Nandita Sood, Founder, KERTUS

Nandita Sood is a seasoned professional in marketing communications and general management. With 20+ years of experience, in building brands/marketing strategies in India and overseas in senior management roles under her belt she today leads KERTUS, a boutique marketing agency. Prior to this, Nandita was shouldering responsibilities of Manager Marketing – India, Middle East, and Africa with Bose Corporation. Her approach to building brands through common-sense insights and to stay on top in a competitive business environment by fostering risk-taking, creating cultures of innovation, and empowering people helped Bose be a brand to be reckoned with in both markets.

 

In a recent conversation, with my sister, reminiscing our school days and how we waited in line for parents to call when in the hostel, “You did not have mobiles?” piped in my niece. No dear was a unison she heard, “How did you SURVIVE” pat came the reply.

It is amazing how all-pervading technology in communications has been in our lives. If iPod made music accessible in your pocket, Facebook made social communications a freeway. The last year and a half of the pandemic, escalated the adoption of technology for communication, both for business and personal interactions, at an unbelievable scale. 

 Not only have digital platforms helped keep the wheels rolling during the period, but today have become the center of every organization’s sales & marketing strategy. For an organization to be seen as a creditable one an online presence is as critical, if not more, than a brick and mortar one. Customer reviews, peer feedback has now come to define the brand authority. 

 In effect, the customer purchase cycle has changed irrevocably from the traditional marketing AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Acquisition) funnel to a more complex path. Let’s look at some trends and patterns of what shaped digital marketing, and what may do so in the coming future.

Digital Evolution

If not already a part of a company’s strategy, then it needs to be. Today the customers demand a seamless omnichannel experience that allows them to connect, buy, query, be served across the channel of their choice. Order online, pick offline or vice-versa. Hence, your marketing communications need to be seamless and consistent. Gone are the days where you could vary the offline and online messaging and offers. Consumers demand the flexibility to connect and engage with companies over social media, email, phone, or WhatsApp. They are spoilt, for choices and demand flexibility and ease of access and communication. As the device of choice is mobile, websites and other communication media must deliver a seamless experience over this medium.

Social Media

Social media platforms started as places where people could connect and share in real-time with folks they know or desire to know. Today, Social media has grown to be an important component in the customer’s purchase journey.  It is the go-to place for peer reviews, seeking influencer opinions, find alternatives, compare, evaluate and make an educated decision. With over 4.4 billion monthly active users, social media marketing has to be an integral part of your marketing strategies. 

Platforms constantly evolve. Each market across the globe sees traction for different platforms, depending on your market geography, adapt and adopt. To be visible & create an impact develop a robust content plan to engage your audience and build upon the Brand image. Social media platforms are a great tool for brands to reach their target audience with personalized communication.

Content matters 

With the internet at the tips of our fingers and “ASK GOOGLE” as the buzzword it is the era of information explosion. Any guesses on the volume of online activity? Is it a wonder that digital media is a crowded place, hence to stand out, be heard, be noticed, can be a challenge. Creating compelling content that resonates with your audience provides the answer. Keep abreast of the new trends and tools made available to use them effectively to stay ahead of the curve. Early adoption of new tools is the best practice. While digital media provides tremendous potential for marketers, excellent content holds the key to success.

Personalisation

Personalization is the act of tailoring an experience or communication to fit the customer to the T. The tailoring of marketing communications is done based on the data collected about the customer over his/her various interactions with the brand, their interests, the kind of products or services they browsed through on the website, the social media posts they engage with, etc. Factoring in these elements while designing and /or serving the content to the customer, results in better engagement from the customer. 

A quick instance that comes to mind is one I believe will resonate with most. If you have been browsing a particular product online and have looked at few options, thereafter, no matter what platform you tune into, you will see ads of those offerings and similar items popping up on your screen. What the Seller is doing is, having understood your taste, is serving you the content, again and again, to engage and elicit a response to purchase. 

Transparency

Online space is the consumers’ go-to place for information. In this world of “ASK GOOGLE BABA”, on making a query, everything about you and your organization that has been posted online is likely to pop up. Good reviews, bad reviews, conflicting information mismatched figures controversial social media posts, employee grouse anything and everything that was posted online by you, customers, media, or anyone associated with you or your organization

Remember, anything that goes online stays online without an expiry date. Brands and brand owners need to be careful what they put out. And be nimble to manage negative sentiment effectively and quickly. With Social media platforms & Search being forced to bring transparency to the fore this is going to be of greater import. Remember 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer even reaches out to sales. Consumers today are more involved, they look at companies beyond just the products, company culture, employee morale, product quality, after-sales service etc. are now things of import that factor into their purchase decision. The reward for being upfront and transparent? Businesses that are honest and open with their customers are rewarded with loyalty; with 94% saying they will remain with a company that offers transparency, and 73% say they would be happy to pay a higher price for their products.

Engaging with the Audience

Keeping your audience engaged and active on your communication media is critical. One part of the engagement is getting the communication right to connect with them, get them engaged by encouraging user-generated content but most importantly how well, you respond to them when they reach out to you. A quick turnaround time to resolve and respond to their queries over social media handles, emails & online outreach is critical for them to stay with your brand. 

GoPro’s Photo of the Day campaign, which features a customer’s photo on their social media sites every day, is a successful example of this. As a result, customers and prospects stay engaged and share more content while discovering the cameras’ functions along the way, which in turn enhances engagement with the product.

Measurement

 “What gets measured gets improved.” The very fact that digital marketing can be measured and targeted has for the first time made marketing truly measurable. Often there is talk of ROI for digital marketing. Like any measurement for results, there needs to be a scale in place. Before undertaking a digital marketing initiative, define the Key Performance indicators such as Cost per acquisition, customer lifetime value & Marketing channel return on Investment against which to measure the results. The great thing about digital marketing is that it puts you at the steering wheel-stop, adjust, experiment or alter your campaign at any stage of the campaign. 

The bottom line is if a brand wants to be successful now and, in the future, it must invest in a kind of “cultural radar” by staying up-to-date with evolving technology and platforms, as well as incorporate digital talent capable of understanding the customer journey and interpreting relevant data to form instructive insights. Brands that can adapt and adjust quickly are most certainly to have a leg up on the competition.

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