Mobile as a marketing medium is still a lot of trial-and-error, but ZipDial with its missed call solution claims to have cracked the code. BE explores
When a brand is looking for ideas to reach consumers, sometimes all tricks in the book fall short. Today new media is the ‘Promised Land’ that all brands are turning to in the quest to have a different marketing approach.
Marketers and brand gurus will tell you that digital hardly gets the importance it merits. But in a market like India, digital means a 40 million internet base versus a over 700 million mobile user base. And marketers will admit taking a marketing campaign onto the mobile still remains a challenge. But Bengaluru based ZipDial Mobile Solutions hopes to be the bridge between marketers and the mobile.
Here’s how it works — ZipDial gives brands a toll-free number that they can publicise for consumers to dial into. On dialling the toll-free number, the call rings once and disconnects and then the consumer receives an SMS with more information on the marketing campaign.
Established in early 2010 by three technology entrepreneurs, ZipDial has today worked with KingFisher, LG, Oreo Biscuits, Videocon, Mumbai Indians to name a few. Founded by Sanjay Swamy, Valerie Rozycki Wagoner and Amiya Pathak, ZipDial has 15 employees working across marketing, operations, engineering etc. The company was set-up with personal investments besides help from family and friends. However in April this year, the company received Series A investment (first round of funding) of over $800,000 USD from both Indian and US angel investors, led by Mumbai Angels. “We did extensive searches to figure out if such a business model exists anywhere. But we haven’t found any,” says Wagoner, founder & CEO of ZipDial who adds that the company will be clocking a turnover of 10 crore in the next couple of years.
Among ZipDial’s recent campaign has been The Times of India’s Act Against Corruption campaign that according to Wagoner received around 4.6 million responses within a week of activation. P&G also partnered with ZipDial for a recent sampling initiative. Across Tamilnadu & Karnataka, 250 agents were given unique ZipDial numbers which they could in turn give to customers they interacted with. “There was a problem of transparency before ZipDial came in. Agents were paid on the basis of number of samples they distribute daily. So they would sometimes give all the samples to just one person or give 10 samples to one person and so on. With ZipDial customers could get the sample only if they called the tollfree number, so any chance of misuse was eliminated,” explains Wagoner.
Mobile penetration in India is much better than internet, no wonder then ZipDial has about 35% of its customer base in villages and small towns. “South is a very good market for us, we also have good customer base in Gujarat, Karnataka and AP,” says Wagoner. Lot of ZipDial’s business has grown through WOM with customers telling each other about the service. “Our numbers are accessible from all over the world. Even 1800-toll-free numbers do not have this capability. The zero cost for end consumers maximizes participation in campaigns,” says Wagoner. Zip-Dial works on every mobile phone and does not need any application/software to be loaded on the phone. There is no operator dependency either.
Rajeshree Naik, marketing head, Forevermark Diamonds has been working with ZipDial since July 2011. She shares, “We were already using internet to reach out to consumers, this service helped us move beyond that. What works well is there is no push strategy and only customers interested in the brand and the advertising will call us. It helps us engage with the customer in a very personal way,” she adds. ZipDial mostly approaches brands directly and once the marketer is interested, seeks to work closely with the creative and media agency of record to extend the brand’s marketing campaign onto the mobile platform. The brand is now also working closely with media agencies like Group M and Mindshare so they can recommend the service to their roster of clients. However Vinod Thadani, regional mobile director, India & South Asia, Group M Interaction is measured in his evaluation and says, “The toll free number that they use needs to be published and well supported by other media. Unless that is not publicised well, customers may not know about them.”
It’s early days for ZipDial and the company’s ambition is not just restrict itself to mobiles. It plans to address communities that can be hosted on popular social networking sites. Subsequently they plan to allow third party developers to host apps on their platform. ZipDial is also on an expansion mode, and are already present in Caribbean where they have Pepsi, KFC, among their clients.
Source: Economic Times – By Preethi Chamikutty