SEO, the Global Language of Digital Marketing Communication
We have a diverse set of considerations to take into account when we talk about global digital marketing. That diversity of issues is as complex as you can imagine in the Asia-Pacific region, or APAC, as most like to call it. The thing that creates a marketing fervor among big international corporations is the sheer size of the market. Supporting that desire to carve out a hefty piece of market share is the depth of Internet penetration of the APAC populations.
According to Statista, as of June 2014, in a distribution of internet users worldwide, the Asia Pacific region accounted for 44 percent of all internet users aged 15 and above. Asia Pacific’s share at that time was more than Europe and North America combined, which reveals its dominant position in the market.
Despite accounting for a majority share of internet users worldwide, the industry still has room for growth in Asia Pacific. Internet user penetration in the region was recorded in 2013 with forecasts generated for the years up until 2018. In 2013, 30.9 percent of the population had accessed the internet via any device, at least once a month. By 2018, the share of the population is expected to grow to 40.7 percent.
Another important SEO consideration is the device that the majority of potential APAC customers use to access the Internet: mobile and primarily smartphones.
Those are some pretty impressive figures and certainly enough to make most data-driven modern marketers drool over the prospects. If you crunch the numbers, the projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) amounts to 58 percent.
Language and Communication
When we talk about language from the SEO perspective, we are talking about language in the literal sense, i.e., what each population of the Asia Pacific countries speak as well as the language of communicating with the tools of digital marketing, i.e., search engines, websites, and social media. Each has its own unique role to play in APAC marketing communications.
The intent here is not to discuss those in detail, but rather handle each type of communication in subsequent blog posts. I will simply introduce them here and provide links to more substantial material. The Adobe web property, CMO.com, provides us with some of the literal considerations when dealing with talking to the potential customer in their native language.
We all know that search engine optimisation is an essential tool for modern marketers in building long-term demand generation, i.e., a continuous flow of traffic to the brand website. By producing web content that uses the right words (keywords) at an optimal frequency, your content can appear closer to the top of search results when potential customers are looking for services. That is essential given that the majority of traffic generated comes from a page-one SERP ranking.
It sounds achievable–until you remember that globally, only about 320 million people speak English. This means most of the world’s population won’t be able to read your website if it’s available only in English. To complicate matters, the SEO techniques you employ for one language may not work for another. More importantly, 85% of online shoppers won’t commit to a purchase unless the product description or company site is in the language they speak.
Google’s Asia Pacific blog released a research called “The Consumer Barometer,” providing powerful insights into the way consumers are using the web across 46 countries worldwide.
As I stated earlier in conjunction with the mobile tendencies of the Asia Pacific market, Asia has gone mobile-first. This is not a future trend, on some dim and distant horizon—it’s already happened in the past year. What does Google mean by “mobile-first”? Well, for starters, Asia takes gold and silver for top smartphone adoption—Singapore is now #1 in the world at 85%, and Korea is just behind at 80%. This might not come as a surprise because these are both, after all, advanced economies.
What really puts this into perspective is when you look at computer adoption figures. In most countries, computer adoption is still high, but what’s new is that across Asia—especially Southeast Asia—smartphone adoption in the past year has overtaken computer adoption for the first time. The trend is true in countries of all sizes and stages of economic development: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, not to mention Hong Kong and China.
There are many places where you can get off track when building your SEO communication infrastructure. Adobe’s tool for strategizing web based SEO communications is Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). There is a right way to do it and this blog post covers the many traps and indicators for which to keep an eye out. These SEO globalization and localization techniques are all lessons learned from many years of using our own Adobe products in support of developing Adobe and client websites alike.
The Digital Maturity Challenge
The digital divide between markets and businesses finds mention in various conversations to caution those who are either slow in adopting digital or are not putting the best foot forward. While all countries in Asia Pacific understand the importance and value of digital, no country is taking full advantage of the opportunities it presents, creating a gap in marketing maturity across the region.
The third annual APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard, conducted by the CMO Council in partnership with Adobe, indicates that countries such as Singapore, Australia, and India are pulling away with strong executive support and digital champions; while Korea, China and Hong Kong struggle with executive support and skill shortages.
“The 2014 Dashboard uncovers the varying degrees of digital marketing maturity across the region, and highlights the need for marketers to continue to demonstrate value and return on investment (ROI). With customers able to touch any part of an organisation, the role of marketing in transforming businesses is crucial and requires executive support for successful transformation,” said Hisamichi Kinomoto, Vice President of Marketing, Adobe Japan and Asia Pacific.
Organisations need to accelerate their investment in employees’ professional development to close the skills gaps faster and leverage the benefits of digital. In addition, a bolder approach is needed to applying metrics and driving a more compelling case for increased investment.
“There is no doubt that undergoing digital transformation is a complex and challenging process. Adobe has been on our own journey of transformation and we understand the pain-points marketers face as they adjust to a new digital world,” added Mr. Kinomoto.
The numbers in the chart below reflect the reality of digital maturity in the APAC market.
Cyber Maturity in APAC
The digital maturity of APAC is but one aspect of cyberspace where you need to know the status of the national environment for each country you choose with which to do business. However, cyber maturity is another consideration that must be weighed. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) keeps track of the cyber environment around the APAC Region. Its report on the state of cyber maturity 2014 is an interesting read.
The Asia–Pacific region is an increasing focus for major and middle powers. In an environment such as cyberspace where gains are high, the probability of capture is low, and deniability rules, many different economic and political confrontations are playing out simultaneously. A by-product of this tension has been a rise in the number of countries that have acquired or are seeking offensive cyber capabilities.