How has GoDaddy, a US-headquartered company and a leading online solutions-based brand for small and medium businesses, localized its go-to-market India strategy?
The GoDaddy journey in India so far
For a brand that entered India fairly recently, in 2012, GoDaddy has had an enviable trajectory so far. “Currently we have over one million customers in India, making it one of the largest market shares for .in domains,” shares Nikhil Arora, managing director and vice president of GoDaddy India. India has been one of our fastest-growing regions and the business has nearly doubled over the past three years, he adds.
Recipe for growth
The brand’s core offering has been around providing Indian small and medium-sized business entrepreneurs with the tools and help needed to succeed online. “Supporting our customers in India and being available to help them as they create an online presence for their ventures has been the key element of our value proposition,” says Arora.
Some key pillars of the brand’s growth and success include:
Pillar 1: give the Indian consumer what they want, how they want it
Localization has been a key pillar of the brand’s business plans. “We designed the localization strategy to unlock the opportunity India’s linguistic diversity presents and increase internet uptake among SMBs,” shares Arora. The 24/7 customer care, for example, has pivoted the offering by providing support to multilingual Indian customers in languages besides English and Hindi like Marathi, Tamil and Telugu, he adds.
Taking the localization plans further, the company launched an India-exclusive online training and certification program ‘GoDaddy Academy’ to help resolve the rising need for digital skilling and professional web development learning. Arora says: “It includes a mix of basic and advanced business and technology courses to help people with little to no technical expertise gain credible knowledge and skills to thrive in today’s fast-evolving digital world.”
Pillar 2: nurture demand from Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities
With the ongoing pandemic, many small businesses from rural India have realized the importance of having an online presence. “In fact, approximately 50% of our new customers are coming from Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities in India,” says Arora.
Pillar 3: keep pivoting the offering
The pandemic has changed lives for most businesses in different ways and they have morphed their offerings accordingly. For example, last year at the onset of the pandemic GoDaddy introduced #OpenWeStand, a global initiative “to help small businesses stay connected with each other and share learnings, tools and insights on how to weather this storm together,” says Arora. It also partnered with crowdsourcing company Ketto to launch GoDaddyForSMBRelief, a business crowdfunding initiative to help local Indian businesses raise money to run their businesses during and after this crisis.
Pillar 4: B2B brand advertising need not be boring
It is not often that B2B brands go in for humor – instead most prefer to take the feature-led narrative. GoDaddy has been known in India and globally for its quirky and funny campaigns.
Over time we recognized the need for education in Tier 2 and 3 cities and that is when we decided to introduce the whimsical and witty, yet authoritative, character of ‘Bijness Bhai’, with ace cricketer MS Dhoni as the face to connect better with our regional customers, says Arora. Through a light-hearted and quirky narrative, the brand has been working hard in educating them about the benefits of building a website and what it can do to the growth of their business. Keeping the focus on regional languages, the brand has also launched the brand films in over seven local languages to increase the regional footprint.
Current campaign (2021)
Evolution of the marketing strategy for Brand GoDaddy
In 2018, the company had launched the first phase of its ‘Bijness Bhai’ marketing campaign with a mission to help people understand the ease and affordability of building a website to manage and grow their businesses. This first phase helped create awareness among people to come and register themselves online, shares Arora.
The second phase of the campaign, launched in 2020, was focused on educating Indian entrepreneurs about the importance of building a complete business presence with a domain name, a professional email and a business website, as well as a social media presence.
The third phase of the ‘Bijness Bhai’ campaign is pivoted around “encouraging local businesses across the country to go online and ‘Make in India and sell in full India’”.
Choosing cricketer MS Dhoni as the face of ‘Bijness Bhai’
‘Bijness Bhai’ was conceptualized as the trustworthy, dependable figure to whom people go for all advice for small business owners and individuals who are starting to build and grow their ventures, explains Arora. To play the character of ‘Bijness Bhai’, GoDaddy decided on the ace cricketer MS Dhoni early on in 2018, making it one of his earliest long-term endorsements. Dhoni has been the face of the brand since then, featuring in all three campaigns, and he fits in well as the face, guiding our customers on how to make their businesses grow and thrive in the digital marketplace, according to the company spokesperson.
Dhoni’s personal journey connects with a large part of Indian customers, explains Arora: “Coming from a small town, working hard every day to build his way up and succeeding to become a global icon that he is now.” With a strong connection to his local roots and also known for his ‘cool’ approach to complex and high-pressure situations even on-field, Dhoni has been the perfect ‘Bijness Bhai’, says Arora.
Nikhil Arora, managing director and vice president of GoDaddy India, spells out some key new consumer trends that have helped in pivoting GoDaddy’s offering as the world adapts to a new normal.
Increase in virtual experiences: Lockdowns and social distancing has transported almost the entire world online. From gyms to doctor consultations, cooking classes and educational courses, everything now has an online presence. Even after the physical doors have opened, customers still prefer the virtual experience as it is safe and accessible.
Increase in online purchases: Online purchasing has become a safer and easier way of shopping. With improved online shopping experience and smooth deliveries and returns, consumers now find it more convenient to shop online than go to a physical store.
Search volumes for ‘taking a business online’ went up to 94% in March 2020 and searches for ‘creating a website’ registered a further spurt of 28%. New content and keywords around ‘digital business’, ‘business strategy’ and ‘creating a website’ also touched the highest levels last year. The search for the keyword ‘online courses’ peaked last year and Indian edtech platforms witnessed a surge in organic subscriptions. Tier 2 and Tier 3 Indians are increasingly searching for video-based learning content online.
Supporting local businesses: The pandemic has created a sense of togetherness where communities were seen supporting the most vulnerable. Since small businesses were the hardest hit, private and government bodies were seen supporting small local businesses in various ways to help them thrive and survive.
Importance of social media: Realizing the role that social media plays in today’s world, many business owners from smaller towns are setting up their business on social media platforms to reach a wider audience.