Archive for January, 2012

Is Google AdWords 15X Better Than LinkedIn Ads?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

When we’d last executed search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns on Google AdWords and LinkedIn Ads (or LinkedIn DirectAds, as it used to be called at the time), we found that, Google attracted almost 15X greater traffic than LinkedIn. As you can read in our blog post published at the time, their click-through-rates (CTR) were 0.3% and 0.02% respectively.

We recently did a couple of B2B technology campaigns on these two advertising platforms. On this occasion, we compared not only their CTR percentages but also their cost-per-click (CPC) figures. Here’s a snapshot of our findings:

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We can draw the following insight from the data:

  1. While Google still leads LinkedIn in sheer quantity of traffic it delivers, the difference between them has significantly narrowed down since our last comparison – it’s now only 3X compared to 15X before.
  2. With a much higher CPC, LinkedIn is 5X costlier than Google.
  3. CTR is a good measure of “performance” whereas CPC is a direct indicator of “price”. Since they are independent of each other, price:performance ratio might be an interesting way to compare the overall effectiveness of these two advertising platforms. On this metric, Google trumps LinkedIn by 15X.
  4. It could be argued, as we’d ourselves done in our previous post, that LinkedIn targets ads by profile of its users and could therefore deliver better quality traffic compared to Google, especially for big ticket B2B products and services where decision makers belong to the buyer’s senior management. The problem with this position is that, while Google’s “greater quantity” can be measured using Google’s and third-party tools, LinkedIn’s purportedly “better quality” cannot. As far as we know, LinkedIn does not provide any analytics related to seniority of people who clicked its ads.
  5. In addition to the inorganic traffic generated by our ads during the period of the campaigns, we continued to receive organic traffic as always from Google and LinkedIn. Interestingly, when we analyzed the conversion of visitors to leads using our EMAIL360 application, we found a significant difference between the two platforms: With Google, more leads were inorganic i.e. they were the result of the ads. Whereas in the case of LinkedIn, discussions, posts and other sources of organic traffic contributed to a larger chunk of leads than did ads.

The key learning for us from these campaigns has been that, while SEO and online ads can ATTRACT traffic, it’s equally important to implement solutions to CONVERT this traffic. We’ve achieved decent conversion of visitors to leads when we supplemented our advertising campaigns with campaign-specific micrositesvisitor company tracking and other elements of inbound marketing. Had we relied solely on SEO and SEM, we’d surely have wasted a lot of of our marketing dollars.

EMAIL360 Leadgen Widget

EMAIL360 Leadgen Widget

Many people, including some who have participated in this LinkedIn discussion, seem to complain about poor quality of leads coming from both Google AdWords and LinkedIn Ads. While we’ve had our own share of junk leads from job-seekers and others, we virtually eliminated this problem when we made changes to our CTAs, published our EMAIL360 widget on the campaign microsites and implemented a few other measures.

As an aside, our recent experience reinforces our finding over the past few months that, even in the B2B technology product and services industry, inbound marketing is becoming increasingly more effective compared to email-plus-cold calling type of traditional outbound marketing.

New Success Stories Published

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Here’s a quick update to let you all know that we’ve published many new case studies on the GTM360 website.

These include software, SaaS, mobile apps and other high-tech companies whom we have helped to leapfrog to the next level of market outreach, geographical presence, sales pipeline, billing rates and ticket sizes.

Some of the new case studies include:

  1. AMERICAN GEOSPATIAL SOLUTIONS PROVIDER BOLSTERS OUTREACH
  2. MOBILE FIELD SERVICE APPLICATION PROVIDER EYES LARGER TICKET SIZES
  3. IT SERVICES COMPANY ENTERS NEW GEOGRAPHIES
  4. SAAS VENDOR EXPANDS INTO NEW INDUSTRIES
  5. IDEA MANAGEMENT PRODUCT COMPANY BOLSTERS PIPELINE

Click here to read the full list.

SaaS Will Change The Outcome Of The Bloatware Versus Light Apps Debate

Friday, January 20th, 2012

LOGO-RAPP360-01We recently developed and delivered a mobile app called RAPP360. Short for Residency Audit App 360, RAPP360 makes it very easy for people having multiple residences to respond to tax audits from different jurisdictions by providing a detailed log of their physical location over the previous years. The primary target audience for RAPP360 comprises of Wall Streeters living in New York City during the week and having a permanent residence in the neighboring New Jersey or Connecticut – or what Occupy WallStreet would call the 1/2% . RAPP360 is equally useful for people living in other tri-state areas of United States, Canary Wharf – Greater London in United Kingdom and Basel, which is situated at the intersection of Switzerland, Germany and France in Europe.

basel01-240wEven as the first version of RAPP360 was undergoing beta testing, a few more people contacted us expressing their interest in RAPP360 with a few more features. When we quoted for these as enhancements to RAPP360, our reseller urged us to instead treat them as a separate product. Citing his past experience and a recent article in ZDNet, he advised us not to overload our application with too many features.

While this article only pertains to mobile and tablet technologies, we’re quite sure that ‘more features in a single product’ versus ‘separate purpose-built apps’ debate is not new to product managers and outsourced product development (OPD) program managers, who might have come across it even in the context of traditional client-server and web technologies.

The key to settling this debate lies in the resolution of a certain conundrum that we’ve come across several times in our 15+ years of working with several B2B software product vendors.

Before making a purchase decision, many prospects tend to believe in the “more the merrier” theory as regards functionality. At that point, many of them seem to subscribe to the National Rifle Association’s slogan, “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”, when it comes to product features. Many prospects are quite optimistic about being able to put all features to use in their respective companies and some of them even issue RFPs containing a list of “100 Must-Have” features that are derived by aggregating the Top 20 features of the leading five vendors in that product category. In a nutshell, most prospects ascribe greater value to software with a lot of features during the pre-sales stage without too much consideration of the relevance or implementability of the features in their specific circumstance. By following a feature-light approach, a vendor risks losing out to its feature-rich competitors apart from attracting the “feature, not product” criticism from research analysts and other thought leaders.

However, after buying a software, the very same companies who have now turned into customers find that they can get their money’s worth by implementing a relatively small subset of the full list of features supported by the product. Their end users use these features day in and day out almost mechanically and start complaining when they get hidden underneath new functionality added by the vendor in the next version.

Going by the history of leading applications like Word, Excel and SAP, we’re inclined to conclude that vendors have responded to this conundrum with bloatware – not light apps. For close to two decades, we’ve been hearing that the average user doesn’t use more than 30-40% of the features supported by these packages. Yet, industry leaders like Microsoft and SAP have constantly been releasing newer and newer versions with more and more features. We attribute this tendency to vendors’ recognition that, in a real life situation where a company is a prospect before turning into a customer, it is important to first win over prospects with more features and only then worry about post-go live considerations of customers.

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We realize that this conundrum is only applicable for traditional B2B software that is deployed at customers’ premises. With Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or what is popularly called CLOUD software, we anticipate a different buying behavior.

With almost all cloud software being sold as monthly subscriptions without any long term contracts, the buyer constantly shifts between the role of prospect and customer. To being with, the buyer company is a prospect. Once it signs up for the software, it becomes a customer. At the end of the month, when the time comes for it to decide whether or not to renew the subscription for the following month, the company becomes a prospect again. But, unlike ON-PREMISE software, it will now take its ‘purchase’ decision based on its actual experience with the software during the preceding month and not as an aspirational user. We think this important distinction between onpremise and cloud software will change the outcome of the debate between bloatware and light apps. Since SaaS customers are likely to behave more like actual users rather than first time ones, we expect them to show a distinct preference for lighter and purpose-built apps that are easy to  use. If and when that happens, SaaS will settle the debate in favor of lighter apps.

By the way, we assumed that buyers of mobile apps and B2C software might not display a similar buying behavior as B2B onpremise customers, and delivered the RAPP360 enhancements as separate products as per our reseller’s advice.

Superior Customer Insight Is Key To Winning Round 2 Of The Indian Retail Battle

Friday, January 13th, 2012

In the past, I’ve written about about the challenges faced by organized retail in India from kirana, which is the generic name given to mom-and-pop stores in India. Click here to know more about the general consensus around why organized retail has lost the first round of the Indian retail battle to kirana stores. For more on how organized retail must deliver better customer experience or risk losing Round 2, click here.

At the same time, when I look at the state of churn of kirana stores in the storefront of my housing complex in Pune, India, I get a sense that not everything is hunky-dory with kiranas either. A combination of personal experience and anecdotal evidence makes me believe that spiraling real estate cost is the single greatest threat to their continued health and well being. Take the case of the grocery store located in my building that I used to patronize for five years. One day, the store suddenly moved out. When I inquired, the storeowner told me that he simply couldn’t afford the 3X increase in rental demanded by his landlord when the store’s lease agreement came up for renewal. I also remember reading a newspaper story a few months ago in which the owner of a famous, single-unit department store lamented that he’d have earned more by renting out his store premises to a bank or call center or by placing the money he spent on renovating his generations-old store in a bank fixed deposit. (Note to readers in the Western world: Even after the Great Recession, bank deposits yield close to 10% interest per annum in India).

Against this backdrop, the jury’s still out on who will Round 2 of the Indian retail battle.

What’s clear is that, given the huge investments made in organized retail by large business conglomerates (e.g. Reliance, Tata, Birla) and first generation entrepreneurs (e.g. Biyanis of Future Group) alike, C-Suites of organized retailers are surely under pressure to find ways to win market share away from the unorganized sector and ensure that they don’t lose the second round.

Can they accomplish their goals by using their collective might to metaphorically bulldoze kirana stores? Highly unlikely. For one, with millions of kirana stores, the Indian unorganized retail sector is too fragmented for any broadbrush strategy to work. For another, kirana store owners constitute a large vote bank that no Indian political party can afford to see vanishing. The Indian government’s recent volte-face on the policy towards permitting 51% FDI in multibrand retail is adequate testimony of the power of kiranas.

Will superior customer insight be the winning formula for organized retailers?

Let me use this personal example to illustrate what I mean by customer insight. My wife recently went to a small gift store located in my building. She started off by saying, “I want a toy for a 10-year old boy…”. Before she could complete her statement, the storekeeper accurately guessed that she was looking for a birthday present for one Ravi, a boy in our housing complex who was turning 10 that day!

Unorganized retail has acquired deep customer insight after providing personalized service in a small catchment area over years or even decades. Is it even conceivable that organized retailers will be able to match them on customer insight over the entire length and breadth of the nation where they operate and without the luxury of an equal amount of time?

Yes. Organized retailers have access to social media, analytics and mountains of purchase data collected from their POS and loyalty programs. Using this combination of data and tools that are beyond the reach of kirana stores, organized retail can acquire the same – or even superior – level of customer insight across vast swathes of markets in a fraction of the time it took for kirana stores to get there. They’d still have to overcome many HR, privacy and technology challenges before they can turn this insight into ammunition for winning Round 2 of the Indian retail battle. Only time will tell whether they succeed or not.

ePayments Have A Long Way To Go

Friday, January 6th, 2012
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Electronic Payments

My stock trading account and the bank account to which it is linked are both held at the same bank which is a Top 3 private sector bank in India. Around five-six years ago, this bank changed all bank account numbers from 11 to 12 digits by adding a leading zero at the start of the old account number. Therefore, an old account number like 001 0400 8953 became 0001 0400 8953.

Whenever a security matures, National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL), which is India’s largest securities depository, sends the redemption amount via EFT to the customer’s stock trading linked bank account in its file. Since NSDL had used the old 11 digit account number in a redemption payment against one of my securities that had matured recently, it was evident that the bank hadn’t bothered to update it with the new account number despite several years after implementing the new numbering system. End result: One of the players in the payment chain – sending bank, central bank (RBI) or the receiving bank – rejected the payment with a message saying beneficiary account does not exist, and I didn’t get the money.

Although the receiving bank is clearly at fault for causing this problem, the onus was upon me to step in and request it to convey the new account number to NSDL. At least, was this process easy and fast? Hardly. It took me many visits to the bank’s Internet Banking portal, several emails, a couple of telephone calls and one letter sent by snail-mail. Some 30 days later and with no small help from NSDL which went the extra mile to help out despite not being the cause of this problem, the issue got resolved.

When this bank went ahead and changed all account numbers by itself, wasn’t it responsible for communicating the new account numbers to all involved parties (such as NSDL)? Why should NSDL and I have to go through the extra hassles to fix the problem caused by this bank?

Apart from raising such existential questions around governance and accountability, this experience (sadly) reinforces my long-held belief that e-payments still have too much friction to become viable alternatives to cash, checks and other traditional forms of B2C and C2C retail payments involving the common man.

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Traditional Payments

By asking only for the payee name, checks drastically minimize the scope for errors and discrepancies. Whereas, by seeking far more information (beneficiary name, account number, bank name, branch name, IFSC code, etc.), e-payments introduce many more points of failure. As the average John Doe or Jane Doe brave it out and navigate this virtual landmine of e-payments, are they provided with customer-friendly signposts and assured of a certain level of fault resilience in the system? No. Instead, what they do come across are several one-sided and self-protective statements from the bank viz. “We are not responsible for incorrect account number”, “According to the regulator, credits are made solely on the basis of beneficiary account number and not name” and “Recovering money from unintended recipient’s account is beyond our control”.

As long as there is such a wide gulf between them in terms of ease of use and peace of mind, e-payments cannot be considered as substitutes for more traditional payment methods, notwithstanding their high tech veneer and low cost lure. With additional security measures being imposed on e-payments to mitigate against fraud (e.g. two factor authentication for mobile payments), something tells me that friction with e-payments is going to become worse before it becomes better.

Top 10 Blog Posts Of 2011 In ‘Talk Of Many Things’

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Talk of Many Things wishes it readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012.

Here are the Top 10 most viewed posts on Talk of Many Things in 2011:

  1. MSEB Tops Online Bill Payment Consumer Experience
  2. Modern Technology In London Bus Stop
  3. Indian Education System Is The Best … For India
  4. Who Will Bell The ‘QR Code Reader’ Cat?
  5. You Can’t Do Without Cold Calling Although You Can Do It Better – Part 1
  6. Use QR Codes To Create Augmented Reality & Bolster Conversion Of Leads To Deals
  7. You Can’t Do Without Cold Calling Although You Can Do It Better – Part 2
  8. Debt Consolidation Comes To India
  9. Midomi Does A Shazam For Live Music
  10. Securing Airtel WiFi Broadband Connection

In 2011, we added many plugins to Talk of Many Things – thank you JoliPrint, Quick XML Sitemap, Viglink, WordPress Greet Box, WordPress Online Automated Backup and Yet Another Related Posts.

As in the past year and before, we remain grateful to WordPress / Automattic for hosting this blog, to AddThis, Disqus, FeedBurner, IrfanView and PollDaddy for enriching it and to Akismet for protecting it (from 1,088 spam just in 2011).

We thank you for your continued interest in Talk of Many Things and look forward to staying in touch with all of you in 2012.

Season’s Greetings!

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

GTM360 Logo

Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year 2012 from GTM360 Marketing Solutions.

We’re pleased to share details of some of the milestones we achieved during 2011:

  1. We delivered end-to-end go to market solutions for a variety of high-tech product and services companies engaged in A/B testing, distance learning, mobile field service, idea management, learning content management and web solutions.
  2. Our marketing solution EMAIL360 website leadgen widget crossed 200 signups. Customers belong to both B2B (consulting, high-tech) and B2C (media, real-estate) verticals.
  3. Our marketing solution SAP Mailing List gained further traction with more and more companies from the USA to Mauritius using this application to jumpstart their business development campaigns.
  4. We entered the mobile apps space with the launch of LBTR360 and RAPP360 Android apps and QR360 marketing app.
  5. We used inbound marketing in virtually all our campaigns and rounded off our own social media presence by adding a Facebook page to complement our LinkedIn and Twitter pages set up earlier.
Thank you for your continued interest in Talk of Many Things and look forward to staying in touch through 2011.





We thank  our customers, prospects, partners and associates for supporting GTM360 Marketing Solutions in the past and look forward to their continued patronage in the future.