Salebhai.com is an Indian e-commerce marketplace that enables people living away from home order a range of specialties directly from their hometowns. It is also a one-stop solution for those who want to discover regional products from across India. People can pick from a wide variety of delicious consumable items like sweets, namkeen, chocolates, bakery, spices, dry fruits, beverages, and pickles. They also offer other products such as handicrafts, paintings, puja items, handloom goods, and herbal wellness items.
The unique enterprise was launched on September 15, 2015, by Vishwa Vijay Singh, Pramod Rao, and Purba Kalita after they identified a market gap led by people migrating within Indian and abroad, and goods representing their culture being mostly in short supply. After studying migration trends amongst Indian citizens, it was observed that most people moved to fast-growing cities like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, and Hyderabad – either due to employment opportunities, education, or marriage.
We speak to Vishwavijay Singh, Co-founder, SaleBhai on how to scaled up the brand using the power of social media, blogging and content creation in general.
How did you get your first 1000 customers?
We devised innovative ways to befriend our target audience on social media. We successfully built suspense and anticipation using creative, fun, and interactive content a few weeks ahead of our launch. We appealed to people’s sense and sensibilities, focusing on their overall needs in life rather than promoting our products. Our first 1000 customers came mainly through digital campaigns and word of mouth.
How do you plan content for your social media campaigns?
We have an in-house content development team, unlike other businesses that usually outsource work. Content is our biggest differentiator, with over 700-word description for each of our 9000+ products, and 300+ word descriptions for over 300 sellers.
Social media is like your newspaper, where every day you have new content. While we draw up our weekly and monthly calendars for fixed events and occasions, we largely believe in playing by the ear to cater to our target audiences. Our company seeks to fulfil the needs of the diaspora and be a discovery portal for regional goods. Our social media campaigns are thus, aligned to our objectives.
Salebhai.com has been doing topical posts since its launch in September 2015. While Amul has made a mark for itself over the years through outdoor topicals, we are the only company, and that a young one, that does digital topicals.
These posts are a way of engaging the brand with customers on issues that matter to them. Though they go beyond business, we subtly convey what our company stands for through the punchlines. Our topical on Delhi smog was greatly appreciated by people, and you can gauge the engagement with these figures: 26K likes, 132 shares, 32 comments.
We would like to add here that our topical posts are part of our larger engagement program with the customers. For example, our video on Indore and its unique street-food culture, launched within a couple of months after our inauguration, had a mind-boggling reach: views: 193,798; reactions, comments and shares: 11,181.
How important is social media for your brand?
We are constantly conversing with our target audience through social media. It is immediate and allows us to scale their pulse. We want them to know that we are here not just to do business but also to look forward to developing a lasting relationship with them.
What digital marketing initiatives helped you stay ahead of your competition?
We use social media and engagement-driven sales to stay ahead. We target the right audience with innovative and interactive content. For our first anniversary, we launched ‘SaleBhai Salebrations’ with a series of activities under the title ‘Root for Roots Movement’ to create awareness about valuing one’s roots and engage the diaspora and our target audience, in a dialogue about hometown nostalgia. We also ran a series called ‘Diaspora Diaries’ containing humorous anecdotes about struggles in new cities.
Our ongoing campaign- ‘The Great SaleBhai Challenge’ (TGSC), offers two new unique products (e.g.: black rice from Manipur, Mogra saffron from Kashmir, pootharekulu from Andhra Pradesh, or green chutney from Rajkot) every week from across India, guaranteeing 100 percent satisfaction or else full refund without any questions asked. And unlike return policies of other e-commerce brands, we let the customer keep the product as well.
Throughout the year, we carry out a number of user-intensive initiates that make customers sit up and take note. For instance, during Ganesh Chathurthi we tied up with Radio Mirchi to connect with our busy audience in Mumbai for the entire 10 days of festivity. We took to the radio because of its popularity amongst daily commuters who spend hours on the road. Listeners lapped up our exciting offers such as three-hour delivery of modaks, gift hamper for lucky winners at their homes through RJs, and a chopper tour over Juhu beach on the immersion day for finale winners.
We sustain our campaigns for long periods for the benefit of customers and from brand-building point of view. Some other noteworthy campaigns relate to Janmashthami, where we made ISKCON prasad available online.
Our blogs posts on seasonal, festive, and topical issues are a regular affair and they keep customers coming back to our website for more. We have been doing about three topical posts a month since our launch in September 2015.
What is your marketing vision for 2017?
GMV of 2 Cr in March 2017. Get 400 unique sellers by December 2017. Increase repeat buying and sales through web personalization and marketing automation. Break into 1,000 range within the next six months (Alexa internet ranking for India). Lastly, target over 16 million Indians living abroad with our offerings.
How do you leverage the power of business blogging?
We discovered the power of blogging – a low-cost method to generate leads and customers – early on in our business. Our posts pertain not just to our products but also topics that are relevant to people, especially our target audiences that comprise of 17 diaspora communities in India’s big cities and abroad. Every time we publish a blog post, we create an opportunity for our website to rank in search and show up as a result for queries on search engines.
We do about 12 posts a month. Some examples of our recent blog posts are: emerging food trends in India – an insight into this market in 2017, 10 traditional delicacies that make makar sankranti special, unusual personalized gifts to give your boyfriend, five things that are sure to make you nostalgic, and more.
How do you measure the success of your content marketing initiatives?
The success of any marketing initiative depends on the relevance of content for the target audience. We lay a lot of stress on right content creation for increased engagement, which is directly proportional to conversion.
We use all available tools to gauge responses such as social media insights, likes, shares, comments, and Google analytics. Our customer-specific mailers have a call-to-action button to measure click rates, views, and conversions.
Besides, there is always the time-tested method of actual sales to let us know if a specific content marketing initiative has worked or not.