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Marketing Advocacy

Investigative blog advocating tailor-made marketing strategies for businesses

Mobile App Marketing- different tools for different stages

As promised in my last post- Mobile Apps Do Not Work, I am back with my second part of the post wherein I am going to discuss Mobile app marketing techniques, the focus areas and the immediate attention areas at different stages of marketing the app.

The strugglers

With over 750,000 apps in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play and about 50 apps being released and launched daily, the possibility of a viewer to even discover your app is a highly competitive ambition.

In a market that is estimated to be worth $25 billion by 2015, the ultimate goal for any app developer is- discoverability which is why you need a robust app marketing strategy in place way before your app is launched in the market.

Why does your brand need an app?

While there are a lot of apps that are nothing but just an extension of the website of the brand, some have managed to develop the connect with their consumers at an even higher level taking the brand persona to a completely different level. (Some have been referred to in my previous blog). But I really think that the mobile apps could be further taken to social platforms to reach the desktops as well to offer integrated functionality from both the screens used by customers at different times of the day. Even simpler, you could try creating a microsite to ensure your app has a landing page on desktop computers, much like popular apps InstagramSnapchat and Path do.

When you are to brainstorm on what exactly the mobile app must inevitably be, I suggest that you first answer the following questions or seek answers from the ones behind the initiative.

  • Why would anyone search for the overall topic to land up to your app?
  • What would they get when they reach your app?
  • How they will use it?
  • Why they will use it?
  • And why should they come back?

Once you have the answers, you are probably better off with the overall messaging, the target and how you could best reach them. Now, try to link the following together-

Value of the app + Brand connect + Easy to understand and use (customer interface) + Interesting to be advocated

I have taken you through the first step of marketing efforts for your App- Research. That’s indeed the first step of pretty much every effort that we plan to make. Now comes the next Big R of Mobile app marketing, and that is – reach.

How do you think your app would reach to a large chunk of your market? Here are some must dos in your marketing strategy-

  1. App store optimization– Check out MobileDevHQSearchMan, or Appnique.
  2. Deep linking- Mobile app deep linking allows users to click links to view specific content within your app, or download your app, depending on if they have your app installed. If a person doesn’t have your app installed and clicks on a deep link, they will automatically be directed to your app’s page in the App Store so they can download your app before proceeding to your deep link destination.
  3. Encourage reviews. Yes, there is no person who had not had a glance at reviews for your app before deciding whether to download or not. So if that’s too important, what makes a delighted customer write a review for you? Brand advocacy, idea individuality, great user interface or social recognition are some motivators for reviews. So you could possibly think on these grounds before devising tactics to get your customers write about you and become your brand advocateImage
  4. Take advantage of your (Online) assets– Your social platforms, your mobile website, your website, or even your relations with the bloggers and influencers all would be great platforms to showcase and create buzz around your app
  5. Press- People today, read more reviews of an app than an advertisement of the same app. Reviewers in the media are strong influencers and help do your word-of-mouth marketing amongst each other. These tech reviewers are extremely well connected amongst each other and would definitely write generously for your brand if they truly like the product.
  6. Keywords, the ultimately push for your ranking- App publishers focus on app stores for sure, but often tend to miss the immense synergy that these very basic things bring like the app’s title, its description and keywords.Image
  7. The grey zone- For your app to reach the top charts of the Hot app on the app store, your app needs to have maximum downloads within a very short period of time. For this to be achieved, there are two ways- either spend a considerable time, energy and money on the time frame just before the launch of the app while this remains as a very crucial time to decide the future of your app Or you engage companies that claim to offer guaranteed downloads of your app during a specific frame of time. But I personally m doubtful of the second one.
  8. Retention– Almost 90% app subscribers hardly are engaged with your app soon after they get the best alternative app for your app.That means that retention is another struggle that eventually requires brand advocates to endorse your app, and keep the momentum going. This is burst marketing- not letting your app go down the app chart in the app store, through either of the tools mentioned here or anything else that you might think. 

What do you think are essentials of app marketing success? Do you believe in all of these marketing tools mentioned herein? I am always on the look out of opinions, views and experiences to make my writing experience more comprehensive and at the same time make this blogpost as interactive as possible.

 

Mobile Ads do not work

Mobile Ads are OUT, apps are IN

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I cannot stand mobile ads. While mobile remains ‘one of the marketing channels’ to reach potential and existing customers, I strongly argue that mobile advertisements are really not the right way to spin the bottle towards you in today’s time. So then, if not mobile adverts, what exactly is it that can tap the explosive potential of mobile marketing which has never been more relevant than today.

The global mobile marketing budget is expected to cross $ 74 billion by 2017. Consumers download as close to 60 mobile applications in their smartphones, android phones and i-phones but use only about a maximum of 4 apps regularly which implies that brands are increasingly struggling to make it to these top four apps. According to what I think is the perfect explanation to what a brand must seek while finalizing any app that the brand wants to invest into Mobile marketing are three principles primarily- principles of Convenience, innovation & value.

Your mobile marketing strategy has to be separated from your overall marketing objective, not being completely misaligned though. While I understand the ages ago mobile advertisements driving the marketing budgets since the very beginning which would go as synonymous to mobile marketing in the 90s; things have changed, and for good. Today, the advertisements that I see when I log in to the Times of India app irritate me, even while I am playing Candy Crush, the pop-up ads for other games do irritate me even if I do not even pay a glance to what exactly it is about. Clearly, mobile ads do not work. So how can brands reach out to their customers better? I believe that all the three principles- convenience, innovation and value to the consumers (both in terms of usefulness and social value), if aligned together and woven into a simple download friendly mobile app, then the brands can reach out to a much larger share of the mobile consumers market.

Here are some brands that used mobile apps to build brand engagement and convey messages right on the nail.

A luxury watch maker Chopard, celebrated their anniversary of sports watches with introducing an app that allowed customers to personalize their own timepiece and explore other custom creations. Watch the clip here

De Beers has done similar with their engagement rings.

The “Range Rover: The Trail Less Traveled” app gives consumers the chance to virtually experience riding in the vehicle in a variety of different settings and viewpoints.

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Ford created a lot of online buzz in 2010 when it introduced its 2011 Explorer on Facebook. This app, which is no longer available, was designed to create excitement for the reveal of the 2013 Fusion on Jan. 10 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Activated by capturing the Ford logo, the app let fans access a virtual course, where they could test drive the car. A new course was added every day from early December until the reveal.

Starbucks connected its product to the act of waking up in the morning. They launched an app, called ‘Early Bird’. The idea was to encourage people to wake up on time. If the app users pressed ‘wake up’ instead of snooze, they would earn a discounted coffee or other drinks at any Starbucks store within one hour of waking up. This was a fun way to connect with the target audience while helping them get up on time. 

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My favorite is the Heineken cheers app. A jokey app with a somewhat useful function, “Cheers” lets you simulate the “clink” sound of two bottles with your smartphone.

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In my next blog post, I am going to investigate some of the proven tried-and-tested mobile app marketing techniques with a hint of my own opinion to what succeeded in reaching out to the right audience with most importantly, the right punch to the bang-on messaging. Stay tuned. 

Marketing automation or human intelligence?

Marketing automation is the use of technology, data mining and platforms for consumer analysis to customize marketing campaigns and marketing communication to extremely differentiated and smaller groups of potential or existing customers.

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If you are a B2C marketer, you probably are well aware of the transition in the way marketers interact with customers through different online platforms from the way we used to earlier communicate with the customer (or atleast assume that we are). Automation in marketing has simplified the jobs of marketers who know how to use data from different forms and platforms where your customer probably went online.

Let’s Talk Business

KISSmetrics uses a formula to calculate dropout rates from e-commerce websites. Shopping cart abandonment rate equals to a ratio of total website visitors who start check out process with the total number of ‘add to cart’ clicks. As close to 88% customers today do this and turn to a better deal out there at the other competing website.

You are left with nothing right? Wrong. You are left with the data. You know that this customer left the deal while shopping for a particular product at your website. Hence, your next newsletter to this particular customer, needs a special mention of the product and the discounts on this and related products on your website. Customization is about identifying where your consumer is, what is he possibly upto and what exactly do you have to do to get him reach you or vice versa. Interestingly, one particular company experienced a 244% increase in their shopping cart recovery rate after the introduction of a promotional discount in re-marketing e-mails.

Personalized websites

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Personalized websites are another way to enhance online customer experience. Features and widgets showing previously viewed search results, showing similar products to what the consumer might have browsed through earlier basis the search history so on and so forth are common nowadays. Amazon does that extensively. However, I have heard from a lot of my colleagues talking as consumers that they, most of the times, feel as if this task is pretty much like stalking, as if invasion of privacy which somehow disturbs the consumer if overdone. I personally remember a recent case where, I browsed through a specific set of products on a popular e-commerce portal for some research purposes and it kept stalking me, on Google, search, G-mail, Facebook, including news websites till the time I did not remove it manually thanks to the option of removing the ad from Facebook Not just this, I removed all the other ads that appeared there along with this particular ad as I got a little frustrated of watching the same ad over and over again.

On the other hand, there are websites that wish me Happy Birthday, even more, remind me of the birthdays of five of my close friends to make my task easier. This makes more sense to me. The idea is not to stalk the person wherever he goes, but assist him, help him live a much simple life and it pays off well (monetarily as well).

Since the time Google separated the three tabs in G-mail, it became even more imperative for marketers to think of personalized e-mails and I have advocated that quite a lot of times in my arguments with brand custodians.

Event-triggered marketing, for say, informing about upcoming promotions based on previously browsed products, personalized merchandise gifts to make it special on birthdays, personalized inbound and outbound messages and content to reach the highest level of customer satisfaction and trust is what is crucial in today’s world.

Using predictive analysis can be exciting for us. Marketers can know their customers better, their characteristics and behaviors through the richness of data of each individual customer and the precision of mathematical modeling. Companies can develop best practices and adopt a host of competencies through data-driven customer insights. Alongside, sentiment analysis and text analysis is something we get from social platforms to further mine the data about customers that are broken into very small segments. This is an incredible revolution. As a marketer, this is the most amazing thing that could happen to my organization, but personally, as a consumer, this amount of invasion into my social and online life that I spend almost throughout the day is a matter of concern since this is something which might handle my information in a completely wrong direction and eventually land up with something that might irritate me in future.

Re-marketing- a part of automation

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Re-marketing is an opportunity for  marketers to present their products or services to a set of audience who have already seen your product, gone through your website and browsed through different categories and most importantly, you have got a track of it. Amazon has raised our standards of personalization as far as the overall shopping experience is concerned. This ultimately boosts click-through rate and brings companies closer to conversion to as higher than 450%

However, striking the right chord between stalking and intelligent re-marketing is yet to be achieved by marketers today, atleast in India. Therefore, clarity in terms of what you want your data to achieve is important for marketers today. Automation is a great facilitator of targeted marketing efforts but it cannot encompass human endeavors. My conclusion-human intelligence has to be in tandem with what you call the technology and data revolution.

Your comments and opinions are welcomed to help demystify the concept of marketing automation and the integration of technology and data with marketing and potential business concepts through product innovations.

Effective pre-launch marketing essentials for businesses

An absolutely unavoidable to-do-list you cannot afford to ignore before you launch your business

We are marketers and we love our job of promoting promising ventures, creating buzz around outstanding products (and at times, not so promising ones) and we are the best go-to professionals for brands who intend to create market share through right marketing approach. In short, we excel in creating accentuated brand personas for brands that already exist, be it in whatever cycle of their existence. But how do we create buzz for a business proposition that so far has not been there in the market and customers are completely unaware of it. I am talking about promoting an idea- market it and create buzz for it, before the public knows about the proposition; because that is what your business is at that stage of your business life cycle- an idea. It is during the gestation period when brands must ideally gear up to create their first impression on the existing and potential stakeholders- including the consumers.

So, is there a marketing plan for startups that are yet to take off? Do we have a guide to give away the exact formula of creating a buzz for the yet to be launched startup?

A typical challenge while doing this could be the dilemma in sharing the right amount of information before it is finally launched. You cannot spill all the beans and neither can you go completely silent about the business idea. When Google+ was yet to launch, there was a hype that was created around it. Good marketing stunt. But it took a little long for Google to bring it open for general consumers (3 months) and that’s when the audience got bored and lost interest. So we also need to anticipate the right amount of time between the start of the marketing efforts and the official launch of your startup. However, more important is to start laying grounds at the right time on which you will later have to play very smartly.

Therefore, planning is the key to any effort that you make. Plan you budget, your due-date to launch the business or the product of an existing business and do a thorough research of the market, which your startup must have already kept in place, For you as a marketing expert, it requires a different approach to research for starting off. Create a marketing plan. I never realized the importance of a marketing plan when I worked for fortune 500 companies, before I entered a startup. Why? Because you have so much to do that you often tend to lose focus of where you started and where in the course of your operations are you moving towards.

Identify your stakeholders. Seems like a simple process, but this is the most difficult part of creating a marketing plan. In my first blog post- Simplifying Big Data analytics and marketing analytics for marketers I have discussed about creating niche markets and marketing segmentation through micro-grouping. This becomes extremely important for conveying your tailor-made messages effectively to different segments of your stakeholders.

Much after these fundamental grounds have been laid, here is a quick guide to some extremely simple marketing techniques you may use to get to the required amount of buzz to deliver the right message for a product or a venture that people have never seen or heard about before.

  1. Networking and Word of mouth. When Flipkart started off in India, it relied its energies and efforts only on networking and word of mouth before it became the largest online retailer in India. For something to start off well, you need to have your networking in place. Here again, social media plays a crucial role. And you cannot say that if you have a B2B business or a product, social media isn’t a great idea for you. LinkedIn for say has been rated as the best social platform to generate returns on the networking that you do, specifically for B2B companies.

 Create presence on all the social platforms that are actively used by your target audiences online and it also helps your web SEO. Reach out to groups on social platforms like Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. If your product or business has a visual proposition in some way or the other, Instagram and Pinterest can work wonders for you. But, do not, and I say this with experience, do not ever create a page and leave it unattended. You would never want to go to a restaurant after a long day of work and get your glass of wine half-filled or poorly made. Dedicate intelligent resources or handle it yourself. You will reap benefits of it in future.

 Additionally, a good idea is to attend annual networking events from the industry to do your background networking to work towards building sustainable business relations with peer businesses. I have spoken much about collaborative marketing in my last blog.

 

  1. Web presence– A web page with limited information saying ‘coming soon’, a banner outside your site saying ‘XX coming soon’ or if you have budgets, an advertisement in the relevant newspaper (depending on your target audiences) with an initial brief of the concept saying ‘coming soon’ is a great way to lay grounds of the actual brand presence on web for your organization or your product to be launched. You can also think on lines of starting a blog. But, I have a major disregard for companies that create a blog just for the heck of it in order to do SEO for their website. Always remember, a blog, once gone wrong, can deteriorate the image of your company to an extent that the reader can never again think of coming back to your brand. Hence, if you do not have the time to pay attention to it, better stay away from it. Do not over do your promotion. There is always a spin to what you say.

 

  1. Resonate the belief that you have in your brand through your communication, over and above, your small actions and gestures like I remember a friend of mine at the PR agency where I worked in Delhi had the logo of the brand that he serviced on his laptop. This is a very small gesture to say that he believed in that particular brand from the other 6 brands that he serviced; which led me to think of that particular brand differently from others while I had absolutely no idea of any of those 8 brands initially. But, it registered in my mind. Nobody will believe in it, till the time you passionately believe in it. E-mail signatures, logo placement through different accessories (but do not overdo it seeming to look weird going for meetings or for outings), business cards, all make-up a complete must-have branding tools before you start off

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  1. Allocate marketing budget. Bootstrapping as far as marketing is concerned is an extremely common mistake that almost 80% startups commit. Your business will absolutely die without attracting customers; not reaching out there in the market to the right stakeholders. You might think that marketing ‘will happen later’ and that the budget excuse will save you your already tight finances but If you do not do it now, you won’t set the right base for your business aspirations and infact will reciprocate in preparing for a failure indeed.

 

  1. Have a story to tell.  I read a book recently that advocated the theory of our mind linking back events and even names with stories that the mind related them to. That is, that when we try to link the name of a person or a brand with a story either attached to it already or a story that the mind creates to basically recall the same; there are chances that our mind registers and recalls it for a longer duration of time. This seemed to make sense to me. I tried to practice this for a couple of months with the names of people that I met during the time period and it started to work for me while I had a major issue with remembering names. Now this can very well be applied to businesses, and if you do it at the very beginning of your marketing efforts, the job will become a tad bit easier. A tip to make it even more interesting- make it audio-visual, will stay for an even longer duration.

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 6. Get personal. Create a close group of evangelists in the press before your startup launches. Bring them in confidence and over and above that, keep them engaged. This is imperative if you are really trying to get some free publicity. Everyone needs it. Everyone wants it. Quite a few invest time in it. You need to be a press friendly organization. But this cannot happen unless you really have a great solution to a problem that exists in the market or potentially exists but has not been recognized yet by the market or if not, you have a great story to tell that differentiates you from your competitors.

Achieving organizational objectives effectively through co-marketing

I work with a startup to develop sustainable business and marketing practices for their national and international endeavors. In the past, I have also written point of views and whitepapers basis my research and experience of working with startups in India. Basis this, I understand that marketing in isolation for a startup could be extremely challenging considering the budget constraints and limited dedicated resources to innovate and implement effective marketing initiatives. This is why we advocate the importance of collaborative marketing specifically for startups. Collaborative marketing is precisely imperative at the initial stage of a startup for primarily a. the added brand value which the other brands bring to your marketing initiative, b. The shared cost of the initiative, c. enhanced magnitude of the outcome and lastly, d. innovations that other brands bring to the table. 

Fundamentally, when brands that have similar set of target audiences to reach out and shared purpose collaborate to achieve mutual marketing objectives, the value and credibility of the entire project takes on an another meaning and reach out to marginally a greater set of stakeholders. This concept has been widely in use as far as advertising was concerned. We see infinite marketing events wherein brands selling similar and complementary products and services collaborate to offer a comprehensive experience to the stakeholders.

But, as brand custodians, we need to be extremely clear of what we want out of the marketing initiative that we are trying to strike. More often than not, in the course of developing a ‘together works better’ marketing gimmick, marketers, specifically from startups tend to lose focus of where they started from. Always remember, the kick of hitting the right chord is bigger than the kick of executing a fantastic co-marketing initiative with other brands, and- it stays for a longer time ofcourse. Very recently, Saavn, a music streaming app, quite decently popular amongst the gen-y partnered with Lava, a mobile handset company to pre-load the company’s app in Lava D- 136A.  Apart from this, both the companies have decided to work together on various co-marketing efforts. This is an example of co-marketing of 2 brands that complement each other.

It is like the institution of marriage where the two individuals, in order to lead a long life together, need to have mutual benefits, mutual goals, desires, objectives and similar thought process.

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The Fundamental principle of Co-marketing- The principle of Equals

If you are trying to strike collaborations, before you go with the charm of the other brand which lures you to go ahead, stop and rethink the customer base of that brand and try to answer the relevance of that set of customer for your brand. What I am trying to indicate is the identification of conversion or the most popular ROI (return on investment) that you are likely to achieve from this. When Apple and Nike are heard to have collaborated to innovate products that seamlessly integrate to offer an enhanced intelligent solution to individuals, makes complete sense while both the brands are ‘equals’ (while this is co-branding and not co-marketing). This is the fundamental principle of collaboration. ‘The principle of equals’– that is, when you collaborate with a brand that has a greater role in the collaboration, the result is more likely to have a derogatory impact on your image. Similarly, when you collaborate with a brand that has little to contribute or doesn’t just fit into the bill, you end up spending greater amount of resources, funds and intelligence to innovate and the result would end up getting stuck in the scrutiny of your stakeholders, hence, leaving the brand impression as a ‘not-so-wise’ organization in the eyes of its stakeholders and moreover, bringing an added cost in every way to the firm.

Remember to develop relationship and not just partnerships

Striking a business partnership is the first initial step, to take it further to the next level, always remember to develop a close relationship with the business partner now that you have successfully reaped benefits from the first endeavor. The value of the partnership is beyond this marketing initiative.

In Quest of the right partner

Networking- both online and offline offer great returns in the future for startups, be it collaboration or business partnerships. A typical marketing professional devotes more than 60% of his time networking, both offline, through seminars, networking events, awards, B2B events and online through social platforms, and I personally recommend LinkedIn. It is a great tool to get connected to like-minded people. LinkedIn answers, infact, is the best tool to initiate conversations with a specific set of target group and get real insights from experts.

Newsletters. Subscribe to your industry newsletters and most importantly, the ones from your competitors, brand partners and potential businesses. Most of these come free of cost.

There are dedicated agencies that facilitate collaborative marketing and helps companies strengthen and explore marketing collaborations to build long term sustainable relationships.

Beyond Boundaries

Collaborative marketing or co-marketing owes a lot to the social revolution. The evolved internet savvy hyper connected consumer of today is aware of what is happening in the other part of the world and hence the brands are increasingly no longer targeting markets within boundaries. Therefore, it becomes even more imperative to collaborate for generating better results while targeting a larger share of new audiences.

We are always open to ideas, point of views and questions. What we are searching for are answers to questions like What is the best formula or guide to effective co-marketing for your brand?How do we strike the right deal with the other brand for better results for our brand?Case studies of how brands have best benefited through co-marketing?

 

Simplifying Big Data analytics and marketing analytics for marketers

ImageIf I say that there are 1 million registered customers with an e-commerce company, it might not be an attractive proposition for you as a customer to comprehend the success of the organization in reference. But when I, as an organization, say that out of that 1 million customer data base, almost 40% is from your city, it might have a amplified impact on your perception about the performance about my organization in your city. This isn’t big enough a data. But this is how I as a marketing professional view data points being successfully used by organizations these days and they are making sense to those niche micro groups that they are communicating to. This art of making sense out of big data to make it customized for a pre-identified set of niche potential consumers with homogeneous set of needs, aspirations and characteristics is a successfully proven tool to combine data analytics with marketing communication for an enhanced brand positioning. Data is being generated for your brand with every transaction and with every communication that your customer support team has on a minute by minute basis. The records that are being stored in a mind boggling number could be used to create superior marketing strategies and better brand communication to make it the next billion dollar sensex success. But with these flooded data, the intelligence does not lie in using all the data, including the noise, but filtering the data that comes in every passing minute and then using only the relevant data. As convenient and easy as it sounds, is it difficult to apply this science of identifying data measures and filters. There are many approaches that business gurus offer these days. 

Companies that go local and more customized in their communication have proven to be better cash makers in contrast with those who offer more generalized, global messaging. But of course it’s a two pronged process. While you develop marketing analytic, you must also be able to differentiate the market and the customers in small, separated target groups to be able to offer relevant insights to every set of existing and potential customers for your brand. As you progress building niche segments, you shall be able to devise customized marketing messages for every customer of your product or your service with the help of data analytics. It is interesting to understand that human mind has a fantastic ability to selective hearing and retention. This implies that they will only hear what they want to retain. A normal human being will retain a small percentage of what she hears and the possibilities of retaining customized, relevant facts is much higher than the generic messaging. 

Real-time marketing and data analytics- The bigger marketing transformation

Businesses are emerging on a real time basis. A time when customer issues are resolved on a real time basis, when customers post their feedback saying ‘I just got my favorite fragrance delivered and I am loving it’ on the social networks and companies tap it. We have evolved to real time marketing because we have real time communication tools to let both the organizations and consumers interact on a highly informal and quick medium. We all are aware about the successful Oreo super bowl blackout tweet. This is real time. Imagine that you have real time information about your customers behavior and choices and basis that, you are able to devise your communication and marketing strategies. I am talking about, for instance, a footwear manufacturer that uses the real time data received from their customers about the product being in high demand in a specific color or a specific shape which makes it more desirable and the product team, basis the feedback, tries to develop the desired features and the next marketing campaign from your organization might talk about – For our product engineers – You. Data analytics indeed, empowers an organization to take fundamental decisions basis trends, information and developments happening out there on a real time basis. 

Marketers are widely using it, in every part of the world. Product innovations, differentiation, marketing strategies and even the missions and goals of companies are being altered with the transformation. Decisions are being influenced basis data analytics, especially in devising marketing strategies in order to communicate better with customers. But there lies a challenge to intelligently bifurcate data, put them in different buckets relevant to target micro groups and communicated on real time basis. What lies ahead is a challenge to not overdo this to an extent that the customers feel stalked and yet subtly convey the message which the consumers retain in a relatively longer time duration. 

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