Category Archives: marketing

E-commerce Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM): An Introduction

This is the first part of a series of posts on e-commerce customer lifecycle management. In this post we’ll discuss an overview of CLM (The What & Why) and it should be useful for a marketing/growth person in designing their CLM strategy

A few things to note:

  • Analysing data only makes sense once you have a sizeable amount of it.
  • In this post we are only covering user and customer engagement.We will cover visitor data in a separate post
  • For sake of simplicity in this post we are only looking at linear movement across different lifecycle stages.

There are a lot of lenses to look at e-commerce customer behaviour data from but Customer Lifecycle Management(CLM) is at the core of it all. I believe CLM is the fundamental element that needs to be in place for you to drive good ROI on your marketing or growth efforts. Once you have a defined CLM framework, you can start focusing on other aspects. Let’s dig a little deeper


What is Customer Lifecycle Management?
Customer lifecycle is a term used to describe the progression of steps a customer goes through when considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service.

Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) is a framework to facilitate a smooth movement of users(non-purchasers) from acquisition towards loyalty (repeat active customers) by maximising the value delivered at each customer engagement touchpoint and removing all friction in conversion

                                    Pic 1: E-Commerce users’ Journeys

 

Why is it important to manage Customer’s Lifecycle?

  1. With limited customer acquisition channels, the customer acquisition costs will continue to rise unabated
  2. It is much easier to convert and retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one
  3. A happy customer will not only purchase more, they will also spread the word for you and bring additional customers.

Or put it other way,

You can’t build a sustainable e-commerce business without repeat customers

The Scope of Customer Lifecycle Management

Let’s briefly discuss what all does a CLM framework entail. We can divide the scope of work for CLM into the following

  1. Defining lifecycle stages, identifying relevant metrics and data
  2. Conceptualising categories of customer communication to nudge users from one lifecycle stage to the next
  3. Designing campaigns and creating content for categories defined above
  4. Executing various CLM campaigns and iterating on them to improve their efficacy.

Designing The Customer Lifecycle

While there’s no standard way to define a customer lifecycle for an e-commerce/transactional business, in my experience I’ve found this flow to do the job well.

                                           Pic 2: Customer Lifecycle (Basic)

This basic version of customer lifecycle is useful to get a high level overview and is easy to get started with.

                                        Pic 3: Customer Lifecycle (Advanced)

For the mature growth/marketing person, this advanced version of lifecycle will be beneficial. The advanced lifecycle is particularly beneficial for mid to large sized businesses.

I find this representation useful because it gives a more in-depth view of what exactly is happening in each lifecycle stage (Pic1). Also, by splitting various lifecycle stages by their purchase activity you get a better sense of how many customers are active, at risk of getting churned and have already churned.

Defining Lifecycle Stages
Before we jump to the metric, let’s quickly understand what each stage means.

                                     Pic 4: Definition of Various Lifecycle Stages

In this content, a couple key definitions one must understand are

  1. Risk Window — Number of days for which if a customer doesn’t purchase they are at risk of churning (X days).
  2. Churn Window — Number of days for which if a customer doesn’t purchase they are churned (Y days).

A churned customer is one who hasn’t purchased for long enough that we can consider them to be lost.

Repeat and Loyal Customers
There isn’t a definite way to define repeat and loyal customers. For sake of simplicity, I’ve defined repeat customer as anyone who has placed more than one order. Similarly, Loyal customers can be defined in multiple ways (orders/revenue etc) but I’ve defined them on the basis of number of orders (Z orders).

Depending on the nature of business, you can decide values for X,Y and Z

With the Customer Lifecycle in place, we now have to define our goals and make plans to achieve them. We’ll cover those in the remaining parts of the series.

Update: You can view the part two of the series in which we cover CLM Metrics and Goals here

Thanks Navneet Singh & Nitish Varma for reading the drafts.

Myntra’s End of Reason Sale in 7 images

# 1: A week or so back

The Build Up

YT ads promoting the sale
#2 Midnight on the day of sale

Midnight of Offer DayAs per Myntra’s twitter account, they were updating the offers

 

#3 Morning of the day of sale

Morning of the day of sale

Front double page ad on HT Delhi

#4 Minutes after the sale begins

Minutes after the sale began

 

Push notification to their app base (along with emails and sms)
#5 Few hours into the sale

Few hours into the sale

User Accounts (some say IPs) on both app and web were blocked for 30 minutes from making any request to the site

#6 Less than 12 hours into the sale

12 hours into the sale

 

 

#7 A little over 12 hours

end_myntra7

If the sequential order numbers of Myntra is anything to go by, the order id increased by over 1L  in the first 2 hours of the sale.

Time – 9:42 AM, Order id: 70303245

Time – 11:42 AM Order id: 70425987

Run rate: 60k orders/hour (16.67 orders/sec)

 

Inside the mind of an Indian online shopper: How & Where I spent my money online in 2014

Last year, around the same I time I posted a quick analysis of my spends across various e-comm sites. Thought of repeating the exercise again and see what all changed

1) Split of orders across sites

Split of Orders Across Sites

 

Not surprisingly, I placed the most orders in 2014 on Paytm (close to 70%), followed by Freecharge (8%), Flipkart (4.3%), Amazon & Bookmyshow. Various cashback schemes run on Paytm are the reason behind the skew of order count

Talking about physical goods #1 was Paytm (Aggressive offers early on), followed by Flipkart, Amazon & Jabong

 

2) Split of spend across sites

Split of Spend across sites

 

The story starts to clear up a bit when we look at split of spend across various sites

While 70% of orders I placed were on Paytm, 52% of the money I spent online went their. Flipkart (17.6%),  Jabong (14.1 %) & Myntra (3%) came next. The ticket size for Amazon has been quite less

3) Split of spend across categories

Split of spend across categories

This is quite revealing for me. While last year I spend considerable chunk of money (spent online) buying books, this year books formed a very small piece.

35% of money I spent shopping online last year, was spent on buying Electronics (mostly mobiles) & related Accessories. 25% was spent on recharges/bill payments and a significant change towards Fashion with 22% of my spend went there.

Some Interesting Bits:
1) I spent more ordering food online than buying books (Still can’t believe it or Maybe I got better deals at books 😉 )
2)  I spent more on Cab rentals than movies ( I don’t take cabs as much) and almost the same amount as I spent ordering food online
3) Between Fashion & Electronics – 57% of my money was spent

Purchase Summary
Orders placed: 321
Digital goods (recharges, bill payments and movies): 252

Money Spent: Rs 1,72,448
Money spent on Physical goods: 1,24,621

Closing Thoughts/points
1) I’m not the most savvy online purchaser but I do tend to compare prices before buying stuff and have started using mysmartprice and more recently  buyhutke (Chrome plugin)
2) Online mega sales trigger my purchases (super surprised to find out, I ordered on Myntra this GOSF after a break of 1 year from last GOSF). Made purchases on Big Billion Day and even Myntra’s “End of Reason” sale today
3) While I preferred purchasing on desktop (ease of selection, multiple tables, price comparison etc). I’ve started buying stuff straight of mobile. While for many purchases mobile still serves as the initiation point of my purchases and the same happens other way around, I add items to cart on web only to order them later on mobile when free
4) Most of my purchases (especially Fashion) are impulse (discount driven If I can admit), while Electronics etc are kinda planned
5) I’ve jumped the ship completely when it comes to paying by card. Almost, all my purchases (90% +) are pre-paid now.
6) Myntra and Jabong have spoiled me with their super easy return/exchange policies and flow. I don’t think twice before ordering stuff from them as I know I can always get the product returned/exchanged if I don’t like it. They also have superb delivery timelines (24 hours is a regular)
7) One thing I miss shopping online, is “Lack of Price Protection”. What you buy today for Rs 5000 can be available for say Rs 4000 and Rs 3500 the next day. As a buyer, you obviously feel bad about it
8) Newly caught trend of using wallets to pay on various sites to get discounts and cashbacks is a good incentive to use them. I’ve used Paytm, mobikwik and Payumoney, depending on the offers they are running.
9) I’m yet to order specs, furniture, grocery, health & wellness and things from a lot of these categories
10) Product wise – Wishlist and Rating/Reviews are by far the most useful features. Also, I love the feature to sort/filter using discount/offers (or the lack of them).

Hope, this post would help folks working in e-commerce get “some more idea” of their *Customers*

 

10 ways to hire great guns for your start-up

Just like “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”, for start-ups

Hiring is too important to be left to the HR department.

In the previous post I talked about ‘Who to hire for your start-up‘. Many of you agreed to most of what I shared so the next question that comes out is how to hire these guys. As @mohak put it brilliantly

Recruitment is marketing. If you can’t hire well, you can’t market well 

If like most others you are finding it incredibly hard to recruit your A team here are some obvious and not so obvious tips

HowSuccessfulStartupsHire-poster

      1. Be Involved: Unless you have someone really well in the team who can handle this for you, be involved in hiring. Another pro tip is not to hire a standard HR professional to do the hiring for your start-up. I’m yet to see a regular HR person turn into a great start-up HR pro. Most of them just don’t have it in their DNA. To avoid bad hires, stupid hiring processes and missing out on some exceptional talent its best suggested to be on TOP yourself for as long as you can afford to be. Founders set the culture of the company and the people they hire initially defines it.
      2. Brand: Be it your founding team, your VCs, the cool tool/service that you are developing or the world changing impact you are going to have. The easiest and surest way to get talent is to be remarkable. Unless your company’s mention people go WOW, you’ll always have a tough time getting smart people to work for you. PR/Social Media/Customer Care or what ever it takes, make sure you have a plan to create a brand around your start-up
      3. Recruitment begins at home:  This bit is so obvious that most start-ups tend to forget it. Every start-up should try to leverage their existing employees to hire more people. This is applicable as much to a 10 member start-up as to a 100 member. No one is better suited to spread the word about you than your existing workforce and you never know which one of your employees gets you whom.  What’s needed for this to worka) Happy & Empowered Employees – Unless one likes their job/company they won’t spread the word and as a founder you need to make sure that your employees aren’t just having a great time working for you they are actually so proud that they’d shout out to all their great friends as invite them. However you at your end need to ensure that they are empowered enough to do this and don’t have any bad experience about the whole thing/process.
        b) Incentives (Icing on the cake) – $$ or mobile phones, might just do wonders.Keep asking them for feedback about hiring/referral process and keep getting it implemented
      4. Customers/Partners/Investors/Vendors: The second best source to get smart folks to work is to leverage the people who do business with you. Keep them in loop about your openings and you never know who they help you hire. They might not even need any incentives and would be just happy to do some matchmaking for you (Assuming you have a healthy relationship with them and serve or pay them well). A power user/customer is a great hire(obviously they need to be talented and not just power users), they’d be obsessive about the product and would already have some ideas on how to make things better. I’d given an arm to have a passionate customer join my start-up
      5. Promotion on Your Website: Sounds too obvious again? Trust me it’s not. Far from what some of you think. Only a handful of hundreds of start-ups use their website to promote their job openings. How many of you(founder) have an updated jobs page on your website? Here are some of them that “Get This”slideshare_hiring
        Visual Website Optimizer
        Heroku
      6. Social Media:
        a) Sponsored ads on Facebook
        Sponsored Updates
        b) Company Page on LinkedIn
        linkedin_twitter
        c) Email Lists
        google_groups
      7. Content Marketing: Content is King” so to speak, for it has a life of it’s own. You can leverage content  to market yourself and attract relevant employees. Interest content will find its way around layers of social media and reach places you can’t. Here are some examples
        Brandologistakosha
      8. Start-up Events/Meet-ups: I know by experience that most start-up events are as (or even less) than the websites/blogs that organize them but even those events attract some bright people who are just out to explore interesting opportunities. You should be checking these events every once in a while. Also, you can consider organizing some meet-ups/hackathons to attract enthusiastic folks.
        has
      9. Internship portals/Start-up Websites: Some of these portals provide access to ambitious and talented people. Also,the sheer fact that some is following them means they are already a bit ahead of the curve
      10. Random Pick-up: This one is as nasty as it sounds. Like somebody’s blog post on tech architecture? Find someone’s slideshow amazing? Follow this amazing sales person on twitter? Stumbled upon a script on github that you found useful?
        GO ahead and make contact. Start interacting with these folks and see if they’d like to join you in your journey.
        The entire kwippy team was hired for Mpower Mobile(in 2008) like that

These 10 ways should help you with your hiring. Do share what you think about them and if you have any experiences around start-up hiring that others can benefit from

Update:  Here’s another super geeky way to pick up nerds

BUEDhMsCcAEHmEA

 

 

Empathy: The Secret Sauce For Mind-blowing Customer Experience

I am a sucker for remarkable, awe-inspiring,  mind-boggling customer experience and can’t think enough about it. The more negative experiences I have as an end user (with consumer goods companies, mobile operators, eating joints etc) the more determined I am to offer the best possible customer service for my business. Obsessing about customer service has had its share of good and bad realizations and continue to help me in connecting the dots. It was in one of these moments that it occurred to me that Empathy or the lack of it could be an indicator for good/bad customer service.

Sometimes while taking care of Dial-a-Book operations I find myself in a situation where I have to deliver an order (because of urgency of the situation and unavailability of other designated resources). Last such case happened 4-5 days back when a student ordered a book in afternoon on a condition that it should be delivered the same day as he had an exam next day afternoon, Fair enough. There was however a little problem in this, we didn’t have the concerned book in stock and it had to be procured locally. After a few hours and towards the end of our office hours when we managed to procure the book, we had no one left in the office to deliver it. Now came the last resort, for me to deliver them personally, when I told this at home that I’ll be at home late as I had to deliver a book, pat came a reply, “You can get it delivered tomorrow by your delivery team”. While in normal course of action that’d have been except in this case it was urgent as the customer had an exam due next day and thus wanted the book the same day.

The reason why I shared the above mentioned case was because I felt I could take care of this case because I could relate to the customer and their problem ( a student needing a book desperately for an exam scheduled next day) . Empathy with the customer had the power to drive me to go out of the way and make sure that the book is delivered the same day.

Isn’t this how this generally works?

If everybody from product designers to the customer service executives could empathize with their customers they would be in a position to offer much better solutions to their problems.  On the contrary if the person in question can’t feel the pain of the customer they might not be able to offer exemplary customer experience.

What do you think?

Memeology

It happened yet again. Facebook saw yet another meme apparently meant to promote ‘Breast Cancer Awareness‘. When I logged into Facebook day before yesterday I was unpleasantly surprised to see some female friends put statuses like these

I was caught off guard and didn’t realize for a while and it got confirmed when I saw this

If you are a regular user of Facebook you might remember a similar meme that surfaced earlier this year. While this meme is apparently all about places where women would like to keep their *purse* and not where they’d like to *do it*, the last meme was about women sharing their *Bra Colour*. I’ll not get into the discuss if such memes actually help spread awareness about Breast Cancer or not but what interests me more is the the “how & why” of these memes.

One of the first Memes I encountered was during my early days of Blogging a few years back was probably “10 things you don’t know about me” or something similar. The sheer fact that a trend needs to grow viral in order to become a meme is an interesting thing and it is worth exploring what makes a meme a meme.

A meme is in a lot of ways like a viral (forward) email/sms as it has the essential elements required to sustain and grow itself. Going back to the ‘Made To Stick’ check list for an idea to spread, a meme should also have certain features for it to go viral. Ideally a meme should be

  • Simple (To ensure maximum participation. For ex: Colour of your Bra, Name of your first Crush)
  • Unexpected (One of the parameters for a meme is also how unexpected/weird/double meaning/out-of-the-ordinary it is. For ex: Where would you like to “whatever”)
  • Emotional (It should be able to elicit a connect emotionally. For ex: 10 Things you didn’t know about me, 5 Things I can’t live without  etc)
  • Direct/In-direct call to action(A direct call like tagging people to do the same on their page/blog etc or an in-direct call to join them in the cause as in the case of Bra Colour meme)

Memes are a win-win situation for most users and the platforms(or the causes?) they spread in with users getting something different to talk/show off and the platform seeing more activity. However as someone interested in marketing I wonder if brands can leverage the meme phenomenon.  Your thoughts?

Customer Development Design

I’ve been a regular follower of Seth Godin’s blog and like almost all his posts. However there are some posts of Seth that I like way more than others. A couple posts that really caught my attention a few weeks back were on choosing the customer and training your customers respectively.

Posted at an interval of two days these two blog posts taken together offer a nice(different?) perspective of looking at things when it comes to Customer Development. Against the common notion that you should try to attract all kinds of customers Seth suggests that you choose your customers. Yes, you choose your customers for your business by your brand value proposition, pricing, customer experience and other things. All aspects of the way you run your business attracts or repels certain kinds of customers. You might wonder, why is it important to choose your customers?

It is especially important to choose your customers if you have a perspective/vision and you want things to happen according to that and not according to the terms defined by the market. For example sake, consider two product companies, one of which is very choosy when it comes to picking their customers and would rather prefer a smaller set of customers of the kind that they’d like while the other company is not really that choosy and is open to catering to all sorts of customers, the more the merrier. Assuming they both start from the same point, it won’t be difficult to imagine how differently would shape up after an year into the business. Company A which focuses of select customers will emerge out to be almost on the lines of the founder(s)’s vision while Company B which wants to get as much customers as it wants will have significant difficulty living up to the varied expectations and might just give in to the (un)reasonable demands of the majority.

Not only this, Seth suggests that businesses should also train their customers. Yes, training the customers by encouraging certain type of behaviour by rewards etc and discouraging certain type of behaviour. For ex: If you’ve priced your product slightly above the market standard then there’ll be lots of customers complaining about your price and trying to negotiate their way down(in terms of prices). Now there are two ways to go about it, one that you let customers negotiate and other is to don’t bother. Over a period of time if you follow the don’t bother policy you’ll observe how some price sensitive customers will move out and the remaining customers will get used to the higher than market price and stop complaining (This assumes that their is something that the business  offers to offset the high price).

Another interesting effect that this has is that it helps in building a culture among your customers that’s decided to a large extent by your terms and not the markets.

Using Facebook to find the Hero

Facebook Ads are something despite trying my best I find myself unable to ignore. In fact I think  my eyes are now always on a look out for conspicuous ads while I am on Facebook, and that’s how I noticed this ad

Buddha Ad on Facebook

It’s not often that you get too see an ad like this one “Ashutosh Gowarikar is searching for an actor to play Siddhartha/Buddha. If you are male 20 to 30 years of age then audition now!”. This sure looks interesting. On clicking the ad you are taken to http://www.buddha-movie.com/

Buddha Movie Website

where you can find out some basic information about the film and fill up a form to apply for auditions.

This is a really simple and innovative use of using the online medium (mostly Social) to solve a problem(finding new talent) and generating a good buzz long before the movie gets on the floor

Buddha the movie is also on Facebook and Twitter

India: IPL, TV Industrial Complex and Social Media

That new technology, trends etc take their own sweet(not so) time to reach and permeate the Indian market is a well known and accepted fact, and Social Media is no different. While marketing and advertising companies/teams from other countries(especially from the west) might have already dipped deep in the Social Media waters, their counterparts in India are no where close.

When Pepsi ditched Superbowl and chose to spend their budget ($20 million) on a Social Media campaign there were celebrations amongst the Social Media folks world over and everyone(Including we in India) felt that Social Media has finally arrived and the game has changed from being Traditional Media centric to Social Media being equally if not more important. If you think that’s the same with India (transition from Tradition Media to Social  Media at a considerable level), think again.

In the course of last year or so I’ve met numerous Social Media enthusiasts/marketers/analysts and quite a few advertising/media agencies and some guys who are in-charge of marketing campaigns for the brands they represent. Little has changed since last year if we talk about how people who offer Social Media solutions feel and how those who should be using those Social Media solutions feel. Despite all the jazz around Social Media, in India particularly brands are spending a bare minimum percentage of their marketing/advertising budget on Social Media. Not just this, what’s particularly interesting is the fact that in India some brands have started spending more(and not less) on Traditional Media. If these figures are anything to go by

AD Rates for IPL3 and T20 World Cup 2010
you can get an idea of how things seem to be moving in the Indian market. We are increasingly spending more money on Traditional Media and it’s not just TV ads, the print media is also on a roll with Realtors and FMCG companies booking full page ads like anything.  It’s not just a co-incidence that there aren’t any remarkable Social Media campaigns around IPL despite all the hype and hoopla.

Keeping in mind all this and the response that these Traditional Media campaigns manage to get I would like to believe
that the days of TV-Industrial Complex are not yet over in India and it will be another few years before significant changes start to happen.

Apple and The Irony of Social Media

It’s a great co-incidence that this post comes right after my previous post with a similar title. As I write this post Steve Jobs is presenting Apple’s next innovation ‘iPad’ which represents a new category between the smart phones and netbooks. This launch would easily be one of the biggest Tech events in the History with millions of people glued on to various nooks and corners of the World Wide Web trying to get a glimpse of Apple’s latest offering. Twitter as predicted by some is almost down and so are many other platforms which were experiencing heavy traffic spikes due to the event.

This post is not about Apple’s iPad, it is however about the Irony that I see. In today’s day and age where every Social Media Enthusiast/Evangelist/Consultant/______ in every SEO/SEM/SMM____ company talks about being “Social”, “Listening to conversations and participating in them” and a lot more, here is Apple, a brand that has been in the market for a good amount of time and is conspicuous for not being “Social” as per the standards but it’s still being able to garner ultra hype about a product launch that is capable of bringing many a social networks down and get almost everyone on the ones up talking about it.

All by just making remarkable products that people are passionate about

PS: I can’t think of any Social Brand being a part of any event/campaign of a scale this big, can you?