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Missed call from FB will accelerate digital engagement: Valerie R Wagoner

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It was in April that Facebook announced that it had 100 million active users in India, and was aiming at touching the one billion landmark. The social networking site which now has an established subscriber base, is looking at launching more ad inventories. The latest from its kitty is the missed call ad product, which according to Facebook has already started generating some buzz.  

The announcement of this new ad format had come at a time when Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was visiting India hobnobbing with government officials, and small and medium business owners.

Facebook has partnered with ZipDial, a Bangalore based mobile agency for this. Indiantelevision.com’s Priyanka Nair speaks to ZipDial founder and CEO Valerie R Wagoner at length to understand the mobile marketing ecosystem in India, partnership with Facebook, the agency’s journey and much more.

How has marketers’ demand from mobile marketing changed in recent years? 

In emerging markets where the vast majority of consumers are still not online and still pay for things in cash, there is exceptionally little data on consumers and their preferences and behaviours. However, only this year, marketers we work with, are ready to embrace a comprehensive data strategy.

Four years ago at the end of 2009 when we started ZipDial, marketers were barely getting comfortable with using the mobile at all, and it was an era of small experiments. By around two-three years ago in early 2012, using the mobile for media activations had become an industry standard. By now, marketers are truly embracing both, bridging offline-to-online consumer experience over the long-term, and driving a real business impact from data and analytics.

You have been in the business for four years. How were the initial days?

The idea for ZipDial was born from a brainstorming session between Sanjay Swamy (now chairman of ZipDial) and me on a late night flight back to Bangalore from New Delhi. Over next couple months, we fine tuned the idea further with as many as 600 varied user cases.

The idea just stuck, and within a few more weeks, we had launched a minimum viable product. I think the ideation and execution happened within a short time. But ideas are cheap. Anyone can have an idea. To be really successful, an entrepreneur has to be great at execution, to think strategically about how to drive real inflection points in the business, and have the stamina to see through. What was launched as a mere polling product, over time transformed into a full-fledged mobile marketing and analytics platform.

ZipDial founder and COO Amiya Pathak and the tech brain created a prototype during IPL 2010 wherein users could give a missed call and get live cricket scores. With zero marketing, within a couple of months, millions of users were zipdialing millions of times a day. It took off completely word-of-mouth. That was the first sign of success. Shortly thereafter we cracked P&G Gillette as our first big client, and we never looked back.

How did you partner with Facebook? Can you elaborate on how the partnership will work?

We launched the Facebook-ZipDial missed call ad product with Facebook as its partner for emerging markets (only company in the world). We collaborated and drove conception, design, development, sales, and analytics. In fact, given that the vast majority of the engagement happens on ZipDial after the user clicks on the Facebook ad, we have a lot of interesting data comparing performance across different media as well as performance between Android and feature phones.

The purpose of the Facebook-ZipDial ad product is to create online-to-offline engagement and driving results. Facebook can track to the level of a click and online engagement. Upon user dialing, ZipDial takes over the consumer experience to drive actual outcomes in the offline world via retargeting, for example reminders to the user encouraging them to buy a product, visit an outlet, watch a particular TV channel, download particular content or an app, etc. Everything is 100 per cent permission-driven by the user and is targeted to them.

We also need to track performance of Facebook v/s other media channels because ZipDial integrates across all media channels, including print, TV, OOH, and non-Facebook digital ads. We can track which media drives higher RoI for the advertiser.

To put this in simple words, Facebook is the media where the ad is displayed. The user clicks on the ad. As soon as the user responds to the ad, it bridges from Facebook into a 100 per cent ZipDial experience.

Coca-Cola (Coke Studio), L'Oreal (Garnier Men), P&G (Gillette), Mondelez (Cadbury Dairy Milk), Disney Channel and Nestle are a few campaigns that have used the inventory so far.

We also need to give a performance analysis across media. This includes results from analysing the cost effectiveness of each media in terms of driving unique user acquisition. The metric used is user acquisition cost = spend on media / number of unique users who engaged from that media, averaged across all client campaigns.

It can be noted that digital (including Facebook and non-Facebook digital) performed 10.40 times better than print and Facebook performed 3.02 times better than non-Facebook digital ads.

How does the Garnier Men campaign for which Facebook has partnered with you work?

Garnier Men had been for long planning to run a campaign with ZipDial for print and digital media. ZipDial designed and implemented the campaign on the platform in order to drive engagement with brand content around IPL 2014. The ZipDial campaign for Garnier Men was planned well in advance.

Luckily the Facebook-ZipDial product was launched in time such that Facebook could also become part of L’Oreal’s marketing plan for the Garnier Men campaign. The results have been phenomenal with the Facebook-ZipDial ad performing 16 times better in terms of RoI than the same ZipDial integration with Garnier’s Print Ads.

What according to you makes a campaign hit on mobile?

There are many reasons. But, one of the major reasons is that today almost 100 per cent of all emerging market consumers have mobile phones. There is an ease of use in the design format that makes it a single click transition from online to offline in a seamless and user-friendly manner.

Mobile is the unique ID for the customer. Even when consumers bridge from the on-Facebook experience to an offline experience such as watching a TV show or purchasing a product, there can be an offline-engagement in a targeted way.

What are the key things that brands should keep in mind to build a healthy social conversation? 

We strongly believe in the six best practices for social and mobile activations. One, know your customer; a visit from an anonymous user is not enough. All engagement should be verified and known-user engagement so that the brand can personalise the experience later.

Two, don’t lose your customer, use re-targeting and follow-up engagement, don’t just make it a one-off transactional experience. However, never ever spam your consumers, and always make the experience permission-driven and privacy protected. Three, there is simplicity in the call-to-action, do not overwhelm consumers with too many options. Give them one single compelling message and way to engage.

Four, there is multiplicity after the call-to-action. Target your response to users on a personalised basis in terms of content and interface. No two users with different profiles should receive the same content/interface. Five, it allows to measure your media. Never run a campaign without the ability to track and measure response rates and RoI. This applies across all digital and traditional channels, including print, television, etc.

Six, every media can go viral, including offline. Never miss an opportunity for a viral campaign. ZipDial achieves between 60-400 per cent increase in reach of media through viral campaigns even when the only media used is offline traditional media. This improves RoI immensely.

Mobile being a personal medium, there is a lot that a brand needs to keep in mind before making that one missed call. How do you make sure that a user doesn’t hang up?

The ZipDial platform does all the hard work automatically for the brand. Marketers only need to think about what their brand benefits and the message they want to get. The ZipDial platform does all of the hard work in analysing data and results, profiling users based on preferences and behaviours, and automatically delivering the right personalised message to the right user at the right time, and even through the right user interface (i.e. voice, text, WAP, Apps).

ZipDial always puts the consumer’s interests and the consumer’s privacy first. If this is broken, then ultimately it reflects poorly on the brand. Conversion rates on ZipDial campaigns are between 9-45 per cent compared to industry standard conversion rates of less than 0.5 per cent. Users trust the privacy-protected and personalised ZipDial experience and therefore stay more engaged.

Typically how does ZipDial help a brand to roll out its mobile campaign?

ZipDial keeps a close watch on the needs and trends in the market before advertisers even realise it themselves. We invest in developing our engagement, retargeting and analytics to keep the industry move forward.

We also work closely with all for brand marketing as well as for trade marketing. Our focus is also to integrate our advanced platform into their overall consumer loyalty, data and marketing strategies. We work hand-in-hand with our most forward thinking marketers and then replicate and scale the solutions across the industry.

How has H1 of 2014 been for Digital ZipDial?

ZipDial has already more than doubled its revenue run rate in the first quarter of the financial year. We look forward to working further with clients about their comprehensive mobile, data and loyalty strategies.

What is at top of your wish list for 2014? 

Taking ZipDial’s innovative platform global is one of our main priorities for this year. We have already started to expand into the rest of Asia, but we are even more excited to take our expansion further into Africa very soon.

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