When Gaurav Gurbaxani came up with the idea of automating digital marketing, his peers and advisers were sceptical.
The 30-year-old digital marketer founded Pragmite, an American company based in Pune, for eight years. Three years ago, Gaurav along with Stanley Adams from Texas co-founded OnlineBusiness.org , which conducts six-week-long bootcamps with videos and worksheets to help startups take their business online.
Gaurav, however, wished to automate the digital marketing process. While a seminar he conducted for his entrepreneur friends on digital marketing went down well, they were unsure of Gaurav's idea of a software that can automate the whole process. “So we did some case studies for them, and the product did what it promised to do and they were convinced,” says Gaurav.
OnlineBusiness.org launched this software, Online Business Engine, on Wednesday in Pune.
Gaurav earned his first salary as an online marketer at the age of 14 - $4; about Rs.100 in 1998. Having worked as a business development specialist in online services provider ‘Directi’ for a couple of years before joining Pragmites, Gaurav also co-founded 'Social Media Company' in Texas in 2013. Currently director of Pragmite, Gaurav knew it was time to bring newer methods into digital marketing.
A traditional digital marketing consultancy offers full-fledged services: listings on Google, search engine optimisation (SEO), writing and placing ads on Google and Facebook, paid ads and email and social media marketing. But it takes time to see results, because Google controls the SEO graph.
Taking an online course on digital marketing is an option for startups, but the tutorials will not provide the hand-holding that is often required. Gaurav says his company provides exactly this. “We have someone looking over your shoulder 24/7 no matter what project you are working on to advise you on exactly what digital action you need to take,” he says.
He adds that he has included all steps in the plan: right from the fundamentals like getting keywords right, to getting a social media presence for the startup, and getting in Google adwords.
The venture's target audience are those startups which rely on Internet for business. Outsourcing is an ideal solution as a startup will find it expensive to hire a digital consultant and time consuming to do it all on their own. “Whether it is a blog or an e-commerce store, at the end of the day, it is the traffic that drives online business,” Gaurav notes.
At the launch, people could test the software for free, and could upgrade with a one-time fee of $47 (about Rs 3,100) if they liked it. There is no restriction in access. “Our goal is a wider range of people, so we are charging extremely low costs. Anything similar in the market is expensive,” Gaurav adds.
There are many players in digital marketing and training -like Digitalvidya, NIIT, Shopmatic, and Briefkase which caters to startups and SMEs. Gaurav says a way to measure this product's success would be if it eclipses the need for the digital marketing workshops that his company conducts. “If we are able to put ourselves out of business by this product, then we have got a really great product,” he adds.
While there are digital marketing agencies galore, not many in India provide an automated solution. However, such efforts are mushrooming in other parts of the globe – especially in the US. In fact, California-based Marketo—a pioneer in the field – became a Unicorn this year. With IT boom giving way to e-commerce boom in India, significance of digital marketing will only rise. However, entrepreneurs of young startups will most likely not have the time to focus on digital marketing. A software that automates this essential function will indeed be useful.