorithms to factor in mobile friendliness of websites as a ranking metric on its search results. Meaning if you land on your website on your smartphone and have to tap, zoom or let’s say even touch the screen to view content – your ranks would be downgraded. By the time you have read this article, Google’s new update dubbed as #Mobilegeddon would have added the new gear to its search engine and flipped its mobile-friendly switch.Google Mobile-Friendly Update

Google Goes Mobile With The Crowd

It was a long time ago when Tom Hanks was using Google Search on a mobile device while travelling in Angels & Demons, most of the world exclaimed – “Can you actually do that?”. The world has been better since then and smartphone usage has trended significantly higher.

IDC indicates that a total of 1.3 Billion Units of smartphones were shipped in 2014 which is up by 27.7% compared to 2013. On the same breath, Gartner announced that worldwide PC shipments of 83.7 Million units which is up by a negligible 1%.  The crowd seems to have tasted happiness with smartphones.

Most importantly, Google had always prioritized user experience across all its products and most importantly search. With multiple updates from Panda to Penguin , Google’s search algorithms have always strived to be human.  This update is another effort of Google to adapt to the technological change of the humans by being mobile-friendly.

The Survival Strategy

The primary message that a website sends to a user is : “This is the content you are looking for”. Once that objective is achieved it could create a habit for the user to interact with the website first before going Google. A very good example being , users searching for electronics on Amazon first.

Business should look at integrating the above objective to create a mobile exclusive experience for the user. Such a long-term strategy would ensure that market trends are followed without compromising on user experience.

Is My Site Mobile-Friendly?

The only way to know if your site is already indexed by Google as mobile friendly is to see if your site has the mobile friendly label in the mobile search results. Google may still need some time to update their index to pick up on the fact that your web pages are mobile friendly. In the meantime, Google’s mobile friendly testing tool can help answer your questions about being mobile friendly


How “Listening” can Boost your Business?

The word “listen” originates from Germanic word “hlysnan” which means “pay attention to”.

If you log on to “images.google.com” and search for “social media” you are about to receive images which shows people talking.  Human beings have always been entitled to an opinion if not food and shelter . With internet touching 6.5 Billion lives on this earth, social media is the platform to express your opinion. Its not only people but enterprises made by people named as “brands” who are adding to this “jab jab jab” everyday.

Its pity on thee oh mankind that a great word – “listening” seems to be misunderstood and/or forgotten forever.

But it’s never late to adopt listening as a business strategy taking in to consideration that there are so many benefits.

  1. Listening helps to understand your customers :  Today the business world has shifted from a “profit”-centric model to “customer” centric model.  They are putting every effort possible to understand their customers and build products which make their life better. A very good example being Gillete where its market researchers watched consumers doing their daily shave. The result being a new better product that addresses their needs and still dominates the segment.Listening on any media helps brands create buyer personas based on which they can design             specific products & marketing campaigns. There are numerous instances where brands have listened to their customers . During the Fall of 2010, Gap scraped their new logo due to outcry by its customers.  Kishore Biyani  pioneer of Indian retail industry often visits various Big Baazar & Pantaloon stores to interact with customers.
  2. Listening helps to benefit from product/solution reviews :
    With existence of social media platforms, the internet today has become a giant personal diary of all ( or mostly) Earthians. Not only on internet if given a chance, we express our views, opinions & emotions on any any media/platform.
    Because, we love to make a point.
    With such reviews, brands can determine customer sentiment associated with such products/services. A good review is like adding a feather to your crown, while negative reviews may seem bad- but it brings immense business benefits. The backlash of negative reviews helps you to think and ponder upon to innovate.
    Reviews are a mirror of customer satisfaction which measured accurately predicts sales, loyalty & recommendations.
  3. Listening helps in boosting customer experience : Every moment a customer spends with your brand on any media or touch point is crucial for the enterprise. But eventually it is not possible to control all the variables of customer experience. Mistakes, mishaps & miscommunications does happen.
    Listening helps in finding out the loop holes as consumers complain about it.
    Me & my team at TheSocialPeople were responsible for digital & social media coverage for TiECon 2013 at TiEChennai. On the event hashtag #TiEcon2013 we received a complaint that the volume of the live webcast feed was quite low making it difficult for the folks watching it on the website. Immediately it was rectified with an apology.The result: Online viewers started to spread positive word of mouth of the event and at the end of the event more than 500 were watching it live.
  4. Listening helps in stealing a customer from your competitor :When a customer posts a negative review about your competitor it provides an immense opportunity to get that customer and spreads positive word of mouth about your brand.
    Here’s how:
    Jay Rooney, a disgruntled AT&T customer, tweeted:

T-Mobile jumped into the conversation:

How T Mobile Gained a Customer on Twitter





Lousy AT&T tried to scare

How T Mobile Gained a Customer from AT&T on Twitter | Tweet 3

But T-Mobile fired back :

AT&T then played the emotional card :

How T Mobile Gained a Customer from AT&T on Twitter | Tweet 5

Welcome, T Mobile CEO John Legere :

Customer gained, successfully


How To Integrate Social Proof To Your Business & Increase Profits

The foremost characteristic of every human being is “being social”. We try to replicate others because we always fear the “uncertain” and “unknown”. Need of an identity & belonging are needs of every man as being different or disapproved leads to being cornered lonely.

It’s brain science. Psychologists call this conformity, herd behavior, or the bandwagon effect. Marketers call it social proof.

Social proof gives you an opportunity that your product/service is accepted by other customers.

Options are a de facto regime of the world today. With so many options in front the consumer is confusedhappily confused to make the perfect choice. Happy because s/he believes that the perfect & exact solution to her/his problem exists while confused about what would others think .

The power of digital media and all the conversations happening across social media channels makes social proof-ing easy. Every webpage today adorns the social media icons dangling on their page keeping a count on the number of times it has been shared. A product/service description page is incomplete without the 5 stars of ratings & reviews. 85% of consumers say that they refer to online reviews before making a purchase at a local business, and 67% of shoppers read 6 online reviews or less before feeling that they can trust the business.

With social proof fueling the purchase bandwagon, here’s how to integrate it to your business.

1. Messaging :

Let’s start  with the most important & universal law follows by every marketer –“Content is King”.Content used on your blogs, websites or communication form the stepping stones for your customer to purchase.

Use messages which target your buyer persona like:

  1. Used by professionals across the globe.
  2. Followed by <X number> of financial professionals.

2. Social Sharing Buttons:

Each tweet , like , share of comment is like a vote of confidence for your content. Make sure that your blog post have these social sharing buttons dangling to prove that its worth a read


3. Influencers:

Influencers are like brand ambassadors those multinational corporations have to endorse their products. The more well known and respected influencer, the more powerful is the  social proof.

Try and reach out to your network of influencer by providing them with a free trial or a free product requesting to send their feedback.  Make sure you have placed the feedback prominently on the website above the fold so that visitors notice it.

Testimonials especially from influencers work a lot better when added with an image.

4. Featured In :

If you’ve e got covered by the media, you have a chance to improve your credibility and conversion rate. Right there on the homepage, show logos of news media and websites that have mentioned you.

This works great for businesses involved in PR, but guest bloggers also have this opportunity. If you’ve ever guest posted on a well-known site, add the logo to your homepage or your bio page.


How New Web Tracking Technology Would Replace Cookies?

With the issue of privacy spreading like firestorm everyone’s working hard to replace web tracking cookies.

Computer Cookies FunnyCookies are advertiser’s best friend and a friend which you want to loose everyone time you bump into her.  They are small bits of codes that websites drop onto your browser and they track your internet activity 24/7. Think of it as a shadow that follows you on the Internet. you can see who is tracking you by installing an application such as Ghostery or Abine’s “DoNotTrackMe

After the NSA revelations, the issue of piracy has never taken up so seriously ever. There appears to be a data war between the common web users on one side & advertisers handheld with authorities(sic!) . The web browsers  have taken the commoners side with Microsoft making “do not track” as default setting. Apple’s Safari blocks any third party cookies while future versions of Firefox would block them as well. Google Chrome, most popular web browser of the moment allows cookies in the default setting  but blocking them is just a click away.

Marketers & advertisers seem to lose sleep as the world is not enough. A Pew Research Center survey found some 64 percent of online adults clear “cookies” which store information, or their browser history and 41 percent have disabled cookies. With mass adoption of smartphones from 2 year olds to octogenarians a big pie of content is consumed on mobile devices which cannot “cooki-fied”.

Well we need to recall that Google & Microsoft who have developed web browsers are also advertising media with billions of dollars of advertising at stake. Cookies-less would make them “Profit-less” and they have their own alternate plan as well.

Google is working on a new user tracking device called “AdID” as reported by USA Today but not confirmed or denied by Google.  It is rumoured to provide more security to the consumers while share the details with advertisers who conform to certain set standards set by Google. Only time would provide right answer about who gets benefited – the advertisers or viewers.

Microsoft also has joined in research for new tracking systems as well. With its presence over digital media , mobile & gaming the new framework aims to utilize the same. Consumers would opt in for advertising through user agreements or terms of service across various devices owned by the user. or example, digital music video network Vevo could run a restaurant advertiser’s video spot in its Xbox app, then follow up with display banners targeted to viewers of that video ad when they check out Vevo’s app on their Surface tablet. Vevo could even add a banner in its Windows Phone app aimed to drive foot traffic for the restaurant. Most importantly this technology could generate behavioural  data about content consumption by users and provide a higher relevance to advertising/paid content that would be delivered.

Just as the new day brings a lot of hurdles with itself, the new ad tracking technology  would wage a war between the advertisers & web media dominated by Google & Microsoft. Whoever wants to use the data generated has to bend according to the rules set by them. It appears that using the advertiser’s chips they(Microsoft + Google) would rise from being the strong hand to owning the casino.

And we all know that in the world of casinos the house always wins.


What is Native Advertising?

“Native Advertising” has been lately sung in chorus by What is Native Advertising the digital marketing crowd. Just like the historic telephone every brand wants it to reach out & engage their target audience on social media.

But what is “Native Advertising” ?

My dear Watson, native advertising is referred to as sponsored content in context with the discussion & platform which aims to increase user experience & interaction. In simple words it integrates sponsored content into the organic feed on any platform which imitates the style, voice & format of the said platform.

Lets behold the truth that we the users do not want to read advertisements. Those popups, splash pages, colourful boxes surrounding the page attract us only to the cross button only if it is available. While reading content or enjoying our experience we do not want to be distracted. Adobe’s “Click Here: State of Online Advertising” study found consumers still prefer “old school” – print, TV, outdoor – advertising to newer online channels, suggesting brands have “a lot of work to do” to capture consumer attention in the digital world. Almost two thirds of consumers (62 per cent) described online ads as “annoying”, while almost half said they were “invasive” (45 per cent) and “distracting” (44 per cent). Just a small group said online ads were “eye catching” (13 per cent), “clever” (12 per cent) or “persuasive” (8 per cent).

Native advertising promises to help the cause of the brands by putting content in context with organic feed without disturbing the user experience. The main notion being that user has freedom to engage & participate with the ad which gathers a space in their attention span – a feat which is impossible with banner ads.

For instance, this BuzzFeed post entitled “15 Reasons Why Cats Are the Most Fearless Creatures” looks just like any other story on the site, but it’s actually an ad for retailer Target.

Leading publishers like Forbes, Gawker, Tumbler & The Atlantic are putting together resources to monetize & enable users to engage with brands with the power of content.

3 Pillars of Effective Native Advertising

In order to gather higher engagement with your audience, your brands needs to empower the 3 key pillars of native advertising – Quality, Relevance & Transparency .

Quality is definitely the key aspect of any content. Brands need to make sure that the content ensures the highest standards of engagement & experience to the user.

Relevance is the Queen, when Content is the King”.  It should be taken care that content is published in relevance to the discussion happening, so that the user experience is not disturbed. Most importantly it helps them to perceive that this post is organic & prevents them to bounce to any other channel.

Sponsored posts must also be displayed transparently in which they should clearly appear to be exactly what they are: advertisements in article form

Advertisers & publishers should empathize the user experience when they find low quality, irrelevant content appearing on their field as it would lead to negative brand sentiment instead of the expected engagement.


How Real Time Marketing can Boost Your Sales?

The early man described himself as “social animal”. But as his friends started life-social-media to explore and migrate to new worlds he became lonely.  Then as more intelligent beings took birth they showered mankind with technology to make his life easy. The modern man today battles uncertainties & economic crisis staying away from friends & family, but keeping them updated about their everyday life on social media & internet.

 Its time brands takes advantage of this real time interactions through real time marketing to connect with the target customers.

Here are some quick steps to boost your sales using Real Time Marketing :

     1. Join The Crowd : With easy access to social networks everyone wants to put up their views  into any special events using relevant hashtags.  You can join the crowd by placing a funny or interesting opinion on the trending hashtags. If the audience loves your tweet they would definitely re-tweet it and help your brand reach a large  number of your target customers.

Example :

The power went out in the Superdome during the showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Oreo seized on the opportunity, and tweeted this during the thirty-four minute hiatus :


       2.  Associate With a Crowd Pulling Event : Going to an event or having an awesome time is incomplete without checking in on location based social networks like Foursquare & Facebook .  Besides, its consider cool to show off what an awesome time you are having. Adding to that Foursquare gives you points everytime to check-in to a location .Target on these crowd pulling events or places in your location and provide them with an offer which they would love to participate.


As the crowds checked in to watch their SuperBowl game on Foursquare , PizzaHut provided offered almost 50% off on purchases with American Express . The result being more than 303,455 people checked in and availed the offer. We believe the in stadium pizza store must have sold out all pizzas

      3.  Respond to competitor’s negative review : Gone are the days when an angry customer was shown a thousand doors . An angry customer will tell the world about the brand with the power of social media.  So when a customer relents about your competitor especially on Twitter, it brings a huge business opportunity for you. Respond to the customer with a message that does not sounds “salesy” but consoles or calms him/her down. Also take care that the message creates any bad sentiment about your brand.

Recently one of my peers was on a business trip to Chicago and was told to wait as there were some issues with the hotel’s systems. As he tweeted his anger , another hotel just down the street responded – “ Hi ! Sorry for the tough time Have a wonderful trip ahead”

The other brand did not say that hey we have rooms available or our systems are fine for a quick check in. Your brand reaches to the customer- in -need and has high conversion possibilities.

    4. Newsjacking :

Newsjacking refers to the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success. The term was popularized due to David Meerman Scott’s book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Events can become breaking news and it creates immense opportunities for brands to position themselves as solution providers as well as ride the popularity wave.

David Scott provides a visual timeline of newsjacking to explain this phenomena :


    5. Connect with Customer Moments :  Your customers come across many events in their lifes, about which they spread the message on social media, let that be referred as “moments”. These moments can be special like – at a party, getting married, expecting a baby or can be sick like – breakup, sick etc. Listening to these moments on social media channels and responding to them as an individual with remedies by positioning your product increases your brand / product awareness.

You can use this tactic on your email marketing campaigns as well . Send a personalized message to your customer on his/her special moment with an exciting offer. Personalization of your email campaigns would indicate that your brand listens to its customers instead of spamming – which is the normal perception.


Big Data In Action: How Retailer Target Predicts Purchase Decisions

[This blog post is first among my series of blog posts  on how enterprises across various business verticals are using big data to impact their bottomline. It would help you strategize & make the right decision on big data investments.  Submit your email id on the sidebar & stay updated about how your competitors are using big data]

In the year 2012, the store manager at a Target store outside Minneapolis was having a usual day at office. The usualness was disrupted inBig Data Analytics at Target Store the store by an angry customer with coupons demanding to see him immediately.My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”The store manager was at a loss of words since the coupons where addressed to the man’s daughter which contained advertisements about maternal clothing, nursery furniture & pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized for the possible mistake and then called back a few days later to apologize again ( kudos to the customer service!!!)On the phone our angry customer appeared to be embarrassed as he said-“I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

The geniuses who guessed it right belonged to the Guest Analytics department at Target headed by Andrew Pole. With master degrees in statistics and economics as well as a passion to connect human behaviour with data , joined Target  as a statistician in 2002.  Two colleagues from the marketing department stopped by his desk to ask an odd question: “If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn’t want us to know, can you do that? ”

shopping habitsResearch studies have shown that consumer shopping behaviour is highly habit driven rather than decision making. It is an uphill task for retailers to break a customer routine of buying toys from a toys store , beer from the liquor store or gas station, magazines from the book store while all the same can be brought at a retailer like Target or Walmart.  Research suggests that there can be “moments” in our life like shifting to a new city, getting married or divorced can induce changes in shopping patterns. Marketers need to target these “unique moments” and provide cues for the consumer to create a shopping habit.

At Target every customer that walks into the store has a unique Guest ID number assigned to them internally. They manage to collect all purchase information through credit card transactions or coupons or surveys and demographic information like age, marital status, job, salary etc. Though the heaps of data might appear meaningless but combined with analytics they seem to be clues to the “holy grail”. Target’s Guest Customer Analytics team comes in to analyze data, patterns and predict shopping habits. Based on the shopping habits predictions the marketing team sends the promotions.

Pole and his team were able to identify about 25 products which when analyzed together assigned a “pregnancy prediction” score. The products were identified by crawling through available data for patterns like women on their second trimester of pregnancy tend to purchase large quantities of unscented lotion. As the product basket includes lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and washcloths the delivery date seems near.

The result being Target was able to build habits among customers to buy cleaning related products along with baby related products. Later with changing time their product basket could include groceries, cloths and every time which Target sells.

The new marketing strategy brought in huge profits in Mom & Baby product category. Target’s revenue when Pole was hired in 2002 was $44 Bn and in 2012 was $70 Bn.

Based on the detailed business case above, here’s how you can implement Big Data in sales & marketing :

  1. Try and understand what cues leads a consumer to buy from you.
  2. Gather data from all possible touch points with your customer.
  3. Try & find patterns in purchases.
  4. Create a product basket which includes commonly purchased products in a certain demographic.
  5. Provide offers based on the product basket and include cues to purchase other related products.

YouTube Personalizes Comments on Videos

The comments below every YouTube video has been always youtube-changes-commentsbeen a spammers club with special hostility towards women, color, the English Language and much more. Starting today, Youtube announced changes to the space below the video as it states “conversations that matter to you”.

Presently, YouTube comments appear in chronological order of recency i.e. the comments which have appear latest appear’s first. Though it has a “Top Comments” feature, it is not possible to check out the whole long list of comments and start a conversation.  In order to start a conversation here are a host of changes we should watch out for :

1. The Top Comment’s List : Comments by video’s creator, top personalities, engaging discussions and most importantly your Google+ Circle shall appear first. Thus making it easy for you to participate in the discussion. Marketer’s and video creators stand to benefit the most as they would be able to monitor audience sentiments and reactions which are genuine.

2. Create Public or Private Discussions : With the new commenting format you can choose to comment and discuss with the public community or your Google+ Circle or even your special once. This will call for an amazing user experience especially if you wa

nt to discuss about a campaign video among your boss, colleagues or even clients with no one eavesdropping on your new strategy.

3. Creators become Moderators : Youtube shall provide a new set of tools to the video creators enabling them to approve comments, block certain keywords and allow reviews from special fans.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” said Nundu Janakiram, YouTube product manager, when asked about the current state of comments. “So comments will soon become conversations that matter to you.”

Janakiram insists YouTube hosts plenty of great discussions — it’s just that they often get buried under the bad ones. The new design works to surface smarter and more interesting discussions, bringing to the top any posts from the video’s creator, people in your Google+ circles, and what the site calls “popular personalities.” YouTube will also highlight more active conversations inside the comments and thread them for easier reading, as in Gmail. And if you’re a glutton for punishment, the firehose is still available — just click “all comments” on a drop-down menu where the discussion begins.

Will this new feature enhance the viewing experience and provide more leverage to digital marketers ? Feel free to share your views in the comments section.


Proven Hacks to Increase Marketing ROI



Zero the number from Indian origins is the most dreaded number of all times.Increase Your Marketing ROI It is the number every marketer dreads to receive in terms of sales or leads or clicks inspite of significant investments.

The success of any campaign is a reflection of the marketers understanding of the target audience behavior. But why is it not successful in spite of  every aspect of consumer behavior taken care of?

An individual’s behavior is governed by numerous psychological factors which are common traits among human beings. Lets have a look at these psychological factors and work towards success.

1) Authority

Parents, teachers or administrators we human beings are trained since childhood to obey, honor and respect the authority. The trait gets drilled in to our brains that we create a habit of obey and trust his/her opinions or suggestions.  Creating a perception of being leader or authority makes people accept views and create the pathway for future actions.

Use : Invest in branding your enterprise as a market leader in the industry by including customer success stories, case studies or number of clients served. While sharing content across various media include essential author information like name,designation and organization.

Example : eMarketer is the authority on digital marketing, media and commerce, offering insights on internet market research, statistics and objective analysis on internet

2) Reciprocity

The term “Reciprocity” was introduced in the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” which Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author explains as – “if someone does something for you, you naturally will want to do something for them”. Consider this as simple value exchange between you and the customer where your product or service or content is the value proposition.

Use : Provide a consumer delight for free. It can be a recipe book or sweatshirt or anything under the sun which would bring a smile to your target customer. Delighting your customer would bring them close to creating a deep relationship with your brand.

Example : Inbound marketing software Hubspot provides a free blog which details each and every aspect of digital marketing which is followed by digital marketers globally irrespective of newbies,amateurs to professionals. Besides, the blog is considered as the thought leader of digital marketing industry witnessing a large number of  shares. It provides an immense opportunity for Hubspot to reach out to its target customers.

3) Social Proof

Everyone has come across this situation at least once in their lifetime. After a performance has ended a single clap is heard among the crowd and the finally the whole audience joins in applause. Social proof dictates the “me too” effect which an individuals follow when they find others or someone they adopt a belief or action.

Use : On your product, the numbers provide the social proof for others to follow suite.  Use social sharing buttons on your content that display the number of times it has been shared. Associate your product with large number of professionals or individuals in a particular category.

Example : 
socialproof-example-basecamp   Social Proof Example Elvis Presley     socialproof-example-bufferapp

4) Liking

Cialdini explains “liking” as having a positive association and/or attraction with a product or service or content which impulses an individual to purchase or interact with the brand at a later stage. From tagline to jingle and packaging anything which is considered as cool , awesome or simple attractive shall lead to positive affiliation and future purchase.

Use : Being “likable” should be the base for creating your brand which you can communicate by presenting your value proposition which promises to solve the need of your customers.

Example :


5) Commitment

Commitment – as we know is an individual’s capacity to keep a promise. A customer’s promise from attending an event to signing up for a product is an obligation to your brand which you can capitalize. B

Use : Picturize this : You have just shifted to a new city and suffering from toothache. One a colleague’s reference you visit a dentist who prescribes you medicines. You abide by the prescription, but unfortunately you have not yet recovered. Would you go back to that doctor again?

 You value proposition should be a promise to your customers and you should try and achieve through your operations. Once you have maintained your promise, customers would commit to reach you or buy your product every time.

Example : 


ibm-brand promise

6) Verbatim Effect

It is a memory bias whereby you remember a “gist” of the message rather than the exact verbatim wording. Consumers may not remember your ad exactly but get a fuzzy idea about the message you are trying to convey.

Use:  With advancement of technology and media clutter audience attention span has decreased. Attractive & informative are two keys to get attention of your audience and create a connect with the brand. Marketing campaigns should simple as well as provide a value for the audience it is targeted.

Example : 

verbtaim effect orion telescopes


Today, essential resources like water and minerals are listed with the word “scarcity” after it. We human beings have a natural impulse to acquire resources which are scarce or deemed to be scare like food and necessities in times of war or natural calamity.  With various branding initiatives , this impulse is extended to products and services as well. Remember : The more valuable a product/opportunity ; the more valuable is the experience.

Use :  Create an exciting offer about your product/service and announce limited availability of the offer. The same tactic can be used if you are conducting an event attended by industry thought leaders.