Friday, 24 March 2017

Pleasantly Surprised

Day before yesterday, I visited a bookstore at Powai—a small, nondescript shop that caters mostly to the requirements of schoolchildren in the locality, nothing like Landmark or Crossword—to buy a Marathi textbook for my Daughter, who will be studying it as part of her school curriculum in the Class 1.

As the shopkeeper handed me the book, I discovered, much to my dismay, that I was not carrying enough cash, nor did the store accept credit cards. Since I do not have a Paytm account (yes, we exist) and wasn't carrying my ATM cards either, which would’ve enabled me to take out money from one of the nearby ATMs, paying for the book seemed out of the question. It seemed as if I'd have to make a repeat trip to the bookstore some other day.

And that was when the shopkeeper surprised me by saying (in Hindi, and I translate): "Sir, please keep the book. You can leave your number here and pay me some other day."

To say I was surprised would be seriously understating it. The guy didn't know me from Adam, showed no interest in taking down my address—which I gave him of my own volition—or even saving my number on his mobile, and was letting me go with a piece of his merchandise without bothering in the slightest about payment. In this super-materialistic, super-consumerist age, such things are no less than small miracles. But then, as someone said, this is something that can happen in Mumbai only.

P.S.: I got someone else to Paytm him the money just now and he was courteous enough to call and confirm receipt. Hope for a decent world yet?

P.P.S.: the bookstore in question is Darshan Book Depot, next to Powai English High School.

Monday, 20 March 2017

How Marketing Automation Enhances Brand Value and Business Value

Marketing Automation attempts to streamline sales and marketing in an efficient way through engaging campaigns meant to automatically appeal to customer/prospective customer behaviour by replacing recurring manual processes with automated tasks and reducing human errors. The criteria, possible outcomes and processes are pre-defined; these are interpreted, stored internally and executed by the software.

Right channel + right message + right person + right time
= Greater likelihood of converting prospects into actual sales

Every customer is unique and so are his/her demands, preferences and choices. Consequently, automated campaigns run the risk of failing if there’s a disconnect between what they offer and what the customer is interested in; they stand to succeed more when the gap between their content and the customer’s unique needs is as minimal as possible.

Marketing Automation enables companies to handle lead flows better by optimizing marketing programmes. Improved response rates to campaigns help companies gain better ROI by creating a more productive revenue cycle, syncing results with approach and increasing profits through a better lead conversion rate. Since automation provides a platform for continuous accumulation, assimilation and analysis of data, predicting customer information and behavioural patterns acquires a new edge. Reviews on social sites are also a great way of garnering information in the form of feedback.

While Marketing Automation is an integral part of effective CRM, its scope goes beyond that. It can be used to create an automated-yet-personalized bridge between company and customer by taking the latter from “unaware and interested” to “engaged and loyal” in the Customer Engagement Continuum. It gives the customer what he/she wants, yet imparts a dash of novelty to each serving, thereby increasing profitability by being consistent, relevant and personalized.

Consider old TV ads like “Hamara Bajaj” and “Cadbury Kya Swaad Hai Zindagi Mein”. The Cadbury commercials harped on happiness, which is experienced [when the brain releases serotonin and dopamine] upon chocolate consumption. Similarly, the Bajaj ads focussed on the family-oriented existence of the middle class by playing up the loyalty theme. These ads generated a feeling of being personalized despite being mass-market vehicles for their respective products. This is the ultimate goal of Marketing Automation: creating personalized content despite automated, low-human-involvement processes.

Maximum ROI can be achieved through Marketing Automation by constantly looking out for new leads and striving to understand their needs to be able to provide an optimum solution, analysing customer behaviour minutely, engaging with them rigorously and consistently to be considered ‘renewable’, providing complimentary solutions based on their digital behaviour instead of aggressively pushing unwanted products and services and ensuring customer satisfaction through systematic and regular follow-up.

The whole point of deploying automated campaigns is not to merely cut down on human effort, but to create a design that attracts strangers, turns them into interested and regular visitors, further converts them into prospective leads, creates customers out of them through personalized and engaging communication and ultimately, gets them to act as willing promoters of your brand—without sacrificing creativity and human connect for automation.

[Image courtesy: Google Images]