Gone are the days when simply advertising via newspapers, radio and television helped companies attract customers. With the Internet coming of age, marketing has evolved into an overall customer engagement activity. Due to the ever-increasing level of competition in the market, running a business in retail sans advertising makes business growth come to a standstill. To survive, most retailers have attempted to go the extra mile to make sure their businesses get known to almost everybody in a desperate bid to boost sales. Considering the aggravating wave of improved technology and communication systems that have swept across the nation, it is pertinent that every business desirous of staying afloat in the market embraces the marketing mechanisms that make use of these technologies. This is what one may refer to as digital marketing. It is the medium of marketing that makes use of electronic devices such as personal computers, smartphones, cell phones and tablets among other devices to engage with stakeholders. Digital marketing involves technologies or platforms such as websites, e-mail, apps, short message services (SMS) and social networks. This medium exists in a couple of (now) traditional forms. These are the in-pull and in-push mechanisms of client-base building. With in-pull digital marketing, the consumer actively seeks the marketing content, often via web searches or by opening an e-mail, text message or web feed.
Websites, blogs and streaming media (both audio and video) are examples of in-pull digital marketing. As for in-push digital marketing, the marketer sends out a message without the recipient actively seeking the content, such as display advertising on websites and news blogs. E-mail, text messaging and web feeds can also be classified as in-push digital marketing when the recipient has not actively sought the marketing message. However, with the growth of these traditional forms of e-marketing, the target customer is becoming increasingly immune to the in-push channel. Companies are finding it difficult to engage with customers, who now have a wide array of platforms where they are subjected to constant bombardment of advertisements decreasing the efficiency of these marketing tools. However, simply choosing to opt for digital marketing is not a cakewalk. Like any other parameters in doing business, it has its own shortcomings. For instance, going digital requires one to set aside more than just adequate resources to sustain these campaigns. According to nibusinessinfo.co.uk, one needs to commit resources to continuously manage their social media presence as well as respond to feedback and produce new content for their potential clients and followers. The online resource centre also points out that it can be difficult to quantify the ROI and weigh the value and effectiveness of one channel over another. Such a situation poses a threat for any business since it might not be easy to tell how much profit the business has made from the campaigns. There are also risks of ineffective use. For instance, using the network to push for sales without engaging with customers or failing to respond to negative feedback may damage one’s reputation. Nevertheless, this is a very important pillar for any business to tower above its competitors. Another major challenge to advertising is the increased insensitivity of the target customer towards advertisements. Customers nowadays are subjected to advertising simply anywhere and everywhere, so much so that they have become accustomed to their presence. They would look at an advertisement, e-mail or SMS but would most conveniently ignore them. The human mind is now accustomed to the presence of advertisements to actually stop and think about them. So what can marketing strategies of firms really target when the customer is simply not susceptible to the most efficient forms of marketing? The answer lies in customer engagement. Apps, websites and other forums are most essentially virtual. Retailers nowadays have invested heavily in apps and other digital marketing mediums. However, most of these platforms fail to offer a physical touch point for customer engagement. New age platforms such as the Offerpod are generating increased effectiveness for digital marketing campaigns of retailers within the malls. Such touch-based digital platforms provide the much-needed physical presence for digital media. If the customer chooses to walk up to an advertisement point, browses for the offer as per preferences and redeems offers accordingly, there is a 100 per cent efficiency achieved in terms of customer engagement. The customer now has chosen the product or offer exactly as per their requirement. This data could be extremely important for retailers within malls. Marketing strategies may be based on macro-demographic data. These strategies tend to ignore local micro information such as local tastes, styles, preferences, purchasing mentality, etc. Smart platforms such as the Offerpod help retailers with information about the efficiency of their local campaigning giving the retailer relevant data about the customers’ preferences. Decisions made by the customer at such customer touch points could help the retailers as well as the malls develop super efficient offers in the future maximising footfall for their business.
Growing competition from e-tailers has caused retailers to look for newer ways to attract crowds. Localised offers might be a way to go, as local offers can help draw footfall towards a retail establishment. They also help retailers in influencing spot purchasing behaviour of the customer. For instance, a customer walking into a mall to purchase a pair of jeans from a certain brand X is quite likely to purchase them from a competitor brand B if the latter is running an offer on its jeans. It holds true for restaurants and food shops within a mall as well. Say a coffee shop owner realises that due to the weather being extremely humid on a particular day, the sales for hot coffee would be low. He could immediately put up an offer on such coffee giving an instant boost to his sales for the day. The advantages of local advertising on digital platforms truly are numerous. Digitalisation of malls can be truly achieved only when apps and social media campaigns are given a physical engagement point with the customer.
The Offerpod is an all-in-one digital customer engagement solution. With its ability to display offers and advertisements in real-time, the device has manifold advantages for the mall, retailers and the customers. Retailers can now post local offers in real-time, helping brands influence the spot purchasing behaviour of the customers while driving an increased footfall towards the store. Customers can now view offers from within a mall at a centralised location giving them the power to choose the best the mall has to offer. The device being a digital advertising medium helps retailers to promote their business with in-mall branding and advertisements without spoiling the aesthetic beauty of the mall while providing an all new advertising space to the mall.
About the author and company: Romil Kanakia is CEO of Kanakia Global. The company strives to bring the latest technological innovations from across the globe to India. The Offerpod is their maiden venture in in-mall advertising and customer engagement services.