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The CMO Digest: How to Steer the Marketing Team with a Tight and Shrinking Budget

Talk about the world turning upside down. Before the virus outbreak, in the Gartnner 2019-2020 CMO Spend Survey,, it was found that 86% of CMOs had reported that future economic and business climates would have positive effects on their organizations’ ability to meet performance goals, and 61% felt marketing budgets would increase in 2020. And now? Well, 65% of CMOs and marketing leaders report they are already bracing for moderate to significant budget cuts due to slowdown.

Cost-cutting and reviewing budgets in the event of global pandemic of this scale isn’t unreasonable especially when you have employees to care for and salaries to pay. As the first step to tighten spending dollars, marketing budget inevitably comes under scrutiny. With uncertainty increasing by the hour, its certain that the CMO’s are asked to cut down costs.

Now when it seems like that the corona crisis is here to stay for a while with more severe consequences, and there’s no time to wait for the dust to settle down before you start planning, here are a couple of steps that can help:

1. Build a Crisis-Management Team

As marketers, we need to now adjust to a very different short-term environment with long-term consequences. Dealing with this in the most efficient manner needs careful thought. Leaders should appoint a specialized crisis management team that would focus on revenue-related activities and implement a cost optimization strategy. The focus should be on the business’s short-term health while keeping in mind the long-term realities and opportunities. Given the degree of uncertainty, the team needs to be agile when it comes to reacting to shifting demands and impacts that corona crisis is causing on the business, customer behaviour, and the economy in general.

To facilitate all this the team of course needs necessary data to review the impact of the expenditure incurred through COVID-19 communications. And also study the potential impacts of reduced or changed marketing activities due to the cost cuts.

2. Make the best use of the available budget

While most of us are tempted to cut down costs we must not forget that ignoring the risks of aggressive cuts do more harm than good in the future. Your focus should be on doing more with the same budget. And it’s important to figure out effective ways to reach and engage with customers, to mitigate the impact on growth owing to the crisis and subsequent cost cuts.

As rightly said, marketing dollars saved today may cost significant business losses in the long and short term. Cutting down engagement efforts now will lead to higher customer churn and poor retention.

The responsibility lies on the shoulders of the CMOs to find a thought-through balance between budget reductions and strategic reinvestment. So instead of cutting costs across the board, CMOs must look for ways to drive efficiency. They need to formulate a new approach that maximizes the effectiveness of current investments and processes and free up resources to reinvest in activities that propel growth in the current scenario. Knowing where to focus is the key to managing the crisis and here’s what you need to do:

  • Optimize expenditures – Know your priority customers. Who they are. Where they are. When they want to be served. And how they want to be served. Look for overlap in agency or martech platform contracts, reduce or postpone business obligations that won’t bring value in the current environment. Also, evaluate low-cost marketing channels (emails over SMS/push notifications) with better-optimized marketing messages.
  • Don’t stop investing in innovation – Focus on investing in next-gen marketing capabilities and innovations. Establish a dedicated budget to fund an always-on testing discipline so you can continue to innovate in challenging times. Also, make the most of customers’ strong shift to digital by building a best-in-class customer data infrastructure to better understand your customers’ needs, behaviours and preferences. These investments help in faster recovery from the current slump, and boost the organization’s immunity to crisis situations.
  • Keep a close tab on performance and effectiveness – At times, while focusing too much on improving spending efficiency we end up jeopardizing the spending effectiveness. Look beyond baseline effectiveness metrics. Get rid of the low-ROI activities. Re-invest in the high-ROI activities to minimize your opportunity cost of reduced spending as measured in lost or delayed revenue.

3. Respond to scenarios swiftly

No one had a playbook with a winning formula to deal with a crisis like this. Given the high degree of uncertainty in the foreseeable future, long-term planning is not on your to-do list. But CMO’s need to make near-term cost corrections and respond to the impact of COVID-19 on marketing budgets through swift and decisive action. Create flexible and adaptable budget scenarios and conduct reviews of how the pandemic may impact marketing functions in the near term. But don’t lose sight of the long-term marketing and enterprise goals.

How to Negotiate The Budget With Your CFO

While all the above do’s and don’ts and tactics come in handy, another challenge that stands before the CMO is getting the budget sanctioned from the CFO in the next few quarters (or more). While the health risks associated with the pandemic could be contained in the next couple of months, its impact will be looming over the business world through this year and into 2021. Budgets will continue to be tight and you will be expected to deliver higher results with these low budgets.

As CMO’s very well know it, the impulse at such times is to make broad cuts in the marketing budget. But the question is, why does marketing budget come under the scanner during tough times?

The ROI on marketing spends is not directly visible and immediate, it is hard to establish a direct and linear relationship between the marketing spend and performance. And underlining the bottom-line impact of marketing is complex because of a number of factors, including shifts in consumer behaviours, thinly distributed customer attention across channels, rising media and advertising costs, etc. But this is no way implies that there is no impact.

The moment you put a plug on your marketing efforts you’re putting a halt on the communication that happens between the business and the customer. This is definitely not good for your overall business in the long-run. While marketers will agree to this, the real challenge is in finding a common language between marketing and finance to make a strong case for marketing effectiveness and to reboot the CMO-CFO relationship.

Not everyone understands the nature of marketing, the costs associated with it and the risk involved if you compromise on your marketing efforts. There’s plenty of data out there to prove the worth of marketing at the time of crisis. Here are a few pointers that would be in your favour when you vouch for marketing budgets.

  1. Explain the areas you need to prioritize in the current economic situation – Point out the key customers and segments, stages of the funnel, channels and moments that need attention. Stress on the potential threats that require immediate action. Chalk out your plans to take immediate actions to support short and long term growth.
  1. Lay out the roadmap not only for survival strategies but also the future goals – Convince the CFO that companies that win in downturns don’t just play defence, they play offense as well. Identify the avenues where doubling down now can boost growth during and after whatever lies ahead.
  1. Compare and analyse ROI of different investments – Your CFO wants to talk numbers and you give him that. Analyze investment categories to compare the relative ROI of different investments, and prioritize both opportunities to drive efficiency in nonworking and working money categories. Use data based results to back up your analysis.
  1. In the present situation, do not miss out on making your case for redirecting funds from commitment to events, sponsorships, and meetings that have been cancelled and aren’t going to happen anytime soon. Explain the importance of an increased focus on digital channels to pick up the slack.

And while CMOs are often not as adept at assessing risk, CFOs are often not as comfortable at assessing the risk of not acting. By collaborating on both sides of risk, it is more likely that the firm can land on a more effective decision.

Final Thoughts

The current budget challenge that has terrified marketing leaders around the world and across companies, is definitely not the last one. But by taking these immediate actions, CMOs can better ensure that their organizations remain nimble and adaptable in the face of uncertainties that are yet to come our way.

Push Notifications Delivery – the Problem of Undelivered Push Notifications and How Smart Push Solves It

App marketers and makers are known to use every possible channel to reach and engage with their customers. And that should come as no surprise with the two factors that affect their app’s bottom line.

  1. Acquisition cost, which is as high as $1.75 per install, $3.52 per registration, and $86.61 per in-app purchase.
  2. Retention cost, for which it is widely accepted that each invested dollar is as powerful as five dollars spent in acquisition.
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Real-Time Personalization: Why Understanding Consumer Behavior is the Secret to Crafting 1:1 Customer Experiences

The Disruptive Brands

The advent of the World Wide Web and the upsurge of ‘disruptive brands’ like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Visa, Ford, etc. changed the very way our lives functioned. These brands laid the foundation for ‘consumer convenience’ that we enjoy today from the safety of our homes even amidst a global pandemic. 

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How Customer Data Platforms can Power D2C Brands Deliver Omnichannel Personalization

Don’t you as a marketer wonder sometimes that if data is the new currency how should you spend it wisely to get the best returns? Well, to start with, a lot of D2C brands are going omnichannel to enhance their digital presence. And to outlast the cut-throat competition from e-commerce giants, their focus is now shifting from in-store sales to creating cohesive user experience across all touchpoints.  

D2C brands are beginning to adopt the modern approach of using a consumer-centric mindset and the best way to do that is by using consumer data to derive marketing campaigns and Marketing Experience (MX).

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Hey Siri! What do you have for App Devs and Marketers?

Apple has brought in its biggest iOS update yet with iOS 14. From App Clips to widgets on the home screen, it seems like it was ‘inspired’ by quite a few Android mainstays. Then again, in a typical Apple style they’ve improved security, privacy and their AI. At the core of it all, there is one question that I aim to answer in this blog. Why should you care, as a marketer, developer, or a user? Answers below.

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Netcore’s Smart Push: Exceptional Delivery Rates Are No Longer a “Mission Impossible

[Blog Updated by Gautham Gopakumaran]

Netcore Smartech’s Push Amplification feature gets better and stronger to turbo charge your mobile marketing strategy!

Mobile marketing can often be an uphill battle against continuously rising competition in an already cluttered app market, fluctuating brand loyalty, and diminishing returns on investment!

Set in this backdrop, push notifications constitute a major weapon in your user engagement arsenal. While this channel may have continued to serve you well, there can be situations where technological limitations and firewalls let you down.

This means that all your exceptionally crafted campaigns might not get delivered to certain segments of your user base at all, leaving you firefighting your way towards higher app monetisation and user retention, all on your own.

This undermines your effectiveness as a data-driven mobile marketing agent, significantly!

What you need is a super-agent that will help you “neutralise” the “enemies” of falling push notification delivery and save the day!

What you need is the Ethan Hunt of mobile marketing that no longer makes incredible delivery rates an impossible mission!

Enter Netcore Smartech’s newest Push Amplification technology – Smart Push.

Your push notification delivery guardian angel that empowers you to boost delivery rates by more than 45% across devices.

Let’s examine just how this feature can add more teeth to your mobile marketing automation at scale.

The Roadblock

Android OS: Android-powered Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Lenovo, and LeEco, amongst other smartphone companies, are optimised for functionality over and above the stock Android OS.

Despite adoption of Chinese smartphones dropping during COVID times, it still covers 72% of the Indian market. Chinese smartphones still dominate the global marketplace in spite of their YoY decline in sales. 

Over a period of time, it has been observed that these OEMs restrict background processes related to certain apps so as to conserve battery life and processor bandwidth. As a result, push notifications from many apps aren’t delivered at all or are delivered in extremely limited quantity, as the vital link between the push gateway (either GCM or FCM) and the smartphone device is severed.

This causes your campaigns to lose their relevance, regardless of how personalised or contextual they may be, especially if they aren’t delivered in a timely fashion. Not only do these in-built restrictions adversely affect your delivery rates, but they also create gaps in your user engagement strategy, for absolutely no fault of your own!

Apple iOS: The Apple iPhone currently captures a market share of almost 14%. Closer home, in India, it accounts for around 63% of the premium smartphone market.

When it comes to mobile app engagement, there are occasions when your push notifications might not get delivered at the discretion of the gateway in question, Apple Push Notification Service (APNS).

This can majorly erode the effectiveness of your mobile marketing campaigns that depend on push notifications as a delivery channel.

The Antidote

Netcore Smartech’s Smart Push, the 4 stage push amplification technology that helps you address your notification deliverability woes based on proprietary technology experienced on both Android and iOS devices.

  1. Smart Push’s Stage 1 – Push Amplification

First, there is the traditional push amplification where Smart Push identifies devices that haven’t received notifications and triggers a notification to them.

Android OS: After seamless integration, every elaborate push notification campaign that you run for your app is pushed to your selected audiences from Netcore Smartech’s servers through either the GCM or FCM gateway.

There will be devices on which your campaign gets delivered, and there will be Chinese OEM devices on which delivery might fail. The SDK then makes a network call to a specific Smartech API that in-turn pushes all those non-delivered notifications to the user.

Apple iOS: For Apple devices, your relevant notification campaigns are pushed to your selected user segments from Netcore Smartech’s servers through the APNS gateway.

In the event of non-delivery at the device level, a similar network call is made to the specific Smartech API. Based upon the response received, it renders all those undelivered push notifications for that particular user.

Stage 1 will boost your delivery rates by 10 – 15%

Learn how you can further drive higher conversions through push notifications through our free e-book, right here!

  1. Smart Push’s Stage 2 – Xiaomi Push Gateway

Second, we work on a specifically on the Chinese smartphones which restrict notification deliveries to save up on battery life. Smart Push brings the power of Xiaomi Push Gateway. With the largest market share among smartphones in India, Xiaomi becomes extremely important to your delivery capability.

Smart Push’s specific focus with the Xiaomi Push Gateway makes these smartphones prioritise your app’s notifications over other, and boosts your delivery rates in Xiaomi smartphones by up to 70%.

Stage 2 will boost your delivery rates by 7 – 8%.

  1. Smart Push’s Stage 3 – Delivery Boosters

Third, we’ve added delivery boosters which have the potential to deliver notifications to 100% of your active users. To put it simply, they fetch and schedule your push notifications ahead of time. So even if your users are offline, have network issues, or are on airplane mode, your notification will get delivered provided they’ve been active on your app beforehand. So for your active users, you will find it hard find anyone who hasn’t gotten your notification.

Stage 3 will boost your delivery rates by 7 – 10%.

  1. Smart Push’s Stage 4 – The Secret Sauce

And finally, we’ve our own delivery secret sauce. Netcore’s dedicated push notification deliverability experts. We’ve been known as the best in the email space for years. So we took that expertise and transferred it to the push notifications division. The deliverability team spent thousands of hours experimenting, innovating, and implementing ingenious hacks on every level of the push notification funnel. Their efforts have further squeezed another undeniable advantage.

Stage 4 will boost your delivery rates by 10 – 15%.

The Fallout

Android OS: Netcore’s Smartech Smart Push Amplification technology will eventually help you boost campaign delivery rates by over 45% on these smartphones. Additionally, the battery life of your users’ devices is not greatly affected through these protocols.

Android devices running on Marshmallow and above end up consuming less than 1% of battery life due to the high degree of device optimisation.

Apple iOS: Similarly, this feature allows you to boost push notification delivery rates by over 45%.

The battery life in question is also expended to an extent of less than 1% as the processor gets utilised only when your app is relaunched.

All in all, Smartech’s Push Amplification lays the foundation for you to get the most out of your mobile user engagement strategy, one carefully created AI-powered hyper-personalised campaign at a time.

The claim to be the world’s best is not one that can be easily made. This is especially so in the technology industry, where rapid changes upend the status quo almost every day. It demands a certain level of confidence; not just the distance we’ve traversed so far, but also the distance we’re confident of going in the future. Despite everything, we aren’t afraid to claim just that – we have been the World’s best in Email Delivery for a long time. And now, we’re also the World’s best in App Push Notification Delivery.

The Smart Push technology will give you a delivery boost of at least 45%. And we’ve already seen successes.

“We have achieved 2.2X uplift in Delivery Rate and 1.8X uplift in Click Rate through Push Notification as a channel with Smartech.” – Mr. Mukund Kulkarni, Chief Manager – Digital Marketing, TVS Credit

To top it off, combine Smart Push with our RAMAN-powered engagement mechanisms will super charge your engagement as well. Staying on brand, Smartech will help you deliver to more customers, and engage with them better than anyone else in the market.

To know more, get in touch with us today!

D2C E-Commerce Personalization: 7 Key Metrics You Need to Track!

Customers can’t buy from a brand they don’t notice or don’t have access to!

All Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands have two questions that need urgent answering:

  1. How do we get new customers to notice our brand?
  2. How do we increase discoverability of and access to our products across platforms?
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What Made TikTok Tick – Tips for Homegrown Apps To Make it Big

TikTok was a primary source of entertainment for millions of Indians until the Indian government banned it. The ban came at a time when most offline activities are not possible and TikTok was perhaps experiencing excellent growth.

But as the lovely poet, Robert Frost said, “In 3 words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

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David Raab, The CDP Man, on How AI and CDP can Unlock Possibilities for Marketers

While everyone in online marketing space now understands Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), only a few have an in-depth insight into how exactly these technologies work and contribute to successful marketing campaigns. You, as a marketer, can leverage the full potential of AI to deliver a hyper-personalized experience to your customers, only when you align your tech stack with your data and creativity.

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Gamification in Mobile Apps – The Pathway to Boost Engagement, Retention, and Virality

For quite a long time it was enough if your app was fast, stable, and occupied a reasonable amount of space. That is no longer the case. The apps that people spend the most time on – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – have upped the game in ‘user experience’. Your typical users are turned off by a poorly designed app that doesn’t engage them. The higher expectations result in close to a third of your app users uninstalling in the first 30 days. And that’s precisely why “gamification” has become popular.

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Rule-based Personalization: Unlocking Higher Website Conversions With Data-Driven Experimentation

The first thesis in The Cluetrain Manifesto says that markets are conversations. With the advent of the internet, cutting-edge technology, and big data; a virtual marketplace has been established where a marketer connects with prospects/leads/customers to convince them that his/her product/service is the best. 

In this huge virtual marketplace where a customer is drowning in information and options, if a marketer does not personalize his/her conversations to show the customers that they run a business that recognises every individual and loves to cater to their individual needs, they are running a huge risk of being ostracized. 

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Going Above & Beyond With VRM – Retaining Your VIP Customers

We have established in our previous blogs that businesses should dive deep into their data to understand Customer Life Time Value (CLTV) better. This will enable them to identify their best customers and provide them with better value. This can be achieved through Velvet Rope Marketing (VRM) ie., the VIP treatment.

The best customers deserve this velvet rope treatment because:

  • They sign up first and look forward to product upgrades
  • They spend significantly more than the rest of the customers
  • They stay loyal to a brand longer even with competitors wooing them with better prices
  • They understand your brand better and are easier to serve
  • They spread the word about your brand far and wide

By focusing on the best customers, VRM helps stratify customers and provide a differentiated experience. VRM treats best customers like royalty to deliver:

  • Exclusivity
  • Hassle-free experiences
  • Envy or pride compared to the rest
  • Easy access
  • Enhanced security
  • More personalization

All these help generate additional revenue, profits, loyalty and word of mouth for brands.

These elevated experiences can be in the form of monetary & non-monetary benefits too. However, non-monetary benefits are more sustainable over the long term.

Treating Best Customers Like VIPs

Best customers can spread a brand’s message, attracting others like them. This is another big reason to deploy VRM for the top 20% customers.

Here are some more examples of differentiated service offerings:

Exclusivity

  • Get premium samples free – from wishlists to new launches
  • Get a special page designed based on preferences – likes, seasonality, offers, etc.,
  • Get notifications on topics of interest
  • Participate in product co-development
  • Cancel tickets or orders without loss

Ease

  • Pre-book a slot based on historic data and get an assigned concierge
  • Get free exchange opportunities
  • Pick preferred seats in advance
  • Order service/product before arriving on-premise
  • Preferential treatment from customer service; first-in-line always

Access

  • Get invited to media events celebrating the brand’s loyal customers, to get first-look at products
  • First opportunity to book an order for limited edition apparel
  • Offers for orders similar to previous purchases
  • Early bird opportunities to buy tickets for upcoming events

Examples Of VRM Based On Industry Type

So, what can companies do for their best customers? Here are a few examples:

  • App based services

Personalized offer zones, priority customer care and early access to new features.

  • BFSI

Personal financial advisor, dedicated services and better protection for transactions.

  • Travel

Rewards and curated travel itinerary based on interests.

  • Retail

Notifications for freshly stocked goods which were previously out of stock. Recommendations to buy those or similar items when restocked. Special offers for items similar to customer’s previous purchases.

  • Ecommerce

Specially designed page based on customer preferences – including a combination of things they like, along with seasonal launches or offers. Provide 3 free exchange opportunities to best customers.

  • Streaming Platforms

Early content access or preview (music, tv shows, movies etc.,). Ask best customers for content preferences to recommend for the following week or month.

  • Manufacturing

Give best customers a privileged opportunity to buy a new collection directly from the brand or even co-design new products.

  • Multiplexes & Event Management

Predict what best customers are likely to order and offer an easy buying option.

Developing A MadTech Growth Flywheel With MarTech & AdTech

Image Credits: Lalit Bhagia

VRM’s focus on best customers can help significantly lower ad spends and customer acquisition costs. VRM can do wonders when enabled with the best of marketing and advertising technology ie., MarTech.

AdTech’s soul lies in advertising campaigns, ads, and all relevant data and metrics i.e. impressions, acquisitions, views, and unique users, etc,. It mostly focuses on acquisitions of new customers.

Current customers and their retention come under the purview of MarTech. It enables creation, deployment, and management of online marketing campaigns. It majorly involves the use of onsite marketing like email marketing, social media management, A/B testing, personalization, user-feedback surveys, and web analytics.

MadTech helps provide a holistic approach to digital and marketing strategy for brands. The integration of adtech and martech into a powerful VRM flywheel that can manifest itself across the customer journey starting with customer acquisition, onboarding, retention, development and advocacy. It is therefore critical to collect and store customer data across all touchpoints using a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

There are various other benefits of VRM when implemented right using CLTV:

  • Higher revenue, greater satisfaction, lower churn
  • Differentiation in customer service
  • Better targeted marketing spend
  • Move from cost per acquisition to value per acquisition
  • Quality retention – 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%
  • More accurate sales forecasting
  • Better information for product design and planning
  • Better project prioritisation
  • Quick refunds and other such decisions

The Netcore Smartech solution powered by Raman, our AI engine is perfectly poised to help any brand implement VRM. Contact us to learn more about customer retention with 1:1 personalization using multi-channel marketing automation.

Android 11 – What Does It Mean for Digital Marketers?

Google has recently released the Android 11 developer preview with almost 100 new features and enhancements. This is an early baseline build for developers and is due for release in Q3 2020.

Here’s a quick summary of the exciting changes that Android 11 has brought and expected to be available in the final stable release and how it affects digital marketer’s strategies.

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12 E-commerce Personalized & Non-personalized Product Recommendation Tactics to set your Sales Soaring

Sometimes I feel my Netflix account knows me better than some of my best friends do. Why would I say that? Well, it cares about my preferences, remembers what I like, and recommends shows accordingly. It makes my life super easy. All thanks to its recommendation engine, which Netflix thinks is worth at least a billion dollars.

By recommending relevant products, Amazon increased its revenue from $9.9 billion to $12.83 billion for the 2nd quarter of 2019 compared to the previous year.

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Media & Publishing: How to Build Personalized Engagement That Makes Your Readers, Read

Every day, a whopping average of 92,000+ articles are published. Although it may be difficult to wrap your mind around this figure, this is the competition today’s media and publishing Industry is facing. And while you are reading this article, there are so many distractions like emails, notifications etc. struggling to get your attention. With the content opportunities being so vast, it’s time for this industry to revisit their tactics and lock in hyper-personalised experiences to engage readers.

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How to Send AMP Emails?

AMP Emails (also known as ‘AMP for Email’ and Email AMP) is a technology that converts your typical static email into a dynamic and interactive web page-like experience. It seeks to eliminate the need for your recipients to open a new browser tab from your email, eliminating the possibility of drop offs that typically happen in such a situation. With carousels, accordions, and the ability to keep your email up to date with information from external services, your email is turned into a web page where your audience can interact and stay up to date with your brand.

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Going Above & Beyond with Velvet Rope Marketing – Targeting Your Best Customer

We have established in our previous blog that businesses should treat their best customers, their prized possessions like royalty. Not all customers can be kings for a business in the current economic scenario. In this blog, we will explore how to effectively differentiate the best from the rest using CLTV (Customer Life Time Value) and why it is important for brands.

Being a camel to survive the harsh realities of the global economy is now essential for all businesses. The key to crossing the COVID-19 chasm would involve persevering through the tough times by modulating growth and creating sustainable business processes.

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How Can D2C Brands Deliver 1:1 CX at Scale?

Just as a conductor coordinates dozens of musicians in an orchestra to create an experience greater than the sum of their individual parts, you as a marketer can design and deliver 1:1 personalized customer experiences by creating a memorable symphony using the right customer data-driven personalization platform.

To create a harmonious, melodic symphony called ‘Omnichannel Personalization’ for your customers, you need to have a simple and structured process. 

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