Our country has seen some dramatic developments in the digital marketing space, particularly for consumer brands. The market is intensely competitive and marketers are gearing up to tackle the competition. They are arming themselves with technological advancements and scaling up marketing processes in order to provide better consumer experiences and grow their market share. While email has typically been the most preferred medium for brands to communicate with their consumers due to its affordability and flexibility, it has also raised the question: does email effectively connect with today’s consumers? The answer is a definite yes. While email may be considered a traditional tool for marketing, it still remains the most credible source of information and is an effective tool to build a meaningful ‘connect’ with consumers, when managed properly.
In the last decade or so, email marketing has evolved enormously and the latest technological advancement in this space is real-time emailing. Traditional email marketing is static and unchanging, which sometimes had the effect of being confusing or vague. Consider an e-commerce website that has just announced a flash sale on its website for a particular date. The brand will email the details of the sale to its consumers well in advance. With traditional email, the message will always remain the same no matter what time the consumer opens and reads it. However, with real-time emailing tools, the content changes depending on the time at which the consumers engages with the email, which has been shown to drive higher open rates. This technology has been a major breakthrough when it comes to email marketing. Another trend that is gaining traction is video emailing.
Today India has over 400 million mobile users and 325 million smartphone users. With such astronomical digital consumption rates, consumers today are informed and alert. Demographics from the Tier II and III markets are ardent users of mobile as well. With the availability of 3G and 4G in these markets, the smartphone and internet penetration has grown manifold. Indians have moved towards desktops and smartphone shopping as witnessed in recent times. According to a recent NASSCOM’s AKAMAI report, India’s Internet consumption has already exceeded the USA’s to become number 2 globally. The report also reveals that by 2020, India will have an estimated 702 million smartphones in use and mobile phones will emerge as the preferred device for shopping, accounting for 70% of total online purchases.
The extent of smartphone penetration in India means that the scope for email marketing is enormous. Marketers can tap these markets by using mobile as an initial tool to derive and save information such as age, email, sex, geolocations, etc. Most people who use smartphones tend to sync their email on the device and so spend more time on their email. Therefore, brand marketers are up-scaling their digital messaging in order to provide content that is rich in information, while being creative and engaging at the same time.
Another breakthrough in digital marketing has been the evolution of Marketing Technology or MarTech. Consumers leave their digital footprints on websites they visit, social media pages, mobile applications, etc. This generates an ocean of data and brand marketers have access to that data. Previously, the data was largely cluttered and unstructured and did not yield the kind of insights that marketers could make sense of. MarTech helps data scientists capture all the data points from these digital footprints and creates a unified consumer view which helps marketers target them more effectively. MarTech provides details such as which tool a consumer is most receptive to - email/push notifications/social media ads or SMS and which medium the consumer uses to access information – desktop or mobile. It also informs marketers about the purchase behaviour and trigger points according to the profile of consumer. Essentially, it means that brands now know (sometimes more than you do) what your preferences are. When a brand has their consumer’s profile, it helps them to design and deliver better, more relevant content, and use the right channel of communication. By fusing MarTech with email, a brand has the power to engage with their consumers in the most effective manner. We have seen a 50-70% rise in revenue daily for various brands by using email as a channel.
Marketers understand the importance of tracking the social media personas of their consumers in order to engage with them more deeply. A lot of brands today send out enormous numbers of emails to their consumers. Often this leads to email fatigue. By sending out customized, targeted messages, MarTech helps save costs and avoids email bombardment.
Personalisation is another important trend that is picking up. MarTech ad emails are transforming communication to be mass, one-to-one interactions. Customer segmentation and profiling help brands build relationships with their consumers. We have seen that personalised, triggered communication brings in 40-50% better results than any other type of campaign. For example, consumer brands now craft emails for their consumers’ special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. which drives brand loyalty and goodwill.
SMS marketing is a marketing tool that is losing its relevance due to its unavoidable limitations. First, there are restrictions to the size of content. Only 160 characters are permitted to be sent at a time in an SMS campaign. Second, it is an expensive proposition. Also, with the popularity of WhatsApp, the value of SMS has diminished significantly. Push notifications have emerged to be a more effective tool within the mobility solutions space. Taking the example of the demonetisation of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes, brands in the mobile wallet segment have utilised push notifications as a medium to promote their services.
In the future, the coexistence of both email and mobile is what will see the industry through. While SMS will continue to be used as a medium to understand consumer behavior, especially in Tier II-Tier III markets, omni-channel communication is what will help deepen the connect with these demographics. While email helps build a personalised connect with consumers, SMS helps to engage with on-the-go consumers.