The Digital Era of Marketing

By Nitin Purswani, Founder,


Nitin Purswani, Founder,

If you have worked in a initial stage startup/idea or own your own business, you know it is a struggle to get the word out about your business. You feel like an Ant trying to take on Elephants of the Industry.

David & Goliath’s Duel for Etail Dominance in China

AliBaba’s Jack Ma was in a similar situation back in 2003 with his C2C (Customer to Customer) online auction platform, TaoBao. With a fraction of the budget, TaoBao took on eBay to become China’s biggest Online Marketplace. A classic example of Ants taking on an Elephant and winning despite the odds.

In 2003 when TaoBao forayed into the business, eBay was an established giant with over 85 percent market share of the Chinese C2C auction space. Within one year, TaoBao clawed back 45 percent market share, and 3 years since their inception, they decimated eBay with 80 percent market share.

Their fight back was so brutal, that eBay decided to pull out of the Chinese market entirely. A young tech startup defeated a $3.3 billion per annum Juggernaut. How did they do this? With a very smart and focused Marketing strategy: Know Your Customer extremely well.

Today, TaoBao is Alibaba’s most dominant eCommerce business, and the 10th most visited website in the world according to Alexa statistics. This success story drives my belief that a SME with a small budget can indeed take on a larger, more established enterprise to become more recognizable with a smart strategy.

The Digital Era of Marketing

Offline Marketing drains away a significant amount of resources. Forward thinking Companies are beginning to divert their budgets to Digital marketing. It is effective, engaging and measurable. In recent times, raised several eyebrows when they splurged 120 crores on their offline + online activation campaign, ‘Lookup’. It was deemed costly and eventually ineffective.

There are close to 51 Million Small and Medium businesses in India. Approximately 3.2 percent of these have a Facebook pages for their businesses and close to 3.4 percent have significant online presence for their brands. That brings us to 3.36 million who understand the importance of being present where their customers are. That is on the internet and in the newsfeeds.

During 5 years of growing a SaaS eCommerce product, I have been lucky to meet entrepreneurs from across the country. Passionate and creative, these individuals turned their ideas into marketable products with their sheer audacity. I have seen them make terracotta articles from the earth. Some converted used tyres into Shoes and Slippers. Like them, you too might have a killer business idea/concept. But you are still going to fail. Unless you let people know that you exist and that you are the answer to their search, you will remain an unknown entity in a densely populated space. Sometimes the only difference between a successful and an unsuccessful business idea is marketing.

The Solution

Tech Automation was the way ahead for us. The solution was to automate the first 3 tasks through a software. A software which learns from the buying patterns and increases the visitors to the website in the first couple of months and then retargets them from the 3rd month onwards.

Any such current solutions in the market like Sokrati needed businesses to have a minimum budget of Rs. 40,000 per month. Many home based entrepreneurs we work with have a budget of just about Rs. 5,000 per month. This is where we identified a gap in the market. We set about trying to develop a much cheaper alternative that could service the needs of Home Entrepreneurs and StartUps on a budget.

The resultant effort was Zepo’s Automated Ad Module. An embedded algorithm determines potential client demographics to better understand whom to target. It then runs ads on Google and popular social media platforms like Facebook & Instagram, and then retargets people to maximize reach & awareness. Regularly updated creatives ensure fresh content being sent out to people week after week.

• Our clients wished to understand the Marketing process and be an active part of it, but they also wanted to shorten the learning curve that came with the process.

• Clients become jumpy when they don’t get their expectations met within a month of having run an Ad campaign. At Least 3 6 months are required for any realistic RoI expectations to materialize.

• Thus, it made more sense for us to educate our clients about the process so that they could see the point in sticking around with the Marketing campaign for sustained periods of time, and not experiment for a month.

• We also helped educate our clients about the ill effects of having unrealistic expectations. We encouraged our clients to help us help them by being in touch with their competition in terms of prices and marketing activities.

• The featured products on their EStore’s were the same that were being advertised for via our Ad Module to minimize disconnect.

Established firms with a customer base of a 1000 plus had a better and much quicker response to marketing activities as compared to firms with a smaller client base. All of this and more helped us tweak our campaign parameters and algorithm to better serve our clients. Overall, we had accomplished what we had set out to achieve increase the number of clicks / visitors to our clients’ sites on a budget. We are constantly developing our products with the sole aim of providing the best overall customer experience. This is made possible by Observing, Listening, Learning and Executing well. 

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