EP #47 How HealthKart leveraged effective email strategies to accelerate business growth

EP #47 How HealthKart leveraged effective email strategies to accelerate business growth

About this Podcast

In today’s episode of “For the Love of Emails” podcast, Mr. Vibhor Garg, Business Head, Marketplace and D2C at HealthKart, along with host Jasmine Handa, Senior Product Marketer at Netcore Cloud, have joined together for an insightful conversation. Vibhor has about 10 years of experience in corporate strategy, advising clients on growth strategy, cost reduction, and implementing large-scale transformation projects. He is an experienced strategy and management consulting professional. His work has contributed to the growth of significant businesses in multiple sectors, including Consumer Internet, Financial Services and Communications, Media, and Telecom Industries.

Quick Snapshots
In this podcast, they discussed:
HealthKart’s email marketing journey with Netcore Cloud
The most effective segmentation strategies for your brand
How email list hygiene helps your business
Post-pandemic evolution of email voice and tone
Email strategies to re-engage your user base
How email is unique to other marketing channels
Episode Transcripts

Intro (00:06):

You’re listening to For The Love of Emails podcast, powered by Netcore Cloud. It’s a weekly show dedicated to helping email marketers, marketing enthusiasts, and professionals of all walks engage, grow, and retain customers through reliable, smart, and effective email communication and engagement. Discover actionable ways to increase ROI and deliver value through email innovations, personalization, optimization, email deliverability, and email campaigns. No fluff. Tune into the best practices and tactical solutions from the best thought leaders and practitioners. Master your email communication now.


Jasmine Handa (00:39):

Hello, and welcome to another episode of For the Love of Emails podcast. I am your host, Jasmine Handa, senior product marketer at Netcore Cloud. Before I introduce you to our guest and we get started with some interesting conversation about emails, here’s a special announcement I would like to make. 

We are running an exciting video series called No Redirects November, based on AMP emails launched on Netcore’s official LinkedIn page. We are posting brand new videos every Monday to Friday at 4:00 PM IST throughout November. The videos will showcase important AMP use cases across five industries, eCommerce, banking & insurance, job portal, travel & hotel, and media & publishing. You can learn how your brand can leverage AMP emails and achieve fewer drop-offs, eliminate friction, and get higher engagement and conversions. So follow our LinkedIn page right away. We’ll be adding the links in our show notes so that you can watch the videos that are already live. 

So, moving on with our podcast today, I have a seasoned professional, Mr. Vibhor Garg, Business Head of Marketplace and D2C business at HealthKart. Vibhor has about 10 years of experience in corporate strategy, advising clients on growth strategy, cost reduction, and implementing large-scale transformation projects. Vibhor is an experienced strategy and management consulting professional. His work has contributed to the growth of multiple significant businesses in sectors including consumer internet, financial services and communications, media and telecom industries. Welcome Vibhor to the For The Love Of Emails podcast.


Vibhor Garg (02:44):

Thanks, Jasmine, for inviting me. Looking forward to having an interesting conversation.


Jasmine Handa (02:47):

Sure, sure. Absolutely. So Vibhor, to start with, tell us about HealthKart and what aspects you touched while heading the marketplace and D2C business there.


Vibhor Garg (03:00):

Sure. So Jasmine, before I get into my role, I’ll probably give a bit of a brief background about HealthKart. With how it started, and how our business evolved. So as everyone knows, HealthKart started as a pure-play marketplace and primarily focused on sports nutrition. And when it started, it was also focused on pharmaceutical products. In 2015, the pharmaceutical division got a spinoff, and got into a separate entity named  1mg. Post that HealthKart pivoted its business model and rather than just focusing on the pure play marketplace, they started building their brands. So right now, HealthKart is a mix of, you know, focusing on selling authentic products of international brands and building their own brands.


Vibhor Garg (03:49):

So in total, we have five brands. The first one is MuscleBlaze, the leading player in the sports nutrition category. Then a couple more brands in vitamins, minerals, and health supplements. Like one is HK Vitals and the second is TrueBasics. And then the remaining two, where we are looking for the product market. One is bGREEN, which focuses on main plant-based nutrition. And the last one is Gritzo which focuses on kids’ nutrition. Coming to my role over here, I primarily head the business for HealthKart marketplace, where we sell our brands and other brands. It’s a  pure play marketplace and I manage the business we drive through the brand websites, of the five brands I’ve mentioned.


Jasmine Handa (04:40):

Okay. This is absolutely great. You’ve talked about some exciting products, and the strategies for marketing them would also be really interesting; we would love to hear from you in the next 30 minutes. Since we will talk about emails, I want to understand HealthKart’s email marketing journey with Netcore. And how do you leverage the product or email as a channel? It would be great for our audience to know what kind of emails you’re running and the benefits you’re receiving from them.


Vibhor Garg (05:16):

So, Jasmine, I’ll tell you that email/retention marketing is the most critical piece for any eCommerce player because, you know, acquiring customers is one thing. Until you’re not able to retain them, have that stickiness with your product, and with your platform, you won’t be able to do a profitable business. And for that, email marketing helps us a lot. And over a period of time, email marketing has grown for us because initially, we were primarily focusing on HealthKart. As other brands have grown, we have also started focusing on email marketing for those websites. In terms of how we leverage email marketing, the first one is a clear-cut use case of, you know, cross-selling or upselling to the users who have already come on a platform and shopped once with us.


Vibhor Garg (06:06):

That’s one thing. Secondly, some new customers who have probably not bought from us dropped off in the middle of the journey – targeting them also. And then the third is to try – using  email marketing as a content platform because, in the nutrition category, content education helps people become aware of how to consume a product and what the benefits are – it is also very critical because especially pre covid, I think, in the nutraceutical industry, the awareness levels were a bit low. I think Covid, in that way, has helped make people more aware. Yes. But still, we have a long way to go, and that’s where email marketing helps us.


Jasmine Handa (06:48):

Yes, yes. So, as you talked about, you know, dividing people into buckets, you’re targeting people who need to be re-engaged. Segmentation is one of the strategies which is coming to the surface. So, what are the most effective segmentation strategies you’ve seen working for a healthcare company?


Vibhor Garg (07:16):

There are three to four ways in which we typically segment our users. The first one is like when a user drops off in between. Let’s say a user comes on the platform, is looking to buy a product, drops off at the product view level, or adds the product to the cart and then drops off. So that’s the first segmentation. The second segmentation is,  cross-selling, say, based on our data, we looked at the customers buying these products. And once they buy this product, once they buy an A product, 50% of those people buy B products also. So all the people who have just bought A product, we would target them and tell them that they should buy B product also to get the maximum benefit.


Vibhor Garg (08:00):

So that’s the second strategy. Then the third segment is where we target the entire audience,  when we are running major sales campaigns or major launches. For all brands, we typically do a big sale event in three to six months. That’s where we target all the audience. So the third segment is that. And then the fourth one, which encompasses all these segments, is when we see how users interact with the emails, like whether they’re opening the email or not. If, like, let’s say we have sent 8 to 10 million emails and they’re still not opening, we probably will start eliminating them because those people might not be interested in interacting with the content, interacting with the offers that we’re sending, which encompasses all these three segments.


Jasmine Handa (08:51):

Absolutely. So, this hygiene of the email list actually, I think, really helps. These wonderful strategies tied up with the right tool or platform help to achieve business objectives. So how is the Netcore product helping you in analyzing the data since you’ve said that you’ve analyzed the data and then you do the sunsetting. How is that helping to execute the campaign in a better way? I’m sure analyzing the metrics and then adapting or pivoting one strategy is essential seeing the competition. And, you know, you are working with five big products. So, tell us about that.


Vibhor Garg (09:40):

So, I’ll tell you, Jasmine, definitely the Netcore product helps us a lot because, see, the kind of metrics that we track are, like, the open rate, the click-through rate, these are the metrics that we track, and then what kind of campaigns are working, at what time should we send that emailer, at what time do we see the maximum attraction, what kind of offers are working for us? These are the metrics that we track. 

And then, sometimes, we see, like, some of the mailers are getting into spam instead of getting into the primary folder. So there, again, the Netcore team is helping us. Lets us know what things we should focus on avoiding. There are definitely some best practices that we need to follow. But even if you follow them, there is an issue. So how should we address that in qualitative and quantitative aspects? The product helps us quantitatively, as I already told you, the open rate, the click-through rate because open rate is one thing. Still, you would want users to land on your website and buy something. So click through rate is also equally important.


Jasmine Handa (10:41):

Yes, yes.


Vibhor Garg (10:43):

And then, what are the best practices that one should follow from a qualitative point of view? Like, the image to text ratio, when and where should the offer come? Where should the content come? What should be the subject line? Those things also help us improve our email marketing.


Jasmine Handa (11:00):

Absolutely. And it’s great learning here for all the listeners out there because we focus on the quantitative and open rates, click rates, bounces, etc. But  focusing on qualitative is a way to adapt and work on the strategies for the next email campaign. So as we talked about adapting the strategy, has your email voice or the tone of the messaging evolved post-pandemic? Have you seen a shift in email engagement over the past three years? So how has that been?


Vibhor Garg (11:42):

So see, during the pandemic, all brands, in general, were very aware of how they communicate with the users. What sort of communications are they sending? Yeah, so, HealthKart also followed a similar strategy. The second part, as I already touched upon it briefly before as well, for the nutraceutical industry in general, these multivitamins and health products, the awareness level has gone up a lot.. So definitely, I would say it’s a continuous journey that we have been doing, you know, like how can we improve our engagement rates. It has improved a lot, but Covid also helped because, as I said, the awareness levels have increased. But apart from that, the previously mentioned things have also helped us improve our engagement journey. What kind of content should we send? How should we send it? What is the segment that we are targeting? And there, we have gone into deeper detail to get the best bang for the buck. So that’s how we are typically doing it.


Jasmine Handa (12:55):

That’s great. And, while we’ve also been talking to other brands, I have heard people saying that empathy is definitely one thing which has been that one tone for email content writing that has been a savior across industries. And educating people about Covid was also a very mindful email campaign run at that time by many brands. So, seeing the strategic and the tactical decisions you’ve been taking, and you’ve talked about right now, I should not be missing this question from a business head, so I’m asking this. What is your vision for HealthKart in the coming years, and how do you think email marketing will contribute to it?


Vibhor Garg (13:43):

See Jasmine, as I said, at HealthKart, we are a house of brands. We have five brands under our umbrella, apart from our marketplace, our vision for HealthKart is to make HealthKart the leader in the nutrition industry and try to capture all segments. As I said, we are in multiple segments. Like sports nutrition, kids nutrition, plant nutrition, multivitamins minerals, and health supplements categories. Yeah. So, to capture all these five segments and be a leading player. And see, I’ll tell you, we have always been online-dominated. Our majority of the business comes from online channels, like our own online channel and the other eCommerce marketplaces that we have, like the Amazons, Flipkarts of the world.


Vibhor Garg (14:33):

So, online will always remain a critical part of us. And, especially, our own channel. And this is where email marketing will always be a very critical channel for us because, as I’ve told you, the acquisition is one thing that will give you instant growth and all. But in acquisition, there’s a limit to which you can acquire new users. It all boils down to how you get the maximum out of those users. And this is what I’ve told you. Email marketing would help us increase our LTVs, increase the business we are getting, and increase our share of wallets from all the users. That’s one thing that I see. And secondly, from a content perspective, we are very bullish on it. After all, doing performance marketing is one thing, but to make brands, this thing was also very critical – that you make content. You make people aware of other things they should and shouldn’t do.


Vibhor Garg (15:31):

And this is a continuous journey. And that is where email marketing would help us.


Jasmine Handa (15:36):

Absolutely. So, since email plays a very crucial role in engaging, re-engaging, and, you know, in the revenue growth, going on in this. While Ideating these email strategies, it also happens that sometimes these strategies work and sometimes they don’t. Has there been any instance where a particular strategy didn’t go as planned, and would you mind sharing the lessons you’ve learned from that experience? Because I’m sure, the marketers who are listening to us right now would definitely benefit from them.


Vibhor Garg (16:12):

Yeah, I think Jasmine, I can share two – three examples. Yeah. I’ll give you the first example. So see, we try and experiment with different emailers. So one of the emailers was again an emailer through which we were looking to generate business. What the team thought, so initially, the way we used to construct our email was the offers used to come in the beginning, and then some content would be there at the bottom. They thought that, okay, let us change the strategy and put the content first, and then go through the offers, in the latter half of the mail, but what we observed was that once we started doing it, our open rates remained the same, but our click through rate really started coming down.


Vibhor Garg (16:59):

And the reason for that was that if you open it on a desktop or your laptop, you will see the entire content in one go. It would  have a big impact when you’re opening it on a laptop or an iPad, or a computer. But the problem is that most people operate their emails through mobile. Yeah. When you open it on mobile then it becomes a challenge. So that’s the one learning that we had. Secondly, another example that I would say is, as I’m saying to you, that we look at how many people are opening your emails, and then you start excluding those people from your emails. So we used to do that, but then what was happening was those customers were becoming completely obsolete with us.


Vibhor Garg (17:39):

Another strategy that we set was to not send these people a lot of emails. Let’s say we have one big launch or sale coming in a month. Let’s start touching those people with that emailer in which we are sending a very good offer or a very good launch. So once we started doing this, we started seeing traction in our business because initially, we were starting to remove these people from our emailers. And we saw that eventually, our base was also decreasing, shrinking, and our revenue was also shrinking. Because If these people are not opening your mails, you should not target them. So then this is a strategy we followed. Okay—people who are not opening your emails. Let’s say you send them 10 mails and they’re not opening, we should not target them with most of the campaign, and we should really target them with certain specific campaigns where we see that the offer is very good, you know? So that’s another learning that we have.


Jasmine Handa (18:36):

Oh, that’s great. The device-friendly part that you said, is very important, that we do a lot of testing and everything. So that comes out well. These were great learnings, Vibhor. So well, now that we’ve spoken about the mishaps, let’s get to the positive side. What are some campaigns that worked exceptionally well for HealthKart?


Vibhor Garg (19:06):

So, see, Jasmine, I think email, from an ROI perspective, is one of the best channels we have. When I look at the money I’m spending and the revenue I’m getting purely from a ROI perspective, it’s one of the most cost-effective channels we have. That’s one thing, seeing the campaigns that typically work for us have two parts. One is the content that you’re creating for your campaign. And then, the second thing is the offers you’re running, that is another thing. So we have seen that the campaigns that work best for us are two types of campaigns. One is the cross-sell campaign, like when we segment our users and say, okay, these hundred users have bought this product and, there’s a possibility of eighty percent of them usually buying the B products also.


Vibhor Garg (19:59):

But, in that, typically what we have seen is that instead of just telling them, okay, buy this product, you need to give them some incentive, some offer to help them buy that product. That’s the first thing. Second, the campaigns typically work for us when we have a big launch. Like our brands keep coming up with newer products, in every like, one to two months. And, when we target users with those launches, also with a good offer, those things also work for us. And the last campaign we typically work on is the big sale. Again, because we have a lot of offers, these three kinds of campaigns usually work well for us.


Jasmine Handa (20:43):

Okay. And, as you’ve mentioned, like in the conversation we’ve been having, email has been a very effective way to re-engage your users. And you’ve also learned that , we should try and engage them for particular campaigns that you guys are offering, where you guys are offering, you know, special discounts and things like that. So it’s a very effective way to re-engage your users. Could you share some more strategies on how HealthKart re-engages its user base?


Vibhor Garg (21:20):

Oh, so see, I’ll tell you one thing that I’ve already mentioned about the direct business aspect. The second aspect is, on the content piece, we have a huge blog section, a section that we have on our HealthKart platform. What we typically do is, if somebody has bought a particular product, whatever content is there related to that product, we try to send them an email in an automated way. Once you buy the product, what are the benefits of that product? How should you consume it? Whatever related content that we have, we try sending those emails also to those users to make them aware and to get the best benefit of that. The third thing that we have recently started doing is that we will be publishing a newsletter also for all our core users, loyal users, tell them what’s happening, what kind of new products we have launched, what kind of interesting content we have on our platform, which can help them become better or become fitter, like, what kind of things they can do.


Vibhor Garg (22:25):

So that is another thing that we’ll be leveraging on – the content piece, only a monthly newsletter kind of a thing which tells what’s happening on the HealthKart side in terms of new launches, in terms of the content that we have on our platform or our social media handles. So these are the three things that we are typically doing.


Jasmine Handa (22:42):

Absolutely. So these are great and specifically talking about the first point you mentioned, where you are sending very personalized emails to them, and those emails are working well. And brands should learn how to check on the website and then attach it with email and leveraging both the channels is going to help. So we’ve touched upon many points – we’ve discussed segmentation, re-engaging users and personalization, and how the strategies have changed in email marketing. My last question would be, what is the unique thing about emails compared to other channels since you use emails a lot, and how do you see it evolving in the future?


Vibhor Garg (23:40):

The biggest advantage of emails is that you can be far more creative and innovative.


Jasmine Handa (23:51):

Absolutely, yeah.


Vibhor Garg (23:53):

Secondly, I know we are in this generation. We are in that era where the shorter the content, the better it is. But for our industry, it’s very important that you communicate the right thing effectively, even if it becomes a bit long. That’s where emails also help because with some of the other tools, whether SMS or social media, Instagram… Sometimes the challenge for us is that we can’t really communicate.


Jasmine Handa (24:22):

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.


Vibhor Garg (24:24):

So, that is the second advantage that email has. Thirdly, as I’ve already told you before, it has been the most cost-effective way. And fourth, I think going forward also, email would play a very critical role for us to retain our users on our platform, and also users who have dropped off in between – getting them back. And then, users who have become obsolete and not buying, getting them activated again. From a business perspective also, it’s very critical. And as I’ve said, you can become creative and innovative with emails. I’m not saying you can’t push SMS, but email gives you that leverage. That is the second thing. And, the third thing, as I’ve told you, you can send a more holistic communication, which sometimes you might not be able to do in other forms of communication.


Jasmine Handa (25:17):

Absolutely. So, those were great learnings that we’ve received from Vibhor today. Thanks a lot for talking to us on For The Love Of Emails podcast. This was a very insightful conversation for all our listeners. We hope that email as a channel and Netcore as a product helps you achieve all your business and revenue objectives. To end on a higher note, we are thrilled about our customer Myntra, India’s largest fashion and lifestyle eCommerce brand, for winning the prestigious EIS awards 2022 by Media Post in New York for their Netcore powered AMP emails. We extend our warmest congratulations to Myntra on their well-deserved win. This is a stepping stone to many more achievements with our customers. This is all for today. Thanks to all our listeners; stay tuned for the next episode. Till then, happy email sending. Thank you so much, Vibhor, for joining us and giving us your precious time. 


Vibhor Garg (26:23):

Thank you, Jasmine, for inviting me. Thank you so much.


Outro (26:26):

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