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Digital Marketing Tips. OME Community Minutes of Meeting Bangalore

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Web Marketing Academy Workshop Series in IIM Bangalore

We bring together SEO, Social Media Communities in India

OME COMMUNITY MEET-UP Minutes of Meeting & Power Tip
Programme Outline:
  • Introduction – attendees  and members
  • Introduction – OME Community (by Suresh Babu)
  • Introduction – NSRCEL and the  NextBigIdea concept (by Suresh Babu)
  • Presentation – “Building Better Communities“ by Bharath Moro , Ex-Googler
  • Presentation – “Affiliate Marketing“ by Harish, Montera
  • Power Tips session
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Call for Indian case Studies, volunteers and sponsors
  • Suggestions by attendees
  • Photo session & party
Sunday, the 21st of November 2010 saw numerous new and most of the regular Online Marketing Enthusiasts get together for the eighth time, since the inception of OME in April 2010. From established brands to startups, from veterans to amateurs – the OME now boasts of members from several industrial sectors, who unite under the Central Pergola roof of IIMB to imbibe and share knowledge on topics of online marketing and most of all enjoy themselves immensely during the process. The start was as enthusiastic as the members on the floor; introductions revealed abundant inquisitiveness among all attendees to know what the evening had to offer them.
Introductions were followed by brief introductions on OME and the NextBigIdea challenge launched by the entrepreneurial sector of IIMB, NSRCEL.
The first speaker of the evening Bharath Moro, spoke to the group about his interesting background. Having worked as a Search Quality Associate for Google, he had several interesting anecdotes to share. He is in love with not just community building but also traveling & photography. In fact, as one of the founder members of the Railway Enthusiasts Community of India he firmly believes that people are the ultimate networking tool.
Bharath started with a little history from the 1990s with the highly priced BBS and its more synchronized successor, Usenet. He added that, it was this passion for technologies and meeting people from all around the globe to discuss myriad mundane topics, which triggered his love for communities.

          It is not about software
(This was emphasized doubly to stress upon the fact that software is only a means to get people to connect and form communities; the real communities are the live ones where people are gathered to exchange thoughts, information etc.)
          It is about the Content & Context
(Bharath highlighted upon the existence of a context, for people to relate to a website or for any community for that matter.)
          All communities need to have broad goals
(Communities without a common goal tend to disintegrate so also a company with too many narrow goals
          Not every business needs a community
(Ramlal, the panwalla does not need a community, to promote his business. This example brought out the fact that although business owners can afford it, they should not spend unnecessarily in building communities that are not needed for the core business functions).
          An open culture is very essential for a community
(This was illustrated with examples from Google, which believes in the concept of “sharing with a responsibility”; it also set off some arguments about the open culture within organizations with attendees giving different views. Bharath smartly quipped in that emulation of Google is not obligatory for all)
          No one owns the Community
(This triggered a lot of discussions and questions with respect to who takes responsibility of the community activities or controls the community, when no one owns or owes anything; Bharath had come prepared with some deft examples of his favorite historical characters- Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel & the Indira Gandhi family to drive the point home)
          Difference between  CORE TEAM and USERS of the Community
(This point again raised a hornet’s nest with respect to community owners controlling or influencing the group’s thoughts over a period; Bharath clarified that this depends on the Core team and the kind of community it is -such that controlling them is not always necessary; feedback & user behavior can never really be owned by anyone. Users need to be gradually promoted within the group to keep them satisfied.)
          A community is its own enemy
(When the size of a community exceeds a particular number, the community tends to become its own enemy as too many people say too many things. In such cases, Bharath gave several examples that illustrated that subdividing a group into different/smaller sub-interest groups, keeps the integrity of the community intact. Generalizing the formula of community-unity does not work either; all communities have to be dealt with in a separate manner)
          Respect the Community members
(Tolerance, patience & respect for other’s opinions goes a long way in successful community building and this is one of the most important aspects of it)
          It is about Tangibility
(It is all about people and interactions with them that make communities what they are. Communities should meet as often as feasible. In Bharath’s words, “if nothing works- throw a party!”)
Ensuing Question and Answer session:
1.       Q: If Google has such an open culture, how does it maintain trade secrecy? Don’t employees with confidential business information just walk out and handover facts to the competition?
A: Google follows the Policy of “Sharing with responsibility”. Even if someone does leak information, it is simply not possible to replicate the vast amount of data possessed by Google. It is not possible for 1-5 people to cause much harm to Google’s information infrastructure.
2.       Q: What about the large number of Google’s staff who left for FaceBook recently?
A:  The “large number” is media-induced hype. Only very few key people left Google for FaceBook.
3.       Q: If I build a community whose business model is revenue generation, how can I measure its success rate in the form of ROI?
A: Quantitative measurement of the success of a community is not possible. It is very difficult to attach metrics to number of people. The relevance of the community is lost in such a case. Some ratios like average response rates can be calculated or number of a discussions in a thread can be quantified.
The value of a group can be judged by:
     Constant engagement seen within the group
     Feedback received from the members
    Evangelism of present members to others who want to join this group.
The second speaker of the evening Harish, had a plethora of rich experiences in affiliate marketing having worked for more than 8 years in Montera – the famous international brand of Diamond jewelry.  He introduced Affiliate marketing and spoke of the basics, defining affiliate as the interface between the merchant & the vendor.…
Harish was pelted with questions-both on basic as well as on advanced topics throughout his talk. Some such examples of the questions are given:

Ensuing Question and Answer session:
1.       Q: How can repeat visits to the merchant site be tracked?
A: There is a reference code being added in the Link Ad or Banner Ad. When user clicks on the Ad, the analytics tool describing whether it is a first time visitor or repeating visitors tracks it. Also cookies installed in the browser helps to find out about repeating visitors.
2.       Q: Is there a threshold period upto which, the cookies can track visitor information? Can the cookies expire or be deleted?
A: Yes, there is a threshold period of 30, 45, 60 and 90 days cookie period being considered by different affiliate network tools that is defined in the backend coding of the site browser.
3.       Q: What happens if the visitor does not go from his website to the vendor site and types the URL of the merchant directly? Can the cookies still track them?
A: Then there is no commission incurred by the affiliates, since the reference passed by the affiliate link URL is not there when a user manually enters the URL. No, the cookie can’t track it because there is no reference passed. Only if the user has saved it as a Bookmark site and subsequently goes and clicks the link, then only the cookie can understand the initiation of that URL or else not, and it will accept it as a new URL where affiliate won’t get any return out of it.
4.       Q: How big is the affiliate marketing industry?
A: It is vast in the US, UK and other foreign countries, but in India, It is still in the initial stage.
5.       Q: How do you know if buyer browses the whole range of products available with the merchant?
A: There is a tracking reference code passed, whenever a user initiates an action in affiliate or merchant site. So with different Affiliate Networks, tracking reports and analytics we can determine the activity.
6.       Q: Can affiliate marketing work for services just as they work for products?
A: It will surely work, but we need to get connected with the right affiliates, who have a strong hold on the market that your needs or objective are into.
7.       Q: Do Joint Ventures make sense with respect to Affiliate marketing?
A:  Not much.
8.       Q: Does transparency work as a Policy for affiliates?
A: Yes very much, since money transactions are initiated in a big way, where transparency and building relationship are primary focus to continue with.
9.       Q: What is the best way to track a competitor’s products & affiliate strategy?
A: Browsing different competitor sites and their activity. Using tools like,, Alexa, Comscore, Hitwise, Nielsen and other affiliate tips related sites.
10.   Q: As an affiliate manager, how can you track unwanted advertisements from other vendors on your sites?
A: An affiliate manager can have full control on the ads or links he/she is going to promote in his affiliate site. Also he/she should verify by clicking on each link to make sure that it fulfills his criteria/objective of a clean site, and is not spam.
11.   Q: How can a merchant’s activity betracked?
A: It is tracked with different tracking resources provided by different Affiliate Network sites like Linkshare, CJ, ShareaSale, Clickbank
12.   Q: Between ppc & affiliate, which makes better sense in India? How can this kind of comparison be tracked?
A: Each has its own strength in promoting, networking and building brand. If you want to promote your products and services to the appropriate target in just a day with a minimum budget then go for PPC. If you can wait to have sales and not be bothered about visits, then go for Affiliate, since you will only pay when you receive a sale or leads, but not for the clicks.
13.   Q: What happens if a third or fourth linked affiliate website appears? How can such visits be tracked?
A: There is a login called 1-tier, 2-tier, 3-tier affiliate chain network where commission is also divided among the same in a logical way.
14.   Q: How can purchases from the third or fourth linked affiliate website be tracked?
A: Sub affiliates are employed for the purpose..
15.   Q: What are two-tier and three-tier affiliates? What are affiliate tie-ups?
A: Amway is the right example for this.
16.   Q: What are leads, sales & impressions with respect to affiliates?
A: Filling up online form, registration form comes into Leads. Sales is mostly related to E-Commerce related sites, and impression is nothing but user coming to a affiliate site, but not clicking on the link or ads.
17.   Q: How can a vendor know if an online purchase of his products is done? What if an offline purchase is made-can that be tracked?
A: The same conversion is tracked in the affiliate or merchant account Affiliate marketing interface. No, the offline purchase can’t be tracked, but if the offline store request the user to fill up the form about his actions to purchase the product, then atleast we can come to know from it.
18.   Q: Why should affiliate marketing be preferred over pay-per-click or pay-per-lead type of online marketing?
A: The advertiser will only have to pay to the affiliate, if any sales or leads are completed but not for clicks, but in PPC, the advertisers have to pay for the Clicks too.
19.   Q: What are the factors that affect the selection of an affiliate?
A:  We should not consider every affiliate site for our advertising needs. We need to understand our advertiser /merchant’s objectives and based on that, we first need to select the right industry/product/service category affiliate.
Further to that, we need to go through each affiliate in the respective categories, do a thorough check of their respective websites, and then, if we find the content relevant enough to make a profitable relationship to both affiliate and merchant, then he should be selected.
20.   Q:  Based on business concept, what is the relationship between a publisher and an affiliate?
A:  Publishers are called Affiliates in Affiliate Marketing Industry, and Merchant’s are called Advertisers.
21.   Q: Can I become an affiliate of my own FaceBook page?
A:  Yes, you can, but need to find out your objective behind going for affiliate marketing for your FaceBook page.
22.   Q: Why is a W9 form needed for a non-US based publisher? Who can help me with these formalities?
A:  It is for people without a US Social security number & hence non-US people need to fill it and sign it. No payment needs to be done in such a case.  The affiliate network staff take care of all these issues.
23.   Q: How can platforms like Linkshare & CJ help? Is a mediator needed to be involved at this stage?
A:  Linkshare and CJ are different affiliate networking sites that have hundreds of affiliates & publishers under their network. So they act as an intermediaries between Advertiser/Merchant and Publisher/Affiliate to connect the right publisher with right number of affiliates for fulfilling each other objectives. Also they have the best tracking tools or software to help run a transparent business between Merchant and affiliate in term of commission exchange and sales generated.
24.   Q: Who are the best mediators? How can they help me in the affiliate marketing? What is Clickbank?
A:  Linkshare, ShareaSale, Commission Junction, and ClickBank. Clickbank is also an affiliate network.
25.   Q: Which is the best way to select a merchant?
A:  First an affiliate needs to understand, which industry is highly profitable. Then come up with affiliate site relevant to the same industry with the best navigation and SEO friendly website. Then the best merchant needs to be identified based on their prior performance in the market.
26.   Q: If only 10 affiliates out of 100 get business to a merchant, how can the other 90 be utilized and persuaded to make them work as well ?
A:  In any Online Marketing channel, there are always a number of Best. It can be top 10, top 20 or top 50, which will always perform well and get you clicks/sales/leads for your business. But when it comes to remaining one in affiliate industry, we need to build up relationship and push those non-performing affiliates by having phone calls on a weekly or 10 days, once. Asking them the reason for non-performance and based on their needs/request, getting the required changes in the website
27.   Q: How often should one talk to their affiliates?
A:  For top performing affiliates, once in a week or once in 10days. Rest all affiliates should be sent a mail or whenever you get a time, call 1-1 affiliate to build up the relationship and also pushing them to get your objective fulfilled.
28.   Q: How important is affiliate marketing to software merchants?
29.   Q: Can two merchants barter among themselves with respect to affiliates?
A:  This phenomenon does not take place in the affiliate marketing industry.
30.   Q: Can I play the role of merchant & affiliate as well??
A:  Yes, if you two website, where one website act as a merchant site and other site act as a affiliate site, then you can.

The power tips for the month of November were even more exciting and had more participation than before:
1.       Amit Sati:
          Buyer & Consumer persona study is extremely essential for marketing []
2.       Suresh Babu:
          Attention Wizard []
          Google Instant preview []
3.       Shankar:
          GT metrix []
          Yahoo Clues []
4.       Nanda Kishor K N:
          Google Wonder wheel []
5.       Shiva Purohit:
          X-marks  []
          MeasureFit  []
          Form Filler []
          Copy tab URL []
          WASP []
          SEOPEN []
          Status search []
          Rank Quest []
          Keyword ranking Checker []
          X-Ray []
6.       Amit Misra:
          Rockmelt []
7.       Sameer Gupta:
          Key Board shortcut: Typing letters from the right to the left on a keyboard, twice in succession followed by control and enter opens a new web (Firefox) page []
The “November 2010 “Power Tips” was unanimously won by Mr. Amit Misra. The Managing Director at SSABLE Advisory Private Limited, Mr. Sameer Gupta sponsored this award.


OME invites members for one or all of the following:
Indian Case studies: Submission of Case Studies from any Indian industry, which has used Online and Social media marketing successfully or with some effect are invited. All interested people are requested to submit or share their story during the subsequent OME meets and give suggestions to all the budding entrepreneurs who have plans to launch their own industry.  The best practices being followed by these industries will also be discussed and further suggestions from members welcomed.
Testimonials: OME invites testimonials from all attendees regarding their experience in one / several OME meets. These testimonials will be put up on the soon-to-coming OME website.
Power Challenge: OME invites questions/queries from anyone who is facing a challenge when it comes to Online, Social media or any other form of marketing. The experts at OME will put their heads together to solve them right on the spot! And if it takes time- OME members take it up as an action item and help solve the problem within 15 days time and post their solutions on the OME LinkedIn group or mail it to the concerned person.
Volunteers: The OME Community has called for volunteers to assist the core team with the monthly meets as well as other activities and taking some individual responsibilities of this burgeoning association.
Students: Student attendees of the OME meets are always welcome and have special offers lined up for them, on the behalf of OME. They can voice their thoughts, join the group as volunteers and take help from the OME community as well.
Sponsors: A special mention was made for Sponsors who can support the monthly OME Community events and help with the costs of venue, ambience, prizes or any other aspect of the OMEBang activities.
Various ideas for subsequent OME Community sessions were given by attendees. To sum them up:
  1. Complete event to be recorded
  2. More Online marketing/ Social media specific case studies
  3. Presentation of numerous live Case studies during the meet & discussing their challenges
  4. Discussing the results in subsequent OME meets
  5. Engagement of IIM students in OME
  6. Informal meetings to be arranged for regular or interested members
  7. Customized Wordpress OME Community blog to be started
  8. Pay per guest option could be introduced
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