This post first appeared in ET Retail
Shopping is therapy. Many psychologists have written about the joy associated with discovering something new. Discovery raises the level of serotonin, the neurotransmitter chemical known as the happiness drug. We’ve all fallen victim to the addictive power of shopping. While reams have been written on the science of shopping for the physical world, the blueprints on digital are sparse. If I were to narrow it down for mobile, the literature is bleak and yet, mobile is the biggest contributor to online shopping.
Mary Meeker’s recent report on internet trends shows a 55% growth in smartphone usage in India. There has been a change in purchasing patterns among consumers mostly dominated by mobile phones over the last few years. Browsing on your mobile and shopping online post a hectic day is the usual routine most of us follow. For many of us, the season of festivity is not only a reason to shop for ourselves, but the thought of gifting our friends and families heightens the excitement. Seeing your loved ones happy doubles the level of serotonin in the body. A double shot of serotonin translates into double the chance of you shopping on your favourite app.
The period between September to November is an auspicious time for shopping in India. Consumers loosen their purse strings during this period, which include festivals such as Dhanteras, Durga Puja, Dussehra and Diwali. Businesses capitalize this opportunity with multiple new product launches and festive season sales. One-third of annual car sales occur around this time and it is one of India's biggest sale seasons.
I am sure as an advertiser or marketer this makes perfect sense. Every major brand strategizes to grab eyeballs during this bumper-shopping time to entice Indians who are glued to their screens in this mobile-first country? What are some sophisticated and differentiated mobile advertising strategies you can use to reach the right customers at the right time and engage them with your brand’s story?
The ad format matters
One of the strongest tools in any marketer’s arsenal is mobile video advertising. Video tells a story like no other form-factor. A compelling trifecta of sight, sound & touch, simultaneously engages potential customers into a magical world custom-created by brands. Today, we have access to next-generation video ads like 360° videos and vertical-videos to wow customers with a brand’s story. While video ads have seen great success globally, India also presents a huge opportunity for advertisers to leverage this engaging user-first format.
There is a common perception that video consumes a lot of mobile data and therefore Indians may be averse to viewing video-content on non-wifi networks. InMobi network data indicates that mobile video content is being equally viewed both on wifi and mobile data networks. In parallel, as mobile data prices in general are falling, (disruptive plans from Reliance Jio for instance) data will become more affordable and accessible to mobile users, which is only going to fuel mobile video consumption. Let’s not forget to talk about metrics: video ad campaigns deliver 2X better engagement rates (double the number of people react to a video advertisement) than traditional ad formats! Clearly, an untapped opportunity, waiting to be harnessed by advertisers, marketers and brands alike.
Reaching the right audience
Reaching out to the right audience segment is paramount as a mobile-marketer. You need to market to appropriate Audience Personas. These are curated segments built on deep data-driven insights of a user’s mobile usage journey, typically verified based on first party data signals. It includes user demographics, user intent, app usage data, technographic data and location history. Such profiles are usually built on a user’s movements in the brick and mortar world as much as they are built on the user’s mobile usage behaviour. The different signals are combined together to build unique propositions for propagating your marketing message as an advertiser. I have seen very successful examples of campaigns leveraging audience personas- an example where a new phone is promoted by an OEM reaching out to smartphone users who have not purchased a phone in last 12-18 months - within a 3 km radius of a mall – with information about a special offer for certain network/ carriers only.
A marketer’s strategy
Today, more than 75% of app users uninstall an app after 3 days. It is therefore necessary to continuously engage new users, through their product discovery and shopping journey. If we’re hoping to convert a ‘user’ to a ‘paying customer’ you need to give them contextual information like relevant products, relevant deals and relevant information (such as cash on delivery option, try and buy offers). Remarketing is the closest solution akin to CRM in the mobile world. As a marketer, it helps engage with the user through relevant information: right from the time the user downloads an app, views a list of products, and finally makes a purchase.
There needs to be a balance between large-scale brand awareness and user engagement v/s targeting and accuracy. This is the pulse of digital advertising. We need a cohesive strategy to ensure brand recognition and recall. Marketing on mobile is a complex subject and the rules are still being written. This festive season, I’m hoping that more brands embrace a medium where a consumer resides and spends the lion’s share of their time – mobile. We’re still in the early days of mobile advertising in India, but 2016 could be an interesting year in this journey.