When it comes to channels which excite a marketer’s drive for higher revenues, Web Push Notifications typically don’t figure into most lists. But this long-ignored channel ended up helping a leading online fashion store from India, Nykaa Fashion, to increase their sales despite the slowing demand across the eCommerce space due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Background on Nykaa Fashion
Nykaa Fashion is a one-stop destination for designer women’s clothing. Their belief in finding beauty in diversity led to them shelving the one-size-fits-all approach in favor of one that celebrates differences, of every kind. They celebrate a women-first, in which no matter the style, size, or spending power, they want each woman who shops with Nykaa Fashion to feel welcome, inspired, and excited. This has resulted in the housing of over 500 labels and 75,000 styles which encourages the harmonious cohabitation of lesser-known brands with luxe and high-street names.
The Fashion Challenge
Nykaa Fashion and Netcore united in an effort to improve the revenue potential of a channel, and the channel we chose was Web Push Notifications. The challenges that faced us were unique. Despite the amazing discounts on offer, customers typically ignored these notifications. While this might be attributed to the fact that most Web Push Notifications sent were text-based, Nykaa Fashion had tried running image-based notifications, with unsatisfactory results.
With an analysis we soon found a possible reason as to why Nykaa Fashion’s image based Web Push Notifications didn’t work as planned. The sizes were inappropriate, causing an inconsistent rendering across various browsers. While the image might look great in Chrome, it would look stretched in Firefox and Safari. We also discovered that while Nykaa Fashion provided great discounts, they weren’t well advertised in their Web Push Notifications. We believed that if the offers were given primary focus, Nykaa Fashion would achieve a much higher conversion rate. And with that in hand, we got to work.
Fit for the Runway
Our team from Netcore realized that we needed to redefine and redesign the channel for it to work to the potential it had.
First, we started simple. We decoded the right dimensions that needed to be used in Web Push Notifications. These dimensions would ensure that the images looked great in all browsers.
Second, we defined the ratio of sizes for images to the size of the text in a Web Push Notification. These ratios ensured that neither the text nor the image overpowered the other. It would also ensure that a customer’s attention would be grabbed by the image and the text would have enough space and size to give the complete information on the discounts on offer.
Third, we made sure that the creatives that we had in place for these Web Push Notifications accentuated the discounts on offer. For this we worked on the placement of the text and image, such that the offer was obvious at the first glance. We also used contrasting colors, making the image and the text easily readable in every monitor despite the contrast or brightness settings that might be set in place.
A Sample Web Push Notifications
Despite the pandemic, which saw a drop in overall purchases for all fashion retailers, Nykaa Fashion experienced a spike from their Web Push Notifications. The spike was directly attributed to the implementation of Netcore’s suggested strategy to Web Push Notifications.
8.9% increase in Web Push Notifications click rate.
14.28% increase in cart additions from Web Push Notifications clicks.
4.7% increase in the number of orders placed through Web Push Notifications.
32.41% increase in cart additions to Web Push Notifications visits ratio.
50% increase in revenue via web-push as a channel.
An oft-ignored channel has now become a profitable one for Nykaa. Smartech’s tools and team will continue to help eCommerce brands achieve higher numbers through even the most unlikely of channels. Be sure to contact us to know how we can help you.
For any insurance brand, renewals matter more than new policy purchases. It forms the backbone of their income statements being a recurring revenue source. But it is also one that is most prone to be hurt by economic stress. For example, the COVID pandemic resulted in a drop in renewals. Hence, it is no wonder that many General Insurance companies have shown a specific interest in optimizing their renewal process through automation and digitization, so much so that there are now awards that celebrate digital innovation.
As a leading provider of marketing automation solutions to BFSI organizations in India, it came as no surprise to us, at Netcore, when a multi-award winning General Insurance company came to us with challenges typical to organizations digitizing their processes. This organization, a joint venture between an Indian NBFC and a German financial services company, had received multiple awards for their innovations in digitizing the insurance process but had faced multiple issues in optimizing their automation communications to their large base of customers and make the most of it.
The Frustrations of Over Enthusiastic Digitization
Typical to any unstructured digitization process, the organization had their information in multiple silos. Each silo had its own system for updating its information, which led to conflicting data points for the same customer across these silos. They also had their own communication processes that didn’t speak to the other silos, which lead to the customer receiving multiple communications with conflicting proposals. In effect, there was a lack of a central database that could be updated with the most recent customer information, with all the policies that he/she had bought into.
Apart from potential answers to their frustrations with siloed data, the organization had two specific objectives setup for Netcore:
To automate their renewal process.
To enable them to send hyper-personalized communications to their customers.
Effectively, the needed Netcore to enhance their customer communications, effectively improving the customers’ experience with their outbound touchpoints.
The 3 Step Strategy
Netcore’s team came in with a 3 step strategy and pitched it to the general insurance organization.
Step 1 – Integration
We would start by integrating Netcore’s Smartech with the organization’s CRM tool. Smartech’s servers would collect daily updates on each policyholder through an API call. This would target the issues of siloed information. It would ensure that Smartech’s servers would have the updated information that we need for every communication.
Step 2 – Segmentation
Next, we would work on segmenting all customers. After appraising the organization’s customer base we decided on 90+ segments as per their line of business (LOB), product, expiry date, and policy renewal status. The idea was to target these segments with unique journeys based on their attributes.
Step 3 – Hyper-personalized Communication
Finally, we would work on hyper-personalized ‘Renewal Reminder’ communications for the organization’s customers. The focus here would be people from the rural parts of the country, where there would be the added personalization facet of language. We would send the communications, email and SMS, in one of six languages.
The Launch and the Aftermath
Netcore’s pitch worked, and we went to the field.
1.8 lakh (180 thousand) users were targeted every month.
Sample of Personalized E-mail
Sample of Personalized SMS
The customer base was segmented into 90+ units and classified into more than 4 Line of Businesses. We targeted these segments under 3 product categories, 2 Wheeler, 4 Wheeler, and Non-motor, under each Line of Business. A thing to note is that a customer might be in one or more product categories, or under multiple Line of Businesses. Once the customer database was put into place, we got to work setting up automated emails for each segment. We also used Smartech in conjugation with information in the customer database, like the customer, policy, and renewal information, to send hyper-personalized SMS and email under predefined automation triggers. Finally, as we’d planned earlier, customers from rural communities were targeted using the most applicable one of six regional languages.
Interestingly, through the process of implementing our strategies, we identified 3 types of customers:
The early birds, who were customers who renew at least 5-6 weeks prior to their expiry date.
The last moment users, who renew in the last week of the expiry date.
The late risers, who renew after their policy has lapsed.
We used this information to further fine-tune our automated and personalized communications.
Below are the results we observed after implementing Smartech:
Sending hyper-personalized communications resulted in an open rate of 31% and CTOR of 11%.
Sending multiple reminders to customers at various intervals starting at least 2 months prior and 15 days after the policy has expired helped to increase the renewal rate.
Smartech contributed to 1 in 3 policy renewals (overall) made in the financial year 2019-20.
The investment in Smartech has been highly rewarding in terms of the ROI, both in money and time, for the brand. We shall continue to aid them and other BFSI brands to achieve their goals and more. For now, take the first step by letting us show how we can help you.
In today’s ever-changing marketing landscape and customer trends, adaptivity is vital. Being able to take effective actions on-the-fly can make or break your marketing campaign/strategy. At this point, it is obvious how important data is to marketing.
Endless analytics relating to clicks, conversions, revenue, app uninstalls, DAU/MAU, and far more all make up the core of what really drives digital and mobile marketing. All these data-points allow marketers to understand their customers, produce real-time responses, and adjust their campaigns/strategies in real-time.
As effective as this sounds, unfortunately, so many marketers still struggle with adaptivity and data. 81% of marketers consider implementing data-driven marketing strategies on-the-fly to be extremely complicated. The struggle is real!
Why is it challenging?
Condensing your customer data across platforms into a single holistic view
Enriching data quality and completeness in real-time
Using that data in real-time to gain actionable insights
Leveraging these insights to make intelligent marketing decisions
How can we tackle these challenges together?
At Netcore Smartech, we believe in the unquestionable power and influence of customer data, campaign performance data-points, and extracting intelligent actionable insights from it.
But first, before we deep dive into actionable insights, we urge you to take a step back and start with a basic but crucial step – recognize your customers as unique individuals and not just as numbers on your dashboard.
We bet you have heard this before….
But, what does this actually mean in reality for you?
In reality, it is a painful and time-consuming task to gather customer data across all digital platforms and the unavoidable harsh reality of data silos.
You know that you should be using your valuable time to make creative and strategic decisions; so allow usto help you easily process diverse data-points on every single customer that uses your mobile app, website, email, SMS, social media, etc. and develop rich, real-time individual customer profiles.
With this 360-degree view of your customers, we can now leverage this data intelligently – to perform the one feat of magic all marketers want to achieve: transforming marketing ideas and goals into actual measurable revenue and customer retention.
To unleash the true power of this 360-degree customer view, you need real-time answers to 3 key questions, with regards to your digital or mobile marketing strategy:
What is happening?
Why is it happening?
What to do next?
We understand that sifting through various data-points and dashboards to analyze your data and generate these insights can be time-consuming and manually painful!
Imagine harnessing the power of AI to simplify your lives!
OUR intelligent, analytical, and data-driven AI engine. YOUR go-to data analytics guru and marketing best friend!
Raman is omnipresent across Netcore Smartech and has several capabilities like App Churn Management. He helps you optimize your campaign title in real-time, empowers your marketing communication efforts by helping you identify the right time and a customer’s preferred channel to communicate. All in all, he helps you maximize your revenue with a full-stack omnichannel personalization and marketing automation solution.
But in this post, we’ll focus on the real-time, razor-sharp, and relevant insights that he can empower you with on Netcore Smartech through Raman Insights. These insights can help you:
1.Understand Ground Reality: “What is happening?”
Sounds like a simple question but in reality, this question can be broken down into N-number of critical questions that need to be answered by you; like:
How many users are on my app/website now?
How many users are uninstalling my app?
How much revenue did I generate?………..and this list can go on.
Welcome Raman on your team and simplify your life!
Let Raman do the data-crunching, heavy lifting
You can’t sit glued to your dashboard 24*7 to observe trends and patterns. But that won’t stop your higher-ups from asking you “Why didn’t you tell me before that there was a drop in our revenue?”, “Why did this happen and how can we correct it?”
While you are sitting there with a lot of possibilities that could have resulted in this drop, but unsure about the actual reason…sounds familiar?
But, with Raman on your team, your customer behavioral and campaign performance data will be analyzed 24*7. He keeps a close watch on your data, observes patterns, trends, and abnormalities.
When an abnormality – good or bad – is detected, Raman raises a green or a red flag in the form of contextual alerts on the Raman Insights dashboard even when you are away; like this:
Raman will critically analyze all relevant data-points to produce fresh insights everyday. You can then decide which insight you want to act on to further optimize your campaigns.
So what metrics does Raman track and give you insights on?
Metrics that matter the most
Raman helps you receive daily insights on the following crucial metrics:
Revenue contributed by Smartech
Average Revenue Per Paying User
Daily Active Users
Monthly Active Users
Not just that, you can also tell Raman to track custom activities and funnel conversion events that are relevant to your business. Based on your business goals, let Raman know what you need insights on, and for the duration, you need it and leave the rest to him!
Now that you have left Raman in charge of giving you timely insights that help you figure out “What is happening?”, it is natural that you would want to understand “Why is it happening?”
2.Dig Deeper: Identify the “why” behind every insight
If your revenue drops or increases, there is never just one reason behind it. There could be several contributing factors.
Raman digs deeper across all data-points and unearths the reasons behind an abnormality – good or bad. He then categorizes the possible factors into 3 major buckets:
Smartech campaign-associated indicators
For instance: Using Netcore Smartech – let’s say you executed a particular campaign on email and app push notifications as your engagement channels. This campaign executed across the two channels could have resulted in different performances and one of them could have become a contributing factor for your revenue drop or increase.
Raman will point out to you the exact details of how it affected your revenue.
Business metric indicators
For instance: Your app downloads or uninstalls, web message views, your daily active users, click rate of your app push notifications, etc. could affect your revenue positively or negatively.
Leave it to Raman to tell you which business metric contributed in which way to such an increase or decrease in revenue.
Trend and seasonality indicators
For instance: Let’s say you ran a special campaign for Christmas, the CTRs from email or website conversions could have affected your revenue – positively or negatively.
Now backed by Raman, you can say for sure if this was the case and bid mere speculation goodbye!
See for yourself:
Raman looks at your data from a longer horizon and at a ton of data-points simultaneously. These data-driven insights will help you make better strategic decisions, faster.
Now that you know “What is happening?” and “Why is it happening?” – you need to act upon these insights to magnify their impact.
3.Take Real-time Recommended Action: Let Raman tell you “what to do next”
Raman will suggest corrective actions to reverse a negative trend or how you can double down on a positive trend.
For instance: While you are on the dashboard Raman will remind you to optimize your email subject line to get higher conversions or will remind you to re-engage with the users who are ‘most likely to churn’ or will nudge you and ensure you use the right channel and choose the right time to communicate with your customers 1:1.
Raman is already enabling leading brands to increase customer engagement and retention with his cutting-edge suite of capabilities:
As a marketer, you shouldn’t spend most of your time grappling with data. You need to focus on creating more bandwidth to craft and execute powerful omnichannel marketing campaigns. You need to identify how you can deliver personalized customer experiences at scale. Consistently.
And, with Raman by your side – you get to do just that. Allow his insights to fuel your marketing strategy and increase marketing efficiency; one carefully engaged and retained customer at a time.
We’re in a digital era and the way industries look at marketing today has truly changed. The focus today is more and more on meeting customer expectations and the banking industry is no exception to this. With increasing competition and easy availability of services online, banks need to offer much more to retain and acquire customers. As a marketer, you need to focus on the ‘more’ which is the ‘Customer Experience’ that is the heart of all marketing technologies and trends that can make or break a brand.
In this interview, Sweta Aggarwall, the Chief Marketing Officer at State Bank of India, takes us through her journey towards becoming a marketer. She shares her enriching experience while working for different industries with some of the key takeaways. She also talks about her current role in SBI and highlights focus on the enhancement of customer experience and simultaneous up-skilling of her team to take the market hands-on.
This conversation is a part of our exclusive interview series with top marketing leaders, conducted in collaboration with ResearchNxt, a leading marketing research company that does in-depth research on trending enterprise technologies.
Key takeaways from this interview:
Evolution of marketing technology in the last two decades; how marketers leveraged it to completely overhaul marketing as it’s done in the present day
SBI’s YONO app, an integrated digital banking platform, evolving as a financial planning tool moreover to just being a transactional interface
SBI’s mobile-first approach to boost customer experience and how marketing teams within the bank are joining forces to develop performance-based marketing metrics while customer-centricity remains the central point of all marketing activities
Here are some extracts from the insightful conversation we had with Sweta.
Netcore: So, you have worked across industries as a marketer, and now you are leading marketing at India’s largest bank that is SBI. So, what has been your journey so far? What have you observed with respect to the shift in marketing technology, over your career stint?
Sweta: In my career spanning 15 years, I have worked across industries starting from marketing agencies to airlines, digital payments, and banking. My career took off with a marketing agency where I learned different facets of one-to-one marketing i.e., personalization. I realized how imperative it is for a marketer, with substantial data sets, to carry out customer segmentation for targeted campaigns. Nowadays, with AI and Marketing Automation, creating customer clusters and cohorts has not only been simplified but has also led to the possibility of driving hyper-personalization and multi-level customization. This has helped in the further refining of the customer journey, achieving higher conversion and maximizing CLTVs.
Even though today, TV, print, OOH, etc. continue to play the mass medium reach, personalization and customer interactivity still hold high affinity. Direct Mailers like postcards, in-land letters, etc. of the pasts are presently digitized in the form of Email, Social Chats, and SMS marketing, while feedback and product reviews have been in-formalized with the advent of social media. Over the years, the evolution has been fast-paced from the world of Dotcom to search engines, online ticket booking, social networking, Google Maps, and to a whole new era of AI, ML, Chabot’s, IOTs, Robots, etc. As a result, enhancing every stage of customer interaction and providing enriching customized experience with the help of evolving technologies is possible now.
Netcore: Yes, indeed. Things have progressed immensely in terms of how things are evolved on the marketing technology front. If you could share some more details on your current role as the CMO of SBI, and what are the key projects that you are leading at this point?
Sweta: SBI, as an organization, has already embarked on its journey towards digital transformation, and my job is to carry the baton forward hereon. SBI has digitized most of its banking services for accessibility through a mobile-first approach. To that end, all aspects of marketing are transforming to become digitally advanced, making the core of all marketing activities, mostly performance-based and customer-centric.
We believe in offering the right digital experience to the right audience through the right medium with the right tonality to meet our marketing objectives at SBI.
Netcore: SBI has the most extensive subscriber base accessing both offline and online channels, not only in India, I think across the globe. So, the customer persona would range from a rural man to urban youths to pensioners. How are you ensuring personalization at the scale? What kind of technology usage is going on, what kind of stack you have built up at your end?
Sweta: SBI has an established integrated digital banking platform, YONO, primarily meant for the youth. The platform offers convenience, simplicity, and quick access to a variety of financial and other transactional services. We gain customer insights through our campaigns, customer meets their interactions on the app, at branches, feedback captured at various customer touchpoints and how they transact with the bank, etc. We create omnichannel marketing campaigns substantiated by research-based findings, customer LTVs and behavioral patterns, current market trends, and feedback from business teams.
Netcore: iProspect India has won the digital mandate for SBI recently. In a recent interview with economic times, you had mentioned, “We want to ride the digital wave and delight not just the existing but potential new customers as well. We would like to know how this will change the marketing at SBI?
Sweta: The digitally saturated market place poses a challenge of cutting through the clutter and connecting with the consumers which can be attained only by means of relevance, collaborations, and hyper-targeting. We want to enhance the customer journey whether it’s existing or a potential new customer by providing excellent content and unique visual experience through all channels and mediums where they connect with the brand. Hence, we believe in offering the right digital experience to the right audience through the right medium with the right tonality to meet our marketing objectives at SBI.
Introspecting the who, what, why, when, and how of marketing to build trust by being more empathetic brand towards the customers is the need of the hour.
Netcore: SBI YONO is one of the most downloaded BFSI apps with 20Mn downloads across Google and Apple stores, how are you leveraging SBI YONO for cross-selling and upselling SBI products?
Sweta: The endeavor of the bank in launching YONO was giving customers a one-stop solution for all their banking and lifestyle needs. More than cross-selling, we wanted to increase engagement with our customers and enhance their banking experience. We have more than 100 partners, which gives our customers a chance to fulfill all their needs in one place with much better offers. Customers can also avail loans, buy other financial services products of our group companies. The app continues to evolve as we are also ensuring that YONO is adopted as a financial planning app more from just being a transactional interface.
Netcore: Banking is one of the essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, how is SBI, ensuring continued service for its customers and safety for employees?
Sweta: Serving the nation has always been the endeavor of SBI. From the branch and retail banking perspective, SBI has its doorstep services and mobile ATMs that customers can leverage. We are assuring that funds are available to everyone, including the interiors and rural pockets of the country, through our massive network reach. Definitive guidelines with safety measures are rolled out centrally and locally to staff to ensure their safety and as well as of the customers.
Netcore: Now, as a marketer, what are the trends that you are observing now, not only in SBI but overall how marketers are innovating during this particular situation and what do you foresee, post the pandemic, how things are going to be for marketers? Any thoughts on that?
Sweta: One thing among marketers is becoming very common is that people are going back to the fundamentals of marketing and are revisiting their drawing boards, which was lost with the advent of automation and digitalization. The who, what, why, when, and how of marketing are being scratched again, and unlike a month back, marketers are inclining more on engagement rather than actual business because now is the time to build brand trust by being more empathetic towards the customers. Thus, while the new normal still unravels itself, it will lead us to the next phase in the evolution of marketing by being agile and through rapid digital transformation.
Netcore: Lastly, since we are conducting a series of interviews with top Marketing Professionals on the topic of AI in Marketing, what are some of the questions that you as an individual would like to see answered?
Sweta: After the pandemic, how are the marketers driving collaborative approach and hyper-connectivity in the new normal?
And the interview ended on this note.
It’s safe to say that Customer Experience and Engagement are the factors driving a brand’s success. Clearly, the right way to do that is by directing every marketing activity at offering hyper-personalized customer experience to meet customer expectations at the right place and at the right time. At a time when we are faced with a crisis, companies are focusing on building their brands by engaging customers in the right way. The only way forward is to keep up with the changing marketing scenario and continuously adapt and innovate irrespective of the Industry you belong to. We hope you find this conversation as insightful and interesting as we did. Listening to the thoughts of someone with as long and varied experience as Sweta is enriching.
An average customer receives more than 120 emails a day. The problem is, he opens hardly 20% of them. And if the email is promotional in nature then chances of it getting opened drops through the floor. Hence, subject line strategy has become extremely important especially in the context of our limited attention span and the immense email clutter.
A good subject line is like a conversation starter and, if done well, it could make the rest of the conversation fall in place. A subject line’s impact on email open rates is undeniable, and email open rates have a very high correlation with Click Through Rates (CTRs) and Conversion Rates.
Every 1% increase in open rate, increases the conversion by at least 10%.
Every 1% increase in open rate and click through rate, increases end conversions by at least 38%.
Every 1% increase in open rate, click rate and conversion rate, increases the end conversions by at least 83%.
At the end of the day, it’s obvious where you need to start.
An eye-catching subject line!
Studies show that 47% of us decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone. And that is important.
Here are 8 steps to help you optimize your subject lines.
1.Keep it short and simple
No matter what type of email you’re sending, the subject line needs to be short, crisp, and precise. Avoid long sentences and unnecessary characters. Your customers’ time is precious, so get straight to the point and avoid using unnecessary words. Something like “Hey there, here is something exciting for you” might put the user off. Take into account that around 50% of your emails are opened on mobile devices, so you have very little space before you’ll be cut off. It is always advisable to keep your subject line short and simple, say between 20-24 characters, as it will be visible on mobile devices and the chances of open rates are higher. Make sure your subject line is readable at glance.
Example: “We’re starting in 1 hour”
“5 ways to invest in equity
2.Step into your audience’s shoes
When crafting a subject line, you should keep in mind your target audience and what you want them to do when they read your email. This advice is oft repeated, but is too important not to miss. The email subject line should be aligned with the objective of email. Never mislead your customers in order to fulfill your objective. If you want to send a survey email then your subject line should be different from offer email.
For example: “Tell us what you think” or “Your opinion matters” instead of “25% off, click here to know more”
3.Use FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Dig deep into your audience’s hope and dreams. Inject FOMO in your subject lines. Subject lines that emphasize the limited nature of offers or what recipients will miss by not reading your message can work wonders, which is why words and phrases like, “Last few hours…” or “Only few seats left” can create a sense of urgency and improve conversions.
4.Connect with your readers
Use of the reader’s first name in the subject line is one way to connect with your reader but it is not the only way to connect with your reader. There is no doubt that it increases the email open rate by around 25%, but it has become a common practice these days. Instead, try location, local languages, interest targeting, or subject that align with customer’s previous actions. You could also use a more personal “you” or “your” while speaking with your readers.
Examples: “Your this month’s performance”
“Your [cityname] has become a fashion hub”
5.Use of Preheader or Preview text
We discussed earlier to keep our subject lines short, but do we do when we have a lot to say? We can use a preheader, also known as Johnson Box, or preview text which will be displayed next to the subject line or underneath it. By default, this line of text is taken from the first text found in the email campaign, but you can set a custom email preheader which would make more sense and elaborate on your subject line. It has to intrigue your readers and make them want to know what’s inside the received email. There are no strict rules on how long the preheader should be. Usually, it is recommended to limit to 50 characters.
Instead of using the subject line, “Introducing GoFlyPrivate – Book your safe zone in the sky!”, you can use a preheader.
Example: “Introducing GoFlyPrivate
Book your safe zone in the sky!”
6. Make your subject line more attractive
While we regularly see emojis in texts and social media posts, these cute little icons are also valuable tools for email marketers. What makes them so valuable? Perhaps it’s because emojis stand out in an inbox dominated by text. Maybe it’s because subscribers can process pictures exponentially faster than text. Or it could be because icons communicate emotion more effectively than text. My previous experiments suggest that strategically adding an emoji to a subject line drives a 5% higher open rate. But it is recommended to add emojis only when they are relevant. Using them in all of your email subject lines or too many in one subject line could cause subscribers to perceive your email as spam.
Although there are several best practices marketers should follow when it comes to A/B testing their emails, A/B tests on the subject line can be a good starter. There are a handful ways to test this, and here are some ideas.
Personalize vs non-personalize
“[firstname], welcome to [companyname]” vs
“Welcome to [companyname]”
Use of statistics vs without statistic
“Pick of the week – Potential upside 25%” vs
“Here is the pick of the week for you”
Question Vs Statement
“Have you registered for webinar yet?”
“Webinar on [topic], register now”
Apart from above ways, you can also test on character count, preheaders, use of emojis etc. Keep testing until the time you get significant enough results to conclude.
8.Use subject line optimization (AI)
While creating subject lines still involves a degree of creativity, technology has made it possible to leverage data. Netcore’s AI powered SLO (Subject Line Optimization) helps the marketer experiment and finalize the best possible subject line for a campaign, by guiding him/her to select the best possible subject line by:
Predicting the estimated open rate
Showing top 5 best and worst performing similar subject lines historically
Predicting inbox quality
Word and metatag suggestions
REMEMBER: Above steps will surely help you to achieve end game which is conversion but there is no concrete theory. You need to keep experimenting and use a couple of more best practices i.e., targeting relevant sets of subscribers at the right time. Also,first impressions always matter, so along with a better subject line you should focus on right content and right CTA. If readers don’t find the content relevant, they won’t open your future emails.
Personalization is no longer merely a buzzword for modern-day marketers, like you. It needs to act as the foundation of all your marketing activities, especially in industries like e-commerce, where it acts as the driver of marketing success.
1:1 personalized experiences are what all your customers need and seek. Each customer has a set of unique wants, tastes, attitudes, and preferences. It is critical for you to recognize these unique attributes and activities of each customer and serve up relevant experiences accordingly.
When customers see products that are tailor-made to suit their requirements, it not only increases the chances of purchase, but it also compels them to come back to your website for more.
This is the start of building a sustainable relationship between your brand and your customers. Making them feel special is not beyond you!
77% of customers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized customer experience. This indicates that customers are keen on associating with brands that can understand their behavior and offer them a personalized experience at different stages of the customer lifecycle. Most customers are also open to sharing their data, if your brand provides them a seamless end-to-end purchase experience.
Let’s flip the narrative. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers.
As a customer, wouldn’t you love to see an e-commerce platform provide you personalized content or product recommendations when you open their website?
COVID-19: The Paradigm Shift in Fashion E-Commerce
Before the global COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on businesses around the world, the online fashion and apparel industry had started performing exceedingly well as customers migrated to buying online.
With everything available readily on the website, it became convenient for customers to make their purchases online through a few clicks on their device. However, like most industries, these fashion brands also had to undergo huge losses due to the pandemic as they saw their sales fall by nearly 70% in March, 2020 alone.
The lockdown restriction and the uncertain economic conditions that prevailed ensured that customers were no longer looking to purchase apparel. Their priorities had evolved. Now as the economic situation has started to pick up again, the likelihood of customers getting back to buying apparel has improved. Given the general air of paranoia though, most customers are unlikely to venture outside to do their shopping at the stores and might instead prefer to shop online to remain safe.
This situation is playing right into the hands of online fashion brands, as customers resume or start shopping online again.
What can brands do to stay ahead of their competitors and ensure their customers are satisfied with their product offerings and overall customer experience?
What would customers shopping online expect from the brands?
The answer to both these questions is Omnichannel Personalization.
Customer Data: The Foundation for Omnichannel Personalization
Omnichannel Personalization aids product discovery.
Each of your customers has to be treated individually. As a marketer, you need a thorough understanding of the customer’s persona by studying their behavioural patterns, shopping intents, purchase habits, and all other relevant actions and inactions to create a 360o unified customer view.
You need to gather and track the right customer-level data-points to build a solid foundation. Each time a user logs onto your website, the following data-points will help you build a unified customer view:
Demographic data: Customer name, age, gender
Geolocation data: Place from where the website is accessed, timezone, IP address, etc
Device-level data: Device type and model, browser type, OS version, etc
Behavioral data: which includes products searched for, viewed, added to cart, or purchased or abandoned. Preferred payment method, response to previous multi-channel marketing campaigns, etc
At Smartech, we enable you to do all that and more. Our AI engine – Raman – also takes into account additional data-points such as clickstream data and customer eyeball data. This means that along with gaining visibility on what customers click and explore, Raman is able to factor in what customers ‘see-and-don’t click’ or ‘don’t-see-and-don’t click’.
The more the customer-level data-points being leveraged, the higher the degree of personalization.
All these diverse data-points become the foundation for generating the most relevant and contextual product recommendations – deployed through personalized widgets – across different pages of your website. And, as highlighted previously – it is this level of personalization that improves product discovery and the probability of customers clicking on products that are most relevant to them.
Let’s take a look at some solid personalization use cases that fashion e-commerce platforms can leverage:
1.Target New First-Time Website Visitors with Relevant Discounts or Promo Codes
Imagine a new customer coming to your website for the very first time. This means that you have little to no behavioral data to work with. But, you can leverage other data-points such as geolocation, browser type and version, device, etc.
Based on such data-points, you can offer discounts to such first-time visitors or unregistered customers on certain products. There are few attractive pulls for a new visitor than getting to avail a discount from the first transaction itself.
If the deal is enticing, the new visitor is likely to register and nudged into making his/her first purchase. This also gives you the chance to gather more data on such a customer – data that can be harnessed to personalize future experiences and interactions with your brand.
You can also choose to offer first-time visitors an enticing promo code to encourage first-time purchase on the website. By targeting only new website visitors and not repeat customers with such discounts and offers, you start personalizing their e-commerce experience from the start.
2. ShowRelevant Product Recommendations on the Home Page
“Never judge a book by its cover”. This is a quote that we hear quite often. However, this is not the case for an ecommerce website’s home page as customers form an opinion of your website based purely on your home page.
The home page is the face of your website. What better screen real-estate to grab your customers’ attention than the home page itself?
Showcasing relevant product recommendations on the home page can increase CTRs by almost 90-120%.
We also come across the quote- ”First impression is the best impression”’. If this indeed is the case, then why not provide your customers a lasting experience on their very first visit on your website?
An engaging home page will go a long way towards building a strong image of your brand on your customers’ minds.
3. Highlight the Most Contextual Latest Products
New products have a higher chance of selling faster. With the power of AI, Machine Learning algorithms can factor in the most relevant new products that can be shown under the ‘New Arrivals’ personalized widget to customers on your home page.
4.Deliver Product Recommendations through Web Push Notifications
When a customer lands on and begins browsing through your website for the first time, you can encourage him/her to opt-in to receive the most relevant offers, discounts, and product recommendations via web push notifications.
On receiving opt-in, web push notifications offer you another important channel to provide personalized product recommendations through.
5.Personalize the Navigational Flow of your Website
You can also leverage the customer-related data-points such as age, gender, browsing history, etc. to personalize the navigational flow by providing relevant product recommendations based on the tastes and preferences of your customers.
Here, Amazon, has analyzed my previous browsing history on the website and understood that I am interested in football. Sensing this interest of mine, it has given relevant product recommendations in the form of football jerseys of the upcoming season.
Now since I had viewed football jerseys during my previous visit on Amazon, but dropped off without buying, it provided me similar suggestions on my next visit on the home page to push me towards completing the purchase.
6. Personalize the Product Search Experience
It is important for customers to not only be provided with relevant product suggestions but also for those products to be personalized based on the customer’s interests. If the customer is not getting what he is looking for, there’s a high probability that he might move on to another brand to look for those brands. Therefore, it’s imperative that brands direct their customers to what they want for faster.
Two customers might be looking for the same product but yet might need to be given different product recommendations.
Here are two customers looking for casual shirts being shown completely different shirts based on their preferences. The first customer had clearly displayed an interest in checkered shirts during previous browsing sessions while the second customer had shown a preference towards simple, solid shirts.
Showing the first customer solid shirts or the second customer checkered shirts would defeat the purpose. This is why the AI engine must be robust in discovering these browsing patterns of customers.
These are some of the most effective personalization use cases that you can deploy for your fashion and apparel e-commerce platform. This though, is just the tip of the iceberg!
1:1 personalization offers you lots of scope to experiment. As it has to be a well-thought out strategy that extends across every single digital touchpoint that your customer encounters.
You can deploy personalized widgets on different webpages and marketing channels, and also leverage the power of omnichannel personalization.
In Part 2 of this blog series, we’ll explore many more fascinating use cases of personalization strategies that fashion and apparel brands adopt. So, watch this space for more!
In the meantime, why not see the magic of personalization for yourself?
To understand how we can help your brand develop and deploy a game-changing personalization strategy, powered by AI, get in touch with us today!
As a digital or mobile marketer, various tasks need your attention daily. From tracking relevant metrics such as DAU/MAU, revenues, conversions rates, and app uninstalls to optimizing omnichannel campaign performance. From analyzing vast sets of customer behavioral data to uplifting customer retention with personalization.
All the economic crises of the past teach that the companies that are prepared to respond to the post-crisis situation, are the ones that not only prosper but surpass their competition. In a world dominated by disruption, right marketing could be an antidote. CMO’s have a huge responsibility. At the time of crisis, they are responsible for an organization’s most valuable asset – its BRAND. So, CMOs have to play a crucial role in the brand’s fate.
The Covid-19 pandemic has sent ripples around the world with most industries taking a major hit on their regular business. Government-mandated periods of lockdown and self-isolation have negatively impacted the retail industry. Even after the small-scale reopening of certain retail outlets, customers have remained hesitant to physically visit these spaces to make purchases.
One fine day (before COVID-19), I was chit-chatting with my girlfriends over coffee. The girl talk covered quite a few highly girly subjects like best nail paint shades and great women intimate-wear brands. After a while, when I opened Instagram, I found my feed filled with ads by many of the brands we were talking about.
I was creeped out.
I had not even searched for those brands on the internet, but ads popped up here and there, as if someone was secretly listening to my private conversations.
Would you call those ads as good personalization or a bad one? I say, its Creepy Personalization.
What is personalization in marketing? Why is personalization hyper-personalization crucial in today’s world? Data points to prove and support that personalization is important. Examples of brands that are soaring because of great personalization. Examples of brands that are sinking because of not personalizing CX enough. How can you incorporate personalization strategies in your marketing efforts?
I am certain that you have read a lot about all of it, practice it, and follow it. I am not going to write anything more about any of these. Here we have a great repository of Blogs on Personalization.
All personalization is good, isn’t it?
Personalization is good for the business. But how and when does it go wrong? When does personalization turn creepy? And what exactly is creepy personalization?
Well, check these examples:
Netflix: You say personalization or personalized recommendations, and the brand that comes to mind is Netflix. But not all its users were pleased when it posted a tweet that implied Netflix knows exactly who is watching what and when:
We all know that Netflix tracks what we watch. That’s how it recommends content that we might like. But many of its customers found the tweet creepy and even felt offended.
Target: Pregnancy is a very personal aspect of one’s life, and not everyone is cool with sharing this information with others. If marketers breach into this space, its definitely weird.
The retail store, Target, uses customer information in algorithms that ‘predict pregnancy’ and then targets them with special baby items deals. Here is how they do it.
In a classic personalization failure, Target knew a teenager was pregnant before her dad. Target sent coupons for baby products to a her and that led to her family finding out her pregnancy. This certainly was not the way she wanted to share the news.
Hence, all personalization is not good. When marketers cross the line of creepiness and stray into the forbidden zone, they find themselves in trouble quite soon.
How creepy is too much creepy?
Well, it’s hard and subjective. However, in the simplest of terms:
If your personalization-focused marketing actions make your users feel uneasy, uncomfortable or annoy them in any degree, your personalization is creepy.
No brand wants a creepy reputation. It implies that they:
Stalk, snoop, or spy on their users
Collect personal data and invade their privacy
Might reveal customers’ private information for their benefit
Don’t have customers’ best interests in mind
What makes your marketing look creepy?
Here is a list (representative, not exhaustive) of factors which, when not handled right, make your marketing look creepy:
Data – Your users trust you with their personal information. If you use it recklessly for your own benefit, it is totally uncool. Not everything you know about your users is meant to be used for shooting marketing campaigns.
Time – Timing is crucial. If your customer receives a personalized communication at a gravely inconvenient or wrong time, it is nothing but creepy. Even the most carefully selected (literally handpicked) list of personalized book recommendations will not amuse a user if his sleep is disturbed by the push notification at the ungodly hours of midnight.
Place – If your ads follow your customer everywhere like a crazy stalker, you are risking displeasing them. I remember a young intern’s face going red with embarrassment. During a meeting, his laptop’s screen was on the projector. He opened a dictionary website, and there were carousel ads of laxative products. (The reason behind his long loo breaks was finally revealed).
Intent – They say, ‘The path to hell is paved with good intentions’.
The Netflix and Pinterest examples show that though the brands did not mean harm, they did annoy their users. The intent of each of your marketing effort has to be clear and thought-through. All your users may not take your light-hearted jokes lightly.
Can creepiness be quantified?
What if there was a tool that could test and simulate how far personalization should go? Wouldn’t it have been great if you could use it to deliver each customer a personalized experience with the right level of relevance and value, without crossing the creepy line? In other words – hyper-personalizing without being hyper-personal.
But alas! There is no AI tool yet.
Until one comes up, you can’t stop personalizing.
You run the risk of getting labelled as a creepy marketer when you fail to understand an individual’s sensitivity to certain marketing actions. So, its suggested that you keep the following two things in mind all the time:
Evaluate the creepiness factor of your marketing efforts before executing them
Assess the effect and sensitivity of your customers towards your marketing efforts
Use your judgment and insights from past responses to hyper-personalization to understand if your actions can be potentially cool to some, and creepy to others. Segregate your recipients accordingly, and then run your campaigns.
Focus on building a model that learns from users’ reactions and uses a score to select the levels of personalization they are willing to receive.
Here are a few examples of scenarios, corresponding covert marketing approaches, and creepy readings:
So, what else should you be doing to avoid being creepy?
Well, if I have managed to freak you out and you are starting to believe that delivering personalization is not possible, then please hold on. Here are some points to remember, that’ll help in delivering the right level of personalization.
Be transparent about the data you are collecting
Everybody knows that you are collecting user data. It is not a secret. But the user’s trust is broken when they feel that you are pulling data from third parties or without their knowledge. The moment brands begin to use information that users do not remember providing, they start to think it is creepy. So, the first step to avoid being creepy with personalization efforts is: Tell your users upfront that you are collecting their data and are going to use it for enhancing their customer experience.
More importantly, instead of asking them in a language that confuses them, or burying the data collection policy in the privacy page, ask them directly in a simple pop up or a banner at the top or bottom of the page.
By being clear about what data you are collecting, you are not only being honest with your customers but also saving yourself from breaching any data privacy laws.
Understand the difference between Personal & Intimate
The Target personalization fail I mentioned above is a classic example of a brand failing to distinguish between personal and intimate. There’s a difference – and that’s where people draw the line, whether they realize it or not.
Consider this scenario (described in detail in CMS Wire). In a grocery store, a sales associate notices a customer scrutinizing gluten-free products. When the customer checks out, the associate uses the customer information he gathered to let the customer know that some of the products he has selected contain gluten. Now, this is an example of how the associate offers personalized experience using the ‘personal’ information of the customer.
In another situation, a sales associate in a supermarket overhears a customer speaking to his wife over the phone, about an upcoming date. If the associate goes overboard by suggesting the customer buy a bottle of wine for her, it would certainly be inappropriate. Because the information he gathered was intimate.
The line between personal and intimate is subtle and comes across as extremely creepy if crossed.
So, while you collect a lot of information on your customers, be vigilant about what you use and how you use it. In the digital marketing context, if a customer shares any information about his marital status (divorced) and an email from your brand lands up in his inbox, suggesting books on “why marriages fail” – totally uncool.
Also, the problem is the definition of what’s private and sensitive can be different for each person based on where they live, their age, and culture. While millennial users may be perfectly okay with you knowing their relationship status, baby boomers may not. So, do not generalize.
Don’t catch your users at a wrong place or wrong time
The other day, I woke to my phone’s notification tone, at 4 am. A leading travel brand sent me details of the routes that they re-opened after the lockdown relaxation. I had been meaning to book tickets for that destination. So, they thought of letting me know. But I would have loved if they did not creep me out so early in the morning (or late at night?).
The first thing I did that afternoon was disabled push notifications of that brand. See what happened? There was no problem with the content of the message. But the way it was delivered wasn’t right. So, beware.
Customer trust can be fragile, handle with care
Customers are now more conscious than earlier. They consent to and accept new privacy policies more than ever before. Some even take the time to read and understand them. However, what still lies unclear to them is how do brands use the data to derive what sort of insights, and offer what kind of personalization.
On the other hand, the data galore and amazing AI technologies make marketers vulnerable to straying into the creepy zone. Since there are no tools yet to sense customers’ sensitivity to personalization, it is better to keep your reins drawn.
The bottom line is: If the customer thinks “it is creepy”, then it is creepy. Once your users’ perception of your brand is tarnished, it is an uphill task to clean it. Also, with GDPR now in effect, you have to be extra careful to use customer data. You don’t want to get into any legal battles, fines, and reputation damage leading to significant commercial impact.
Hyper-personalization requires great data, great technology, and great sensitivity. And none of these is dispensable. Tread lightly.
This is 2020, and no this is not another post about how dystopian the year has been.
It has been a tough one though, hasn’t it?
Nevertheless, getting back on track, this is 2020 and we are way past the point where we discuss the efficacy of AI/ML in modern-day marketing. It is here, and it is here to stay.
What remains open to discussion and has scope for improvement is the way AI now interacts with marketers like you. Focusing on our affinity towards actionable intelligence and demystifying with the “artificial” aspects is the way forward.
Need for Transparency
Most of us have very little knowledge about what goes on within the blackbox of AI. This leads to apprehension and a lack of trust in AI-led systems.
A person would be more willing to take action X if he or she was informed that it would help scenario Y which is being caused by scenario Z, than being told to do X because the AI knew what it was doing and it was in their best interests.
Scores of machine learning algorithms used today cannot be examined after a decision or suggestion to understand specifically how and why a decision has been made. This holds true especially for one of the most popular approaches today – deep learning neural networks.
With the focus on optimization and with so much riding on every action we take, building transparency over trust is imperative for any AI system. The lack of trust diminishes the opportunity to take advantage of AI. This is where Explainable AI kicks in – giving equal importance to the presentation of the path taken towards a specific decision along with the decision itself.
To the Drawing Board
The belief in AI in marketing automation has always been steadfast at Netcore Solutions. In fact, our AI engine – Raman’s – Send Time Optimization model has demonstrated quantifiable success since 2018.
Sticking to the philosophy of the 4Rs of marketing, Raman has continued to gain capabilities of engaging at the right time (Raman Send Time Optimization), With the Right content (Raman Subject Line Optimization), on the Right channel (Raman Preferred Channel), and to the Right audience (Raman Predictive Audience) along with state of the art predictive models such as the App Churn Management module.
As conversations and the excitement around the capabilities grew, so did the realization of the need to bring in trust and focus on the “Why” along with the “What”.
In May 2019, the Netcore’s Machine Learning team decided it was time to take a fresh look at AI in Martech. Weeks of conversations and research lead to the comprehension of what the space lacked. While a number of moving pieces, impressive models, and capabilities existed; a comprehensive approach of bringing the many moving pieces together did not.
The very essence of AI-driven marketing automation is the presence of relevant and actionable intelligence at every step of a marketers’ day to day life – focusing on making the marketers’ life easy and stress-free and not just a couple of timely quick-fixes here and there.
Explainable AI was the way forward!
An ingenious marketer, like yourself, needs to be empowered with reasoning and not just opaque suggestions.
An AI engine that can be your personal marketing guru empowering you at every step with suggestions backed by crystal-clear explanations and justifications; so you can fully comprehend the impact of its actions/suggestions.
That’s precisely the refreshed vision with which we set to work.
Explainable AI: Focus on Measurable, Detectable, and Actionable Marketing Insights
At Netcore, we’ve named our AI engine “Raman” as a tribute to two great Indian scholars: Nobel Laureate and Physicist C.V. Raman, and the intuitive Mathematical genius, S. Ramanujan. It was their groundbreaking discoveries that put India on the global scientific map.
It was the inspiration derived from these two great Indian scholars’, that we worked tirelessly on our vision of helping and enabling brands to foster strong omnichannel customer connections with minimal effort and extreme efficiency. Thus, Raman, our AI engine, with his marketer-focused capabilities and features was born.
With each passing year, we at Netcore strive to accomplish that vision – step by step, but the philosophy at heart – to stay customer-centric, has never dwindled. All capabilities of Raman were built with a focus on empowering the marketer with data-driven insights, actionability and the quantification of the impact explained and justified.
Read more about how Raman has helped the following brands become truly customer-centric and see skyrocketing ROI:
“Wouldn’t you want to spend more time on decisions than on dashboards?”
As a digital or mobile marketer, there are a number of questions and metrics that you have to keep tabs on – your DAUs, Revenue, New vs. Repeat Users, App Uninstalls, etc.
Keeping tabs is important to track evolving trends, understand if everything is working as per plans, or act and adapt to changes in the onground situation. To accomplish this, however, a disproportionate amount of time goes into actually looking at dashboards and reports to identify and understand changes in such patterns and hidden trends.
Not only does he augment the efficient execution of your marketing strategies while you are on Smartech (Raman Nudges), but he also closely monitors any changes in multiple data patterns across the board, even while you are not active on the Smartech platform (Raman Insights).
In a nutshell, Raman offers deep-dive insights into the following:
Descriptive (What is happening?)
Diagnostic (Why is it happening?)
Prescriptive (What to do next?)
Descriptive Insights: What is happening?
Raman helps you understand if it is business as usual…or, if there is some positive or negative trend or anomaly that needs your attention.
For instance: Did your DAU see a huge uptick yesterday? Or, is there something alarming with a metric that needs your immediate attention such as rising app uninstalls or overall drop in the revenue?
You could also let Raman know about the relevant business metrics that you want him to monitor. He would monitor the data 24 X 7 and highlight “needle-in-the-haystack” anomalies as and when they happen.
Diagnostic Insights: Why is it happening?
Simply being aware of positive or negative trends is not enough. It’s also important to simplify your lives by helping you figure out the “why” behind the “what”.
With Raman, a number of variables that could be responsible for the sudden change in behavior of the metric is analyzed to help you zero in on the possible factors causing the change.
For instance: A drop in your overall revenue could be due to several reasons.
Raman looks at understanding the scenario in three ways:
Smartech-campaign associated indicators: For instance – Uptick or downgrade in the contribution of a specific campaign on a particular channel deployed on Smartech
Business metric indicators: For instance – App downloads
Trend and seasonality indicators: For instance – improved email campaign CTRs or website conversions attributed to a festival season like Diwali
Prescriptive Insights: What to do next?
Raman now also enables you to take corrective or remedial action, guiding you through the tools in Smartech and Raman’s arsenal that can be used to achieve your business objectives.
For instance: App churn can be prevented by crafting actionable campaigns on the Raman dashboard to target a group of customers predicted as ‘Most likely to churn’ with Raman’s App Churn Management.
Additionally, you could also engage with your users at a time and on a channel that they’re most engaged with Raman’s Send Time Optimization and Preferred Channel features.
Raman through his insights module would then measure the impact of the action and if it has caused a correction in the direction of the negative trend.
Outstanding results are often a result of strategic collaboration and complementary teamwork!
With our AI engine – Raman as your ally, you will now be able to understand how to unlock higher conversions, uplift your revenue, and bid adieu to low retention rates.
Welcome Raman to your team and he will support you to make better marketing decisions, faster. And, all of this is aimed at helping you deliver the most personalized and memorable customer experiences consistently.
See how teaming up with Raman, helped a leading e-commerce brand – Myntra to increase their CTRs,
This was just a sneak-peek at the comprehensive and diverse capabilities of Raman. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we introduce you to multiple cutting-edge features within our breakthrough AI-led product!
Gone are the days of ‘Online Shopping versus Retail’. Now is the time of Omni-channel marketing which primarily focuses on Personalization, shifting the focus from sales to customer experience.
It’s about all CUSTOMERS, not channels.
So What is Omni-channel Personalization?
Let’s break this down
Omni-channel means seamless communication with customers across all the channels – from retail to online to phone, or using all your channels to communicate with your customers.
Omni-channel customer experience is all about providing consistent and relevant customer experience to your customers across all the points of contact, as they see your business as a single identity, not as channels.
Now enters Omni-channel personalization which is all about tailoring customers’ experience or providing individualized experience based on the real-time data companies collect about individuals from multiple channels.
Let’s understand this from CMOs perspective
You probably know by now what omni-channel personalization is, but here are some comprehensive definitions based on experience and feedback from the industry experts. These interpretations will help you see Omni-channel personalization beyond its literal meaning.
It will also give you clarity on what goes into implementing omni-channel personalization and what changes you need to implement on the organization level to make a shift.
Difference between Omni-channel and Multi-channel Marketing
Omni-channel Marketing and Multi-channel Marketing are often used interchangeably but they are not the same. You may have taken your first step to omni-channel marketing by being available for your customers on multiple channels, but don’t assume you have not gone full-throttle on Omni-channel marketing unless you seamlessly integrate all your channels.
Multichannel Marketing – Channel specific
If you have an established presence on multiple channels like website, email, publishers, messengers, phone and are communicating with your customers on all these channels, you are successfully running a multi-channel marketing strategy. Here, you focus on maximizing the performance on each marketing channel.
However, you take separate actions in the multiple siloed channels.
Omnichannel Marketing – Channel-less
Omni-channel marketing is more of an integrated approach to customer engagement. If you seamlessly integrate all your channels to create a unified customer view, you are running a successful omni-channel marketing strategy. It is all about ditching marketing siloes and creating a truly continuous customer experience.
The simplest way to explain this is…
If your customer has bought something from your store or website, you can retarget them on their preferable social media platforms. And if they buy anything, you can send them an email recommending products based on their last purchase.
Rephrasing Kristen McCabe from G2 Crowd
Omni-channel translated to omniscient – meaning “all-knowing”. Integrating all the platforms together creates a unified view of your customer journey, which everyone in your organization is aware of.
This way you are being consistent, seamless and relevant to your customers on all the platforms at all times. It requires all the departments in your organization to work in tandem.
Omni-channel Personalization – The future of Marketing
Omni-channel personalization takes your marketing game to a notch up. It allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your customers based on their interactions with your brand on multiple channels. And this helps you tailor their experience across all the channels. With this strategy, you can be as relevant and contextually consistent as possible with your customers.
For example, if your customer scours your App or website to check a few products but does not make a purchase, you can prompt them to make that purchase by sending a personalized email showing all products they looked at on the website or app. And also, remarket those products on their favourite social media channels. This is the simplest example of omni-channel personalization.
Earlier, brands were limited channel-specific interactions. Some of them were highly dependent on emails and some were engaging with their audience on their preferable social media channels. And then there were some brands that made the most of both the channels. But then came the revolutionizing multi-channel marketing which allowed brands to maximize the performance of individual marketing channels such as a website (for web push), App (for App push), and WhatsApp (for more engagement) apart from Email and Social media. However, this kind of infrastructure created silos and a mix of structured and structured data. This simply means, different departments for different channel management did not allow brands to see what their customers are doing on each of these channels, which prevented marketers from gaining a deep understanding of their customers and designing unique interactions for them across the channels.
Omni-channel marketing, on the other hand, is the ability to understand your response and engagement on each channel and customizing their experience on every digital touchpoint. So no matter where the interaction has come from, you have the ability to collect that information and deploy a strategy to create contextually informed marketing messages for a consistent experience.
What do your customers expect?
“90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels. (SDL)”
As more and more brands are steadily catching up with omni-channel personalization trend, customers actually looking to form a healthy relationship with brands and desire a consistent experience across all platforms. They receive a deluge of communication coming from every direction and brands have now started to understand that the customer buying journey isn’t going to be linear like it used to be.
Your customer might look at your products every time your ad pops up on social media channels but they might make a purchase via App push. When brands push their customers down the funnel of a narrowly-defined buying cycle, they fail to connect due to a disjointed experience with the brand.
If we look at the scenario, a lot of e-commerce brands have started capitalizing on the data they collect about customers from across the channels with the help of personalization technology solutions. 55% of companies have no cross-channel strategy in place. (The CMO Club). Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. (Google).
Many marketers and retailers are used to think about channels separately but your customers don’t think that way. They don’t care about channels. Instead, they desire a single cohesive experience that’s truly channel-less. This is the best time to seize the opportunity and improve your customer experience. That’s the only way forward.
Steps to implement omni-channel Personalization Strategy
Make customer experience your top priority
While everyone, from CMOs to Marketing Managers, agrees to the customer-centric approach in theory, executing that approach across departments is certainly difficult than you think. Before you dive right into the technology that will help you optimize your omni-channel marketing strategy, get everyone on the same page on the organization level.
To break the siloes and understand what every department is doing when interacting with customers, talk to everyone right from senior management to mid-level to junior people and show them how their actions affect customer experience, even if they don’t realise it.
This will not only put you on the internal path to success but also help you understand what collaborative efforts you need to make so that you can start working towards the same goal – implementing your new customer-centric omni-channel marketing strategy.
Take the data-driven approach
Your customer data has a direct relation to your understanding of your customers. These are directly proportional to each other, meaning the more data you have the deeper understanding you get about customers. However, to get started, use whatever first-party data you have. Don’t understand estimate the potential of your data. Use data from CRM (Customer Relationship Management), customer profiles, offline data (if possible), and other sources.
Understand the difference between CRM and CDP ( Customer Data Platform)
Customer Data Platform is the very basis of Omni-channel marketing and it’s important for marketers to be crystal clear about the difference between CRM and CDP. CRM, managed by IT and used by the sales, is a customer relationship management platform that is used to manage the company’s relationship and interactions with customers and potential customers. CRM helps sales people track customer details which are used during the sales process.
Do the CRM and CDP features coincide? The answer is yes. CRM can be integrated with an automation platform which helps using the CRM data for marketing campaigns. However, the overall scope and channel integration opportunities are limited.
CDP is a marketer-owned system that helps conduct a deep analysis of customer behaviour by tracking customer activities. According to David Raab (the founder of CDP Institute), “A CDP is a marketer-managed system that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems”. And Forrester defines CDP as a platform that consolidates and integrates data from multiple sources to create a single trusted repository that supplies data as and when required by analytical and operations systems to launch campaigns via Martech stack.
So whatever omni-channel marketing and personalization platform you want to add to your marketing tech stack, it has to be integrated with CDP which is designed to track historical and behavioural data to create a richer view of customers. You can take a view of complete profiles of your customers to create personalized buying journeys and overall individualized experiences at scale.
Segment your audience
Now that you have compiled your data and have a unified view of your complete customer profiles, start looking for data patterns and understand your customers’ path to purchase. Based on that, segment your data into groups. As yourself
If there are any repeat purchases or renewal patterns
Who are your loyal customers and is there any similarity in their demographics?
Who has lapsed and why?
Creating segments is important and any can do that. No matter what size your business is, if it’s an e-commerce platform, you can always track your customers buying patterns. Who makes a purchase once a year or once a month? Who opens your emails and click on call-to-action? Who abandoned the cart?
This information can help you nature your customers by creating personalized messages based on their choices and buying pattern. A lot of e-commerce businesses swear by the AI-powered omni-channel personalization technology which allows them to send personalized recommendations to their customers based on their buying behaviour, creating a delightful customer experience.
Make sure your segments are not too nuanced. You need to understand where your customer is in the buying cycle. If your customer is at the top of the funnel, don’t send them mid-funnel messages which your customers can’t relate to. If you have a problem with brand awareness, don’t be too granular with your segment. In such a case, build brand affinity first.
Invest in Advanced Personalization
For enhanced omni-channel customer experience, invest in advanced-level personalization to send personalized messages for the segments you have created. For example, if your customer has been shopping from your summer collection from the last two years, don’t forget to send them personalized messages regarding your latest summer collection.
Your personalization technology will help you collect important information about your website visitors. This information will help you understand what your customers are most likely to buy, which will help you create content for your re-targeted ads.
Train employees across every level
Make sure your employees know what’s going on as far as your marketing campaigns are concerned. If you have a 20% discount going on a certain brand or product range, your in-store staff, customer care executive need to have this information.
Just imagine how would your customer feel if he or she wants to buy that product on 20% discount from your offline store and the sales staff at the store has no clue about it. Your instore staff can provide the level of personalization that machines can’t provide. Train your staff across departments to ensure a truly personalized experience.
Maintain accurate inventory
Let’s say you have a 50 % percent discount on certain products and you keep retargeting your customers across channels regarding the same. However, when your customer clicks on the ad to buy that product, it shows out of stock or the most common sizes aren’t available. This will be a big put off for your customer especially if such ads appear several times. Maintaining accurate inventory, across the website, mobile, instore can have a significant impact on your customer experience.
Ways to implement efficient Omni-channel Personalization
Email and Web/App Personalization
Email and website personalization is your lowest hanging fruit. Perfect the art of sending personalized email communication regarding product information and content related to their previous orders or enquires. You can always create an individualized website or App viewing experience for returning customers or even make smart recommendations to first-time visitors based on real-time eye-ball data or search behaviour. If you have onsite chat service and your returning customer starts the chat, start with their feedback request on their last purchase or the last interaction irrespective of the channel they had it on.
Historical analysis to send contextually consistent messages
The whole idea of unifying customer data is to identify data patterns that help understand customer behaviour. Based on their location, device, search and buying behaviour, you can go as granular as possible with your segments. This will help you create contextually relevant content and offers targeted to individual customer interest. In combination with this, you can send contextually relevant information to your segments based on their geography, weather and day-parting patterns.
Mobile and tablet-specific personalization is often a big focus as it allows you send geo-targeted offers and enhance the experience for on-the-go shoppers. Data patterns identified for web or app needs to align with mobile and tablets. Make sure you have seamless data sharing within and across all your channels.
Your instore staff can’t provide a complete personalized experience to your instore customers without customer profiles or data. The best way to extend personalization across your brick and mortar locations is to arm your sales staff with tablets to manage clients and equip your stores with kiosks and digital displays. Make sure you sync your POS systems with Omni-channel solution to deliver personalized experience on your offline and online stores.
Contact Centre Personalization
Customer service agents are often dependent on CRM data to access customer profiles and information during their sales calls. However, the information they access is not updated real-time which will prevent them from providing personalized experience. The information regarding your customers’ latest interaction needs to be stored on a unified timeline so that its accessible to chatbots or human agents at all times. So that your agent is able to provide personalized experience when the customers reaches out to them.
How to evaluate the right omni-channel Personalization Solution
Integration and configuration time and effort
Configuration time and effort is the biggest concern for many marketers. Always choose a solution that easily syncs with your existing tech stack and take the least amount of tech intervention.
Clear visibility of performance analytics
Make sure omni-channel personalization engine has a smart KPI-driven approach and has clear visibility of reporting data resulting from your marketing campaigns
Price plan should fit in your marketing budget
A lot of marketers shy away from implementing omni-channel personalization for its high configuration cost, especially small or mid-level businesses. Make sure you choose a solution that fits in your marketing budget and does not inflate your operations cost.
Timely customer support
A lot of marketers complain about inefficient and untimely customer service response which can affect productivity and marketing campaigns. Do ensure your omni-channel personalization solutions’ customer support is available for both big and small clients.
Choose an omni-channel personalization solution that has a smart, user-friendly UI that provides the flexibility in terms rigorous testing and experimentations.
How much it takes to show results
Once you seamlessly implement personalization across platforms, it’s important for marketers to know when will they start seeing the results. Always pick the solution which promises fastest engagement and conversion-driven results.
Consumers these days expect personalized experience across channels and touchpoints. And brands can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to providing 1:1 experience to their customers. Integrating all your channels, powering it with the best personalization solution, and providing consistent experience is the need of the hour, especially during the pandemic times. Your consumers heavily rely on online shopping at this point of time. The experience that you will provide to your customers now will stay with them well-past the crisis times.
Marketing has evolved considerably with the passage of time. Traditional Marketing, which primarily revolved around broadcast messaging, has now changed drastically to the relationship era of today where marketers are making great efforts in building strong, and lasting relationships with their customers.
Customers of the current generation are not merely looking for products or services to satisfy their requirements but are instead looking to associate with a brand that consistently offers them 1:1 personalized customer experiences.
Every customer has unique needs, tastes, preferences, and attitudes. This requires specialized treatment from the brand they are associated with and hence, have to be targeted specifically and with a lot of care. This is why personalization at scale has become a game-changing weapon in the arsenal of every modern marketer.
Cast your eyes at these stats that indicate the growing significance of personalization in marketing:
81% of customers want brands to get to know them and understand when to engage with them
77% of customers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized customer experience
79% of B2C brands that exceeded revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy
Smart personalization engines that understand customer behaviour will enable digital businesses to increase their profits by 15%
Unique Customer Affinities Demand a Personalized Marketing Approach
Unique customer behavior and their desire for personalized product or content recommendations, or 1:1 customer experiences have seen brands across various industries ramp up their marketing efforts to engage with their customers:
91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations
80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or avail a service from a brand that offers them personalized experiences
90% of customers find personalized experiences appealing
72% of customers only engage with marketing messages that are customized and contextualized to their specific interests and desires
These stats show that the expectations of customers from the brands have skyrocketed as they expect their whole online viewing or purchase experience to be tailor-made to suit their needs and expectations.
While some brands and a lot of marketers have understood this phenomenon, a lot of work still remains to be done. Since a piece-meal, scatter-gun personalization strategy is likely to leave customers underwhelmed, and unsatisfied:
36% of customers believe that brands should offer more personalized marketing
70% of millennials are frustrated with brands sending them irrelevant marketing emails and prefer personalized emails over bulk email sent to a huge batch
Customers Are Increasingly Open About Sharing Data If…
…it allows brands to track their behavioral patterns to serve the most relevant product or content recommendations:
90% of customers are willing to share their behavioral data to avail a more seamless brand experience
70% of millennials are willing to allow retailers to track their browsing and shopping behaviors if it will lead to a better shopping experience
Email Personalization for the Win
Marketers can implement their personalization strategy across various digital touchpoints . And, personalizing the email marketing strategy can work wonders.
Email personalization begins with Subject Line Optimization, with high-sentiment keywords being used to target the customers along with a relevant CTA to create urgency and capture the email opener’s attention.
An attractive subject line followed by personalized content within the email can lead to higher open rates and CTRs. This can directly result in higher conversions, bringing customers back to your website or mobile app:
Creating effective customer segments for personalized email campaigns is the most effective personalization tactic for 51% of marketers
Personalized emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates than non-personalized emails
82% of marketers have reported an increase in open rates through email personalization
Brands using email personalization generates 17% more revenue through their email campaign than the average marketer
Real-time Website Personalization is Important too
Web personalization involves providing a seamless customer experience with tailor-made product recommendations, offers, text, or images – at the right time to the customer. All of this needs to be based on their historical and live behavior and which stage they are in the customer journey:
57% of customers are okay with providing personal information on the website if it can be beneficial to them in receiving a personalized experience
Marketers who are personalizing the customers’ web experiences have observed a 19% uplift in sales
Personalized homepage promotions influenced 85% of consumers to buy while personalized shopping cart recommendations influenced 92% online shoppers into purchasing
Marketers using website personalization can effectively drive customers into making purchases. Customers love personalized experiences that drive them towards discovering what they’re looking for faster.
Don’t Forget About Content Personalization
Effective personalization is also dependent on content personalization, a strategy that enables marketers to come up with laser-focused, relevant content based on audience interests and motivations:
Individual customers are 40% more willing to buy from a brand that tailors its content to suit customers’ needs
A generic marketing campaign with a lack of content relevancy generates 83% lower response rates than a personalized marketing campaign
87% of customers felt that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about the brand
63% of consumers said they’d have a positive association with a brand if it provided content that was more relatable, valuable, and personalized
These numbers tell a stark and telling story. They underscore how important it is for brands to come up with an effective personalization strategy across multiple digital touch points.
Personalization improves customer satisfaction, leading to customer retention, which gives brands an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell with effective recommendations. The benefits of delivering better personalization are endless for brands, from building long-term relationships to driving sales and revenues:
Personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5-15%, and increase marketing spend efficiency by 10-30%
Brand loyalty amongst millennials increases by 28% on average if they receive personalized customer experiences
1:1 Personalization: Every Online B2C Brand’s Need of the Hour
As evidenced by all the stats above, personalization can no longer be treated merely as a buzz-word or a luxury for marketers. It’s a massive chunk of the foundation of modern marketing that drives new customers and ensures that existing customers keep returning.
And, at Smartech, we understand the value and significance of crafting these memorable personalized customer experiences at scale.
To understand how we can help your brand develop and deploy a winning personalization strategy, powered by AI – to keep your customers hooked – get in touch with us today!
Personalization isn’t just another run-of-the-mill marketing terminology or strategy. Knowing that the AI-based personalization pay-off is massive, marketers can’t afford to ignore it any longer. It’s no more a nice-to-have but a need-to-have tool to understand your customers at a much granular level. We had an extensive conversation with Banwari Lal Sharma, the CEO of CarWale, India’s largest online automobile portal, about the significance of marketing technology, especially personalization which not only helps tackle everyday marketing challenges, but also tough situations such as COVID 19.
No manual could guide a leader through a crisis so disruptive and complex. But some stories impart lessons that could be valuable in times like these.
The BP oil spill in Mexico, 2011 was both a human and environmental tragedy. Gallons of oils were discharged in water and 11 workers lost their lives. The response of the then CEO, Tony Howard was so lacking that the organization lost its credibility.
After the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the automobile giant, Ford was close to declaring bankruptcy. At least this is what the industry experts predicted. But to everyone’s surprise, Ford made a dramatic turnaround after the crisis. Alan Mulally’s leadership led Ford through the tough times and Ford could regain its standing within the industry.
Clearly, a leader’s action during the time of crisis can make or break a company. Being the leader you either end up sinking the organization faster than a ship with a leak or you lift it through the crisis and emerge as winners.
If a situation like the Coronavirus crisis could be looked upon like an event unfolding over an arc of time, it would have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning was relatively stable. The middle, which we are going through now, is full of chaos, and the end is yet to be known. As the end will unfold in the future, some organizations will be resilient while for some it will be catastrophic. The actions of leaders amid this crisiswill signiﬁcantly determine their fate.
The predicament of CMO’s and their teams
Weathering the current storm, CMO’s are handling critical tasks like avoiding tone-deaf marketing messages, keeping the marketing engine running,and most importantly, motivating their teams in these uncertain and scary times. And these teams are in themselves facing challenges like generating quality traffic, tackling overflowing information, struggling to strike the right balance in the marketing technology stack and to make things worse they don’t have enough resources.
In this situation, will mere management help you sail through? Of course not. It’s not just survival you aim for. You want to revive after the worst is over. Managing the current scenario by addressing immediate needs and making quick decisions is important no doubt. But you also need to guide your team to the best possible outcome. This is when you lead them into the future. As leaders, you have to focus on what’s coming to you next and be prepared to meet it head-on. Look beyond the immediate and obvious challenges and think about the future standing ahead of you so that you and your team can deal with it efficiently.
The DO’s and DON’Ts in a CRISIS
We are all in uncharted waters full of speculation, struggling to find the right approach, and unclear on what we should or shouldn’t do. While you might find endless articles written in these times on what should be done, there are a couple of things leaders tend to do instinctively, and they must definitely not do those. Here are a few don’ts you can catch up on:
Don’t look at the situation with a constricted view
It’s inbuilt in us to act defensive when faced with any form of threat. To protect ourselves we instinctively narrow down our focus to the immediate foreground. But, as marketing leaders you need to consciously pull back and allow your vision to expand into the mid-ground and background. Take a look into the future as opposed to just managing the present. Don’t limit your attention to just immediate difficulties. The future is filled with uncertainty, challenges, and opportunities and you need a broad and holistic picture of the possibilities (good or bad) that lie ahead. You will have to take tough calls and continue providing support and guidance to your people.
Don’t over-control smaller operations
With uncertainty and pressure around, it’s only natural to want to control everything. This is the point where most leaders tend to fall into the trap of over-centralizing the response to the situation. Far from making things better, over-controlling only ends up creating more stress. Not just for you, but for your team too. Don’t create new layers of approval for minor decisions because then you run the risk of weakening the morale of your team members. Moreover, at the time when actions need to be swifter, the bureaucracy slows down the functioning. Let the people know what you expect from them, and what the organization expects from them. Make it known which decisions only you can make and delegate the rest to your team. Provide clear guiding values and principles and forego the temptation to control and do everything yourself. Also, say no to too many meetings.
Don’t overlook human factors
People are worried about losing jobs, keeping up their finances, and their health and safety. They’re under immense emotional and economic pressure right now. Being constantly bombarded with the news of increasing cases, and the social distancingnorms that are keeping them away from friends and relatives is adding to the negativity by the day. With these daily struggles, the inertia in work is bound to increase as people wonder if there’s any point in even trying. Leaders are inclined to get trapped in the idea that focusing on the daily metrics, revenues, reports and costs could help them achieve the best in this critical business situation. But now is the time to show empathy to your team members. More than ever. Obviously, business goals play a crucial role but they can only be achieved through the coordinated efforts of the team. So, keeping people united and uplifting their morale becomes a turning point to get through the crisis.
We are not going to give you a list of best practices or behaviours you must demonstrate at the timeof crisis. But since the situation we are in is unprecedented, we need to remember and follow certain points.
We are all pining to go to the office and brainstorm ideas with our teams over a cup of coffee in the cafeteria. The reality is, there are remote chances of that happening anytime soon. While the government has relaxed the guidelines of the lockdown, organizations would continue with remote working with only a few employees in the office to avoid health risks.
As per a survey in the bestselling book, Primed to Perform, How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation by Neel Doshi & Lindsay McGregor, the authors found that total motivation of people who worked from home versus the ofﬁce, people working from home were less motivated. “Even worse, when people had no choice in where they worked, the differences were enormous.”
But remote working is becoming the new normal and while there are many tips out there on how to increase productivity and efficiency of work-from-home performance, the real success of it lies in understanding the changed routines of employees. Working from home is very different now. People need time to home-school their children, deal with other household chores, and give time to their families and many more commitments. Leaders need to allow flexibility, in the real sense.
Inspire your people
We have crossed the ﬁrst hurdles of setting up work from home procedures, tools, and schedules and getting the teams accustomed to the new way of working. But this was just the ﬁrst step towards creating a remote working environment. The need to keep the teams motivated remains, whether your employees work in ofﬁce or remotely. Given the current uncertain times, it is more critical than ever to keep the teams’ morale high. Also, people are feeling isolated, desperate for some type of normalcy right now. While social distancing continues, a virtual Friday evening Coffee Chat or a Monday Morning chit chat call is important to maintain the sense of camaraderie amongst people. Time and again, interact with them at a personal level. Encourage them to build their skillset. Being more explicit about feedback and appreciation can go a long way in these times. Make them feel valued. Invest in them. Inspire them.
Keep things real
People are waking up to terrible news of downsizing, pay-cuts, appraisals getting canceled, and even businesses shutting down. They aren’t just worried about the health, safety, and ﬁnances, but also about their job security. You need to keep them informed about the real situation in the organization. A crisis isn’t the time for surprises – good or bad. Nobody knows what is going to occur, and as a leader, talking about that ambiguity is a vital part of leading people through this complicated and unclear picture. Trust them with the truth and they will have your back. Also, extending the point mentioned earlier, do not set unreal targets for the team. Since the marketing team is the front-runner, there are heightened expectations from you for generating leads, producing content, conducting virtual events, and so on. Ensure that your team isn’t stressed out in the already stressful times.
Everything you’ve planned might have been disrupted by the novel virus. As a leader, the onus lies on you to lead and not simply manage your team during these pressing times. Keep the bigger picture (long-term) in mind and let it be the guiding force, the North Star that guides the decisions you make today, tomorrow, and the days yet to come.
Talk about the world turning upside down. Before the virus outbreak, in the Gartner 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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