Customer Retention: How to Get It Right

Moderated by: Arbie R. – Regional Product Marketing Manager, MoEngage

Nick Bottai – Marketing Director of Foodhub
Nicola Fox – Former Head of CRM for Missguided and Holland & Barrett
David Kohn – Multichannel Specialist and Former Director of Heals and Snow+Rock
Chris Emerson – CEO of Revoola

Moderator: So we hear this a lot, consumer insights, customer insights, but really what do we mean by consumer insights? And how do they impact or influence customer retention and business growth?

6:07 – The Meaning of Consumer Insights

Nicola Fox: The reason the insight has become more and more important to me, certainly over the last 10 to 15 years is because we’ve really got to understand our customers better. If we talk about growth, what do we need for growth? We need more people spending more money or using what we do more, more of the time. And in order to be able to do that, we can’t continually chase ourselves to the bottom on price or quality or service.

We have to find what we do for our customers, what it is that makes us special and insight is the key to that for me. Data leads to insight and insight tells stories and stories are the things that bring that to life and help different areas of your business understand what they can do to make a difference to your customers.

So that for me is what insight means and why it’s really important to have it.

Nick Bottai: It’s not an easy question for me to answer because customer insights for me means a lot of things. First of all, I do marketing and branding, and I understand the customer insights for quantitative data, how many open rates, how many engage etc. But then what I really want to focus on when I look on the customer retention is, what perception does the customer have of my brand?

This is what I’m really focused on because customer retention, I think we can explore it better later. And loyalty for me comes from one thing that is branding and how the brand is perceived. So my customer insight when they want to do customer retention is really looking into that. Data is great, we see lots of data today, but are we able to treat them in the right way and to get the proper meaning?

This is the biggest challenge for me and this is the biggest challenge I think for my team. And if you have a solution or if any of you have something better to teach me, I’m really open to that. What we are trying to do is trying our best, because understanding the customer behavior is not so easy.

Data doesn’t provide us with everything. I think actually they’re a little bit overrated. We need to go back to the basic and understand the psychology of our customers, data can’t give us that.

David Kohn: My first job was as a management consultant and I wrote this beautifully crafted report. I was fresh out of university, writing essay after essay. And I wrote this report and I handed it to my manager and it came back about three hours later, red ink everywhere. And he just said, ‘so what?’ in about 50 different places. And he put on the end of it and in capital letters it says, ‘Make sure this passes the ‘so what’ test, it doesn’t right now.’

And that is my view of a lot of customer insight. It’s one of the most unfocused areas in most organizations is people think they’re getting insight, but they’re not getting actionable insight. I’ll try and identify three areas where I think insight is valuable and where when you’re looking for insight, these are things you should be thinking of.

The first thing is prioritization. It’s very interesting what Louisa said, ignoring the shiny things and focusing on the big things. Use insight to help you prioritize. For example, if you’ve got a website, see where the people actually are, see where they’re dropping out. Try and understand why they’re dropping out.

Don’t focus on the little things. There are so many things that your boss, or your peers, or even yourself will want to focus on. The first thing to use insights for is to prioritize on the things that are important. The second thing I’d say about insight, slightly different point of view here, and particularly to when it relates to customer retention, is there’s a massive focus on CRM and imagining that you know each individual customer. My view is that it’s massively overestimated, but what’s underestimated is developing insight into where the customer is in their journey right now.

The fact that once upon a time I bought a really expensive sofa from Heels, it’s irrelevant right now. If I’ve gone online and I’ve searched for a dining table, that’s extremely relevant. And if I’ve gone onto the website or I’ve gone into the store and have engaged in an interaction that’s incredibly relevant, so I’d say maybe underestimate CRM a little bit and this sort of understanding the customer, but overestimate understanding where the customer is in their journey.

And the final thing I’d say, which accords with what Nick said is the best way to get insight is to do stuff. If you are sure about something or if you are relatively certain, my advice is get on and do it and see what happens.

If you are unsure, still do something. Because by doing nothing, by trying to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, you will waste time and you’ll learn an awful lot more. You’ll get an awful lot more insight if you do something and see what happens than if you do nothing.

Chris Emerson: I agree with that completely. I think a lot of companies in the traditional retail space panic when they see new startups and go ‘oh my God, we’ve got no idea.’ Get some systems in, bring some analysts in – brilliant, we know our customer. And it never becomes actionable. It’s not linked to any business purpose or strategy. At Revoola, we are tiny.

We’ve been going a few months. We’re a handful of people. But we’re aiming at a market that has never been pitched at before, which is the 85% of people that don’t use, never want to use a health and fitness and a wellness and mental health app. So we don’t know our customers at all. So we have to find out a little bit about them and retention for us is two things.

We can’t retain them if they don’t use the product, their employer has bought this for them. We have to then reintroduce ourselves to their employees, our users. So retention starts with engagement. Why are we different? Why would you use our product? And then it’s learning about how they use our products.

And in the tech business, particularly health and fitness, there are an awful lot of founders’ products, for the founders and their mates who like running and cycling. And they’ve got customer engagement departments who are ignored and they’re shouted down in the office by the highest paid person in the room.

So we are not like that. Our product is built around the consumer and every development and enhancement will come from what we learn from those customers, but you have to keep it simple.

Moderator: Amazing, thank you. Now let’s move on to customer centricity. We all know that customer understanding is the cornerstone really for customer centricity. A lot of brands talk about being customer centric, but um, there’s one talking about it and another being actually it. So I want to ask you guys, what does it take for a brand to be truly customer centric? I’ll start with you, Chris.

14:34 – What Does it Truly Mean to be Customer Centric

Chris Emerson: I touched a little bit before I think. Our product development will come from what we learned from our customers who are school children at 13, and adults at 75-80. That’s a very broad and different market, but we certainly can’t dictate what they need.

We have to listen to them and learn, but in a simple way. If we get reams and reams of data that comes back, we can’t do anything with it. And to your point, we’re gonna try a lot of stuff. We’re gonna get a lot of stuff wrong, but at least. We’ll learn and it’ll become iterative. But the customer is at the heart of that, not somebody’s very loud opinion of ‘I know what works best here.’

Nick Bottai: For me it’s not about customer centricity, it’s about people centricity. Customer centric is not a strategy, it is a mindset. And a lot of companies run the strategy of being customer centric. Sorry, it’s not a strategy and you can spot that immediately when you have a sales pitch. When we speak with the company, if it is a strategy or a mindset, you can spot it and immediately you know that they’re trying to sell me something that is not true.

By saying so, it means customer centric as a mission or as a mindset is really difficult to achieve. It must be brought to the company, educate your team, educate the board and do everything around that. If your mindset is that there are no silos in customer service, operation, marketing, you realize that everything runs around the customer.

It’s easy to speak about, but not so easy to make, to implement it. It’s a never ending implementing mindset. So why say that people are not customer? Because the company is made from people. Every company must be people centric, starting from the employees going to the customers, and then the customers appreciate what they do and the employees benefit from it.

And then employees are more happy and provide more value to the customer. This is my circle of people centric mindset.

Moderator: Interesting, thank you. So it has to come almost like within the company. Nicola?

Nicola Fox: I couldn’t agree more. I think what I feel, and the part of the reason that I do what I do now is because it is cultural. It is about whether businesses are not only interested and keen to do what their customers want, but actually organize themselves and strategize and deliver for what their customers want and what their customers demand from them.

And so, it kind of comes back to the first question of ‘what does it take?’ Well, the reason that that data, that deep understanding is important, is because you can’t do stuff for your customers if you don’t know what it is that you need to do. And that will come from lots of different places, not just sales, not just digital marketing, but actually speaking to those customers and actually observing what they do when they interact with your brand.

But most importantly, and I think it touches on what you were saying, Nick, it’s got to be cultural, it’s got to be embedded within the business. The people that you are employing are really excited and keen to understand how your customers live their lives, what your customers do, how much your customers love you, the part that you play in their lives, then you can’t really start to deliver for that.

So I think customer centricity is about just loving people and what they do, even when they’re the things that you think ‘well, that’s really inconvenient, because I didn’t actually want to have to do that with my business.’ So it’s not just about kind of thinking, oh, well, maybe we’ll make this offer available in store as well as online or maybe we’ll make it available on the app.

It’s actually about thinking, how do I make the lives of my people and my customers easier so that they choose me every time?

David Kohn: I’m guessing that none of my fellow panelists have ever run a customer services department. Customers are horrible, and they want everything and they prefer if it was free. So being totally customer-centric is not a profitable strategy. And in fact, it was interesting in, in Louise’s presentation, the six examples, I’m pretty certain, with the exception of Amazon, none of them make any money.

But on a more serious note, for me there are two questions you’ve got to ask yourself in order to be customer centric. It’s a term I hate. It’s very cliched, but it is important. The first thing is, as most people have said, is what are you doing as a brand, as a business with your products and services to enhance the lives of your customers?

It may sound a bit trite, but there’s a value exchange. They’re paying you something and you’ve got to be giving them value, whether it’s a product that does something for them, whether it’s happiness, whether it’s fulfillment, whether it’s simply feeding them and making them feel good. So you’ve got to be sure that your brand is delivering something of genuine value to people’s lives, and preferably something that isn’t exactly the same as somebody else is doing.

That’s the substance. The other thing, which I think is almost equally important, and particularly when looking at a digital audience, is think about the process and it’s how easy are you making it for people to access and extract that value. You may have an incredible product, but if the process of buying it is difficult, if the process of selecting it particularly, I mean, if anybody here has bought anything complicated recently, it’s almost impossible to buy any product that is complicated.

The easier you are making the process, therefore enabling the customer to get the value of your product and service the better. So think about the substance, think about the value you’re adding, but also think about the way in which you’re enabling your customers to access it and extract that value.

Moderator: Thank you, David. So I’d like to pivot the conversation towards consumer shopping trends now that we’re approaching the holiday season and obviously everyone’s thinking about how they can make sure that they acquire and retain customers.

But before that, we want to understand and we’d like to get your thoughts on this guys – do you think there will be a big change in how consumers shop this coming holiday season and into the new year? And if so, what do you think are the biggest changes in how they purchase that brands and companies need to be ready for?

22:35: Changes in Consumer Shopping Trends During the Holiday Season

David Kohn: In a word, no, there’d be no great difference, it’ll just be tougher. I don’t think there’s any fundamental change in the way people are shopping. People all went online through Covid. They’ve gone a bit back to stores or other channels in the meantime. I think what I do see happening is, is there will be a squeeze on the the middle or a squeeze on the ordinary.

Value will do well, it always does in a recession and premium, super premium will probably do well as well because people will still treat themselves. But if you are sitting in the middle and you are ordinary, you’re really going to struggle. The other thing which may be a slight nuance to the way in which things will happen, it plays back to Louise’s point about being helpful. As I said, for me the biggest problem we have is choice paralysis. You are faced with thousands of retailers, tens of thousands of products. I searched for a 52 inch TV recently, or that there are 5 billion records on Amazon. If you try and narrow it down to 52 inch TV reviews, there’s about 500 million.

It doesn’t really help that much, so I think helping customers make the right choices, whatever business you’re in, if you are able to genuinely help your customers and give them the impression that you’re helping them, I think they will appreciate that more in the environment that we are already in, but won’t get any easier for the next 12 to 18 months.

Chris Emerson: I think that’s true. There’s a lot of media overhype that you think. London, for example, is dead. Well, anyone who’s walked through, or the West end, I mean it’s just not true. Things will come off and get a little bit tougher as they have before and they will again. And the companies that come through that are those, as you say, provide value at the other end.

For us, we’re a B2B business. So similar challenges, discretionary spend down, we’re a wellness business, so we hope that, it’s particularly relevant, but it’s no different. Companies are still spending money, they’re just cheerier about it. So it has to be something that makes theirs or their staff’s life better.

A lot of the fluff gets cleared away, you’ve just got to be even better at what you do.

Nicola Fox: I think empathy for me is the key word. That’s probably helpfulness, but stay in your lane, do what you do well and show empathy.

And I think people will still buy, but cut the noise. There’s way too much noise. Everyone’s doing the same thing, so you’ve just got to do what you do really well and demonstrate real understanding, real empathy with what your customers need. And sometimes that’s just delivery fulfillment, things like that. It’s not always about price.

Nick Bottai: Well first of all, I’d like to ask what are your opinions on the customer behavior for the end of this year, next year? Because I don’t have an answer. I’d like to have one, but I don’t. Also, it depends a lot from the country we are speaking about, because I can tell you the UK or European or Italian or the US countries, they will have a lot of different customer behavior or customer traits.

Also reconnecting to what David was saying, I prefer to say that we should care about our customer and not help the customers. It’s slightly different, but for me that tiny difference makes a lot more sense. So I prefer to care about our customers. It’s tough and I think probably, again, like David was saying, and I agree, if you look at the Maslow’s pyramid, we can see top level people will still be buying, but then they don’t care.

They will make choices, harder choices probably. And what we can do is, we have the responsibilities as businesses to help them, is to care about them, see how can we support them properly during this, but I don’t have an answer about the customer behavior now. It’s really tricky.

Moderator: We could ask other people’s opinions as well from the audience a bit later on, but interesting on what you touched about care versus help. Could you elaborate more? Maybe give us an example of care and not necessarily help all the time.

Nick Bottai: From what I see, help is just one action. Someone has a need, I help this person, job done, that’s it. Caring is not only intervening help in that case, but also have a follow up and build a journey with this person. This is the difference for me from helping and caring.

David Kohn: If I can add to that, I think one of the things that in retail is almost entirely forgotten about and very little talked about is the after sales. Retailers traditionally walk into a shop, you walk out with something and that’s it. Online you might get somebody saying, thank you for your order, but really the retailers only really interested in trying to sell you something else.

They’re not actually that bothered about whether you enjoyed the product, whether you got something out of it, really anything to do with the after sales. And I do think it’s an area that’s massively neglected by almost every retailer, is genuine care. Did you get what you wanted out of this product?

You know, they’ll ask for a review, but that’s only so they can have a few stars on the product page. Once they’ve sold you something, they’re just not that bothered. And I think for customer retention, the more care you can show after the event that the stronger your bond will be with that customer.

Moderator: Right thank you. So in addition to customer acquisition, many brands will also be doubling down their efforts on customer retention. So I’d like to hear your thoughts on the importance of customer loyalty programs. Do brands need to have customer loyalty programs? Is it essential?

29:49 – Importance of Customer Loyalty Programs

Nick Bottai: No, I’ll explain why. My background is not retail. I’ve worked in a lot of industries. I never worked in finance, but worked for services, manufacturing, food industry, hospitality, almost all over the world. And loyalty programs are a short solution, probably not even a solution.

Loyalty programs were invented probably in the 19th century by retailers because the competition was growing and so they had to retain their customers. So the company was paying the customers to stay loyal. This is the first scenario, then we have a second scenario where I think all of us or a lot of us have Apple iPhones, and you bought it one after the other and I never heard about Apple running a loyalty program, but we are loyal.

This is a second stage where the company is not paying anyone to stay loyal. And then we have the third end, from my opinion, best one, Amazon – where we pay to stay loyal. That is completely different, and we’d never imagined, I never imagined when I started doing marketing in the 90s that someone paid some company to stay loyal, completely mind-blowing.

So what is the loyalty program? I call it just branding. The value perceived from your brand, that is loyal. You want to your customer to stay loyal? Work on that. Share the value, leverage the value, and be sure that your customers, with the customer insights, perceive the value of your brand.

For me, this is a key. This is why for me, loyalty program is not just the program. Again, it’s a mission. Build your brand, make it valuable. People will stay with you, that is a natural outcome.

Chris Emerson: We started Revoola because in the tech business, particularly in the fitness space, retention levels are appalling.

Companies worth billions and celebrated as industry leaders have 3%, 4% retention levels. A loyalty card isn’t goning to fix that. It might be a loyalty program, might be one of ten or a dozen tools that you have to retention’s complex. So for us, yes, but really not the most interesting thing in terms of retention.

It’s our product starting off to be better, it’s that product then iteratively improving for what customers want. It’s all the other tricks you might use. It’s communication, both digital and physical, Louise was talking about earlier. It’s a whole bunch of things, but it’s incredible to me that really big companies celebrated a year ago, no accident, they’re failing now.

We’re just happy as Larry with a 2/3/4% retention rate and a loyalty card won’t fix that.

Nicola Fox: Yep. I agree. I’m somebody who at my time at Boots, I worked on Boots Advantage card and at Holland and Barrett I introduced a loyalty program. But the reason for that loyalty program was because we had no other way of getting any data from our retailer estate.

So I think in answer to your question, do we need them? No, not necessarily. It kind of depends on the business and the reason for putting it in place. If you’ve got no other method of gathering data, then they can actually provide you with a way to fill that hole. But I think we’ve come such a long way in terms of being able to pick up that same insight and data that we would’ve got from those 10, 20, 30 years ago.

So I suppose what I see now is a bit what you were saying in terms of it just being one part of you being able to use that to inform your loyalty or retention strategy. It’s not just about keeping customers shopping with you, but it’s about giving them that experience that makes them want to come back time and time again and that’s across the whole business.

That’s not just one department, one group of people who used to send emails and now have expanded out into CRM and loyalty. It’s about this kind of DNA that runs through the business that says we’re here to solve for them. So they can still provide an insight in areas that you might not have depending on what your business is.

But would I back 10 years on putting all of that money into producing some plastic cards and giving out points and coupons every quarter. No, I wouldn’t. But as a result, I think you need to then focus on where are you going to get that insight from? Because for marketers to be able to do stuff, they need people to target, they need technology to be able to send it out and make it happen.

And they need that instinct and insight that comes from the business. So you’ve got to kind of consider it and consider what it does for your business, but not necessarily invest in the operations and the cost involved in running it.

Moderator: I have got just one last question here. So if you could give businesses just one piece of advice on customer retention, something that they can implement immediately, what would it be?

36:02 – The Panel’s Advice on Customer Retention

Nicola Fox: What I would say is, this isn’t a silver bullet or a single solution/result. You need to start doing some stuff. I hesitate to say, just get on with it because of course you need to get on with the right stuff.

But at the same time, not taking action, not doing things because you’re just not sure that it’s the right thing, can equally hold you back. So start with what you’ve got. You didn’t get bad overnight. So start with what you’ve got and just evolve, evolve, evolve and do something better every day that you didn’t do the day before. I hope that’s not too cliche. It’s just kind of getting stuck in and getting some things changed and making that difference.

David Kohn: So for me it’s obviously in any business, most of you are going to be pretty resource constrained. You haven’t got enough time to do the things you need to do. Never mind the things you’d like to do. So you’ve obviously got a focus on the big things.

You’ve got to focus on delivery, you’ve got to focus on product quality. Focus on website transaction, for example. But one thing I would say that is surprisingly productive is the little things that make a difference to your customer and that get noticed. What you’ll often find when you research things that become obsessions within your own organizations, when you put them in front of customers, customers couldn’t give two hoots about it, but it’s the little things sometimes that you do that become memorable.

And a good example, I don’t know if ever you’ve shopped at Wiggle, they always used to put a little pack of Haribos in every package. It must have cost them five pence to do this. But it was something they became known for. If their underlying proposition had been shit, it wouldn’t have made any difference.

But because their underlying proposition was good, that little extra thing became memorable. It heals if you spent over a certain threshold. The Chief Exec. would personally write a letter to you thanking you for your order. Again, it’s not a big thing, it didn’t take a whole lot of time, but it introduced a bit of human to human contact easily.

And so, if you’ve got one little idea, try and find some little things that cut through and make a difference and that gets noticed by your customer.

Chris Emerson: I would say ditch the jargon. What do I mean by that? We said at the start, companies panic. They know nothing about consumer insight, customer attention. They go set something up, it becomes a silo. Everyone talks in a new language they don’t understand, aren’t we good at this? And it’s bad. Well, nothing actually happens.

This has to be relatable. It has to be deliverable, it has to be at the hearts of your business. The only way you can do that is if everyone talks the same language, understands it, and keeps it simple. You’ve hear so much jargon around this and it’s in companies and people are going, well, I think this is important, but I’ve got no clue what’s going on and nothing ever happened.

Nick Bottai: I prefer to share a story. A story that by the time I experienced it, I was too young, but now I see the value. In Italy, we have a lot of street markets and when I was really young, we are speaking about 40 years ago, we used to do shopping with my grandmother and a lot of Italian people they shout and it’s like that.

In a street market, everybody shouts to grab the new client. So there’s a lot of noise. However, my grandmother always went to a single shop, never changed. When we entered the shop, this person remembered my grandmother’s name. My grandmother had four nephews, every nephew’s name, how are you, how are your nephews, how was the school?

And this guy remembered I was doing a swimming competition and he would ask about my competition. My cousin was in a football competition and then about him. So now I understand why my grandmother never changed the shop, and now I understand why I am obsessed with customer centric and then with the value of it. Now take everything you want from it.

Personalization: The Secret to Customer Retention

Moderated By – Sweta Duseja, Director, Customer Success – META, MoEngage


Ankit Bansal – Head – Digital Marketing – 6th
Adam Salem – Commercial and Digital Director –
Ahmad Fahmy – Marketing Manager –

00:48 – Hyper Personalization And Its Effects On Businesses

Moderator – Thank you very much for your time. We’re gonna talk about the wonderful topic of personalization. So you know, first question first, the first wave of automation, mass automation, right? Simple segmentation and sending out semi relevant content. How has hyper personalization, which is now what everyone is aiming to do, how is it, you know, rearing its head in your industry?

Can we just have each of you answer that?

Adam Salem – Well, it’s a pro and con, right? So hyper personalization takes a lot of effort and maybe based on your assumption, you think you are hitting the right point with the personalization, but sometimes because you’re still dealing with a human being, he feels that you are overdoing it sometimes.

So it’s quite a tricky part. So I would always recommend, yes, personalize, but not to the extent that the customer feels that you are talking to a robot, he’s still a human being. He can feel that you are communicating to him as a person. So I think there’s a fine line on this. So yeah, I think that’s the point of view on that.

Moderator – Ahmad, you know? Personalization for your specific industry went from nothing different to everything. How do you see it happening in your industry?

Ahmad Fahmy – For my industry, it’s totally different because e-grocery is different from other retails. So personalization not only puts the customer name in the message. We must give him the right product, application and website. If I give the customer the right product then you may like that I had to increase it myself from this product by around 35%. So the personalization is giving the customer the right message at the right and according to the insight from the AI feature in the CRM gives us the right segment.

Moderator – Adam, I’ll ask you one question. Talk to us a little more about how much is too much personalization.

Adam Salem – How much is too much? Well too much because we, again, emotional, we have to always put ourselves in the shoes. Maybe in my industry we compare it differently because our products, our rooms, our restaurants, our accommodations at hotels are a nice meal, a kind gesture to a customer or to his friend and so on.

So most of the time the product you buy is not yours, only you are giving it to someone as well. So the personalization here needs to be sent in a message that yeah, it can fit me or someone I know, maybe my mother, my relative, and it goes on. Too much meaning is that if you hyper customize the package or the product to this specific person, you miss out on him imagining that this can be given out to a different peer person, let’s say. So that’s why we are always a little bit careful about that.

We try to leave a little bit of a generic line there. So it can really fit the customer, or at least him using him, the customer to elaborate more on a word of mouth to his friends, et cetera.

Moderator – Ankit, you work in an industry that defines marketing automation to a certain extent, right? And retail will always be at the forefront. What does personalization mean for retail in fashion?

Ankit Bansal – I think firstly, personalization or this topic is important because of the reason that the customer attention span is going down, right? So in order to capture attention, you need to be relevant. It’s no longer about mass communication and maybe I can give an example of how we do this at 6th street, which would be relevant. Until last year, our marketing communication was pretty much centered around gender as a segment through which we segmented our marketing communication, right?

So it used to be women, men, kids, and all the marketing communication going out through different mediums of communication, like push email, in-app, SMS was centered around gendered, but then we quickly identified towards the end of last year that it’s not gonna work forever. Right? So what we did was, we took it one step further where we changed our personalization game at 6th street to be focused towards customers browsing behavior, irrespective of the gender they are in.

Right? So, let’s take an example. If Shweta is looking for dresses on our platform, she’s coming to browse dresses. She comes back the next day again, she’s browsing dresses. Now, on the third day when you come in, what we do is instead of sending you a push, we also personalize the medium of communication which is really important.

Personalization is not just about what you like with a channel, it’s also about medium within that channel, right? So if we take a year back, look at a year back, we could have probably sent you an email. Sweta his, the addresses you’re looking at, but it’s no longer working in that same manner that we want, right?

So this time when you come to our app for the third day, we show you a nice in-app popup. We tell you, Sweta, you were looking for short dresses. Here you go. There’s a nice creative from short, short dresses category, which is there in the form of a vertical creative in front of you and you took the first step of coming to over wrap.

I took the second step of showing you the creative. So action was driven through you. Right? So, which means because of personalizing this, we are seeing about eight to 10% CTR on our banners, which are personalized as compared to traditionally about 2% CTR on email and push notification. So I’m technically getting a four x more clickthrough rate.

Right. And after you click on that banner, I take you to a landing page, which is curated only for Shweta. So we have, at 6th street, we have merged our recommendation engine within MoEngage through which we curate a PLP which is only tailored for our specific customer based on their browsing behavior, right?

So now when you go to that page, we’ll show you dresses which you were browsing, and we’ll show you bestsellers within that same category powered within the same PLP. Right? So we did, just to conclude, we did two things here. Firstly, we not only personalized the medium of communication, we also personalized the channel.

Sorry, not the channel, but the medium as well. Second thing is we took you to a page which was curated for. Hence, we are seeing even a better conversion rate, right? So that’s what it means for us on 6th street.

7:57 – Data Required For Personalizing Customer Experience

Moderator – Thank you. Thank you for that. I do browse around on the website for a lot of dresses. Thanks for letting me know that you’re tracking. But you know guys, one of the things that I wanna point out is do you think that Facebook is not doing this? They are, right? I mean why do you think that you have a better experience browsing Instagram and Facebook because they’ve suddenly changed up the pieces of content that you’re consuming.

And this is just sort of companies becoming smart about the people that visit their app, visit their website to deliver a similar experience. One of the things that happens on the back of something like that, so instead of spending a minute, we probably have our potential customers or our repeat customers spending double the time, which means there’s double the chance that they’re actually going to transact. Right? And that’s whatever that conversion looks like.

Let me ask a different kind of question to each of you. In this particular example, how many pieces of information of data go towards personalization in this particular example? We’ll come down because it’s different for different industries. How many pieces of information help you personalize on average? What information can you collect? So you know where I’m going with the question.

Ankit Bansal – I personally am not obsessed with numbers. From a data capturing perspective, I’m obsessed with what is valuable, right? I need to know if you are my target audience, I need to know what are the price ranges of the brands you’re browsing to be able to create a segment. So the price range is one input which I need. Secondly, I need to know if you’re a value shopper, if you are a premium shopper. Third is like what categories you’re interested in, right?

So you could always end up browsing between clothing and accessories which are bags, but you never go to like formals or any other categories, right? So the third thing is the categories which I know like my journeys which are automated and have to be created.

Keeping in mind your browsing behavior. So, I don’t have a number as such in terms of the data points, but there are certain attributes and within each of these attributes, if you are then taking any action, are you taking, doing product views in any of these segments? Are you adding to carts?
Are you adding to the wishlist? What is the duration between your first session and transaction? How much time do you need to decide? Right. So these are the kind of important attributes that we capture. We capture a lot more, but these are the attributes we based our decisions on, right? For personalizing. Yeah.

Adam Salem – I love the example. I’ll add to this comparably. It’s a different industry again, but very similar in behavior. So segmentation is the key word. We somehow define our guests. We call them guests because they book at the hotel. So we define them as fast bookers. So they make a fast decision to book.

So it’s very last minute, mostly business oriented. We have slow bookers, don’t get me wrong. We all sometimes take much more time to decide and this happens when you take a family oriented trip or a leisure trip and another example is like early bookers and last minute bookers. So we always look at different segments to make sure.

We entice them, maybe we can shift them to a different segment. That’s one example. Or at least cater to their behavior to give them the right product not to entice them with another one that might not help them actually engage with your brand. So, yeah. Interesting, isn’t it?

Ahmad Fahmy – It’s the same pillars but we can add something for e grocery because egress we can work using the product.

So if the user had to buy milk today as two items, it’s taken two days to finish it so I can mix segments according to this to personalize the message for offering milk. The same for other products.

Moderator – So basically if somebody’s bought some milk, the milk will probably last for four days.
I have another question for you, Ahmad. Talk to us about how you personalize for traditionally offline customers.

Ahmad Fahmy – Before I answer this question, I must thank you for about omni channel presentation. It’s very good, really, and this is a key for the marketing and transformation for next years to make omnichannel and create between the traditional marketing and digital. So, if I had to make integration with point of sale offline markets, I can capture all data for the customer, how he buys what he buys now, when he comes to my store so I can make personalization messages before the timing he comes to store.

So, collecting data between the online and the offline, it’s very important for omnichannel and this is the value for operationalization and increases good retention.

13:35 – Increased Level Of Customer Interaction After Personalization

Moderator – Adam, what kind of uplift have you seen in terms of interaction online among like, whether they’re fast or slow or they’re early or they’re late bookers?

When you personalize something on the website, for example, you know, what’s the increased level of interaction that you’re seeing? Can you put some numbers there? Can you know?

Adam Salem – We did run a study on that. Maybe you were witnessing this back in the days. The 55% I mentioned, or the 50% was close to 55. It’s actually one of the engagement issues that we have seen as a retention for customer buying back. So this came because not only understood, but you really targeted the right customer and gave the value for him to return. So the value we always present is quite simple. Maybe hotels do differently.

Maybe they present points, systems and stuff like that but what we gave is a cashback value. So cashback value has shown that it has a stronger retention, or in a way stronger value that the customer can use easily afterwards. It helps them decide better because maybe on the point system, it’ll expire soon or this kind of message is fear factors.

And especially now when we see the behavior changing so fast especially when it comes to tourism and as we saw, the grass is massive. So you cannot really capture all this behavior around, you need to be super dynamic. So being super dynamic, you need to let go into what you know or what is the customer? You need to focus more on acquisition.

Nature of the business. Right? So focusing more on acquisition lets you focus less on retention and accordingly, the customization for offers is not the right strategy at this time maybe, but you still build your segments to have this fine line to make sure you’re retaining your understanding and your nurturing what you are collecting from data.

15:39 – Minimizing App Uninstallations With Hyper Personalization

Moderator – You brought up an interesting point that I’m gonna direct at Ankit – the dreaded uninstallation of the app and how does personalization sort of either help you identify, bring them back, and maybe even increase their engagement and their value to you? How are those connected?

Because everybody’s paying to download the app campaigns, right? And we all know a lot of people delete the app within the next month of download which means your $10 per acquisition has just been wasted. How do you minimize that and how does hyper personalization help in doing that?

Ankit Bansal – So acquisition is for the top line, and retention is for the bottom grind, right? And when it comes to re reactivating a joint customer, or retaining an existing customer, it’s always gonna be relatively cheaper than acquiring a new customer, right? These two are facts.

So there are two parts of your questions. One is about, firstly, is about identifying, and then second is what are we doing about those? So I feel like identifying a segment of customers who are about to go churned or who will end up uninstalling an app is easy because most of us use some sort of customer engagement platforms or marketing automation tools which come in with the ability of creating segments based on attributes.

So if I have a clear vision of what is the definition of churn customer for my brand, I can create a segment. So for example, I’ll just give two quick examples. Firstly, we are an e-comm website. We sell products, fashion products and the standard e-commerce journey is homepage, PLP, product page, card, checkout. Thank you. Right. Payment page.

So, For us, the first segment of churn customers, how do we identify that? If somebody is let’s say opening the app four times a month, but not moving beyond the product listing page. Right? I know something is wrong there. That segment of customers who fall within this bracket, if I don’t do anything about it, they will drop off. Right?

And the second example could be for example, somebody who’s not made a purchase with us, repeated the purchase within 90 days. I know we have not been effective post our first purchase in communicating something, right? So these are two examples. So I feel like identifying is easy with the attributes we have within such tools right?

Now. The second part of the question is what do we do about it? Everybody can identify based on their own business requirements. But I’ll just take the same examples and I will tell you for each, what we do? For the first example where customers are not moving beyond the product listing page?

Sorry, I’m taking your example again. If Sweta is on a PLP with dresses and she’s not moving, she’s not moving to the product page, she’s coming, dropping off every day, right? Like, what do I need to do as a brand? There could be like, we could list 20 different things as a reason for why you’re not moving, but we have to boil it down to understand.

So what we did at 6th Street boiled it down to three main factors. First one is the sizing, second one is the competitive pricing, pricing analysis, and the third one is the cataloging. And we picked up these three topics and we created a survey which we then sent out to this segment via WhatsApp, not via push, not via email, because we know that this medium is more effective.

So when we send this via WhatsApp, it obviously has a higher clickthrough rate, which means I’ll record more responses. So once we got the data from this survey which we sent out, we noticed a significant percentage of people listed out size, availability as an issue, right? Which means obviously you’re not going to look at the product if the size you want is not available, right?

So we started including size availability as a factor in our PLP algorithms. Now, products which were listed on top always had a 80% or more availability of the sizing. And all of a sudden, next time Sweta comes in, she sees my size is available in the product I wanted, she moves across the funnel, right?

So, very quickly moving onto the second example where, customers who made their first purchase but have not made a second purchase within a 90 day window in such a segment, we replaced our survey with the fun quiz, right? So what we did was we wanted to use this quiz as an informative medium to highlight our USPS to the customer.

So the first example in the first question in the quiz was, we asked our customers, what do you think is the number of days return policy for 6th street as a brand? We gave them four options. We asked them seven days, 14 days, 30 days, or a hundred days. Most of them responded 14 or 30 and when the date we said so it’s the wrong answer.

The correct answer is hundred days and we are informed that we are the only brand in the market who are giving a hundred day return policy that stays with the customer, right? And at the end of the survey, we gave them an exclusive voucher right? Now again, just to conclude, two things happened here.

Firstly, we used a medium WhatsApp through which we collected my responses. Secondly, we engaged them. I didn’t send them a mass communication, here’s a discount, come shop. It’s not gonna work. So we engaged them in a survey post, which we gave them a voucher and made them feel rewarded. And because of this, we are seeing about 200 to 500 customers who are coming in every day and using those vouchers. These are customers who made the first purchase three months ago, have come back and made a second purchase. So that’s really worked well for us.

Moderator – That’s really interesting. I have to let you know. Just announce this to everyone. Congratulations to the apparel group, actually to Sixth Street specifically. They’ve gone the other way. Most people launched their offline stores in almost every industry and then the digital has come in.

6th street actually started with digital and they’ve launched a digital store. Thank you so much. As we talk about this personalization, just a couple minutes more on what is digital and how does digital blend into an offline experience?

Ankit Bansal – Yes, sure. As you said, we took a non-traditional route and for us, we started this conversation with the idea of how we can add more customer value and we wanted to take the best of both worlds, right? So when you go to an offline store, we do a lot of things which we don’t realize. So for example, if I go in, I said I want to, firstly, I’ll have to look in the store for the t-shirt which I want.

I’ll spend five minutes going to that section. Then I pick up a T-shirt and my size is not available. Then ask the guy, can you get me the size? The guy will go back, come back, and then he will look for me. He’ll say, sorry, sir, this size is either available or not available and then you walk out, you spend 10-15 minutes just to know if the product was available, right?

So we wanted to solve this problem. We said, why can’t we just link the inventory in the back of the store to a tablet in front? We don’t need somebody to come tell us, right? So that is the first problem we solved in the retail offline space. Then the problem, or let’s say a limitation in the online spaces, you can’t physically touch and feel the product, right?

So we wanted these two problems to kind of merge. That’s where we came up with the digital store. We’ve launched this in Dubai. Second one is coming soon in Abu Dhabi, and the third one, hopefully in Riyadh. So in this experience, the idea is we give you human interaction for finding the product.

And if you like a product, the instant gratification of filling the product, trying on the product is also there, right? So that’s phase one of our launch and the idea is to, again, as I said, to bring the best of both worlds. Give the customers an experience which they will see a value for once they use it.

So, as I said, like we do this every single day in retail, but we don’t really think about it. Once you start using this experience, you will start realizing, why was I doing that? This experience is so much better. So this is what we are trying to accomplish to the new experiences that we are trying to build.

24:18 – Role In Hyper Personalization In The Evolution Of Brands

Moderator – Ankit hasn’t said this to me. I may get into trouble, but you know, we’ll definitely be, please go ask about Ankit when the Riyadh store opens. I’m sure you’ll get special pricing on everything in the store. I’d like to sort of wrap up the session by asking Ahmad and Adam, where does hyper-personalization take your company next, your brand next? What’s the vision, right? Where’s the future?

Adam Salem – The future is always evolving because again, it’s human behavior. You need to always spend, whether it’s funds, money, I mean, or time, or effort to really understand your customer better. This way you will serve them better. So it’s a simple takeaway.

I think it has a lot of heavy load work between technical teams in house, between interactions as well, maybe surveys as well but the key point is to really spend time on understanding that and spend the time to cater to the needs of the customer. Don’t forget that we are always customer centric.

Moderator – One thing I’ll just add to what Adam has also said is, you know, we often see what works best is that union between marketing and between the data teams. IT and business. If those teams can collaborate, your personalization will be so much faster because there’s quite a little bit of data that flows across these departments. Everyone’s talking to everybody specifically from these functions, and the IT team is actually very critical to make it happen so that the systems talk to each other.

It’s mixed for a much smoother process. What about yourself, Ahmad? Where do you see this personalization sort of track taking speed and markets? I think according to insights, 86% of shoppers love the brand according to the customer experience you give them. He shops from your market or online according to you, giving him the personalized thing he is searching for.

So, the personalization, if you have integrated and attracted everything for customers, online, offline, and collect all data, you can. Make good personalization segments and campaigns.

Acquisition Vs Retention: What Matters & When? [Bahasa]

BliBli Growth Story – Delivering Best-in-Class Customer Engagement for Long-Term Retention

Delivering Multi-Channel Experiences: Bottlenecks, Challenges, and Learnings

On-Boarding Experiences and its Impact on Long-Term Retention

You may have built a great app, but you would still need to encourage customers to consume it effectively. On-boarding is a way to guide customers to your offering. And it’s more than just putting together a couple of steps to get the customer started. If we were to define it, we’d call onboarding as much an art as much as a science. Common use cases of onboarding include signing up a new customer on an e-commerce app for purchasing goods, delivering services like entertainment, and even introducing customers to a community or network.  

In the digital world, onboarding is the very first opportunity businesses have to make a lasting impression on their customers. Prospects may come to your website or app to explore your product or service, and end up becoming paying customers only if their first interaction with your brand is a delightful one. This is why having good customer onboarding becomes the most important step in any customer journey.

One of the world’s most loved messaging apps, WhatsApp, creates a great customer onboarding experience! There are reasons that make WhatsApp one of the smoothest apps for new customers. 

Let’s dive deeper into what goes into creating superior onboarding experiences! 

What Makes a Great Customer Onboarding Experience?

There is no one size that fits all apps and brands! 

To discuss this further, MoEngage invited a panel of renowned product owners to its #GROWTH Summit 2022 held in Bengaluru. The focus was on successful onboarding strategies and how they impact the customer lifecycle. The session aimed at uncovering good customers in onboarding practices and their impact on long-term retention.

The stellar panel comprised Setal Patel, Dir of Products, ShareChat, Monica Shrivastava, Dir of Products, Byju’s, Achin Jindal, Head of Product, Good Glamm, and Akhil Sharma, Sr Director of Product, OLA. The discussion was led by Dilip Punjabi, Regional sales lead, Mixpanel.

The varied flavors brought in by the experts, given the diverse brands they lead, made it an      insightful and eye-opening discussion plush with real-world examples and experiences. 

Here’s the long and short of what the speakers had to say about creating a great customer onboarding experience and working on better retention from the very first step.

Building Effective On-Boarding Flows To Drive Optimal Customer Engagement

“Every page is friction.”

To begin with, one thing is for certain – designing seamless onboarding flows is paramount for the success of any app. This includes ensuring that the customer gets the right information at the right time, rather than being bombarded with content that may not be necessary during onboarding. 

Monica from Byju’s made an insightful remark here. “Every page on the app is friction to the customer journey. The important thing is to differentiate between the ‘must-have’ and the ‘nice-to-have’ content.”

So, when you’re onboarding a customer on your app, don’t overwhelm them with too much information or too many options at that stage. Instead, only expose them to what is necessary at that point in the journey. 

One example of great onboarding flows is Instagram, which adopts a minimalistic approach to customer onboarding. Instagram gets the customer going in a few simple steps. With just a few details to enter on clutter-free screens, customers can create an account in no time! 

Allow the customer to consume the app well

When optimizing customer engagement post-on-boarding, ensuring that the customer consumes the app well also becomes vital. On-boarding should, therefore, focus on designing flows that maximize the usage of the app.

As a marketer, aim to get the customer into the “core loop” of the app early on by communicating the main value proposition of the app. The core loop is a series or chain of actions that are repeated as the primary flow of customer experience. In gaming, it is the main reason why we return to playing the same games again and again.

If the intent of the customer matches the value proposition and if the product offering exceeds customer expectations, you may just have won greater engagement post-on-boarding.

From Setal’s (of ShareChat) perspective, since customers on the app come looking for       entertainment, it was important not to waste their time during the onboarding process, but to let them access entertainment as quickly as possible. The important thing to note here is – “to value customers’ time!” 

How To Improve Long-Term Retention With A Good Customer Onboarding Experience 

Target the right customer base at the right time

For longer-term retention, Achin from Good Glamm had some great points to share. It is important to consider the type of customer you want to engage with. So, from the onboarding stage itself, targeting the right customer base is important. Brands must also identify at what point the customer will begin consuming, and how you construct those steps or flows for onboarding.      

Pay attention to customer preferences

It also becomes important to pay attention to what the customer likes and does not like, that is, give them pathways without distracting them from the “core loop.” So, once a positive interaction is identified, say, a product is explored, customers can be led into buying them. Brands can then get customers into a rating flow, get them to recommend, get feedback, which can actually ensure long-term retention and monetization.

Customer Monetization and Retention by Leveraging Other Platforms

On monetization, Achin asks marketers some important questions, “How often is your product going to entice the customer into coming back? How often is the customer going to use the app? You may use Amazon, for example, once or twice a week. Being a personal care brand, customers may come to your app once a month or so. With fashion eCommerce – people browse a lot, and that’s where we could create loops to attract customers in the loop more frequently.” 

This could include creating blogs on how to use a product, communities to discuss problems and solutions, and even community-led marketplaces adding to the whole content-to-commerce pipeline. This is particularly useful when post-on-boarding, you don’t see customers coming directly to the product, but instead, from social media.

Many blogs have flourished into interactive communities where customers engage with each other. Most customers seek products that will suit them best, particularly for the personal care segment. Here, Nykaa does a fabulous job of nurturing a customer community called ‘Nykaa Network’. customers ask for recommendations and are then directed to the products that may be appropriate for them. The company has also created a community with an array of influencers who show the right way to use products, extending that extra helping hand to the customers. 

Engaging With Customers During Those Value Moments / Touch Points

Identifying defining moments in a customer journey can be a tough learning curve. Here, mobile apps can track actions performed by customers that result in purchase or monetization or any sort of valuable engagement. Akhil’s point here hit home: “Identify high-value actions and allow customers to take baby steps. It may be a difficult learning curve to identify transformative actions of conversion. But, when it happens is the point you start engaging using things such as push notifications for offering monetizing options like upgrades and subscription.” 

Other speakers also added practical tips such as carefully treading the fine line as to not annoy the customer. We think so, too! Asking for unnecessary personal information that is not relevant to your offering can be pretty annoying. The important thing is to always focus on what the customers feel when using your app. That said, points, loyalty programs, and gamifying things at the right moments could add more meaning to CRM journeys.

Common Customer Onboarding Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Introducing everything at once

Once again, all speakers converged on this most common onboarding mistake—trying to introduce all the features at once. 

Not having a clear objective

Another point is that onboarding should not be done without a clear objective. A clear incentive gets signals from the customer that helps brands engage better. Onboarding should be seen as a step rather than a one-shot experience.

Monica added, “Having a reason or purpose for onboarding is very important. A lot of times, we marketers get so biased and engrossed in introducing customers to all our features that we end up overwhelming the customer—which is a complete no-no. Simplification is immensely important during onboarding.“

Asking customers for too much

When it came to getting information from the customer, it is suggested to get the bare minimum from them, just as in the case of WhatsApp. 

Using heavy words

At the same time, there were some copy-related best practices shared. Using the right copy was central to an effective onboarding experience. customers often get deterred by words like subscription and free trial right at the beginning. Brands end up losing customers who could have given them 7-14 days of engagement and then could be targeted in a better way. 

So, with the intention of knowing many things about customers from the marketing perspective, we start asking for preferences to personalize the experience. But, the truth is customers don’t read and they just want to get started. Overwhelming them at the outset would lead them into choice paralysis. 

Being too text-heavy and overwhelming

On this, Akhil added that many of the best onboarding journeys don’t even require content. They are intuitive ones. Introducing the right things at the right moment to the customer was the smart thing to do.

Akhil recollected from his experience at Adobe that they eventually had to decide at what point should someone discover a specific feature. And also, devise the steps that construct an experience up to that feature. 

Achin seconded this, “Too many things at the same time is not a great way to go. Instead, talk about things when they are relevant. For example, you don’t talk about offers at the time the product is being introduced and talked about.” He recommends brands be very transparent, committing to being on the same page as the customer. 

Not experimenting enough

The other point he emphasized is to experiment and learn. Every interaction is a give and takes from the customer – customers need the freedom to navigate, and it is important to think from the customer’s standpoint.

Setal from ShareChat also had some interesting points to add to experimenting. The first being central to an app like ShareChat and other location-specific products was “not to blindly follow western standards.”

“Don’t accept everything taught by mainstream marketers. Experiment a lot and try to understand your customer. For ShareChat, the biggest learning has been accepting how visual the customer is. We are therefore making on-boarding as visual as possible. We are also experimenting very aggressively.” 

He went on to explain how ShareChat confidently forayed into the English category. Despite being available in 14 languages, it was a massive failure for them, realizing that customers came in with a certain expectation to the app and did not like the content. This was a strong signal that what we may assume could be incorrect. 

On Churn, Re-Engaging And Re-Targeting customers

Setal made some key points here – he said that every slide in the case of ShareChat was a potential drop-off point. (This is true in the case of any app, really!) 

Therefore, getting the recommendation engine right helps. In the end, every AI tool you use has a certain probability of success. It is necessary to know actively why customers drop off. Is it because of your product or the category or the preference? The recommendation engine gets better over time, with more signals coming in. 

The largest risk of churn is in the first session itself. This is what makes onboarding critical in the first place. Further, it is important to re-engage in different ways by classifying customers into different funnels – customers who are not always frequent, customers who take more time to return, customers who are not active at all., and so on. Once you have these buckets, you may decide to use different methods — more and less aggressive — to retarget them. 

We wrapped up the talk with Monica speaking on her key learnings at Byju’s. The focus, she said, is always on introducing customers into a core loop, which sets the stage for customers to come back the next day. She concluded, “…whenever you want retention, start from what you do on day zero. If the customer gets into the core loop and is able to extract maximum value from it,… it really impacts long-term retention. Hence, strengthen the customer experience in the early days.”

A winning customer onboarding experience is crucial in deciding the rest of the journey. It is important to focus on creating a hassle-free customer onboarding experience for richer pay-offs later in the customer lifecycle.

TLDR_ On-Boarding experiences

How to Build a Brand and Customer Loyalty [#GROWTH19 Wrap-up]

In today’s hyper-connected age, there is no single way to connect with your customer. Customer journeys have become more complicated than before, and marketers have to constantly find ways to break the clutter and engage with customers through multiple channels such as e-mails, SMSes, apps, websites, offline, etc in order to boost customer loyalty.

Bonus Content

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How to Build a Brand and Customer Loyalty

We invited Mrinal Singhal, AVP Marketing, YatraSharad Harjai, Sr. Director Marketing, Grofers, and Amit Tandon VP Marketing, HealthKart to learn how they have succeeded in building their brand and a robust customer loyalty program across the digital and offline platforms. The panel discussion was moderated by Yashwant Reddy, VP at MoEngage.

We bring you the excerpts from the discussion.

How do you engage customers across different channels such as paid media and social media? How do you decide what kind of message should be used?

Sharad: With so many channels at our disposal, maintaining the consistency in the brand’s language is important. It is important how you position each product. It’s not just the text; even the design should be taken care of. It should give the buyer the confidence to buy from the portal. To maintain consistency, we have built a team architecture that’s less focused on calling people channel owners such as social media head, or a digital marketing head.

Instead, we have divided the entire team into two areas based on metrics – acquisition and retention. So, if a person is driving a campaign based on one metric, then the focus is not on which channel to use to communicate with the customer. The focus is on the larger metric, and that brings consistency in the campaign. If the campaign is to improve downloads and conversions, everyone involved in the campaign has to be a part of the entire process. Everyone works cohesively for the larger benefit of the metrics.

Mrinal: We have multiple touchpoints to explore, so the challenge is to get the consumer’s attention. At Yatra, we follow two metrics to engage with the customers. One, to keep the messaging very simple. We must understand that we are sending a message to the consumers and not marketers. The second thing we stress upon is the user’s journey.

We ensure that the consumer’s journey from communication to the point where they make a booking is seamless and does not have any broken/slow links. So, irrespective of whether the campaign is large or small or covering different touch points, we ensure the basic principles of simple messaging and simple customer journey is followed. In terms of team structure, we do not function in silos. Whenever there is a business challenge to be solved, all the channel experts sit together to decide on the best channel to work upon.

Amit: Engagement is less of a challenge for us as customer loves to engage in health and wellness especially when they want to know more about particular products. In fact, we get a lot of inbound queries. For us, the challenge is maintaining a consistent omnichannel experience, which we are trying to build now. We are trying to integrate our physical footprint with the digital footprint to provide a superlative experience to our customer.

For example, if the customer buys a product online, they should be able to return it at the nearest store, or they can buy a product online if it is not available at a store. In terms of how our team is structured, we have a common centralized marketing team to provide a consistent experience in both digital and offline stores. We also have a centralized training team that trains every storefront executive about the domain and store ethics to ensure that the messaging on digital medium and in-store remains consistent.

The consistent experience has increased the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). The customers engage more with the portal because of the relationship they have developed with the store.

What metrics do you measure to track the health of growth besides vanity metrics such as installations, downloads, and the number of new users?

Sharad: For us, the Northstar of our metrics is the monthly wallet share the consumer gives to Grofers. A typical family of 2-3 people spends around 7,000 to 8,000 Rs each month on grocery. Global survey says that the maximum share any offline or online platform can have for the minimum amount spent on grocery by a family is around seventy percent. Achieving this kind of share is a challenging task as you cannot lose track of a customer at any moment. You have to be at the top of things. Your engagement channel should be in tune with how your customer buys.

Customer engagement must revolve around how the customer buys every month. For example, customers do monthly top-ups on the day the salary is credited. By the end of every month, we analyze the wallet share we could get from a customer. We also monitor the replenishment cycle when it comes to eatables. One of our best resulting engagement campaigns is where we understand when a customer is going to buy what.

It is easy to find out how does the household look like, how big is it and depending upon when a customer is going to buy a product, we work on the reengagement campaigns. It is one category that has given us great results.

Mrinal: Unlike groceries, travel is not a very frequent use case. An average customer makes two to four bookings in a year and they look for the best deals in the market. Apart from acquiring new customers month on month, the key metrics that we track is the 9O-day repeat trait. We monitor how the lifetime value looks like – is it moving up or down or is it flat? These are the two metrics we measure to determine if we are moving in the right direction.

Amit: We look at two metrics – repeat and new. In our category, we always have new customers. However, repeat metric is equally important for us. Within repeat, we see if we can upgrade the customer’s experience and move them to a more core product. We track repeat records regularly to check out the health of our business and to figure out if there was an event that led to the exit of our loyal customers. Given that the target group is quite finite, Net Promoter Score (NPS) becomes our core metric. We do weekly NPS checks and keep on changing our benchmarks to track the NPS.

Do you want to discuss a specific use case on how loyalty programs can drive repeat business?

Sharad: In 2O17, Grofers moved from a marketplace model which served multiple categories to an inventory-led, grocery-focused e-commerce model. We have become more of an e-tailer than a typical e-commerce company. We have refined our brand positioning with the lowest price guarantee for groceries and optimized the cost of operation as much as we can so those benefits can get passed to the consumer in terms of prices.

Loyalty program was a big step in the same direction. We started a Smart Bachat Club, wherein If you pay a small membership fee each month, you will get access to even lower costs on the products. It strengthens our core proposition of pricing itself. Right now, 66% to 70% of our transactions get done through the members of the Smart Bachat Club. Eventually, we plan to build an online cost structure like DMart who offers products at the lowest price. We aim to strengthen our supply chain, so we can reduce the prices even further.

Mrinal: The category we work in is a commoditized category; so something like loyalty does not work. Customers are out in the market to look for the best possible deal. However, there are a handful of customers who are not deal seekers. They seek convenience and come out of familiarity with the platform. The objective is to drive wallet share from those customers and acquire such customers who make you grow at a profitable rate.

Our call centers offer preferential treatment to high-value customers. These services would include faster turnaround time for complaint resolution, a higher authority granted to customer care agents for making exceptions for these customers in order to reduce the turnaround time and deliver better customer experience. All this has helped us to improve the retention rate of the customers.

Amit: We don’t have a structured omnichannel loyalty program. We are working upon it right now. However, just to give a context; unlike Grofers, our objective is not to offer products at the lowest price. In fact, as compared to Amazon and Flipkart, we sell certain products at a premium, because we are focused on profitability. We are planning to segment our customers based on the frequency of purchase.

So someone who frequently purchases from us will be considered a power user. As their LTV is high, we plan to offer them products at the lowest price. We have a significant one-time user base who come in and flirt with the product and fall out of the funnel. For those guys, the pricing will remain premium. We aim to pass on the benefits from the flirtatious user to the power user to avoid losing them to any other platform.

Somebody has asked this question on Twitter. How do you build a different experience for different customer segments?

Amit: Earlier, our segregation system was more conventional. We used to target the top 10 cities, then the next 25, and finally the rest of India. It was working well in the initial stage. We were dominant in the top 20 or 30 cities, but now the trend is changing. We see a lot of volume from the rest of India. So now we are segmenting the customers purely on the basis of purchase.

We have a power user segment, and then we have a flirtatious user, a deal hunter who looks for best deals on different portals, and a onetime user. So it is like a VIP club (power user) vs. a non-VIP club (rest of users). Our messaging differs according to it.

Mrinal: One segment that we focus on is our high-value customers. The other segment is the SME segment that travels more for business purpose. For the SME segment, we have created a separate platform within our ecosystem, wherein customers can avail corporate fares. They also have the flexibility to reschedule their flight tickets at almost no extra cost, get free meals onboard, etc. These are the two different segments that we have identified. The rest of the customer base falls under the regular category, which we try to capture through regular promotional events that we do on our platform.

Sharad: For us, it’s slightly different. We don’t and can’t have different experiences for different customers. We have to maintain consistency for everyone because for every customer the rate at which they get the product matters the most. It is not just one or two products per order. It is a basket of 16 to 18 products per order. So, if we do not maintain consistency for every customer, it will work negatively for us. However, we take a lot of initiatives internally to segment and understand the customer well. We look into different parameters and use algorithms to assign churn scores, conversion scores, etc to drive segmentation. We look at those data and based upon that drive our different initiatives.

Thank You, Sharad, Mrinal, and Amit for sharing your valuable insights with us on how you have built customer engagement for your respective organizations. We have come to understand that measuring the right metrics, building customer loyalty programs, and communicating the right message to the right audience is the key to successful customer engagement.

How Marketing Automation Enhances Customer Experience in BFSI [Marketer Spotlight]

Editor’s note: The trend in 2020 leans toward financial apps that offer great convenience for consumers and business opportunities for the BFSI organizations themselves. A study by Business Insider Intelligence’s Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study suggests that 89 percent of consumers – and a whopping 97 percent of millennials – use mobile banking. The bigger problem, however, is that traditional BFSI companies often lack the technical and pragmatic expertise to engage these “digital-only” and “mobile-only” users. They try to adapt their web and brick-and-mortar customer service best practices for the mobile crowd, only to find that their efforts fall short. Mobile banking can be a particularly vexing environment for financial institutions as they try to acquire, upsell, retain, and engage consumers throughout the entire customer lifecycle. We caught up with Paurush Sonkar, Head Online Sales at Bharti AXA Life Insurance and Founder of BFSI Digital Stallions Forum to understand how technologies such as marketing automation and AI can help the BFSI sector fast-track their digital consumer engagement.

Please share a brief introduction of your background and a few interesting insights from any of the projects you have led.

Paurush: I completed my MBA in the 2002-2004 Batch and started my career with ICICI Lombard General Insurance as a management trainee. I was part of a team called the e-Channel. I started my career on the digital side when digital was all about microsites and e-mailers. As the medium gained prominence, I grew with the medium both from an experience and a knowledge perspective. I have a holistic perspective of digital and financial services, having worked in General Insurance, Life Insurance, Broking, Mutual Funds, NBFC, and more.

The most exciting project that I can recollect was in 2011-2012 at Aditya Birla Capital (Erstwhile Aditya Birla Financial Services Group). I worked alongside the central marketing team to revamp all the digital assets across multiple lines of business, 7 to be precise. The project encompasses website UI / UX, website design, SEO, essential social media presence, content, analytics, and more. It gave me a 360-degree perspective and put me at the helm of the project. I yet remember it was called ‘Project Ultimate.’

Another interesting project was when we launched the online term business and social media at Future Generali Life Insurance. We were a late entrant into social media, so we worked hard to get it right. Within the first year itself, our Twitter campaign won an international award.

We are currently in the midst of a revolution in terms of marketing practices. This is also because consumer behavior has transformed drastically over the last few years. Consumers today are more digitally active. They do not necessarily need a salesperson to lead them to the point of sale, so the role of marketing has shifted from supporting the sales function to engaging with the consumer across the purchase journey.

How have the changing dynamics in the marketing ecosystem impacted the banking and financial services sector?

A lot has changed in the last decade; however, the pace was further accelerated in the recent 4-5 years with internet access nearly free/super affordable. I see a host of things working in tandem to give rise to what we could call the ‘Digital Consumer.’ People began to use wallets to make payments, bill payments moved online, and so did movie tickets and food ordering. If you step back and reflect, all this has not happened overnight, but it has occurred due to sustained efforts by all the stakeholders, and members of the digital ecosystem.


For the BFSI sector, the birth and rise of the ‘Digital Consumer’ has been a boon and has the following advantages:

  • Cheaper acquisition cost
  • Faster turnaround time
  • Direct control of the customer (no intermediary involved)
  • More comfortable to educate a customer by way of videos and tools
  • Curbing misspelling, which was a rampant practice and seamless servicing options by way of chatbots, social media channels, etc.

The sector has also seen the birth of pure-play online financial players who neither own a brick-mortar branch nor do they sell through any other offline medium. A whole new sector within the banking and financial services called Aggregators/Comparison portals have taken center-stage in this economy which I term as ‘The Economy of Affordable Multiple Choices.’

From your experience, can insurance and financial services rely on an automation tool to connect with their customers? What are some benefits or improvements you’ve seen when these organizations use a marketing automation platform?

Well, my answer is an emphatic YES. Taking it a step ahead, I’ve seen that AI Tools are far superior to even a personal touch interaction between a sales executive and the end customer. BFSI brands are aware that an AI Tool is in a way their 24X7 Branch, their dependable salesman, and the best part is neither does this salesman take a holiday nor does he take tea & smoke breaks, and yes he works over the weekends too.

Let me give you an example of a brand where I headed digital marketing and online sales, and we implemented an AI-based marketing automation tool end-to-end. We saw the following benefits:

  • We engaged users better due to personalized content.
  • We reduced the drop-offs both from site and transaction section – business increased by 35%, conversions via social media enabled campaign was the biggest beneficiary, and the list is long.

In summary, the AI-based Marketing Automation tool paid for itself in a few months and then became a revenue stream in itself.

Paurush 2

At what stage/point in the business does a BFSI company need a marketing automation platform? Are there any ways to evaluate this need for the organization?

I think digital encompasses every touchpoint and process in a business/brand these days. Thus the direct answer is that an AI-based marketing automation tool should have been made ‘yesterday.’ However I am glad to see that most brands are now moving in the right direction, a new age insurance provider signed up for a tool on these lines even before they launched operations, and that is, in my opinion, a bold and the right decision. The company engaged, sold, and serviced their first customers through the tool, and is going strong. The most significant advantage is they are now connected to the customer, and vice-versa like none of their competitors are.

Banking and financial service brands can evaluate the need very quickly by asking themselves the below stated five questions:

  1. Do I want to bring down my acquisition cost?
  2. Do I want to target a customer who is the ideal fit (target audience) for my product or is the audience spread too thin?
  3. Do I want to know each customer individually rather than classify them as 1 of the ten broad profiles that my digital consultant told me about?
  4. Do I want to cross communicate across channels with the same customer?
  5. Is my customer a digital-first customer?

At this stage, I would also like to congratulate MoEngage on their special program to support startups by giving them complimentary access to their tools and marketing credits. It is such initiatives that make up the ecosystem worthy and a constantly evolving space.

Thank you, Paurush, for your kind words about MoEngage.

My next question to you is, how can a BFSI company make that purchase decision? Are there any guiding principles to follow?


I’ve seen most banks, insurance, and other financial service institutions look to check these 5 boxes while evaluating a marketing automation platform vendor:

  1. A mobile-first approach to the platform.
  2. Extremely easy to implement – Quick and cost-effective.
  3. In house BFSI practice – A special focus across the vendor teams in BFSI use cases and requirements makes them a natural choice.
  4. Advanced features such as geofencing, Push Amplification, and more.
  5. Last but not least, a proactive team and a reasonably priced solution.

I must compliment your team here – the MoEngage platform fits right well on all these points.

In fact, as the founder of BFSI Digital Stallions Forum, where we have 200+ CMO’s and Digital Marketing Heads / Professionals across 105+ BFSI Brands, we do a lot of knowledge sharing and discussions on best practices. I have personally deep-dived and evaluated multiple AI Marketing Automation solutions and can confirm that MoEngage is a natural choice.  In fact, basis the response, we’ve now introduced members of the Digital Stallions Forum – UAE to MoEngage so they too could take their digital marketing to the next level.

Can a BFSI company build its marketing automation platform ground-up? Are there any specific advantages of integrating a ready-to-use platform?

Paurush 3

If any financial services brand plans to build their automation platform, I wish them good luck. A chef should focus on cooking the fish and leave the fishing to the experts for he is trained to use the knife and not the fishing rod.

The benefit of integrating with a ready to use can be best summarized in one line from a Hero Honda campaign that goes way back to the 1980’s – “Fill it, shut it, forget it.”

Sit back and watch while the AI tool takes over and does your work, only efficiently.

In terms of customer engagement and experience, where do you see banking and financial services headed over a decade from now?

I am a firm believer that the BFSI sector is set for exponential growth. As per statistics, India has nearly 190-200 Million people who do not have a bank account leave aside insurance, mutual funds, and other financial products. However, what these users have is a mobile phone and internet connectivity.

Some of the key drivers of growth in today’s world would be; growing smartphone penetration, free/cheap internet, exposure to media platforms which makes a person aspire for more, migration of people to bigger towns and cities, growing disposable income, and more. This for the banking and financial services sector- I can confidently say that we are yet only getting started… The way ahead if tough but full of opportunities.

Thank you, for sharing your advice and insights, Paurush. This is very helpful for marketers who are keen to grow their brand’s mobile share of the business. Readers, for more conversations on marketing automation in BFSI, connect with Paurush Sonkar.  

User Retention Foundation