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#AsiaeCommerceAwards 2021 spills: Insider breaks down what makes for great marketing

#AsiaeCommerceAwards 2021 spills: Insider breaks down what makes for great marketing

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Founded in 2012, Insider enables enterprise marketers to connect customer data across channels and systems, predict their future behaviour with an AI intent engine, and orchestrate individualised experiences to customers. Some of its offerings include online marketing, predictive analysis, web personalisation, eCommerce, and omnichannel marketing. It also recently bagged US$121 million in Series D funding and plans to grow its Singapore headcount by 600% by 2025.

Some of the brands it has worked with include Gap, Lazada, L'Oréal, Samsung, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Active. It was also recently awarded silver for Best Use of Personalisation at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Asia eCommerce Awards 2021. 

In an interview, Kirsty Liu (pictured), head of marketing (Hong Kong & Malaysia), Insider told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that there has been a rising demand for local expertise. She also shared her thoughts on what makes a great marketing strategy.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for Asia eCommerce Awards 2021. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What has the past two years been like for you given the sudden pivot to eCommerce?

Liu: Customers expect highly coherent and consistent experiences. They want to move beyond clunky marketing automation tools and have a single source of truth. One centralised platform that enables them to manage their individualised, cross-channel customer experiences. As digital-only becomes the new norm for most businesses, our customers expect to see the latest channels like WhatsApp Business, Facebook Messenger, and RCS in our platform, to start more personal conversations.

Our customers want a nuanced understanding of customer behaviour, where they are in their lifecycle, and what they're likely to do next. That’s why we invest in AI technologies and always-improving algorithms that help them segment, acquire, nurture, and retain their customers. 

We've also seen a rise in demand for local expertise in every region we’re present. We’ve invested in building our local customer success teams that enable superfast onboarding with near-zero IT involvement and helps businesses realise faster time to value. We are focused on developing a solution that simplifies complex, lengthy implementations, and on average, gets Insider integrated with our customers' websites in less than an hour. 

What was one challenge that took you by surprise and how did you pivot?

Liu: There is a need to go beyond the website, beyond email and start talking to customers on new, “fresh” channels. The ability to provide an extensive set of personalisation capabilities and the speed of incorporating newer channels is becoming a deciding criterion for most marketers as they compare martech providers and make their investments.

Online buying is here to stay. We're also seeing a greater interest in designing one-to-one experiences that make customers value their time with brands. We're also seeing many companies ramping their digital transformation projects and exploring marketing segmentation, AI, personalisation, and targeting to increase their ROI and drive growth across the entire funnel. 

We recently introduced Insider's all-new experience. Working with our customers, we completely redesigned the platform to be more intuitive. We believe enterprise martech doesn't have to be a dull eyesore. Marketers deserve a consistent and easy-to-manage platform that helps them do their jobs faster and smarter, so they can have the headspace to experiment and grow. 

Our digital growth consultants have their pulse on what's ahead and work with our customers to prepare for planned and unexpected shifts. It's one of the many benefits of a strategic partnership with Insider. 

Despite the curveballs, we couldn't be prouder of the Asia eCommerce award winners including Adidas, Watsons and MR DIY, who trust us as their growth marketing platform. 

With markets opening up, what are some trends do you have your eyes on?

Liu: On average, customers interact with over six channels with the brands they love. Yet, most brands we interact with have limited channels including their website, email provider and maybe SMS or push notifications. However, especially with the messaging apps on the rise, emerging channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, RCS, SMS and the likes are offering a great way for brands to stay connected with their customers on channels they are already active on. Also, new customer acquisition is on the rise, with brick and mortar customers pivoting to digital. Some of these digital-only (or digital-mostly) behaviours are temporary shifts, but many of them are here to stay.

We've seen many companies across industries feeling the growing pains of scaling up their digital businesses. Now there are more users, more channels, and more segments to consider. With all these new variables, the need for cross-channel orchestration backed by AI-based automation is one of the most significant spikes in demand we've seen this year. 

In 2021, we focused on raising the bar of personalised experiences through our flagship event, RESHAPE, which has become synonymous with excellence in our industry. In turn, these extraordinary events have spawned multiple marketing communities across Asia.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Liu: The most successful brands are those whose vision and values resonate with customers. They grow and win together. The brands that people love focus on creating personalised connections and captivating and magical experiences for their customers. Brands are listening to the conversations happening around them on social media and in the news. They're becoming more aware and inclusive, integrating diverse customers into their narratives and product roadmaps. 

AI is a hot topic in virtually every facet of marketing and life, so it's no surprise that machine learning and self-correcting algorithms will continue to be a focus for eCommerce.

To win your customers’ hearts, you need to deliver individualisation at the right time with the right message with the right channels. Insider’s AI-led technology enables marketers to do exactly that. 

Here are some data points, 

- Almost half (47%) of visitors bounce from a website before exploring or discovering any products

- Email is not enough. More than 85% of visitors on a website are anonymous and not logged in, making it hard to personalise their experience

- About 60% of marketers feel their multi-channel marketing fails because of the lack of IT resources and tools

- About twice the increase in CPC since 2018 makes user acquisition more expensive and ineffective

- Personalisation pays off. Brands that personalise on-site experiences have 20% higher conversion rates.

- One size does not fit all! Different age, gender, lifestyle customers behave differently, making it hard to use generic layouts.

- Because of the listed above, combining AI-led personalisation capabilities with extensive set of messaging channels is creating the real value.

Insider will be at the forefront of supporting these brands, and we'll continue to evolve our own AI technology to anticipate consumer demands and emergent behaviours.

How do you feel about your win?

Liu: We are incredibly proud of what the team has achieved following our recent announcement to our US$121 million Series D funding round led by QIA, at a US$1.22 billion valuation. We also became one of a few female-led SaaS unicorns in the world. Insider has achieved consistent, rapid growth and according to Crunchbase is one of the top 9 B2B SaaS unicorns globally: the fifth largest B2B SaaS unicorn in the US, fourth in Europe, second in Asia, and first in Latin America.  

“We’ve been blitz scaling remarkably in the past three years and achieved three times growth. In the same period, our global team grew by 300%, and our customer base continues to increase,” said founder and CEO Hande Cilingir. “Following our aggressive expansion in Asia, Europe and LATAM, we’ll carry this momentum in the US market. We are a trusted software partner to leading global brands like Samsung, GAP, MAC, and Santander. We are laser-focused on bringing Insider to additional markets, and becoming the number one choice for every marketer on this planet.”

The year 2022 is marking the staying power of the digital-first trend. ECommerce will continue to attract new customers and will need to double-down on technologies that can nurture, retain, and increase each customer's lifetime value.  

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