Smart Marketers use experiential marketing amply supported by social media to create the right buzz: Shashi Seth

In an interview with BW Applause and EE, Shashi Seth, Sr. Vice President, Oracle Marketing Cloud shared how brands are looking at experiential marketing, role of social media in creating right experiences and more.


Experiences are a major factor in brand marketing and a significant driver of consumer engagement. Brands have started to integrate trends that help customers to connect with their vision, and hence providing them even more personal and hands-on experience.

In an interview with BW Applause and EE, Shashi Seth, Sr. Vice President, Oracle Marketing Cloud shared how brands are looking at experiential marketing, role of social media in creating the right experiences and more. 


In terms of retail/fashion, consumers are expecting brands to go above and beyond when it comes to catering to their needs in-store. Moreover, we are seeing more consumers make decisions even based on feelings and experiences. So, in this world of marketing, where should a brand in retail begin and how can they stay ahead of the curve in a competitive marketplace?

Customers today are nothing if not self-indulgent. With the help of technology, they can get nearly anything they desire at the moment they desire it. Brand loyalty is almost extinct in modern times. To make sure that the customer makes a purchase, the marketers need to have a holistic view of its customers, that includes the online and offline world. Customers today demand relevance and real value from marketing in exchange for loyalty. Marketers need to build emotional resonance by using data to provide more personalized and targeted products, services and content. At Oracle, we talk about creating micro-moments – which are more granular and are built based on one-to-one interactions.

Whether it is online or in-store shopping, because of the presence of advanced technologies, today, more and more customers are expecting a personalized, seamless and a cross-channel approach to their shopping. According to some reports, 74% of consumers want “knowledgeable in-store staff that could meet their specific needs quickly”, while 64% of consumers from emerging markets including China and India said they loved the idea of virtual reality “try on” apps, for personalized shopping experiences. One scenario could be that the moment a loyal customer walks into a store, a shop assistant is alerted of your presence, and is given your profile so that he/she may be able to help you locate the right products you might be interested in. It could be that new clothing line has been released by your favourite designer, or products you have shown interest in the past (online and offline) are on sale. Imagine looking online for the perfect gift and then going into a store the next day, to find a shop assistant who points you towards the gift you were looking for, and other related gifts based on your past history. This is the level of cross-channel expectation we are moving towards, fuelled by real time data and intelligence.

Therefore, it can be easily said that when data is analysed correctly, and intelligence garnered from it , is the heart of genuinely connected customer experiences that provide immense value to customer and build brand loyalty. It requires brands to effectively establish an understanding of their customers by analysing existing behaviors, so that they can give accurate recommendations and suggestions quickly, efficiently and effectively.

As VR and AR mature and the technology becomes cheaper and can be used more at scale, do you think there is a possibility that the virtual world may ever rival the physical world when it comes to building experiential marketing campaigns for brands?

Every marketer today is aiming for leveraging technologies like AR and VR and trying to develop voice-based assistance kills. There is a general thinking that success depends only on being the first to use any technology; to prove that we are being innovative. However, we need to understand that innovative technology would not be of much use, if your audience is not mature or ready for this technology. There is another aspect, your audience could be too distracted to notice your innovative campaign. Modern and Smart marketers understand the importance of both the media and use an optimum mix of the two to formulate a smart strategy. Sometimes, it is doing the simple things really well – like deep personalization and recommendations that save consumers time and frustration in finding, and discovering the things they are looking for or interested in – that can get customers excited about working with a brand.

We believe that physical marketing is still important to many people, and often directs audience to go online. And vice-versa. According to some reports 70 percent of Americans say direct mail is more personal than the internet-56 percent of consumers who received direct mail from a brand later went online or visited the physical store, and 62 percent who received direct mail from a brand in the past three months made a purchase. Marketers chasing open rates would do well to think offline as well as online.1 Digital and physical marketing, working in a synergised way, can help the customer through their sales journey, each serving as a means to transition people from both offline and online medium toward all-important and elusive conversion.

With the advent of great data and intelligence, we believe that the physical stores can and will change dramatically. What products, which colours, sizes etc. can easily be optimized for each physical store to cater to the people that visit it. That comes from a deep understanding of your customers, their buying patterns, habits, spend, etc. This blend of back-office and front-office is the evolving nature of business. It may well be that there are smaller stores because what and when you stock is so optimized that you don’t need vast amounts of space. It may well be that your discounting strategy and pricing strategy is optimized based on this amazing data. Some brands are already experimenting with using this data and intelligence to order the right products, colours, sizes etc.

Social media is augmenting marketing like never before. How do you think brands can leverage social media in a better way?

Social media has become an indispensable tool for marketers. With experiential marketing creating experiences and social media to share the same, a smart marketer can leverage both these very potent weapons. Social media coupled with experiential marketing can go a long way in creating a long-term brand communication strategy. The marketers are delivering a rich experience to a larger audience via social media and making them live the experience. If the brands can touch an emotional chord with the audience, then the brands do not need to promote it, your audience will do it for you and will add a certain credibility to your campaign.

When the audience is exposed to experiential marketing, most of them tend to create content around the brand or experience. Smart Marketers use experimental marketing amply supported by social media to create the right buzz around their brands.

How is Oracle helping its customers to leverage technology in delivering exceptional customer experience? Do have any customer examples?

Oracle CX marketing helps accelerate business growth and brand loyalty for our customers. Oracle CX Marketing (part of Oracle Cloud CX) is an integrated portfolio of digital marketing solutions that help B2B and B2C marketers use real-time intelligence and customer signals to deliver personalized experiences.

Today we are surrounded by a lot of data, so we spent a lot of time surrounding our marketing automation tools with that data and intelligence so that marketers can actually do their job

really well. The marketers could connect the dots in such a way that they need less people to accomplish a lot more. We sort of brought all these tools together in such a way that the heavy lifting of that data and that intelligence gathering is fed into the orchestration tools and marketing campaigns and all this happens very quickly and easily. The customers can build a campaign in less than half a day, instead of in weeks or months.

Myntra, a market leading e-commerce company for fashion and casual lifestyle products in India, leverages Customer experience cloud to orchestrate workflows between customer service agents and its nearly 20 million active monthly customer users. This enables the fashion e-tailer to have a systematic and streamlined approach to deliver an end-to-end customer experience. Furthermore, in the wake of the country’s lockdown, Myntra uses existing data in different ways to help it deliver personalised content to customers based on their browsing history and shopping preferences – taking customer engagement to greater heights.

In the unprecedented times that we are in today, how can organisations rethink operational alignment to ensure business continuity from customer experience perspective?

Over the past six months, businesses have been adapting to uncertainties in different ways. Some have been massively disrupted and others have entered a prime growth stage in which they are seeing increased demand for what they offer. One thing they all have in common, however, is they all have had to adjust their business models to align to the new environment.

For example, online grocers in Singapore and Australia have adopted innovative ways to overcome logistical challenges by working with ride-hailing services to help with deliveries.

We all are trying to make our way in this uncharted territory. In the current state of unpredictability, the organisations are forced to rapidly respond to unprecedented spikes in customer service requests and they can do this by adapting to processes and technology accordingly. First and foremost, we need to understand the implications of this new normal in short and long terms.

Customer Experience when done right serves well when times are rough. Interestingly, with retail and office locations closed in most parts of various countries globally, the most visible part of the customer experience for a majority of customers will be how companies interact with them remotely. Re-evaluating resolutions undertaken during the crisis will pave a roadmap to becoming more resilient for such possible disruptions in the future.

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