The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every sector – healthcare, education, tourism and the entire economic system. Companies both large and small have had to adapt rapidly to respond to changes in consumer behavior. Smaller businesses have the advantage of being more nimble to adapt, while Business-to-Business (B2B) concerns may need more time, as they need to change sales strategies and marketing, while maintaining consumer loyalty. The current optimal marketing strategy is to firm up the online base with, a focus on the space where consumers are spending the most time, and that is LINE, the Thai public’s number 1 communication channel (source: ETDA).
As has been mentioned, the pandemic situation has caused many impacts, and B2B has been massively affected, whether from consumers giving greater priority to safety and ordering online, or distributors having to suspend storefront service in some periods and locations. Online service has become the inescapable solution. It both meets consumers’ needs and enables business to continue.
Marketeers’ surveys found that 85% of customers are open to new digital offers, and 84% are giving more priority to their digital experience. They are also seeking brand credibility before making a purchase decision (source: Martech). Customers tend to search for a brand on social media to survey content and interesting deals. A LINE Official Account (LINE OA) performs all of these duties. A brand can add business information to its profile, offer promotions and broadcast content at any time.
When a business chooses LINE OA, it gives them an edge in terms of consumer familiarity. A brand can communicate to its customers and assist them at the right place. Any brand must not neglect the necessity of two-way communication to maintain a close relationship with its customers, as B2B businesses often have to wait for customers to come to them, such as a problem requiring urgent remedy. LINE OA can also deploy chatbots to deal with queries to help admins work more efficiently to improve B2B business, while distributors will also have better sales.
A good example of a B2B business building relationships and boosting sales is TOA Paint, which has developed LINE OA systems with Zwiz.ai to publicize its products with posts on LINE Timeline and broadcasts of ad videos for paint. Followers get to see more than from other media, but most importantly, it is a direct connection to customers, making the connection stronger. Customers may contact the brand to make service enquiries, such as for color design services or contacting paint engineers certified by the brand, or view product information and a receipt-driven lucky draw with over 85 prizes. Customers can join the draw easily through LINE OA and get alerts when prizes are announced. This easily, TOA Paint can connect to consumers, while its distributors make increased sales from the brand’s own sales promotions.
With the growth of technology, B2B businesses have the opportunity to get to know their customers better, unlike before, when brands hand no broad access to customers and could not do B2C marketing online. It’s not like that anymore, when B2B businesses must push the brand towards customers.
LINE OA currently has over 4 million brand accounts (source: LINE). They cover every sector of business including fashion, food, hotels, appliances and vehicles. LINE OA has many tools to make marketing more efficient such as MyCustomer. This is a superb tool for communication, analysis and data collection directly from customers. For instance, surveys or preference fields, which can be continually updated, yield a constantly fresh customer database. Brands can exploit this information directly to make personalized offers and promotions to customers as they have been segmented. To win over customers' loyalty, brands can use MyCustomer to fashion loyalty Programs. This maintains relationships between brands and their customers sustainably. It could be collecting points to redeem for discounts or prizes, or stimulating repeat purchases with discount coupons. If most customers use credit cards, for every 1,000 baht spent they could earn a 15% refund, or there can be membership levels entitled to different privileges.
Let's have a look at how each tool of MyCustomer can help the brand get closer to its customers!
• Broadcast: Select different kinds of content, whether text, photo, video, tappable message or personalized image, while the broadcast itself comes in many formats, such as Active Friends, which is customers who have interacted with the brand in the last 7 or 30 days. These are chosen by target group segmented by Chat Tags. More than one Chat Tag can be selected. Or they can be chosen by Action Tag, for which the brand has set values at various points.
Personalized Image is another feature, which is using a follower's profile picture or name in a broadcast. This makes the recipient feel special and yields greater engagement with the content. However in this kind of broadcast, it is not possible to select a target group.
• Chats: Chat with customers 1-on-1, alternated with an automatic answering system. The brand can set Quick Replies for questions about products or services, such as different products, shipping and promotions. Queries are answered quickly to impress customers. The brand can attach a Tag to each customer to simplify marketing, such as sending promotions or exclusive privileges. It is even possible to Add Notes for each customer, on who is interested in what, and what products they have previously inquired about, to inform the subsequent chat. Admins can show additional attention. For instance, when a customer who has bought paint for the kitchen makes a new inquiry, the brand can ask them about their satisfaction on the previous occasion, or just thank the customer for purchasing their products again.
• Audience: creating tags for each group of followers simplifies communication, whether sending content or privileges. These can either be created anew, or with the help of User Preference Data. The latter can build a group with data culled from previous questionnaires, or imported from existing customer data.
• Rich Menu: Adjustable image bar and interactions between the bot and the follower as required, with two styles available: Default Rich Menu for as-yet uncategorized user, and Segmented Rich Menu for segmented users.
Segmentation is achieved with Tags created by the brand. Segmented Rich Menu can be built in more than 2 styles, but if segments are selected with the same Tag, the system will display the Segmented Rich Menu according to the pre-set value rankings. Each customer segment sees a different Rich Menu according to their preferences and feels that the brand understands their lifestyle. Perhaps Mr A likes earphones and Mr B likes speakers. Promotions on the Rich Menu will look different to each of them.
• Automation: The brand can set values for automatic replies in the form of text, image and tappable image. The brand may check the most frequently typed words to improve the responses, or the format of communication. For instance if the customer types the word "Collection" the most, the brand may reorganize the Rich Menu by putting in Collection as an option, and set actions such as a link to the website or show content of new collections.
• Survey : Easy-to-build questionnaire with questions of four types to choose from: Short answer, Multiple choice, Checkboxes and Other Options. When it is completed, there is a Thank You page for the brand to show its thanks or add other links, such as sharing the Survey, or a button to load the Mission Sticker.
In the Survey are links and QR codes for the brand to publicize in other additional channels. When the campaign is over, there are statistics and customer data for the brand to analyze for further marketing.
It becomes obvious that MyCustomer is not just a tool to deliver content to customers, but can manage relationships and is a Customer Data Platform for the brand with every tool that is used.
LINE Ads is suitable for making a brand better known or more visible. It is accessed 2,500 million times per month (source: LINE). Its key feature is the capability to state its exposure to the customer segment accurately. Objectives can be chosen as required to meet the needs of a diverse advertising campaign, and the positioning of the display makes the ad maximally effective. The brand may either buy ads for themselves or through an agency.
There are eight possible options the brand may choose from for advertising on the LINE Ads:
• Website visit: if your business has a website giving information or is a channel for other services, this option may be desired for users to click through straight to the website.
• Reach and Frequency: this is highly suitable for advertising products to be better known to make purchase decisions easier.
• Video Views: Promotional videos can be put into the ad platform to increase view counts and knowledge about new products.
• Gain Friends: The business with a large number of followers = big sales opportunities. The business can easily and quickly add followers on LINE OA.
• App Installs: If your business has an application to sell product or give privileges, people can install the app from the ad by linking to the download page.
• Website Conversion: The business can attract customers to its website, and convert these visits to registration, participation, purchasing products or applying for subscriptions at a greater rate.
• Dynamic Product Sales: For a business with a wide range of products, this option allows the display of product categories according to customer preferences and behavior to boost sales.
• App Engagement: If the business has an application with a previously installed user base, but which needs more engagement, ads can be chosen to stimulate people to use the app with a single click.
LINE Ads has become a key channel to access customers and expand markets to wider target segments. For example, the mMilk brand advertised home delivery promotions to deliver milk to customers directly every day. This started from:
1. Accessing customers: Advertising on LINE Ads, the brand set its target segment from the following:
- Detailed specification of the target segment, such as interest in health and longevity; age cohorts may be selected that care about their health, or parents, or a group may even be specified with Location Targeting, because some categories of product could only be delivered in some locations. Therefore, advertising could be limited to just some delivery locations.
- Creating a Lookalike Audience to access new customer segments with similar behavior.
2. Clearly defined outcomes: In this case, the brand selected the Add Friends option. Once the customer had added the brand as a friend, the brand was able to stimulate purchases with welcoming text and a Rich Menu of exclusive privileges for the new member.
The response received by mMilk from this advertising was a new customer base and increased Retention Rate, leading to sales conversions.
From every tool that has been mentioned, it can be seen that LINE has developed a range of functions for businesses to plan their marketing. With the vast array of marketing outcomes, it is the most cost-effective channel. Especially at a time when competition is fierce, companies must continually seek new strategies to access their customers. LINE OA will ensure greater brand loyalty among the target segment than ever before.