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Now, scratch cards as a marketing tool

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Curiosity got the better of when he recently spotted a ‘Jaago Sarkar Jaago’ (Wake up call for the government) poster inside a local train. He gave a missed call on the number provided on the poster. Instantly he received an acknowledging his missed call with a ‘Thank You’, and telling him that he was now part of ‘India Against Corruption’ campaign launched by social activist .

Patade may not know this. But he is one of 12 million Indians who gave missed calls as of August 5. The campaign received 7.6 million missed calls within just three days of its nationwide launch.

Now consider the case of , an English-speaking training institute, where students walk in to make inquiries about various courses. Few of them get converted, but even those who come to simply check out the offerings are given a “scratch card”. All that the students need to do is scratch the card and SMS the code to the number printed on the card. Those who do this begin getting an English word a day (included in the fees for those who take the course, and free for 30 days for those who are contemplating about it) and its usage in a sentence.

The concept christened 90ml is being promoted by Netcore Solutions, founded by who is also its managing director. 90ml is a scratch card which can be bundled as a relationship card, product replica card, visiting card and even packaged with any product. The 90ml engagement process also includes Multimedia Messages (MMS) and voice based communication, along with vanilla SMS.

“This one-of-a-kind offering enables enterprises to engage with prospective customers over a period of 90 days and converts them to a consumer through multi-flavour communication over mobiles. Hence, the name 90ml,” says , CEO of the company. His team has also implemented this marketing solution for major handset manufacturers whose names he would not divulge.

“Mobile advertising has emerged as an integral part of a brand’s marketing campaign today. It has become an important engagement tool. We hope the 90ml concept will enable organisations to build a relevant database of the customer on the fly,” says Saxena.

This implies that if a customer has interacted with a brand, s/he can stay connected with the brand for a period of time. Second is the attraction of choosing for “opt-in” versus “push” (can be interpreted as spam and become a nuisance while antagonising the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) email campaign. “We estimate that only 30-40 per cent of people read SPAM messages. The interaction increases with opt-in messages,” notes Saxena.

Even some major handset manufacturers are adopting this concept. Customers who walk into the stores of one such player in south India, for instance, are encouraged to ‘Karaoke’ (in which amateur singers sing along with recorded music and/or a music video using a microphone). After they finish, they are given a 90ml scratch card which they use to register their names. The interaction starts thereon. Those who register are cajoled by the company to give names of 10 friends.

Similarly, a medium-sized player Mohini Tea (better known in North India) is using the 90ml cards at retailer outlets to offer them more incentives and know them directly “which can help Mohini Tea to promote more schemes”.

Companies which have engaged in communication via SMS in the past only had an option for a blast-in database, the accuracy of which could never be determined and banked upon.

Though still rapidly evolving, the mobile advertising industry, pegged at around Rs 100 crore, is generating responses that are as high as 40 per cent, compared with a 3 per cent response rate through direct mail and 1 per cent with internet banner ads. Around 56 per cent of messages are promotional, 13 per cent create awareness, 10 per cent are for support and 21 per cent are transactional source, according to Netcore analytics.

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