IAMAI MVAS Talk: Creating Magic with Mobile

Here is the text of the speech. The presentation to go with it is here.

What’s been the biggest revolution in retail in India?

It has NOT been hundreds of malls across India. The real revolution is what is in the hands of everyone – the interactive device. Every customer of every enterprise now has a mobile phone that CAN change how marketing is done.

[SLIDE 2]

There lies an opportunity – an opportunity to leverage the power of mobile phones to serve customers. Customers are, after all, the bedrock for an enterprise’s existence.

Let’s talk about how enterprises can leverage this power in two key areas – retaining their most important customers, and acquiring newer ones.

We did precisely that at Netcore. How did we build a successful platform, MyToday?

[SLIDE 3]

Since its inception, Netcore has been focused entirely around the potential of communications – via email and mobile. In the past two years, we have given SMS a second life – moving beyond P2P SMS, A2P SMS and Spam.

We used the power of PUSH and PERMISSION to build MyToday.

[SLIDE 4]

Here are some figures that will speak to how HUGE the potential is.

  • Our free SMS subscription service, MyToday Dailies, has grown to 3.7 million subscribers in less than 2 years – all via word-of-mouth.
  • We send 12 million SMS daily – accounting for 4% of India’s SMS traffic.
  • We continue to add thousands of new subscribers daily.

The daily SMS we send has become a habit for MILLIONS of people. The right-of-way we have because of that habit we created can now be monetised in various ways: from ads to leads, from paid channels to transactions.

How easy is it to subscribe to one of our 50 content-rich channels? Just send an SMS. It could not be easier.

What about on the enterprise side?

Great news: more than 120 companies have advertised on MyToday in the past year, with 40% of them running repeat campaigns. More than 100 enterprises use Netcore’s Enterprise Mobility services. Over a dozen use Invertising.

[SLIDE 5]

Let’s start with Customer Retention. Customers want to stay connected with the brands they like, the shops they visit, and the companies whose products they buy.

  • Imagine the mobile handset company sending an SMS a day for the first 30 days after you buy a phone telling you about a new feature on the phone you just bought.
  • Imagine your favourite bookstore telling you about the new titles that have come in and the special offers they have this weekend.
  • Imagine the multiplex you visit telling you about the availability of tickets for the weekend’s movies.
  • Imagine the toy store providing weekly customised recommendations after you’ve SMSed in the gender and date of your birth of your kid.

Are there companies that do that already? Yes of course!

[SLIDE 6]

  • FabIndia sends out multiple SMS every month to its subscriber base telling them about what’s new.
  • TimesNow uses Invertising to pull in people to their TV channel when news breaks – like when Abhinav Bindra won the Gold at the Olympics or when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.
  • Meri Saheli, a women’s magazine publisher, complements its print cycle with daily messages on a variety of topics to a subset of the subscriber base that has opted in.
  • Western Railway is now publishing regular updates on its services and new trains and facilities they are coming up with.

How do they do that? Invertising.

What IS invertising?

[SLIDE 7]

Invertising is invited advertising. It is communication from a business or advertiser that is invited, instant and perceived as useful information for customers. It is built around PUSH and PERMISSION. The customer is in control and therefore happy to be given information that helps in their decisions.

There is no better channel to send this information than on SMS. There is no better way to do it than to give your customers the right to opt-in and opt-out. There is no better frequency than daily.

If you can take 20% of your customer base – the most profitable ones, who are also most vulnerable to competition — and you build a daily relationship with them for just Rs 2 per customer per month, doesn’t this change the dynamics and economics of your business?

That is how the magic of SMS can make a difference to a business.

Let’s move on to Customer Acquisition. How can we create and leverage Media on Mobile?

[SLIDE 8]

We had Nielsen survey 2,500 subscribers of MyToday. Here are some amazing statistics. The average age of the subscriber base is 25 years. 75% of the 3.7 million subscriber base is less than 30 years. 80% belong to SEC A and B.

Three-quarters of the subscribers read every SMS that they receive. For the vast majority, MyToday has become the primary source of receiving news and information.

[SLIDE 9]

40% of subscribers read all ads, and 30% of them have taken action on the ads that they have seen. No other medium comes close to generating awareness or response as SMS ads tagged to targeted content that subscribers want to read.

In short, MyToday has created Media on Mobile in India. And we have worked with over 120 advertisers in the past year to showcase what’s possible and deliver results.

[SLIDE 10]

SMS Ads can be branding ads, click-to-action ads (where the action can be an SMS, call or clicking on a URL), or sequenced to tell a continuing story over multiple days because of the predictability of message delivery on the SMS channel.

In an interesting ad format innovation, HUL’s PureIt and Colgate’s MaxFresh ran campaigns which invited people to subscribe to short SMS channels which reinforced the message they were communicating.

[SLIDE 11-12-13]

So, whether it is awareness (reaching millions) or generating responses (leads), I believe that there is no other medium which can have the same impact that SMS is going to have in the coming years in a mobile-centric market like India.

[SLIDE 14]

To summarise, whether it is helping enterprises build deep, lasting relationships with their existing customers via Invertising or helping them to acquire new customers cost-effectively by reinforcing their message and generating responses, SMS is the channel that today holds the greatest promise for enterprises. It can also be used to foster greater interaction among employees and provide the power of push mail on even the lowest-end handsets.

[SLIDE 15]

Mobile VAS companies should focus on this market to create new opportunities for themselves and make India the leader in mobile marketing and communications globally.

149 thoughts on “IAMAI MVAS Talk: Creating Magic with Mobile

  1. Rajesh -After reading your blog and the focus on SMS I have started realizing that SMS is the HTTP of mobile. All mobiles will understand SMS.

    What about the use of SMS say by a Kirana shop or a small toy shop to . I would think they could also gain very much by using SMS for advertising. Do you see that way?

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