Email Marketing in India vs Shahrukh KhanPosted: December 3, 2010
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.
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.