Brands need to have a very good inbound marketing

IIM Ahmedabad’s Professor A. K. Jaiswal opines that today, marketing is not just about advertising, it’s also about customer engagement. Online customer reviews and the positive word-of-mouth about your products by them (customer to customer marketing) can bring great returns for brands.

TPCI Brand Marketing

IBT: What have been the major drivers of the shift to digital advertising over the past few years across the world and how is India similar or distinct in this context?

Prof. A. K. Jaiswal: Over the last few years, people have been increasingly using internet as a major source of entertainment and information. Invariably, marketers would attempt to reach out to these consumers who are spending more of their time on the internet. This has driven the growth of digital businesses and digital and internet marketing or. So, there was a major shift has been occurring even before the pandemic. In the US, for example, many people were shifting gradually from television to the internet.

Over the last few months, the pandemic has given a bigger boost to digital marketing as outdoor entertainment options became very limited. As more people spent time watching the variety of content available on OTT platforms, spending on digital marketing also increased. That has resulted in significant growth in digital advertising. So, marketers are gradually increasing their spending on digital than other medium and therefore, it has grown.

IBT: How has COVID-19 shifted the consumer approach towards consumption of digital mediums like OTT, social media, gaming, etc.? How have advertisers responded to the same, in order to maximise ROI of their marketing investments?

Prof. A. K. Jaiswal: Amidst the prolonged closure of cinemas and the halt of shooting of new episodes for TV shows, the consumption of digital mediums like OTT, social media, gaming, etc. rose. Several movie makers decided to cancel theatrical releases and showcased their movies on OTT platforms. Thus, OTT platforms offer a plethora of choices to viewers and consumer’s time spent on OTT and on internet has gone up significantly.

In online world certain metrics are very easily measurable, like how many people are spending how much time on the website or more specific measures such as click through rate which indicates how many times an ad has been clicked out of total number of times it was shown. For example, in search engine marketing, you can easily know how many people clicked an ad and landed on the home page. All these measures are easier for marketer to capture in digital marketing than traditional media. These measures can help a brand manager to analyse how her campaigns are performing and therefore to form appropriate marketing strategies accordingly to maximize their ROI.

IBT: Now that the economy is opening and people are stepping out of their homes, how do you expect media consumption habits to change in the next few months? What are the most lucrative avenues for B2C marketers to promote their brands among the millennials in India and why?

Prof. A. K. Jaiswal: With the unlocking of the economy, most economic activities are gradually returning to their pre-COVID days. There are now signs of flattening of India’s COVID-19 curve, we may see businesses gradually attaining to their pre-pandemic performance. However, there are also fears that if cases surge or if there is second wave, the government may impose more restrictions. In the latter case, the customer would avoid going out due to their own safety concerns.

I believe traditional media may take time to return to its pre-pandemic level. So, digital would continue to dominate in terms of consumers’ reach and hence, the marketers would continue to be interested in digital advertising and promotion of the brand. Moreover, most of these brands want to reach out to millennials and this age group (25-34) and teens (15-24) are glued to online medium. And if you look at platforms like WhatsApp, even mid age and even old consumers are fairly comfortable using it. The growing smart phone penetration in the country has helped enhance the reach of social media & OTT platforms.

IBT: What advantages do sharing ads over digital mediums have in comparison to their other counter parts and what key criteria should the brands keep in mind as they decide their digital marketing i.e. SCO, SMO, email marketing etc.?

Prof. A. K. Jaiswal: Digital marketing has advantages, as indicated by its rapid growth. COVID-19 has acted as a blessing in disguise as it has given a new impetus to its growth. The most significant advantage is that it allows marketers to map the digital behaviour of their consumers and hence market their goods efficiently. Secondly, through tools like online search and monetary metrics, a brand manager can monitor how their ads are performing and how many conversions have been attained. Thirdly, digital advertisements have a bigger role in awareness creation. Advertising on such platforms actually helps in creating awareness in a world where customers continuously switch from one media to another.

Today, marketing is not just about advertisement, it’s also about customer engagement. If you have a good SEO program which results in you being listed prominently in organic search through search engines, then consumers can find you out easily. You need to create content around brand which is not just plain promotional material but actually useful and informative for consumers. Consumers should also find this content easily. This gives you a real advantage. Online customer reviews and positive word of mouth about your products by them (customer to customer marketing) will bring great returns for brands. So, brands need to have a very good inbound marketing programme.

IBT: Video is considered major digital angle tool of brands in the present context. How is it working in the reality from a content market perspective? And what are the key elements of a successful engagement strategy?

Prof. A. K. Jaiswal: The advantage of audiovisual content is better retention of customers’ attention. Videos, invariably have a bigger advantage over this static content like print media. Even if you have good content, consumers may not read text-based ads or may not pay attention to what is written, but they would probably be more inclined to watch a video.

However, there is also challenge; it’s not that consumers will like every single video or multimedia content. So, we would have to be careful about if the content that we are generating is good enough to engage consumers. All those challenges like what type of content you have for your video, how long is the video, if you see typical WhatsApp video, the shorter the video, the bigger are the chances of it going viral. Nobody opens or forwards long videos, one is of course the size of a file, secondly if too much of content, more time is spent. So, short, crisp & interesting videos will invariably attract consumers. You need to create vivid and new content on a continuous basis.


Anand JaiswalProfessor Jaiswal is Professor of Marketing at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). His research interests include bottom of the pyramid (BOP) markets, services management, customer satisfaction, business-to-consumer e-commerce, and brand extension management. He has published papers in the Journal of Business Ethics, Long Range Planning, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Innovations, Organization & Environment, Managing Service Quality (Journal of Service Theory and Practice), Marketing Intelligence & Planning, BMC Health Services Research, Sustainability, Journal of Academy of Business and Economics, Asian Case Research Journal, Economic & Political Weekly and Decision.

He was given Distinguished Young Professor Award for excellence in research in 2011 at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. He won the International Management Division’s Skolkovo Best Paper Finalist award in 2012 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Boston. He won the best case award in 2011 international EFMD Case Competition in the Indian Management Issues and Opportunities category. In 2013 international EFMD Case Competition he was runner-up in the Indian Management Issues and Opportunities category and received a special Highly Commended mention. He has been involved in executive training /development programmes with several Indian and multinational corporations such as PepsiCo, Cummins India Limited, Novartis, Fullerton, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T), Life Insurance Company (LIC), Gorkha Breweries, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). He did consulting projects / other assignments for several organizations such as Sanofi-Aventis, Novo Nordisk, Novo Nordisk Region International Operations, General Electric, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, and Research International.

*All views expressed are the author’s personal opinion and not the organizations he represents.

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