Rajiv Sodhi, Vice President & Managing Director, GoDaddy India, On Brand Marketing Strategies

Rajiv Sodhi, Vice President & Managing Director, GoDaddy India, tells us about the brand’s Social Media marketing strategies, about the campaign NutCutlal and their journey on the platforms. He also talks about how they connect with entrepreneurs.

Any particular reason why your Twitter account is universally managed and doesn’t have country-specific Twitter handles? How do you manage to connect with such a diverse audience on Twitter? For example, the Thanksgiving video may not connect to an Indian audience.

Twitter has recently opened some great new geo-targeting options. This allows GoDaddy to target individual tweets to specific global regions. This ensures that all of the right content gets to the right small business owners.  Some of our posts work in multiple geographies, whereas some only work for one, but that’s easy to manage on one Twitter handle.

What is the reason for posting once every three days on Facebook? Does posting on Facebook occasionally yield better results than posting regularly?

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy as far as social media is concerned. It really varies from brand to brand and depends on how an audience reacts. A high number of Facebook posts does not necessarily guarantee increased engagement.  In fact, sometimes it can harm a brand.

GoDaddy wants to post relevant and helpful content for small businesses in India.  Thus, we don’t try to hit a certain number of posts – If we have something to say that will help our audience, teach them something, or brighten their day, we will post it, regardless of how many posts have gone out.

Sites like Facebook share the philosophy and will reward brands for posting relevant content by showing their content to more people.  Thus, one great post a month can do much better for a brand than a daily post that doesn’t resonate with the audience.

Tell us about your latest integrated marketing campaign that has the character of NutCutLal throughout its communication.

This is our latest integrated marketing campaign. As the world’s largest technology services provider dedicated to small businesses, we’re targeting India’s millions of small business owners through this campaign. For the first time in India, our campaign speaks to individuals, too. The campaign reiterates the importance of getting the right domain name as the first step to getting online and building the right identity or ‘Pehchaan’.

The domains industry in India is making significant progress as the culture of domain buying for personal and professional use gains traction. That said, it is still nascent. Looking at domain name penetration relative to the Internet population of a country, India stands at just about two percent in comparison to a more mature market like the U.S. (where domain name penetration is upwards of 20 percent), although we believe this is set to grow.

Through our new campaign, we aim to accelerate the adoption of domain names. The campaign demonstrates how creating an identity or ‘Pehchaan’ online can help businesses and individuals gain recognition, showcase their talent and find more customers online.

The campaign comprises two television commercials along with search, display, email and social media advertising and gives out a simple message – ‘Internet pe pehchaan banao, duniya ko dikhao’ or “Create an identity on the Internet and showcase your talent/products/services to the world.”

The two TV commercials feature a talented barber and a father, both facing different dilemmas. In the first commercial, the barber, aptly named NutCutLal for his signature style and eccentric haircut, gains a loyal following for his signature haircutting style. NutCutLal realizes that unless he gets an online identity, his fame will fade away and his talent is likely to go unnoticed, resulting in anonymity.

The second commercial is based on the notion that every Indian parent starts dreaming big for their child right from the start. The commercial shows different fathers, whose sons have the same name – Rajesh Varma – talking about future aspirations for their son. The voiceover calls out that only one Rajesh Varma can get a unique identity by booking a domain name on the Internet before anyone else does.

Entrepreneurs are integral to your business growth. How do you identify and target these entrepreneurs online? And what strategy do you adopt online to sell your service to them?

While not everyone is currently an entrepreneur, everyone is a potential entrepreneur.   Thus, we speak to both people who have an active business as well as people who might consider having a business in the future.  We utilize Facebook’s targeting mechanisms to find those people, looking for people who have expressed an interest in entrepreneurial activities, magazines, websites, and industry associations.

You play up the “have an identity through a name” in your content a lot. What happens when that ideology is exhausted?

A name is and always will be important to the small businesses we serve.  We do not see that going away and, if anything, it will expand.  The internet is going through a massive change right now, as the structure of domain names is fundamentally changing.  There are more than 700 new domain name extensions, similar to .COM and .ORG, being added to the Internet. This enables an unprecedented level of personalization. Now, small businesses can create websites like, IndianWedding.Photography or MumbaiComputer.Guru. Their domain name tells more about who they are than ever before.

That said, the domain name is just the beginning. GoDaddy aims to educate different audiences on the importance of having an online identity with the vision to grow the domain name industry. We want to make the Internet relevant for small business owners and help them understand how it can attract more customers. Through NutCutLal’s character in our current commercials, we aim to establish the importance of an online identity among small business owners. Through our ad featuring Rajesh Varma, we emphasize the importance for individuals to get a domain name now.

We firmly believe that by establishing an online presence, small businesses can expand their reach to global audiences, increase brand awareness, operate around the clock, and ultimately increase sales and our social media content will reflect that.

How do you strategize for your blog godaddy.com? How does business blogging help?

We participate in a number of communities and read questions that small businesses post online.  That information helps us to learn about what small businesses care about.  We also hire a number of employees who are entrepreneurs on the side, which helps them to understand what it’s like to be a small business owner.  Through that, we are able to develop ideas for content that will resonate with and help our audience.

Business blogging helps us to help small businesses.  We can post things that we know will educate them and answer questions that they might have.  Additionally, it allows us to be an active part of the small business conversation in India.

Amazon.com launched its ‘e-commerce for small business.’ How did you promote this on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, considering you target a lot of small businesses on social media?

Social media is most visibly used by web entrepreneurs, especially online retailers. For this segment, boosting website traffic is paramount and is often a goal in itself. The popularity of social media has resulted in search engines, including Google, incorporating indicators from social media websites in search engine ranking algorithms. This means that sites with a greater presence on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and are linked to social media profiles, will probably get more traffic from search engine results.

According to the latest reports by Ernst & Young, in terms of priority, Facebook is the most important platform for marketers in India for engaging customers, followed by Twitter, YouTube and blogging.

83% of the social media-savvy organizations surveyed said that they have used social media ads, with majority of the ads being used for brand awareness or to push a contest/promotion.

In addition to building a community, social networks can help expand reach. With thousands of small businesses that offer services or products that are not limited by distance (for example, app makers, freelancers, consultants, and those offering software as a service,), small businesses can take their business global at relatively low costs. More realistically, they can reach out to a few neighboring states or get customers that pay the most from all over the world.

What is your YouTube strategy for India? How should brands approach YouTube?

We’re just getting started on addressing the Indian market on YouTube, but we’ve already seen some promising results. We post engaging content that will be either helpful or entertaining – or both – such as the two recent commercials.

YouTube is an opportunity, for GoDaddy and all brands, to place all types of video — from brief, casual product demos to professionally produced, mass-market television advertisements — in front of a smaller audience to see what they like and what they don’t (we can assure you that YouTube commenters, in general, are not shy with their opinions). Brands should review as many comments, ratings, views, as they can, in aggregate and trends, and by market, to see what people are responding to, both positively and negatively, then iterate and improve results accordingly.

Because of what we’ve experienced there, we look to build out our YouTube brand channel further to better deliver geo and language-specific content that’s meant for the Indian market. While ads like NutCutLal are great for brand exposure and some laughs, we plan to introduce many more videos there over the coming months that will help Indians get their business online, and find customers, and be as successful as they want to be. In addition, we’re exploring some options to improve the fan experience for our Indian subscribers, with tailored playlists based on geography, language, and culture.

Your admin notably responds to queries and solves issues that customers face online. What is the average turnaround time? Also, how do you deal with negative feedback or comments?

We have a team of highly-trained, award-winning, and experienced support agents dedicated to providing a positive experience for all of our customers. We find that many of our customers turn to our Facebook page and Twitter handles with questions about how to get their business started and technical help with our products, and so we aim to provide a positive experience in this environment where our customers as quickly as possible. Currently, we make sure to respond to all posts from our India Facebook page within 5 hours. However, we aim to continue to improve that so that customers can get high quality assistance no matter what channel they choose to contact us.

While we aim to make every experience that the company has with our company amazing, sometimes things go wrong.  When a customer shares a negative experience we always strive to make it right. It is easy to become upset when your site somehow went down or you forgot to renew your domain, and our team is very experienced with handling these situations with friendly care. We will address the concerns wherever they are shared, and move the customer to private message to discuss the nitty gritty. In the rare occurrence that the team cannot solve the problem over Facebook, we make sure we connect the customer to the right team or refer them to where they can find the right information.

Who handles your social media communication online? Have you outsourced this to an external agency or does your team manage it internally?

We work together closely with Happy, the agency that worked with us to develop the NutCutLal and Rajesh Varma commercials.  They help us to develop content for social media that will resonate with small businesses in India and that connects to the messages we want to convey about the importance of managing your online identity.

Our team internally then manages all of the conversations and listening that occurs once we post that content.  That’s important to us because the conversations that we have with customers on social media help drive improvements to our business so that we can provide the best service and support to our customers.

From the entire marketing budget annually, how much do you allocate to social media marketing in terms of percentage? Considering that majority of your potential customers is online, has the marketing budget (particularly for social media) seen a rise?

While social media has historically been a smaller portion of our overall marketing budget, it is quickly growing, as is digital marketing in general.  Social media is not only a marketing vehicle, but it’s also a place for us to help customers, engage with them, and learn.  It touches all parts of our business – it’s not just a budget line item, but a fundamental way of doing business.