by Kalpit Jain
The internet in India has seen explosive growth and penetration in the last decade. Demographics from Tier II and Tier III markets today have shown high rates of digital consumption and smartphone penetration. Multiple applications such as email, Facebook, Whatsapp etc., are now widely used in these markets. India has over 370 to 400 million mobile users and 325 million smartphone users. Because of the popularity of digital, the quality of messaging has become critical for B2C brands to market their offerings effectively. The communication that goes to consumers has to be relevant, effective, substantial, and on time.
How are brands finding the ‘connect’ with their audience?
A lot of brands today have started tracking their consumers’ preferences and needs by tracking the digital footprints that they leave on multiple digital channels such as websites, mobile apps, social media, etc. For example, when a consumer visits an e-commerce brand, he or she leaves a digital footprint on the website or on the app. Brands can use these footprints to create a profile for each consumer that lists their likes, purchasing patterns, and the medium on which information is accessed (desktop/mobile). The brands can then customize their content based on their consumer’s preferences in order to better engage with them. Advanced digital technology in the marketing space, called MarTech, is now available for consumer brands to help gather information about their consumers. Brands are now able to easily find out the amount of time a person spends on a particular page online and for how long they scan a product; this data is captured by a digital marketing technology platform that helps the brand design content tailored to their consumers’ needs. Another way to successfully engage with consumers is to connect in real-time through marketing technology and automation.
Connecting effectively via email
Contrary to the opinions of some marketers today, email marketing is not on its way out. In fact, recent trends have shown that email consumption has increased recently. The prime reason for the increase is that the medium is still considered to be an extremely credible source of information if packaged with relevant and crisp content. Before the internet became available on mobile devices, most people did not check their personal email more than twice a day, as they needed to be at a computer to do so. Now however, with increased smartphone penetration, people tend to sync their email on their mobile phones and access their email regularly.
Smartphone penetration has tripled email usage. With email, the key to effective email engagement is personalisation. Brands need to identify and analyze the medium through which the content is accessed by the consumer – desktop or mobile, based on which they can structure the content.
Segmentation also plays a vital role in brand message delivery. The market is now moving toward mass, one-to-one personalization. Email is frequently used in the e-commerce sector since digital is the only market universe for those brands and they get to track ROI digitally.
About 50-70% of their revenue is generated on a daily basis through email as a channel.
That proves that the dependency on email marketing is extremely high in the Indian market. Offline retail brands are focusing on mobile for marketing purposes. They now have realized that they need to obtain the digital identity of consumers in order to be able to engage with them. Mobile marketing is considered a more intrusive form of communication compared to email and even the banking sector uses mobile as a medium, mostly for transactional purposes.
Brand engagement with consumers via mobile
There has been a decline in SMS marketing with the rising popularity of Whatsapp and other messaging apps. SMS is also relatively expensive and has a character limit of 160 characters. Numerous regulations on the use of SMS for product promotion is another reason for its decline.
However, an optimal combination of both email and mobile mediums is what consumer brands usually deploy. SMS is used in the initial phase, to gather information about consumer behavior especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. Then email and voice communication/push notifications are used to communicate with and market to the customer. Push notifications as a channel is becoming increasingly popular for mobile marketing. A recent example of the same is the recent currency demonetization where brands used digital marketing in the form of push notifications to promote their services for transactions.
A lot of companies are looking at a mix of both email and mobile marketing to create an omni-channel platform to market their products/services. Through MarTech, consumer brands are channelizing their messaging on different mediums. There is a lot of research and innovation underway in email marketing. Marketers are now inserting real-time content in their emails.
For example, in the event of a flash sale of a particular brand on a particular date, brands can send out real-time emails to their consumers to lure them to the sale. This means that when a consumer opens their email inbox, they will receive real-time information on the exact number of hours left to make the most of the sale. This technology updates the content based on the time that the consumer accesses the mail. Another emerging trend in email marketing is video emailing.
Millennials are estimated to be a brand’s most coveted customer segment thanks to their higher annual purchasing power in the coming years. To create relationships with this demographic, omni-channel connections are required, given their habits and consumption behavior. While email helps build personalized connections with consumers, SMS helps to engage with on-the-go consumers.
Through marketing technology, the content that a brand shares with its consumers are bifurcated and developed according to different age segments and their preferred medium of communication. Sending the same data to the same set of customers is usually not very effective and creates content fatigue.
Here, marketing technology plays a vital role by helping brands customize their messaging based on consumer needs. Recently, we have seen that personalized, triggered communication brings in 40-50% higher results than any other digital campaign for consumer brands.
The author is the CEO of netCORE Solutions Pvt Ltd.