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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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