Thursday, December 20, 2012

SEO & Inbound Marketing

I can't help but start with some of the great Seth Godin quotes when I am dwelling the topic of Inbound Marketing. I love his quotes even otherwise.

He says, "If you can’t sell to 1 in 1000, why market to a million?". He also says, "People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves."

These statements make the basis of Inbound Marketing. Lets understand Inbound Marketing before really delving into how SEO would help it.

Let me intersperse this blog with some of my favourite Seth Godin quotes. Would that be boring. Please allow me. "Why waste a sentence saying nothing?"

Traditionally, and most marketers today, generate leads and fill the top of their sales funnel through bulk email blasts, SMS push marketing to legal or illegal lists, trade shows, seminars, internal cold calling, outsourced telemarketing and advertising. These are "outbound marketing" activities where a marketer pushes the message out through different media options hoping that it will reach the target consumer. 

Although there is a high probability that the message would reach the targeted consumer, yet there are a few basic concerns.
  • The message is a generic message designed to appeal the large target consumer set.
  • The message is one among millions of other messages targeting similar TG profile.
  • There are consumer & Government activism to block generic messages using Spam filters, Caller ID etc and frequent shifting of channels.
  • Once the message reaches the target consumer, the follow up communication strategy is not existent. Mostly the marketing team broadcasts the message, and then the business teams tries to track leads and conversions. 
Basically, it was about buy, beg and bug consumers spending millions of advertising dollars to sell. These days are getting over, quickly, with consumers in control of the information they receive.

"Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late."

Inbound Marketing is the change. Its the Marketing 2.0. It is about the practice of bringing warm, qualified leads into the sales funnel and follow them up through communication till they explicitly or implicitly express dis-interest. The basis was again Seth Godin's Permission based marketing.

"Permission Marketing is just like dating. It turns stranger into friends and friends into lifetime customers. Many of the rules of dating apply, and so do many of the benefits."

Half of Inbound Marketing is about great marketing content. And the second half is about having strategies and techniques to engage the interested consumer till conversion. Human beings have a finite amount of attention. The attention is therefore spent only on things that interests you. Once great content attracts the attention, inbound marketing is supposed to capture that attention, engage with the attention, make a relationship to exchange more content. The attention would either become a customer, or become an ambassador of the brand/product. 

SEO - Search Engine Optimization plays a critical role in capturing attention of consumers searching for content that resonates with the content provided by the brand. Search engines have become the default option to search for content. Students search before asking their teachers. Employees search before asking their peers or bosses. 

"Expectations are the engines of our perceptions."
"If you want to dig a big hole, you need to stay in one place."

SEO as I discussed in the previous blog, is not only about making your website optimized to be found in all relevant search keywords, but also about creating content in the social media and other Internet eco-systems. The latter simply means that others would equally work hard to get your content across to relevant consumers. 

For instance, if you write a post in, mouthshut would work hard to get that searched by relevant keywords. Then if you share that post through google plus, twitter, tumblr etc, they further work hard to get that searched.

Finally, even if your relevant website page is coming in the second page of the search result, the same content may come right in the front of the search result through other websites. 

This is called Content SEO, and not Website SEO.

"Ideas in secret die. They need light and air or they starve to death."

Let your content be that idea. Use proper SEO techniques and inbound marketing strategies as light and air, or they would starve to death.

The author has an experience of 12 years in the integrated communication domain involving traditional as well as digital media. He can be contacted at for consultancy and project execution.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SEO in the age of Social Media & Content Aggregation

SEO - Search Engine Optimization, refers to the act of making a particular website easily accessible on various search engines. 

If I am looking at buying an LCD TV, I would most likely type 'LCD TV Review India' on BING or Google to find out the best LCD TV on offer with the most favorable reviews. This search should find the SEO optimized website among the top three search results for me to read on.

As an experiment, when I searched for 'LCD TV Review India' on Google, the results thrown at me completely surprised me. It led me to this blog in an effort to re-think on the SEO strategy in the age of Social Media and Content aggregation.

SEO - Search Engine Optimization
Google Search Results for "LCD TV Reviews India"

Shockingly, I didn't find a single television brand website. Lets assume that SEO strategies of brands have not evolved in India and that it is a simple scenario of bad SEO practices on the part of the television brands. But , there was another surprise. The search results had social media, verticals and content publishers. 

So the pertinent question to ask is that even if some of the brands had done a great job of SEO, would that have been enough for brand recognition and engagement?

If you see the search results, we see,, and the likes offering content of importance and relevance for the customer. If this is the pattern of search results that search engines throw up, the presence of the brand in these websites would become a must for a better search marketing strategy.

These websites form the eco-system called Social Media and Aggregated Content. Social Media is primarily user generated content and content aggregation is about websites publishing reviews, opinions, comparisons etc.

And yes, social media is not only about Facebook and Twitter !!

It is important for a brand today to have a search strategy that involves SEO, Social Media such as blogs, user review websites and content aggregation. It involves writing content, placing content and coordination with content aggregators.

Next Blog: SEO & Inbound Marketing

The author has an experience of 12 years in the integrated communication domain involving traditional as well as digital media. He can be contacted at for consultancy and project execution.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Communications - Always the Understated.

Financial Accounting, Acquisitions & Mergers, Forex Management, Product Strategy, Sales Strategy are all big job families respected as those hard skills that one needs to acquire through first class education and years of experience.

They are the science of a business. Communication is a soft skill. How can that be a science? #Joke

Secretary Sandra writes an internal email to all the employees launching a new bike parking space, and that is communication. Product manager, Victor writes the product details with the laundry list of all important features for the website guy to simply upload, and that is communication too. Everybody does communication in some form or the other.

Hence the over-riding perception that communication is everyone's cup of tea. #anotherjoke

Communication is the science of understanding consumer insights, their behaviour carved out of age, education, income, customs, traditions and experiences; and arriving at the creative strategy; and executing it in the relevant media such as TV, radio, Internet etc.

Communication too needs to have a 5 year vision, annual objective, brand positioning strategy, cost strategy, media strategy, production and procurement roadmap, technology strategy and HR resource planning.

Communication unlike yester-years, has become measurable to a great extent. Father of modern advertising, John Wanamaker's words "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half" was before the advent of technology. He would have been a happier man today.

This is the age of technology and forms of communication, as I write is evolving towards the use of the Internet, Mobile and other web technologies. Communication experts need to be those geeks who are creative, understand consumers, knows the technicalities of production, knows technology, knows media and the business of a revenue model to stay profitable. 

India has a communications school in a remote village called Shela in Ahmedabad called Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA) that attracts the best of students, who could have gone to the IIMs. MICAns understand the ways to know consumers and construct consumer insights.

Communications make or break perceptions. And Perception is the brand's reality.

It is time that brands wake up to the fact they need to consider communications as a critical element in the business model. I understand that it would always stay as a cost centre, but it needs to be looked at a cost centre that directly impacts revenue through brand building, sales, social awareness and employee motivation.