Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Every company in the digital world is a global company'- Shakir Ali


He started at a time when hardly anyone was taking digital marketing seriously and is today heading E-merchant - an online marketing company with a strong presence in USA, UK, South Asia, UAE and Australia. Almost 70% of its clients are from USA, followed by 10% from India and Australia with UAE and other South Asian countries contributing to the other 10%.


New Delhi: This is the age of 'iConsumer' - who is always connected to the Smartphone, Tablet, FaceBook, Twitter, social networks, and other emerging media. Even those using internet are simultaneously plugged into more than 35 billion sensors, routers, cameras and other such devices using some form of smart technology for gaming, e-publishing, music or video playback. The past few years have also seen a proliferation of Internet-enabled game consoles, DVD players, DVRs, and TVs. In a few years Internet Protocol television (IPTV), will be offering video-on-demand.
"The consumers in the digital age are fully aware about what's happening globally. Marketing to this - digital generation of awakened consumers is not easy and will surely change the manner in which we interact, entertain, buy, advertise, sell and work" says Shakir Ali the founder of E-merchant who is set to rewrite history of digital marketing in India.
He started at a time when hardly anyone had started taking digital marketing seriously and is today heading E-merchant - an online marketing company with a strong presence in USA, UK, South Asia, UAE and Australia. Almost 70% of its clients are from USA, followed by 10% from India and Australia with UAE and other South Asian countries contributing to the other 10%. Riding from success to success E-merchant's future plans include penetrating the African and Korean as well as the booming domestic market in India.
Digital marketing is a growing $100 million (Rs 400 crores) industry in India, with a base of 81 million Internet users-- the fourth largest in the world and a steadily growing figure of 17 million mobile-Internet users. Already, more and more people are using use the Web-instead of yellow pages or trade directories to search for information, read reviews about new products and compare prices. An indicator or the growing popularity of digital media is the fact that already the maximum searches for products like laptops and mobile phones - on Google are from India! Online user reviews are influencing buying decisions making a big hole the bottom lines. Many companies are using web sites to experiment with selling in virtual world as well as provide sales and services to the customers. At this rate the day is not far when India will become the world's first truly mobile digital society.
An array of mobile, smartphones, social networks, Internet and other digital networks have opened up new possibilities for global communications and information sharing. Fusion of mobile and internet communications have created new opportunities to reach consumers. As a result digital advertising is proliferating. Already quite a few companies are spending over 10 percent of their advertising budgets online. Within a matter of 2-3 years the number of companies spending majority of their budgets online will increase significantly. According to a forecast by McKinsey the total number of Internet users will increase more than fivefold, to 450 million, by 2015. Accordingly the total revenues from digital consumption may rise to $20 billion (including access charges).
"Technology is altering lives and changing human behaviour- in a manner which seemed impossible till a few years ago. As a result of e-mail, text messaging and social networking, the Americans who traditionally were known to be poor readers are now spending more time reading or sending emails or SMS than a decade ago," says Shakir Ali.
"As a result every company-how so ever big or small is now a global company. Even an individual can now sell to his product or services to customers worldwide without even stocking a single item in the inventory", says Ali. The biggest advantage of digital marketing is that it helps brand to connect with its target and potential customers and build strong relationships with them through a variety of methods like market research, advertising, publicity, sales, merchandising and distribution.
An illustrative example of digital success is FaceBook which has a user base of 400 million -- enough to make up the world's third-largest country. Another example of the strength of digital marketing is amazon.com. More than half of its sales came from books that were not even stocked in any traditional book store. Unlike traditional marketing, online marketing helps to reach out to people and places even beyond where you could physically distribute your visiting card or printed product catalogue.
"As a result many companies are shifting money from traditional marketing to Internet marketing", says Ali. According to him some of the benefits of internet marketing include:
  1. Results are Measureable - Internet marketing allows you to see exactly what you are paying for, its impact on your bottom line and thus whether every penny was wisely spent?
  2. Decisions are based on facts -Internet marketing allows you to study every detail about your audience. This helps you to fine-tune and increase the effectiveness of your campaign, any time.
  3. Ideal for niche marketing: -Internet marketing can help to target a specific audience and ensure that your money is being spent in the most effective way.
  4. Promotes feedback - People normally trust word-of-mouth much more than traditional ads before forming an idea about a product or service. As an tool of internet marketing Social Media- helps to spread positive or negative feedback about your product or service like wild fire.
  5. There are no ifs and buts: far from a guessing game Internet marketing allows you to innovate, test new ideas and improve the campaign's performance.
  6. Permanent online address - What you see or hear on TV or radio is gone the next minute. Though you can turn the pages of a print newspaper or magazine, they too have a shelf life. Internet is like a permanent address that people can visit anytime online and get what they want. Even if someone does not know about your company, they can find you using a search engine.
These are the reasons for the growing popularity and effectiveness of Internet marketing.