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Rajagopalan Chandrashekar Talks About Inbound Marketing

Welcome to Marketing Lego Thought Leader Interview. Today we will have a word with Rajagopalan Chandrashekar, Head of Inbound Marketing & Strategy Znbound, about his journey and how he came up with his agency. We will also talk about the valuable insights on inbound marketing methodology, strategy, tips and more.


Hey, everyone, and welcome to today’s marketing legos thought leader interview. My name is Harshit and I’m the director of business alliances of two brilliant marketing SaaS tools, RankWatch and WebSignals. Today’s special guest is Inbound Specialist, a HubSpot Platinum Partner, founder of a marketing agency in Mount mantra. Raj, a big welcome, and I’m so happy to speak with you today.

I’m really excited to be here and hopefully I’m able to add some value to you guys and your audience. Thank you.

I’m sure you will. Years of experience with you, Raj, would love to know your journey so far. How were you as a kid and how did you get to where you are today?

I wasn’t really prepared for this, but I was generally a very competitive child and whether it’s academics or sports, I would like to come first. Anyway, I grew up in a middle class family and my parents were down servants. I was taught about working hard and getting good grades and getting a job. That’s what I did. I did my undergraduate in engineering and then my management degree. My first job was with the bank and I did corporate banking. After that, I had a stint consulting with Deloitte and KPMG, where essentially I made strategy for infrastructure companies and services companies. After that, I played a stint with GMR, who developed the Delhi airport. I was very proud to be part of the Terminal 3 project, which essentially gave India one of its largest international airports. I’m very proud of that. After putting in about 10 years in the corporate space, I was tired of starting up. I wasn’t very sure what to do and how to do and so on. But I was very fascinated by how the internet is. Still I’m very fascinated by how the internet is. I felt that many businesses in India could…
I never worked abroad just for a few stints as part of my banking and GMR journey. When I did some short stints in. I felt that the internet could essentially add a lot of value to businesses there, not just in terms of maybe growing revenue, but also to become more productive. Since I’m an industrial engineer, productivity is very fascinating for me. That was the intent. I did not have very clear ideas of what I really wanted to do, but I left my job and I thought I’ll figure it out.

What made you that initial kick to… Because once you have that regular paycheck and that took for 10 years, your mind gets used to the idea. And then taking that leap of faith itself is really tough to do. So what was that initial source of the Market?

I think so. Just to mention, I also had a family when I started up and I had a daughter. She was, I think, four, five at that point in time and I had to pay school fees. So, all of those are very tough questions. I’ll give you a very cliched answer, but I think it’s true that money wasn’t something which really excited me. Even when I switched jobs, I remember going from a high paid consulting job to a not so high paying job in strategy when I was moving on to GMR because I was more excited about working on a certain project. So, money was never something which… Obviously, money is important, but it wasn’t something which helped me make decisions per say. It was not a factor. As long as there was enough to get three meals a day, pay rent, pay school fees, I was by and large okay with it. But I think as far as the entrepreneurship purge is concerned, I think there was always this thing about pushing your boundaries. And also somewhere deep inside, I wanted to do something by myself. I think there was this desire, and by that desire?
I don’t know. I just felt that I have to do something. It was not an easy decision for sure. But the way I thought about it was that I was living with that thought all the time, I have to start up. And then I said, okay, let me start up, fail, and then I’ll get back to a job and end our story.

It’s been more than a decade now.

Yeah, correct. Now, this will be my longest tint in a job, my own job.


2011, I started off. I had this idea about teaching businesses how they can use the Internet to grow revenue or become more productive. Initially, the way I was going about it was since I knew mostly people in India and I took a training route saying that, Okay, we’ll train, we’ll do sales training, or we will do some HR training. So, how people can use some of this Web 2.0. At that point, that was called Web 2.0, to engage their employees or to recruit, and so on and so forth. It was very scattered, but that was the intent. We had some success. We did some training programs, helped some real estate companies, insurance companies do sales training, how they can build leads, etc. But after a few initial successes with assignments and training sessions, then it became a drag. There were endless phone calls to be done, to go meet people. I was in Delhi and during summertime, going out in Delhi itself is tough. I used to go in the metro, Noida, this place, that place, So many people. There was very little to show in terms of achievements per se. At that point in time, it slowly morphed into an agency structure because one of the clients gave feedback that, Hey, the reason people are not entertaining or request for training is people don’t give it enough value.
They also think even if they train some of their internal team members, what if they leave? You might as well become an agency which does this full service. We transitioned and we became this social digital agency which was very hot in 2012, 2013. We became something like that. When we were going about doing some of our work, I wasn’t able to see the value that we were creating. Discussions around likes and follows and so on and so forth. We’re very difficult conversation and somehow I was not able to see any value in it. There were ridiculous conversations saying, I don’t know, one cent, one like, or something like that. Since I came from a consulting background, I always felt that there needs to be a business problem that has to be addressed alongside that. With that mindset, I started looking for people who are doing it already. That is when I landed on HubSpot and understood what they’re doing with respect to inbound marketing. That’s when I felt like, Hey, this is exactly what I’d like to perhaps do as an agency. I think this was 2013 and we started running in that direction.

That’s way too early as well.

Yeah, very, very early.

The point of time I remember, just like you mentioned, people are just figuring out what to do with social media marketing. Cloud was something which was way ahead of the time, I believe.

Exactly. In fact, the HubSport team had reached out. There was this gentleman, Frank, he reached out from the boss’s office saying, Hey, we’re looking for partners. I still remember that conversation. I said, Hey, I don’t have money for the partnership. But I said, I will get back to you. I don’t think he believed me. Anyways, so 2013, we perfected with that but we’re not getting traction. Frankly, I was depleting my cash flow. I think by 2014, middle, and so on and so forth, I think I’d run out of money. That was the time I had to make a decision between going back to a job. I did try finding a few jobs and I wasn’t very successful. I decided to take one last shot at the agency again. This was, I think, somewhere in the second half of 2014. Whatever little I had, I collected and made some cash flows for a year and a half or so. I said, Let’s take a shot at it again. Then we also did a partnership with HubSpot, paid for the partnership and got trained by their team, etc. After that, we went about pitching inbound marketing to some of the existing businesses.
So we took up… So in inbound marketing, what I realized was that whenever the purchase cycle is long or a product or a service is difficult to understand, that’s when inbound kicks in. So, we went after retail, which was mostly luxury real estate. We got a chance to work with Soho and they were… I’m grateful that they gave us the chance. So, in the initial 2014, 2015, we were doing all kinds of work without being very discreet. But after that happened, 16 onwards, this pattern started emerging of SaaS companies needing inbound marketing to grow in North America. That pattern started emerging. That pattern over the years has solidified into our global market, wherein we continue to work mostly with SaaS companies, helping them grow their business revenue from inbound marketing in a predictable fashion.

Let’s talk a bit more about all the service offerings that currently the agency has. What do you guys do?

Sure. I think our main service is full service in our marketing. So, if you are a SaaS company and your cross product market fit, they’re doing at least a million dollars in ARR, and you’re looking for an agency which can help you grow faster, then I think you should look out to us. When you come to us, we need just one input from you, which is what is the new revenue expectation you have from Inbound? So, that’s the input you need to get. Once you give us that input, on the basis of that, we will create the entire strategy as to how… Suppose if you say we need $1 million in New ARR or $5 million in new ARR. The basis that we will create the pipeline and move the inbound strategy in such a way that at least that revenue gets addressed. Just to answer your question, that’s our main service, which is turnkey inbound marketing service as a full service agency. Typically, these are year long engagements with the retailers, plus a performance added to it. Other than that, we also do some piecemeal projects, mostly around HubSpot. So, HubSpot implementation or HubSpot website development, integrations, sometimes consulting, training.
So, that is what we do mostly on a project basis.

Got you. Just curious, Raj, the HubSpot consultation that you guys do, is it something which is more or less, or the set up thing, is it more or less a one time service, or is it a recurring service in nature?

No, it’s a one time thing. Typically, the idea is that whenever someone is taking a HubSpot, most of the information is anyways available online. So, if you are a client and you can read through documentation, you will figure it out. But typically, our job essentially is to understand what their business aspirations are and try to map it to the implementation so that they get an onboarding for about a month to 90 days so that they feel confident about getting started. So, it’s one time.

Got you. And as an agency, right now, are you 100 % practising inbound or if there are any outbound strategies that you are still trying to do for your clients?

That’s a good question. As far as we are concerned, we eat our own dog food. We are completely inbound. We are so inbound that we don’t even ask for a referral from existing clients. But if our clients give referrals by themselves, then it’s good. We obviously look forward to that because those are sure short deals.


Yeah. So, our primary channel is inbound, mostly through Google search or the HubSpot Marketplace. We have attempted outbound in the past, and I think in the last five, six years since 2015, we must have definitely done a campaign for one quarter every year. And till now, they have scored zero. Not that we are bad at it. Perhaps we need to do better, that’s all. We haven’t given it up because I know there are agencies who do it very well and we just need to figure out how it is to be done. But every quarter, the last quarter of every calendar year, we do an outbound campaign. For our clients, also, like I mentioned, Harshit, that once they give us an input, we try to solve that problem. Now, for that, if we need to take some outbound method, for example, doing email prospecting.
We don’t do any calling, but if we have to do email prospecting or run LinkedIn ad campaigns or Google ad words campaigns, which also are a little outbound but also a little inbound.

Google ads are now mainly considered inbound.

But we also do email prospecting. But what we do, we try to do differently is when we are sending out the prospecting email. In addition to asking for a meeting or a response, we will also share some valuable content by which at least someone opening the email thinks it is worthy of his or her time that tells me, Okay, there is something valuable that I can consume.

Just curious, how exactly is your onboarding process? What’s a typical client journey, like the first 30 days in your organization, look like? What processes do you have in place to engage the client, set the expectations, and move forward?

I’ll talk about our inbound retainer that we do, full service inbound marketing. I’ll talk about that because there’s not much to do on the HubSpot side.

That’s a much better fit because people are recurring in their job.

Correct. Hubspot itself has some processes which we align to. For the inbound thing is concerned, even before a client is on board. There is a fair bit of work that happens even in the presales stage. For example, if someone fills up a form and we think this company could be a good fit for us, essentially SaaS is cross product market traders, North America focused. Then what we do is in the first discovery call, we try to understand their aspiration and if it fits the bill, we request them to fill a questionnaire. Now through that questionnaire, we do something called an assessment, which we call an inbound assessment. In that assessment, we try to showcase to the client that, hey, if we are able to deliver for you, this is the revenue impact that you need. Even before a proposal, a client has some direction, some sense of the revenue impact that will come by virtue of working with us. It helps them set their expectations very well. Once we do the assessment, if we see the revenue potential, we capture that in a Google slide deck of about eight, nine slides, showcase it to the client, talk ROI, and then go to a program.
If there is no potential for revenue and ROI suspect, we then communicate that to the client, saying that, Hey, ROI is looking difficult, but if you are keen to still try it out, then maybe we can do a small three month, four month proof of concept. For them to ring fence their investment and do all of that.

Why is that? Because a lot of agencies won’t confront that this is something which is not achievable. You keeping that transparency is really worth remarking. That’s awesome.

Thank you. It also helps us align our resources very well. For example, because if you’re taking up a year long engagement, then I need to commit resources to it. Now, if we take up a three, four month engagement, then the resources are fluid. The more I have year long engagement and visibility, it is easier to come with resources. Let’s talk about this engagement that starts. Once the proposal is done, the client is on the proposal. What we typically do is when the assignment begins, we do a month on month traffic protection.
Saying that, hey, month one traffic so much leads this much, so on and so forth for 12 months. So, we give a 12 month projection. So, when we get started, the idea is to… Obviously, I think one thing that we do very differently is we tell the client that, hey, you need to give us autonomy. There is no need for you to do agency management. If you’re doing agency management, then I don’t think you need to hire us. Once you’ve given us that input, you leave it to us. If you’re not achieving our monthly KPIs or quarterly KPIs, then you can take us apart and fire us. That’s not a problem. But the thing is you should not waste time in agency management because we know what is to be done. Which is why what happens in the first quarter, our focus completely is on getting quick wins. Whether it is increasing traffic, increasing leads, growing keyword ranking for important commercial keywords, running social media campaigns on LinkedIn, etc. To make sure that quality leads are getting generated. Then we also follow through some of those inbound inquiries to make sure how sales is talking to them and is sales getting the right conversations?
The progress of a lead from an inquiry, from a lead to a sales acceptability, to an SQL to opportunity to customer. The first quarter is completely that focus. In terms of transaction, how it works is we typically have weekly review calls. We have a certain agenda template. We typically also put open communication channels mostly on Google Space. Other than that, some clients insist on using project management like Asana. Whatever it is, we try to align with that. That’s how essentially the initial few months are.

Don’t mind me asking, what’s the current retention rate of the agency?

Every year, whether we retain our clients or not. See, as I told you, the Smart team, at any point in time, on an average, people have five accounts. Typically, I see a 20 % churn, typically a client will move out every year on an average. That’s how it is. The churn happens mostly for two reasons. I’m not talking about the POCs. The POCs, if they are not convolting and not taking that as a churn, because we have not said yes to it. That’s right. I’m picking that out of the equation. For the retainer client, what happens is when we have started work… Typically, a formula exists in any of these. For example, in SaaS, we have worked in a CRM space, we have worked in a manufacturing space, we’ve also worked in something as complex as bio specimens where universities use specimen software just to note take specimens, specimens like tissue specimen, etc. The point I was trying to make here is that there is a formula in every space. Once we have figured the formula out, there isn’t any new challenge left. At that point in time, we typically encourage our clients to either outsource it.
They bring someone in who also understands the business, can understand the work we have already done, and then they like to move on.

Got you.

Very rarely it happens that people will say, no, we don’t want to continue anymore because we want to replace it with another agency. It does happen but very rarely. And over the years, we have gotten better. So I think one of the big learnings for me as an agency person has been not to get the wrong clients. Now I think I would want to believe that we have learned that and we are not getting any wrong clients anymore.

That’s very wise. If a client is not a good fit for your agency, they don’t understand the way you guys work and there’s a lot of difference on that front. Instead of doing good, it makes your life miserable and you end up wasting too much time. So, it’s good to say no to a business before and then making your team members’ life miserable.

I know it’s very, very important. I think what I have learned about this thing is it’s important for us to figure it out. I do see when I look back, say a few years ago, I think we used to say yes to many, and even when we didn’t want to say yes. So, I think saying no is important. But if you also have a good methodology to identify why you should say no, that makes it even better. That’s true.

I completely agree with you. At an initial phase of the agency, because you need to sort your cash flows and so many things. So at that particular stage, definitely for you, every business is important. Once you mature, then you understand with experience that it’s good to say no, that particular business is not a good fit for yours. That’s a wise thing to do. Let’s talk more about inbound methodologies.
One of the really good things and I was fascinated by it was your website development approach. Please share a bit about that and how you go about taking up a new project and developing things.

Sure. I think I’ll try and answer this a little differently. We are an inbound agency and we approach website development from that perspective. Our website needs to be our 24 by 7 sales rep.
Our website needs to be our customer facing touch point. That’s how we approach it. Typically, my colleagues in the industry will approach it from other perspectives as well. One which most of them do is visual design. My website needs to look good. Our approach has… Obviously, we like our website to look good, but that’s not the driver. The driver is completely about… For example, when we get a chance to look up our website, inbound mantra, which we redesigned two years ago. It’s only made for those guys who want to do business with us. For example, if you come to a website and you don’t find something relevant to you, it perhaps means that we will not be doing business with you.

Got you.

Our approach, essentially, is I would say very customer oriented. We would like to understand a client’s customer. Why would a client’s customer do work with them? We try to first and build the story from there. What does the client’s customer really want and build the stories from there? Essentially, you have to visualize two ends of the spectrum. From one end, it is the client’s push, which we call the demand side. On the other side, the left side, you have supply. Supply is essentially our client. There is a song that a client wants to sing and there is a song which the customer is always singing. We need to bring those together and essentially approach the website directly. The rest of the things are fairly simple. You’ll have an information architecture, then you’ll have some brand guidelines, and those inputs are given. But few things stand out in how we approach some of our website design approaches. In addition to bringing this demand and supply thing, we have a good focus on copywriting. Whether it’s an audience which is global or just American or just Indian. There is a lot of emphasis on how we would like to copy.
Content obviously is, then the copy is. The third element is about conversions. How easily people can get in touch with you. Then there is this technical aspect and I don’t know how you guys are thinking or your current set of customers, is the speed of the site.

Very critical.

For example, at some point in time, I had this benchmark interview that every site should load within a second, whether it’s mobile or it’s desktop, it should load within a second. These are some things that we bring together. Lastly, we never take website development as done or website design as done. It is always evolving. It is never looked at as a project. Here, I think HubSpot has already done a lot of thought leadership about… I don’t know what they call that GDV, whereas I forget the terminology.

Yeah, it’s called growth driven design.

Growth driven design. They’ve already published some of those things. I think the idea is definitely to be aligned with that. But at the same time, bring some of these business aspects very clearly because they tend to get missed. I definitely see a lot of things getting missed in this mismatch of supply and demand. That is I see more supply and not enough demand coming into the conversation. It’s like you singing your own song without really worrying about whether anybody wants to listen to it or not. But if you’re able to bring in the client’s customer’s perspective, I think that’s where the magic really happens.

How exactly do you do that? Like collecting thoughts onto what the customer wants? How do you go about that?

Obviously, we have a questionnaire, we send it out to our client, they fill up everything. They also tell us about their customers. I think one of the aspects in our website design process is also an element where we ourselves do buyer persona interviews.


Essentially, if there are multiple buyer personas, we don’t have a sample size approach. The idea is to only get a sense of what the customers are thinking. So, essentially, we get the best customer, worst customer, and an average customer.

Got you.

Okay, speak to them. Some of these conversations are very free giving. The way you are conducting it, wherein we can really understand who that person is, why they did business with our client, what prompted them. Sometimes the drivers are not always business. Sometimes the drivers are… For example, I remember one client, the customer said that we decided to do business with them because they had a photo of a dog in their teeth. Now, how do you bring that element into website design? But it did have a play. Where it was said that researchers and doctors who were their bio personas, they would perhaps be dog lovers too. How do you bring some of these elements into the website design approach? If you just take a supply side view of things, you will miss that.

Definitely. Makes sense.

Obviously, I’ve been doing it for many, many, many sentences now, but as far as website design development is concerned, you cannot ever take the stance that you know it. You have to keep learning. For example, even after development, my team would do heat map analysis, landing page conversion metrics, A B testing, continuous.

Raj, please share a few tips related to the inbound strategies that every business should use. It’s a must in this digital age altogether.

Firstly, you should publish. Whatever you are learning, you should publish. Publish consistently, not really worry about whether you’re writing for a keyword or not a keyboard. You should publish whatever you’re learning. For example, while just doing the interview with you, I’m learning many things. It would be prudent of me to document some of those things and publish it out so that the world can benefit from it. You’ll find this very funny. When I was in my struggling period, wherein we did not have any clients and I had to go out and get business, we were consistently pushing blocks every week. Sometimes when I was getting no business and no calls and I was getting frustrated, I used to blog.

Frustrated blogger.

Frustrated blogger. I remember there were some weeks, so someone cancelled the meeting. I said, Okay, I’ll write the blog. But that eventually started helping us. We started getting traffic from people who resonated with some of the content that was put out there. Some of these blogs also got picked up by HubSpot saying, We really like the philosophy that these guys are espousing. So for example, there was one blog that many years ago I’d written on selfless inbound marketing. So that got picked up. And some of my team members have written phenomenal blogs. For example, there is one blog which was done by one of my colleagues, Apood, and it talked about the day in the life of an inbound marketer. It’s one of our best performing blogs and it just tells what a day typically looks like for an inbound marketer. That is one you keep publishing stuff, thought leadership. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s good, bad, you publish because there will be someone who will be an audience for you. Lastly, even if there is no audience, you write it for yourself. It will develop the way you communicate, think through some of the things.
That’s definitely one. Second, I think this is more when I’m giving these suggestions, it’s more for an audience which is running a SaaS business, but it would also apply for others, but definitely for SaaS. This is a mistake, at least I have done, is focusing too much on performance and not enough on the brand. Got you. I think the brand building has to start from the very beginning. You have to be really conscious about the perception you’re building, what you stand for, and some of that should get communicated often time and again. One is continuous publishing, third is brand building, second is brand building. Third, you really need to get good at business strategy. If you really want to make inbounder success, you really need to get good with business strategy right from reading some of the strategy models, whether it’s Polter, five forces, Swa, this and that. Whatever it is, you should at least get an MDF crash course and get some of these strategy models in place. Fourth, when I say 1, 2, 3, 4, they necessarily don’t have to be 1, 2, 3, 4. They can be any five, six, seven, eight also.
But I’m just telling you some of the important things I have learned. Fourth is analytics. You need to be able to analyze each and every thing that you’re doing and then decide whether you need to continue or stop it. I think these are some suggestions that are very important for someone who’s just… This is for people who are just getting started with it now. People who are already doing inbound, they obviously would know some of these things. But if you are someone who is already doing inbound, that is something I would like you to know and be disturbed.

And Raj since your agency is dealing with multiple tools when it comes to marketing, automation, and the CRM altogether. Hubspot is one, Marketo, a few others. How do you go about consulting a particular client? Which particular tool will be the best fit for their organization? What does that particular process look like?

So, here is an admission. I don’t think we’re too qualified to make that recommendation to our clients at this point in time. But as a disclosure, we are a HubSpot partner and we’ve been invested with HubSpot for many years since 2014. We have seen the HubSpot product evolve. We definitely can say why HubSpot will do better than others. But I don’t think we are qualified enough to give a solid suggestion, recommendation, where we can compare some of the tools that you mentioned like Marketo, Oracle, or whether it’s Pardot, Salesforce. We have one deal where people have taken HubSpot and they’ve taken Salesforce or Marketo and even Dynamics, etc. But I don’t think we are qualified to talk about it. But just to close the conversation here is, since we’ve been HubSpot partners, most of the people who come to us are small to medium sized business and maybe entry level enterprise. And we definitely see a lot of value that HubSpot can add just because of its user friendliness. Earlier, we were also associated with the deep spread, but somehow we were not able to invest time into that partnership.
The only decisions we have had to make has been HubSpot, Salesforce, or when people even don’t have the budget for taking HubSpot, then we have also gone to an open source tool called Motik and even configured those setups where people have taken those for their marketing automation, then integrated against with the three hub sports here. That’s my answer to that.

Makes sense. What are the common mistakes that you see businesses making when it comes to automation altogether? Earlier, it was more about businesses which already have a decent amount of traffic on their side. We used to leverage automations and all, but now, even entry level business, they do take part in to leverage such tools to optimize their processes and get more value. What are the common mistakes that you see in your experience and how to avoid them?

I just twist the question a bit. I won’t say mistakes. I will just say how could they approach some of this automation better? Let’s take that question like that because, frankly, you will make mistakes and many mistakes. I think mistakes are the first way by which you can actually make changes in the way you’re… But I do see a few issues when people are looking at automation. Firstly, the expectation with automation itself is not right. What I mean by that is people expect the moon from automation. Moon means not moon, literally, but they think that each and everything can be automated without doing anything. Now, for automation to reach that sophistication, there is a lot of thinking that needs to go into what you really want to automate. The first challenge I see in this is most of the processes are not written down. Most of the processes have not been audited for efficiency.
Now, the thing is when you do automation, whenever you take a tool like HubSpot, for example, it’s built for an efficient process. It’s not built for an inefficient process. Because you put automation into an inefficient process, you still get an inefficient process. These are some challenges I see where the expectation itself is not right. Second, there isn’t enough documentation of the process and the processes themselves are inefficient. These are some challenges we see when people look at automation. Then what do you call that? That excitement curve, which then teters off the curve of peak of excitement and then maturity. I am forgetting now what it is, but maybe I can send it over to you. Typically, when people take up automation, there is this peak of excitement, super excited. Then they see, Oh, okay, there are these problems and it looks difficult. We need people, we need to hire an agency, we need to spend more money. Then their excitement fall. Only when the excitement falls and people still put their nose into it and say, okay, now let me see how this can help me. That is where the growth actually starts happening. Many people, typically, think it’s called the truth of death.
Most of them potentially die there after that initial excitement about the machine. But like I said, the first point is the expectation itself is wrong. The processes are not documented, and even when there are processes, they are inefficient.

Got you. Raj a few tips on how to maximize inbound marketing efficiency. That is something which is again, like, critical and many businesses struggle to do it.

Okay. Like I mentioned, I think the classic inbound marketing is when you are occupying the category leader position on your search in words, whether it’s a Google or a thing. I’m talking more in the context of the United States. I think the single most important factor in being strong with the rate of market thing is to occupy the category that you are in. So if you are a CRM company, you should show up for all keywords around CRM. If you are a manufacturing software company, you should show up for all the keywords. I think that’s where it is. That’s what we have learned. And whenever you are able to… So there is this blog on, I think, our website called Monopolistic Advantage, because once you are ranking for your main commercial keyword on page one or above the fold, there is a consistency in how you get traffic and business. I think I’ve changed my view also over the years is just that will not help. While that will get you inbound marketing efficiency, but you will quickly die after that because it will just take one whack from Google or other search engines to just upset your business.
Frankly, at this point, I would like to go from RankWatch how you’re thinking. I don’t know whether this search engine play will continue for many years to come. I think marketers and my colleagues and my friends will have to keep thinking of more ways to be relevant. I definitely think that inbound marketing will change completely. Maybe it will be called something else, I don’t know. But it will not sustain.

See, even if you write it on, look into the search landscape, more ads have started taking positions and the whole landscape is actually changing. You see the snippets ranking, different spread, whether it be ads or whatnot. But then usually the feed is a source site. Google is taking that feed from the sites altogether.

That won’t die.

One very curious thing I’ve experienced is that even though a lot of marketers believe that if you look into the search landscape, the position of organic research is shrinking. But then too, the traffic that people get from the organic source, that is really a thing. Still working on the fable, it’s just that it’s not too obvious right now. So, that’s the scenario.

I think this is where I think the importance of a brand becomes very key. That’s true.

How to do it quantity again, just like you said, that’s way too critical.

Absolutely. I think when companies engage in strong storytelling, talking about the product marketing, storytelling, thought leadership, and making that mark out there, it will be important because you brought up the results about paid ads. It’s very funny. Only last week I noticed that if you click on an ad, it opens on the same page. But if you click on an organic search result, it opens in a new tab. I also was astonished to see that. But that’s just a small point. But when I look at it from Google’s point of view, it just makes sense to me. Now, the thing is Google has become like a gateway. I don’t know if someone might just screw me for saying this, but sometimes I feel Google should become a public utility, wherein the governments of the world should come together. At least for search, dictate some guidelines so that Google is not able to determine how someone’s business gets impacted for that. There can be a transparent set of guidelines that everybody follows, but should not be just left to Google itself how things show up.

That’s true, actually. I was looking into the Ahrefs’ Founders video quite some time back, and they’ve been building their own search engine. I like the vision of the guy. The reason he wanted to build the search engine was for the fact that he wanted to share the revenue that the search business generates for him with the publishers and make it way too transparent. They are the source of knowledge. Basically all the information that the searcher needs, just giving the community back. That was his vision, which was very wise. Let’s see.
That will eventually end. Might take time, but that is something very hard to sustain.

But even if you see, just to add another point, I could talk about SaaS, a B2B SaaS. I do see the audience also getting very focused in terms of what they want. Today, I think, and this is my hunch, many people go directly to a Gartner or a Capterra or a software adviser and search there, get the results that they want, and they get going with it. They may not even come to a Bingo or Google to do their search. Or people will look into networks. At least I have seen in my consumer behaviour, where we ask a few friends on a WhatsApp group and you then don’t have to Google it to find what it is, unless you have time to kill.

That’s true. Even the searchers’ psyche is changing as well.
I think I’ve already taken a lot of your time, Raj.

No, it’s been a pleasure.

Do you have a few minutes to have a quick rapid fire?

Sure. I just hope those are easy questions.

Very easy. You love it.
What is your last Google search?

I think the Public Provident Fund

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Leave things on a high.

At what age were you the happiest in life?

I am happiest now because I have two kids and I am a father.

That’s nice. What career did you dream of having as a kid?

I wanted to be a cricketer.

Did you join any of those?

I played district.

What trait most defines you, who you are?

I think it was determination, perseverance.

Thank you so much, Raj, for all the time. I really appreciate it and all the value that you have.

Thank you so much. I really want to thank you and the RankWatch team for giving me the opportunity to talk about my agency in a way, it’s part of an environment and also allowing me to speak my mind. I wish you guys all the very best. Keep up the good work. I am really proud of what RankWatch has been able to do coming out of India as a software product. Many congratulations.

Thank you, Raj. It’s a pleasure speaking with you. Thanks.


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