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EP #49: Acing your personalization strategy like Vietnam’s largest marketplace, Cho Tot

About this Podcast

2020 has seen a massive transformation in customer behavior as COVID-19 forced customers to depend on e-commerce marketplaces for their buying needs. Brands have realized this change and have looked to acquire, engage, and retain customers by delivering personalized experiences that keeps them loyal to the brand. To understand how e-commerce brands are delivering delightful data-driven customer experiences, we caught up with Annabel Nguyen, Growth Marketing Lead at Cho Tot. Annabel also highlights the following:

  • Why customer retention is the new acquisition
  • How omnichannel marketing automation improves customer experiences and CLTV
  • How brands can leverage the power of data, marketing technologies & personalization to deliver personalized experiences for their customers
  • Key focus areas for brands and marketers to focus on to scale in a post COVID-19 world

Tune in to learn how to engage with and retain your customers by delivering personalized customer experiences at scale!

Episode Transcripts

Sreejith (Host): Welcome everyone to a new episode of Martechno beats, a podcast series of Netcore Solutions. Martechno beats is a platform where leaders share their experiences and their Vision on the future of marketing technology. I am  Sreejith, your host for this episode. In this podcast, We have a special guest from Vietnam, Miss Annabel Nguyen.  She’s the growth marketing lead at Cho Tot. Cho Tot is the largest Marketplace in Vietnam. Hello Annabel, thank you so much for taking time, Very excited and eager to be your host in this episode.

Annabel (Guest): Hello, Sreejith. It’s is my honor to be here on Mar Techno beat. Thank you for having me.

Sreejith: Pleasure to be your host and it has been exactly one week since Vietnam Women’s Day. Women have always been a source of inspiration for the family and society and my first question starts from there. Can you please share your journey in the e-commerce industry leading up to your current role? 

Annabel: Sure, I worked with an advertising agency the focused on social media. So seamless time I have always relied that the top part that made me happiest is when analyzing data collected from campaigns, things, and patterns or inside emerged from that and later use that data to produce a meaningful solution for Brands. So in 2017, I left that digital advertising agency started my own business. I felt but also that moment I met Cho Tot, that was quite funny because Cho Tot was actually one that was my start-up client before. I did an elevator pitch there when introducing business to them. So when they have the positions of broad open, they contacted me to ask if I want to be a part of the founding team. Things as a moment, they close like growth team. So of course I took it still very unclear about what I would do there. So in when I took the position it was 2018 and growth is absolutely a new term that most people would have succeeded with like digital marketing is or Performance Marketing. It was scary, to be honest, to start and there is not much guidance later on, but that he also the thing that makes me excited the most because they are absolutely no boundaries for the scope of what we would do in the growth team. We aim for growth in specifically use at Cho Top and that was driving me and the team forward every day.

Sreejith: Amazing, in fact, your journey has been more of a zig zag Journey, but the best part of it is every at every stage of your failure you have been able to rise yourself or even Whenever there has been no clear Direction you have been able to create a direction and then have a very strong focus to the job that you intend to do and which is also leading to the fashion of into the data and customer. 

Annabel: Yes. Exactly. I think they just like following what made you the happiest and the part just kind of like presented itself. And I guess I was a little bit lucky as well.

Sreejith: I mean luck favors the brave. I think you have been brave enough to learn from your mistakes and then still grow from wherever you have paused. That’s an amazing story and your growth. I could relate one of the most important elements that you mentioned is from your Cho Tot’s existing customers and at the same time another keyboard that I could take was you have a very strong passion towards the data. Today when we look into the key KPI of any organization. It has been customer lifetime value, the CLTV. When customer today when we talk about customer acquisition it is outstripping the customer lifetime value and many online businesses are adopting a new strategy called customer retention is the new acquisition. What are your thoughts on this? 

Annabel: Very interesting questions and I wouldn’t think that we would think of retentions only when activation cost is outstripping.  It’s like I think retention should always be a part of our growth plan since the beginning actually. Focus solely on acquisition will it did cause a dangerous challenge for business in the long run. firstly it is what we call growth Illusions when you are too happy to look at the growing light of mutants are like it had just Acquired and toss that your program product is doing well while actually losing users. Secondly, Acquisitions doesn’t let you know that your productivity is desired by users, people who may download the application just like our curiosity the retention does how you think. So if you see that your product retention is lower than the natural frequency of users for example, like if you have the mobile App of newspaper and you know that people read the newspaper every day, but you only see that people use your app like once or twice a week. You should really want to look at your upper back play out white and only retention Matrix can tell you about that. So it’s being said retention is built upon product core values has issued always have been considerate in product Seeing the very first beginning phase of the product itself.

Sreejith: Very true. If I do a follow-up to that question today, whether it’s a new customer or an existing customer, they are present across multiple channels. They are engaging with organizations, using the web, app retail multiple other channels are available. Now, it’s now become ever challenging to stretch the data and I’m pretty mature you would have also come across you are also in this stage. How has been working for you? 

Annabel: I agree with the part that it is ever-challenging to really stitch the data’s between users and is also posing a very big challenge in the last few years. And this is even more difficult process on the platform and we don’t really require users to log in using our platforms so they can come like an anonymous using our platform and live so But when we talk about data stations, it will enable us to switch from a device Centric View to user-centric a simple K would be something like if we know you the let’s name him like Kevin for example. So Kevin is using our platform on desktop during the workday, but he also browses our platform on phone as well. So the challenge is how could we know That is the one Kevin is not like two different people. To ensure that we could serve them the best-personalized content. So in Cho Tot, we have tackled this from two different ways. The first solution is like we converting we’re converting from the mobile web using to app user through menus placed on our mobile site. So using attribution tone and like deeply things embedded in that banners we are able to try And mapping user ID after the install the app and continue feeding them personalized content quite smoothly. So we are able to match between mobile users and the app user. The second solution is we can using tools and Technology. We are also exploring several options including something like Tyrion audience remap using Mutual the identifiers like emails and Facebook ID to stitch the data with one person or I know that something called Adobe cross-device analytics Branch. So there are actually many tools out there and I really encourage you guys to stick to the solution that suits you and your products the best. 

Sreejith: It’s a very interesting thought again. I could take two to three points, which is very strong. When I look over here One of the strong points that you had positioned is moving ahead from just a device Point of View to a customer point of view and when the customer is there across you know the channels whether it’s across the mediums, whether it’s a very poor app, how can we ensure that we are able to personalize and increase the engagement like for example converting back to the app through personalized communication now over here, do you think one to one personalization, one-to-one customer specific personalization is still a dream or reality for many?

Annabel: So we have to mention personalization and stand up the terms also like a person if I personification. So personalization I have to say it’s a very powerful concept. So it’s easy to name a benefit that personalization could bring us like we have a higher conversion rate. We have stronger engagement with our users in both frequency and intensity and Specs. So personalization enables the user to get to aha moment much quicker without them have to do manually customize. So actually think personalization is difficult, but actually think personalization as a skill is even challenging but I think like with the power of data, marketing technology tools, and Product Dynamics We are able to provide our users with some kind of personalization to some degree in those Communications and the content on the site itself. So the first example is we are using machine learning to recommend products that are in that users looking for so depends on the station either like we collect data to really understand that what station is that are in and they’re shopping Behaviour. We are able to recommend the product that they are looking for products that might interest and want to explore and the second example of personalization we are doing here is through what we call user relationship management. So we include push notifications, email, in-app SMS. So we kind of like striving for personalization in communication through the most simple ones and we Can’t mention you the name on these specific push notifications so that we make them feel like this specific push notification is for them to more complicated things like we are we do open API like weather notification in our certain regions to make sure that the push notification you really like customized for them in a specific language in a specific region in specific weather actually so that they feel like the content is direct to them. And also the most of you could feed dated one that we are using is what we call personal shopping assistant where we place different support tools along purchase Journeys to help users buy the right items in the most effective way and simple example could be is like based on our model and the data that we are able to collect like let’s use Kevin in that we have just mentioned in the previous questions. Now like Kevin is likely researching the market instead of buying the specific item. So we provide him with the tool calling the price comparison so that he can be easier to collect more information that he needed and is said automatically to trigger by Intrigue about user action at our station user to ensure this real-time Services. That’s not interesting. Yes. We still have a long way to optimize it and I don’t think that this process will ever stop. So it’s like weekday optimizing and providing new things. So what about you? I think like Netcore also having a lot of clients if they personalization either any interesting case study that that really impressed you.

Sreejith: Well absolutely before that I mean thank you so much for sharing that thought. I mean machine learning is the path to create more meaningful engagement with our customers and that is exactly where we are also investing heavily in the recent one and a half two years. When we talk about our big bets, We have been betting Heavy on customer experience, which is powered by AI and ml. There are multiple modules and features in smartech, which is our marketing engagement platform. One of the engagements is we can predict what is a customer likes you to buy or consume next. Like what is the next best product that should be pitched to the customer? That’s something that we are doing at the same time. We are also the machine is also learning quite a lot in terms of predicting the user Behaviour as How likely is the customer going to stop using the app how light who are the next set of customers, who are going to buy the product that kind of predictive modeling and we recently have started investing about investing on insights also, like for example, why our customers uninstalling the app why our customers why is the revenue down on a particular date? So that kind of AI-powered Insight is something that we have been investing every and it’s available in the product also. So very happy to hear that Cho Tot is also investing heavily in machine learning and using the power of AI and ml to the advantage to give a great user experience. 

Annabel: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And I think machine learning is in our focus and our investment in the upcoming years because it’s just like it’s upgrading our games is harder to serve our users in a much better way and in the much effective ways as well.

Sreejith: Very true. I will deviate the questions a little outside. I mean this year has been a unique challenge in terms of business due to certain factors and known that what has been the approach to create a balance between your team and the business. How can you share a few goods, you know, implementations are good practices that you had ensured that your team is also happy at the same time. The business is also well aligned. So yeah. 

Annabel: Thank you. So I think this year has been a unique challenge for both the business at Cho Tot and management and I think since 2012 is the year that you thought established officially is in Vietnam. 2020 is the most challenging is that we have to deal with, so although Vietnam has done an exceptionally good job in controlling the epidemic we still Spent nearly two months working from home. But of course, it’s like nothing compared to the other countries. I know that some people some of you guys I still have to look like six months or even like eight months until now so really I really feel you guys. To be honest the experience of working from home is not as bad as I expected. The team actually works quite smoothly with each other. We are still able to launch campaigns and Is very much on time, we even experienced relief to LEAP up in productivity is actually so how could we do that? So the thing is like we are utilizing the tools provided for us as many possible. The Asia teams of the joint also parties organized. It’s a lot of like all I challenged on my online mediums and kind of thing so the whole team is joining in that so even though we are not really able to meet each other physically. It doesn’t mean that we are not able to connect with each other and I think like the exceptionable and unprecedented times have given us to really like being slow down and look into what was the most important thing for our teams and really like Utilise to call the news of the team that we had to build.

Sreejith: Have you run for the best leader Contest?

Annabel: No, I think the culture of the whole company is like this. The leader takes care of the teams. But also we expect the independence in the team member as well. So we train people to really like work well in teams, but okay work independently as well.

Sreejith: Good to hear that? Maybe one of my final questions. What are the three things that brands or marketers should focus on in 2021 specifically in a fast-growing market and like Vietnam? 

Annabel: That is an interesting question and a very difficult one as well. I personally think that it very much depends on the industry that you are operating it to see what you should focus on but in general if we had to choose three things to focus on in 2021, It would be the first things I think would be like flexibility, to stay relevant to the market, to the Situations. So we are in unprecedented times like chaotic times with a lot of sudden changes to happen in know like overnight, not only talking about the pandemic things but also in the sense of Technology disruptions. So what I’m thinking we should do is they are flexible structures by keeping on a’ notch down metric when enabling both Brands and marketers to react to the changes of environment and Market or swiftly while make sure that they are staying on track. The second thing I think might be data-informed. I love this one. Like data has been powerful. We all know that in 2021 I think it’s fundamental for Brands and marketers is to really upgrade their game. Not only about how to collect data but also about how to turn data into actionable insights and Solutions and one more thing like being careful not to be in trouble what we call analysis paralysis. I heard many marketers say about how they had driven cultures that aspires to be data-driven and in-depth indeed become a barrier for them to move things forward because they have to say provide so much data to really prove one thing before making it into production. So just avoid that. Embrace the power of data, but don’t let it overwhelm you, and the third part I think is like always in an exploratory like over go out and explore things and I think they should be built-in DNA of every brand and marketer, especially when you’re operating in the market in Vietnam. There is always something new surprising me every day. It could be new technology. It could be a new channel it could be a new opportunity or even new user behavior that we just found out. So what we should do is just be curious to explore as much as we can. Yeah, I think that pretty much like three things that doesn’t matter what industry that you are operating in every friend and marketer should pay attention to.

Sreejith: I mean I can quickly summarize like agility embrace the drip power of data and also always be in exploratory mode. Very good points Annabel and I  think it has been a great 20-23 minutes of ours where you have been able to share your experience. And also I what I could hear from you is not just experience, the experience that you have implemented in your day-to-day life. That’s something that was very important to hear from a leader like you and that binds my questions and we are heading to the end of the episode. We thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am very confident that many aspirations and leaders will take note of your thoughts. Thank you so much, Annabelle.

Annabel: Thank you so much. I was Sreejith and Netcore for having me to share what my thought is about marketing Technologies and the market. It is a really good discussion with you.

Sreejith: Pleasure is all ours. Thank you so much.

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