With a mission to ensure that no one ever has a bad meal, Zomato has grown leaps and bounds from an online restaurant discovery platform to a brand with an international presence.
- Company Name: Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd.
- Type: B2B2C.
“The fundamental model of our business is that in mature markets we should make profits and they shouldn’t need any more outside money to grow” – Deepinder Goyal, Founder
- Founders: Deepinder Goyal, Pankaj Chaddah
- Founded: July 2008, Gurugram, Haryana, India.
- Industry: Food-Tech
- Available on: Desktop and mobile.
What Is Zomato?
An Indian restaurant search, review, discovery, booking and delivery service company with a global presence in 24 countries.
- Zomato supports languages like English, Czech, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish and Turkish.
- Offers consumers the chance to discover restaurants and their menus, order online, book a table and leave reviews.
- The ordering app also extends the opportunity for restaurants to partner with them to reach a wider audience with their online management tools and increase sales up to 50%.
Idea behind Zomato
Deepinder and Pankaj came up with Foodiebay aka Zomato in the cafeteria of Bain & Company in Delhi. They saw people queuing up to look at the food menu and then deciding what to order. It seemed tedious, cumbersome and they came up with a much better way – Foodiebay.
Intranet to Internet
Initially, they scanned the menus and started an Intranet site. The amount of traffic was enough to convince them to launch a public site in 2008.
Their main competitor back then was Burrp! Burrp! was a little more spread out and focused on restaurants, nightlife, shopping, movies and more whereas Zomato was slowly catching up and eventually beat the competitor with its emphasis on food and clean design on desktop and app.
How Zomato Got Their Early Adopters
Zomato worked with several prominent PR agencies like Blogadda and Indiblogger with added value and consistency. Deepinder Goyal added that only one startup PR firm added value to Zomato working tirelessly for them. With regards to PR, he said: “Startups should focus on building a great product and PR will take care of itself“.
Zomato was featured in:
- Young Turks
- Business Standard
- The Economic Times
- Hindustan Times
- Outlook Business
- The Hindu
- Business Insider
- VC Circle
- Tech In Asia
Users were allowed to review and rate a restaurant, follow their friends making them the food critics. Zomato hosted a blogging contest for users in 2011 and a contest on Instagram in 2012.
After receiving an investment from Infoedge, rebranded to Zomato from Foodiebay because they had ‘eBay’ in the name and they wanted to diversify to non-food categories as well as have a presence abroad. Most users loved the new name and welcomed the change.
- Keywords: Targeted broad keywords like ‘startups’
- Blogging: 2x a week. Content revolved around how to get a startup off the ground & insights into Zomato’s expansion and growth.
- Newsletter: Crunch, Zomato’s newsletter featured recipes, hot new restaurants, and history of food
- Backlinks: Social Media, Quora, Yahoo answers and PR
Word of Mouth
Not a lot was spent on marketing in Zomato’s infancy. They launched in Delhi NCR and 4 other cities and spread awareness by word of mouth because of the ease with which Gen X and millennials could find restaurants online.
Social Media Marketing
Started posting on Facebook & Twitter in 2010. They also began to use Instagram in 2012 and Pinterest to showcase their food.
Employees spread the word about the company by changing their profile pictures, banners and posting company updates on their social media.
Marketing Funnel Breakdown
Top of the funnel
a. 4 blog categories:
- Company: 2x/month
- Culture: Not updated since 2017
- Engineering: 1x/month
- Community: Not updated since 2017
b. 700+ word articles – text heavy. Product Updates, Upselling offline events and Inside Zomato.
c. 61.12% of traffic comes from SEO
d. Keyword Analysis: They rank for keywords like
- Restaurants near me
- Order food online
2. Paid Ads
- PPC Ads: keyword: Zomato + “name of city”
- Branded: 2500+ Ads – keyword ‘Order Food Online with Zomato’
- Competitor: PPC Ads – target keyword ‘Swiggy’
- Keyword mismatch: Zomaato, zamota, zpmato, zomoato
- Ad Spend: $56.14/month
- Chat window pops out
- App link is available on the page
- 16,73,777 people like the page
- Post 4-5 times a week not more than 2x a day
- Change cover photo to ask for user feedback or let them know about new offerings
- Content is geared towards getting consumers to download the app
- Distribution platform for their YouTube content
- 1,16,345 followers
- 5-6 of posts a week
- High Engagement Posts: Festivals, Trends, Contests and Meet the team
- Video uploads 1x a week
- 28,755 subscribers
- Content-Type: How To Videos, Promotional – celebrities, and Inside Zomato
- 3 verified accounts: Zomato, Zomatoin and Zomaro Gold. Numerous accounts for different countries as well.
- 2-3 posts a week
- High engagement posts: On-trend and viral memes about pop culture and sports
4. Referral Traffic
1.77% of total traffic comes from these top referring websites –
Zomaland – Zomato put together a multi-city food carnival with rides, music and live performances. in 2019.
Middle of the funnel
Bottom of the Funnel
- Cold calling customers to purchase Zomato Gold
- Members of Zomato Gold get calls on the day their membership expires with a promo code to purchase it right then and there.
Then Vs. Now
Social Media Then
- The founders were greatly involved in responding to tweets and even questions on Quora when Zomato had started to take shape.
- Twitter contests like Foodie Friday and Yummy Yatra started getting traction.
- Zomato jumped on the Instagram bandwagon in 2012 with a food contest.
Social Media Now
- The style and tone of their content has remained fresh, quirky and in sync with pop culture.
- Target audience online is the millennial who craves instant gratification.
- A recent advertisement called the ‘Language of Love’ featuring an auditory impaired individual had consumers singing praises. The ad worked very well for them because of its strong brand integration and direct proposition.
SEO & Website Then
- The original website and blog did not target online ordering.
- Keywords targeted was ‘startups’ with their old blog geared towards startups and the mistakes one should avoid.
SEO & Website Now
- Website is optimized with the target audience in mind. Their current website is geared to sell.
- Domain score is 83 and they have over 9 million
Marketing & Advertising Then
- Word of mouth marketing coupled with employee evangelism got things off the ground.
- Slowly branched out into social media and eventually started running Facebook and Google Ads.
- Offline events include selling tickets to a New Year’s Eve party, FoodSprint and Zomathon
- Their OOH ads “BC.MC” stirred up quite the reaction a few years ago but all publicity is good publicity in their case.
- Partnership with Citibank to get out a print guide on restaurants in the beginning but it was discontinued.
- Zomato hit the right nerve with their consumers with their menus calling for Children’s Rights in the past.
Marketing & Advertising Now
- The prime focus now is the Google display network ads and Facebook ads
- Discounts are offered to customers with keywords targeting both generic terms such as “Order food online” and branded “Order from Zomato” as well as their competition “Swiggy”.
- Social Media Marketing campaigns include making the most of trends like the IPL trend (also offering customers discounts when the team they bet on hits a six) or pop culture like Game of Thrones or Netflix shows.
- Zomato finally stepped into the event space with Zomaland in 2019 with mixed reactions.
Top Growth Hacks That Have Stood Out For Zomato
- Zomato was initially named Foodiebay. Within 3 years, founders Deepinder and Pankaj realized that they needed to rename the company if they were to diversify their offering and develop a strong global presence. And so, Zomato was born.
- Explained on Twitter as ‘tomato with a zing’, the founders struggled to rebrand but the majority of the consumers welcomed the new change making the whole process worth it.
- Zomato had already introduced an Events tab in their website and app but they finally moved into the Events Space with Zomaland in 2019 proving the rebranding was worth it.
Expansion and Acquisition
- Valuable investors like Info Edge and Sequoia, Vy Capital and WhatsApp’s Neeraj Arora invested in Zomato.
- Zomato outgrew Delhi NCR and moved to major metro cities in India and soon overseas.
- Zomato acquired several companies abroad in the same space – Gastronauci, Cibando, NexTable and Urbanspoon. This gave Zomato a strong foothold in these markets and despite the ups and downs since, Zomato has still a sizeable share of the market worldwide.
Mobile Web to Mobile App
- Zomato made the shift to a mobile app and kept encouraging users to switch to the app touting a better user experience.
- They placed an ‘Order Online’ button next to the ‘Call’ button in order to monetize these orders.
Unique Content and Advertising
- Even in their early days when they had a rudimentary blog, the style and tone was hip, fresh and on trend.
- Zomato even launched a .xxx domain dedicated to food porn to appeal to millennials.
- Their OOH advertisements “MC. BC” came under fire after going viral but definitely had tons of people talking about them for a hot minute.
- In 2015, Zomato even ran ads on leading porn websites making the correlation between good sex and good food.
- Zomato doesn’t spend a lot on marketing but rather on channels like social media and reinforcing the brand with their packaging.
- Even restaurants that partner with Zomato have stickers and tent cards encouraging users to download and review the app leveraging BTL marketing channels.
User-generated content, gamification and contests
- Zomato sets itself apart from their competitors is the opportunity for users to create and submit reviews, follow other foodies and get badges.
- Gamification allows Zomato to keep their users engrossed and garner trust from other foodies who can then make informed decisions.
- Zomato also launches contests to up user engagement and re-posting user content on their social media profiles.
Business Model, Competitors and Strategy
Zomato has shifted from an ad-based revenue model to include a subscription-based model by introducing Zomato Gold helping the company triple its revenue. They also charge a commission from restaurants ranging from 7-21%.
Crushing their competitors
Swiggy and UberEats
- Apart from being in 63 cities in India, Zomato is present in 24 countries worldwide. Compare to their competition, Swiggy which is only present in 17 of these 63 cities.
- Swiggy may be able to replicate the success that Zomato has had but it will take a considerable amount of time.
- UberEats managed to shake the online ordering landscape by offering free delivery to new customers and Swiggy has been making the deliveries at a lower cost, but UberEats incurred losses that it could not sustain and is in talks with Swiggy about a potential merger.
What set Zomato apart from the very beginning is the clear vision about what the company does and who their customer is. Their no-frills website is exactly what draws users in.
Entering new markets
- Zomato has been able to acquire new markets by being the first of its kind in the market.
- They also sweeten their offer by giving away huge discounts in new cities.
- Zomato knows how to scale and when to stop. In 2016, they shut down operations in 4 cities simply because they realized that the customer acquisition cost to the volume of orders was skewed. These non-metro cities were simply not ready for online ordering.
- Zomato has added a social aspect to the website that people love. When you initially sign up on Zomato, you can follow your Facebook friends, start writing reviews and earn badges.
- Users are incentivized to engage with the platform and feel like their voice is being heard, the company has been able to create a unique platform. Although the concept feels borrowed from Yelp, it does not contain the negative undertones that Yelp does.
Low advertising costs
- By building an ever-evolving product, Zomato has been able to keep its advertising costs low from the very beginning.
- With BTL advertising at restaurants to viral OOH advertising, Zomato has relied on employee evangelism, on-trend social media content and user content to keep pushing forward.
AI in business
- Zomato is so far ahead of its competition because of the way they have leveraged machine learning to continuously improve the product. Think Piggybank, online table booking or Zomato Gold.
- Adding personalization and superior features for both restaurants and customers, Zomato practices “AI for business”.
- Initially, the Zomato ML team was brought in to moderate user-generated content that involved image processing.
- Now they have scaled to product optimization, feature improvements and personalized recommendations. The CTR has improved by 15% after incorporating all these changes.
Founders’ Insights and Vision
Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah have shared valuable insights over the years in the blogs and interviews.
Here are some of the most popular ones –
Deepinder and Pankaj recognized a problem that no one had a real solution to at the time and aggressively tackled it launching a successful business with international roots. With their recent attempt at doing offline events, it is clear to see the path that Zomato is going to take with the company.
The vision for the company’s feature appears to be backed by a social cause. In Deepinder Goyal’s own words, “We are working towards the idea of a world wherein most people should have access to safe and nutritious meals at the same price or cheaper than the cost of preparing them at home. We want to solve for the need to have to cook vs eat out/ order, and see cooking as something that people should want to do because it’s a joyous activity instead of being a chore.”
Given that millennials want to back something with a social cause, Zomato is definitely on track to staying as the Numero Uno Food Tech company.
Latest posts by Amit Ghosh (see all)
- How Pepper Fry Got 670K Likes and 668K Follows on Facebook - May 12, 2019
- Zomato- Marketing Strategy and Marketing Breakdown - May 3, 2019