How to Spot a True Leader: Avoid the Action Fallacy

Who is a true leader? How to identify a true-leader? It’s difficult to answer. But let me introduce you to the concept of a pseudo-leader, which will help you with “How Not to Select a Leader”.

A True Leader Need not be Aberrant all the Time
A True Leader Need not be Aberrant all the Time

Many people think that good leadership is about handling crises and dramatic actions. But this is a misconception. True leadership is actually about who follows; prevention is better than cure. That means preventing problems before they arise. It’s not just about reacting to issues; it’s about planning and making sure that problems don’t happen in the first place.

Lee Kuan Yew or Hugo Chavez? 

Imagine you are choosing a leader for a country. Will you pick Lee Kuan Yew or Hugo Chavez? 

Hugo Chavez: A LEADER FROM Venezuela
Hugo Chavez

I believe many of you might not have heard about Lee Kuan Yew and there are high chances you might pick Chavez because many believe Chavez is one of the best communist leaders, and he transformed Venezuela into a prosperous country, and when he died, the country collapsed.

Why Lee Kuan Yew Will be a Better Choice

But in reality, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who transformed Singapore from a developing country into a global financial hub through meticulous planning, strict governance, and steady development policies.

Lee Kuan Yew: An example of true leader
Lee Kuan Yew

His leadership was marked by effective management and long-term strategic planning. On the other hand, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whose tenure was filled with dramatic actions and bold declarations, Chavez’s leadership included controversial economic policies and nationalisations that, despite their initial popularity, eventually led to significant economic instability and hardship for the country. 

This tendency to prefer dramatic stories or excitements is what I call the “action fallacy.”

The Action Fallacy: Excitement vs. Effectiveness

Let’s look at the leadership styles of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook at Apple. Steve Jobs is known for his dramatic leadership and visionary ideas that brought Apple back from the brink of failure.

Tim cook and Steeve Jobs: leaders of Apple
Tim cook and Steve Jobs

His bold moves, like launching the iPhone and iPad, were revolutionary and are often celebrated. Jobs’ style was full of excitement and innovation, but it also came with a lot of risks and high-profile product failures like the Apple Newton.

A Leadership without Fans

On the other hand, Tim Cook, who took over as CEO after Jobs, is known for his calm and steady leadership. Cook focuses on operational efficiency and careful planning. Under his leadership, Apple has not only continued to release successful products but also improved its supply chain, increased sustainability efforts, and maintained a consistent growth trajectory.

Cook’s approach might not be as dramatic as Jobs’, but his meticulous planning and risk management have made Apple one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Image Credit: Statista
Image Credit: Statista

Unfortunately, world is not celebrating Tim cook as the way it celebrating Steve Jobs’ leadership.

In business, this focus on the “action fallacy” has negative effects. Because of this, we often promote leaders who seem to be taking action, rather than those who work quietly to prevent problems. This means we might be rewarding the wrong kind of leadership, which can lead to more issues in the future.

Finding a clear-cut real-world example of the Action Fallacy from business world can be tricky. Let me explain why.

Be Careful Before Labelling Action-Fallacy

Hindsight Bias: Looking back at events, it’s easy to see where preventive measures could have been taken. However, judging past leaders based solely on this knowledge can be misleading. They might have been operating with limited information at the time.

Complexity of Leadership: Leadership involves a multitude of factors beyond crisis management. A leader who seems to fall victim to the Action Fallacy might actually be strong in other areas like team building or strategic vision.

However, let me choose a closer example for you.

How General Electric Collapsed Because of Action Fallacy

Jack Welch, one of the most celebrated corporate chieftains of his time, spent the last few years of his life regretting what he believed was the most important decision of his career:

He promoted Jeffrey Immelt as CEO of General Electric (GE) in 2001, Why did Mr. Welch choose Mr. Immelt as his successor when he had options like Mr. McNerney, who was known for his steady and effective leadership style?

Jeffrey Immelt : Ex-Ceo of Generral Electric, an example of Action fallacy
Jeffrey Immelt

It was Action Fallacy played a role here.

Welch was swayed by Immelt’s charm, political skills, and polished demeanour. Immelt, a former Dartmouth offensive tackle and Harvard Business School graduate, seemed to embody the dynamic and bold leader GE needed.

During the selection process, Immelt’s confident and aggressive approach stood out. Whenever Immelt met with Welch, he was in overdrive, showcasing his ability to take bold actions and make quick decisions. His high-profile initiatives and assertive style made him appear as a proactive leader who could steer GE through challenging times.

Despite warnings from some board members who believed Jim McNerney would be a better choice, Welch was captivated by Immelt’s dynamic persona.

Immelt took over as CEO just days before the September 11 attacks in 2001. His tenure was marked by several critical mistakes that significantly impacted GE’s fortunes. Despite his high-profile initiatives and aggressive strategies, many of his decisions backfired:

How Immelt’s Action Fallacy Spoiled GE

Selling NBC Universal: Immelt sold GE’s majority stake in NBC Universal, including its television network and Hollywood studio, too cheaply. This decision was made in panic during the financial crisis, leading to significant financial losses for GE.

Overpaying for Acquisitions: Immelt made several high-cost acquisitions that did not yield the expected returns. These acquisitions strained GE’s finances and did not contribute to the company’s growth as intended.

Image credit: Fortune & Bloomberg
Image credit: Fortune & Bloomberg

Dismantling GE Capital: GE Capital was a highly profitable yet risky part of GE’s business. Immelt dismantled it but failed to replace its lost earnings, which hurt GE’s overall profitability.

Ignoring Talent: Immelt was known for his “know-it-all” attitude, as described by Welch. This attitude drove away talented executives who felt unheard and undervalued. His inability to listen and collaborate effectively led to a loss of valuable leadership within the company.

Under Immelt’s leadership, GE’s market value plummeted. By the time he stepped down, GE had lost over $150 billion in market value. Today, GE has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, it split into three separate companies. The finalisation of the split occurred on April 2, 2024.

Redefine Leadership

We need to rethink our idea of what makes a good leader. We should celebrate leaders who are good at preventing crises, not just those who react to them.

This means recognising the importance of “boring management” – the unglamorous work of planning, process building, and team building. This is where true leadership lies.

Instead of focusing on dramatic actions and crisis management, we should value leaders who work quietly and effectively to prevent problems before they arise.

For founders looking to identify true leaders, it’s important to look beyond charisma and bold actions. Pay attention to candidates who demonstrate strong planning and risk management skills.

Look for individuals who have a track record of building efficient processes and fostering team collaboration. Ask about their experiences in preventing issues rather than just handling crises.

True leaders are those who ensure stability and long-term success through careful, steady work. Recognising and promoting these qualities can help create a more resilient and effective organisation.

This Is my answer for how to Identify a True Leader.

How to make Better Decisions with Marcus Aurelius Approach, read here.

4 Qualities Startups Seek in Job Seekers

Building a successful startup is no small thing. It’s not just about having a super cool idea or disruptive technology. It’s about the people who drive these first thoughts forward. I believe most freshers from Tier 2 colleges dream of joining a super startup team, considering the amount of learning and exponential growth. But if you don’t have the following three qualities, your expectations and reality may not match well. And many have this question in mind; How do I start working in startup? Let’s see what those three key qualities are that go beyond the obvious skills and qualifications.

1️⃣ Optimism: The Power of Positive Thinking

Most startups operate with uncertainties and challenges. From securing funding to developing a minimum viable product, the journey is fraught with obstacles. In such an environment, having team members who are optimists can be incredibly valuable. Optimists believe in the mission and are confident that the team can overcome any hurdles.

Does it work? Look at Airbnb

Consider the early days of Airbnb. The founders faced numerous rejections and financial difficulties. However, their optimism kept them going. They believed in their vision of transforming the way people travel.

How to work in startup: Airbnb case study

This positive mindset not only kept the team motivated but also attracted investors and customers; as they say, now they belong anywhere. From nowhere to anywhere, Aibnb’s journey happened because of the people who believed it’s possible, and they drive that mission with positivity.

How to Demonstrate Your Optimism During Interviews

During interviews, highlight instances where your optimism led to positive outcomes. You could talk about a project that seemed doomed but succeeded because you and your team maintained a positive outlook and kept pushing forward.

For example, “in one of my previous organisations, when I suggested adding Amazon business as a channel for sales, everyone rejected it since the business is highly dependent on offline markets and distributors, and it would spoil the chain and demand. But what I observed was that there were a lot of government exam aspirants outside Kerala, and we couldn’t deliver books at ease since our distribution channels were only in Kerala and a few metro cities.

Finally, I was able to convince the team with my analysis and data on the serviceable market. In just 5 months, our Amazon sales reached 60% of the offline domestic sales.”

2️⃣ Idea Generation: The Innovators

Startups need new ideas to stay ahead. As a job seeker, being someone who can think outside the box and come up with new ideas is very valuable. If you are not someone who can think outside the box, the exposure that you are going to get will be limited, and eventually the growth will be limited as well.

Start-ups move on two things: investments and disruptive ideas. If it’s depending only on money, fuel will be over soon, and it will impact your career. But if every individual can come up with cost-effective or disruptive ideas and action items, start-ups attract more money, and it will help you in your career. So observe whether the start-up has enough idea generators and rational thinkers, or are you the one? Idea generators see opportunities where others see problems and can come up with creative solutions that keep the company moving forward.

Does it work? Learn from Instagram

Do you know how Instagram became a billion-dollar business? Just because of one idea generator. When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were working on their startup, Burbn, it was initially a location-based check-in app.

Startup story: Burbn to Instagram
Burbn to Instagram

However, they noticed that users were more interested in sharing photos. One of their team members suggested focusing on the photo-sharing feature. This idea led to the creation of Instagram, which became a massive success and was later acquired by Facebook for $1 billion.

Are you an outside-the-box thinker? A start-up ecosystem is best for you. Because you can’t suggest an idea and get it done at a massive firm like Apple or Amazon.

How to Demonstrate Your Innovative Thinking During Interviews

Show your creativity and willingness to suggest new ideas. Talk about a time when you introduced a new concept that significantly helped your previous company or project.

For example, you might say, “In my previous job, I suggested a reverse psychology approach for email marketing: instead of saying we are good, we send mail with subject lines, we don’t have anything special for you, you don’t have to open this if you are busy, etc. And suddenly, our open rate became 40%. This not only increased our engagement rates but also made our users feel more connected to our brand, where we are genuine and transparent.”

3️⃣ “Will You Figure It Out?” Spirit: The Problem Solvers

Startups face many unexpected problems. Your KPIs may change frequently; out of the blue, the team may scrap a project and start a new project from scratch, which may require a new set of skills.

In simple words, a start-up is exactly like a mischievous child; it’s not easy to predict what he will do next. As a job seeker, having a “will figure it out” spirit means you don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Instead, you see these challenges as chances to find solutions and keep moving forward.

So, if you have that “Will Figure It Out” or “This Time Shall Pass” attitude, you are going to be noticed by the team, and people will find a leader in you. Your growth will be faster than you expect.

Does it work? Inspire from Slack

Take the story of Slack. The company was originally working on a game called Glitch, developed by Tiny Speck, a startup co-founded by Stewart Butterfield, Cal Henderson, Eric Costello, and Serguei Mourachov.

Despite their efforts, the game struggled to gain traction in the competitive gaming market. Instead of giving up, the team noticed that their internal communication tool, which they had built to collaborate on Glitch, was incredibly effective.

Glitch game sign up page
Glitch game sign up page

Recognising the potential of this tool, Butterfield and his team decided to change their business focus entirely. They repurposed their internal communication platform into a standalone product, which became Slack. Think about the team; all of a sudden, you are moving from gaming to SaaS. But the team had a different mindset that they would figure it out, and that helped them achieve the objective faster.

The new idea penetrated the market very quickly and disrupted workplace communication by offering a user-friendly interface, seamless integration with other software, and a way to organise conversations into channels.

Today, Slack is used by millions of users worldwide and was acquired by Salesforce for $27.7 billion, highlighting the power of determination and adaptability.

How to Demonstrate Your Problem-Solving Skills During Interviews

In interviews, talk about times when you faced big challenges but found ways to overcome them. Show how you solve problems and stay calm under pressure.

For example, you could say, “During a critical project, our main supplier suddenly shut down. I quickly found other local suppliers, negotiated terms, and I figured out an opprtunity with an upper-hand of negotitation, revamped our existing model of 2-3 suppliers to 24 small suppliers, and used a CRM dashboard to coordinate, and kept our production on schedule, saving the project and meeting our deadline.”

4️⃣ “I’ve Got It” Attitude: The Ownership Mindset

In large companies, it’s common to hear, “That’s not my department.” However, startups need a different approach. They grow when employees take ownership of problems, no matter their job title.

You might be a sales manager, but you should be willing to do a user survey, call customers, and close sales if a team member is on leave. As a manager, you may be required to do 50% of the work as a tele-caller and the rest 50% of supporting the team for their dependencies.

This adaptable “I’ve got it” attitude ensures that issues are handled quickly and efficiently, pushing the startup towards success.

Does it work? Read About Dropbox

Take Dropbox as an example. In the early days, Dropbox was a small team working on a new way to store files online. Arash Ferdowsi, the co-founder and CTO, noticed that the user interface (UI) was hard to use. Even though UI design wasn’t his main job, Arash decided to fix it himself.

Dropbox founders
Arash Ferdowsi on the right

He worked with the design team, learning about user experience and interface design. He spent many late nights testing different designs and getting feedback from early users. His hands-on approach and willingness to step out of his role made the UI much better.

This change made Dropbox more appealing to users, and the user base grew quickly. Arash’s “I’ve got it” attitude solved a big problem and set a good example for the team, encouraging everyone to take ownership of issues.

How to Demonstrate Your Ownership Attitude

In interviews, talk about times when you took initiative outside of your usual responsibilities.

For example, you might say, “In my last job, I saw that our project management tool was confusing the team. Even though it wasn’t my job, I researched better tools, organised meetings, and got feedback. I then helped implement a new tool that improved our workflow and made us more productive.”

This shows your commitment to the team’s success. You prove that you’re ready to tackle challenges and help the startup grow, no matter what your job title says.

In Nutshell

Joining a startup means becoming part of a dynamic and often unpredictable environment. By demonstrating optimism, generating innovative ideas, showing a “will figure it out” spirit, and having an “I’ve got it” attitude, you can stand out as a valuable asset to any super startup team. Remember, it’s not just about your skills and experience; it’s about how you approach challenges and contribute to the team’s success.

Additional Tips for Job Seekers

Showcase Communication Skills: While these qualities are crucial, don’t forget the basics. Good communication is key for any team.

Research the company: Understand the startup’s mission and values. Align your responses to show that you are a good cultural fit.

Be Ready to Adapt: Startups change rapidly. Show that you are flexible and open to evolving with the company.

By focusing on these qualities, you can increase your chances of landing a role in a super startup team and contributing to its success.

Are you still worried about uncertainties? Read more about the cognitive survival kits here.

Budget-Friendly Digital Marketing Strategies For 2024

Effective digital marketing doesn’t require a massive budget; it requires strategic thinking. Let me share some key strategies to maximise impact without breaking your marketing budget. These budget-friendly digital marketing strategies are based on the trends and tools from 2024.


Content Strategies

1️⃣ Develop Resonant Content

Develop content that resonates with your target audience and addresses their needs. This will drive organic traffic, enhance your online visibility, and improve your SEO.

Leverage organic tactics. For example, create a blog to establish thought leadership and improve your SEO. Elevate this further by repurposing this content in different formats.

2️⃣ Leverage Existing Content

Turn existing blog posts into a captivating video or an engaging eBook. This saves precious time and extends your content’s reach. Producing valuable content that addresses pain points and offers solutions builds trust. Creating content designed to address each stage of the buyer’s journey removes concerns and ultimately drives higher quality leads.

Data-Driven Strategies

1️⃣ Leverage Customer Data

Use the data you already have to better understand your customers. Analyse their behaviour, preferences, and feedback to optimise their website experience. Personalised experiences lead to higher engagement and conversions.

2️⃣ Seamless CRM Integration

Ensure your CRM data flows seamlessly into your digital marketing tools, including analytics and paid channels. This enables efficient and precise targeting and effective campaign management. Hubspot provides a free plan for their CRM. Another free CRM is Odoo, even their tagline is Free and Amazing 🙂 sounds cool, right?

3️⃣ Understand Your Metrics

Regularly monitor traffic, bounce rates, conversion rates, and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Utilise these datapoints to reallocate resources effectively. For example, revise high-bounce content or amend calls-to-action to improve engagement and conversions. Test one element at a time for methodical progress and clearer learnings.

Free and Low-Cost Tools

1️⃣ Utilise Free Tools for E-Commerce

For e-commerce businesses, take advantage of free tools like Google My Business, Meta Commerce, and Microsoft Bing Shopping. These platforms can help increase your online presence without additional costs.

2️⃣ SEO

There are many strategies and tactics you can do on your own to uplevel your website to appear on page 1 of Google. Make sure all your headings consist of keywords to optimise your page ranking. Google can read words; it cannot read images, so adding a weekly blog or podcast to your repertoire is one of the best things you can do for your SEO.

Improving your website’s search engine ranking can be done without spending money by using free SEO tools. Google Search Console is a must-have tool that helps you keep an eye on your site’s performance in Google Search results, showing you how to fix any issues.

Another useful tool is Google Analytics (GA4), which tracks your website traffic and user actions, giving you a clear picture of how visitors use your site.

For finding good keywords, Ubersuggest provides detailed data on keyword volume, competition, and suggestions, making it easier to choose the best keywords to target. These tools offer a solid base for boosting your site’s SEO without any cost.

3️⃣ Email Marketing

Implement Email Marketing Campaigns

When it comes to a tight budget, try email marketing. Don’t underestimate your existing database. Segment your audiences and create tailored content curated for them.

Implement email marketing campaigns with tailored content. Personalised emails that offer value to the recipient can significantly boost open and click-through rates, fostering customer loyalty and driving sales.

Bulk Email Sending Tools


Mailchimp offers a free plan that allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per month to a list of up to 2,000 subscribers. This tool provides a user-friendly interface, customisable email templates, and advanced analytics to track your campaign performance. Mailchimp also offers features like A/B testing and automation to help you optimise your email marketing efforts.

Brevo (Sendinblue)

Brevo (previously known as Sendinblue) free plan lets you send up to 300 emails per day to an unlimited number of subscribers. It includes features like email design tools, automation workflows, and detailed reporting. Brevo also offers SMS marketing and CRM capabilities, making it a versatile choice for small businesses.

Email Warm-Up Tools


MailWarm is a free tool designed to help improve your email deliverability by gradually increasing your email sending volume. This tool is perfect for new email accounts or those with a low sender reputation. By slowly building up your email volume, you can avoid being flagged as spam and ensure that your messages reach your recipients’ inboxes.


Warmbox is another excellent tool for warming up your email address. It automatically engages with your emails, marking them as important and moving them out of the spam folder. This interaction helps improve your sender reputation and ensures higher deliverability rates for your future email campaigns.

Email Verification Tools


Hunter’s Email Verifier tool is free and helps you clean your email list by verifying the validity of email addresses. This ensures that you are sending emails to real, active accounts, which can improve your deliverability rates and reduce the risk of being marked as spam.


ZeroBounce offers a free plan that allows you to verify up to 100 email addresses per month. This tool helps you remove invalid email addresses, catch-all domains, and spam traps from your list. By maintaining a clean email list, you can improve your sender reputation and achieve higher engagement rates.

Social Media

1️⃣ Consistency on Social Media

Consistency on social media is the perfect strategy to implement inside your business with the least amount of investment and a thousand percent payback. Instagram alone has 2.3 billion monthly active users. Imagine if you can reach and capitalise on 1% of that audience? Would you be able to service them? Chances are, probably not.

2️⃣ Meta Ads

Incorporating low-cost, high-reach tactics such as Meta Ads can help drive brand awareness and traffic. Try influencer marketing as well, where you can collaborate with industry experts. Partner and cross-promote – it’s a win for everyone.

Testing and Optimisation

Use previous campaign data or A/B test on a small budget to determine what works best for your audience. Continuous testing and optimisation will save your marketing budget significantly.

1️⃣ Regular SEO Review

Reviewing and improving website SEO on a regular basis will increase website views and ensure the business stays front of mind and top of search engine result lists.

2️⃣ Website Optimisation

Website Optimisation

Ensure your site is user-friendly and fast. A user-friendly site means that it’s easy to navigate, with clear menus and links that guide users to the information they need. A fast website loads quickly, which is important because slow-loading pages can frustrate visitors and cause them to leave.

Engagement rate is a key metric that shows how well users are interacting with your site. Aim for an engagement rate above 60%, which means that the majority of your visitors are finding your content useful and engaging. High engagement rates often lead to better conversion rates, as engaged users are more likely to take desired actions, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.


Use Analytics Tools

Using analytics tools is key to making informed decisions about your digital marketing efforts. One of the best free tools available is Google Analytics aka GA4. It helps you track and understand how visitors interact with your website. You can see where your traffic is coming from, what pages are popular, and how long people stay on your site.

Set KPIs and regularly compare performance. For example, you might set KPIs for website traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, and average session duration.

By consistently monitoring these metrics, you can make data-driven decisions to optimise your marketing efforts. For example, if you notice a high bounce rate on a particular page, you can investigate and make necessary changes to improve user experience and engagement.

Through creativity, planning, and effective measurement, businesses with limited budgets can achieve impressive results.

Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4: What it Means for Your Website

As the sun sets on Google’s Universal Analytics (UA), a new horizon emerges with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This shift, while potentially daunting for marketers and data analysts, presents an opportunity to uncover deeper, more nuanced insights into user engagement.

For those businesses who have chosen to embrace this change and continue their journey with GA4, understanding the key differences and new functionalities is essential. The future of your data analysis and interpretation hinges on grasping these crucial changes, enabling you to extract maximum value from your data.

Reimagining Sessions

In the world of web analytics, sessions play an integral role in understanding user behavior. A session in GA4 represents a visit to your site and times out after 30 minutes of inactivity. However, unlike UA, sessions in GA4 can encapsulate multiple traffic sources.

For instance, if a visitor lands on your site from a Facebook ad, goes through Google to login, and then returns to your site, this entire journey is counted as one session, despite having multiple traffic sources. This is a significant shift from UA, where each visit from a new source initiated a new session.

The Emergence of Engaged Sessions

Engaged sessions are a new metric introduced in GA4. A session can be considered as ‘engaged‘ if it lasts longer than 10 seconds, includes two or more page views, or results in at least one conversion.

The shift from Universal Analytics to GA4, particularly the introduction of the “Engaged Sessions” metric, is a response to the evolving digital landscape and user behaviors. Bounce rate, as calculated in Universal Analytics, was a useful measure of site engagement in the past, but with the advent of single-page applications (SPAs) and more complex user interactions, it became less effective. For instance, users could view an SPA and leave without triggering an event, which would be considered a bounce, despite their potential engagement with the content

In contrast, the Engaged Sessions metric in GA4 is designed to provide a more accurate reflection of user engagement.

Understanding Engagement Rate

Engagement rate is calculated by dividing the number of engaged sessions by the total number of sessions. For example, if you have 1000 sessions and 750 of them are engaged, your engagement rate will be 75%. This new metric provides a more nuanced understanding of user engagement levels than before.

In UA, the bounce rate was a measure of site engagement, but its effectiveness has been declining as websites and apps evolved. The bounce rate could show users viewing a single-page application and leaving without triggering an event, which would be considered a bounce. However, in GA4, the concept of engagement has been refined to measure the level at which customers engage with your site or app more accurately​.

While both the bounce rate and engagement rate are valuable in their own ways, the engagement rate in GA4 provides a more detailed understanding of user behavior.

The Return of Bounce Rate

Bounce rate, originally excluded from GA4, has made a comeback. But it now differs from how it was measured in UA. GA4’s bounce rate is the inverse of the engagement rate. Using the previous example, if the engagement rate was 84%, the bounce rate would be 16%.

This significant change in measuring bounce rate can be attributed to the new criteria for an engaged session. Depending on your site’s nature, you may see a drastic impact on bounce rates, possibly seeing a sharp drop compared to UA. However, remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your content is more engaging; it’s merely a shift in the measuring methodology.

Defining Users

In GA4, users are only those who have had an engaged session. This is another departure from UA where all visitors were considered users. Total Users in GA4 are more akin to what was defined as users in UA.

Average Engagement Time

GA4 replaces UA’s ‘average time on site’ metric with ‘average engagement time’. This new metric deserves applause, as it gives a more accurate depiction of the time a visitor spends on your site. In UA, bounced sessions were recorded as zero-second visits because no second session would be triggered. In contrast, GA4 measures the actual time a visitor spent on your site, offering a more accurate reflection of user engagement.

The Conversion Shift

Last but not least, GA4 bids goodbye to the traditional concept of goals. In its place, we find conversions. This shift pushes us to reimagine our understanding of conversions and work with this new norm.

GA4 represents a significant shift in Google’s analytical approach, introducing more sophisticated and nuanced metrics. While these changes may seem daunting initially, they offer an opportunity to better understand your audience and website performance. As we journey into this new era of analytics, mastering these new metrics will be key to data-driven decision-making and strategic success.

What are the major 2023 Google Ads Insights For Growth Marketers?

How to Deal With Uncertainities:Cognitive Survival Kit

Picture yourself driving along your daily route to your nearest theatre. You know every turn, every stoplight, and have become accustomed to the rhythm of this familiar journey. You are confident that you will reach the theatre before the show begins.

Suddenly, you encounter an unexpected detour sign in the middle of your path – the road you’ve always taken is temporarily closed for construction. Now, you must navigate a new route to reach your destination. 

This unforeseen obstacle not only disrupts your routine but also challenges you to adapt to the change and find a new way forward. 

A symbolic representation on How to Deal With Uncertainities
Image credits: Canva

Such is the course of our lives. We are often moving along familiar paths when unexpected obstacles or anomalies arise, throwing us off our well-planned routes. This post is trying to decode our human responses to these unexpected shifts and explore how they can shape our journey through life.

Navigating the Unforeseen: Our Brain’s Role

Humans are naturally inclined to seek stability and predictability in their environment. This inclination is rooted in our evolutionary history, where predictability equaled survival. We build our lives around familiar routines and predictable patterns, creating a cognitive map of our world that allows us to anticipate future events and plan accordingly.

However, when an unexpected obstacle appears, it not only halts our progress towards our goals but also presents us with a profound question: this obstacle wasn’t supposed to exist, so why does it? 

Now, our brains must engage in a process of ‘cognitive updating,’ where they reconcile the new information with our existing worldview. This involves substantial mental work as our neural networks reconfigure to incorporate the unexpected data. Sounds challenging, right? That’s the idea!

Cognitive Dissonance: The Psychological Clash

When we meet the unexpected, it triggers a psychological clash. This clash, called cognitive dissonance, happens when we juggle opposing beliefs or ideas.

On one hand, we have our idea of how things should be, built from our routines and predictions. On the other hand, we face the real-life hurdle that stands in our path. To deal with this dissonance, we often change our beliefs and attitudes. In some cases, we might need to rethink our whole view of the world.

So, facing the unexpected isn’t just about breaking routine. It’s a major cognitive and psychological event that demands that we reshape our understanding of the world.

Unpacking Grandpa’s Survival Kit: The Modern-Day Predicament

Losing a job unexpectedly is similar to encountering a ferocious predator on our regular way home. 1000 years ago, that predator was an uncertainty for our forefathers; now it might be a layoff.

It is a disruption that throws off the steady rhythm of your life, bringing in its wake uncertainty, financial stress, and an understandable level of anxiety. To tackle this change effectively, cognitive flexibility – akin to what our ancestors exercised in the face of predators – becomes a crucial tool in our survival kit.

1. Embracing the Hard Truth

Start by acknowledging reality. You’ve lost your job. It’s a tough fact to digest, especially due to our innate ‘confirmation bias‘. We have a tendency to favour information that aligns with our pre-existing beliefs or situations, and it is cognitively more comfortable to deny or downplay the shift. But to make any progress, accepting the truth is vital.

2. Shifting Perspectives through Cognitive Reframing

Next, reframe the situation. In cognitive psychology, reframing is a technique used to help create a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning.

It involves actively constructing a new perspective. Instead of viewing the job loss as a disaster, see it as an opportunity for growth, a chance to explore new career paths, or a chance to gain new skills.

3. Divergent Thinking – Fostering Creative Solutions

Once you have reframed the situation, brainstorm potential solutions. In this phase, it’s crucial to exercise ‘divergent thinking,’ a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. Consider different career options, alternative income sources, or even acquiring new skills or education. Consider any solution, no matter how outlandish it may seem initially.

This is where the decision-making and prioritisation tools that can be useful.

For example, the Eisenhower Matrix, one of my favourites. The matrix consists of four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Read more about it here.

4. Implementing Change Step by Step

Finally, it’s time to act. Implementation can feel daunting, especially after a job loss. However, it’s important to remember that progress often happens incrementally. Break down your chosen solution into manageable steps and tackle them one at a time. This approach, called ‘action planning’, can make a big task seem more approachable, and it has been scientifically proven to enhance goal achievement.

Throughout this process, it’s essential to maintain a self-compassionate perspective. Job loss can lead to feelings of self-doubt or criticism. However, research has shown that treating yourself with kindness in times of failure or difficulty can foster resilience and well-being.

Final Thoughts: Tackling Life’s Crises with Evolutionary Tactics

As we journey through life, navigating unexpected obstacles and tackling life’s crises, it’s fascinating to consider the neurological systems at play. Just as our ancestors used specific neurological systems to detect and react to physical threats – like a lurking predator – we use these same systems to perceive and manage the abstract threats and issues we face in modern life.

Abstract problems – like losing a job or facing a break-up – become the ‘predators’ of our lives, lurking just outside the safety of our known world. When these problems arise, they activate the same neurological platform used by our ancestors, proving how our evolutionary history still influences our reactions to contemporary challenges.

So, dealing with the unexpected isn’t just about updating our cognitive map of the world, it’s also about confronting these abstract ‘predators’, managing life’s crises, and leveraging our inherent neurological capabilities. As we better understand and harness these capabilities, we can become more adept at navigating the uncertainties of life.

Good Thinking Begins with Clear Thinking, read more on how to think clealry using Marcus Aurelius Approach.

Good Thinking Begins with Clear Thinking: A Marcus Aurelius Approach

Almost everyone considers themselves a good thinker, yet this is a quality possessed by a surprisingly small fraction of the population. According to the Marcus Aurelius, true cognitive development requires perpetual transformation. Don’t worry about the jargons, will simplify it soon.

Take a moment to look around – how many individuals do you observe progressively advancing in life? How many are consistently overcoming challenges? Conversely, how many seem stuck in a loop, forever wrestling with the same issues they’ve faced for years?

It quickly becomes apparent that excelling at problem-solving is directly linked to the quality of one’s thinking. And, good thinking begins with clarity.

Marcus Aurelius: The Power of Clear Thinking

Marcus Aurelius, esteemed as the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome and admired as a philosopher-king, is an excellent example of a great thinker. His ability to lead was inextricably linked to his clear thinking.

He honed his critical thinking skills through personal introspection, encapsulated in his private writings – now known as his Meditations. In these profound reflections, Aurelius meticulously organized his thoughts, pondering the causal relationships between his actions and their outcomes.

How he organised his thoughts?

How he redefined the relationships between his actions and outcomes?

Clear Thought: The Foundation of Good Thinking

A clear thought is one that is unambiguous, captures the essence of a concept, and is logically formulated. Such thoughts can be articulated succinctly using simple ‘if-then’ statements, such as “If you learn driving, then you can drive a car” These clear, concise ideas lead to straightforward, intentional actions. Consequently, the above statement translates into a definitive action: when you want a solo ride- learn driving.

How do you know, whether you are good at driving or not?

Clarity Begets Clarity

Clear and intentional actions, in this context, lead to concrete results. When you sit behind the wheel after learning to drive, you will immediately find out whether your initial thought was correct. Either you can operate the wheels proficiently, or you cannot.

This clear feedback, confirming or debunking your supposition, aids in refining your comprehension of your abilities. By discovering whether your self-perception aligns with your actual skills, you move closer towards self-awareness. The more accurate your self-understanding, the better you become at overcoming personal challenges.

Emulating the Greats: Practical Steps towards Clear Thinking

If your goal is to improve your own problem-solving abilities, it’s advisable to emulate Aurelius’s approach.

Begin by organizing your thoughts. Eliminate ambiguity, striving for clarity by encapsulating them in straightforward ‘if-then’ statements. This reductionist logic leads to clearer thoughts, which, in turn, yield clear and intentional actions. These actions produce clear feedback, improving your understanding of the world and, thus, enhancing your problem-solving abilities.

Let’s consider this example: “If I incorporate a philosopher’s name into my writing to establish its authenticity, then more readers will be drawn to my work out of curiosity.” This hypothesis ( maybe a null-hypothesis 😉 ) is not only clear but also steeped in logical reasoning, which catalyzes clear action – crafting and publishing the piece.

Once published, the feedback received—measured by the number of readers, their engagement, and their responses—provides immediate validation or negation of the initial idea. It helps you understand your readers’ preferences better and improves your writing strategies for reader engagement. As a result, you’ll be better equipped to meet your goals as a successful writer.

Other Major Learnings From Marcus Aurelius

IMAGE OF Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius’s ‘Meditations’ is a profound philosophical work that distills key lessons from Stoicism, a philosophy that emphasizes virtue, wisdom, and the understanding of nature. Here are some of my favourite key teachings from ‘Meditations’.

1. Embrace the Stoic Perspective

  • Acceptance of Life’s Unpredictability:
    • Take the example of a sudden job loss or a pandemic like COVID-19. No one can predict such life-changing events, and they can leave us feeling anxious and unsettled. However, accepting the fact that life is unpredictable and that we can’t control everything helps to reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Virtue as the Highest Good
    • Consider the story of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi led India to independence from British rule through his virtue of non-violence, which he held as a moral excellence. Despite numerous provocations and adversities, he never compromised on his principle of non-violence. This virtue was within his control and he consistently chose to uphold it, leading by example and inspiring millions.
  • Wisdom Over Emotion
    • Imagine a situation where someone cuts you off in traffic. Your immediate emotional response might be anger, and you might feel like retaliating in some way. However, by using wisdom over emotion, you would realize that retaliating won’t solve anything, and might even create more problems, like causing an accident or escalating the situation. Instead, by staying calm and moving on, you can ensure your safety and maintain peace of mind. Road Raging is a serious issue.

2. Pursue Rationality

  • Value Reason: As rational beings, we should let reason, not desire or fear, guide our decisions and actions.
    • Let’s imagine you’re the marketing manager of a successful sportswear company. You’ve recently noticed an uptick in popularity for eco-friendly products. The initial desire might be to immediately launch an eco-friendly product line to capitalize on the trend. However, instead of acting on impulse, you decide to let reason guide your actions.
    • You initiate comprehensive market research, analyzing competitors, potential price points, and your target audience’s willingness to pay for environmentally-friendly sportswear. Only after careful and reasoned consideration, evaluating the cost-benefit ratio, do you decide to proceed with the launch, ensuring a more successful outcome.
  • Pursue Knowledge: We should continuously seek wisdom and knowledge for personal development and betterment of society.
    • Imagine a small business owner whose company has been successful for many years using traditional business methods. However, with the rise of e-commerce and digital marketing, don’t you think there is a need to adapt? Instead of sticking to what they know, they should pursue knowledge in these new areas.

3. Cultivate Resilience

  • Transform Obstacles into Opportunities
    • During the 2008 economic recession, Airbnb faced a significant obstacle: people were reluctant to travel, let alone stay in strangers’ homes. However, Airbnb saw an opportunity in this crisis. They focused on providing affordable accommodation alternatives to expensive hotels, a value proposition that attracted cost-conscious travelers during the downturn. The company has since grown exponentially and is now a major player in the global hospitality industry.
  • Cultivate Emotional Resilience: We should remain undisturbed by external events and maintain equanimity, no matter the situation.
    • In 2008, Starbucks faced declining sales due to the global economic crisis and growing competition. Howard Schultz, then CEO, returned to the company and made tough decisions, including closing hundreds of stores and reducing staff. It was a challenging period, but Schultz maintained emotional resilience. He believed in the company and his strategy. Today, Starbucks has rebounded and continues to be a leader in the global coffee industry

To quote Marcus Aurelius himself: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” By striving for clarity and cultivating emotional resilience, by seeking knowledge and valuing reason, we can transform obstacles into opportunities, thereby enhancing the quality of our thoughts and, ultimately, the quality of our lives.

Click here for more insightful posts.

Who’s in Control? Companies Dominating Google Search Results

The Illusion of Choice: Online Edition

Imagine you’re at your favourite supermarket, walking through the cosmetic items row, and you see hundreds of different brands of body lotions.

So many options, right?

But then, something strikes you – despite the variations in packaging and flavours, most of these lotions actually belong to a handful of big companies, such as Hindustan Unilever or P&G. They’ve just packaged their product in different ways to cater to a diverse range of tastes.

In the realm of online search, it’s eerily similar. Have you ever wondered about the companies dominating Google search results?

You might be surprised to learn that less than 20 companies control a major chunk of the web’s content. They own a variety of websites across a broad spectrum, from health to tech, from sports to food.

Unveiling the 16 Companies Dominating Google Search Results

So, how many companies are we talking about? The number is 16. These 16 companies are the puppeteers controlling at least 562 different brands that show up in your daily Google search results.

According to Semrush, a platform that offers online visibility management and content marketing SaaS, these companies together command a whopping 3.7 billion clicks from Google each month. That’s an average of 6.5 million monthly clicks for each site under their umbrella.

List of those 16 Giants

  • Gawker Media
    • Formerly Blogwire, Inc
    • Notable properties: Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Jezebel
  • Vox Media
    • In February 2023, Penske Media Corporation became the largest shareholder in Vox Media.
    • Notable properties: The Verge, SB Nation, Eater
  • Future plc
    • Independent Company
    • Notable properties: TechRadar, GamesRadar, PC Gamer
  • Evolve Media
    • Independent Company
    • Notable properties: CraveOnline, GameRevolution
  • Time Inc.
    • Acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018, In December 2021, Meredith was acquired by IAC’s Dotdash and became Dotdash Meredith
    • Notable properties: Time, People, Fortune (under the ownership of Meredith)
  • CBS (Paramount Global)
    • In 2019 through the merger of Viacom and CBS, It’s under Paramount Global.
  • Meredith Corporation
    • Notable properties: People, Better Homes and Gardens, Allrecipes
    • Time Inc is actually a part of Meredith Corporation
  • Dennis Publishing
    • Acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018
    • Notable properties: The Week, Auto Express, PC Pro
  • Jacobs Media Group (JAC)
    • Notable properties: Not clear from the information provided
  • Ziff Davis
    • Subsidiary of J2 Global
    • Notable properties: Mashable, PCMag, IGN
  • Verizon
    • Notable properties: Yahoo, AOL, TechCrunch (under the brand Verizon Media, which was sold to Apollo Global Management and renamed Yahoo in 2021)
  • Purch (now known as Future US, Inc., a subsidiary of Future plc)
    • Notable properties: Tom’s Guide, Top Ten Reviews, Live Science
  • Conde Nast
    • Subsidiary of Advance Publications
    • Notable properties: Vogue, The New Yorker, Wired
  • DG (Possibly Digital Guide)
    • Notable properties: Not clear from the information provided
  • Scripps Networks Interactive
    • Acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018
    • Notable properties: HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel
  • Hearst Communications
    • Independent Company
    • Notable properties: Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Elle

This phenomenon was first identified in 2016 by Glen Allsopp, who pointed out how these companies, renowned in their industries, leverage their online authority and the reputation of their popular brands to help new brands rank well on Google and generate traffic.

Digging Deeper: CBS Interactive

CBS Interactive, a division of Paramount Global, is a global leader in digital content and a key player in the world of online media.

In India they have a strategic partnership with Network18 Group—a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. Their recent launch in India is Jio Cinemas. Something which is considered as an OTT Predator.

CBS’ diverse collection of websites cater to a broad audience, offering content ranging from entertainment and sports to tech reviews and music lyrics. Here are some of the main websites under CBS Interactive, along with their global ranking, indicating their popularity among internet users:

The All-encompassing Net under CBS

  • – Ranked 182 globally, CNET is a leading tech news and reviews website, offering advice on a range of tech products from smartphones to home appliances.
  • – With a global rank of 310, GameFAQs provides users with game guides, FAQs, reviews, and discussion forums for video games.
  • – Ranked 808 globally, Gamespot is a hub for gaming news, reviews, previews, and videos for leading gaming platforms.
  • – Ranked 965 in the world, is a music discovery service that provides personalized recommendations based on the music users listen to.
  • – Holding a global rank of 1,590, MetroLyrics is a lyrics-dedicated website, featuring over 1 million songs from around 16,000 artists.
  • – Ranked 1,762, Metacritic aggregates reviews and provides scores for movies, TV shows, video games, and music albums.
  • – CBS’s official website, ranked 1,846 globally, offers access to CBS programming, including full episodes of popular CBS shows.
  • – With a global rank of 2,304, 247Sports offers in-depth coverage of various sports, including news, scores, and recruiting information.
  • – Ranked 2,779, ZDNet delivers 24/7 news coverage and analysis on the latest tech and business trends.
  • –, ranked 2,863, is a resource for TV show episode guides, reviews, video clips, and discussion forums.
  • – Holding a global rank of 3,266, TechRepublic helps IT decision-makers identify technologies and strategies to empower workers and streamline business processes.
  • – Ranked 5,825 globally, Chowhound is a community of food lovers sharing their food discoveries and experiences.
  • – With a global rank of 16,765, Comicvine is a source for comic news, reviews, and a database of comic characters.
  • –, ranked 252,479, is a platform for users to discover, download, and manage software in a safe and trusted environment.
  • – With a global ranking of 600,516, CollegeSportsLive is a streaming service that offers broadcasts of college sports events.

If you want to read more about other companies in detail and want to know about their subsidiaries, click here.

How These Companies Dominate Google’s Search Results

Let’s say you want to buy a laptop. You are searching for a 15 inch laptop.

I hope I don’t have to explain much now.

You can do your own research for better understanding. For example, when you search for the parent company of Tom’s Guide, you will get the following result:

Look at the details about Future Plc and the platforms they owned
Look at the details about Future Plc and the platforms they owned

How These Companies Dominate Various Niches

These 16 companies do not limit themselves to a specific niche. Their influence spreads across home, beauty, tech, automotive, cooking, travel, sports, education, and many more.

A report revealed that across 10,000 terms where affiliates are ranking, which cover products in every niche you can think of, these 16 companies ranked on the first page of 8,421 (or 84%) of them. They even claimed five or more of the first 10 organic rankings in 3,999 of 10,000 search results.

This level of dominance is unprecedented and shows the extent of their control over Google’s search results​

Evolution of Digital Dominance: Survival of the Fittest

If you’re wondering whether this state of affairs has been constant, the answer is no. The digital landscape, like any other, evolves over time. Many of the leading websites from a 2016 report are still dominant today, but the companies behind them and how they operate have massively evolved.

For instance, only seven or six of the sixteen companies from the original report are still on the list. Future acquired companies like Purch and Dennis Publishing, and now Fandom and Red Ventures own the biggest sites of CBS. CBS is under Paramount Global. This suggests that to stay dominant, these companies not only have to maintain their own strength but also keep an eye out for potential threats and opportunities in the landscape, much like animals in the wild​.

  • Gawker Media was acquired by Univision in 2017.
    • In 2017, Univision acquired Gawker Media for $135 million. The acquisition stirred controversy as Univision, a Spanish-language media company, took over Gawker Media, renowned for its provocative and often contentious content.
  • Time Inc. was acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018.
    • Time Inc. was acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018 for $1.84 billion. The acquisition created a media giant with a portfolio of magazines, websites, and television networks.
  • Dennis Publishing was acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018.
    • Dennis Publishing was acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018 for $300 million. The acquisition gave Exponent control of a number of well-known brands, including The Week, PC Gamer, and MoneyWeek.
  • Scripps Networks Interactive was acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018.
    • Scripps Networks Interactive was acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018 for $14.6 billion. The acquisition created a media powerhouse with a portfolio of networks that includes HGTV, Food Network, and TLC.
  • 2 companies are now under the ownership of a larger company:
    • Vox Media is now majority-owned by Penske Media Corporation.
    • Meredith Corporation is now a part of Dotdash Meredith, which was formed when Meredith Corporation was acquired by IAC’s Dotdash in 2021.

This is more dangerous for consumers like you and me. It’s getting more condensed.

Impact on Competition and Individual Decision Making

When such a small group of companies dominates search results, it inevitably impacts competition. Other businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, find it challenging to compete with these behemoths.

These dominant companies have established their authority over time and built a substantial online presence, making it difficult for others to rank well in search results.

Moreover, this dominance also influences individual decision-making. When we conduct a Google search, we usually trust and click on the top results, often oblivious to the fact that a small group of companies own the diverse list of websites that appear. This limits the information and options available to us, subtly influencing our decisions and preferences.

Some of the biggest sites these companies are behind, as of May 2023, include MayoClinic (376.7M monthly visitors, owned by Ziff Davis), Healthline (249.1M monthly visitors, owned by Red Ventures), WebMD (223.1M monthly visitors, owned by Internet Brands), and Fandom (753.4M monthly visitors, owned by Fandom)​.

So, next time you read about the side effects of a medicine, there are high chances that all that information is coming from the same source.

This dominance of Google’s search results by a handful of companies raises questions about the diversity and competition on the internet. While these companies are successful and offer quality content, the concentration.

Dear growth marketers and SEO executives, wake up and do more research on niches; otherwise, you may not get heard.

For more marketing insights click here.

How to Optimize Website for Maximum Lead Generation with Google Ads

This is the second part of this series. Here we are going to see how to prepare our website for lead generation with Google Ads. Let’s dive into the specifics and see how you can leverage it too.

Read the first part of this series here.

Keep it Ready: Persona

First things first, knowing your audience is the backbone of any successful marketing campaign. Imagine if you’re a Chetan Bhagat or Amish Tripathi, successful Indian authors, crafting a new novel. You wouldn’t write without understanding your readers’ preferences, would you?

The same principle applies to your business. Your ‘reader’ is your customer. Recognise their characteristics, study their pain points, understand their goals, identify what they read, and determine where they live. This understanding will be the foundation of your Google Ads strategy.

Once you have prepared some personas, let’s move on to the website. Now we are going to modify the website keeping these personas in mind.

Get more tips on Consumer Psychology and prepare a better buyer persona by clicking here.

Making Your Website User-Friendly: On-site Optimization

Think of your website as your digital storefront. If you own a physical store, you would make sure it’s clean, organised, and welcoming to your customers, right? Similarly, your website should be welcoming, relevant, and easy to navigate.

Define Your Landing Pages Based on the Ad

Let’s say you run an online tutoring service, ‘Qrious Minds.’ You need to define the specific pages where you will send traffic from your Google Ads. If someone clicks on an ad about your IIT-JEE preparation course, they should be directed to the page specifically about that service, not your homepage. This is akin to guiding a customer directly to the section of the bookstore that houses their favourite genre.

Homepage & Branded Traffic

When we talk about a company’s homepage, we’re referring to the main landing page for a website. If branded traffic is your major channel, then you should work hard for ‘homepage’.

Branded traffic refers to the visitors that come to a website directly (like typing the URL into the browser) or through organic search results by searching for a brand’s name or specific product of a brand. These individuals already know about the brand and are seeking it out specifically, often indicating a higher level of interest or intent compared to non-branded traffic.

The homepage should be clean enough to guide them towards taking a desired action, like making a purchase or signing up for a service.

One of my favourite example is Dropbox homepage

  • Its sub-headline is simple yet powerful
  • A large and relevant motion graphics clearly explains why Dropbox
  • The more you scroll, the more they build desire by describing different use cases for their tool.

The Art of a Clear Statement of Value

Once your home page design is ready, the next step is the master text.

The website should include a clear ‘statement of value,’ aka master text.

To put it simply, why should a student choose ‘Qurious Minds’ over other tutoring services? Perhaps you have IIT alumni as tutors, or maybe you offer personalised study plans. This statement is your ‘USP’ (unique selling proposition), the cornerstone of your business.

Drafting Your Master Text

Do thorough research and understand why people love your service or product, then highlight it. Most people ignore this part.

In an article I once came across, the CEO of a software company believed that their fast service and competitive pricing were their key selling points. However, a deeper dive revealed that people love them for different reasons. Those were their user-friendly interfaces and local operations in Mexico. Unlike many competitors who operated overseas, their location allowed real-time communication with US clients and facilitated cost-effective, in-person meetings. Moreover, their software was praised for its simplified user interface, offering just the essential features and avoiding overwhelming users with unnecessary functions. By emphasising these strengths in their messaging, they underscored the disadvantages of dealing with distant operations and complex software, effectively reshaping their unique selling propositions.

So think twice before you draft your master text.

Some of my favourite examples are from

  • Grammarly (Short & Sweet)
Grammarly  homepage
  • Getprospect (Nothing fancy, straight to the point, easy to read and comprehend)

The Power of Social Proof

Your site should include social proof. This is the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth publicity. For instance, if ‘Qrious Minds’ has testimonials from previous students who cracked IIT-JEE thanks to your coaching, those reviews would be your social proof.

Aggregating enough reviews takes time, so ask your customers for a review after 30 days of purchase and give them an incentive or reward for completion. Actually, this 30-day time frame is a hack; it gives you at least a few days or weeks to resolve any issues—and get a good review for it.

Mailchimp Website & Its Social proof
Mailchimp Homepage & Its Social proof

Authority Bias and the Culture Code Behind Social Proof

There is even a psychology behind it: Authority bias.

Showcase or mention a celebrity using a similar product or service, and leverage that to your advantage by drawing similarities between your audience and this person to convince them to make the purchase to increase their status quo.

Another rationale behind it is culture; you can classify your audience into two types: collectivist cultures and individualistic cultures. India has a collectivist culture. Individualism is about your personal interests; collectivism is about the interests of the group. This group can be your direct family, but it can also be your company or country.

In collectivist cultures, advice from social groups is generally considered important. So, people are more likely to follow the ratings of other users.

Crafting Clear Calls-to-Action ( CTA )

Imagine being in a bustling Indian bazaar with numerous sellers vying for your attention. Among all the noise, a shopkeeper with a loud, clear voice stands out, inviting you to his shop. Similarly, on your website, amidst the wealth of information, a clear and bold CTA button plays the role of that sales assistant, directing visitors to the next step.

The online retail giant, Amazon, is a prime example of this. Their bold, yellow “Add to Cart” button is highly visible and directs shoppers to the next step of the purchasing process.

Multiple CTAs

Furthermore, your website should have multiple conversion conduits, or Call to Actions (CTAs). This is the digital equivalent of different salespeople for different sections, and eventually they will be guiding the customer to the checkout counter.

For example, after reading about your IIT-JEE course, there should be a clear, visible button that says “Enrol Now” or “Book a Free Demo.”

EXAMPLE OF A clear CTA from Simplified
A clear CTA from Simplified

Blog Section: After reading an informative blog post about the benefits of personalised learning, a CTA could be, “Try Our Personalized Learning Approach! Start Your Free Trial Today.”

QuickSprout CTA from their blog
QuickSprout CTA from their blog

Course Description Pages: Each course description should have a clear and concise CTA, like “Enrol in This Course Now!” or “Download Course Curriculum.”

Contact Us Page: On the contact page, a CTA like “Get in Touch with Our Advisors Today” encourages prospective students to reach out for more information.

Free Resources Page: If you offer free study resources, a CTA might be, “Download Free Study Material Now!” or “Access Free Practice Tests.”

Credits: Hubspot Blog
Credits: Hubspot Blog

Newsletter Subscription: A CTA like “Stay Updated! Subscribe to Our Newsletter” can help grow your email list for future marketing campaigns.

Remember, the goal of each CTA is to guide visitors towards a desired action. A well-crafted CTA is clear, concise, and compelling, using action-oriented language that creates urgency and excitement.

Add Badges, Add Trust & Make it Special

Trust is the cornerstone of any business. Just as a customer feels reassured when they see an ISO certification or FSSAI mark at a restaurant, website verification badges like secure payment, BBB, SSL, guarantees, and free returns can build trust in your online services.

For ‘Qrious Minds’, if you offer free shipping for your study materials or free returns on course enrollments, turn these into badges on your website. It’s like a restaurant highlighting their ‘Hygiene Certified’ status – it provides an extra layer of trust for the customer.

examples of Badges from different websites
Badges from different websites

Companies like Flipkart and Amazon showcase trust badges prominently, which reassure customers about the safety of their transactions. Emulating such practises can enhance the trustworthiness of your website.

Accessibility and Trust: Contact Information on Your Website

Before writing this article, I did my research by visiting multiple websites from different domains. This last point is missing in 90% of the website, and I believe that will impact your service. As a customer, before I make a purchase, I want to ensure that you are easily accessible for after-sale service.

I always prefer Amazon over Flipkart for this one simple reason: it’s easier to reach out to Amazon compared to Flipkart. Secondly, it builds trust. Customers buy from businesses they trust.

Levi Footer with Contact numbers & Email id
Levi Footer with Contact numbers & Email id

A good example of a website that efficiently incorporates contact information in the footer is the website. It contains everything a good website footer should have: a logo, links, social network links, and contact information.

This arrangement not only makes the brand easily accessible to customers but also adds to the overall aesthetic and functional appeal of the website​. And their ‘Help’  & ‘Track Order’ buttons are on the right top.

Some Additional Tips For Better Results

  • Product title and subtitle: Ensure these are clear, descriptive, and honest to attract relevant traffic. For example, Amazon uses specific and honest product titles without keyword stuffing.
  • Descriptions: These should elaborate on the specifics of your product or service. For instance, an online clothing retailer might highlight the type of fabric, fit, and special features in the description.
  • Media: Customers are visually driven, so use custom images and videos. Apple, for instance, uses high-quality images and videos to showcase their products from various angles, helping customers visualise the product better.
  • Nested navigation: Clear, easy navigation is crucial. Websites like IKEA use breadcrumbs, enabling users to track their navigation path and easily return to previously viewed pages.

In conclusion, Optimizing your website for lead generation with Google Ads is a multi-faceted process, involving everything from customer understanding to site design, social proof, clear CTAs, and trust-building. By integrating these elements into your strategy, you stand a better chance of converting your site visitors into loyal customers, thereby driving your business growth.

Email Deliverability: How to Land in the Inbox, Not Spam

How to Improve my Email Deliverability? it’s a very common question from many growth marketers. Let’s find answers.

In 2022, nearly 56.5% of all emails were spam, according to DataProt. The amount of spam in email traffic varies from country to country.

India has one of the highest spam rates in the world. According to a report by DataProt, India had a spam rate of 85% in 2022. This means that for every 100 emails sent in India, 85 were spam. In the United States, the spam rate is 84%.

A spam folder representaion

So, there are high chances that your cold email may end up in a spam folder. The good news is that you can easily prevent this if you know why this happens.

In this blog, we will explore why emails end up in spam, outline steps to ensure your emails land in the inbox, and guide you on how to react when your emails unfortunately land in spam.

Why Do Emails End Up in Spam?

Let’s break down the top five reasons:

  • The email appears as spam: This could be due to the visuals or technical elements, like including too many links or irrelevant attachments in the text.
  • Bad list hygiene: This happens when your list contains contacts who didn’t subscribe willingly or have opted out but are still included.
  • Bad sender reputation: This is influenced by your domain and IP reputation.
  • Individual spam filters set by the subscriber: Your email may be caught by spam filters set by your subscribers.
  • A mistake on the email service side: This happens when an email service mistakenly marks your email as spam.

1. Your Email Appears Like Spam

Spam filters will likely flag your email if it closely resembles a typical spam email. The content, including too many links, using shortened links, or attaching irrelevant files, can cause this.

Scammers commonly use these tactics, which spam filters recognize. In our next post, we’ll discuss more about what typical spam emails look like and how to avoid resembling them.

2. Bad List Hygiene

Good list hygiene means having a list with subscribers who are genuinely interested and have consented to receive your emails. On the flip side, bad list hygiene involves keeping subscribers who have clicked the “unsubscribe” link or adding contacts who didn’t willingly subscribe. This practice often leads to your emails being marked as spam, thus damaging your sender reputation.

3. Bad Sender Reputation

Your sender reputation depends on your sender domain and your IP reputation.

For example, if you consistently send relevant and engaging emails to your subscribers, your sender reputation will likely be positive. On the other hand, if you engage in spammy practices such as sending unsolicited emails or frequently being reported as spam, your reputation will suffer.

How to improve Sender Reputation, read more about startegies and tools here.

4. Individual Spam Filters Set by the Subscriber

Ultimately, the recipient of your email has control over whether your emails land in their inbox or spam folder. They can set their own filters which determine which emails should be considered spam. Unfortunately, even if you’ve done everything right, you may still end up in spam because of these personal filters.

5. Email Service Errors

Sometimes, an error on the email service side can result in marking your emails as spam. This is particularly common when your recipient uses their own email server. Even big email services like Gmail and Yahoo occasionally label legitimate emails as spam.

Now that we have examined the most prevalent reasons why emails land in spam, you are one step closer to mastering email deliverability.

5 Must Need Checklists to Pass Spam Filters

  • Design Your Emails Correctly
    • To avoid triggering spam filters, follow good email design principles. Keep text and images separate, use standardized fonts, and avoid excessive use of capital letters, exclamation marks, or phrases typically associated with spam.
  • Use Honest and Clear Subject Lines
    • Ensure that your subject lines accurately reflect the content of your email. Misleading subject lines can trigger spam filters and frustrate recipients.
  • Obtain Consent Before Emailing
    • Only send emails to contacts who have explicitly consented to receive them. This can be done through a checkbox on a registration form or a pop-up on your website.
  • Implement a Double Opt-In Process (Email confirmation)
    • Implement a two-step verification process where users must confirm their subscription to your mailing list. This ensures that your list only contains valid and interested contacts.
  • Include an Opt-Out Link (Unsubscribe button)
    • Include an easily accessible opt-out link, which is a legal requirement. This can prevent recipients from marking your emails as spam.

5 More Checklists to Pass Spam Filters

1. Maintain Your Email List

Regularly remove inactive contacts from your list. Poor list hygiene can harm your deliverability and IP reputation.

There are a number of ways to maintain your email list. You can use a tool like Mailchimp or Constant Contact to automatically remove inactive contacts from your list.

You can use Listclean or emaillistvalidation to improve the accuracy of your email list by identifying and removing invalid or inactive email addresses.

2. Use a Private Domain for Sending Emails

Enhance your credibility and reduce the likelihood of your emails being flagged as spam by sending emails from your own domain rather than public domains (like

  • It looks more professional. When you use your own domain, it looks like you are a legitimate business or organization. This can help to improve your credibility with potential customers or clients.
  • It is less likely to be flagged as spam. Spam filters are more likely to flag emails from public domains as spam. This is because public domains are often used by spammers.
  • It gives you more control. When you use your own domain, you have more control over your email marketing campaigns. You can choose the type of content you send, the frequency of your emails, and the target audience for your campaigns.

3. Set Up DKIM and SPF

These measures verify that an email claiming to originate from a specific domain is indeed authorized by the domain owner, thereby preventing spoofing.

  • DKIM, which stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail, involves adding a digital signature to an email message. The signature is generated using a private key held by the domain owner. Upon receiving the email, the recipient’s mail server can utilize the public key (published in the domain’s DNS records) to verify the signature and confirm the email’s authenticity.
  • SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, enables the specification of authorized mail servers for sending email on behalf of a particular domain. This information is published in the domain’s DNS records. When a recipient’s mail server receives an email, it checks the DNS records to determine if the sending mail server is authorized. Unauthorized servers may lead to email rejection or spam labeling.

4. Protect Your IP Reputation

Your IP reputation reflects the trustworthiness of your IP address as perceived by email servers and internet service providers (ISPs). It considers factors such as spam complaints, email bounce rates, and the quality of your email list.

Maintaining a good IP reputation is crucial for optimal email deliverability, ensuring that your emails reach recipients’ inboxes instead of being flagged as spam.

By following the previous “5 Must Need Checklists”, you can safeguard your IP reputation and achieve high engagement rates.

5. ESP Matching

Implement ESP matching, a technique used to identify the Email Service Provider (ESP) used by your recipients and send emails from the same ESP.

For instance, if you send an email from to, utilizing the same ESP can reduce the chances of your email ending up in the spam folder. Unfortunately very few platforms available in the market offer ESP matching capabilities (Considering affordability).

How to Deal with IP Address and Domain Blacklisting

If your IP address or domain appears on a blacklist, it can significantly impact your email deliverability as email servers may be less inclined to accept emails from you. It is crucial to regularly check for blacklisting and take prompt action if you find yourself listed.

There are two types of blacklists:

  • Blacklists based on the sender’s domain.
  • Blacklists based on the sender’s IP address.

If either the domain or IP address is blacklisted, your mailings might encounter spam filters or, in the worst-case scenario, won’t be delivered at all.

Several factors can lead to your IP address or domain appearing on a blacklist.

For example, your server may have been compromised and exploited for spam sending. Alternatively, you might be dispatching excessive emails, or a significant number of recipients could be marking your email as spam.

If you discover that your IP address or domain is listed on a blacklist, it is essential to take steps to have it removed.

Identifying Your Blacklist: Using Tools to Determine Your Email Status

Firstly, you need to identify the specific blacklist that includes your information. Use tools, such as MxToolbox,, DNS Checker, Sitechecker, Site24x7, and BlacklistMaster, can help you determine whether a blacklist has your IP address or domain.

To use these tools, input your IP address or domain name into the search field and select “Blacklist Check”.

Requesting Removal: Contacting the Blacklist Operator

Having identified the blacklist that has your data, you must then reach out to the blacklist operator and request the removal of your IP address or domain. Remember, each blacklist has its unique removal process for IP addresses and domains. Thus, you must follow the instructions provided by the specific blacklist operator.

Next, get in touch with the support team of the site hosting the blacklist with your data. Give a detailed account of the circumstances that led to the problem and explain the actions you’ve taken to rectify it. As soon as they verify that you’ve solved the problem, they will remove you from the list.

Keep in mind that removing your IP address or domain from a blacklist might take some time. During this period, you can still improve your email deliverability by adhering to email marketing best practices.

Some more tips:

  • Sending email from a dedicated IP address
  • Sending email to a warm list of subscribers
  • Using a reputable email service provider
  • Do not buy or rent recipient lists
  • Don’t link to disreputable websites
  • Drop shortened links
  • Reduce email size: Some email services, such as Gmail, truncate emails that are over 102KB in size.

Let’s Summarise Our Email Deliverability Tips

Even in 2023 Email Marketing is the cheapest & popular marketing method.

By following all these best practices, you can improve your email deliverability and avoid being blacklisted in the future.

Now, If you believe there’s a mistake, for example, your reputation is low even though you’ve adhered to all the best practices, you can contact the email service directly through their sender contact form and ask for advice.

Contacting Email Provider Support

Provide your information, specify the issue, and wait for a response from the support team. It’s crucial to be polite, clear, and concise when explaining your problem.

Keep in mind that the support team may not respond immediately, so continue aiming for the inbox by following best practices, experimenting with sending tactics, and monitoring deliverability.

Google contact form to fix sender reputation

Outlook contact form to fix sender reputation

Our primary goal is to see your emails landing in the right folder. Don’t lose hope, stay dedicated, and keep refining your strategies. Good luck!

How To Improve Email Domain Reputation in 2023

What is domain reputation and how does it impact deliverability?

An email domain is the part of an email address that comes after the @ symbol. For example, when you send personal emails via Gmail, your domain is If you’re a business, your company likely has a designated domain that often matches the website address.

When talking about email marketing, an interesting analogy often crops up; consider your sender reputation like a credit score. A low credit score might lead to difficulties in securing loans or mortgages. And if you do secure one, you might end up with high interest rates due to the associated ‘risk’.

In a similar vein, a low sender reputation could mean a substantial chunk of your emails land straight in the spam folder, regardless of their content. Email service providers use this method to determine how recipients interact with your emails. Do they move them out of spam or let them stay there? A particularly bad reputation might even hinder your emails from reaching the inbox entirely.

Just like it takes time and good financial practices to improve a poor credit score, it requires consistent, quality email marketing practices to improve a low sender reputation.

However, maintaining a good sender reputation is tricky because each email service provider has its algorithms to assess and calculate your sender reputation. That’s why it’s crucial to take care of your sender reputation, to avoid putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Securing New Domains for Cold Email Outreach

The first rule of thumb in cold email outreach is to use dedicated domains, separate from your main business domain. For instance, if your primary domain is, avoid using it for cold outreach. This tactic safeguards your business domain and email reputation from the risk of being marked as spam.

Your outreach domains should be similar to your main one to maintain the brand association.

Main domain:
Outreach domain: or

Remember, keep the domain names consistent, recognizable, and avoid using dashes; they’re commonly associated with phishing attempts, leading to potential deliverability issues.

Domain Warm-up Process

Once you secure your outreach domains, you’ll need to warm them up. Domain warming essentially means gradually increasing your email activity over a certain period to build a reputation with email service providers. It’s a precaution against appearing like spam, which often involves a sudden spike in email activity.

Consider this, a new domain, especially if it’s under a month old, raises suspicion among email service providers. To bypass this suspicion, allow your new domain to sit idle for a short while or warm it up very slowly over 30 days. Recommendations from many ESPs even suggest waiting at least 12 weeks before going full speed into outreach.

Some Tools for Email Warm Up

As a dedicated growth marketer juggling multiple channels, it may feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. This is precisely where email warming tools come into play. These services automate the time-consuming task of warming up emails, ensuring you establish and maintain credibility with email service providers.

While you focus on your broader strategy and the day-to-day tasks of running your campaigns, these tools work quietly in the background, building your sender reputation, and maximizing the effectiveness of your email outreach.

When choosing an email warming tool, consider these key features:

  • Appropriate pace: Fast warm-up is desirable, but too fast might raise suspicions.
  • Extensive network: A bigger network assists in building a good sender reputation.
  • Advanced automation: Automated warming simplifies the process, saving you time.
  • Detailed reporting: Tools should provide in-depth insight into your reputation and the warm-up progression.
  • Value for money: Choose a high-quality tool that’s affordable and offers a free trial. Avoid overspending.

Here are some of my favourites.

    • This is my favourite because they provide a a true free plan. In their free plan, we can send 3000 emails and provide support. I believe no other platform does this.For my personal blog, I am using Quickmail.
    • I prefer this because it’s affordable , $15 is what they charge you and you may Get 15% lifetime discount on all their plans with the code WELCOME15.
    • Provide features like: Auto-Remove from Spam, Spam score monitoring, Auto-Reply to emails, Fully custom warm-up.
    • They claim that they provide a Smart warming algorithm, Multiple ESP warm up (Google, Outlook, etc.), Live blacklists and DNS check ups
    • $25 /email account/ month (Little expensive)

Staying Active: The Human Touch

During the warm-up period, your focus should be on proving your ‘humanity’ to the email service provider. You need to establish that your email address isn’t being used for mass spamming, but for regular, human-like activities.

These activities include sending emails to friends, signing up for social media accounts, subscribing to newsletters, and so on. The idea is to keep the email traffic flowing in both directions – incoming and outgoing. These actions show your provider that your emails are desirable, leading to interactions and replies, which is entirely opposite to spam emails.

Cycling the Crops: Knowing When to Pivot

Just like a farmer rotates crops to maintain the soil’s productivity, email marketers need to ‘cycle the crops’ – the domains. One domain might work great for a month, two, or even three, but eventually, deliverability might start dropping due to various reasons.

How can you tell? Keep a keen eye on your open rates. A significant drop in open rates is usually an indication that it’s time to switch up the email domain you’re sending from. When this happens, it’s advisable to let the original domain ‘rest’ for about three to four weeks. During this resting period, the domain reputation often resets, allowing you to get back on track.


Contrary to what you might think, domain reputation damage isn’t permanent. If you find yourself in a difficult spot, remember that patience and appropriate rest can heal most wounds. With the right practices and careful nurturing, your email outreach can thrive, delivering your emails right where they need to be – in the inboxes of your potential clients.

Stay tuned for more insights from us, and happy emailing!