When AD means After Digital

Makrand Jadhav | Updated on January 23, 2018


Marketing methods of the ‘Before Digital’ era won’t work today. Here are new rules to engage the consumer

And then Digital happened. The day in the life of a CMO has never been the same. For the non-millennials, this was a tectonic shift — not trained or experienced in this space, most traditional marketers found it un-cultural to include Digital as a part of their core function. Where does it fit into the 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion)? Is this ATL (above the line) or BTL (below the line)? CPC (cost per click), SEO (search engine optimisation), Social? Isn’t it all technology?

Well, while it took some time, Digital has slowly and surely found its place in the CMO scheme of things.

Compared to the BD (Before Digital) era, the unique downstream opportunity now available to marketers is — the ability to not just generate demand, but also know who is demanding the product and develop leads/customer engagement for sales to fulfil. Just how they do it will determine the return on their Digital programs.

Zoom in on customer

As with traditional marketing, why not start with Customer Understanding? The BD era never offered the marketer this opportunity to know the end customer … the consumer. Today, through social media, digital ads, search engine optimisation, mobile apps, most brands can get to know the end consumer adequately.

Start early to create his profile across the multiple streams and timelines. Existing ones can be identified by the mobile number or PAN number. Append their profile on a periodic basis to develop their habits and preferences. Source, products bought, frequency of visit, calls to call centre, payment behaviour, responses, referrals, and such. And don’t forget those who said “no.” They are a potent source to go back to, later. With Big Data you can store (and fetch) any kind of data that is generated on the web — video, audio, changes in social profile, etc. Transactions will give you their behaviour and digital their interests, marry the two, add 13 months of history, and you are set.

I get many emails daily from multiple service providers — e-commerce sites, banks, real estate, insurance, airlines. I ignore most. Unless I intend buying any of it. So the crucial step is to develop relevance/timeliness. As we all know, SEO is now a key source of capturing intent. You will also find social listening tools that enable you to hear the sentiment or intent. Use cookies. If you have invested the labour in creating a lead database, try lead scoring. Score leads by source, frequency, path, time spent, channel, recurrence, past history. Action those with high scores in a timely fashion. Of course, with existing customers you can be more potent — add age to the wealth of data you have accumulated and you can imagine multiple opportunities. Find out if a significant transactional event has just happened — her consumption rose by 20 per cent than the segment average, she delayed the payment second time in a row, called the call centre thrice in a week.

Communicate right

I recently shopped with my HDFC credit card at a large mall. Within minutes I received an SMS offering me 5 per cent discount if I shopped at three other shops at the same mall (on an HDFC POS). Better still — combine transactions, profile, and intent and apply statistics to determine not just the best product to offer but also the right time to contact. A time share organisation found that the best time to contact its members for a new lead/referral was between 18 and 24 months of their joining.

Once you have developed customer understanding and built relevance capabilities, the next step is the communication plan. Two crucial things to figure out here. One — channel/mode of preference. Either analyse the earlier responses and infer, or simply ask the customer. Mostly no one bothers with this and the product/campaign managers push messages as per their priorities — email, SMS, calls. Second — create a communication framework that should guide you in a scenario where a customer qualifies for more than one campaign within a short span of time. How frequently will you send an email? What about the “Platinum” customers? Can service communications be excluded? Obviously statutory messages should be sent irrespective of the timeline.

Inbound is another crucial opportunity. Especially if you have empowered the front-end channels with customer-relevant inputs, not just summary profile, but the oft heard terms — next-best products, social score, credit rating, last three interactions, and the like.

If you rely solely on Excel sheets and don’t have a customer database you will continue to struggle when the scale grows.

Needless to say, feedback and refinement is the last and the most crucial stage. Use the outcomes to create business rules and pre-populate product grids so that when an event happens or a customer interacts, your channels (digital or otherwise) are able to respond with relevance.

The AD era is here to stay. Let’s make the best of it.

Makrand Jadhav is Co-Founder & COO, Kloutix Solutions

Published on August 06, 2015

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