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Desmond Phua | Home Credit International

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Welcome Desmond Phua, Head of Digital Platforms, Home Credit International sharing his insights on MarTech Stack, Marketing Skillset, Future Trends & Marketing Strategies, as part of the MarTech Thoughts series.

Please give us a brief introduction about your job.

Home Credit is in the Consumer Finance Industry. We provide point-of-sale loans to customers in multiple markets in Asia and Europe. Consumers who would like to purchase a product, e.g. mobile phones, but are not able to pay in full, can take up a loan from Home Credit, where we will go through a KYC process before a loan is approved. The customer can then pay back in instalments.

What is the one marketing platform you can’t live without?

One of the key platforms that we cannot live without today is a Digital Experience Platform (or CMS). It is the foundational platform that allows us to distribute content across multiple channels / devices. An example would be the website, which is the storefront for the company and helps with SEO.

Currently, what are you primarily looking for in your digital marketing efforts?

We are looking at both awareness and engagement. Awareness is important as it helps build up branding and also lets the customers understand who Home Credit is and the services we offer. Engagement is needed to keep the customer updated (keeping warm) so that we can maintain top of mind as and when the customer needs to take up a loan from Home Credit.

At your organisation, what tasks in marketing are good to automate and what tasks still need a human touch?

It will mainly be the repetitive tasks that can be automated. For example, behaviour-based or rule-based communications / campaigns can be automated by setting up event triggers / rules which will automatically send out notifications / emails, etc, when certain events happen. This will allow marketing to scale up the level of personalisation. Creative optimisation at scale can also be done through AI / ML platform. However, tasks such as marketing strategy which involves complex decisioning, local cultures and practices will still need human intervention.

What are some of the significant changes to your customer outreach and retention strategies?

Consumer trends are changing, with customers becoming less brand-loyal and more value-driven.

Hence, marketing outreach and retention strategies need to resonate with value-driven marketing, i.e. value from customer perspective. For example, the topic of sustainability / ESG. Customers are becoming more aware of such topics and would look for brands that resonate with their beliefs. This means that as a company, we will need to relook at our marketing strategies – both awareness level as well as engagement level to put the right balance.

How do you see the skillsets needed for the marketing profession changing?

Marketing professionals need to be more digital / technology / data-driven. No longer can marketing professionals not learn about technology and data analysis, as many marketing decisions will be made through the use of data. Flow of data between different marketing technologies is needed to drive automation and scale up personalisation efforts.

How do you keep your team motivated to get the best out of them?

To keep the team motivated, we use agile marketing techniques – break down goals and targets into realistic “chunks” and celebrate small successes and quick wins during challenging economic times. That way, it helps to build the team’s confidence to take on bigger goals and build up their ambitions.

How do you monitor the effectiveness of your audience segmentation?

The effectiveness of audiences is measured through key performance metrics, for example engagement rates, conversion, etc. These are digital metrics that are transparent.

What will be the next evolution in marketing technology that we can expect in the coming years?

Probably would be AI-incorporated technology into marketing technology. This will help improve marketing efficiency to allow marketers to scale up efforts.

What are the key challenges when it comes to implementing Chatbots for the first time?

Key challenges faced in implementing chatbots is the training of the chatbots to provide relevant responses. That means having to feed the chatbots with lots of data to learn about the business and the responses needed, as well as designing the chat UX.

What is the best use of technology you have seen in this year?

So far the best use of technology I have seen is the use of Generative AI such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, BARD and more. ChatGPT has captured the imagination of the world and it has speeded up the adoption of AI to everything we do and opened up our imaginations.

What is the scope of using AI and machine learning in Marketing Mix Modelling?

AI / ML will probably speed up MMM in terms of speed and time for analysis and probably have more dynamic modelling to make real-time corrections and analysis.

How could a marketer start utilising the Metaverse?

At the moment, Metaverse is still in its infancy stage. Hence marketing will still need to explore as the general consumers are not too familiar with the concepts.

With the advancement of AR & VR, how do you see these being utilised in Digital Storytelling?

Not in the immediate future, but AR & VR will definitely be an area of interest.

Two things need to happen – hardware pricing needs to be more consumer-friendly, and better implementation of AR & VR that is more natural.

These technologies should augment existing digital storytelling as a “third space” rather than replace existing platform / behaviour.

How much of your marketing is data-driven?

At the moment, about <50%, but growing the awareness of data-driven marketing through a digital transformation programme.

As mobile and internet use rapidly expands, how do you track customer behaviour change?

We normally make use of analytics like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics and deploy the tracking code across app & web.

What challenges do you see in processing data coming from different sources? How to overcome?

The key challenge is how to unify the data from streaming different platforms, as different sources of data are measured differently. E.g. Facebook measurement and TikTok measurement metrics could be very different from how GA4 classify data. Hence, to overcome the differences, businesses need to understand the differences in measure and agree on common metrics.

With more consumers being conscious of their data being shared, how do you overcome the growing concern?

We will need to be more transparent with the consumers regarding the use of their data as well as to implement a consent management platform to give consumers control of their data where they can remove their data as and when necessary.

How do you monetise data for future campaigns?

We leverage data to help drive improved personalisation capability.

Through the use of the data, it will allow us to improve our cross-sell and upsell capability to improve conversions.

How to use the data dynamically while creating a seamless physical and digital customer experience?

We have not reached that level of maturity but are putting in place technology that will provide real-time streaming of data to help deliver more timely and relevant experiences.

What data enrichment strategies can you suggest that work effectively from your experience?

We are looking at implementing a CDP to allow for the ingestion of more data sources to provide us with a 360 view of customers and deliver the right activation.

What are the top priorities for a MarTech Stack optimisation strategy to achieve?

Improve marketing efficiency, drive pipeline growth or acceleration, increase marketing ROI, improve personalised customer experience, & improve attribution to revenue.

What are your views on having a single stack? (e.g. Google or Adobe vs a mix of best stacks for each function)

Would not prefer to use a single stack as you hardly would have a single vendor that will be good at everything. While it is easier to use one vendor, you will likely be held hostage by the vendor.

Hence, would prefer to use a best-of-breed approach and integrate the platform so that the architecture is modular and you have the potential to swap out redundant stack with a newer and better platform.

How do you balance experimenting with new technologies vs investing in current technologies that you already utilise?

Usually, we will have POC with vendors to ensure that the platform will actually deliver results (as per what the vendors sell themselves). It is only through POC that we will have a realistic understanding of the use case and open up the imagination of business users on how to leverage the platform (and deliver ROI).

What are the best approaches & tools to understand customer pain points?

One of the best ways to understand customer pain points is to implement GA4 / Adobe Analytics to provide quantitive data and also overlay with a DXI platform (e.g. Fullstory) to provide a qualitative analysis (through session playback).

How do you keep abreast of all the latest MarTech out there?

Talking to vendors / marketers during tradeshows or conferences to understand what is out there.

How do you connect, engage and build a persistent relationship with your customers?

Most important is to have a Customer Lifecycle strategy in place, then put in the necessary measurement metrics, integrate MarTech in place and execute test & learn – in order to continuously engage and build a persistent relationship.

How do you tackle department silos when it comes to looking into CX proactively?

Usually, to have a C-level customer champion on CX, leverage data to show how improving CX will “improve” the lives of the various departments. That way, out of self-interest, the various departments will come together to improve CX.

How do you measure brand love?

Other than traditional brand surveys, NPS is conducted periodically. The measuring of brand love would be through “branded” organic search and conversions from branded search. If brand love is strong, the conversions from brand search will be higher.

What do you need to have in place to create experiences that flow? What are the challenges your organisation has faced to get there? and what good practices you have adopted?

Need to have an integrated MarTech ecosystem where data flow seamlessly on a real-time basis across the different marTech stack. That way, there will be no data silos, and we can leverage a unified data source to drive experience.

A key challenge faced is the lack of digital maturity and experience in the team, as many of the teams have not experienced the level of sophistication. It is important to continuously train and allow the team to build up knowledge and experiences.

How important is segmentation to your personalisation strategy?

Segmentation is key to personalisation strategy. However, the question is how many segments and is there common segments that can be derived? Other key components to deliver conversion are UX design and removing barriers to conversion.

A big thank you to Desmond Phua, Head of Digital Platforms, Home Credit International for sharing his insights on MarTech Stack, Marketing Skillset, Future Trends & Marketing Strategies.

If you want to connect with Desmond after reading his MarTech Thoughts, please reach out to him via his LinkedIn Profile!

See more MarTech Thoughts interview pieces here!

Last updated: Oct 2023

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