BrandWagon Ad Talk with CleverTap’s Abhishek Gupta

The pandemic has brought about notable shifts across industries, and the case has been no different for marketing. Today, digital marketing has become a crucial aspect in order to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. In our weekly BrandWagon Ad Talk series, industry experts highlight what has changed over the past two years and more importantly, are these changes here to stay. Abhishek Gupta, chief customer officer, CleverTap, talks to BrandWagon Online, about the dos and don’ts of digital marketing, best marketing campaigns, and more. (Edited Excerpts)

What is the difference between launching a brand in today’s digital era versus earlier?

Marketing has witnessed a paradigm shift in the last two decades. Reaching out to audiences on one channel alone won’t cut it anymore. Neither will strategies geared toward only print, audio, or visual media. While companies launch their brands, multichannel marketing is a must-do for any business that wants to remain relevant in our digital-first, everything-on-demand culture.

Customers actively use digital media to seek out brands, which has shifted the control from brands to consumers. Added to this, social media has been a gamechanger to help brands engage with their audience real-time, which was impossible to do in a pre-digital era. It’s important for brands to engage with potential customers real-time in order to quickly capture their attention. Which is why companies need to adopt an omnichannel approach while launching a brand. By integrating a brand’s messaging strategies across multiple online and offline channels, companies can reach out to and engage with customers seamlessly. Moreover, an omnichannel approach is customer-centric, personalized, and helps users connect with the brand anytime and anywhere.

Even within digital, we are now staring at a potential cookieless future. This is going to be a major change for the ecosystem and would require marketers and advertisers to pivot their thinking and strategies. Contextual marketing is going to be relevant more than ever before as brands will need to target consumers based on content being consumed and their original intent. First party data and technology will play an important role in helping marketers orchestrate these strategies.What’s also changing in the new paradigm is the importance marketers assign to customer retention. With the cost of customer acquisition going up for most businesses, putting money down the advertising pipe is a losing proposition for brands unless they can ensure that these customers stay with them. The new paradigm goes above and beyond traditional marketing metrics such as CTR’s and advertising budgets to focus on LTV/ CAC ratio.

What are the recent best marketing or advertising campaigns you have seen and why?

One campaign that comes to mind is Spotify’s “There’s a playlist for that”. It’s a hyper-contextual OOH (out-of-home) and digital campaign which was personalized for their users. Based on geographies and their local culture, Spotify came up with catchy one-liners that depict real-life relatable situations and created 3 billion mood-based playlists to suit every demographic. The campaign was meant to be OOH, but received a lot of traction on social media as well.

At CleverTap, contextual communication has been something we’ve always believed in and practiced. I particularly loved this campaign because they found a creative way to personalize billboard messaging. It’s not easy to contextualize content for a platform that is meant for the mass audiences.

Another excellent example that demonstrates the change that is happening around is at Ikea. Their 200 plus page iconic catalog no longer sits in our mailboxes. The company decided to have it at a place outside of their website and so they decided to have it on Pinterest, to reflect the change in media landscape and consumer behavior that is happening around us.

There’s a lot of marketing innovation that is happening around us. Armed with data, insights and ability to engage consumers in a hyper-personalized and real time manner, marketers are pushing the envelope around the art-of-possible and increasingly experimenting with new cutting-edge marketing strategies to rewrite the rules of marketing.

Which brand in the last year has made the best use of digital and how?

At last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Dentsu Creative won an award for their campaign – “The Unfiltered History Tour”. Dentsu curated a digital experience where people could walk into the British Museum for a tour and listen to audio guides narrated by people from the countries where the artifacts were originally from. All they had to do was use AR filters on their phones via Instagram, and they were able to view the artifacts along with an audio clip about its history and heritage, in a language that the listeners preferred. It’s a campaign that stands out for me because the brand has made such great use of a digital platform to provide an immersive user experience for visitors and also enable 360-degree customer engagement.

In a post-Covid world, what are the dos and don’ts of digital marketing?

Digital marketing will witness a greater focus on hyper-personalisation. Given that today’s tech-savvy customers demand it, brands should definitely find ways to deliver contextual communication on their platforms. Hyper-personalisation will separate the companies that succeed massively and grow, and the ones that do not, as it drives up to 10x increase in customer lifetime value. It will also impact the customer centric positioning of the companies, as 89% of the companies today compete on the basis of customer experience.

What brands should stop doing is move away from generic (one size fits all) spam territory, and build meaningful digital relationships, thereby increasing the need for brands to evoke emotions amongst their target audience.

Context and therefore understanding consumer behavior in real time will play an increasingly important role as brands recognize that the customer is not one single persona but a range of them depending upon their context and needs.

Marketers will also have to ensure that digital marketing is super well targeted or else they may be underwhelmed by the ROI and may end up sub optimally utilising the digital channels which are quite compelling when used well.

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