Digital Marketing TED Talk: TEDxFMS Delhi

I was invited to speak at TEDx FMS Delhi – One World in 2018

I grew up in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. Imagine my life, then, as I travelled to Australia for my higher education, going from a city of 20 million to a small town, Richmond (just outside Sydney) in Australia with a population of 5483 people. By five in the afternoon life would come to a standstill. There was not much to do but that was a blessing in disguise, as I discovered the Computer Centre at the university. That is where my love affair with the Internet started.

An infographic created by, Deepak Arora one of the attendees of my TEDx talk

A Global Network

It was the mid-90s, the Internet was in its infancy and I loved the fact that I was reading the same newspaper that I used to read when I was in India. The same newspaper my parents were reading. It was amazing. My life in Australia taught me how to fend for myself, it taught me the value of money, time and focus. I did a degree in Marketing followed by an MBA a few years later.

I started working in sales and went about all the traditional models. I did door to door sales on a purely commission basis. This was one of the hardest jobs I have ever had. I still remember that first door on which I knocked. Picture this; I was standing outside a stranger’s house and didn’t have the courage to knock on the door. I stood outside for nearly 30 minutes before I was able to draw up enough courage.

There were times when I would reach a house to find a dog starting hungrily at me. There were times when it would rain or it was so hot that you just didn’t feel like working. After this I did shopping centre promotions, telemarketing and cold calling. Calling people to sell them something when they were about to have dinner or do something important was not an easy task. I had to patiently listen to some of the choicest swear words. That’s why even today when I receive lots of unwanted calls I am very polite to them.

Search Marketing

Having a website isn’t enough – you need to drive traffic

Having done all the above I was convinced that there was a better way to sell. I used my Internet Marketing knowledge and turned this sales model upside down. I created an Inbound Marketing model. So how did I do it?

I started a website selling Phone and Internet services in 2004. The first one didn’t do as well as expected so I shut it down. I didn’t let my failure pull me down. I learnt from it and put together a second website that was very successful. I realised that building a website was not good enough. Unless the website gets traffic it’s not doing anything. You can invest tens of thousands of dollars in creating a really beautiful website but it like building a shop in the middle of the desert. You make the investment in Digital Marketing for your website.

The strategy was based on the simple observation that the first thing people do today, whether they want to buy a car, a phone, rent an apartment or go on a holiday, is research online. They go to Google, and Google is filtering out and providing a list of the best websites for a particular topic. This is the idea I capitalised on. “SEARCH MARKETING”.

I did a lot of research on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (pay per click) and optimised my site so that when people search on Google for phone service related search terms my website ranked on top.

Four Pillars of Search Engine Optimisation

The four pillars of SEO

I discovered there were four pillars to SEO:

On Page Factors like Keywords and Content – are you giving enough info about your product to the user?

Technical Factors like code and site architecture – how do the pages within your site link to each other.

Conversion Factors like Usability and Web design – such as load speed, use and size of images images and the like.

Popularity Factors like which sites link to your site – hyperlinks that we click on when we go from one website to another. Think of this as votes to your web site.

I was competing against the biggest Australian Telcos & I was winning the online marketing war! For keywords like “home phone service, international calls, mobile phone deals, broadband internet etc…. I was on the first page of Google and some were even ranking #1.

The phone lines were ringing & so was the cash!

Paid Search – SEM and PPC

Organic search on the left, paid search on the right

I then invested the money back into the business & this time in addition to SEO I invested in Paid Search such as. Google Adwords. So now I had two opportunities to get the customer. I experimented with various deals and as soon as I found customers liked a particular deal I would promote it like mad!

I created a small inbound marketing call centre that was generating more sales then larger 50 seat call centres. We were able to sell over $15 Million of services and became the largest dealer for the Telco.

Website open 24/7 = Sales Superstar

At this point I was now literally working in my pyjamas a couple of hours per day & didn’t have a challenge. This is when an opportunity arose for me to go back to India and start a digital marketing agency. I had long aspired to go back and work in India but leaving behind a successful business was a very difficult decision. However the inner calling and my adventurous nature eventually won.

I came back to India and started a digital agency in 2010. Since my exposure involved Telco & Digital Marketing, it was only natural that one of my first clients was a small local Telco hoping to make it big! We helped them set-up an eCommerce business model which sold over 2 Crore ($20,000,000 USD or $29,016,000 AUD) worth of products within a few months. This, at a time when the CFO of the company said eCommerce was not a channel worth exploring. The common thought was that no one in India would buy a Rs25,000 ($510 AUD) product online without the opportunity to get their hands on it first. Why would they trust the company or the fact that they would get the product?

We sold the first product on the first day of the site going live.

The best thing about the Internet is that it is a great equaliser. A small business website running out of a garage can rival the website of much larger businesses. On the Internet the consumer doesn’t know how big or small your business is.

Video Content is King

While I was able to take advantage of Digital marketing strategies like SEO and PPC, today I would recommend that you also take advantage of video.

Anyone can make millions of dollars with the right videos and sales strategies

Everyone has access to a video camera in their mobile phone and anyone can become a star. Unleash your creative genius. Become the storyteller you have always wanted to be.. You don’t need high quality video or a large budget. If kids can make millions of dollars unboxing and reviewing toys, why can’t you make your mark?

Product reviews are the most watched category of videos on Youtube, with popular content creators from across the age and experience spectrum delivering videos running the whole range of production values from extremely cheap to high budget professional. Ryan’s World, the channel that is home to Ryan ToysReview (pictured above) is an immensely popular and profitable content stream with the most popular videos being those of Ryan playing with and giving his opinion of new toys. The channel is a combination of product review and unboxing, a subset of product reviews that are literally people unboxing products and reacting to their first impressions. It has over 24 million subscribers and his most popular video “HUGE EGGS Surprise Toys Challenge with Inflatable water slide”, first published in 2016 had a staggering 1.9 billion views as of March 2020. As of 2019 Ryan’s World was earning $22 million USD annually through views, and that is only set to increase with the rise in subscribers.

As of late 2019, Youtube boasted 1.3 billion users, with 5 billion videos being watched every day and more than 500 hours of content being uploaded every minute. Out of all that content, the five most popular categories of Youtube videos are:

  • Product Reviews – there is a massive market for product reviews and reaction across a huge range of product categories and levels of production quality.
  • How-To Videos – no matter what you want to learn, there is probably a video available on Youtube to instruct you on best practises.
  • Vlogs – Vlogs are the video version of a blog and usually feature an influencer or Internet personality talking about their life or a subject important to them.
  • Gaming Videos– Video gaming content comes in a variety of forms, from let’s plays (showing a person playing a game, sometimes while interacting with an online audience and tutorials, to reviews, opinion pieces and previews.
  • Comedy/Skits – both established comedians and Youtube amateurs upload a plethora of standup, skits, parody songs and goofs.

The Rise of Mobile Internet

With the rate of technological innovation and streamlining of manufacturing processes, mobile phones are becoming progressively more ubiquitous. According to, 51.65% of all global Internet traffic is mobile as of September 2019. The rates of mobile Internet usage vary from territory to territory, with some, such as South America and Asia showing over 60% mobile internet browsing. How are you taking advantage of this? Today everyone is carrying a mobile phone in their pocket. Imagine the millions of customers who are bored on a long commute and with nothing to do. Is your website catering to the mobile audience?

Making sure your website is fully optimised for mobile browsing is hugely important if you want to rank well and get conversions Making sure the design is scalable and responsive so it will be readable on any size screen is a vital first step, but making sure that your images are optimised for fast loading is also incredibly important. Compressing images greatly reduces file size without compromising quality, allowing the site to load faster. Loading speed is one of the indexing factors looked at when Google is ranking pages, so getting everything running a fast as possible is great for overall SEO.

Vernacular Content

We must adapt to new users rather than expect them to adapt to old paradigms

English may be a language with a large number of native of second language speakers, but sometimes it is valuable to target specific markets through the use of language and vernacular. Take India, for example. It is one country but separated into 29 states, each essentially their own little country with their own language or dialect, culture, food and customs. Essentially every few hundred kilometres you are entering a new country.. You can take advantage of this and differentiate yourself by creating content in local languages. You could even start blogging in a regional language– It doesn’t cost much, and anyone can blog about subjects they are passionate about. You could video blog (vlog) – some of the most popular channels on YouTube are video blogs, and they make a ton of money.

Although I used India as an example in my TEDx talk, this vernacular content is relevant worldwide on both macro and micro levels. In the US, in states like New Mexico, California, Texas and Arizona, depending on the product or service you’re trying to market, it could be beneficial to create Spanish content to cater to the large Hispanic populations. On a smaller scale, if you’re trying to market something in Sydney Chinatown, creating content in both English and Mandarin might be advisable.

Vernacular content can also be tied with local idiom rather than language, using key phrases, saying or landmarks that are intrinsically tied to that market, whether it be references to local sports teams or cultural icons, or using local slang that doesn’t resonate anywhere else.

Life Lessons

Since I had a young audience at the TedX event at the beginning of their careers, I wanted to share some of my general life lessons that would have helped me on my journey if I had known earlier. You can find some of that hard earned wisdom here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below and I’ll answer as quickly as possible.

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