Campaign India Team
May 31, 2013

‘It is now possible to define customer journeys based on actual data points’: Adobe’s Umang Bedi

Bedi is managing director - South Asia region, Adobe Systems, and a speaker at DMAi 2013 Convention

‘It is now possible to define customer journeys based on actual data points’: Adobe’s Umang Bedi

Umang Bedi, managing director - South Asia region, Adobe Systems is responsible for Adobe’s business operations, which also includes growing the sales and marketing functions of the company. In this e-mail interaction, Bedi talks about the relevance of 1:1 targeted personalised conversation with the customer for a brand like Adobe, and shares Indian and international examples of successful direct marketing campaigns. Excerpts from the interaction:

With media fragmentation, will we see direct marketing gain importance? How will this manifest in marketing spends?

With media fragmentation, the ROI on advertising has become even more difficult to measure and far more difficult to justify as it inherently is an expensive medium. It is imperative to clearly distinguish between advertising and direct marketing. While advertising till date has been more associated with brand awareness, direct marketing on the other hand aims to have a 1:1 targeted personalised conversation with the customer.

As marketers are looking at getting more ROI, direct marketing becomes a more viable option for most marketers and we can expect to see direct marketing gain more importance in India. In terms of seeing this translate into marketing spend, marketers will first have to adopt a data-driven direct marketing strategy which inherently involves solving for the problem of ‘big data’. There are mountains of data and making any sense of it seems over­whelming.

The ability to translate data into actionable insights with the use of advanced tools available today will create huge opportunities in direct marketing. Strategic consumer engagement and conversion is the cornerstone of any business. While direct marketing is a discipline, digital marketing is a medium and I expect to see a stronger penetration of this medium in the market. Digital marketers are strongly focused on improving the consumer engagement and returns on marketing investments which would in turn lead to marketers turning a chunk of their investment towards direct marketing via the digital medium. In summary, marketing spends are going to increase on digital and marketers will need to proportion a substantial chunk of their spend towards direct marketing across search, display and social to drive maximum ROI across all these mediums.

What percentage of your marketing spends would be towards direct marketing?

As a company, Adobe does not believe in mass advertising or spray and pray marketing. In fact, all our communication is focused towards driving a 1:1 conversation with our customers and revolves around personalised customer education and direct marketing. Most of our efforts are focused on digitally enabled direct marketing. Our marketing organisation made an extreme right-hand turn to digital a couple of years ago. Globally, we now spend 74 per cent of our marketing budgets on digital initiatives within the direct marketing domain – a dramatic change from 30 per cent just five years ago!

Are direct marketing exercises still heavily skewed towards selling, rather than brand building? What has been your experience?

Yes, traditionally direct marketing has been skewed towards selling via offers and deals. However we are seeing a shift in recent times. Today, direct marketing is no longer about just selling but has evolved to  building the overall brand experience and building lasting relationships with your customer that keep bringing them back. It is all about personalised engagement across channels that allow a 1:1 conversation with customers. At the core, it is about providing a personalised holistic experience across all touch points - be it web, mobile, eDM, etc that helps build trust and brand loyalty with the customer.

How much has customer lifecycle management evolved and what has been its impact on DM and CRM, in your industry?

Today, customer lifecycle management has evolved from being a mere batch process in the background to a real-time personalised engagement with customers. Therefore, it has had a direct impact on DM and CRM as it drives building that personalised relationship with the customer.

Marketers today need to be responsive and have the ability to provide relevant experiences in real time. Today big data is at the core of everything. One can now record every interaction with the customer, understand customer channel preferences, customer response and product affinities. Using the right set of tools it is now possible to define customer journeys based on actual data points.

Moreover, marketing and more so direct marketing has evolved to be omni-channel. This provides a unique opportunity of combining online and offline variables to help drive actionable insight. Big data from real time online customer engagements can be combined with offline data from the physical world that can generate some really interesting insights. For example, if one were to launch a campaign across Television, social and online, there is a way to measure in real time the impact on not only brand sentiment but measure real world KPIs (like increase in sales etc.) by combining real time online data with offline variables from a CRM or point of sales system. Integrating the insights provided by this big data will have a significant impact on the DM and CRM in the industry today.

Can you cite two direct marketing examples (at least one in India) that show the way for the future of persuasive personal communication with consumers?

A great example to highlight in the Indian context is what is being undertaken by Precision Match who significantly improve performance of internet advertising through the use of high quality audience data that is screen agnostic. Precision Match works with a number of quality publishers that identify audience intent and demographics without use of any personally identifiable information (PII).  This base information is then transformed through significant value addition from their models developed via consumer research to a form usable by advertisers to provide personalised experiences.  Not only does this value addition improve ROI for advertisers through efficient use of inventory, it also increases yield for data publishers and makes advertising relevant for consumers. Precision Match uses Adobe Audience Manager to analyse the online behavior of consumers. It helps advertisers to extract and utilise data across categories such as automobiles, mobile devices, online buyers, travel and technology.

Globally, MTV uses the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite to gain insight into the key relationships between social media and their Television programming.  At the Video Music Awards they usedsocial analytics to measure the impact their 85 million Facebook fans and three million Twitter followers had in driving engagement with their site while watching the awards. The 39 per cent boost to hourly visits and 36 per cent gain in hourly video views allowed them to increase ad revenues.

State two instances of use of technology to empower direct marketing efforts that have met with success.

Vodafone Australia deployed the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite integrated with our email partner, Exact Target, to address shopping cart abandonment on their online store.  They recovered 15 per cent of all lost sales, drove a 7 per cent net increase in online sales and 1700 per cent return on strategic marketing investments. 

View the case study here

Travelocity needed deeper insight into customer interactions with its website as well as enhanced measurement capabilities to continue to grow its online business. The company also wanted to understand the effectiveness of its different customer acquisition vehicles such as e-mail promotions, offsite display ads, social networking channels, and search engine marketing. Leveraging Adobe solutions, Travelocity has increased cross-sell conversions by up to 15 per cent, delivered more relevant, compelling content, increased conversion of vacation packages by up to 5 per cent, and reduced acquisition and conversion costs.

View the case study here. [registration required]

To engage an audience, it is critical that marketers quickly identify which offers and content are relevant and compelling to their audiences. Armed with this knowledge, marketers need the capability to continually evolve their sites and to target the appropriate content to different audiences. Technology therefore has become a very powerful tool to empower direct marketing efforts.

Is lack of ability to capture data at key touch points a cause for concern in the Indian context? Explain.

In the Indian context, the challenge is just not the ability to capture data. We have plenty of solutions in the market that help capture data. The challenge that most marketers face today is that they are not getting a comprehensive view of their data across online and offline channels and interpreting this strategically enough to turn it into actionable insights.  As digital trends change on a regular basis, analytics need to be ready to respond to changing market dynamic and today with Adobe solutions this is a reality. However, marketers need to be able to make better strategic decisions based on multichannel data sources, as well as immediate operational decisions driven by real-time online data analysis. Adobe technologies enable organisations to capture data in a precise manner and help them generate a variety of highly detailed reports and dashboards that give clues about how to re-engage lost sales or leads for higher conversion and revenue.

Is the right use of analytics to interpret data accurately a cause for concern? Explain.

No it is not a concern, solutions Adobe Analytics Premium today quickly analyse data from all online and offline channels in real time and data sources so that marketers can deliver powerful, customer-focused business recommendations. Tools like Adobe Analytics Premium put the power of relevant data into the hands of marketers. Marketers are able to see the trends, get key insights, and make strategic decisions that help customise digital experiences for their customers, find and create loyal customers and increase revenue.

How have your digital spends increased over the last few years? How much of it today would be towards direct marketing efforts? How much of it is being directed to the mobile platform?

As highlighted in response to a question earlier, we now spend 74 per cent of our marketing budgets on online initiatives. About 50 per cent of it would be directed towards direct marketing and while the mobile platform does get a substantial majority of it.

Though mobile has been a substantial driver for direct digital consumption, we haven’t seen a lot of activity on the mobile advertising platform. What have been the roadblocks from a marketer’s point of view in adopting the medium?

Mobile advertising presents a huge business opportunity for marketers and hence must be top priority for today’s marketers. The challenge today that marketers are facing is the ability to monetise the mobile platform. Most of the time content today is not optimised for the mobile device. This gets further compounded with the small form factor and the large variety of mobile devices in the market. Technology companies need to strive towards innovating on monetising the mobile platform. There are not too many real world examples where this has been a success. As marketers more effectively create, customize and optimise content for mobile devices and have a good opportunity to monetise the content adoption of mobile advertising as a platform will pick up.

Do service providers have the skill sets to drive home direct marketing?

Yes, service providers in India do have the skills set and are doing well in India. There is room for more detailed data driven actionable insights and analytics that will help drive a better home direct marketing channel. Automation and the ability to get a real time uniform dashboard will make it more impactful.

How has modern retail, and with it shopper marketing efforts, contributed to evolution of direct marketing?

In India, this is at a very nascent stage. We will see this evolve in the near future. If we look at some examples from the west like Home Depot that provides a personalized experience across multiple touch points. Consumers can scan QR codes for products to receive information from the retailer. Once they scan it, they get either a video on how to use that particular product, information about the supplier, appropriate usage guidelines, safety instructions and basically whatever Home Depot would like to have associated with that particular product. That is the future that we in India need to evolve to where marketers are able to provide a personalized experience for each and every customer.

(Umang Bedi is a speaker at the DMAi 2013 Convention, scheduled in Mumbai on 4 and 5 June 2013.Visit for more details.)

Disclosure: Campaign India is a media partner for the event.

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