Monthly Archives: October 2013

Get Cashback on all Online Shopping from Cashkaro.com

‘Shopping’ – the one term that would bring a million dollar smile on all women and the term that most men dread of (I am not a chauvinist!). Some people enjoy going for a shopping with entire family, while some prefer doing it alone. A few decades back shopping involved family outing, visiting numerable shops located in narrow lanes, negotiating prices etc. The scenario has changed completely in the modern world. A couple of years ago, organized retail or commonly known as ‘malls’ reduced the efforts of the shoppers.

In recent years, technology has further eased the time consuming shopping process to just few clicks, thanks to the number of online shopping portals that have sprouted. In today’s hectic work-life environment consumers are facilitated with online shopping, convenient payment mechanisms, timely delivery, option for returning ordered goods all on the go. The online shopping phenomenon which started as a fad has now been widely accepted by the modern customers as the most convenient way of shopping.

The e-commerce space in India is buzzing with Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, and a few more category specific online portals like Foodpanda.com, Healthkart.com, Yatra.com and so on. The entire online space is being competitive and tough for each player to differentiate themselves from each other.

One company that thought to innovate and add further value to the customers is Cashkaro.com. As highlighted in the 2nd paragraph almost all e-commerce players provide the standard pre-purchase and post-purchase facilities. But, Cashkaro.com came up with the proposition of ‘cashback’. Now, I hope that made your eyes wide open! Yes, you can earn a decent cashback (and in some cases they offer coupons over and above the cashback) on all purchases you do online, if you reach the destination website via Cashkaro.com. Even I was surprised and thrilled to know about this option and thought to try it out.

So, the first step would be to reach the Cashkaro.com and they have a user-friendly home page that guides user to various activities without any clutter.

India's No.1 Cashback & Coupons site

The next step is to search for a particular online portal or you may also browse through the list under the tab ‘Cashback & Coupons’.

Cashkaro.com

Once you choose particular portal, you will be directed to a page that lists a variety of options to choose from based on the cashback and coupons combinations and the expiry days left.

Cashkaro.com

Once you choose a particular option and click on it, you will get to see the following screen that has a message indicating that you don’t have to do anything else and you will be quickly redirected to the online portal you intended to shop from.

Cashkaro.com

The later steps are as usual you would perform on that particular portal. Now, you might think how would know if you have earned a cashback or not! Cashkaro.com sends you a mail clearly stating the cashback that you have earned, within 72 hours of your transaction (that is the time they take to get confirmation from the retailer about your order).

Cashkaro.com

It also gets reflected on your account summary on Cashkaro.com. As per the policy of Cashkaro.com, this cashback will be available for payment within a maximum time period of three months from the shopping date, considering the return policies of the online shopping portal. Also, you need to have earned a minimum cashback of Rs.250 on your account for payment.

Cashkaro.com

The usual logic would be that if you detour, you lose something, but in case of Cashkaro.com, if you detour through them, you earn some cashback, which I think is a very valuable proposition. The three things that I loved about Cashkaro.com and that would make me stick to them are:

a) User-friendly website, without much clutter

b) Comprehensive list of online portals and gives me an opportunity to try out other players apart from the usual destinations I used to shop from

c) Very prompt customer service on their social media channels be it Facebook page or Twitter handle. At times I have seen their co-founder Swati Bhargava reply the queries on these social media handles, which made me blog about her here.

Disclaimer:

a) I am not an employee of Cashkaro.com or any way related to their business

b) They are not my client and I don’t handle their social media activities

c) This blogpost is written in the interest of online shopaholics and as an entry for the Blog Karo, Cash Karo contest organized by Cashkaro.com

Five Major Pillars of Marketing Analytics

Being a Fellow student in marketing domain, Marketing Analytics has always remained an area of interest to me. Though, didn’t pursue a career in that field, I was introduced to this domain during my doctoral program and found it very useful for the marketers. Once, I joined the social media related work profile, I started realizing the need and extent to which Marketing Analytics could make a difference to the marketer. Also, recently was introduced to this article in Live Mint that talked about the increasing popularity of the job prospects in this domain.

Courtesy: FIIB website

Courtesy: FIIB website

Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB), Delhi organized a one day conference on Marketing Analytics and I decided to update myself with the latest happenings in this domain. The objective behind writing this blogpost is to summarize the takeaways I had during this seminar. The major attraction of the conference was the interesting lineup of speakers which included both academicians and industry professionals. This mix of speakers convinced me to register promptly for the conference. The conference comprised of two keynote talks, and two panel discussions. I am not going to summarize each session but will highlight what topics were discussed during the entire day.

Mr. Manish Kheterpal, the Chairman of FIIB began the proceedings by introducing the audience to some fun facts about the Marketing Analytics domain: a) US shutdown increased number of visits to restaurants, b) Use of videos on landing pages increased conversion by 80%, c) Narendra Modi’s rallies attracted 2-3 times more audience when a nominal fee of Rs. 10 charged. He set the tone for the day by sensitizing the audience about the importance that Marketing Analytics plays in a marketer’s life. He also talked about the major challenges that marketer’s faced – a) increasing engagement with stakeholders, b) protect marketing budgets and c) measurement of ROI for marketing spends.

The subsequent keynote speakers and panelists emphasized on following key areas: a) Need for Marketing Analytics, b) Challenges to collect data, c) Availability of tools & techniques to analyze data, d) Making informed decisions vs intuition in earlier days, e) Measuring ROI of Marketing Analytics efforts. I will briefly list down the pointers on each of these below:

a) Need for Marketing Analytics

– It is easy to capture the ‘said needs’ of  a customer, however it is becoming challenging to capture the ‘implied needs’ or ‘dynamic needs’, which are more important to a marketer in the hyper-competitive environment

– Analytics will help marketers improve their offerings, better target their customers, send out customized communication messages, in designing new product offerings and so on.

– Earlier customers were passive and refrained themselves from outpouring, but with the arrival of social media, people have started to share their genuine feedback about the product and / or brand and hence there lies huge amount of data that marketers could leverage to make informed decisions

– Today is a custoMEr generation, where customer demands lot of customized focus in terms of connecting, engaging and rewarding him/her.

– The business environment faces hyper-competition, commoditization is at the extreme, customers are flooded with information, higher customer attrition and shorter product cycles as customer have shorter horizons.

Marketing Analytics

b) Challenges to collect data

– Sophisticated computational facility is required to handle the high volume, high velocity and high variety data.

– Size of data sets are large as they are mostly in rich media formats

– Customers are willing to share even their private information, if brands assure them that the information would be solely used to customize offerings for them and not misused for any other purpose.

– In the absence of structured data, marketers should first make an effort to make sense of data is immediately available. Though it work require increased efforts to make sense of it, but its worth it.

– Marketers should not by myopic and focus only on real-time data but should focus on ‘near-time’ data, i.e. evaluate the campaign at the end of it rather than monitoring and making changes on a daily basis.

c) Availability of tools & techniques to analyze data

– Traditional tools and techniques are insufficient to handle the Big Data

– New statistical methods likes CART, Flexible regression, Functional Data Analysis etc. are emerging and individuals who plan to build a future in this domain should get introduced to these tools at the earliest

– Classical assumptions like ‘normality’ do not hold true in today’s Big Data environment.

– Start analyzing data with a business hypothesis.

d) Making informed decisions vs intuition in earlier days

– Focus on individual behaviour rather than aggregate numbers. Decisions need to be taken by keeping an individual customer in mind, rather than a segment of them in this customized demand seeking environment.

– Professionals should not get overboard with analytics but should also think of effectively using the analytics results for decision making

– Analytics itself cannot suggest decisions, hence the decision making would still hold crucial, however they would be better informed decisions than ever before and the onus lies on brand managers to make effective decisions.

 e) Measuring ROI of Marketing Analytics efforts

– Focus should be on the extent to which Marketing Analytics is helping marketers hold profitable customers, add and cultivate strategic customers.

– The impact of efforts and investments in Marketing  Analytics should be measured by the difference it brings to the overall business proposition.

Also, it was very well highlighted by many speakers during the day that Analytics should not be looked up on a silo activity within an organization and only marketing department be held responsible for it. Every department should contribute to the overall efforts and ensure that the insights that are derived from the analytics are flown back to respective departments for corrective measures and timely action. Hence, there shouldn’t be any further debate of who owns analytics, would it be CIO or CMO. A speaker went to cite an example that a MNC recruited a Chief Analytics Officer who was responsible for the analytics and every information in the organization was directed towards his team.

The entire conference could be summarized in this one venn diagram that one of the speakers shared. Marketing Analytics is not about silos of information architecture, information processing or business acumen, but all three have to be synergized to achieve Embeddedness and effective business results.

Marketing Analytics

It was a well spent day with lot of learning from experienced academicians and industry professionals. I must appreciate FIIB team for choosing good mix of speakers, superb venue and most importantly a weekend so that most of us could attend. I look forward to a sequel of this conference may be next year.

My Ten Learning About Team Management

Every professional assignment helps a person sharpen his / her skills. You just don’t perform the regular job specific activities but you also bring difference to the ecosystem around. As a manager the task becomes equally challenging, as you are looked up by your team members. The pressure on a manager is both from the organization’s and team’s side. This tricky situation either brings the best of the manager or he/she crumbles to the situation.

I had a very memorable time with my team at AdGlobal360. When I joined the organization, team consisted of six members and when I left the organization, the team grew to a size of 12. This bunch of youngsters gave me an enormous opportunity to fine tune my managerial skills. Here, are few things that I learnt from my awesome team, which we named as ‘Social Species’. Social Species

1. Lead from the front: As a manager it is the most basic requirement. You should be thorough with the subject knowledge, remain updated about the industry you are in and constantly be a source of information and inspiration for the team. You should set such an example that your team members not only perform better, but also remain glued to their job responsibilities.

2. Ensure coherence within the team: We all have heard about the farmer and his son’s story while we were kids. A good team can meet all targets only if there is coherence within the team. It is very true that not all team members would be equally competitive, but trick lies with manager on how to leverage the individual skills with the overall team objective in mind.

3. Manage Inter team conflicts: It is very common that inter-team conflict arise in most organizations due to the individual department’s objectives. However, as a manager you should not be biased towards your team’s objectives but should keep overall organization’s objective in mind. As a manager you should build a congenial environment where your team members understand the requirements of other team members and work in tandem.

4. Pre-empt crisis situation and prepare your team: In this hyper competitive work environment it is very common that your team might face crisis situation. Many a times these crises may not be predictable, but it all depends on the experiences and your far-sightedness. As a manager try to pre-empt the crisis and prepare your team towards that direction. You may not convey the exact crisis situation, as they might get tensed, but absorb the pressure and prepare your team to handle the situation in the best manner.

5. Own all mistakes & pass all accolades:  Now, this is very tough to do. But, somehow I felt it really works well if you can really put it to practice. God forbid, if your team member has done some mistake, you as a manager should own responsibility and face the higher authority. But, at the same time you should convey the extent of mistake to the team member and make them understand. On the other hand, do not try to claim accolades that your team members have earned. Pass it on to them, bring them to the front and I assure you will see a marked difference in their attitude towards the job and team.

6. Manage the bad kid on the block:  You as a manager just can’t expect all your team members to be sincere, disciplined and committed. In most cases you will find one or two kids who would be nightmares for you. But, you can’t ignore that person. The trick lies in carrying that person along. With your sustained efforts to improve that person, you may hope that one day he/she would convert into an asset than liability.

7. Don’t shy to take a stick: Well, you need not be the ‘goody-goody’ boss all the time. Do not shy to take a stick if the situation demands it. Well, its a popular saying that clay needs to be tapped to bring them in best shapes. However, do not scold or scream on the team members in front of all. After all you shouldn’t be perceived as ‘Bad Daddy’.

8. Balance work & fun: If you are a manager doesn’t mean that you should roam around with a poker face. Be the jovial person with your team but also ensure that work doesn’t get affected. If you are lucky (as I was) you would find couple of ‘jokers’ in our team and they set the mood of the team. Do not curb them (of course you need to if they cross the limits) and let them do the honours of maintaining a fun environment.

9. Believe in your team more than yourself: Now, many of you might not agree to this point. However, it has worked with me. As a manager, I was believed in my team more than myself. I was confident that the task assigned to my team can be accomplished with the talent I had in my team. Let any crisis situation arise or a brainstorming session, I had belief that my team members won’t let me down and thankfully they never did. This particular learning may differ with respect to the individual personality you possess.

10. Always stand by your team and not the management: Another highly debatable and contextual learning. I am sure many of you might disagree with me. But, this was another point (apart from the point no. 9) where I believed in this and adopted it during my tenure. There might be situations where your top management might be bothered only you and not your team. A very naive example could be inviting you for a Diwali party and ignoring your team members. Well, some managers might see this as an opportunity to network with top management, but I see (may I am wrong) this situation were top management wants to take you hostile. If the situation demands a celebration, why not do it with entire organization, may be at a reduced scale, rather than lavish party for 10 managers in the organization. There could be a situation where you might have to favour the well-being of your team, because those kids look up to you. So, I don’t give ‘a particular’ advice on this point. I stood by my team and found it satisfactory. Rest depends on your ethics , personality and situation you are in.

Social Species

These are not exhaustive pointers for a budding manager. I am sure there might be many more that you would learn from your first hand experience.

I dedicate this blogpost to my dear team members, who have been more than just my team members – Kundan, Anadi, Sumit, Mohit, Aakriti, Arunita, Prashant, Pooja, Gagan, Portia, Ankur, Tanu, Barkha, Shikha. I thank you all for an amazing period we had together.

 

Should CXOs participate actively on social media? – A case study of Cashkaro.com

We have read the debate many a times in the past if CXOs should participate actively on social media. Many have a viewpoint that they have better things to do for their organization and they can’t be active and so on. But, on the other side we also get to hear about extensive social media presence of some iconic CXOs. Have you wondered, if they should be active on social media?

I will leave it to you to decide, if CXOs should be participating in social media, with this case study of Cashkaro.com, a cashback and coupons site. Cashkaro.com

I got introduced to this brand when they contacted me on Twitter and asked to fill up a Google form and assured me of a gift. I did fill the form to see what happens! Few days passed by and I didn’t receive anything from their side. I wondered if they would use my contact details for any other purpose and also went to an extent to think if it was a fraud company. This made me frustrated and I asked the status of my gift on Twitter. A surprise awaited me!

Swati Bhargava, the co-founder of Cashkaro.com, replied my tweet immediately and assured me that they were working on it. This impressed me a lot. There are very few CXOs in India who are active on social media and more importantly ‘do realize the need to do so’.

My conversation with Swati Bhargava

My conversation with Swati Bhargava

A few days passed by and some other influential Twitterati too wrote about non-receipt of the gift. I too joined the bandwagon again. Once more, I was stunned to see Swati replying back us very promptly and she did her best by re-assuring us that the gift is on the way and we will receive it soon.

Swati's conversation with other influencers

Swati’s conversation with other influencers

On 1st October, while I was working late in office, I noticed the below Facebook post. I thought, gosh! What have these people (Cashkaro.com) done! They collected details from Twitter influencers and their gift delivery to one of the most popular influencer was delivered in a damaged form, which made him go ahead and post about it on Facebook. The situation was very serious, given the fact that the influencer was very well known on Facebook and hundreds of people interacted with him on any day. There were high chances for Cashkaro.com to ‘earn free negative publicity’.

Alok Kejriwal's Facebook post

Alok Kejriwal’s Facebook post

Now, what would have a typical CEO of other brand done:

–   Contacted Alok Kejriwal by a private message and requested him to take down the post

–   Compensated in a better manner

–   Blamed the courier company

Haven’t we seen all of the above cheap tactics followed by brands in recent past? Now, that’s what differentiates your brand from your competitors and not your cheesy taglines / well-designed logo etc.

Swati, Cashkaro.com CEO immediately took control of situation and countered the situation in an effective manner:

–  She ‘accepted the error’, apologized for the inconvenience and also promised to resend the gift.

Swati's reply on Alok Kejriwal's Facebook post

Swati’s reply on Alok Kejriwal’s Facebook post

Look at the reaction above. Did you notice? 12 people who saw that post also liked the reply by Swati. It sends a clear message that people appreciated the efforts of a CEO who promptly responded to a crisis situation.

There she goes ahead and thanks people who appreciated her efforts.

Swati Bhargava's reply on Alok Kejriwal's Facebook post

Swati Bhargava’s reply on Alok Kejriwal’s Facebook post

A cherry on the icing was a networking opportunity!

Networking opportunity

Networking opportunity

Learning:

–  Gone are the days when CXOs weren’t considered to be active interacting with various stakeholders on a daily basis. There are many CEOs who spend considerable amount of time interacting with variety of people.

–  As a CXO, if you aren’t informed about a particular situation, at least acknowledge the query / complaint and let the person know that there is someone who is listening to you. Believe me it sends a strong positive image.

–  As a CXO if you set an example, there are high chances that other members of your organization would respect social media as a serious platform. This would gradually make an organization more customer-centric.

If you have an opinion that CXOs of larger companies can’t do this exercise in daily routine, fair enough! But, do check this list which names 60 top CEOs in the World who are active on social media. I am proud to see Anand Mahindra on 6th position of this list. So, if you are a CXO and reading this blogpost, do question yourself and if you think you are more successful person & ‘busy’ than Richard Branson and Anand Mahindra, then probably I agree, you won’t have time to be active on social media. May God help you!