Email Marketing in India vs Shahrukh Khan

Coming back to India after a few years gave me a different perspective on a few things. Something that stood out most,  was the cacophony in the background noise, especially in media and advertising.  Suddenly the streets seem full of hoardings, buildings are covered in posters of movies that are about to be released, shopping malls have gigantic posters of celebrities endorsing watches, shops are full of banner displays, radio stations play advertisements incessantly, every reporter on TV channels is almost shouting and no one watches the shows I used to watch; there are just far too many of them.  Newspapers are covered from top to bottom with ads. My twitter stream too, is almost loud.

Surely India was the same two years back? But for me it seems that I have stepped into a strange psychedelic tandav, a madness of media and advertising from some freakish Phillip K Dick story. The messages that we marketers work hard to get across, are getting diluted in this cacophony.

More importantly what strikes me is that almost everything in India in Marketing has to do with Bollywood. Any high profile wedding worth its salt has some starlet dancing or singing. If a prominent store has to be opened, then it has to be done by a Bollywood star.

Email Marketing in India vs Shahrukh Khan

A new phone has to be launched with a picture of an actress holding the new model and even NDTV has some celebrity joining its discussions.  A dear musician friend of mine laments that we might be the only country where music is synonymous with Bollywood, which is such a pity.

In this cacophony a marketing manager is bound to think what chance can a mere email marketing channel have against the might of Shahrukh Khan? If you are a courageous marketer willing to take on the might of Shahrukh Khan then read on (and I would love to meet you!).

Traditionally, finance industry enjoys the most open rates in email, followed by the travel industry.  However, I don’t get any email from the mutual funds in India that I am invested in. I would love to get an update on various industry sectors.  A few websites do send out some sorry pieces of HTML that make even my email program feel depressed.  Most regurgitate a marketing poster into a full size image.  Where is the attention to the customer? Where is the respect a consumer deserves?  Where is the survey, the research on consumers?  I am tempted to add where is the humility? One mutual fund that sells directly to consumers has some discussion online on You Tube, but the building of relationship post acquiring a customer is nonexistent.

My point in this post is that instead of paying attention to what our customers want, what their needs are, we marketers are perhaps being too hasty in jumping in the line to pay the next starlet to shoot our next marketing ad.  Standing out in this cacophony is going to be costlier as we go ahead.  Watching the latest Harry Potter movie  in Hindi made me think, that going ahead we will see more marketing communications in regional languages.  I see a small revival of Marathi cinema happening.  My local Marathi paper interviewed a popular actress who has trouble eating out because of her fans .  I think we will soon see more Hindi websites.   For example I see that there is definitely a need in the market for a good regional online book store.  I received an email in Marathi from an insurance agent (who else?) some time back. It stood out like a star in my inbox.

It might be difficult to regionalize marketing efforts since we have so many different languages, but I believe going regional is the way ahead.

At times I stand as a spectator and question our existing practices. I believe that it will be highly rewarding to build better content around our offering than is currently available online and customize it regionally.  I might get some Marathi emails in my inbox and that is perhaps how email marketing will beat Shahrukh Khan!

Do you agree? As always I am happy to read your emails and comments.


8 Comments on “Email Marketing in India vs Shahrukh Khan”

  1. Sangfroid says:

    Matching the outreach of Bollywood through any other medium, email included, is eons away.

    • I went to an exclusive linen shop today which has recently opened. Talking with the manager I got to learn about how linen fibers are completely different from Cotton etc. They had a guest book where lot of people had left their phone numbers and emails. My point is that this amazing information about the fiber, how its made, that the Egyptians used this fiber as currency etc. can be very easily shared via various channels (not just email).

      I feel that we don’t pay enough attention to content. The point I want to stress is that generating interest from the consumer and building a relationship can happen via building right content.

      • Sangfroid says:

        I get your point about content. But SRK as the medium(to serve that content) has a far wider reach than email, or anything else. That is my point 🙂

  2. Sameer Bendre says:

    Nice post! Completely agree. There’s hardly any education/awareness being spread about investments, health insurance, auto insurance. It’s just about selling the product.
    I would say, you should tweet this post with “CC” to twitter ids of starlets like Shahrukh, (aapla) Sachin and others that are active on twitter – have heads on thier shoulders and can understand these points to make a difference.
    Worth a try. If they don’t respond, no big deal – at least you get to share your thoughts to a wider audience!!
    Keep it up.

  3. Vijay says:

    Very good post, G2! Food for thought…will discuss with some friends/family and come back if we get any original thoughts..
    As an aside, I’m trying to refresh my Hindi through

  4. Nikhil says:

    G2, I gotta agree with Sangfroid here. Bollywood and cricket has a tremendous outreach into the Indian masses. For our website, celebrities are the way to go! 🙂

  5. Regionalization: Marathi Facebook – check out 🙂

  6. copper says:

    laibhari is still under construction, but even if it goes live as a challenge to facebook, will it have same safety standards as facebook? is the question.

    If it does then be sure, mya kai lai bhari chya watala jaanar nai.

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