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Email marketing still a long way to go in India; lack of options a concern

14-September-2009
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Email marketing still a long way to go in India; lack of options a concern

Though email marketing has been around for quite some time in India, it has not really been able to emerge from its nascent stage and not many marketers or advertisers have embraced it completely. However, companies like Yatra.com, Journeymart, Titan, Megamart, Imint Points, ICICI bank, NDTV, Sulekha.com, AsiaNet, Indain Express. 9 dot 9, Buzzintown, etc., are actively using this form of marketing. exchange4media spoke to some industry honchos on how to tap this form of marketing effectively.

Sprinklr, a digital marketing services company that specialises in e-mail marketing, aims to evangelise this form of marketing in India. It also consults advertisers and publishers in terms of executing e-direct marketing initiatives. The digital marketing service company claims to have the capability to send out around 40 lakh emails per hour.

Saurav Patnaik, VP - Marketing, Sprinklr India, pointed out that as compared to 95 per cent of advertisers using email marketing in the US, less than 5 per cent of advertisers used email marketing in India.

The state of e-mail marketing in India

Patnaik observed, “In my opinion, email marketing/ drip marketing has just begun in India and marketers are slowly realising the power of personalised communication. Today, when the consumer is not interested in anything that does not relate to him, it is very important that the advertiser is talking to the consumer in a one on one fashion. Email marketing, I believe, is the most effective form of marketing as no other medium promises Rs 47.00 return on every rupee spent.”

Sanjay Tripathy, Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing, HDFC Standard Life, said, “We have tried email marketing to those who have opted for it in our database. The advantage of email marketing is that you can have a stronger segmentation of the target group, which can be really narrowed down. However, the biggest disadvantage is lack of updated information of the user. Measurement is not a concern as the newer ad servers can track impressions/ opens and conversions / leads.”

India vis-à-vis the world

Sandeep Singh, Business Director, Quasar Media, explained, “India has very limited options when it comes to e-mail marketing, as compared to that of the international markets, which have multiple options. In India, ironically most of the email marketing is not filtered, hence it ends up as spam mail. The challenge, therefore, is filtering, which is not happening.”

According to Sprinklr India’s Patnaik, “Email marketing is the only marketing medium that offers you the maximum amount of personalization, which today’s netizens demand. When 50 per cent of the average time that an Indian consumer spends on the Internet is just to check their emails, the medium has been pretty much untouched. In the US, an average person gets close to 20 promotion emails on a daily basis, whereas in India the number is merely 2-3. This actually is a boon to the advertiser to build its own database and practice drip marketing as the Indian citizen is more likely to the open an email than a US citizen. So, in my opinion the Indian market has much more potential than saturated markets like the UK and the US.”

The road ahead

Quasar Media’s Singh noted, “For effective marketing, what needs to be done is marketing the brands to the relevant target audience, that’s the key. Today, advertisers are more inclined towards social media and not specifically towards email marketing, which I believe is because of the limited options available.”

Patnaik explained, “Every action is measurable and that is the beauty of the medium. Email marketing not only gets you that desired acquisition, but also assures you a lot of secondary data that helps you get closer to the customer. As you understand your customers better, I am certain that you will understand their needs better and you put forward your propositions better.”

He further said, “The major challenge with the Indian market is that the traditional market honchos have never paid attention to customer retention and actually not cared much about keeping in touch with them on a regular basis. It is important that you are collecting all the information about the consumer in terms of his preferences, lifestyle, etc., as it will make communication more relevant and focused.”

Having a different take on this, HDFC Standard Life’s Tripathy said, “Updated databases and stronger creative to entice the users to open the mail and respond is one way for an effective form of marketing. We will not use email marketing as a tool as there is a huge waste due to lack of updated data on users and also because most users have the habit of checking mails regularly. It is also difficult to get opted in databases. Around 5 per cent of the overall marketing spends is devoted to digital marketing.”

While email marketing may still have a long way to go in India, one key concern is the lack of options available for email marketing, nevertheless, according to Patnaik, over the years there had been an increase in marketing budgets for e-mail marketing among brands. He said, “I have already seen an increase in their expenditure. The brands are becoming smarter every day and are certainly realising the potential that email marketing has for them.”

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