Ai Editorial: Still running irrelevant messaging and ads? Forget loyalty

First published on 23rd November, 2016

Ai Editorial: Relevant messages/ ads, timing, current association with the brand, right channel/ device, and personalisation. These 5 areas are must for every piece of communication. Otherwise forget loyalty, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta

When brands serve a message, a push notification or an ad, there is plenty at stake today.

More than optimizing the expenditure that is being incurred, it is the perception of the customer that needs to be counted.

In an era when every touchpoint, every interaction is being examined, inept messaging or irrelevant content will have detrimental impact on the brand.

·          Ineffective emails/ ads: A low-cost carrier in India has been sending emails about their new rewards card. There have been over 50 of them in my Gmail box over the last 100 days, and they are all the same! No frequency capping, same creative/ content, and of course, not acknowledging anything about my past experiences with the carrier. A couple of these emails were delivered on October 29 and 30, the weekend of Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights”. The bombardment of emails was a letdown and the attempt to connect was being detested in a big way. I do visit this airline’s website, as the market here is very competitive. So rather factoring in my website behavior and converting past purchases into recommendations and email campaigns would add value.

·          Evaluate current association with the brand: Talking of the same airline, I first travelled when the airline launched its operations in 2005, must have flown at least 20 times and my last journey in March this year was marked by a 3-hour delay. It ended up in an unsatisfying response via Twitter! I don’t even remember whether I ever signed any loyalty program with this airline if there was any, and even if I did, the last 50 emails haven’t conveyed anything to indicate how we can build on the association.

·          Timing: Retargeting is effective and has proven to be an effective way of building association. Be it for a first time visitor or a regular customer who is visiting a company’s website, retargeting can result in a fruitful targeting. I recently wrote 2 articles – one on growth hacking (growth hacking agency and the other one on web application security (Acunetix). I was served commercial messages/ ads on Facebook to follow the business pages of these companies (and of course, a way to go back to their websites). Though I read blog of these companies via my PC, I ended up viewing these sponsored links on my mobile. It worked on 2 counts – the messaging was relatively non-intrusive (I count emails and notifications as intrusion as I need to swipe or click, otherwise they remain unopened or new), and the connect was apparent as I had come across these brands and stayed on their sites for more than 10 minutes.  

·          Right format/ platform: Email vs. notification vs. ads? So if a user has abandoned a shopping cart, if you are targeting via email what are the chances that he or she would open and take action? Or would it better to send a push notification that the deal is about to get over? Similarly, whether the user should be served ad on Facebook, Twitter, paid search etc.? Of course, technology has made rapid strides, and action is taking in real-time in an automated manner. RTB (real-time bidding) technology buys individual impressions at the most efficient price available – milliseconds before the ad is served. One can also look at performance, and work on frequency capping, and custom-built pacing to plan expenditure. Also, context targeting (content read online), retargeting etc. can be availed.  

·          Know your audience: Airlines and travel companies need to look at data in a holistic manner that can pave way for a meaningful, relevant experience in real-time. Whether including market automation, CRM, business intelligence or other data, there is a need to assess online and offline information to craft such experiences. There are platforms that de-duplicate, aggregate, and merge multiple sources of data. Internal alignment is must today, and platforms like web analytics, CRM systems, social scheduling tools and dynamic display need to shift towards a set of shared KPIs. And when it comes to who is being targeted, organizations need to look at: Situational data (geographic location, referral source, device and browser); Inclination (interests, frequency of visits etc.); Intent (rationale behind every visit – what is being looked at, clicks etc.); Profile data (demographic data, offline data, etc.).

Brands have to work out how to address consumers, and with what content, for each communication they send. In order to get closer to this, one needs to capitalize on every “data trail” left by a user.  

·          Make most of preferences: It also needs to be understood that one can’t label personalisation in one category. It could be algorithmic, broad-based or meant for an individual where a company is learning about a customer, their profile and intent in real-time. A simple learning could be how I travel with my family. Lufthansa messed up our seating, and even transferred Euro 100 for an error. So why not offer 3 seats together for a family of 3 when we travel next time?

·          Count on context: Also, communication can be based on context. Travel brands are already counting on IP-based location data and serving dynamic email content. So one could be shown different images of a destination, weather information etc. as per the location.

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