Ajit Sivadasan of Lenovo on making improvements to the customer’s online experience

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Part of Lenovo’s digital strategy stems from its understanding of the consumer experience lifecycle. Lenovo’s digital strategy is directed towards brand building, sales and online community building. As an integral part of Lenovo’s efforts in the this space, Lenovo.com has emerged as a marketing function with the primary objective of enhancing Lenovo’s online presence in addition to driving online sales to consumers and B2B entities in several countries. Rashi Bisaria spoke to Ajit Sivadasan, VP and GM, who drives Lenovo’s global web strategy around sales and marketing to find out more about the brand’s successful digital strategy and strong web presence.

In this day and age when every brand’s digital presence is taken for granted, how is Lenovo leveraging its web strategy differently?
Lenovo is probably doing most of what other brands are doing, the difference, as far as I can tell is around our awareness of the importance of digital and engagement based marketing in the overall customer experience lifecycle. We have spent a significant amount of time in understanding our customer’s overall journey and how they intersect the digital landscape. This helps us to first, provide a reasonable experience and second, the ability to measure the interactions using metrics we consider relevant. These, in combination allow us to make incremental yet important improvements to the customer experience online.

Can you share figures around the impact it has created on paid, owned and earned media in the last year?
While I cannot share numbers due to the competitive nature of such data, I can help provide some feedback that represents the importance of digital. From an online sales standpoint, almost all of the media dollars deployed are directed towards digital tactics. There is an increased awareness of using paid media to amplify earned and owned media and using them appropriately. While we continue to improve our efficiency (Expense to Revenue ratios), absolute clarity is elusive due to the constant state of change in the space. What is also becoming clear is that “one shot wonders” are difficult to duplicate and while coming up with creative concepts are very important from an advertising standpoint–more important is the need for consistency and coverage that’s fully integrated into the customer ecosystem.

lenovo-productisDigital strategies and associated media deployment has become extremely measurable due to advanced Data Management platforms coupled with segmentation and targeted media purchase. So it is safe to say that organizations that are on the leading edge of digital advertising are able to measure and drive constant improvements, driving efficiency gains in media deployment. And finally, measurement allows better analysis and optimization of various mixes across all types of media; paid, earned and owned.

How has Lenovo been able to improve the customer experience through its digital initiatives?
Customer experience as you know is a broad concept, it cuts across every touch point the customer interacts with the brand; from advertising to purchase and post sales support. This in conjunction with the very dynamic nature of the internet creates unique challenges in keeping up with customer expectations on user experience.

We have approached this challenge by understanding the complexity of the environment. Prioritizing whats important to our customers is by far one of the bigger challenges because on the face of it everything dealing with customers is important. That said, we have focused on device domain intersection as a key area to improve experiences; meaning how customer move from desktops to phones and vice versa. Making this experience more seamless helps customers instantly. We continue to drive relevance of content for our customers, example, we try and provide content that’s closer to what our customers may find useful. Ultimately we want to provide products and services that are really targeted. Of course this gets challenging when you have over 1B visitors coming to the site annually. Finally, we have several initiatives that leverage big data concepts to predict trends and sentiment so we can react better and /or be more proactive on issues.

Can you share some of the best practices Lenovo adopted to evolve from a traditional PC company to what it is today.
A lot of what is happening today is based on experimentation and shelf life for good ideas is short. We do have a bias towards doing things that are leading edge. Among these are building predictive models for online purchasing, developing ALL digital, ALL social marketing campaigns that are immersive and unique. Building concepts that drive customer generated content and ideas to push the envelope of creativity and enhancing the quality of customer interactions. Above all, using advanced Data concepts to leverage customer feedback, both implicit and explicit, to drive all aspects of customer experience.

As Lenovo continues its evolution to a PC+ player we will continue to leverage the digital ecosystem to drive two way, real time conversations that allow any number of meaningful and highly relevant exchanges. Mobile devices will naturally drive the stickiness of such interactions and further push the user experience paradigm.

In terms of marketing spends, how much does Lenovo allocate to digital?
It depends and varies widely across the various routes to market. As an example, online sales is driven predominantly using digital strategies. Other routes to market combine various media mixes, in some cases from 30% to 60% digital. As an overall brand, we are more and more focused on digital strategies due to the benefits of reaching a broader audience in a targeted manner with the ability to optimize in a much more regimented manner. Digital in many ways allows us to level the playing field when it comes to reach and amplification, while driving the quality of the interactions.

Please give examples of a few successful digital campaigns
We have done several but the most memorable ones have been the launch of the Yoga tablet last October when our Brand Ambassador and ‘ product manager’ Ashton Kucher launched the product online via YouTube and Social media. We managed this launch entirely using a digital framework, from the pre buzz creation to launch and post launch activities. We were able to accurately track the brand sentiment as each action unfolded across multiple platforms. We were able to curate the content to our specific needs, we amplified messages in key markets leveraging our media assets–the campaign was quite successful, both as a campaign in itself and from a learning standpoint. It gave us cues on scaling, sentiment, relative performance to other brands. We also used an all Social strategy to drive our Smartphone product K900, in Indonesia to great effect. The lenovo phone and brand were relatively obscure in Indonesia but post the campaign our brand metrics overall experienced major improvement to claim the second spot in the PC+ category, which as you know is a significant accomplishment. Of course all of these happen because of our sophisticated user base, great ideas and some of the world’s most innovative technology and products from Lenovo.

How has the customer evolved over time and has Lenovo adapted to changing consumer trends and behaviour?
Customer evolution has been constant and consistent in the digital space. As internet penetration continues and more people join the ecosystem, lot of improvements happen to infrastructure, tools and technology naturally due to companies trying to monetize more of the activities. Customers are becoming more savvy and knowledgeable and rightfully have higher expectations from companies serving them.

Our customers in most mature markets expect us to provide them a easy to use and world class customer experience online. Whether it involves purchasing products or directions to local retailers or simply help in returning a product or for service. They want to be kept in the loop in a non intrusive manner. They expect us to safe keep their privacy and yet know enough to provide enhanced services if they are a repeat customer. So in keeping with these trends, Lenovo have constantly evolved the user experience paradigm using various techniques including and not limited to advanced testing of concepts, page layouts, features and functionality. We have tried different approaches to enhancing navigation on the site, providing content in easily consumable formats; whether it is video or text. We have worked on building behavioral models based on just observation, we have built models based on behavioral economics to make it easier for consumers to compare and contrast information and so on.

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