India has over half a billion smartphone users. Coupled with factors such as a developing telecommunications sector and more affordable internet connectivity, the smartphone revolution has created more sources of information and interactions for users. The opportunity has also paved the way for digital marketing in which brands leverage digital adoption to reach their target audience.
It has become an effective brand engagement tool that uses technology to provide businesses with actionable insights into consumer behavior. Against this backdrop, Jaipur-based Drive Digital strives to empower local and international brands through digital marketing and help them scale by expanding their user base.
The company was established by Prakash Mishra in 2011 when he was just 18 years old and pursuing his bachelor’s degree. He first discovered digital marketing while assisting his father in his carpet business. “My dad had several international clients and he had hired a digital marketing company to build the company’s online presence. While helping my dad, I started exploring digital marketing, then I got into it. am interested,” says Prakash.
While observing what digital marketing could do for businesses, Prakash saw a business opportunity in a niche industry that India was about to wake up to. “My family didn’t want me to start a new business because they wanted to join my father. But I went against them to start Drive Digital,” he adds.
Over a decade later, the company is growing by working with over 600 active brands and helping them with Google Ads, Facebook marketing and even creating content to help brand promotion in different languages including Spanish and French.
“I knew next to nothing about digital marketing or search engine optimization. In my early days, the internet was just a way to make friends on social media or play games. Also, I never had a technical degree that could help me in this area, so I learned a lot on the job and through trial and error,” he explains.
Learn the tricks of the trade to evolve
Talking about the difficulties he faced while launching the business, Prakash says he initially struggled to get clients to trust his team as he had no formal training in the field. . “I had a master’s degree in mathematics. So clients were hesitant to work with us. We still face the challenge, but now our work speaks for itself,” he adds.
Over the years, the team has successfully met these challenges through their dedication to delivering and helping clients grow their audience. “We strive to offer simple solutions to complex problems by leveraging technology. In addition, we analyze our clients’ assets and activities before developing an appropriate digital marketing strategy to ensure the best result” , he adds.
A key pillar of Drive Digital’s success story is its .in extension. “I had chosen the name ‘Drive Digital’ for my business and it was only available with an .in extension. However, over the years the decision has worked well for me in more ways than one. To begin with, a .in domain helped us establish our identity as an India-based digital marketing company, and it’s an instant callback to people and even our international customers,” he says.
Prakash also says the .in domain name has boosted Drive Digital’s SEO presence, making it easier for the company to reach international customers.
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has helped hundreds of businesses from all industries and sizes to stand out as a brand with its .in or .Bharat domain, which is the code top level domain of country (ccTLD) of India. It is one of the few Internet exchange points in the world to offer a ccTLD in several languages.
Prakash believes that a .in extension gives small businesses and brands the advantage of defining their niche based on their geographic location. “Besides helping a business establish itself as an Indian entity, it also provides the benefit of quality traffic and viewership.”
Why the future of marketing is digital
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for the digital marketing industry. From big brands exploring online marketplaces to pushing existing e-commerce brands to pivot almost overnight, the crisis has catalyzed digital marketing as an effective communication tool.
Speaking about his experience running a business during the pandemic, Prakash says COVID-19 took everyone by surprise and accelerated digital transformations across industries. “Previously, small brands did not feel the need to launch e-commerce stores and there were several doctors who were hesitant to consult online. However, the pandemic has changed all that. The crisis has made them aware of the importance of a digital presence in getting a customer to trust them,” he explains.
He also said he’s seen several companies shut down because they didn’t anticipate the surge in digital adoption and weren’t nimble enough to undergo digital transformation almost overnight.
“We had a hair transplant surgeon among our clients. When COVID-19 hit, the surgeon and his hospital faced tough times as the number of patients dwindled massively. That’s when we suggested that the hospital maintain a digital presence. We launched some of their online medication websites. These were well-researched products that the hospital had launched in partnership with adonhaircare.com. Within 24 hours of the launch, we were able to get around 3,000 orders,” says Prakash, who says his team created buzz about the product through engaging articles and posting interactive videos about the product and its benefits.
If there’s one lesson the pandemic has taught businesses, it’s that brands can no longer ignore digital adoption. “They need to have an online and offline presence to survive changes in consumer behavior. Most people like to learn a little about a brand before trying it out and the internet is often their first source of information.”
In the near future, Drive Digital plans to roll out engaging digital marketing strategies for Assamese startups and businesses.
Shaping India Inc’s Online Growth series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how building an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain has fueled their success stories.