For effective marketing, it’s important to identify top consumer touchpoints that are here to stay, writes our guest author.
The ongoing COVID pandemic has impacted lives, businesses and the economy in a multitude of ways. A noteworthy development is that a majority of India’s population has moved to digital – whether fulfilling critical needs in the areas of finance, insurance and healthcare, or day-to-day requirements such as grocery shopping, ordering food and on-demand entertainment. Everything is now available at the tap of a button! The importance of mobile has never been so strongly established.
Increasingly, Tier-II and III segments are relying on their mobile devices for everything. Our internal data from Q4 2020 to Q1 2021 shows that 27 per cent of rural Indians engaged in edtech-related email campaigns. A massive 79 per cent engaged with push notifications when it came to health and fitness.
Other key sectors that witnessed an uptick were fintech (11 per cent) and on-demand services (21 per cent). Truly, this is a watershed moment for marketers. While the potential of Tier-II and III markets was long known, the pandemic acted as a testimony, with compelling results.
Undoubtedly, the canvas for marketers has broadened. Now, there’s a gamut of opportunities across urban and rural India. And, with new engagement channels emerging every day, it’s an opportune time for marketers to create game-changing strategies for an inclusive, mobile-first India.
To enable this, it’s important to identify the top consumer touchpoints that are here to stay. These touchpoints will be the foundation for the marketers to create relevant and enduring brands. With our experience of working with leading brands across the country in sectors, including fintech, healthcare, entertainment, travel and foodtech, we see the following touchpoints as critical for the marketers today.
Voice is key
Recently, food delivery app Zomato allowed users to give delivery instructions using voice technology and in the language of their preference, making it easier for people across the country to order seamlessly through the app. Niki.ai, a Bengaluru-based startup, enables consumers from Tier-II and III cities to use voice in any Indian language, and access utility services across bill payments, travel bookings, healthcare and entertainment.
Clearly, voice is gaining prominence in India. In fact, according to the Mobile Marketing Association, voice search queries in India are currently witnessing massive growth – 270 per cent per year – making India potentially the world's first and largest voice-first country.
A key reason for this growth is the fact that India is a multilingual country, which means integrating Indian languages in voice assistants is key. This makes it easier for Indians, across urban and rural markets, to adopt mobile-based services. For the marketers, it’s important to analyse the data emerging out of these voice-based queries, and promote their products and services accordingly.
So, how best to optimise voice for businesses? The two key things marketers need to keep in mind are:
Data from voice search queries: Marketers must analyse queries on their platforms to understand where the most interest lies, and personalise their platforms accordingly to cater to unique user demands.
Localisation: Marketers need to carefully choose voice integration services for their platforms. It’s important to dig into data and understand audience demographics, design an optimal marketing strategy and ensure all key languages are covered. Marketers must also take into consideration local dialects and colloquialisms that are most likely to be used during voice searches, and include these to enable a user-friendly experience.
Vernacular – the next big thing
According to Google's Year in Search 2020: India, 90 per cent of Indians prefer using their local language to complete online tasks. This isn't just an indicator of where India is headed, but also a guide that it’s time to adopt vernacular strategies in a deeper manner and capitalise on the next wave of digital growth emerging in rural India.
Designing multilingual web platforms, enabling communication in local languages and infusing it with local insights across engagement channels are paramount. This is only possible when marketers rely on data for geographic segmentation, identify priority markets and design vernacular strategies accordingly.
This will help brands connect with and build strong regional audiences, who feel like a brand understands them and wants to serve their specific needs. This is the audience that will become loyal customers.
According to a study conducted by CMR and Vivo, during last year's COVID lockdown, Indian smartphone users' average screen time witnessed a sharp increase of 25 per cent – or 6.9 hours daily! As life slowly returns to normal (or something akin to it), it’s assumed that smartphone usage will decline.
Even if this happens, the steep rise in engagement in OTT, gaming, and social platforms (such as Snapchat, Instagram and others) can't be neglected. With their new formats, they also pose a bright opportunity for marketers to design interactive communication that encourages engagement and retention.
Most brands have incorporated interactivity at a nascent level (like, chatbots on websites and mobile and simple CTAs when the brand’s ad pops up and gives access to the website). But in 2021, there needs to be a more thoughtful and innovative approach. User engagement must be designed around real-time, two-way conversations – humanising the brand to foster higher engagement.
Marketers need to recognise and design approaches that focus on genuine personalisation. To do so, they need to analyse customer data in order to create and deliver relevant messaging on the right channel, at the right time. Interactivity paired with personalisation will be key in creating a compelling brand.
(The author is chief marketing officer, CleverTap, an AI-powered customer lifecyle and user retention platform.)