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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Getting started with essential tools for your new blog! (Google Analytics, Search Console, GTM, etc.)

Analytics - its everything when it comes to Digital Marketing! If you are setting up a blog or a website, it is important that you set up the analytics and measurement foundation effectively. Usually, Google Analytics and Search Console belong to this arsenal. Considering, we may have to implement multiple tracking tags for various objectives like analytics, A/B testing, advertising and more; its recommended to use a tag manager. Google Tag Manager is a free offering from Google that helps you meet this objective. In this blog post, let's see how to get these three implemented for your new WordPress site!
Implementing Google Tag Manager
    1. If you don't have a Google account, create one as the first step
    2. Login to Tag Manager UI and create a new account
    3. Accept the Terms and Conditions (after reading it of course ;))
    4. You will be shown a GTM container JavaScript tag. This the core and only tag you need to install in your website. In the case of implementing this for a WordPress site, we need to enable one more plugin. Download and install the plugin - Insert Headers and Footers. This plugin enables you to append the tags. You may want to remove the iframe from the code since it's not valid in HTML5 (for more details, read Simo Ahava's blog post)

Implementing Google Analytics using Google Tag Manager
    1. Login to Google Analytics and create a new property and get the tracking ID. All you require now is the ID like UA-XXXX-YY
    2. Go back to Google Tag Manager and select Add New Tag and choose Universal Analytics tag. Since we are implementing the site side analytics tool, the event to be selected is page view. No additional custom or advanced settings are required since we are implementing a basic GA tag. We will later look into installing additional GA tags when we track events or transactions.
    3. Choose the Trigger as All Pages (Page View)

    1. Publish the tag
    2. Visit your website
    3. Go to Google Analytics account and Real Time section. If you are able to see at least one visitor shown, Congratulations! Your set up of Google Analytics using Google Tag Manager for a WordPress site is complete.

Claiming ownership in Google Search Console
Search Console is the offering from Google to understand how fairly your website is doing in search results. Claiming ownership in Search Console is easy and straightforward.
  1. Login to Search Console and add a new property
  2. If you were following along this blog post, unfortunately there are only two methods that will work to claim your ownership -- verifying the website using your domain name provider or adding an HTML tag. Verifying via the domain name provide is the automatic and easiest method. If you choose the second one, go-to the Insert Headers and Footers plugin and add the meta tag provided by Search Console.

Claiming Ownership in Bing Webmaster Tool
Bing Webmaster Tool is similar to Search Console giving insights into how your website is doing in Bing Search results. Since these two are the market leaders, they continue to add/revamp features provided by these tools. It's always a good idea to get a non-Google view of your website's performance.
  1. Login to Bing Webmaster Tool
  2. Click Add Your Site
  3. Since posting an XML may not be possible directly for a WordPress site, we need to follow either of the following two options -- add a meta tag to header or add CNAME to DNS. If you opt the first option, follow the same step as we did for implementing Tag Manager. In case you choose to add the CNAME, follow your domain registrar's requirements. Most of the cases, it would just required to add a CNAME value with host as the alphanumeric provided by Bing Webmasters tool and pointed to verify.bing.com
  4. Once verified, you will be able to see the dashboard in Bing Webmasters; don't worry if you don't see any data yet. It will show up eventually.

Congratulations! You are now up with three important foundations pillars in digital analytics!
Note 1: There is a plugin available for WordPress (https://wordpress.org/plugins/duracelltomi-google-tag-manager/) created by Duracell Tomi to easily implement Google Tag Manager; seems to handle some of the challenges mentioned above; but I haven't used it.
Note 2: You can also use easy to implement plugins like Yoast to connect the website with webmaster tools

Friday, September 16, 2016

Driverless Cars – The Imaginable future

Guest Blog - Prashanth Thimmavajjala

Prashanth is an MBA graduate from IIM Bangalore, currently working in the testing domain and is still trying for an opportunity to crack into the management world from the technology world. He has published multiple papers for PMI conferences and other forums.

The news that caught my interest this week was about Uber launching its driverless car service in the US on an experimental basis. What initially started off as a technological experiment by some companies like Google has now become close to reality with multiple companies putting their hat into the ring. What started to intrigue me was: is driverless car a mere technological innovation to showcase technology or is there some business value to it. On some deep thoughts, I could think of a few possible business cases where driverless cars might be helpful in the near future.

Aggregation with Marketing

Imagine you are looking up for an offer in your favorite store through Google which is tracking your click-through, page visits etc in the background and you find an interesting offer for you which you plan to avail. The store website might ask you a few basic details to confirm if you are their regular customer and then being their privileged customer, they offer to send you a driverless car for picking you up and dropping you back after your shopping is done based on your current GPS location using Google maps. The store might tie up with Google for offering this service but this might very well be the next step in customer delight and premium customer service


Though the wearables and fitness bands are more a fashion statement now with a few serious users, wearables have a huge potential in the world of healthcare. Imagine people with critical illness and ailments wearing a band that keeps track of their vital medical statistics and sends the data to a central server. Upon observing any alarming condition of the patient based on some preset thresholds, signals are sent to the nearest driverless car to the patient based on their current GPS location and the driverless car is able to pick the patient and reach the nearest hospital based on Google’s maps technology. This could be a boon to patient who stay alone, travel alone or stay far from a medical facility during medical emergencies where they might not be able to call up an ambulance.


Google Now and Siri are the high-tech personal assistants, they can tell you when you are running late for a train you have booked, what routes you need to take etc. Now imagine this gets integrated with Google’s driverless cars. Imagine you are travelling by a train and Google is able to track your train’s arrival time at your destination and send a driverless car to pick you up and drop you at your residence based on your saved GPS locations in Google maps. Maybe the driverless car might come to pick you up when you are getting late for a meeting at office and take you through the shortest path to your office from home.

Lot of valuable data

Imagine if you use the driverless car service for a few times, Google will have data regarding the places you frequently visit like restaurants, offices, localities, malls etc and also the data on the localities you frequently pass by and with all this data Google will be able to provide highly personalized advertisements based fully on your current and future interests making the ads more productive for Google instead of bombarding irrelevant ads to you.

Creating the personal experience

Driverless cars could provide a more personal experience than a normal taxi. Google already knows your favorite music and shows your watch from your YouTube account data, they could use this and offer to play your favorite music while you are travelling or play your favorite show in the screen within the car if the journey is longer. Google could use lot of other data they have been tracking based on your searches and actions to create a more personalized experience.
All these might seem far from reality, while we are still questioning on whether driverless cars can be a reality in crowded places, these are a few of those many things that might unleash the potential of multiple technologies coming together to complement each other. There could be many more that I might not have thought of, you are welcome to add them to the list

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ads of Flipkart Assured against Amazon Prime – how do they stack up?

The Trio in Indian eCommerce market - Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have been trying hard to not only keep its market share, but also get an additional pie out of it. In fact, the Indian companies, Flipkart and Snapdeal have been struggling to keep their game up against the giant, Amazon. In a market that goes behind discounts and offers, these eCommerce giants are trying to vow prospective customers with an additional offering - premium services that offers various additional features such as faster delivery, guaranteed quality and access to exclusive deals.
If we rewind a bit, before these premium services, it was all about the prompt delivery promise (with Flipkart Advantage and Amazon Fulfilled). Later it was all about the quality and no-fake products value propositions. In July 2016, Flipkart revamped its Advantage offering and changed to Flipkart Assured (F Assured) program. As per a recent article in The Economic Times, this is expected to help the company compete against Amazon on quality assurance and customer service front (specifically the Amazon Prime offering).As per this policy, Flipkart undertakes six quality checks, faster delivery of products and simplified return policies. Flipkart is also investing in promoting the change heavily in owned, earned and paid media.
Let's first review quickly, the Flipkart Assured video commercial they have put up in YouTube. There are actually two - and both have created its own controversy. In both the ads, Flipkart has brought back Kids at center stage.

What's the ad all about?

The ad starts with a perceived gentlemen having a neck collar ordering a pair of shoes using Flipkart Assured. Introduction of the feature in the beginning itself creates a curiosity of the offering. Two watchmen asks how can one be safe shopping online. The dialogue around perceived risks in online shopping and the answer of protagonist that only one check - F Assured is required reinforces the USP of the offering.
Its followed by a humorous scene of a dog peeing on one of the watchman's shoes and the other asking if he also need a new pair. The commercial ends with another re-iteration of the message of what F Assured is all about. As per the above Economic Times article, Flipkart is targeting youth who haven't really started to try out online shopping with F Assured. However I don't feel that has come out well in the commercial. I think, the audience targeted is more of a middle aged group hesitant to buy online. Also, the ad fails to highlight other benefits such as faster delivery (which is in fact included in a follow up 10 sec ad). Overall the tone of the ad is humorous in nature. The controversy was around Nepalis/Gurkhas be stereotyped as watchmen.

What is the Value Proposition?

Let's look at the value proposition of the offering now. In India, it was Flipkart who first introduced premium services in e-tailing with Flipkart First. I think it didn't sail through well because of the cost conscious Indian customers.
However, this year with its success in the West and a possible inclusion of Videos in the offering; Amazon beefed up the competition with its introduction of Amazon Prime. Flipkart First, when compared to Amazon Prime was still falling short on many counts (for example Flipkart is not claiming a 100% early access to daily deals for its members).
I think, now with the introduction of Flipkart Assured; it has just created another confusion around what the actual offering is and what it is competing with - is it against Amazon Prime or is it Amazon Fulfilled or Flipkart Advantage or Flipkart First itself. From its features, F Assured seems to be more inline with Amazon Fulfilled rather than Prime. Also, while both Amazon and Flipkart has its own ambiguities in its terms and conditions; Amazon Prime seems to be more appealing (especially when they include Amazon Videos as well). Here is a quick comparison between the two. Interestingly, as a catch-up exercise, Snapdeal also has come up with its own version called Snapdeal Gold!. This looks similar to Flipkart Assured in terms of the features included in the offering. Here is a quick comparison between various offerings.

Flipkart Assured

Flipkart First

Amazon Prime

Snapdeal Gold

  • Free Service and on selected products
  • 6 Quality Checks to ensure product quality
  • Fast & Free Shipping (free delivery and within 2-4 days if purchase amount is above 500/-)
  • Paid Service (500/- per year)
  • Discounted/Free/Faster delivery
  • Early access to selected deals
  • Better customer support
  • Paid service (499/- per year) and applicable on selected products
  • Early access (30 minutes) to lightning/daily deals at Amazon
  • Fast & Free Shipping
  • Free service and on selected products
  • Quality assurance
  • Free next day delivery in certain cities
  • Better return policies

Flipkart Assured badge may have been a relevant differentiator during the initial days; but considering they have established their brand for credibility, I am pessimistic about its value add. Also the target audience it is trying to reach will be more careful (by reviewing the seller quality, brand of the product etc.) than just go by the F Assured badge. The media budget could have been utilized more to promote Flipkart First as opposed to Flipkart Assured (similar to what Amazon is doing for Prime as opposed to Amazon Fulfillment)

What do you think about these offering; do you think it will fly in a market like India?
Is it just another marketing gimmick or necessity to keep up the game...?