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#GROWTH Wrap-up: Mobile-first Marketing Perspectives from Asia with Anand Chandrasekaran

  • Published: 25 June 2019
  • 6 min read

Smartphone adoption has skyrocketed in the APAC regions in the last few years. If you look at the number of mobile phone users worldwide, China and India occupy the top two slots on that list. Consumers in these countries turn to their mobile devices throughout their purchase journeys, and that’s great news for marketers. To cater to these mobile-first users, companies need to bring about a shift in their approach to customer engagement at all touch-points.

What factors define the mobile-first markets of Asia? What are some cutting-edge growth strategies that companies in these regions implement? What metrics should you focus on? We explored answers to some of these questions in our #GROWTH MIXER San Francisco with Anand Chandrasekaran, who’s an experienced product leader and an angel investor. 

We are happy to share a summary of that discussion in this blog.

About Anand Chandrasekaran

Anand has led teams that built products that impacted millions globally. He has the unique experience of leading product teams for Yahoo and Facebook in the US as well as unicorns in Asia such as Snapdeal and Airtel. Owing to his experiences with internet first companies on both sides of the globe, he brings an interesting perspective, comparing the business landscapes and trends of the West and the East.

The center of gravity for mobile businesses is shifting to Asia

In 2018 alone, China had 100 new unicorns, the number in India went from 8 to 26, with six new unicorns created in Indonesia - and these numbers just scratch the surface of Asian markets.

The center of gravity for mobile-first businesses has started to shift towards the East. A few years ago, every founder based in the Philippines, India, or Singapore would go to the Valley to learn from the US businesses. Today, everyone goes to Beijing, Shanghai, or Schengen to understand how new companies run and how consumers are operating on their smartphones. Even investors turn to China and other Asian countries. In fact, five out of the top 10 investors named in the Forbes Midas list have made their primary deals in China.

Key factors that define the Asian markets for online brands

  1. Android cannot be an after-thought: When companies operating out of the US, venture to the Asian markets like India, Indonesia, or China, the first thing that shifts is your user-base. As much as 90% of your customers will now be on Android. So you need to be Android-first, unlike markets like the US where you build for iOS first and think about Android in the second year.
  2. A diverse audience: Asian countries are not homogeneous. One needs to cater to 20 different personas at a high level, each of which speaks a different language, might not have traveled to other regions and has local behavioral attributes.
  3. They’ve skipped PC: A lot of these countries are mobile-first. What this means is that the users have skipped using computers and went on to adopt the mobile. In India, for instance, there are about 250 million smartphones and about 150 million televisions. For many users, mobile is not only their first screen but their only screen as well.  
  4. Localization is not an option: There are millions of English speaking users in Asia. So, a service built for the US can primarily work out of the box in these markets. However, the next 50-100 million online users who consume content via videos, using voice search, and post voice notes. Next, these users will start using e-commerce, online hotel booking, and other services. Companies need to be equipped to localize their communication to be able to cater to these users.

Companies leading the way to growth

  • Internet companies such as Flipkart and Ola, which started as the Amazon and Uber of India, respectively, built a considerable user-base before the companies Amazon and Uber turned their focus to Asian markets.
  • OYO Rooms, Asia’s largest hospitality chain, and a member of the Unicorn-club create immense value for consumers by bringing together consistency and convenience.
  • Another example is Sharechat, a regional language social networking app, caters to the non-English speaking population, has grown to 50 million users in a year.

3 key takeaways from Asia, for marketers world-over

  1. Data cost in countries like India is lower than those in the US or the UK, and there are millions of new users beginning to browse, consume content, and shop online. Services built for these new users are growing from zero to hundred million users in a year. This means, Asian markets offer an excellent opportunity to learn about new users, their online behavior, and new business models.
  2. Companies looking to go global cannot afford to ignore the Asian markets, given the massive user-base coupled with an increasing disposable income.
  3. Consider the LTV of Asian consumers against the cost of acquiring them.

Key metrics to focus on

All businesses need to identify and measure the North Star metric that best captures the core value your company delivers to customers. Identifying the right business metric is perhaps the toughest and the most complex conversation within an organization. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance as it impacts several business decisions at the highest level. It is a matter of what you want to see versus the reality. While the right metric depends on the respective business models, some examples are:

  • For a messaging app, the number of two-way messages between users.
  • For a music subscription app, the number of song plays.
  • For an ecommerce app, total sales minus returns.

How companies successfully use the North Star Metric to drive growth

Take a look at these three real-life examples of companies who have successfully leveraged the North Star Metric.

1. 2-way Sends in a messenger platform

One of the world’s leading messenger platform uses 2-way sends as the North Star Metric. To determine engagement, they count the number of times that a user has messaged a business, and the company has responded. Similarly, they measure the number of threads where two people have messaged each other. This helped them avoid counting of Spam messages and focus on real interactions.

2. Daily orders minus returns minus cancellations in E-commerce portals

One of India’s biggest e-commerce marketplaces uses a North Star Metric- daily order minus returns. The company launched a new category of FMCG goods and saw their orders soar from 0 to 1000 in just three weeks. However, a closer look determined that the company was feeding the growth of small-time sellers who bought the company's goods at 70% discount and sold them to the neighborhood at almost 50% profit; plus they returned what they couldn’t sell within seven days.  The daily orders minus metrics indicated that 85% of the orders were returned.

3. Song plays in a music subscription app

Wynk, a music subscription app in India had an entry pricing at  1/10th of the nearest competitor. Wynk’s team decided to use song plays as the North Star Metric for every feature they launch. This helped them determine that with the right programming and pricing, they could get people to shift from pirated music consumption to authorized channels for music consumption.

The #GROWTH Community

#GROWTH is an exclusive user engagement and digital growth community powered by MoEngage. Currently, #GROWTH includes over 500+ entrepreneurs, product owners, and growth marketers from 100+ digital and mobile-first brands in Asia. 

Would you like to refer a friend or colleague to join our exclusive community of marketers and product owners?

Please send us an email to hello@moengage.comDon’t forget to tag your friend’s email while sending the request.

About MoEngage

Built for the mobile-first world, MoEngage’ has transformed business startups in 35+ countries around the world with its customer engagement platform. We have helped companies successfully bridge the gap between analytics and marketing automation. Asia’s first and only company to feature in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Marketing Platforms, MoEngage is one of those few platforms that help companies make the most of their marketing efforts and accelerate growth.

Here are some ways in which you can use MoEngage and sharpen your marketing performance:

  • Visualize the buyer’s journey for your website or mobile app.
  • Engage customers across website, app, email, SMS, social channels.
  • Tracks key campaign KPIs and compare performances.
  • Identify champion buyers for your brand.
  • Integrate visualization tools and dig deeper into data.

Merry MoEngagers

Want to know how brands like Samsung, McAfee, Gaana, Travelodge, Wynk Music, and Oyo Rooms use MoEngage for customer engagement?

Click here.  

About The Author
Akshatha Kamath leads content marketing at MoEngage. She's one of "LinkedIn Content 50", has been recently featured on the list of "The Most Influential Content Marketing Professional" by World Marketing Congress and is among the “100 Fastest Growing Marketers” identified by Adobe. She is a content marketing specialist with close to 12 years of experience in writing, strategizing, and managing content for various organizations. Before MoEngage, she’s steered content marketing teams for companies like Simplilearn, Vizury, and Conzerv helping them with content, brand, and communication strategies that are aligned with their business goals. Akshatha volunteers with AMA SF as a writer. She is also a published author with publications such as Clickz, Digital Market Asia, Get Elastic, and e27. She is an avid reader and a traveler who enjoys experiencing the flavors of life in different places.
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