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How important is conversational insights-first strategy for business growth

Sharing their views during a panel discussion on conversational insights-first strategy for business growth at the India Digital Summit 2023, organised by the IAMAI, industry players talked about how can surveys and performance tracking can lead to a better understanding of insights and therefore aid in business growth

Moderated by Tabrez Alam, Chief Data and Strategy Officer, Bobble AI, the panel discussion on using a conversational insights-first strategy for business growth saw various industry players from the domains of conversational commerce, E-commerce, medicines, travel and tech delve deep into the nitty gritty of gathering insights into the consumer journeys through conducting surveys and tracking data sources can help in business growth.

Kickstarting the session, Bobble AI’s Alam emphasised that because customers are the centres of brand planning and strategy, marketers often rely upon reports, trade publications, customer service etc. to gain insights.

As per Saumil Parekh, Vice-President- Marketing and Growth, PharmEasy, customer acquisition is one of the most important things for any brand and out of that, it is the quality of the consumer that is paramount because they are the ones who make purchases for a comparatively longer period of time.

“Using our market insights, we have actually been able to map the customer journey across two segments- the buyer and the consumer which has led us to have two different strategies and marketing communications for both these kinds of customers and that has precisely helped us in improving the customer acquisition,” he stated.

Similarly, Sanchit Chopra, Assistant Vice-President– Marketing and Alliances, EaseMyTrip, also emphasised that today customer journeys have become all the more important for any brand or business and that with the advent of mobile phones, the analytics and study of it has become highly crucial to analyse how to understand the best way to cater to any individual as everyone is on the lookout of customised services in the current times.

Striking a similar tone, Manikandan B, Head- Customer and Market Insights, Meesho, also stated that what has happened in the last two-three years is that the market has expanded to over 600-700 TAM, but the one thing that shouldn’t be taken for granted is that all of them are the same and that context, which is the key, is the same for everyone.

Additionally, Deepit Purkayastha, Co-Founder and CSO, Inshorts, also pointed out that since there is no transactional layer in Inshorts’ business, it is the value per user that the business is playing in is much lower than the number of users.

“The biggest concern that emerges for our kind of businesses is managing the cost and the benefit or P&L at the unit level for any kind of data investments because data costs money and is a rather expensive ask so we have been working on how to do so in a judicious way to ensure that there is no leaky bucket in any way,” he added.

Upon being questioned as to what tools are brands using to understand the behaviour of users on offline and online channels, including web and mobile, PharmEasy’s Parekh replied that since the medicines brand has always relied on traditional partners and other research surveys that the company does around customers.

“The issue with offline channels is that it takes a lot of time to get actionable insights and therefore we could just not rely on them to give us all our data. Hence, we started going towards a lot of traditional channels or partners like Google, Meta, etc. for getting insights and understanding what the consumer is actually doing on our app and that really helped us build our inventory and cater to all the demands in a better way,” he said.

Adding to this, EaseMyTrip’s Chopra also pointed out that the lockdown changed the dynamics for the travel company as things moved from being into an experiential mix of both product and services to just the service side because people were on the lookout for flight arrangements, cancellations, medical tourism, etc.

“Having said that, earlier on the scenario consisted of people actually going to physical places to understand what they had seen and visited. In fact, from the early 2000s, it has gone from 100% offline to almost 70-80% on online models and of that, almost 60-65% of business happens through smartphones,” he added.

He also went on to add that to track consumer journeys across platforms, EaseMyTrip uses a plethora of tools for social media listening, and WhatsApp services for online channels while the CTA is being tracked for offline channels.

Similarly, Meesho’s Manikandan also went on to point out that there are multiple categories and entry points in an e-commerce setup since it’s a horizontal platform it's not just about acquiring consumers but healthy ones.

“In the acquisition stage wherein you’re prudent on who you acquire and then there’s a stage where you enable them to form a habit, so you need them to come and get into processes like consumer support, returns, refunds, etc.,” he added.

Moving forth, he also went on to add that because there are multiple category entry points which essentially means that one needs to have knowledge about where the consumers are and what they’re doing, so the canvas is much wider for cashing in on moments of serendipity for e-commerce and that knowing user journeys and benchmarking it with that of the competition is immensely integral.

Inshorts’ Purkayastha also went on to emphasise that the tech platform uses a plethora of third-party tools like ComScore, Sensor Top, etc. even though all these tools have a big error rate in terms of the scale of absolute numbers.

“For the other aspect of competitive intelligence that we track regularly on the advertisers’ side, we use data sources like BARC, TAM AdEx, etc. to see if there is brand spending or not. But over there, there is a wall for our industry because our platforms are mainly dependent on performance-driven brand advertising and thus we try to capture commoditised performance spending,” he added.

Additionally, PharmEasy’s Parekh also went on to denote that for a category like medicines, the time spent on the app is not of immense importance as it is more about DAUs and MAUs because the purchase is highly binary.

“The biggest job for me is to make sure that the consumer doesn’t go into any other app and stays within my ecosystem and to do that, we have to push a lot of relevant content or materials whenever he’s not opening the app because nobody is excited to buy medicines,’ he exclaimed.

He also went on to add that PharmEasy has created multiple personas for consumers which are then replicated based on how the consumer behaves on the app for the first time because the journey, in the case of medicines, doesn’t change unless the consumer is ordering for someone else.

Similarly, EaseMyTrip’s Chopra also mentioned that the travel company keeps a track of where the consumers left their journey and what was the reason behind it through AI in terms of whether support is needed for selecting a particular service or not.

“In that aspect, it's all the more paramount that the customer journey is well defined and it gets dynamic with the plethora of products and by the end of the day, it’s the consumer that rules,” he opined.

Sharing his views on the usage of first-party data, Meesho’s Manikandan also emphasised that apart from building on and using first-party data, the e-commerce platform also taps into validation and benchmarking across competition through third-party data.

“Apart from metrics like DAUs and MAUs, for us, it is also about the lifetime value of the consumer, long market value and engagement. As it is, engagement is crucial because a lot of window shopping also happens online and thus it is significant to know where they are starting, how they are moving and where it ends,” he added.

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