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IDG Ventures sell stakes in Flipkart

The Economic Times

BENGALURU: Investment firms Helion Venture Partners and IDG Ventures India have sold stakes in Flipkart in deals that value India’s largest online retailer at $12.5 billion (Rs 77,000 crore), according to two people involved in the deals.

Helion, which got a stake in the Bengaluru-based company by virtue of its investment in online electronics retailer LetsBuy that was acquired by Flipkart in 2012, has sold its entire stake of 0.2 per cent, estimated to be worth Rs 156 crore. IDG Ventures, which entered Flipkart through fashion portal Myntra that was bought last year, has shed a portion of its holding of 1 per cent by selling stake worth nearly Rs 940 crore last month. IDG still holds about 0.9 per cent stake in Flipkart.

ET could not independently ascertain the buyers in both these transactions. Last month, ET was the first to report that Flipkart was seeking a valuation of $15 billion as it prepares the ground for a fresh round of fund-raising led by its largest investor Tiger Global.

Helion declined comment on the developments while IDG Ventures and Flipkart did not respond to email queries.

Industry experts are of the view that the stake sales are happening at a time funding cycles are expected to taper off in India’s redhot ecommerce sector, where the top three firms mopped up nearly Rs 31,000 crore ($5 billion) of funding in 2014.

Flipkart, founded by former Amazon employees Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, saw its valuation leapfrog from Rs 16,120 crore ($2.6 billion) in May 2014 to about Rs 68,000 crore ($11 billion) by December when it raised $700 million led by Steadview Capital. It is now aiming to raise Rs 10,500 crore ($1.7 billion) through this year, with Tiger Global expected to lead the investment.

The company is aiming to sell goods worth $8 billion in 2014-15 and competes against Amazon and Snapdeal.

“Valuations aren’t going in those crazy multiples anymore,” said one person directly involved in the stake sale.

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Leveraging Social Media for Lead Generation

Business 2 Community

In order to leverage social media to fill your sales funnel, you’ll need to invest in a tool that will help your business filter content and target influencers and prospective customers. Many small businesses are using social media to build awareness about their services, but you can go much further and target and engage prospective customers. Before you invest in any of these tools, make sure that you’re also doing the basics when it comes to your businesses’ social media profile and content generation.

  1. Branded Profile – All of your profiles are branded and have a consistent look and feel. Social media isn’t any different than your website, collateral or a sales package. Your brand image and message should be clear.
  2. Consistent Schedule of Content – You’ll need a consistent schedule of content to nurture your audience and grow your community. Keep your message conversational.
  3. Relevant Content – Most businesses have a lot to share. Think about how you can educate your audience and showcase your expertise. For example, if your business targets marketers and small businesses, then your content should help those prospects solve problems and make their day-to-day activities easier. Hubspot’s article on mixing up visual content is very helpful.
  4. Assets – Most businesses have many assets already created. Take a look at past campaigns, whitepapers and informational content that you can leverage in the social space. It’s not always about creating content from scratch.
  5. Monitoring and Listening – In addition to publishing, you will need to listen and monitor what’s being said about your business and what prospects are saying about your industry. There are several free tools that can help you get into the flow of the conversation.

Here are a few lead generation tools that help you find your target audience, engage and fill your sales funnel.

Socedo – Is a great tool to use with Twitter and LinkedIn. With this tool, you set up key words that will filter the relevant leads for your business. Socedo allows you to also establish automated messages to start engaging with prospects immediately. The dashboard feature helps you manage how those prospects respond so that you can convert them into customers. I like the free 14-day trial feature, which allows you to take it for a test run. Pricing is based on the number of prospects you generate and is relatively low.

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IDC Introduces Russia ICT Market Outlook

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 IDC Introduces Russia ICT Market Outlook

IDC launched Russia ICT Market Outlook, a new quarterly service tracking the supply and consumption of IСT products and services in the country in the context of recent dramatic economic and political events.

Since the 1990s, suppliers to Russia have had to deal with several periods of instability. However, market declines have always reversed quickly, and it became rather easy to take a stoic view of Russia’s volatility. The situation changed in 2014: The Russian economy, and subsequent IT demand, are now in what looks like a lengthy period of contraction. According to the latest IDC data, the overall IT market in Russia declined 16% in 2014 and an even more dramatic decline is forecast for 2015.

In 2015, Russian ICT consumers will be forced to readjust their spending in the light of the new economic reality. Business customers will be reviewing all aspects of their current spending, including supplier contracts, choice of supplier, and IT consumption models. In the state and state-owned sectors of the economy, additional regulations covering IT procurement and measures favoring local suppliers can be expected.

“Commerce has become politicized, and it’s clear that both market structure and the potential value of deals have been negatively impacted,” says Robert Farish, Vice President of IDC Russia/CIS. “For the last two decades, suppliers to Russia have had to deal with many operational challenges but this has always been within the context of a growing and modernizing economy gradually opening and integrating with the rest of the world,but from 2014, it looks like these long-term processes are stalling or even beginning to reverse.”

With this in mind, IDC today introduced its Russia ICT Market Outlook, designed to address challenges faced by ICT suppliers in re-assessing the situation in Russia and quantifying how ongoing changes are likely to impact demand in the coming quarters. The new service covers the key developments that strongly influence the outlook for Russia in the short and medium terms, including:

• The impact of sanctions against Russia in terms of IT investment

• New government polices introduced as a response to these sanctions

• Currency devaluation and what the overall financial turbulence means for IT demand

• What to expect in different customer segments in 2015

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The Most Powerful Player in Media You’ve Never Heard Of

Wall Street Journal

Across the media landscape, high-stakes battles are raging over measurement.

In the online world, there’s controversy over how to measure the “viewability” of ads – proof that a person is able to actually see them. In the TV world, networks say traditional ratings aren’t adequately measuring viewing on digital platforms.

At the center of the storm is a body few in the media industry pay attention to: the Media Rating Council.

The little-known New York-based outfit, a non-profit founded in the 1960s, is the lone organization setting the rules for how media consumption is tracked. It is charged with accrediting and auditing the Nielsens and Rentraks of the world, putting it in position to influence the flows of billions of advertising dollars in television and online in coming years.

“People don’t even know we exist,” said George Ivie, the MRC’s chief executive.

In the digital advertising world, though, MRC has lately come into the spotlight as the debate heats up over viewability. For years, media companies charged advertisers every time an ad was “served” on a Web page. But there are many occasions when users can’t possibly see those ads, because they scroll past them or because they’re on part of a page that isn’t visible.

About four years ago, several of the ad industry’s largest trade organizations launched an initiative to move the industry toward a “viewability” model in which marketers pay for ads that are actually able to be seen, not just served. The MRC was tapped to serve as the standard setter and quasi-referee.

After an exhaustive process, last year the MRC–in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau–released its standard: an ad is viewable as long as 50% of it appears on a person’s screen for one second, and two seconds for video ads. The organization has accredited 16 different companies to track viewability for display ads, and six for video ads—a total of 18 companies.

The early reviews of MRC’s work are harsh in some corners of the digital advertising industry. Publishers say complying with the viewability standard is a nightmare, because all of the accredited companies have different methods and technologies to measure viewability and arrive at conflicting results. That has caused messy and heated negotiations between advertisers and publishers.

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The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch

Guy Kawasaki

I am evangelizing the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. This rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.

  • Ten slides. Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting—and venture capitalists are very normal. (The only difference between you and venture capitalist is that he is getting paid to gamble with someone else’s money). If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business.
  • Twenty minutes. You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you have an hour time slot, but you’re using a Windows laptop, so it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Even if setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.
  • Thirty-point font. The majority of the presentations that I see have text in a ten point font. As much text as possible is jammed into the slide, and then the presenter reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, it reads ahead of you because it can read faster than you can speak. The result is that you and the audience are out of synch.

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What Ad Buyers Still Don’t Get About Sponsored Content

Contently

BuzzFeed, valued at $850 million this past August, has invested heavily in sponsored content. Yet as a recent story from The Wall Street Journal reveals, advertisers still aren’t sure what they’re getting out of the new media giant’s primary source of revenue.

While virtually every major digital media property seems to have a branded content studio these days, none has pinned as much of its success on native advertising as BuzzFeed, which does not run traditional display ads on its site.

As such, you would have to think the company’s financial stakeholders were displeased to read that, according to one major ad buyer, only 15 percent of clients who syndicated sponsored content on BuzzFeed in 2013 returned for 2014.

From the sound of things, brands have been hesitant to return to BuzzFeed because they have not yet been able to directly link sponsored stories to product sales—a line of thinking that fundamentally misunderstands the role content marketing plays in a company’s long-term success.

As DigitasLBi’s chief investment officer, Adam Shlachter, put it to The Wall Street Journal, “Social lift and buzz is great, but I have to know if that means I will sell more toothpaste.”

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Worldwide Tablet Shipments Experience First Year-Over-Year Decline in 4th Quarter

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 Worldwide Tablet Shipments Experience First Year Over Year Decline in 4th Quarter

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., February 2, 2015 – Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market’s inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6 million units.

“The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. “Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn’t enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones. Meanwhile, Samsung’s struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren’t cut out for today’s tablet market.”

Apple’s lead over other vendors has yet to be truly challenged as it shipped 21.4 million tablets, accounting for over a quarter of the market with 28.1% volume share. Despite Samsung’s woes, it managed to hold on to the second place with 11 million units shipped. Lenovo (4.8%), ASUS (4%), and Amazon (2.3%) rounded out the top 5 although only Lenovo managed to grow annually when compared to Q4 2013. Lenovo maintained its tight grip on the Asia/Pacific market thanks to its massive scale in the PC business and the success of its low-cost tablet offerings.

“Despite an apparent slow-down of the market, we maintain our forecast about tablet growth in 2015,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets. “Microsoft’s new OS, a general shift towards larger screen form factor and productivity focused solutions, and technology innovations such as gesture interface that could be introduced in tablets will help the market maintain positive growth in 2015.”

 

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28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

Social Media Examiner

Are you wondering what 2015 might look like for social media marketing?

If the changes in 2014 are an indicator, there will be a lot more changes in 2015.

To get a grip on what the near future may look like, we tapped the knowledge of 28 social media pros.

Here’s what they had to say.

And if you’re curious, here were the 2014 predictions.

#1: Video Becomes the Content of Choice

Let’s look closer. In August 2014, Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of video views via desktop according to comScore. It’s important to note that YouTube still has more views across all devices. As of September 2014, Facebook attracted a billion video views per day, a roughly 30-fold increase since July.In 2015, video will dominate as the social media content format of choice. Further, regular video segments, like podcasts and blog posts, will come into their own as a form of content that drives social engagement and other marketing goals.

ck heidi cohen facebook vs youtube views e1417584970525 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

Based on SocialBakers’ data, video posting moved away from YouTube towards Facebook in 2014. While these results still show YouTube ahead, the trend favors Facebook.

ck heidi cohen video posts e1417585191341 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

Also, Facebook videos receive significantly more shares than YouTube. This makes sense because sharing and engagement are at the heart of Facebook interactions.

ck heidi cohen share of interactions e1417585315119 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

YouTube is the best-performing social media platform to drive trackable sales,according to AOL’s Convertro research.  It’s the first, last or only platform touched.

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Meet the Virtual Sales Rep

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 Meet the Virtual Sales Rep

By, Kathleen Schaub

Air%2BTraffic%2BControl Meet the Virtual Sales Rep

Robert sits in an office near Provo, Utah at what looks like the console of an air traffic controller. But instead of directing jets through the airspace, he’s using Twitter to guide a software company’s buyer through her decision-journey. Part marketer, part sales, part tech service, Robert is one of an emerging breed of “virtual” sales reps. Could this be the dream team that B2B has been waiting for?

The B2B “Genius Bar”® as a Role Model

The “virtual” sales rep role in its ideal form provides the personalized, anticipatory, service of a five-star hotel. Think of it as the B2B version of an Apple Genius Bar – using virtual tools. The Apple executive team modeled the Genius Bar after Ritz-Carlton’s customer service. Hallmarks of this exemplary concierge service include a personal touch; a warm, friendly, attitude; and attention to satisfying customer needs at every step. Sales expert Anneke Seley says the “virtual” sales rep culture is a far-cry from the historical “me and my quota” rep.

Sales teams are finally coming to grips with digital age facts. The culture shift recognizes that engagement must be sensitive to the appropriate stage of the buyer’s decision-journey. “Buyers aren’t ready to buy until they are ready to buy”. Marketers all know by now that buyers prefer self-sufficiency and they avoid talking to sales people until the decision-journey is substantially complete.  IDC research shows that for tech products averages this distance averages about 50%. Now sales is also starting to appreciate that buyers are alienated when by placed prematurely into the arena. At the same time sales leaders don’t want to waste an expensive sales resource on someone who isn’t ready to buy.

Digital May Not be Enough

Content marketing is what companies must do to fill the gap when buyers won’t talk to traditional sales people.  Content marketing is a hugely important communication strategy and companies will not be successful without mastering it.

Yet, for B2B companies, a completely digital engagement solution may not ever be the right answer. For one thing, content marketing capabilities in most companies is still ramping. Even when content marketing becomes excellent, digital may never be personal enough. Some B2B solutions are so complex, customized, or require so much trust that a human must intervene for the buyer to be truly served.  It may also be in the vendor’s best interest to involve a good sales person early. One tech CMO told me that although the company could offer eCommerce, a human touch tripled the size of the deal.

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