This content marketing case study by Nilofar Shamim Haja demonstrates how askNivi India, a free mobile health chat service available on Messenger & WhatsApp, captured 100,000+ users in 30 days through Facebook marketing
How Data Informs Digital Marketing
These are exciting times to be a digital marketing professional in India. Not only do marketers have a multitude of platforms and channels to showcase, sell and highlight their products and services, but we also have at our disposal tools to monitor, review, measure, and evaluate the performance of our messages.
For marketing professionals working for non-profit, development, social enterprise, and for-profit-foundations within the public health domain, the value of these measuring tools is significant: 1) Data becomes the clincher to secure funding for overall goals, 2) Data helps us make the case for further investments in *specific* programs within the larger portfolio, and 3) Data supports our push for increasing marketing spends across relevant media suitable for specific target audience. Data is the punchline and the overarching umbrella under which we secure, support and sustain our initiatives.
At Nivi India, a Boston-based free mobile health service that leverages AI-enabled chat bot on Facebook Messenger to have conversations with our users on family planning, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and safe ways to avoid pregnancy, *data* helps us track user journeys: from the moment they click on a Facebook advert till the time they wind up the conversation with our chat bot, and even after, when we send users reminders and nudges towards a service they requested information on.
Bharat is Overwhelmingly Online
Since our free mobile chat service is available only on FB Messenger for now – coming soon to WhatsApp India as well – we decided to go live with Facebook ads (instead of Google adwords) and evaluate the results for the launch phase. And ironically, we relied on Google’s Year in Search 2018 insights to inform our digital marketing strategy. The report makes a compelling case for digital accessibility and ownership, particularly among the Tier 2 and Tier 3 users: 350 million connected smartphone users in India, with 9 out 10 new Internet users most likely to be regional language users.
Targeting Our Audience on Facebook
Let’s begin with how we targeted our audience. Who amongst us needs information on sexual health, contraceptives and family planning? Literally everyone who has hit puberty and until women reach menopause (broadest appeal, but there’s a case to be made for a nuanced look at the sociology of determining public health and SRH demography). Facebook, however, doesn’t allow us to target users under 18 years for our ads. Working in tandem with our partner organizations’ needs, we narrowed the TA to men and women in the 18-45 age group, residing in the North-West-Central regions, speaking Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Marathi. We didn’t deep dive into interests, after all, how can you filter users based on their preference for Bollywood, cricket and travelling against their need for family planning? No connection!
Secondly, our campaign objective was to send users directly to our Messenger chat service, so they can begin chatting with askNivi India, our chat bot. Our ads had to appeal to the widest demography possible, be relatable to both men and women, motivate them to not just read the headline and description accompanying the ad, but also compel them to seek the information highlighted in the ad messaging, and lastly, our ads had to be accessible to Hindi speakers in a way that’s not didactic, or preachy, and is attractive and scenario specific.
Messaging for Sexual and Reproductive Health
The Facebook ads are outcomes, but the journey began months ago with usability testing of our mobile chat service and creating user personas based on feedback from our sample users. The user personas help us compile a real life sketch of our target audience, taking into account dimensions such as age, sex, location, education, job, family size, network and peer groups, aspirations and motivations, tensions and anxieties, sexual health habits and problems, marital or relationship status, financial health, mobile accessibility and ownership, internet browsing, access to information, relationship with public health professionals, influences from media and so on.
Our detailed user personas for single men, single women, married couple with no kids, married couple with one kid, and married couple with two kids helped us determine which stage of the family planning and sexual health life cycle our users would most likely be in and craft several ads that would speak directly to each of these cohorts.
What Kind of Messaging Works for Family Planning?
Creating user personas and their journey is a significant chunk of the exercise, but the other bit is research into public health messaging and mainstream advertising messaging on condoms, birth control pills, injections, and other methods. You all remember the Mala D and Nirodh ads on Doordarshan circa the glorious 1990s? How about that hilarious but brilliantly informative scene from the movie Anubhav where Shekhar Suman asks the pharmacist for Nirodh? Cut to 2019, where we see Ranveer Singh asking us to open our “khushiyon ka chhatha“! The public service ads and notifications by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in stark contrast, lack all the jazz of contemporary Indian ads, but are equally noteworthy for their directness, volume of information conveyed, and relatable characters.
Info-Gaps Between Knowledge and Decision Making
For askNivi India creatives, we needed creatives and ad copy that would be able to squeeze the content of the videos above in the tiny real estate space of the ad headline and description, and address the everyday scenarios and concerns that users face. The end goals also varied for us: we don’t want to go the public health route of pushing family planning clinic referrals or the purchase of a condom or birth control pill or recommend a specific brand of contraceptives. That’s not the goal anyway.
Between the stages of say, marriage and deciding to use a contraceptive method or visit a clinic, are numerous info-gaps that a typical user struggles with in everyday life. “What to do if the condom tears during relations?” “What are the safe days to have intercourse?” “Can I get pregnant during my periods?” “I have a 6-month baby, how to delay next pregnancy?” “I heard that pills causes weight gain. Is that true?” “How many times can my girlfriend eat emergency pills in a month?” These are the kind of scenarios that our mobile chat service aims to address.
User Journeys Rooted in Real Time
These are real questions from our users that we receive in the course of their chat with Nivi. These questions and concerns inform the messaging and tonality of our Facebook ads and address the specific situations that users need more information on. The ads also play into different psychologies: the ‘Small Family, Happy Family’ ad projects a confident family of 4, with the women taking the lead on seeking a permanent family planning solution after having two kids; the two young girls speaking to each other about misconceptions around birth control pills targets a user who is worried/anxious about a particular method; the young man clearly in panic mode plays into the fear mentality of users; and we also have the clever ‘Stop Googling, Chat with Nivi’ ad that gently chides our collective behavior to Google healthcare information and accept it as truth.
Applying the Rules of Content Marketing
Since I come from a digital publishing background (ex-Mid Day, Design Curial, Conde Nast India), I understand the importance of CTA (call to action here was: chat with Nivi, it’s free and private) and headlines that are immediate “7 ways to avoid pregnancy” and ‘5 reasons why injections are effective”. The use of a number in the headline is deliberate (thank you, ScoopWhoop and Buzzfeed for your lessons in viral content) and is an update on an earlier ad headline that was straightforward, but didn’t get us the results: How can you avoid pregnancy or Take charge of family planning.
I also played around with A/B testing for a bunch of ads, targeting some at both men and women, and some at only women or only men, targeting as per language and region, ads that employ more or less Hinglish to appeal to the young demography (and to ascertain if users feel comfortable with Romanized Hindi), and Emojis to make the description appear less wordy and serious, and more friendly. Data allowed us to review the results in real time and provided us with impetus to experiment with advertising real estate.
End result? Men Are Equal Stakeholders in SRH Journeys
We hit 100,000+ users in 30 days. And that’s just the beginning! What we learn as we deep dive into data acts as signposts and guides on our journey to helping users access relevant and timely information when they want. The overwhelming majority of users who engage with our ads are men, which is reflective of Facebook’s user demography in India. This data has given us compelling reasons to position men as key stakeholders in the family planning and sexual health decision making process. There’s a dichotomy in public health messaging which acknowledges men as gatekeepers of decisions and choices, but reaches out to women with products and services (through frontline health workers and ASHAs).
The plethora of questions shared by askNivi India male users on family planning, methods to space and delay pregnancy, and sexual health issues and intimate relationship dynamics point to their urgent concern and need to access real time information that will help them improve relationships with their partners and take charge of limiting family size. On the other hand, our data has also given us a peek into the worries and concerns of Indian women and how they tackle these problems in the absence of emotional support, financial independence, legal knowledge, or the means to act. Our future messaging will look at nudging, motivating, inspiring, and encouraging both men and women to seek information on SRH and empower them towards decision making.
If you are a digital marketing professional who has worked with healthcare or public health programs, I would love to hear your insights, observations or questions! Write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.