In the marketing universe, post – pandemic especially, with new norms in digital consumption, studies show that the customer is 40% more likely to try new or different brands versus five years ago. This makes retention much harder, all of which pushes customer engagement into the hot seat.
Armed with AI-led tools, access to granular data and real-time analytics, brands – be it natively tech entities or young D2C startups, are using Martech to go beyond the transactional. So, how are these tools helping them forge deep connects across the funnel?
The Swiggy recipe for retention
Swiggy has made the personalisation of its messages – driven both by user tastes and the best offerings available to users in their area – core to its communication strategy,” says Anuj Rathi, SVP- Revenue and Growth at Swiggy.
“Individual consumer needs, available supply, and the number of delivery partners keep changing throughout the day, sometimes in minutes”, says Rathi, adding that cuisine preferences, ingredients and sourcing destinations play a big role in delivering a specific answer for every individual with an instant need. “Unlike eCommerce, this requires a hyperlocal solution across the funnel,” he explains.
Globally, Swiggy was the first to hyperlocally use Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) – templatised ads personalised as per user interests and behaviour. DPAs used in online retail and eCommerce, weren’t evolved for cases where demand-supply varies by location.
“To implement this for our food marketplace, we worked closely with the Meta team to build a restaurant feed such that relevant restaurants in an area are served as ads to users based on their location. Triggering these ads to the target audience (who’re within the restaurant’s serviceability radius) increased CTRs by 4x for new user acquisition campaigns and 40x for remarketing campaigns. Our NU acquisition costs improved by 15-20%,” shares Anuj.
Swiggy’s push notifications use Machine Learning models to generate recommendations based on a user’s past purchases, browsing behaviour, and profile, along with the transaction context (users’ predicted location and serviceability of a restaurant).
But again, in a hyper-local context doing this at scale was challenging due to variable serviceability, restaurant delivery executives’ availability. Here, timely interventions worked.
“So, for users who like to try out different restaurants, the recommendation engine will suggest a new restaurant (delivering to their location) for a cuisine they love, along with a personalized coupon – all of which is surfaced via a push notification. These also call out the added benefits applicable to One subscription users”, he adds, and shares that CTRs here improved by 25% and conversions were up by 15% versus non-personalised notifications.
“Personalizing ads at scale with an optimal cost is often difficult to achieve, and with the help of AI-led optimizations and tailored creative content, we were able to do it at scale and connect it with the relevant target audience – this helped us bridge the gap between user expectation and ad communication,” says Rathi. AI led optimisation led to a 50% reduction in the cost of new user acquisition on Facebook and Instagram, he shares.
AI in communication really works when it begins with HI – human intelligence or core understanding of users, surmises Rathi.
“Food has a strong emotive angle to the purchase decision, so the communication strategy has to go beyond functional benefits (faster, cheaper, wider selection) and delight the reader”, Rathi explains, and adds that vernacular campaigns around regional trends and events, and ‘Brand Love’ campaigns (‘Swiggy Appraisal’, ‘PayDay’ and ‘Pause and Breathe’) helped them here. Compared to regular campaigns, CTRs for these normally are up by 20%, alongside an uptick in social media mentions and positive brand engagements.
GOQii on hitting retention goals with gamification
“Like in any business, we have players who are deeply engaged and others who need constant nudges, says, Krishna Kumar, Chief Customer Officer at preventive health brand GOQii.
The whole ecosystem at GOQii is gamified, and has been designed to engage the player (customer) across parameters, and the app is the central place where all information is aggregated. While each player is provided with a personal health coach, their smart fitness tracker nudges users, as it monitors their activities and sends back data, unique to each player.
While AI helps them send out these unique communication nudges that push a user to the next level, other tools in the stack have helped in creating unique events where the coach is informed, and communication is customised accordingly, shares Kumar.
Being a technology company, GOQii has built its own backend tools to track player engagement, by understanding the source and ascribing behaviour labels. “As we scaled up, we also adopted the services of other Martech tools. Using a combination of these, we got consumer insights that helped us segment our players into four buckets. We call it the SAFE model – S (Sedentary), A(Active), F(Fit), Elite(E). Depending on the bucket, the method of engagement evolves. Elite bucket players derive maximum benefits by having a better health score, and getting more rewards to be redeemed on their brand’s e-comm platform.
Interest measurement tools track what elements are engaging well, what are causing problems, and at what point are players leaving the app, explains Kumar, adding that the rewards program encourages constant engagement through daily habit completion.
In terms of extending customer Life Time Value (LTV), Krishna Kumar mentions how the SAFE model helped them create an outcome-based health insurance product in partnership with Kotak General and Life Insurance, a first-of-its kind in the market. Based on their health score, players fall under specific health cover slabs, and as they better their score, the health insurance cover increases.
Recently, in a bid to merge real-world health and fitness with the digital universe the brand forayed into the Health Metaverse – to help end-consumers engage deeper with brands, influencers and coaches virtually. “This is powered by our virtual token program – one can unlock items, purchase NFTs, and avail curated goods/services”, shares Kumar.
Beco: Eco-wakening customers via AI
Performance marketers miss the mark, when they focus on pitching a brand or product, and are not really talking to the customer, says Aditya Ruia, co-founder of Beco- a fast-growing home and personal care D2C company, focused on sustainability. “Customers don’t want ads thrown at them, plus building conversation helps with emotional connections,” he notes.
Beco’s recent AI-led hyper-personalised campaign that featured actor (and investor) Dia Mirza, was delivered to customers on WhatsApp, post cart-abandonment (and on order delivery), with initial figures showing over 20% improvement in the problem.
The brand also makes the most of the hyper-personalisation and hyper-localisation combo, which helps them go beyond vernacular posts and target events in specific pin-codes.
“For a campaign on brand awareness using ‘problem awareness’, we had Dia speaking about the harmful effects of some cleaning products, around homes and kids. In addressing people with young children, we avoided plain vanilla campaigns by smartly segmenting this according to who the user is, the economic background, and the location, says Ruia.
“We’ve also been able to divide the video into four parts, and target a mix of these -in various synchronisations, based on preferences – some like long form, some prefer short. Performance videos were created accordingly, and led to a much better ROAS on social and affiliate platforms,” shares Ruia.
The challenge is that some segments form better opportunities and some conversations have better outcomes, and if that creates 15-16 segments, it leads to overlaps. The solution, Ruia says, was to look at the top 3 or 4 top-of-the funnel campaigns that allowed them to garner maximum percentage increase in terms of ROAS and retention both.
“We’re also looking at different types of customer journeys post-campaign, and targeting them accordingly– be it basic issues like ‘order delayed’ to things like quickness in coming back to the platform versus when they were targeted, plus relevance in their current state of affairs, he shares. Taking the customer, the team went back to the top of the funnel from the bottom, with completely different messaging to enhance retention and LTV.
Ruia also adds that delivery platforms are key indicators of campaign performance. WhatsApp and email have been significant for them, alongside automated calls. “Tele-calling in general, is looked down upon- but it works when smartly built around things like order delivery, he reasons, adding that India is still quite phone-based, and this channel is especially convenient if your bot isn’t trained enough.
Increased adoption of retention tools, Customer Life Time Value metrics
Most brands are now driven by the customer experience path to growth, and there is significant adoption of innovations working on customer behaviour and retention techniques.
“Smartly designed, executed and measured loyalty programs can unlock significant increase in both purchase frequency and basket size while creating the foundation for data-driven marketing and analytics,” says Puneet Mansukhani- Partner, KPMG in India.
Customer experience can really be enhanced by leveraging customer reviews, predictive analytics, the human voice and more. “With vastly enhanced access to data and real-time analytics, personalisation is achievable at a scale that was never possible before. For instance, a leading bank was able to work out its relationship managers’ operations in a new remote-only model via AI-led sentiment analysis during video chats,” says Mansukhani.
Globally, there is increased focus on Customer LifeTimeValue (LTV) metrics that are guiding marketers on spending less time acquiring customers with lower value. “CLV is a matrix used by most efficient organisations to gauge customer retention and stickiness to the brand. It’s 5 to 6 times more cost-effective to retain a customer than to acquire a new one, and the same logic applies to the sell rate as well,” he notes.