With a population reaching 1.37 billion, India is considered the twenty-eighth most densely populated country in the world. This sheer number guarantees that the country holds so much potential and can provide a lot of opportunities for both foreign enterprises and local startups alike.

Despite the country’s low current internet penetration rate, India’s digital market is anticipated to grow rapidly in the coming years. This growth makes the country attractive to businesses aiming to explore the region. However, there are also several risks associated with penetrating the Indian market.

This article will discuss India’s digital marketing environment, industry challenges and opportunities, successful campaigns, as well as the best possible ways on how to reach the Indian audience.

India’s Digital Landscape

Emerging as one of the most rapidly developing economies worldwide, India offers tremendous opportunities for the growth of businesses. This rings true, especially for digital marketing. Currently, 50% of the Indian population has access to the internet. This figure may seem low, but considering that India’s population exceeds a billion, this means that there are about 687.6 million internet users in the country. In addition, the internet penetration rate is expected to reach above 50% by the end of 2021 due to the fast development of telecommunications infrastructure.

Source: https://medium.com/@kanish.didm/scope-of-digital-marketing-in-2020-and-beyond-in-india-1e2802afa8fc

Adapting to digital marketing has always been a point of skepticism for Indian marketers. This is mainly due to the inadequate reach of digital channels to prospective audiences. However, marketers are beginning to open up to the idea of digital marketing with the internet becoming an indispensable part of people’s lives. As a matter of fact, the country’s digital advertising market is likely to grow by about 14% annually. This is anticipated to have a massive surge in succeeding years.

According to We Are Social’s Global Digital Report for 2020, there are 1.06 billion mobile subscriptions in India, which accounts for 78% of the population. As mobile data plans in the country become more affordable and pervasive, the populace’s access to the internet is expected to become more widespread in the coming years.

Source: https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-india

Furthermore, there are over 400 million active social media users in India. The biggest social network in the country is YouTube with around 82% of the 400 million users as of February 2020. Facebook follows this with about 260 million users. Instagram has 80 million users, LinkedIn has 62 million users, Snapchat has 22.95 million users and Twitter has 11.45 million active users.

Trends and Opportunities

There are several methods in capturing the attention of the Indian audience by means of digital marketing. Here are some of the trending digital marketing strategies in India:

Social Media Influencer Campaigns

Source: https://www.meltwater.com/in/blog/how-to-find-social-media-influencers-in-india/

Social media has transformed the way information is shared and it has introduced niche content experts into the forefront. These experts are able to maximize their audience reach and make a name for themselves on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These individuals are considered online celebrity endorsers. Since their content is widely read, shared and followed, they present a distinct opportunity for businesses to be featured in their engaging content and reach their wide audience.

Another perk for brands wishing to campaign with a social media influencer is that they can choose the influencer based on their niche or content. From a broad range of niches, such as fashion, electronics, food, and more, influencers are numerous and have formed tightly knit communities surrounding them.

The results of social media influencer campaigns have also proven to be positive since online celebrities have strong roots in the community and are trusted and respected by the public.  Several startups have used this method of communication to increase brand awareness in a different and memorable manner.

Influencer marketing is anticipated to remain a cornerstone in digital marketing for the next few years. However, companies must remain wary of the quality of the content shared and the engagement rate before signing on an influencer.

Rich SEO Implementation

Source: https://www.verticalrail.com/kb/rich-snippets/

One of the emerging trends in search engines is the use of structured data to produce Rich Snippets. This method allows search engines to display other data on a company in their search results, such as reviews from their website, information about their events, and more. This feature has been around for some time but has only recently become popular among SEO experts.

Google prefers structured data as it allows its algorithm to understand and interpret the data better. Aside from better interpretation of data, Google also awards brands with better-looking and engaging display results. If a company is content-driven or e-commerce related, there are a multitude of ways to implement structure data and this strategy is bound to become even more popular in the future.

Video Content

Source: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-tentative-release-date-of-the-Facebook-Watch-Facebook-video-platform-in-India

The use of video content in India is increasing in popularity due to two major reasons: falling data charges and more options for video content channels. At present, YouTube is no longer the sole source of video entertainment. Users looking for entertainment are now spending more time on Facebook Watch, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and the like.

Video content channels have tapped into a mix of international and high-quality local content which encourages more users to patronize video on mobile. Having more affordable data charges has also broken the limits of data usage in urban and semi-urban areas. The tremendous popularity of stories on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat also holds a lot of potential for brands looking to leverage and communicate their message.

Personalized Customer Content

Source: https://optinmonster.com/creative-ways-to-personalize-your-optins-to-boost-conversions/

Another development that is driving the growth of the digital industry is producing content that reaches out to particular customers. This concept aims to create a more personalized experience for online shoppers by designing a more dynamic website and incorporating a marketing strategy that delivers content to users.

Through an approach that makes use of smart marketing automation, businesses will be able to generate messages that cater to different audiences. For instance, new customers can be welcomed with a message displaying the available discounts and offers, and engage them further with a live chat widget. With studies indicating that 61% of customers trust e-commerce solution providers that create personalized and tailored content, e-commerce sites are adopting this trend to engage with customers.

Voice Search

Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/use-voice-search-public-rise-according-2018-study/233883/

Voice search is the new frontier for Google as well as every other search engine across the globe. Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana or Google’s Assistant all respond to a user’s questions based on the same model as search engines give results based on text questions.

Since users are hardly expected to use exact keywords to find answers on search engines, voice search is also based on long tail search terms. For digital marketers, this means that there is a need to optimize content with different questions on the same topic that users are expected to ask.

Vernacular Content

Source: https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/looking-local-snapdeal-quikr-hike-others-launch-vernacular-language-support/201082/

India’s online landscape is set to get even more diverse as an even larger number of users gain access to low-cost internet and affordable phones. This will result in a greater demand for internet content in the languages that users understand best. Thus, to cater to this emerging internet audience, it is necessary for companies to put vernacular to the forefront of their digital marketing strategy. Indian languages should be the focus of brands, from their websites to their apps, social media campaigns, etc.

Communicating with regional audiences goes beyond merely taking a brand’s main message and translating it into various languages. It involves developing communications aimed particularly at these audiences, considering their unique needs, challenges, and desires at the core. By doing this, brands can create a crucial personal connection with consumers.

Smarter interactive chatbots

Source: https://www.businesstoday.in/sectors/banks/sia-sbi-artificial-intelligence-customer-care-assistant-chatbot/story/259712.html

Chatbots have been increasing in popularity since 2017 and they are now more intelligent than ever before. Majority of chatbots have a limited script, typically offering a fixed set of options that users can choose from. Once the inquiry is narrowed down, users are often passed on to a human representative to resolve it. However, with the introduction of AI, chatbots are likely to replace the human aspect involved previously. Chatbots are now programmed to be smarter, with the ability to respond to a broad range of questions in a meaningful way and resolve issues without requiring any human intervention. As technology continues to advance, chatbots are anticipated to become even more widespread as companies take advantage of their low cost and better efficiency.

Successful Campaigns

One of the successful digital marketing campaigns in 2020 in India was implemented by Swigggy. As a matter of fact, Swiggy is the number one top-rate mobile app in the country and number four worldwide. The company has a number of marketing campaigns that rocked their social media handles. The one that stood out the most was their #SwiggyVoice ofHunger campaign. The campaign was to raise awareness about food safety and food security.


To sum it up, India’s online marketing landscape is currently emerging. The golden age of digital marketing is yet to come. Thus, marketers need to embrace the fact that effective interaction with potential customers through digital channels are becoming a necessity. Opportunities can be maximized by establishing effective digital marketing strategies which include social media influencer campaigns, rich SEO implementation, video content, personalized customer content, optimizing voice search, producing vernacular content, and developing smarter interactive chatbots. These are but some of the ways to penetrate the Indian market amid the constant changes in the digital landscape.

To learn more about online marketing in India, contact us today at Info Cubic Japan.

Featured Photo by Jörg Peter on Pixabay

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