Simple advertising mantras for ecommerce players

How to get a bigger bang for your buck – have the right mix of performance- and brand-oriented advertising, campaigns that achieve break-even, and creatives that are persuasive.

The advent of ecommerce has revolutionised how we shop today. The pandemic has acted as a further catalyst, thereby making all businesses embrace the digital way -- either partly or completely. Whether we need groceries, cosmetics, or presents for our loved ones, or yet, personalised products for ourselves, everything can be found online. An IBEF industry estimate suggests that the Indian ecommerce market is pegged to reach US$ 84 billion by 2021.

The market growth has accelerated considerably because of the increasing ecommerce purchases during the lockdown. In this fast-growing segment, a successful, long-lasting business can only be created by staying salient and building the brand. To achieve these objectives, you need to communicate and advertise. The vision is to grow your brand in an efficient manner by engaging consumers.

So, there are three main aspects that you should look forward to: Growth, Efficiency and Engagement.

Growth: Build the brand

The primary role of advertising is to drive business growth – both short-term and long-term. The ecommerce industry is no exception. Several ecommerce players normally tend to focus on investing in performance-driven marketing.

They use short-term measures as marketing tools to achieve an immediate impact. Some of these tools include paid search, discounts, and contests in social media, and so forth. In addition, it is important to continue building on the brand proposition that will help increase brand awareness, crucial for the long-term growth of the brand.

Intriguing advertisements that communicate the benefits of the brand help build long-term relationships with consumers. This can take the form of video or static advertising as well as engaging content. So, it is vital to have a balanced combination of performance-oriented and brand-oriented advertising in your marketing mix. A good rule of thumb to start with is a 50:50 division of the spend.

Efficiency: Achieve break-even

While the core purpose of advertising is to drive growth, it also needs to be efficient for the business to be sustainable. Brands can efficiently advertise and communicate via social media, website and free channels like SEO that will consequently help them expand their digital footprint.

Additionally, brands can explore and connect with their potential customers by optimising the content on their website, providing information, or easy access to relevant materials and products, and using emails and apps to add value to their customers. Apart from this, the investment made on brand building and performance-oriented marketing needs to be efficient.

There are many analytical tools and research methodologies to track efficiency of a campaign. Normally marketeers stick to tracking improvement in site metrics as well as brand measures. While this is needed, it is not a measure of efficiency.

An excellent way to measure the efficiency of marketing spend is to calculate the time taken for a new consumer or a cohort of new consumers to break-even. The point of break-even is to understand the time taken for profits from the consumer purchases (defined as sales revenue minus variable costs) to equal the marketing spend.

It is important to know whether and when the consumer/cohort achieves break-even to make suitable changes to the marketing mix, including allocation of spends and change in creatives. Advertising that does not have a break-even point is not sustainable. A good benchmark for ecommerce players is to consider break-even within a 12-month period.

Engagement: Foster creativity

To achieve the above business parameters of ‘Growth’ and ‘Efficiency’, advertising must be engaging. A creative idea has the power to engage with consumers. It grows brand visibility, credibility, and desirability. The process starts with a creative brief where the key aspect is the message that the ad needs to convey. Contrary to popular practice, the best ideas occur when the creative brief is simple and sharp.

In my experience, some of the best creative ideas have occurred when the intended message was just one or two words long. It is also relevant to ask -- how to evaluate a creative? Marketeers try hard to put themselves in the shoes of the consumer while evaluating any creative ad. What works best is the opposite. Assume you are the consumer and respond to the creative. The emotions that a creative will evoke in you are most likely what it will evoke in your customers or consumers.

A simple and effective creative goes a long way in building a brand, and it can also be run for long periods of time. In the process of developing video creative, agencies tend to prefer long video ads while traditional clients want the ads to be as short as possible.

It doesn’t matter! As long the ad is communicating the intended message in an engaging way, and is efficient as mentioned earlier, it will work. Another important factor to consider is to optimise the creative for a mobile screen, considering the extensive smartphone usage in India. Just short and crisp pieces of content – be it a video clip or a simple image with text – is enough to communicate effectively.

These simple mantras can act as guidelines for ecommerce players in the enjoyable process of creating advertising that is both effective and efficient.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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