Categories
Main Feature Marketing APAC

SEA roundtable: Marketing leaders bare their best strategies in customer acquisition, retention for the post-pandemic

As we enter the post-pandemic period, we are now dealing with an entirely new consumer – desires, needs, and motivations that have transformed to adapt to the new phase of the ‘new normal’.

Last April 20, MARKETECH APAC, in partnership with Braze, gathered marketing leaders from brands Astro Malaysia, BigPay, bolttech, Hmlet, Philippines AirAsia, ShopBack, Zeemart, and Zenius. to discover how brands are implementing their customer acquisition and retention strategies in this period of unprecedented changes as well as how they are building a culture of experimentation and optimisation in each of their organisations.

Watch the highlights from the roundtable that roped in marketing leaders from brands Astro Malaysia, BigPay, bolttech, Hmlet, Philippines AirAsia, ShopBack, Zeemart, and Zenius.

Hybrid experiences to deliver high customer engagement 

When during the height of the pandemic, consumers and businesses were thrust to interact entirely in a virtual manner, the less restricted post-pandemic meant that brands now must take into consideration the dynamics of the engagement brought by the physical experience and integrating that with the uncovered powers of the virtual space.

Allenie Caccam, head of marketing of Philippines AirAsia, shared that in order to bring cohesiveness to your customer engagement, it doesn’t stop with what is done in the brand’s app or website, but almost always culminates with an on-ground activation or face-to-face interaction “to personify the brand as a lifestyle.”

“We do drive cross channel customer engagement by identifying the critical points of engagement and addressing it through hyper-personalisation and experiential marketing,” said Caccam. 

Priyanka Nadkarni, marketing lead of insurtech bolttech, echoes this and says that it is important to follow your consumers offline, as in their case, the discovery process for insurance products doesn’t stop within digital bounds. 

“We need to remember that we’re not only digital anymore…for us, it’s really about where [do these] insurance and protection products really make real sense for the customer, and it’s not always online,” said Nadkarni.

Meanwhile, fintech BigPay also agrees with the same marketing direction. Jia Nina, country marketing lead of the brand, said that they don’t rely on the app alone, and remarked that marketing also goes beyond the app.

Raymond Muliadi, head of product at edtech Zenius, shared, “Offline will always be there. And we will not be able to dismiss online or offline. So we want to make sure that we build an ecosystem where the learning is complementing online and offline.”

Tapping into the fundamentals to effectively retain customers

During the roundtable, industry leaders were in unison about how it is to effectively retain customers in this period and that is to bank on the powers of the fundamentals – knowing your consumers inside out, and activating marketing that genuinely aligns what they want and value.

BigPay’s Jia Nina also shared her insights on this and said, “We really listen to customers… effective marketing is always a conversation, it’s not just you talking to people.”

Meanwhile, Astro’s Norsiah Juriani Johari, its VP for product marketing, believes that to keep customers coming back to your product, you have to be able to deliver authentic value exchange. 

She says that we now live in a world of transparency and that customers “can see right through you” and will know when a brand isn’t upfront about what it promised to deliver.

“Listening to the customers and really holding true to our core values at these challenging times has really helped us a great deal as a business and as a brand,” she said. 

Personalisation also came out as a top strategy among marketers for customer retention. 

Edward Tan, the associate director for growth marketing at co-living space provider Hmlet, says that personalised engagement is what is able to draw customers back to the product. 

“One thing we learned when it comes to customer retention, for locals especially, is to shift from purely selling them the co-living experience to the need for consistent and personalised engagement,” said Tan. 

When driving that cross channel customer engagement, he says, “The most important factor to us when it comes to cross-channel engagement is definitely reaching the right customers via the right channel at the right time with the right messages.”

Shopping and rewards platform ShopBack, which is currently an adopter of Braze’s consumer engagement platform, also shared to employ the same strategy, which is leveraging the best channel for customer needs and then finding the right timing and triggers for your communications. 

Its Head of CRM Scott Tan said, “For us, it’s creating a meaningful cross-channel engagement. It’s really about setting up your platform to make sure that you can (1) anticipate user needs, (2) [have] the right channel, and (3) find appropriate triggers and timing.”

Building a culture of experimentation and testing

Now that consumers have increasingly become more nuanced and that the staying power of trends is going away at lightning speed, these have put down greater importance on brands’ practices in experimentation and testing. 

For Zeemart, an F&B procurement platform, and a pre-series A startup, it’s about encouraging a positive attitude toward ‘failing forward’.

“I think the advantage of being a startup is that you’re always building, learning and iterating,” said Tan.

“Develop this attitude of failing forward, because no one really knows the answers…facilitating feedback, gathering results and going out and fixing it, and testing it again,” he added.

Meanwhile, bolttech’s Priyanka Nadkarni summed it up briefly on the topic, “To be a pioneer, own it, link together and think outside in.”

As we move towards the post-pandemic period, virtual and digital are here to stay–but only better. Consumer experiences are set to become even more ingenious and innovative now that the period has enabled us to once again bring back physical engagement and interaction.

Among the insights the industry leaders shared, non-negotiable principles of marketing stood out, agreeing that no matter what the changes, marketing will always be and should remain experimental. We don’t get to the bottom of the ‘AHA’ moment if we stick to what has already been successful or what is deemed to be the best at present, as the future ahead will only become unpredictable and challenging for marketers but also groundbreaking with the emergence of unimaginable digital interactivity. 

Watch the highlights from the roundtable that roped in marketing leaders from brands AirAsia Philippines, Astro Malaysia, BigPay, bolttech, Hmlet, ShopBack, Zeemart, and Zenius.

Take a look at Braze’s latest marketing report, ‘2022 Global Customer Engagement Review’ which shares the top three trends that are shaping customer engagement in 2022 as well as opportunities companies can seize for growth by industry and region. The report is free to download here.

Categories
Main Feature Marketing APAC

APAC roundtable gathers region’s marketing leaders, discuss current state of consumer acquisition & retention amid pandemic

We know that the consumer is ever-changing but the fluidity of their behavior has taken an entirely different meaning this pandemic – with unprecedented changes that unfolded such as the constraint on physical interactions and the economic plunge of markets, this completely overhauled how brands and businesses engaged with their target consumers. 

Last September 21, MARKETECH APAC, in partnership with CleverTap, gathered marketing leaders from all over the APAC region representing different industries, for the roundtable “Business Growth Levers from Acquisition to Retention” to discuss how the pandemic has shaken brands’ current playbook on consumer acquisition and retention strategies. 

Growth and marketing heads from the edtech, grocery, TV, airline, fitness, fintech, fast food, and publication sectors each shared their unique challenges and how their teams adapted to emerging brand new cohorts, shifting priorities among consumers, with new desires and motivations at the front. 

Watch live the highlights of the roundtable and hear straight from APAC’s marketing heads the notable changes this pandemic on consumer acquisition and retention.

The rise of new consumer segments amid the pandemic

The areas of educational platform, publication, and fitness witnessed the arrival of new consumer personas borne out of the heightened digital lifestyle. 

Marisha Lakhiani, CMO of Mindvalley, a learning platform for self-help and entrepreneurship, shared that during the period, the platform suddenly attracted younger users, a group it didn’t predominantly draw in before. 

Meanwhile, for global fitness brand Les Mills International, it found that its main fitness consumer now favors a split between in-gym and home digital workouts.

“The consumer’s new normal is 60:40 in terms of live and digital fitness; so if they’re doing 5 workouts in a week, 3 of them they want to do it in a club, in a live environment, and 2 they want to do as a digital workout,” shared Anna Henwood, CMO of Les Mills International. 

As for publications, Philippines’ Summit Media saw these changes most evidently on how consumers shifted their patterns in finding and consuming content. Specifically for its parenting brand, Smart Parenting, Facebook used to be its biggest acquisition channel, but over the current period, the channel has not been giving the volatility that’s expected, according to its Growth Lead Iza Santos-Cuyos.

During the roundtable, David Lim, the vice president for marketing of grocery platform HappyFresh, pointed out that whatever strategies that may have served marketing teams pre-pandemic can now be officially considered bygones.

“As a marketer, whatever we have learned in textbooks, on websites, [and] on webinars can be forgotten in the past 18 months…because if you just look at acquisition, everything has changed,” said Lim. 

Lim adds, “I think when it comes to the topic of acquisition, everything has to be extremely localized. We have to look at each market on its own, we have to look at each cohort on its own, and then link it back to how they retain, how they come back month after month in a very granular [manner], much more granular than before.” 

For acquiring consumers, improving SEO and search strategies have been the common thread, while forging strategic partnerships showed itself to be the redeeming factor among marketing teams to both acquire and retain consumers in the current market climate. At the roundtable, marketing leaders also emphasized the importance of first-party data.

For Mindvalley and Summit Media, it has been the same go-to response – focusing and investing more in search and SEO. 

“We identified the customers that we are actually retaining and try to acquire them, so like micro-acquiring a particular audience,” said Mindvalley’s Marisha Lakhiani. 

Summit Media’s Iza Santos-Cuyos shared that as they bolster their search strategies, the publication realized that it is in fact attracting a different set of cohorts on search versus those coming from Facebook, bringing them to conclude that they cannot now discount Facebook altogether while focusing on search.

“What we learned from doing that is to devise a separate strategy for audiences acquired on Facebook versus those acquired on search,” said Santos-Cuyos. 

Brands forming strategic partnerships to cushion drastic market changes

The fast-food industry took one of the biggest hits during the pandemic, with the phased-out in-person interactions blowing the footfall for dine-in. 

In the roundtable, KFC Malaysia’s CMO May Ling Chan shared that partnering with food delivery platforms acted as a safety net, where within the e-commerce scene, the QSR sector has not been the fastest in adoption. 

“I think what happened during the pandemic was [the] growth of food aggregators. For us, I think that’s the biggest part of acquisition that we see,” said Chan. 

Online food delivery has seen an unprecedented rise in adoption by both brands and consumers. According to a report by Statista, in Asia, revenue in the online food delivery segment has been projected to reach US$223,372m this year. 

Singapore’s supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice echoes the same gameplan, where its convenience store Cheers inked a tie-up with top delivery platforms GrabFood and foodpanda in order to answer to the surge in need for on-demand and fast delivery of food products. 

Vivek Kumar, NTUC FairPrice Group’s director for strategic marketing & omnichannel monetization, cited ‘Supper moments’ which Cheers aimed to create through the partnership, where consumers can not only see product offerings in a snap but to “go ahead” and complete their transaction in real-time.

“Supper moments on food delivery platforms is quite a unique opportunity. [When] restaurants are closed and you [still] want your beer and your nachos and your croissants, and stuff like that, this is the place to go to.” Kumar said.

He adds, “We can’t wait for the customers to come to us. We can create the right occasion [as long as] we understand the customer’s needs. We must give them very friction-free shopping experiences where they can complete their mission – you can’t leave it midway.”

The fast-changing consumer patterns pressing the importance of first-party data

Global cross-border payments platform OFX was also one of the brands that participated in the roundtable and its Global Head of Digital Acquisition Shad Haehae shared that as the pandemic pushed the stronger need for brands to know their customers a lot more, this made the platform re-evaluate the quality of data it obtains.

“We’re a money business, and people send money for particular reasons, so those reasons have changed,” said Haehae. 

OFX previously relied on third-party data for insights, but Haehae shares that as a business, OFX figured that it needed to be smarter on this front.

“We adopted new partnerships, new types of technologies [not just] from [a] martech [and] adtech perspective, even from a data perspective. We’ve done a lot of consolidation on platforms and data.” 

The same is the case for TV and radio operator giant, Astro, in Malaysia. 

“So it’s a balance between providing value to the customers to [keep] them from churning [and] aggregating our first-party data with social data, and with data that we have in the network to go after customers a lot more aggressively than we have in the past,” said Norsiah Juriani Johari, Astro’s vice president of marketing. 

For Les Mills International, they eventually leveraged first-party data which it successfully included in its marketing strategy because of the direct-to-consumer journey it now has via its own fitness app. Predominantly, its consumer was a gym member which Henwood admits the brand had no prior visible data of as well as on how its products looked like. 

With digital fitness now ingrained in people’s exercise routines, Henwood shared that content has become its differentiator, which is what makes “people stay.”

“So how we film our content [in] the lockdown, how we do that more and more so it’s really engaging with the customer, and how we [connect with] different personalities through [our] content – that’s been a big part of our retention strategy,” Henwood shares. 

For Cebu Pacific Air, meanwhile, one of the Philippines’ leading airlines, answering to pandemic-induced shifts meant working inward and letting the team adapt to new ways of implementing marketing strategies. 

Alongside relying on new consumer segments during this period, Michelle De Guzman, the airline’s marketing director, said, “Even the ways of working that we have as a marketing team, it has changed as well when it comes to user acquisition and retention.”

She shares, “We have also developed agile marketing sprints – and that was not something that was done before, but [has become] very important on what we do now.” 

Consumer acquisition & retention in 2022 and beyond

While overcoming each of the hurdles in their industries, marketing leaders agree that staying on top of the game is all about being continuously aligned to the shifts – from the minute to the massive transitions – in consumer and market behavior. 

HappyFresh’s David Lim believes that we cannot apply the same methods of acquisition anymore, and in 2022, one of the beliefs and assumptions that their team has is things would not be the same as pre-covid.

“Every country has [its] own announcement, every country has [its] own waves of covid with different government announcements. I think when it comes to the topic of acquisition, everything has to be extremely localized,” said Lim. 

Building trust among consumers also remains a vital factor in the consumer engagement journey, says Katherine Cheung, CMO of edtech Snapask. 

“One key factor that we have in Snapask on user retention and how to retain customers to our platform is of course by building trust. We have to bear in mind that since the pandemic, people have so much more free time, as most of the regions are still experiencing lockdown and they are not allowed to go out from time to time. We have to bear in mind that users have so much more time to invest in your product,” Cheung said.

FairPrice’s Vivek Kumar’s advice to leaders, “As a marketing leader, we need to create that vision and then keep people involved in the journey, so that becomes their objective and their mission and not just [acting according to] marketing teams’ wishlist – the moment that silo happens, we have lost the battle.”