The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) hosted its 10th Marketing Conclave in Mumbai on 9 May. The conclave kicked off with a session titled ‘Creating Digital First Strategies’.
The session was moderated by Mahesh Murthy, founder, Pinstorm and comprised Rubeena Singh, chief operating officer, MoneyControl.com; Issac John, head - marketing, Puma India; KT Poovanna, head - marketing, Vodafone Solutions – emerging markets, Vodafone Group; Namrita Sehgal, director - internet marketing, Taj group; and Aroon Kumar, head - marketing and social media, Valuefirst.
Talking about marketing heads still viewing digital as a separate entity, Kumar commented, “It will take another two to three years for this mindset to change.”
Rubeena Singh commented on the change that digital has effected and reflected on why companies are not investing in digital as much as expected. She said, “Digital has made the voice of every single individual matter.” She explained, “Investments are happening. If you look at brands interested in the people who are at the top of the pyramid, they have taken to digital very quickly. But there are other brands like Vodafone which are mass brands and find it tougher because even though the penetration of mobile and internet is increasing, there are also issues like literacy levels in India. I think when video advertising catches up a lot more, the barrier will be broken and that is when we will see the ad spends catch up and eventually greater investment.”
Namrita Sehgal spoke about the purpose with which a digital strategy should be developed. She said, “People have begun seeking more and more personalised experiences from brands. The goal of your digital strategies should be to add a layer of convenience to your customers’ lives which in turn would bring a certain level of loyalty towards the brand.”
Issac John noted that digital’s sole responsibility was no longer to just sell a product but to aid in the overall service provided. He recommended, “From a business point of view, brands need to be digitally productive.” He expanded saying that if a customer expresses an interest in something that a brand is unable to provide, then instead of letting him go, brands should provide the closest, best alternative that keeps him from opening another tab.
Poovanna chastised brands for pushing their apps into as many phones as possible. He said, “Very few brands out there have taken the engagement beyond just having people download their apps.”
He warned that as a customer does a routine clean up of his or her phone, they are likely to delete a lot of apps currently on them. Referencing to apps that are related to traveling, Poovanna said, “We have several apps that help us with our travel plans but there is not a single app in the market right now which could identify one’s travel patterns and notify the user about the best comparative deal or offer available.”
Aroon Kumar brought into focus the content aspect. He said, “Until and unless you keep your offerings and content contextual, nobody is going to take you seriously, which in effect will mar your chances of gaining loyalty. Nobody wants to be spammed, content has to be contextual.”
Poovanna voiced a grievance when he said that digital has led to confusion between the perceived roles of various communication channels. He said, “Posting a grievance online on Vodafone’s Facebook page - is that the place to seek resolution? Just because of my digital presence, I am now forced to have my online team to engage and resolve the issue. So instead of calling up the customer support desk, people have now started seeing the digital presence as a way to seek faster resolutions.