Khushwant Sharma, Head Digital, LG Electronics India
India, the land of the many has finally hoisted its glorious flag at 2nd position in terms of Internet population. This means that instead of an optional marketing channel, Digital has become THE primary channel.
This paradigm shift has created a brand touch point which is literally “always on”. Time and Space are no longer a hindrance and brands are literally always “On Air”. From the traditional First MOT (Moment Of Truth) happening at the physical store we have moved to ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) through Digital channels (website/mobile site/apps/social media etc). A recent study by universities of Wurzburg (Germany) and Nottingham Trent (UK) found out that participants left in a waiting room on their own lasted an average of just 44 sec before touching their smart phones. With digital becoming second nature to us brands need to be agile, responsive and contextual at the speed of thought. Are Indian organizations geared up for this Digital Tsunami of big data? My answer would be a grand Buddha smile.
Undoubtedly “Digital” is the key agenda for majority of the business houses and CXOs in India. For the first time marketers can have direct response that can be measured for every single buck of marketing money spent online. Advanced targeting options in terms of demographics and online usage patterns are available to Digital Marketers. Now it is possible to reach out to a 25 year old staying in Mumbai using the latest flagship android phone and having kept interest in professional photography with a customized offer from the nearest high end camera brand showroom in his area in his Facebook newsfeed while he is crossing the particular store. The options to slice and dice and consumer data for effective marketing are now limited only by one’s own imagination.
A single user during a typical online browsing session leaves millions of online footprints and each one of these is a signal meant to be deciphered and turned into an actionable insight. With advanced analytics and complete marketing suites provided by leading players one can finally create user/consumer personas with detailed data inputs. This means instead of buying media; marketers are now buying users across media. This is so much more targeted and as per reports the uplift in ROI can be as high as 30 percent. For CRM this means now one can finally have precise predictive analytics on the most profitable consumer segments; consumers that are going to churn etc which can be used to create effective loyalty programs. No wonder the demand for Data scientists and Big Data professionals is at an all time high in India.
With macro level policies and initiatives like Digital India, we are witnessing a metamorphosis at a scale never seen before by any country in the world. Digital is acting as a central driver for growth & effective governance and all the initiatives under Digital India are set to make Indians a little more empowered. With the latest wave of Indians joining the online bandwagon from Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns, brands need to be ready for non-English, native/vernacular content as most of these users are not comfortable with English. Since Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns do not have access to proper 3G/4G it becomes imperative for brands to ensure their content is accessible across low end smart phones and at low internet speeds.
However, the one thing that has stood the test of time and has not changed is the importance of good content. Online is still used in India for research prior to a purchase in the offline world and this is especially true for high ticket items. Hence, brands need to equip their online assets with the best of content to assist conversion.Online Marketers can now test their television commercials online in a controlled manner and can fine-tune the communication before breaking a TV campaign. The content in the ad can be measured on attributes like uplift in brand preference, increase in consideration etc. Most of the marketers are now using Online in conjunction with TV media planning to reach out to TV dark audiences and in turn garner incremental GRPs.
Digital has penetrated in-store consumer experience as well. Brands are trying to recreate the offline store experience as close as possible on their websites and this can be seen with the rise of virtual trials online for fashion, eyeglasses etc. Major brands are trying to create an Omni-channel strategy to ensure not even a single consumer should leave the store because of non availability of merchandise in a particular store. Users can use touch screens at stores and browse products in a nearby store that can be either shipped to home or can be picked from the store directly. Today, it is possible to predict how many users have interacted with online before a store visit and one can attribute weights to each digital touch point to create the holy grail of the most optimum path to consumer conversion.
Does this sound too far-fetched? It may be but we have the early adopters already perched on the other side and it is only a matter of time for the rest.