Content-driven strategy drives traffic acquisition from Plancess Edusolutions specialises in providing online preparation for IIT JEE entrance examinations. In a little more than a year since the current version of the site was launched (in April 2014) and migrated from a different domain name, the site attracts over 450,000 sessions a month. Almost 70% of this traffic is via organic search/ Direct traffic while the site attracts about 15% and 10% traffic via paid search advertising and social media marketing, respectively. NetMarketer recently asked Vaibhav Tamrakar, Head- Market & Business Intelligence at a range of questions on the company’s online marketing strategy and lessons learnt from their traffic and customer acquisition methods.

Vaibhav Tamrakar, Head- Market & Business Intelligence, PlancessJee.comIn the first of a two-part article featuring edited excerpts from the interview, Vaibhav attributes their success to a strong content-driven strategy. He also feels that search marketing is still a need-to-have avenue, when compared with social or display advertising that seem to be more of ‘good-to-have’ avenues. Vaibhav also has a slightly contrarian view on the growth/ effectiveness of online display advertising.

What have been the most effective strategies you have employed to grow the traffic to your website? Why do you think they have been effective?
[Vaibhav Tamrakar]: Plancess has always been a content driven company- and we strongly believe in the notion that content is king! We believe we have the best quality content in our preparation material, carefully crafted by our team of in-house experts and Top 100 IITians, whom we call our “Gurus”.

As part of our content strategy, we launched JEE Mag- a blog generated in-house- that serves as a one-stop portal for all news related to JEE, preparation techniques, tips-n-hacks from our Gurus and any other query that a student might have. We continuously strive to put the best resources on our website that have helped thousands of students realize their dreams.

Our sustained efforts at translating students’ dreams to reality have also helped us achieve our own goals. Today, hundreds of thousands of JEE aspirants flock to our website. We hope to keep them engaged with the quality of our content and the latest information pertaining to engineering.

What’s your take on the relative effectiveness of search marketing (both organic and paid-for) when compared social media marketing, other display advertising and offline marketing?
[VT]: Social media marketing: I believe Social is a ‘good-to-have’ platform, from a customer engagement perspective, and to give a potential touch point in case the user has some product related query, or is looking for some information. From a brand recognition perspective, it makes sense to be present where our users spend a lot of their time so that the brand gives an impression that we’re there when you need us.

At the same time, it is not a mission critical platform– i.e. if the social media page is not very active, it doesn’t mean the brand is not doing well. It might well be doing wonders with the product, and yet not really be up-to-date on social.

Search, on the other hand, is a vital ‘need-to-have’ platform. The user is becoming increasingly Internet-savvy. They cannot be coerced to view only one brand- and more often than not, are comparing various offerings via the Internet. Being strategically present there as a brand becomes really important.

Display advertising: A few years ago, display advertising was a really good mechanism to bring to the user product-centric marketing by displaying the best product offering from a company. Users did not actively check out brands on the Internet- and mostly used it as an information portal.

However, as the Internet has blended in with users’ lives, coupled with screen size getting smaller and smaller (read mobile/wearable devices), display advertising is losing its charm. Moreover, as the websites are themselves trying to provide the best UX to users, a lot of advertising gets unnoticed (‘banner blindness’).

On the other hand, search is not just ‘static SEO’ anymore due to personalisation of search results and a host of other factors. As a result, the ads/search experience is heavily customised to what the user wants. Consequently, these targeted search ads tend to yield much better conversion rates compared to display advertising.

Offline marketing: With increased Internet penetration and the proliferation of portable Internet devices- users tend to be always online. The amount of attention to billboards, banners/posters (outdoor advertising) gets has been reduced to minimal.

In fact, the millennials and the generation Z have pretty much taken over from the baby boomers and generation X. This generation likes the flavour of open space, free information and being connected to each other. Hence static marketing like print media/ TV commercials largely go unnoticed when compared to referral, social and online behaviour. Only brands that have a universal appeal – catering to a very diverse range of markets – across cultures, language, ages barrier – look towards these channels owing to their non-targeted approach. And of course, it is quite difficult to monitor ROI from these channels.

- See part 2: Customer-centric marketing, great user experience are key

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