IMPACT weekly interviews Vikram Raichura

“India has around 650 million active mobile connections, out of which only 140 million are subscribing to mobile internet services. That leaves a whooping 410 million people reachable only via the mobile’s core functionality, a voice call.” conveys Vikram Raichura (Managing Director, VivaConnect) explaining how the concept of missed call marketing brings a brand closer to its consumer. Held in conversation with Henna Achhpal, here’s the interview.


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Q] There could have been no better time to gain traction for LiveTalk than during the recent Lok Sabha elections. How did the idea of such a service come about?
The pre-election campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections was indeed the best time to exhibit the prowess of LiveTalk. India has around 650 million active mobile connections, out of which only 140 million are subscribing to mobile Internet services. That leaves a whooping 410 million people reachable only via the mobile’s core functionality, a voice call. The platform was developed working together with Bharatiya Janata Party and the idea was conceived out of consumer request, taking into consideration the population that wanted to connect with the leader over mobile.


Q] What is the business model for a marketing company such as yours that provides services in response to a missed call?
Our business model is focused on generating value for our clients over mobile. We help our clients reach their customers by creating innovative 360 degree solutions around mobile media. We’ve shed our image from a ‘mobile marketing’ company to a ‘mobile media’ company. Missed calls act as an ‘initiator’ or conversation starter that lead to engagement through other mobile services such as downloading mobile apps, listening to audio content, availing discount vouchers, registering for services, authenticating online transactions and so on. At VivaConnect, we don’t simply sell our inventory. Instead, we deliver smart solutions crafted to deliver an insightful and memorable experience both for our clients and their customers.


Q] From which regions of India do you get the most response for missed call marketing?
The response depends on the brand, campaign and target group whereas the engagement varies depending on the brand’s objective. For instance, we executed a missed call campaign for a leading television channel to garner maximum viewership for a popular movie’s world television premiere. A missed call number flashed during advertisements that told viewers they would receive a call from the movie star reminding them to watch the movie. This particular campaign witnessed maximum participation from Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.


Q] With smartphones becoming cheaper, there are several other forms of marketing on the mobile battling for a consumer’s attention — what is the future of missed call and voice-based marketing solutions in such a scenario?
The exponential growth in sales of smartphones in India has certainly led to a growth in the mobile app industry. With this, augmented reality concepts will have high takers among Tier I and Tier II cities allowing brands and enterprises to process even more interactive content to build effective engagement. No matter how advanced the device gets, the basic functionality of a mobile phone will remain the voice call feature and it will always drive better engagement. A voice call builds an emotional connect with the consumer and conveys a higher brand affinity. The charm of a missed call and voice-based services will never fade away.


Q] What are some of the unique ways a brand has used the voice-based solutions provided by VivaConnect?
We had executed a campaign for a leading toothpaste brand, which then had a popular movie actress as their brand ambassador and wished to use her association to leverage their branding over mobile. Hence, the concept of a ‘wake-up call’ was developed wherein consumers could subscribe to receive a wake-up call from the celebrity at their choice of time in the morning. They could subscribe to receive a wake-up call for five consecutive days regardless of their product purchase. The service was absolutely free of cost and could be easily subscribed to over a missed call. It was active in Bihar and Delhi and became a huge hit. The call’s content included the recorded voice of the brand ambassador, packed with a good morning greeting, a joke and of course product branding.


Q] What could be some new ways to monetize mobile marketing in the future?
Mobile marketing is absolutely not about monetizing or selling one’s services over mobile. It’s about offering a captivating experience that enhances the consumer’s connect with the brand. It’s important to understand that consumers are heavily bombarded with advertisements and publicity all around them. Annoying promotions over mobile are the last thing a mobile subscriber would wish for. The best way is to understand the mobile usage habits of a brand’s target consumer, address their requirements and gradually build the brand over mobile so that when a consumer looks out for it, the brand is spot on.

Read the IMPACT online edition

IT voice interviews Bharatesh Salian to know secrets to VivaConnect’s success

IT Voice interviews VivaConnect‘s CSO (Chief Strategy Officer) Bharatesh Salian to shares his view over Mobile Media and Marketing in India.

1. Congratulations, How will winning this award affect your work? How do you feel to win prestigious Smarties India 2014, with 3 Gold Awards for Innovation, Cross Media Integration & Relationship Building/CRM & also the Industry ‘Best in Show’Award.
Its really an honor to win 3 Gold Awards at Smarties India and especially lifting up the ‘Best in Show’ Trophy, unquestionably it was the most awesome feeling for our entire team. This victory is a testimony to our efficiency in delivering the very best in Mobile marketing services in India. It has brought our services the long awaited recognition among Brands and Enterprises as now they perceive us as a creative mobile media company that offers end-to-end solutions to build compelling customer engagement. Also over past decades, since all the creative work has been churned out by advertising agencies, brands obviously relied over them even when it came for planning mobile media initiatives. But this new found recognition for us has boosted the confidence among brands to involve us in crafting creative solutions incorporating mobile services that fit perfectly in their branding &  advertising campaigns. We are loving it!

Team VivaConnect (from Left to Right) – Mr. Vikram Raichura (Managing Director), Mr. Pranab Basu (VP – Sales & Operations), Mr. Bharatesh Salian (Chief Strategy Officer) and Mr. K. N. Raichura (Chairman).


2. Have you won other awards in the past ?
Yes this very year we won at IDMA Awards bagging 2 Gold Trophies for ‘Best Innovation in Mobile Marketing’ and ‘Best Use of Technology’. Last year in 2013 we won a Mobbys Award for ‘Best New Service in Mobile Industry’. Previously we had been bestowed with prestigious awards like Red Herring Top 100 Asia in 2012, Top 100 Small Business in 2011 and The Best SME (E-commerce) at CNBC Emerging India Awards in 2009.

From left to right: Colvyn J Harris (CEO, JWT South Asia / JWT Mumbai), Sunil Lulla (MD, Times Television Network), holding the trophy is Bharatesh Salian (CSO, VivaConnect), K.N. Raichura (Chairman, VivaConnect), Pranab Basu (VP – Sales & Operations, VivaConnect) and Shri. Arvind Gupta (IT Cell Convener, BJP)

3. How would you gain access to new customers like BJP who helped you to win this award?
Overall we practice niche marketing to create brand awareness, however we have earned clients through exceptional result of our services. Word of mouth has been highly instrumental for us, as many of our clients have been earned through referrals.

4. How fast have you been developing last years ?
The growth has been phenomenally fast as our VivaConnect family doubled in a years time. Over last year we even executed some of the very best campaigns for big brands and Enterprises. Moreover we expanded our operations by establishing a Delhi office to connect with clients from Northern India.

5. Which factors maintain such continuous growth of the Company, As a Mobile Marketing Solutions company in India?
The factor that motivates us the most and promotes continuous growth has to be ‘Innovation’. We have a never ending urge to create something better with every new campaign that we execute for brands. Since ‘Mobile Phone’ is a communication device that offers immense utility, so we focus to amplify this connect between brands and their customers, making the interaction all the more engaging and rewarding. As a Mobile media company our learning comes from mobile using habit of our customer’s customers. Talking of Indian market, which is still a feature phone heavy market, services over Missed calls are by far more popular. A large portion of target consumer is highly cost conscious and for that reason services with ‘zero’ engagement cost (to the end user) goes extremely well.

6. Comment on “Scope of Mobile Marketing in India”, including DND (Do Not Disturb) service & other governmental rules & regulations?
The scope of Mobile Marketing is growing immensely as India’s rural market presents opportunities that companies seeking to become high-performance businesses cannot afford to ignore. The revisions in DND has given a privilege to every user of receiving their choice of updates, notifications and services. Unlike earlier time when a DND subscriber didn’t receive any informational or promotional content, now they can opt to receive updates from their favorite brands, Restaurants, Shopping hubs, etc. For eg: A person who likes pizza’s can choose to receive promotional offers and discounts over SMS by subscribing to their service and at any point of time if they wish to say goodbye to the brand they can easily unsubscribe over a missed call or SMS. These services have enriched the overall engagement between brands and their customers.

7. Please tell us more about VivaConnect ?
VivaConnect is a Creative Mobile Media Company having India’s LARGEST platform for  Voice and Missed Call Services. We ideate solutions for Brands & Enterprises over missed calls, SMS, email, mobile apps and voice platform. Most the solutions that we offer are  enjoyed at ‘zero cost’ by the end user. They are great for authenticating, registrations, activation/deactivation, voting, polling, sampling, gratification and more. Managing a three way traffic 365 days a year through Voice Calls, Missed calls, Emails & SMS, our service platforms make over 3 crore impressions every single day through transaction and marketing services. We even explain it to our clients that ‘mobile marketing’ is not about selling their services on mobile, instead its about offering an experience of their brand over mobile. Thus our solutions are often a combination of more than one mobile service to weave an engaging interaction.

8. How is it unique from your competitors? Your competitive advantage.
Combination of our self-owned Largest Infrastructure of Voice platform, our excellent team and the tie-ups with telco’s gives us an edge over our competitors. Its the result of these factors that enables us to deliver products distinct from other mobile marketers. Our setup of 1700 PRI’s is capable of managing 50 million outbound calls in a single day which is an enormous capacity. Moreover what really differentiates us is the way we deliver the solutions. It goes as the famous saying, ‘Its not what we do, Its about how we do it’.

9. What’s your “Marketing Strategy” in present & for future ?
Earlier we offered solutions separately in form of Voice calls, Missed calls, SMS, Emails and Mobile apps. But now we are on our path to productize our services which will make it easier for our clients to pick a set of mobile service mix befitting their requirement. For instance, one can choose our iVote for handling voting / polling over missed calls, or choose MoRe to offer easy and instant gratification services over mobile, or if requirement is of broadcasting live events over Phone call then choosing LiveTalk and so on.

Here’s an online coverage over IT Voice.