GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name registrar with a market capitalization of US $5 billion, is nearly as old as the Internet itself. Rajiv Sodhi, the company’s managing director in India, gives us a glimpse into his marketing strategy for the Indian marketRAJEEV SODHI, VP AND MD, GODADDY INDIA
At 64, Bollywood’s disco king Mithun Chakraborty still had the nation dancing to his tune, and GoDaddy India (GoDaddy) was smart enough to let that tune play out all through IPL 2014. As India’s leading domain registrar, GoDaddy has invested heavily in marketing on mass media such as television, to spark curiosity about what it does. ” GoDaddy was a name that nobody understood and we had to drive brand awareness and build credibility, a la McDonalds,” says Rajiv Sodhi, vice-president and managing director, GoDaddy India and Australia. In each of its campaigns since its entry in the Indian market in 2012, GoDaddy has used the same tenets; simplicity and humour, to generate chatter on how getting online will get you business.
It’s easy enough to see why India matters as much for a company like GoDaddy. With over 350 million users online, India is a fast growing Internet ecosystem, second only to China. ” The pace of growth is increasing and that is heartening. In the first 10 years of the Internet, the first 100 million got online, it took only three years for the next 100 million and in the span of another year, usage has grown further by 100 million,” shares Sodhi. The kicker is that nearly 80 per cent of India is yet to discover the Internet and that provides an exciting opportunity for GoDaddy to grow its business. Of the 350 million users online, only 4 million have registered domains and that pegs the domain penetration ratio in India at 2 per cent. “China is at 12 per cent and the U.S. is at 21 per cent,” says Sodhi while adding that getting from 2 per cent to 21 per cent is where the GoDaddy growth story lies.
For instance, many smaller businesses might not have the resources to staff an IT department. When they partner with us, we ensure there is interaction with our consultants to enable the mapping and smooth functioning of a business through its entire life cycle.
Serving all sizes
GoDaddy’s primary aim is to get business owners online, irrespective of size. However, Sodhi is quick to point out that by his estimate, 51 million SMBs (small and medium businesses) exist in India today and of these, only close to 10 million are IT investment ready. “Most small businesses suffer from the ‘not for me’ syndrome and view the Internet as suited only for established, big brands,” says Sodhi while adding that nearly 40 per cent of SMB owners echo this sentiment and nearly 20 per cent fear the complexity of operations. The question of affordability and fear of prohibitive costs is another deterrent and GoDaddy has advertised its cost efficacy to negate the same. In fact, a good part of going mass with its advertising campaigns was to generate awareness on using the Internet and to alleviate the fears of SMB owners. In addition to using mass and social media to advertise, the company engages in activation offline that drives home the message of how easy it is to get online and stay online with GoDaddy.
In line with this strategy, the company has kept the process of registering a domain name and hosting a website very simple. “You can acquire a name for as little as Rs.99,” says Sodhi, while elaborating that the company follows a pay-as-you-go business model. The next step in the process is hosting a website or a blog or an e-commerce store and GoDaddy ensures that there is ease in use across devices. The final step in a three-pronged system is to ensure productivity and the company does that by constantly engaging with the domain user and providing technical support and expertise. “We club SEO under productivity and a user can opt for the search engine visibility tool that plugs seamlessly on to a website, proactively monitors content and makes suggestions for major search engines, in terms of building content and keywords,” explains Sodhi. One of the keys to GoDaddy achieving market leadership with a 33 per cent market share for the .in domain name in India has been its customer care. “For instance, many smaller businesses might not have the resources to staff an IT department. When they partner with us, we ensure there is interaction with our consultants to enable the mapping and smooth functioning of a business through its entire life cycle,” says Sodhi.
A significant part of GoDaddy’s growth is driven by the nation’s Tier-II and Tier-III cities. As Sodhi says, India is also a mobile first country where mobile penetration is much quicker in several regions. “Mobile experience becomes very critical and going forward, the industry is going to pay much more attention to mobile content,” he explains. Interestingly, while English remains the dominant language at present, Sodhi believes local language content will soon take precedence. To illustrate the importance of communication in local languages, across India, Sodhi shares an example of a television advertisement the company produced in Tamil. “Earlier this year, we launched a Tamil channel initiative featuring an actual customer, which focuses on his experience with GoDaddy. It was very important to show someone from the industry and reliability holds the key,” he says.
For the parent company based in the U.S., GoDaddy India is a priority market as it expects growth in this region to be robust. At present, GoDaddy is a publicly listed company in the U.S. and has a presence across 47 countries worldwide. Sharing his plans for the Indian market in the near future, Sodhi says, “The challenge is to grow our three-pronged approach to acquiring customers while catering to a very diverse market, making sure we scale and maintain quality.” And, on a parting note, Sodhi offers some advice to entrepreneurs who are kick starting their ventures, “Several MSME entrepreneurs save online presence for later but this is one of the things that they should do sooner. It is very cheap to get a domain name at the start whereas, later, availability becomes more difficult as names may be taken. Online branding can be a big differentiator early on, so use the Internet to drive business.”
At a glance
- GoDaddy India wants to get more Indians online, sees the number touching 400 million users by the end of this year
- Of Internet users in India, only 2 per cent are registered domain users, the company aims to bring that number closer to the mature markets such as U.S., where the number is 21 per cent
- GoDaddy follows a three-prong approach of affordability, ease of use and constant support to grow its numbers
- At present, the parent company (U.S.-based) is a publicly listed entity with a presence in 37 countries and 17 languages
- India is rated amongst the highest priority markets for GoDaddy, right after the U.S.
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