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Beyond the sale: Is post-purchase customer engagement the elixir of brand loyalty?

Conversational engagement platform Gupshup’s senior director, Vartika Verma, talks to afaqs! about the need, essentials, and future of post-purchase customer engagement.

When the card is swiped and the transaction is made, the brand’s focus is to see the customer again. 

As more and more brands move their operations online, the quest for a sustainable connection with the customers through digital channels, has become paramount. While sales and retail are the focal points for any marketing effort, they’re always accompanied by an urge to repeat the transaction.

To facilitate this, brands are actively moving towards conversational marketing, or a two-way conversation between brands and their customers. 

Marketers often experiment with conversational gimmicks using humour, storytelling or even gamification, to keep the customers involved. The strategy helps the brands to evaluate consumer preferences, launch products and ultimately drive higher lifetime value (LTV).

A prominent application of the strategy, lies within a customer’s post-purchase journey. Aiming to spark future transactions, brands, with the help of conversational engagement platforms, typically reach out to the customers through follow up SMSes, emails or push notifications, post-purchase. But how effective are these methods?

Conversational engagement platform Gupshup has been around since 2004. It offers conversational solutions to brands for their pre-purchase, in-purchase and post-purchase engagement with the customers. 

Recently, the platform conceptualised and executed electronics company boAt and Netflix’s gamified post-purchase customer engagement for their co-branded audio accessories. The WhatsApp-based activity sought to interact with the customers, post-purchase, through a quiz chatbot.

In a chat with afaqs!, Vartika Verma, senior director, Gupshup, talks about the future of post-purchase customer engagement for brands, among other things. 

Edited excerpts:

In the conversational marketing space, what are the services that Gupshup provides?

Gupshup is in the business of conversational messaging. We became a ‘unicorn’ in 2021. We wanted to get more customers across 61 countries. 

We help businesses in their pre-purchase, in-purchase and post-purchase engagement. We also help brands automate these processes with the help of AI chatbots and intelligent campaign managers, primarily on channels preferred by mobile-first markets. 

Why do brands need post-purchase consumer engagement? Are there any specific conversational tools that brands can use?

The main challenges for brands today include high customer acquisition costs (CACs), low engagement from customers post-purchase, and the lack of having proactive tactics to upsell or cross-sell more. Through social media channels, brands can have a lot of traction and followers, but the engagement is fairly low. 

Typical conversational engagement methods such as SMS, email or push notification, aren’t that effective in getting customers to engage. In order to create higher LTV for the brand, it’s important to engage with the customers through surveys, quizzes and even handing out goodies as incentives.

How does the platform address spams and opt-out marketing?

Along with Meta, we’re building our own processes around spam controls. The focus is more on contextualised campaigns. We’re seeing that many brands we work with, such as boAt, Tata CLiQ, Nestle, etc., have understood that a blanket message doesn’t give the expected returns. A contextual message serves the brands better. 

As a consultancy, we advise brands to strike a balance between user-initiated and business-initiated conversations. All engagements on our platform are opt-ins that emphasise on a consent-based marketing approach. We’ve also introduced many playbooks for best practices. 

What kind of brands benefit the most from conversational engagement activities?

Categories such as banking, retail, healthcare or even citizen development, rely extensively on conversational marketing for customer engagement. 

How has AI placed itself within the periphery of conversational marketing? What are the upcoming trends in the category?

Over the last couple of years, we’ve witnessed an inorganic growth, by acquiring Active AI for banking and Knowlarity for voice automation. Gupshup now, with the complete integration of services, is actually looking at full funnel conversational engagement for brands across industries. 

We’ve recently leveraged OpenAI’s LLM, and ChatGPT3 to develop a botbuilder that helps answer many questions regarding products. 

Many new channels of engagement such as Google ads, now allow brands to hyperlink their ads to dedicated AI chats, which can even direct a customer to a different chat box such as WhatsApp. This helps the marketers to develop a D2C base. Due to AI, there has been a move in conversational marketing, from transactional information to more on-demand information for customers. 

Recently, Gupshup helped boAt and Netflix collaborate for their co-branded offerings. How did Gupshup execute the campaign? 

The idea was to increase the revenue, reduce the CACs, and upsell or cross-sell more. The way we executed this was by using QR codes on packaging. Upon scanning, customers are directed to a WhatsApp chatbot, kickstarting a quiz. If the customers answer the questions correctly, then they can avail rewards such as discounted products, free goodies from Netflix, and more. 

Why did you choose WhatsApp as a platform for this engagement?

The channel choice was straightforward. About 85-90% of the Indian mobile users are on WhatsApp. The clickthrough rate (CTR) on WhatsApp is around 57% that is much higher than other methods. 

Also, with WhatsApp, brands can monitor customer choices in surveys, or product preferences, which could translate into useful information for new launches in future. Since activating the process, more than 2,000 customers have participated. 

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com