Marketing Maverick: Manisha Seewal, Group CMO, Carro #APACLeaders

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Read our interview with Manisha Seewal, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Carro for her insights on how Carro uses data to simplify the decision-making process of buying a car for their consumers.

With innovative disruption changing the digital economy, customer expectations are on the rise. How have you changed your digital marketing strategies to deal with rising customer expectations? 

Customers today are well informed, and they expect brands to give them personalised experiences when they go online to look for information.

That’s why Carro is utilising data on car purchases to arm customers with all the possible information they need to make informed decisions before buying or selling a car.

One way we’re doing this is by using a machine analyser that loops into the real-time movement of car purchases in the country. By gaining that information and using our proprietary pricing algorithm, we help inform our customers about the good deals present in the market. So, we’re using data not to complicate the already complex matter of buying a car, we’re using it to simplify the decision-making process.

In terms of customer experience, today’s consumer is about all-around speed, thanks to digitalisation.

We’ve looked into some of the industry pain points towards turnaround times to become the first platform of our kind to settle a car purchase in an hour. We’ve also cut down on the tedious process of form-filling as our customers need to do it on a one-time basis – helping to accelerate our customer’s journeys even faster.

We’ve also pushed our strategy to help fill market gaps, especially within the C2C space where the Lemon Law doesn’t cover C2C trading. Carro is the only one to provide warranty on C2C transactions so customers have the confidence to transact directly with a buyer.

How much impact does your social media strategy, and mobile app marketing have on your ROI? What are the online platforms that work well for your organization? 

Our strategy is mostly on the web as we’re taking advantage of how SEO can help with branding. One of the key things we’ve done is to set up blogs as part of building-up our quantum marketing strategy. This is because content has power, and good content helps you build credibility, especially when people are going online to find out more information about you.

On the social media side, we’ve ventured into storytelling, as we found that following trends – instead of just pushing our product ads out – was more engaging. One example was our ‘Be Fearless with Carro’ campaign where we let our customers share their own ‘horror’ experiences about cars. Although we gave prizes to the winners with the best stories, we didn’t really spend much but saw dramatic increases in our online stats – home page web traffic increased by 5x, product page traffic increased by 3x and we generated 30% more leads compared to the previous month.

Social media works well for us, especially for brand visibility and lead generation. However, in terms of effectiveness on a cost-to-lead basis, search engines still provide the best ROI.

In terms of mobile app advertising, we recently did a campaign where mobile alone drove 67% of our total traffic. We found that news apps in particular were more effective than other channels.

Influencer marketing, AR/VR, chatbots, hyper-personalized marketing are the growing trends of today. As a modern marketer, what is your view on the use of martech in your marketing strategy?

When it comes to MarTech, it’s all about cutting redundancies. Over the past two years, many of the new platforms that companies have engaged with were aimed at getting a better real-time view of their spending.

I see MarTech as an area that will continue to grow globally as it drives revenue and customer acquisition. At Carro, we run a complete in-house digital marketing set-up – web content management, paid search, email marketing and digital analytics – that has proven to be very effective.  

Next year, I hope to see real-time testing and integration of creative content, which is then pushed out programmatically to the right audience for maximum impact. I am also looking for an effective MarTech platform that allows me to have real-time visibility of spending and digital performance across countries.

In terms of other ‘trends’, I believe that influencer marketing is overdone. As for AR and VR, they are useful tools to engage customers with; but not to drive leads that will eventually convert. Chatbots are scalable and can help drive operational efficiency but don’t really provide marketers the real-time conversational insights that can help with product development.

In what ways do you think AI, data and machine learning are transforming the way we are approaching marketing today?

Data and machine learning have been around for a while; the difference now is that we’re seeing better results because those technologies are cheaper to implement.

As for AI, I see it as still growing. It remains to be seen how proven it is, especially for marketing strategies.

How do you describe a modern marketer of today?

Today’s modern marketer needs to find the right balance between online and offline media. They also need to make quick decisions to use their budgets effectively and get the best ROI they can. For that to work, they cannot just focus on their creative side, nor should they just crunch the numbers. There needs be a balance between the two; they need to apply both the art and science of marketing to achieve the best results.

Profile

Manisha Seewal is the Group Chief Marketing Officer of Automotive marketplace Carro. Prior to the move, Manisha was the head of marketing at Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore. She oversees the marketing function for Carro in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand and is a key member of Carro’s leadership team.

Manisha started her career in Singapore in 2003 at ZenithOptimedia as a research analyst for Nokia (regional) and Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore). After moving to the client side in 2005, she joined the marketing teams of leading insurers such as Great Eastern, HSBC Insurance and Aviva.


Manisha has been a judge at Marketing Excellence Awards Singapore for 2014, 2015 and 2016 and regularly participates at key industry events. She was listed amongst one of Asia’s Most Influential CMOs and Most influential Brand Leaders by World Brand Congress in 2016 and 2015 respectively. She also received Women Leadership Excellence Award by CMO Asia in 2016 and was listed amongst top 50 Women leaders in Asia in 2017.  

She is also an adjunct lecturer at Singapore’s Republic Polytechnic, where she teaches Social media marketing and crisis management to working adults.

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