Over the past year, COVID-19 has forced businesses to fast-track their online capabilities while limiting the customer’s ability to access brick-and-mortar stores. With the accelerated transition to online engagement during 2020, consumers have demonstrated a rising demand for digital engagement and personalisation.
To explore the implications of this major shift, Campaign Asia invited Julia Lee, VP and GM, APAC for Braze, and Dyah Wulandari, VP of Performance Marketing at Tiket.com to take part in a panel discussion on how companies can leverage technology to improve consumer engagement and retention. In that conversation, Lee highlights three key steps to translating consumer engagement to business revenue: Activation, monetisation, and retention.
The shift to a customer engagement mindset
Brands need to leverage data in real time in order to create meaningful conversations with each customer. In particular, the brand must learn to recognise the signals from various digital platforms—and from each consumer interaction—and respond on a personalised level and in real time.
Wulandari stresses that a cross-channel marketing approach is key to maximising consumer engagement. She acknowledges that digital platforms are varied and spread out, which can make it difficult to have a single customer view.
Tracking customer engagement is not a new concept; however, optimising the information gathered across channels is still relatively novel. For many brands, the goal of cross-platform engagement is yet to be realised.
Building a cross-platform engagement strategy
For Lee, consumerism is “never linear anymore. It’s a lot of parallel streams that happen, and it’s quite often done live. It’s not done as some reaction to some scheduled post.” Customers use various channels to research the brand they’re considering in real time, making it essential for the business to respond in a similarly timely manner.
Brands need to build a relationship with the consumer through cross-channel marketing that connects their various digital platforms to optimise the use of the latest technologies and more effectively drive revenue. According to Lee, 86-percent of their customers worldwide have a multi-channel approach to collect and render customer engagement.
Wulandari notes that recognising the opportunity to create a personalised experience with customers and implementing the drivers needed to propel user acquisition can be instrumental in growth and retention. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wulandari and her team managed to broaden their consumer base despite the instability in the larger market. Tiket.com was able to achieve that during an industry downturn by addressing consumer needs in a personalised manner across multiple digital platforms.
Tiket.com implemented a cross-platform strategy that harnessed its entire workforce to address consumers’ travel needs at the start of the pandemic. Staff from all departments were tasked with investigating travel restrictions, informing its customers of travel disruptions, and addressing their queries related to trip cancellations and adjustments. This agility in handling the pandemic early on helped Tiket.com gain the trust of their consumers.
According to Lee, other industries, including brands in fintech, and health and wellness, have also successfully responded to the pandemic using multi-path onboarding options for new members and push notifications and SMS to drive referrals, increase social engagement and improve conversion rates.
Humanising customer interactions
While the offline world stopped, the online world soldiered on and the technologies being leveraged by leading brands evolved to reflect this new reliance on the digital realm. The panel found that companies need to humanise customer interactions to create empathy towards the brand in today’s challenging landscape. In particular, companies need to promote more meaningful experiences to retain and propagate their consumer base.
Consumers will crave that human touch from the brands they patronize more than ever as real-world restrictions are continually being redefined. Brands must learn to navigate today’s evolving technologies and digital landscapes to adjust, be informed, and provide necessary information to their consumers in a timely, personalised fashion.
According to Wulandari, a brand’s core strategy should focus on synchronising one marketing technology platform to the next. In the case of Tiket.com, their pre-pandemic marketing relied on offline activities, such as billboards and physical advertisements to capture their audience and lead them to their online platform. Over the past year, the brand had to pivot to digital-heavy marketing and cross-application strategies. The company utilised in-app advertising, push notifications, and email marketing to reach out to new and inactive users. For Wulandari, this cross-platform outreach was instrumental in helping them weather COVID-19.
Lee notes that this cross-channel strategy will be pivotal to a brand’s survival coming out of the pandemic. For her, a “cross-channel approach is really about leveraging the channel that the consumer is in a way natively using that channel for.” So, brands become more responsive without seeming intrusive. She elaborates that “in that way, consumers are more likely to respond and take action on what you are priming them to do.” This movement towards a more customer-centric mindset will determine which brands will have the most impact going forward.
Survival in the post-pandemic world will depend on a brand’s ability to anticipate customer needs and focus on a customer-first strategy. Wulandari suggests that creating dynamic features on their digital portals will help brands generate more engaged users. Lee agrees and says, “Marketers need to know enough technology to be dangerous.”
The future belongs to those who know how to harness technology to connect with customers in a meaningful way.
To learn more, watch the panel discussion here.