We all know that there has been a massive shift in the way we do marketing. This has been driven by changing behaviors in how prospects consume, interpret and interact with information, driving marketers to focus their efforts on ensuring they’re part of the customer conversation. This change has been happening around the world, but it’s going to be accelerating rapidly in the coming year – particularly in Asia Pacific, where technology and consumer behavior is reaching a tipping point.
According to the Asia Pacific Digital Factbook, more than 40 per cent of the world’s internet users are located in Asia Pacific. Mobile penetration was set to reach around 65 per cent in 2014, and half of the world’s smartphone users are located in the region. Markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and China have over 70 per cent smartphone penetration, and tablet numbers are also rising fast. Internet speeds are increasing, online shopping is expanding, and photo and video sharing are booming. Global and local apps are appealing to different markets, such as Line (Japan’s biggest social network, which has 280 million users), BlackBerry Messenger (which is popular in Indonesia), and KaKao Talk in Korea, with 5.3 billion messages (!) sent each day. Mobile marketing and social media aren’t just for consumer marketing anymore, and B2B marketers need to take note.
In the age of the digital consumer, sales is no longer the only team on the frontlines of the buyer’s journey. For at least the first three-quarters, the marketer is driving the relationship, which means the marketing team needs to join the conversation early. Consumers will crave – and expect – more customised and personalised products, services, and experiences. And providing this kind of customization should be the primary goal for marketers in 2015.
Here are five trends that will shape the B2B digital marketing landscape in Asia Pacific over the next 12 months.
1. Micro-targeting and personalisation
It’s time to really get to know your customers and design smarter communications that make use of that knowledge. The one-to-many strategy is a thing of the past; marketers will dig deeper into customisation and personalisation strategies to find the targeted, yet profitable, subsets of their markets and offerings. It’s all about communicating the right message to the right person at the right time – and through the right channel. There will be a need for advanced market segmentation, driven by an understanding of who your buyer is. Not just the demographics of the buyer, but also a deep dive into the needs, challenges, lifestyle and motivations of the buyer. Creating these buyer personas will provide marketers an ability to create relevant and personalized content strategies.
Personalisation will make its way into just about every aspect of digital marketing. Delivering a consistent customer experience that anticipates and responds to the customer’s every need will be a goal for many marketers.
The digital marketing ecosystem will empower the goal of attracting, engaging and retaining customers by providing information and content that gives them everything they need to learn about, purchase, and use their products and services. Marketers that can effectively connect with prospects will win.
2. Quality content and strategic content marketing will be the focus
Content drives business, and at any given moment buyers are searching for information that will inform them, educate them, or help them solve a problem. Whether it’s a data sheet, white paper, demo script, or a web page, marketing content needs to speak to the needs of prospects and customers.
One of the main ways that brands have been establishing authority and gaining trust with customers is to consistently create valuable content and distribute it through a variety of channels. This generally involves relevant industry information that provides insight to the target audience. Inbound marketing, driven by valuable, engaging content designed for a specific audience, will be bigger than ever in 2015. Content will be the top priority in many marketing plans. Content distribution will be more important than content production. Marketers will maximize distribution of their content to live in many places where the audience is already spending time.
Getting the right message to the right person at the right time offers tremendous upside: it establishes credibility and authority, and creates brand affinity. In 2015, the goal will be to attract your identified audience to the compelling, informative content that you are creating. Forward-thinking marketers will seek out either experienced content writers or outsource writing to agencies or marketplaces that specialize in writing or creating content.
3. Mobile will dominate
Due to the widespread and quickly expanding use of smartphones in Asia Pacific markets, brands will need to create content that’s easily accessible to mobile users. Whether it’s creating an alternate mobile version of a website or utilizing responsive design, it is critical to provide a positive experience to users that are browsing via a mobile device. As the shift from PCs and laptops to mobile devices continues, businesses that aren’t on board are likely to suffer.
It will be hard to find a list of marketing trends that doesn’t include a mobile-first strategy. Most analysts agree that brands will have to put more thought into leveraging mobile technology in the coming months in order to create experiences that serve consumers’ needs.
Markers should not assume that the same long infographic that did well with the target audience on the blog (theoretically viewed by desktop and laptop users), will have the same impact when viewed on smaller screens that require excessive scrolling to view. As marketers increasingly recognise the importance of mobile, there will be a heavy focus on creating and optimising content that performs well across all devices in 2015.
4. Ad retargeting will become more effective
Ad retargeting is a marketing strategy that has really caught on recently. It works by using browser cookies to track the websites that users visit. Once they leave a certain site, the products or services they viewed will be shown to them again in advertisements across different websites.
It’s fairly obvious as to why this technique can be so effective. With only a small percentage of website traffic converting on the first visit, ad retargeting works to increase the overall conversion rate by reminding consumers of the product or service they viewed. This repeat exposure keeps the brand and the product at the top of the consumer’s mind.
Even if there’s no immediate purchase, this can really pay off in the long run. Given the success that many marketers have had with ad retargeting, there’s a good chance that it will become more mainstream in 2015.
5. Integrated marketing tools will drive increased focus on results
Data and analytics will be key for marketers in 2015. Brands that have experimented with various channels of marketing will now be looking at how all this activity is coming together:
• Where are the highest quality leads coming from?
• Are the leads from the right geography or industry?
• Have the leads converted, or simply signed up with no further engagement?
These and more such questions will be put to digital marketers to justify their efforts and investments. Marketing metrics will no longer be just nice to have; they will be absolutely essential. Having the right metrics at the right time can reveal how campaigns are performing, which spend has the greatest impact, and how marketing efforts are impacting the sales pipeline.
With marketing automation, email marketing, SEO, lead prioritizing, content management and analytics can now be managed – and measured – all in one place. That includes attracting, capturing, nurturing, and qualifying leads through a single platform, as well as saving labor through automating processes and testing campaign effectiveness. These platforms provide data that can help marketers strategize how best to use multiple channels, and make it possible to target messages to an individual level.
Key takeaways for Asia Pacific marketing
For Asia Pacific – as well as the rest of the world – 2015 will be a year filled with digital marketing innovation. There are a lot of opportunities for B2B marketers, but only if we can step up our game and experiment with new and emerging channels. Things are moving fast, but thanks to the technology available to us, so are we.
The key to successful B2B marketing is to create valuable content, target the right people, and spend more time focusing on opportunities that yield the highest ROI. Plan your Asia Pacific B2B marketing strategy accordingly, and you’re sure to be set up for a great year.