It’s a great time to be a marketer in the Asia-Pacific region, but beware if you’re among the many who are mistakenly using digital marketing as a “low-cost solution,” according to the new “APAC Digital Directions” report.
The report, from the CMO Council and Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company), is based on a survey of 648 marketers, as well as qualitative interviews with leaders across the Asia-Pacific region. Results show companies are investing more in digital marketing—in fact, a correlation between digital leadership and increased marketing budgets exists--but doing so affects the bottom line only if they are optimising customer engagement. In addition, a lack of talent is still a challenge for many companies looking to use digital to underpin a customer-centric business strategy.
Suffice to say, for many brands, and especially for marketers battling archaic senior management, keeping up with consumers’ rapid uptake of digital continues to be a bumpy road.
Make The Customer-Centric Case
On a positive note, the “APAC Digital Directions” report found more companies are investing more money in their digital marketing budgets. A full 79% of respondents said they’ve done so in the past year.
Still, a question mark hovers above measurement and value. The report showed marketers in the region are hampered by an inability to look beyond measurement as anything other than an indicator of campaign success. In other words, they’re using data to look back in time rather than measure key value metrics, such customer revenue, life time value, or market-share improvements.
Only a quarter of respondents see the value in using analytics to improve products, solutions, or services, and even fewer believe there’s a correlation between using data to look forward.
APAC marketers who are keeping pace are using digital marketing to connect with the consumer meaningfully. In other words, they are looking beyond digital as a campaign platform and using it to create customer engagement opportunities and activate strategy.
“If customers are highly digitally connected, we should be adopting the mind-set of those organisations to think about new and better ways to spark engagement,” said Kristina Curtis, head of customer analytics and digital for ANZ Bank’s global wealth division. Understanding how the customer interacts with digital is paramount, she added.
The “APAC Digital Directions” report supports that. It found marketers’ main priorities in relation to digital include strengthening strategy, social media optimisation, richer customer profiling, increased levels of customer engagement, and Web site improvement.
Boost Team Performance And Skills
A scarcity of digital marketing talent is many companies’ biggest challenge. Nearly half (47%) of report respondents blamed lack of expertise and experience at the agency level as a main inhibitor of performance and execution. This figure has risen by 10% since 2013.
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A skills shortage could also be a reason why many companies lack a strategic direction. Twenty-five percent of respondents admitted their brands have no digital strategy, and they’re simply managing on a campaign-to-campaign basis.
Investing in digitally sharp teams is an effective way to pull away from this campaign dependence, the research found.
“The greatest challenges we faced around the implementation of digital early on were around resources, but with the number of people in the market who are proficient in digital, that challenge is going away,” said Magdalena Kote, chief marketing officer of GE Capital Global Financial Solutions.
Don’t Just Advertise--Engage
According to the report, marketers with increased digital budgets should consider expanding their skill sets to construct and execute strategies that are optimised for customer engagement. That is how brands will begin to see bottom-line improvements.
India and Australia are most confident in digital, the report found, with 42% of marketers in India and 35% in Australia giving themselves “pretty good to high marks.”
Other countries that remain more focused on traditional advertising-centric strategies rather than a customer-centric approach have their work cut out for them, the report showed. More than half (54%) agreed that digital marketing gives rise to a more responsive organisation.