Asia Pacific marketers are gaining in digital confidence, despite budget and talent deficits

Digital Marketing

Hisamichi Kinomoto, VP Marketing, Japan and Asia Pacific, Adobe Systems- LinkedIn

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The APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard returns in 2013, revealing the emergence of a two-tiered approach to digital marketing as some countries gain in sophistication while others confront the tough reality of low budgets, skills shortages and inadequate agency support. The research was carried out by the CMO Council in partnership with Adobe, and since its launch in 2012, the Dashboard has exposed significant differences in the digital marketing landscape across the Asia Pacific region.

All across the region we see positive signs that digital marketing is coming of age and increasingly taking its place at the heart of the marketing mix as a highly accountable, flexible way to generate customer engagement and interaction.

Across APAC, 28% of marketers rated themselves as highly evolved and a leader in their field, compared to 23% in 2012. Confidence was highest in India (42%), Australia (37%) and Singapore (29%). However, the data included responses from Japan for the first time, and revealed a very interesting contradiction. Japan’s marketers rated their organisations highly in response to this question, with 28% considering themselves a leader in their field. Furthermore, marketers in Japan lead the entire APAC region with 72% believing that digital will help build a more customer-centric organization, compared to 50% in APAC.

Yet while Japanese marketers are brimming with confidence and enthusiasm for digital, the truth is that they lack the senior level support to truly exploit the digital engagement opportunity. They lack a strong digital champion to help advance the call to action. While 38% of marketers in APAC say there is a champion among the executive team (this number is as high as 62% in Australia), not a single respondent from Japan could agree. One positive thing is that Japan organisations are now seeing greater advocacy for digital marketing from the sales and channel team, with 22% pushing for an increase in digital spend on par with the APAC average.

With similar patterns emerging in Korea and China, marketers in these countries face a situation where they must heed the call of their customer for to deliver digital engagement, while still educating senior leaders about the growing digital expectations of the market. Only then will they be able to speed the adoption rate and acceptance of digital marketing’s more advanced and lucrative opportunities.

Wondering how your own digital marketing efforts are matching up against other countries in APAC? Here are some key points that stood out from the 2013 Digital Dashboard:

  • APAC marketers  shifted their priorities in 2013 to focus on content strategy and social optimization

–          75% said they were strengthening their digital marketing content strategy this year compared to  36% in 2012

–          59% are prioritizing social media optimization compared to 52% in 2012.

  • Although a strong majority of APAC marketers are measuring and testing digital campaigns, lack of access to the right skills means they are unable analyse the data and tap into the business-driving metrics that will help convince senior management to increase investment.

–          69% are measuring and testing digital campaigns, with 80% confirming they are using marketing analytics and reporting technologies.

–          APAC marketers are leveraging standard metrics but are failing to recognize critical performance indicators such as customer lifetime value (only 15% are measuring), churn rate (9%) and market share improvements (12%).

  • Investment in APAC remains below the global average.

–          APAC digital spend is still below global average, which is between 25%-35% of total marketing spend. Only 14% of marketers in APAC are spending on par with this global baseline.

–          Regionally, 71% spend less than a quarter on their budget on digital

Dashboard graph

  • Skills shortage continues to be a significant issue across APAC

–          53% said their current employees don’t have the right skills and expertise

–          48% saying they lack budget to hire skilled senior staff

What does this mean for digital marketers in APAC?

APAC marketers need to advance a more definitive business case to win higher investment in digital. The only way to do this is by demonstrating return on investment via the right metrics and analytics technologies and skills. Currently, marketers are still heavily reliant on data that shows customer preference for digital engagement, analytics on lead yield and return and the strategic assessment of business impact. Instead, APAC marketers should provide additional insights around cost savings and performance improvement practice, which only 25% are doing today.

The other key learning, is that marketers are trying to fill the in-house skills gap with agencies but this is proving to be unsuccessful. Only 12% of APAC marketers rate their agencies as excellent with the majority (69%) stating their agencies deliver mixed results.

Four next steps for APAC marketers

1. Continue to invest in measurement and optimization technologies, coupled with ongoing staff training, and make sure your organization is measuring the right elements in order to demonstrate ROI. Focus on critical performance indicators and business-driving metrics to help convince your senior management increase investment.

2. Build a case to garner support from senior managers. Among many of Adobe’s regional customers, we see the power of a digital champion on the executive team, business leaders with the vision to see customer experience at the heart of the business, and the understanding that digital is at the heart of consistent, comprehensive, cross-channel customer engagement.

3. Boost your own skill sets and those of your team – we cannot rely solely on our agencies for digital marketing analysis. Without the ability to deeply analyse data and apply insights to strategic execution, marketers won’t be able to close the gap that exists today and start to prove ROI.

4. Increase the sense of urgency around digital marketing. APAC ‘s marketers must consider digital marketing a necessity, not an additional component or a nice-to-have strategy. The value of digital marketing continues to be recognized, and customer preference and dependence on digital is clear.

The advances that some APAC countries have made in the last 12 months are evident and they are showing the way forward for all marketers to continue to take steps to broaden their skills, apply business-critical metrics, build an irrefutable business case and create truly digital-centric marketing organisations.

We’re launching country-specific findings across the region this week. Keep visiting Digital Dialogue to read in-depth country findings from the 2013 Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard.

Download the complimentary executive summary

APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard Infographic 2013

Japan Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard Infographic 2013

2012 APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard Blog

Digital Marketing

Posted on 11-18-2013

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