Consumers are turning to finance apps at record levels. But to rise above the noise, marketers need to deliver more customized messaging. More importantly, marketers need a framework to gauge interest and impact, pinpointing the channels and frequency that drive results. In episode #411 of our bi-weekly series Reimagine Growth sponsored by CleverTap, our host Peggy Anne Salz talks with Ankit Banga, Head of Marketing at Indiabulls Housing Finance, one of the leading home finance companies in India. Ankit explains his “frequency of four” formula for driving a “10-12%” increase in engagement rates. He also discusses how his company activates and motivates audiences with unique offerings like personal loans within three minutes and shares plans for a subscription healthcare service to help customers in these difficult times. Finally, he walks us through the new app and a gamification approach that offers customers the chance to play games in-app and convert reward points to cash.
Thanks, Ricky, and thank you for joining Mobile Presence. I’m your host, as always, Peggy Anne Salz, mobile analyst, tech consultant and founder of Mobile Groove. And interestingly enough, consumers accessed finance apps over a trillion times in 2019, that is a massive number and the trend is likely to accelerate making digital-only and mobile focused, maybe app focused as well, the new norm for financial services. But of course more consumable demand and a massive rise in mobile and app use mean that we will likely see fierce competition for customers but of course waiting for the competition to cool is not an option at this time.
So, in other words, brands that go silent in a pandemic when their consumers, their customers need advice and guidance is probably making the biggest mistake. But the ship hasn’t sailed yet, there’s time for fintech companies, financial brand marketers, to improve their outreach efforts, build customer trust in these times of massive app use.
So, today, continuing with Reimagine Growth, a special mini-series on retention marketing brought to you by CleverTap, we focus on one fintech company using a smart approach to messaging and even some cool gamification to keep customers loyal. My guest leads digital marketing at Indiabulls Group companies, in particular Indiabulls Dhani, one of India’s fastest digital personal loan fulfilment platforms – he has a decade of experience, he’s focused on digital campaigns and he is really focused on what he does and he’s with us today, Ankit Banga, great to have you here today. Where are you based by the way?
Thank you, Peggy, thank you for having me. I’m based out of Bombay.
Okay, Bombay, I’ve been there, beautiful, and when we can travel again, who knows because I really loved my two trips to India, have to make it to a third. Now, we talked about Indiabulls by way of background, you know, offering loans, home loans, I spoke about Dhani, it’s an interesting fintech app, it’s also a very successful fintech app. What prompted you to launch it, what does it do, maybe you can tell me a little bit more about what the app does and what’s behind it.
Quickly, Dhani today is available on Android and iOS devices, it’s almost about close to about 20 million customers on Dhani and we have been launched in 2017. We were one of the pioneers to basically offer personal loans on the fly with the app, like in just about 3 minutes, and we went all out to help people get money from your phone in 3 minutes, that was the only slogan we had when we launched the app, Dhani, and it was path breaking because no-one was offering end to end digitised solutions at that point in time.
And from there the journey has been pretty exciting and today Dhani offers healthcare and finance solutions on the Dhani app along with a couple of engagement tools.
And what’s also interesting, you’re the fastest growing, or one of the fastest growing platforms in India. You’re also really quick to respond to your customers, making a loan decision in less than 5 minutes – how important is speed, removing friction – I hear so much about it has to be friction-free, it has to be flexible, it has to be fast – what are you finding are important aspects of a good app experience and how important that is for your company?
So, from both sides, from the customer point of view and from internally, speed is very, very crucial for us especially when we are in the tech world and in the app world because – so how do we, you know, how do we get the benefit from the traditional organisations that are available in the country is only because we could offer things at a certain speed and we could offer things with a certain convenience.
So speed becomes very, very critical and that’s one of the key factors of Dhani’s success, like I said, we went on to give loans in less than 5 minutes to people, if customers had the necessary documentation online available, we could process loans in less than 3 minutes and that’s been one of the key stories for us. But that’s also the key DNA for the company and for us as an organisation.
So what we do is we learn, we react and we change quickly. We don’t wait for months to gather data. So we believe that in digital, the early signs that you see from the data are more than enough for us to get a sense rather than waiting for, you know, months and years and plus with digital, a lot more data is like readily available and is accessible and you could make real sense out of that data from customer experience point of view and from your product point of view.
And that data of course, that’s also a lot about how people are interacting with your app, you know, they’re inputting data, you have probably first party, third party, a mix of all of that and that allows you to assist at the right times, maybe with nudges or help like, oh, you need to do this or that in the app, but also understand what they want, just get to the point probably because I would imagine in these times, people don’t have an awful lot of patience, they know what they want and they want you to get them there.
Exactly, exactly. So, yes, data is available in all forms and shapes, you know, and especially when you’re a tech product or a tech company, the data, if you do not have control over your data, there’s something going wrong, you know? So, from that point of view, and like you just said, it’s whether it’s alternate data in terms of what the customer is doing on the app, how much time is he consuming, which section of the app is he on, what part of the app is he doing what to the data that the customer is filling, you know, on a day to day basis plus the trends that we see over months – all of the data is important and we have to continuously figure multiple lenses to see those data and make meaningful interpretations out of that.
And also, you know, it’s a personal thing, it’s personal finance which means it needs to be personal, maybe even customised, tailored, individualised, whatever you want to call it – both the tools and the tone of voice. What can you share about the channels that work best, I mean, you’re doing SMS, you’re doing WhatsApp, you’re doing web hooks, you’re probably doing other stuff as well – what can you share about that and the mix of like what works really?
So, what really works is the timing of your communication, right, what time did the customer do something and what time did you reach out to him? The second thing that works is, you know, how do you use the mix of your mediums correctly? So, you know, and a lot of people are using a lot of platforms but what makes the differences, how do you channelise your mix and how do you catch the customer at the right point in time because if the communication is, say, contextually relevant to the person, like if you’re talking about a loan and if he’s on the app and suddenly you say, hey, do you need help on XXX, or do you need help on XYZ, and if he says yes, you know you’ve got him at the right point in time rather than going to him after two days or three days and four days – he has already lost interest and probably he’s gone to some other app or some other platform and already availed the service.
So contextually being relevant and using the right mix of channels is the most important. So this is from platform point of view, obviously from a communication point of view, we keep shuffling our communication every ten days we figure if this is not working then what else should work? So, yes, you need to continuously experiment with your benefits, with your tone of communication, you have to use a mix of approach of using personalised, non-personalised and try because some things would work for some customers and some things would work for some other customers.
Makes perfect sense because as we said, it is a personal finance offer, it’s an app, it’s on my phone, it can’t get much more personal than that and it‘s interesting that you’re using so many different channels, so many different approaches. We’ll talk a little bit about journeys and we’ll also talk about your product mix when we get back because that’s very interesting – not only are you personal in the messaging and the marketing, but you’re adding more features that are very, very relevant to your audience. So we do have to go to a break for just a moment, Ankit, but listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And welcome back to Mobile Presence. I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz, we have Ankit Banga, Head of Marketing at Indiabulls Housing Finance here on Reimagine Growth, our mini-series. Before the break we were talking about Dhani, your app, we were also talking about how you engage with your audience, it’s very important, it’s very personal but you’re also making certain that the actual product mix, you know, product is the new marketing, you’re adding to that product mix. Tell me about your addition of healthcare.
So, healthcare was a natural fit to Dhani, Indiabulls Group was always into healthcare. With Covid coming into play, we thought it was the opportune moment of digitising the whole healthcare offering that Indiabulls Group and the best thing was that we could offer it on the same platform of Dhani because that’s our main platform for customers. We believe that we should not be building multiple platforms, you know, and customers get confused, customers would want everything to be available at one place and therefore we started, you know, aggregating all our offerings into one platform and we call it Dhani and therefore the healthcare business came into being.
Healthcare is a very, very interesting offering and we’re really excited of growing healthcare, digital healthcare in the country.
It is really exciting, I have to say that I write for Forbes and other publications, I’m very excited about bringing this to a wider audience, it’s an amazing launch, it’s just very recent, I think within the last one or two months?
Yes, so we officially launched Dhani healthcare in September 2020, yes, so about two and a half months now. Now, we’re offering online consultations in India, so people can just use the Dhani app and click a button and like how you would call up, say, your Dominos or your McDonald’s or your others, you could just speak to a doctor as instantly as that and that’s how we are changing how the healthcare industry operates today. And also we are offering delivery of medicines to your doorstep within one hour.
That’s tremendous, that’s something that marketers can really learn from everywhere, North America, West, East, you name it. It’s also a subscription service, that’s pretty interesting as well because I’m able, I would imagine, to, you know, I commit to recurring costs which is great for you as a business, you know your cashflow, and I probably have subscription service that I can deal with as a customer, that makes me feel committed but not over-taxed, not over-committed from payment from the pricing is what I mean.
Yes, so from a pricing point of view, you know, you have to be really, really competitive, in fact you have to be really, really affordable if you have to penetrate because the customer today is calculating every penny that he spends. So, it has to make real sense to him of opting for a particular product and service. Therefore we have all kinds of models available, one of them is definitely subscription and we’ve also introduced…
So, for example, we have a model which says pay for 30 days only, so the minimum starts at 30 days and then you can go as high as like taking a subscription for twelve months.
Just one point I was saying is your pricing, like I said, has to be very affordable, you have to understand how much would a customer genuinely save, you know, to subscribe to you and in normal terms, the customer needs to save at least 2X to pick up anything on a model like subscription.
What also is very interesting is how many different models, you know, you are thinking about the customer journey not just in the messaging and the marketing but in the product design – that’s exciting for me. Tell me a little bit about that journey because I would imagine, one, you’ve got multiple ones, just like in segmentation, multiple buckets, how are you approach this?
So, yes, when you offer so many products in your app, one important thing is how do you segment people in the right buckets and honestly we keep learning, we keep evolving, we keep looking at data and see what segments are working.
So we definitely divide our audience into three or four buckets largely so I’ll just give you a broad heads up on the buckets or on segments. We’ll have a segment of customers who have not taken any product from us, we will have customers who will have taken a product from us, we will have customers who would have been in a certain journey of a certain product and then we will have customer who would be in a renewable mode or post-product sale model.
So, we would define, you know, different strategies to each segment and the biggest strategy would be to drive people who don’t have any of our products to move them into one of the journeys, from journeys to being a customer, and from customer to sales and renewals. So that’s how we define our segments.
That’s how you define your segments, how are you motivating and activating these segments? I know that you do work with CleverTap but you also have a very interesting formula approach I’d like you to share which I really like because I like something that’s simple – this is simple but so smart. Reaching a customer with a frequency of 4 – what does that mean?
So, over a period of time, we ran a couple of campaigns, we realised what is the optimum reach that you would need, the optimum number of times you need to reach a customer to ensure that you have communicated to him correctly your message and we came up with this model of 4 – 4 is the optimum that we should reach to a customer, at least 4 times before we make a decision that this customer is not interested in a product like this. And then our frequency would start depleting and obviously our duration would also start depleting.
So in the initial set, we reach each customer at least 4 times using 4 different mediums in a span of a week to ensure that we have reached him and informed him about the product.
And what about the, well, you know, one thing is to say to reach them and then inform them but this also creates familiarity because I’m interacting with you often and I remember from Seth Goden, the whole idea of frequency…
You’ll have to be very careful when you’re creating an interaction versus irritation for a customer, so that’s the balance that you’ll have to create here.
I was going to say, it’s frequency, familiarity but then there’s, you know, I’m interacting with you obviously in a very appropriate way, as you said, do not irritate the customer, you can put that on a t-shirt, that’s a rule to follow, there’s no question, but there’s also an uplift – what can you tell me about the uplift when you do it properly, when you do it appropriately and also data informed because you are using that datal to be appropriate. So, what can I expect as a marketer? What have you seen?
We generally see an uplift of conversions ranging from 10 to 12%, you know, we use CleverTap as a tool for our engagement and for the whole campaign management which involves engagement, acquisition, of our user basis. So we have seen and when we do testing in terms of, you know, segment A when we do not run any communication versus B where we done a set of communications, we definitely see a 10 to 12% uplift. In fact, for some campaigns, even better.
I mean, 10 to 12, that’s massive, I’m reading just a 1 or 2% increase is massive if you look across an entire user base, you’re 10 to 12, is that what you had in mind because I do know you’re on the road to meet your goal. Your goal was 200 million customers by 2024, that’s the numbers there, not about the actual engagement metrics but is that in the realm of what you were planning or does it even exceed the plans?
So this year we were supposed to acquire about 20 million customers by 2021, we are almost done with that like at least three months before our ideal plan. So, yes, everything is in the roadmap, we are looking at reaching a goal of 200 million customers by 2024 and like I say, you know, every day is a new day and we keep adapting our strategies to meet what is the need of the hour.
So like I was talking to you about when we had the pandemic, we never had games on our app, we introduced games because we realised people had a lot more free time now, we introduced a loyalty program based on games, we introduced a program where customers get rewarded, his game points would get converted into, say, rewards, real rewards, if his pays his EMIs on time.
So you have to continuously evolve your models, learn and there are a lot of models that we started and we have stopped as well when we realised that these are not working. So it’s a game, yes, so I’m saying there is a roadmap but we are re-channelising, relearning, unlearning, as we progress.
But that is really the key to everything, it’s to adapt, you know, I’m reading so much around business strategy, flows, funnels, it’s all different, data is different, everything is different – we are in a pandemic, it changes a lot but it also challenges you to try new things and we are going to talk about one new thing you’re doing which I think is pretty cool, you hinted at it, a little bit of gamification, bringing that into personal loans and healthcare, a lot of imagination there. So we will talk about that, we’ll talk about a couple of other things, so listeners, we do have to go to one last break but don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we are back, welcome to Mobile Presence, Reimagine Growth, our bi-weekly mini-series. We have Ankit Banga, we’ve been speaking with Head of Marketing, Indiabulls Housing Finance. Ankit, great show, I’m going to switch gears just a moment, we talked about all of the interesting features, the interesting approaches, adapting, trying new stuff. Spin the Wheel, that’s definitely new, that’s definitely different – what is it, tell me about that and how you have been, yes, introducing gamification into something where you wouldn’t actually expect it.
Yes, so Spin the Wheel is our most used engagement tool on our app, it’s one of the most simplest tools as well, you just have to come, spin the wheel and the wheel would give you or not give you any reward for the day. We kept it very, very simple, we wanted to make it like as easy as anyone can play it and you don’t need any skillset to play that game. I think 90% of our users would play Spin the Wheel every day.
So, what do I get, I spin the wheel and I get like…
We’ve created Dhani Cash which is like loyalty points, like a lot of other platforms also have loyalty points, we call it Dhani Cash. So you spin the wheel and you get Dhani Cash, you play other games and you get Dhani Cash and once you get Dhani Cash, you can convert that Dhani Cash into real cash by either subscribing, renewing or paying your EMIs on time for any of our products.
So, basically we make people, you know, play easy, simple games and get hooked to the app and get used to the app and then we reward them by doing actions that are expected from them. For example, you know, take a product from us and you get some of your Dhani Cash can get converted into real cash and the real cash can also be used on our app because we have a whole payments feature as well. So you could do mobile recharge, bill payments, anything on the app. So that’s how the whole program has been tied together to become our engagement tool.
And it’s also very interesting because it sounds to me like you’re going the way of becoming a super app as well, right?
Yes, yes, yes.
We are working towards, I mean if that’s how it’s called, we have two offerings, finance and healthcare, and yes, if that’s called a super app, yes, we’re moving towards becoming a super app.
Super, super smart. How about you yourself, how do you pass the time?
So I think I love going for a run in the morning or going to the gym in the morning, I just love to start my day very, very fresh and I want to wind up my day at a certain time because that helps me revive for the next day. Any activity, I sometimes go for a run, I go for cycling, I’ll go for gym, I’ll do something that just makes me feel happy about myself and that’s how keeps me charged.
Good segue to the next section I have because it’s about must have skills or, you know, must have traits. Whatever it is for marketers today, you know, just to get through and keep going, a fresh start sounds like a great one for everyone, not just yourself, but give me another one, a must have skill for marketers today.
Must have skill for marketers is customer understanding, that’s point number one. The second skill that one should definitely have is the idea of doing things perfectly or trying to do things which you have put in the best foot forward and not like just doing things for, like just doing, because I see a lot of marketers today are just doing things because someone else told them to do that, you know, and without applying your own brains.
So, I would say that apply your own brains, think of the customer as your first focal point and work towards it with patience. That should be a skillset leaving other things aside.
That is very helpful advice. What about a personality trait that makes you personally successful?
I think personality trait that makes me successful is never say that I know it all and the inquisitiveness to learn and to experiment and to work towards it, yes. So, I mean, if that puts it into format.
Excellent, well, I really want to thank you, Ankit, for being on the show today, for sharing your tips, for sharing your ideas and keeping us sort of interested, curious, try new things – that’s what comes out of this and it’s inspiring to marketers everywhere. As I said, this is very relevant to marketers everywhere in the world today, so thank you so much.
Thanks again, and of course Ankit has shared his journey and to help marketers, organisations as they drive customer connection and re-enter the market post-Covid-19, CleverTap continues with its Reimagine Mobile Growth series of webinars, the Mobile Growth series is under #reimaginegrowth, makes sense of course, and in this series, it’s all about lifting the lid on top mobile brands, how they’re successful in handling acquisition, engagement, retention – it’s all there, get ready to grow at clevertap.com/reimaginegrowth.
And if you want to keep up with me throughout the week or find out how you can be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, then you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, mobilegroove.com is where you can find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services as well.
And you can check out this and all earlier episodes of the show by going to wmr.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Spotify, Amazon and iheartRadio simply by searching Mobile Presence – I have some also over at Mobile Groove, some summary articles that you can dive into as well for top tips and takeaways. So until next time – remember – every minute is mobile, so make every minute count. Keep well, stay safe and we’ll see you soon.