NEW DELHI: Customer acquisition remains the primary goal of India's online marketers but more and more are looking to retain customers as well according to a new study.

The State of e-Marketing India 2015 report, from marketing technology company Octane, surveyed 465 marketers from 399 organizations and 12 industry verticals to assess how online marketing has changed over the past four years and how practitioners see it developing in 2015. 

More than half (56%) saw customer acquisition as their main marketing target, a proportion that has remained broadly the same since 2011. At 22%, brand awareness had dipped sharply from the previous year's figure of 29%, reversing several years of steady growth.

The biggest change in recent years has come in attitudes to customer retention, which has climbed steadily in marketers' estimation, from 11% seeing it as a primary goal in 2011 to 20% in 2015.

The leading e-marketing activities they were deploying to achieve their goals in 2014 were websites (71%), email marketing (71%) and social media marketing (69%). These three areas were also slated to see the greatest increases in investment during 2015.

Octane also noted that India's e-marketers were investing more time and energy to create engaging content, with 61% reporting this helped them increase brand awareness.

Engaging a newer audience was cited by 56% and the ability to attract and retain existing customers by 53%.

In general, marketers preferred to lean towards tried and tested blogs and newsletters for their content marketing initiatives (61%) ahead of social media (52%).

But in three sectors – education (63%), retail & e-commerce (71%) and travel (55%) – social media was the top choice.

The government's Digital India Plan has set out targets for 250,000 villages to have internet access by 2019, for all public places to have wifi and for every person to have a smartphone.

Consequently marketers are working towards having smartphone-friendly plans in place. Some 23% reported they already had a responsive website, while 17% were sending responsive emails; 28% had both. A further 14% had a mobile app while 18% had yet to develop a responsive website.

Data sourced from Octane; additional content by Warc staff