‘Social media is a bit of a shot in the dark right now’
Shankar Nath, Head - Marketing and Direct, ICICI Lombard General Insurance shares his perspective on digital marketing in an exclusive interview
As the man in-charge of leading the marketing efforts at the country’s largest private sector general insurer, what is your single biggest priority right now and how it translates into IT requirements? My number one priority is to establish ICICI Lombard General Insurance as a differentiated brand in this space. Over the years, general insurance has been perceived as a marketplace with commoditized offerings and therefore my biggest task is to find a way to differentiate ourselves from the competition. I believe that technology will have a crucial role to play in achieving this objective. . Also in terms of creating a unique positioning for our products, digital channels and emerging technology platforms such as social media need to be leveraged more aggressively. While we are seeing CMOs become increasingly aware of the digital mediums, a lot of them are simply digitizing their offline communication and the way they interface the with customer. Surely, there is more to it than just that... Absolutely, there is much more to it. A lot of CMOs today a come from the offline background. Given their natural comfort with the offline space, we see big offline campaigns taken and simply
For me social media is not an acquisition medium, it is a branding medium.But at the same time none of us can ignore a medium where there is so much traffic and where people spend so much of their time”
Head - Marketing and Direct, ICICI Lombard General Insurance
pushed online. The good news however is that in the last one or two years, there is greater realization among the CMO community that one needs to develop customized messaging and content for the online or the digital platform and that force-fitting offline content onto a digital channel won’t yield much. So how are you dealing with this issue? We don’t treat digital as a secondary medium. We are putting a significant part of our marketing dollars there. We have a specific marketing strategy for the Web. When it comes to selling, Web also gives us greater flexibility in terms of tailoring the products to meet the specific needs through more permutations and combinations. We are also bringing in a greater level of interactivity during the buying process. Similarly, on the claims and servicing side, we are trying to leverage technologies such as mobile to make it easier for the consumer to connect and interact with us.
So the use of the digital medium cuts across the entire value chain. How are you using social media in for these activities? I don’t think that social media has evolved to a stage where it can be used for transactions. I think that it is a great brand building tool and an engagement medium. Expecting sales through social media, is a bit too much.
Having said that, you can’t afford to ignore this medium either. Therefore, you need to create engaging properties on this front. If you are too direct, just hard selling your brand or product, then it might not work in your favor. On the other hand, if you can create interesting stories that can engage people, you stand to gain considerably. For example, as a general insurer if I can do something on road safety and build a story around it, my brand can get a significant mindshare and a recall value. Can one easily measure the impact of a social media marketing initiative? Except for social media, all other digital marketing initiatives on the web or on mobile can be assessed for impact. There are clear metrics which can be used for this. That’s the beauty of digital marketing. However, social media marketing is a different beast altogether. For me social media is not an acquisition medium, it is a branding medium. At least that’s how I look at it.
But at the same time none of us can ignore a medium where there is so much traffic and where people spend so much of their time. It’s a bit of a shot in the dark right now.