Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Keeping Pace With the Digital World

Published in Nov-Dec 2021

Humayun Farooq presents his six-point checklist for digital marketing.

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said: “Change is the only constant.” And who knows this better than marketers like us, who have to keep up with trends in an ever-changing and evolving ecosystem? If we don’t keep up with change, we falter and we prosper if we do.

This is all the more pertinent when it comes to digital marketing because the way we communicate with our consumers can change at the drop of the hat, as new platforms and digital marketing options come into being. So to keep up in the digital world, what are the key things you need to remember? Here are my top six.

1 Pose the Problem, Provide an Actionable Solution

If a brand has multiple target groups (TGs), the brand communication must have customised versions to ensure it resonates with as many TGs as possible. For example, this summer we launched Dettol Cool Antibacterial Bar Soap, a double menthol-based product. Although in the minds of consumers Dettol is associated with germ protection; with this variant, the brand aspired to go up a notch and create a new association that encapsulated both ‘cooling effect’ and ‘germ protection.’ To communicate this effectively, in addition to a regular DVC and TVC, we engaged consumers via digital videos in which the weather forecast of the city they lived in was displayed. The two-second forecast provided customised messages on the weather was sunny – partly cloudy, or rainy – underlining the instant coolness that Dettol’s Ice Cool soap offers. If the temperature crossed 30 degrees (it often does), a second screen displayed a 15-second product video emphasising the relief Dettol Ice Cool soap provided. The call to action (CTA) at the bottom gave users the option to purchase the product instantly on Daraz, thus driving higher purchase intent.

2 Create Relatable Storylines

Storytelling is crucial to effective advertising and marketing, irrespective of the medium; it is the only thing that will ensure that audiences can relate to a product or be curious about it. An effective example of this is Google, which repeatedly hits the bull’s eye when it comes to storytelling and have thereby mastered the ability to keep viewers engaged. Their ads are short and sweet – and therefore keep viewers engaged until the end – and they often play on emotions, something that resonates with people in the subcontinent especially well. The beauty of their ads lie in the simplicity of the ideas and the ability to be relatable in a way that is both unique and has mass appeal. In one way or another, Google leaves you thinking “we have all been there” which is what storytelling is about. For example, in ‘An Octopus Tale’, a father uses Google to find a solution to his son’s boredom, which leads to them spending time together after they both discover a passion for octopuses and in ‘Parisian Love’, an American finds love in the most romantic city in the world.

3 Think Big on TikTok

According to most textbooks “The customer is king.” However, when it comes to TikTok or influencer marketing, I say “The content creator is king.” This is especially pertinent when it comes to an influencer-heavy platform such as TikTok, which has the potential to reach a wider public and go viral. However, to make this happen, brands must be careful when choosing influencers whose content they trust and who have credibility and relevance with their intended audience. Once they do so, it will be a win-win, because no one knows their audience better than the influencers. In terms of examples of campaigns on TikTok campaigns, in my opinion, two product categories have this platform particularly well. The first is mobile phones because a phone is an ideal interface for influencers to showcase the device’s features, be it good picture resolution or long battery life and the second is cosmetic brands. The latter can use quick video formats to showcase their swatches and stress the quality/durability of their products, or even publish DIY makeover videos – which is especially popular on TikTok.

Brands like Ordinary and e.l.f. Cosmetics have created multiple campaigns with influencers and seen phenomenal success. Fenty, Rihanna’s beauty brand, has gone a step further and created ‘Fenty Beauty’s First TikTok House’, a mansion where five credible influencers, including Makayla, Emmy Combs and Savannah Palacio use her products. However, the name of the game is to constantly hunt for the next big thing; this can also mean that you may make choices that turn out to be duds and so if you fail, move on quickly.

4 Monitor and Respond to Feedback 24/7

Digital feedback is more dangerous than snail mail because everyone with a mobile phone can be considered an opinion leader today. The digital age brings with it a great deal of speed on an end-to-end basis, news travels quickly and people are even quicker to comment, which is great at times but should always be taken with a pinch of salt. Many campaigns and digital assets are highlighted on the community forums of different social media platforms. Although feedback is important, it is equally important to filter the feedback and this can be achieved by hiring community managers. Foreign brands are increasingly using advanced software for social listening to monitor comments/reactions, but Pakistan is not there yet and for the time being, we need to hire people who understand the brand inside out to respond to all kinds of feedback. When it comes to responding intelligently, this example stands out, especially since restaurateurs know that delicious food does not always guarantee a five-star review. This is the way to go in this day and age.

Customer: “No sound-absorbing materials; extremely loud party groups right next to people trying to dine. Fish the size of a thick cell phone battery. Good flatbread pesto. Excellent cinnamon ice cream. But never again.”

Owner Response: “While it’s great the ice cream and flatbread pesto impressed you, I’m sorry if your experience could have been better. If you had any preferences with the seating, we would have been happy to accommodate if something else had been available. We are a tavern but we have an area upstairs available for dining that is a little better on the ears. I hope you’ll give us another chance so you can get the kind of excellent experience we are known for. – Bonni

5 First-Party Data Is the Real Gold

Once you own the data, you can use it to generate repeat visits or orders or any engagement you want. This is easier in developed countries where marketing spend over 50% is dedicated to digital and brands that rely heavily on their websites, which allow them to gain access to first-party data. Although this is not the case in Pakistan yet, it will probably be a reality in five years or so if not earlier. Instead of scrambling for first-party data then, we should be thinking about gathering it now.

For example, digital-based companies, such as Careem, Daraz, and Foodpanda, use first-party data and make use of omnichannel marketing to create customised new deals or pop-up ads for a product that is relevant to a consumer based on their previous order. These brands are growing exponentially because their communication with their customers is direct and more importantly, relevant.

6 UGC Is the Way to Go

Creating good user-generated content (UGC) will never go out of fashion. This is because consumers who turn into advocates of your brand can give it a voice that your creative or digital agency cannot. The content becomes a lot more relatable when a consumer is involved. The more normal the consumer, the more other people can relate to them. A lot of brands try to develop beautiful content with great production values and try to pass it off as UGC. In my opinion, real UGC is irreplaceable. For example, Trivago ran an Instagram photo contest using their branded hashtag #trivagofaves. To participate, users had to share an original photo of their favourite hotel listed on Trivago, and tag it with the branded hashtag. The prize was a whopping $500 and generated a lot of UGC, a win-win for the brand and the consumer. This particular campaign achieved unprecedented results on Trivago, and the reason was the simplicity of the concept. Everyone likes to take pictures when they are on vacation, and if they are incentivised to do something they already love doing, the results are a great campaign.

Humayun Farooq is Marketing Director, Reckitt.