Infographic, Strategy

Online healthcare startups & how they are trying to scale

To set a bit of context, I was invited by a leading B-school in Mumbai, India to talk about Digital Marketing for their PGDM – Healthcare specialisation. This post is dedicated to the students over there!

I am thankful for the opportunity as it offered me a chance to study the fledgling online healthcare industry more closely. Besides, it also gave me a quick heads up on how the ‘300 pound Gorillas’ of the healthcare industry are trying to use Online as a medium.

Problems being tapped by Online Healthcare startups –

While  doing my research found the following themes around which top healthcare startups are focussing on –

Online healthcare startups in India

Problems being solved by Online Healthcare startups in India

What is particularly curious about these themes are the following facts of the healthcare industry-

  1. Augment, Conquer or Replace 

    Currently the Online space from a healthcare space is in an ‘Augment’ space. Most startups are essentially augmenting existing infrastructure, something similar to what happened in the travel sector in the 2000s

  2. Healthcare industry forces

    Healthcare stands out in a major way because of the skill level of the industry. The doctors have a lot of power in the sector, which is being challenged in two ways –

    • Big Hospital chains trying to make doctors dependent on them
    • Heavy investments needed which makes starting and sustaining smaller hospitals tougher
  3. Supply constrained industry

    At some level, particularly in India, Healthcare has become a tremendously supply constrained industry (supply of new doctors is limited) and will continue to become so. Today, choosing Doctor as a career path implies a long road from an education perspective. Hands on experience is something only a few Government hospitals can adequately provide, which makes any first generation doctor’s life even that bit harder. Given these structural problems, online startups are focussing on the augmentation aspect and rightly so.

  4. Can Online Fit in to today’s realities?

    How will the online industry reshape the balance of power in the Healthcare setup? Can it actually do so over the period of 20 odd years? Can online actually help doctors earn more? These and other questions are coming into play now.

Demand Channelising as an entry strategy

So what have most startups found as a solution to this – The solution is to crack the Demand channelising Problem. Online healthcare startups have a massive opportunity in actually channelising demand. Demand for healthcare is growing and will continue to do so. Is there a play for the Online startups to take up significant marketshare here? Perhaps Yes. This is the place where startups like ZocDoc in US and Practo in India are taking large strides.

Lastly, How should students take advantage of this change?

Well, let me start the lecture series first! Then I shall publish more on this! 

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Business, Infographic, Strategy

Big Data Analytics Trends 2015

Big Data in 2015

Evolution of Big Data from Web 2.0 to the Mobile First Age

Big Data Evolution from 2010 and how it will pan out in 2015

An oft heard conversation around coffee tables –

How can activity metrics in a web execution go down while those on mobile go up for the same experiment? There is something wrong with the data, lets go to the Analytics team and check up!

And thus begins the march to the analytics teams of many professionals. Why that team? Because they are the custodians of something valuable and something that has changed the way companies work in the past 24 months. That something is ‘Big Data’!

Why is Big Data getting “Bigger”

Big data was something that companies started getting comfortable with in 2013. Last year was where Big Data truly started going mainstream with a lot of experiments getting done both on Web and Mobile on the back of Big Data. I have captured all of that and more in the Infographic above. Do check the same and express your views

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Strategy

Why do Indians love Youtube

The New Year!

First things first, wishing all the readers a beautiful, challenging and a wish-fulfilling New Year! Whoa! Its already been 7 days since the year has passed. Thanks for reading Strat.in and hope you do so in 2015 as well!

Youtube

Youtube – the baap of all TV Channels

Youtube – The Goliath

The biggest trend of 2014 has to be the emergence of Youtube as the biggest TV channel (and much more) of all time! If the entire TV Set top box is an animal, then Youtube is the entire jungle and the entire countryside, from shore to shore – and that is still understating Youtube’s relative size!

What does Youtube mean to its audiences

We were on way to Mahabaleshwar, a top hill station in Maharashtra, when we took a halt 30 KM from Pune. What I saw was quite startling – there were 5 friends at a desk, and they were streaming  Bollywood songs on 3G presumably, and were doing so quite comfortably. It just made me realise that one of the big reasons why 3G is slowly getting a higher adoption is [mobile + video + anytime on] as a package. Youtube has a massive role in this! There used to be a time when loading MP3s on a new mobile phone was an unmissable chore as soon as a mobile was bought! Not anymore though! And the big tipping point for this trend was Youtube!

So whats the big deal with Youtube?

Youtube is everywhere

Literally Youtube is everywhere – desktops, mobiles, tablets, TVs, other websites, apps. blogs, news channels! There is possibly very little in the media world where Youtube isn’t available. Of course thats due to Google and its entire ecosystem of Chrome, Android, Gmail, Gtalk – but you have to accept that Youtube is possibly omnipresent all over the media.

Youtube is accessible

Being available is one thing, being accessible is another. Youtube streaming works – whatever the bandwidth, whatever the device! Of course the streaming quality differs, but Youtube has done a great job with access for users, particularly in India

Youtube is inclusive

Given the range of Youtube’s video collection, Youtube is being used by one and all! While this is obvious and massive, try naming any other video website that is so inclusive, yet captivating apart from Youtube – my guess is you would struggle doing so!

Youtube search

Thanks to the parent company, Youtube search possibly throws up the biggest array of options when it comes to search. For video discoverability, any video creator could not have asked for a better platform.

Youtube creates a buzz

Every big initiative, be it a film, be it an event invariably launches its own Youtube channel and tries to develop its following. Indian elections were fought as much on the ground as on Youtube! Every upcoming movie release is preceeded with a Youtube trailer launch. Youtube is a fantastic place for buzz creation – something that every marketer aspires!

So, marketers, do share your ideas on how you use Youtube! Would be writing a new article about this next by collating your views.

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Business, Sports, Strategy

Indian Super League – Digital Media Review

What is the Indian Super League –

The Indian Super League is touted as India’s Answer to EPL – English Premier League – which is perhaps among the most popular football league at a global level, at least that’s the perception in India. The League consists of 8 teams from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Northeast, Chennai, Goa and Kerala. The league is co-owned by Reliance, IMG and Starsports. For other details on the league visit the Wiki Page.

Why is the league different –

The league is different from other tournaments since it does not use a Relegation / Promotion system but instead uses a Franchisee system on the lines of the famous Indian Premier League. The thought is that this works in the long run since the franchisees get time to establish themselves as brands. The trouble with this is that new talent from a local state cannot really come up and rise through the ranks. This could happen over the years due to politics etc, but I guess for the initial years this format works best for the organisers, sponsors and players, and effectively for the audiences as well.

The Indian Super League Website Review – 8.5/10

How does the Website Look:

On first glance, the website is fabulous. Works well on both the web and mobile. The URL indiansuperleague.com is slightly long, but I guess thats unavoidable, from a branding perspective. The mobile site on both iPhone and Android gives us a notification to download the app which is a fabulous strategy. Nothing better than an App to drive engagement.

The website of the India Super League

The website of the India Super League

What works – The HomePage – 10/10

The HomePage presents an easily readable view of the latest match. The matchcentre is a good place to track the match from web / tablet or mobile – View Mobile Site here. Thankfully there isn’t too much happening on the
page, but that could also be attributed to the fact that there is only one match happening at any point of time in the Indian Super League.

What doesn’t work – No / Little opinions

What really struck me was a complete absence of opinions. While I grant that the fan clubs etc would happen over a longish time period, there is just a total absence of opinions, of views, of debates.. Would love to see player perspectives, post match interviews etc displayed at a match centre level.

The Indian Super League Twitter Page review – 9/10

The twitter page has created quite a buzz with an array of celebrities tweeting tirelessly(?) throughout the league. It definitely helps to have big names like Sachin, Kohli, Dhoni, Amitabh, Hrithik etc on board, but still, the efforts put on twitter are quite impressive, and would yield a long term result very much in favor of the Indian Super League. The Page tweets real time photos of celebrities, players, goals and retweets individual club account tweets for added fizz and views.

What works for the Indian Super League twitter Page –

The activity and buzz has ensured that Indian Super league already entered the top 10 trending topics on twitter multiple times. Particularly impressive was the opening day, when ISL was trending almost for 48 hrs non stop. A lot of celebrities are live tweeting during matches and half time as well, and this definitely helps with fan interest. Now, for the tough part, can this Indian Super League create stars out of players, especially the Indian Players? Remember, the celebrities etc do help the IPL, but IPL is IPL because of the quality of competition. Can India produce a crop of players that can actually take the field by storm? This would definitely influence the league in a big way!

What doesn’t work –

No Fan retweets – I am sure fan retweets and views would rock on this page as well. While this is a double edged sword, but still, that really influences discussions and connect with the league.

Contests lack buzz and lack of daily involvement -Why not try giving away tickets at venues? That should really get a lot of fans hooked on to the page.

Twitter account of India Super League

Twitter account of India Super League


The Indian Super League Facebook Page Review – 8.5/10

The Indian Super League Facebook page really got off to a rousing start by crossing a million Likes in the first week itself. While that certainly was a sight to behold, the momentum has slightly eased off in the following week , which can be seen in the trends below. Currently, the ISL Facebook Page stands at nearly 11 Lakh Likes, but there certainly is room for lot more, especially as the league reaches its final stages in December.

What works for the ISL Facebook Page:

There is some real engaging commentary going on with a lot of user participation. The viewers are expressing their views freely. Whats important is that ISL is taking even criticism into its stride, particularly the criticism about not including Bangalore or on the lack of a relegation/ promotion system.

What doesn’t work for the Indian Super League Facebook Page:

It could be very interesting if the ISL actually starts responding to user queries, that would really help with interactivity and ensure that viewer voices don’t go unheard.

What is your opinion?

Write about your views below. Can ISL become a long term crowd puller and make India a Footballing nation? Let us know!

India Super League - Facebook Fan Page Stats

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Business, Strategy

User Privacy or Website metrics – A tough choice

The other day, one very interesting question came to me, from Raj, one of my students. He was referring to the ad below –


Privacy-settings-internet

Privacy-settings-internet

I browsed for some TShirts and shoes on a top Internet Website. And those kept coming back to me! Again, and again! Everything I do, is being tracked. I get a feeling as if I am being watched! And I don’t like it one bit. 

The problem –

The main issue concerning Raj was the lack of choice that these websites gave him regarding his browsing preferences. There was no choice given to him by respective ecommerce websites regarding what the websites can/cannnot do with his activity. Raj went to the activity settings, and tried to remove the tracking, but to no avail. When he deleted cookies, he found browsing becomes clumsy, because of the absence of tailored recommendations etc.

How much is too much?

All businesses, particularly VC backed ones are under immense pressure to grow their users, revenues and activity. For this, they are ready to take the data battle to the next level, by using advanced techniques like activity targeting, retargeting, social retargeting etc.

Behavioral retargeting (also known as behavioral remarketing, or simply, retargeting) is a form of online targeted advertising by which online advertising is targeted to consumers based on their previous Internet actions, in situations where these actions did not result in a sale or conversion.

What often gets missed in this mad rush is the user himself. Are we taking care of the user? Are we understanding user concerns when it comes to the ads that get planted in this rush to get revenue? Are you scaring users away by these tactics, particularly female users who are very concerned about privacy?

The true question – How can right balance be achieved?

Message me on facebook.com/stratin with your views and we would publish them with your permission.


 

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Business, Marketing, Strategy

Four reasons why Diwali Shopping is different in 2014

Diwali Shopping Phenomenon

Nationwide, its been widely acknowledged that Diwali is the biggest festival in India. And, what does a festival mean? Festival means meeting family, friends, lots of sweets and of course shopping! This has been the norm for decades! But then, 2014 was different for India, so much so, that Minister for Commerce & Industry – Nirmala Seetharaman had to say this about complaints on Flipkart Sale Day

flipkart big billion day

Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Day’ sale on Monday, that offered steep discounts on various products, has raised concerns among small and big traders that such campaigns would badly affect players in the traditional retail market.
 
“We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will look into it,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

So, what has changed? Here are the four things that have changed in the aftermath of the Big Billion Day on Flipkart, and similar discounts on all other players!


Smartphones have gone truly mainstream

Diwali Dhamaka week Amazon

While mobile was there in the pockets of Indians for a long time now, what has happened is that Smartphones have truly gone mainstream. Look at the offers going out – there is a smartphone element to everything . There is such a race to push apps to consumers, that extra discounts are being offered to make the app more attractive. This phenomenon started with Whatsapp going mainstream, and more and more people taking up data connections. The other day, the driver who drove me to the airport in Ahmedabad asked me the following:

Kya iss Samsung pe Whatsapp aata hai? (Does whatsapp work on this Samsung phone?)

This is truly the first MOBILE FIRST Diwali in the country, and the offline retailers just weren’t ready for it!

Online retailers and their funding warchest

Online retail makes anything available everywhere, that too at a great price. Checking top comparison engines tells you the story – flipkart, amazon, snapdeal, myntra are all in a league of their own when it comes to prices. Offline retailers will have to come up with something innovative as well, since Online retailers are entering the market with huge funding – Flipkart recently raised one billion dollars, amazon 2 billion, and Snapdeal too raised undisclosed funding with Ratan Tata himself participating.

Inhibitions to buy online reducing

Even now, roughly 10-15% business has gone online, and not more. Yet, why the offline retailers are feeling the pinch is that these 10-15% consumers were the top buyers. They were the ones who brought ‘Diwali’ to their shops in previous years. Now, with Mobile apps etc, people can shop on the go, and the products get reliably delivered to their offices/homes within 2-3 days. They have seen this with friends, and this has reduced inhibitions to buy online.

Unconventional tactics – Customer focus and unlimited choice

Check Snapdeal today on SnapdealOne big change that online players have brought to the table is customer focus. In order to attract customers, Online Players are taking customer service and customer focus to another level. Product bunding, discounts when shopping above a certain amount, same day delivery etc are taking customer focus to another level. Such level of customer focus isn’t found in the offline world. Just creating a huge offline store for customers to come and shop isn’t going to be enough from now on. True problem solving for customers is something that will win customers from now on. This has stumped the offline retailers in some way.


The future – will it be Online all the way?

So are winds blowing the online way only? I wouldn’t say that just yet! I would still back offline giants to come strongly back into the ring, with innovative solutions to overcome these challenges. They surely can, and thats when it would be interesting!

But this Diwali, the true winner in this hullabaloo has been the consumer! ‘Grahak Shakti’ has truly been on view in Diwali 2014, and that is the prime reason why 2014 Diwali has been different!

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Reflections, Strategy

Three Tips for your Self Zeitgeist 2013

Yep, its that time of the year when Zeitgeist stories take centre stage again. The time before holidays start and the time when a lot of people start looking forward to the year that will soon start with a lot of hope!

Its at these times that Zeitgeist type of stories work the best. Whats a Zeitgeist in the first place?

Zeitgeist – The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

Here are the top Zeitgeist stories I have found so far which would help fashion a Self Zeitgeist –

1. Facebook Stories – Found Facebook stories to be a compelling read. You can view the most inspiring Facebook stories here or check your own ‘Year-in-Review’ on Facebook by typing the following link on your browser – https://www.facebook.com/yearinreview . Found the Year in Review very compelling because you feel like you are going through what you did in the year all at once.

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist on Facebook Stories

2. Slideshare Zeitgeist – Perhaps the most shareable & readable content in the world – both text and visual is found on Slideshare today. So, its quite natural that Slideshare Zeitgeist would be awesome too. Check the same out below –

SlideShare Zeitgeist 2013 from SlideShare ( Click on this link if you cannot view the Presentation in the email newsletter)

3. Self Zeitgeist

– I feel creating a Zeitgeist for oneself at these times would be quite awesome too. It will help you take a self evaluation on what could be done better and try and make efforts to better that. For example, one thing I realised while thinking back is there is a necessity for me to be consistent in my efforts towards a certain goal. I had, still have a habit to go with the flow, but that really doesn’t help. At some point of time, consistency / persistence is what may lead to a long term reward.

What is your Zeitgeist? Please share in the comments section!

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Business, Marketing, Strategy, Technology, Web

Loyalty Card and Analytics together via Apps! – Way to go GBK

 

Everyone knows that Apps! are serious business. Instagram acquired for $1 billion, over billions of apps on iPhone and Android, to a large degree windows phone and blackberry failing due to lacks of apps! There is Facebook App, LinkedIn App, BBC News App, NDTV App, Hotel Booking Apps, Amazon Apps – many many apps! Most of the apps however are of 1 category – taking interaction from the user from the computer to their mobile device – which makes sense as it keeps the user engaged all the time.

gbkTill now, I have not seen many real consumer based companies moving to Apps to keep the user engaged and also gather useful analytics for themselves. This attempt by a Gourmet Burger Kitchen in the UK seems like a clever entry point.

Loyalty Cards have been around for a long long time. They give the user an incentive to come back, generate more revenue for the service provider and many times the user introduces other users to the brand as well. All this has been fairly well understood. Till now – loyalty cards existed like cards and not Apps!

By introducing the GBK App as a loyalty card – GBK gets so much more information and in turn helps grow the business.

  • User Analytics – App helps you measure number of repeat visits (per week, per month, per year)
  • Customer Retention – If the user starts using the app but does not come back then surely you can give them some special coupon to get the repeat business!
  • Location – When you are in the restaurant business, one of the most important things for you is Location! Through this app though you get to know exactly how many people and which people frequent which areas for GBK.
  • Paperless and Convenience – We all want to be green! And no one wants to look for bits of paper when you can have it in your smartphone.
  • Customer Categorisation – As the user needs to use to app before ordering to get the discount – you know their usual order size and margins – better of all you know the customer details. You can focus on the most profitable customers!

I believe this is just the start of the move of loyalty cards – maybe one day the term itself will change to Loyalty App!

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India Trending topics
Marketing, Strategy

Are Facebook updates and Tweets equal to Mass media popularity

Over the past few months, I have been trying to gauge if yesterday night’s top program was indeed on twitter or not, in its Trending topics section I mean. As an example, Sunday Night’s top Program in Mumbai was the Champions Trophy final, billed as the last clash between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Empirically, the correlation stands. Even at 7.45 AM on Monday, these programs were on Trending topics of twitter. Check it out –

mass media to twitter trends

Trending topics on Twitter and correlation to Mass media spends

The real question here is – Can & should mass media be swayed by the “socially” active programs? Should mass media advertisers truly ascertain value to such twitter trending topic presence or Facebook Trend presence? Lets look at both sides of the coin here –

Continue reading

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Business, Marketing, Strategy

Is Social Commerce a Bit of an Oversell?

Social Commerce has been a great talking point in the past couple of years. It’s based on a simple insight that marketers have known since kingdom come but haven’t been able to exploit – consumers don’t trust marketers, they trust friends and family. According to consumer research, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know1 and 70% of consumers trust opinions of unknown users2. And more importantly, consumers today need relevant and timely recommendations. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter got the “social” in place by helping us connect but how could marketers induce us to spend by simply “being social”? It so happens that our conversations with friends often lead to an exchange of information and recommendations on brands and goods that can spur purchases.

The First Wave

Notice the increasing number of social sites designed around interests – fashion, DIY, crafts, photography, travel, dining, et al.? Pinterest, Polyvore, Tumblr and Foursquare are a few that come to mind. Twitter and Facebook also have some elements of social commerce. Several of these sites have a visual interface like the mood-board on Pinterest that users can pin images onto along with the Twitter-like Followers concept to “like” or endorse other users’ boards. The idea is that we as users express our interest in ideas, themes, or even consumer goods because we enjoy personalizing and sharing our interests as an extension of our selves. In short, sharing interests gets people talking and talking leads to purchases. Sure it all sounds dandy, but it’s not without a few hiccups. Allow me to explain

1. Interest does not necessarily equal Purchase Intent

Monetate-convOne interesting factoid about social commerce sites like Pinterest, Polyvore and the like is that they have a strong female user base (nearly 70-80%). Categories like apparel, fashion, crafts, cooking, etc. dominate interactions. Women spend a great deal of time online browsing e-commerce sites for apparel, shoes, travel, etc. but may purchase very infrequently. They might like to create inspiration boards filled with items they love but they might not be able to afford a lot of those things or might not even think they need to buy them.

Monetate-order

This explains the data from Monetate’s Ecommerce Quarterly 2013 which compares conversion rates by referrer (source site where purchase process originated). Of course, some experts have suggested that most users may be loath to leave their interest-driven activities and get down to the drudgery of online shopping. Instead, they may use a search engine at a later date to purchase the item directly from the e-commerce site. Hence, these rates may be understated.

Though what’s exciting about social commerce is that average order values are fairly large, which means if the conversion rates could be improved, it could be highly effective

2. It won’t work equally well across all categories

There are two aspects of converting a social commerce interaction to a purchase: 1) The category of the good should be such that it stimulates social conversations and 2) The category of the good should be such that a recommendation is valued. In the offline channel, consumer research from a few years ago in the US stated the efficacy of word-of-mouth recommendations for various categories of goods as:
BIGResearchEating out and Apparel are two categories that have been explored in social commerce today because they satisfy the two conditions. But electronics, a high-involvement and expensive purchase which should rely heavily on recommendations, hardly figures on any social commerce site because it simply isn’t a topic that people discuss on a regular basis.

3. We are habituated to offline interactions

76% of Word-of-Mouth conversations take place in person3. The fact is that social commerce advocates expect that people will carry out social interactions online instead of or in addition to their offline interactions. That’s a big ask. Sure, some folks may give it a whirl for the sheer novelty of the online platform but the lack of sustained interest has felled many an exciting platform or app. Changing habits is not easy but not impossible either. Social commerce platforms need to cleverly convince users that it is worthwhile spending their time on online social interactions. The need gaps that social and e-commerce fill are networks and convenience – these should be unified to bring a truly valuable proposition for users.

4. Offer/coupon model does not ensure patronage

In a bid to build traction (in Groupon’s case, it’s the entire business model), most social commerce platforms tie up with merchants to offer deals and coupons, hoping that once users get a taste of the platform’s features, they’ll stay. It’s a problem similar to Facebook’s “Like” button on brand pages which research has shown is mostly clicked to avail of offers/deals. Once the offers dry up, so does the user base. Similarly, gamification strategies like those on Foursquare rarely build up any social incentives to sustain interest.

There’s no doubt that social commerce is here to stay. In theory, it’s brilliant. In its current format, however, the implementation is slightly lacking. Innovation in terms of balancing the social and commerce elements and clarifying the value propositions for consumers and businesses is much needed.

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