By Ankit Prasad
The Covid-19 pandemic perennially transformed the way we live, work, and more importantly how we communicate. Even as we were confined to our silos, conversations became deeper, more engaging and the need for greater personal connections was at an all-time high.
Interesting and unprecedented communication trends emerged. As we adapted to remote working and multi- tasking, communication via chatting surpassed audio calling as the most common way of communication. It is barely a surprise that seven in 10 respondents in a Bobble AI study conducted by Nielsen in early 2021, shared that their chatting activity had increased in the six months prior to the survey and shall remain the same or increase further in the next 6 months. GenZies and millennials, especially, found new, innovative and fun ways to express themselves. Chats are now ruled by visuals – Emojis, stickers and GIFs – as most feel, and I certainly agree, that they bring in a personal touch and allow people to be their real, quirky self. And this is a global trend. In a 2020 report by Holler covering major US cities, 78 percent of respondents emphasised that visuals allow them to express emotions that words do not and 81 percent felt that visuals make any conversation more fun.
The transition also meant that the way businesses engage with their consumers needs to change to align with the ‘new normal’. Brands must redefine their marketing strategies with a more focussed ‘humanised’ approach, riding high on sentiments and connections. They must go where consumers currently are most active – in their conversations. This has given way to a new revolutionary marketing approach, Conversation Media Marketing (CMM), which helps brands venture into the daily life of its consumers, in visual formats that they now most relate with. CMM helps brands have a targeted, multi-platform reach through fun visual elements such as GIFs, stickers and Emojis which can be strategically delivered in real-time conversations based on user’s intent in relatable day-to-day lingo. It also takes into consideration user sentiment based on their moods. Brands, globally, have already tasted success with these interventions becoming a part of the consumers’ daily conversations. Snapchat allows its users to have their own personalised avatars and luxury giant Ralph Lauren was quick to get on the bandwagon, giving users the option to dress their digital persona in its haute couture. Others like Nike and Disney have also spruced up their direct advertising initiatives with CMM innovations. Closer home, Bobble AI helped Cadbury India leverage conversational mediums to convey their messaging as a part of their Valentine’s day campaign. From chocolates tagged with romantic, cute texts accompanied with users’ own facial expressions to branded bigger size emojis (BigMojis), it gave users a more personal, fun way to communicate their love. The campaign garnered over 126 million brand imprints in conversations and a 20 percent lift in purchase intent.
What does CMM offer that other means of digital marketing don’t, one may argue. The digital marketing industry has been facing its share of challenges with evolving privacy regulations, social media policy changes, overload of digital advertisement through multiple channels for users and fraudulent traffic due to tone deaf messaging. To add to it, brands have to deal with shrinking user attention span and a discerning customer with an aversion to intrusion and quick to block digital ads. CMM differentiates itself as being completely non- intrusive but value-added. The brands are already present in personal conversations, CMM amplifies its presence and gives the users a freedom of choice and empowers them to be the brand advocate thus building trust and credibility. Consumers are ever-ready to integrate these real, innovative visuals and they also tend to relate with the brands communication. Three in four are likely to use a branded sticker vis-à-vis a non-branded one in their chats, says a study conducted by Nielsen. Moreover, consumers love it when brands show some personality and further use such brands that they already love in order to express their personal style.
According to a report by Dentsu, the digital advertising industry is expected to register an increase of 20 percent in 2021 to become a Rs 18,938 crore industry by the end of the year and 22.47 percent increase in 2022 to reach Rs 23,673 crore. CMM is expected to drive a significant share in this growth since the reasons for movement of advertising budget from traditional mass media to targeted digital media is well captured by it. The increase in use of smartphones which is estimated to have gone up 25 percent, from approximately five hours per day in 2019 to seven hours in 2020, will only give chat based apps and thus CMM opportunities for brands a fillip.
For brands to match up to the evolving consumer trends, reinventing the digital marketing mix will be a game-changer. Brands need to connect with consumers on a real time basis, be more engaging, without being intrusive. A human-centric approach with CMM will successfully drive higher engagement, deliver a personalised experience to users and give brands better visibility along with a community of loyal, real ambassadors.
The author is founder and CEO, Bobble AI. Views expressed are personal.