The internet is changing as we know it. Especially, from India’s perspective, the internet landscape is evolving rapidly. Here are some staggering numbers to re-iterate my point – there were 350 million internet users as of June 2015 and this number is set to reach 500 million by 2017. This number looks even more enormous when you consider the fact that only 20 per cent of India’s population currently has access to internet.
Surge of the mobile app
The most interesting trend to observe though is the surge of mobile apps. Apps are taking over the way people access information, consume content and buy products and services. 200 million active mobile internet users in India spend 90 per cent of their time on mobile apps. With 20 million smartphones having been shipped in the second quarter of 2015 alone, India is set to overtake the US as the second largest market for smartphones after China by 2017.
We Indians have always been quick to embrace new technology, and that’s the reason we have almost completely skipped ‘mobile web’ to ‘mobile app’. User experience is another factor that to which this trend can be attributed. There is an app for almost anything now – getting a plumber for your house to buying a car.
The mobile app is here to stay. It is convenient, it is secure and it is right in your hand. I don’t think you need more than 5 clicks today to book a taxi or buy a shoe. Payment gateways have made transactions much quicker and safer. The leading e-commerce brands in India are generating more than 60 per cent of their revenue from apps. Brands like Myntra and Ola have completely moved to ‘app-only’ while brands such as Grofers have started off with the app alone.
How marketing has evolved?
In a more or less ‘app-only’ scenario, what happens to the marketing mix of a brand?
10 years ago, a brand could probably have gotten away with a TV campaign, a print ad and may be an email campaign to communicate with its customers. Today, it is much more complex. Customers come into contact with brands on several online and offline touchpoints – store, call center, website, email, sms, social media, mobile app and others. With such a diverse set of access points and a growing number of devices and platforms, brands are forced to rethink their marketing strategy.
The crux of marketing is slowly shifting from ‘product’ to ‘customer data’. Brands have traditionally focused on product features and brand values to drive their marketing campaigns. Today, data has become the most essential component of any effective marketing initiative.
Marketing needs to be personal to be able to engage with the users across the myriad channels. I believe brands need to communicate a single message across all their channels. Different messages on different channels only end up confusing the user – this does not help bring them up the purchase cycle at all.
Who is your customer? What do they like? Where do they spend most of their time? Have they already made a purchase with you? Are they looking to buy something right now? These are the questions a brand needs to have an answer for, to crack the personalisation puzzle.
With the surge of apps, personalisation goes to a whole new level. User behavior can be tracked anonymously with the help of device ids and customised messaging can be pushed through push notifications, in-app ads and sms. Rich user experience in apps has found to directly impact conversions.
The way I see it, for the next 10 – 15 years, online marketing is going to be all about ‘personalisation’ and Big Data will be at the crux of this phenomenon. Brands will have to make good use of the tons of data in their possession to drive personalised marketing and grow their businesses.