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Main Feature Marketing APAC

Consumer expectations are changing: Are marketers keeping up?

What can marketers do to keep up with this seismic shift in consumer expectations where hyper-personalised relationships with brands are the only way forward? According to Cheetah Digital’s new Digital Consumer Trends Index, 67% of consumers do not trust the advertising they see on social media platforms. And more than half (63%) don’t trust social media platforms with their data.

 In a recent Cheetah Digital-hosted webinar, Teresa Sperti, founder and director at Arktic Fox doesn’t find the results surprising at all. 

“Over time, there has been an erosion in the level of trust for social platforms,” she points out. “As a whole, this has led consumers to be increasingly wary about the information they provide on these platforms and how their data is being utilised.” 

She credits this erosion of trust to a couple of things. First, consumers are concerned about the social impact these platforms have on society; and secondly, consumers are worried about the approach that’s taken to harvest their data.

Consumer trust in social media ads on the decline

A recent Washington Post poll finds that, of all the large tech companies, social platforms like Facebook and Tiktok have the lowest level of consumer trust. In fact, 72% of internet users rated their level of trust in Facebook as ‘not much’ or ‘not at all’ to responsibly handle their personal information and data on their internet activity. And roughly six in 10 distrust TikTok and Instagram, while slight majorities distrust WhatsApp and YouTube. This decline in trust mirrors Cheetah Digital’s findings to a T. 

Adam Posner, CEO and founder at The Point of Loyalty, and one of the panellists in the webinar agrees, pointing out the disruptive aspect of social ads. “The ads interrupt and are, oftentimes, irrelevant. But even more, they’re invasive. That aspect of social ads feels creepy, which works to erode consumer trust as well,” he says.

It’s ironic when you consider that social platforms emerged as a way to drive engagement with the audience. Since it’s moved into a sphere of profit over people, they’ve moved further from their reason for existence. 

“These days, it’s all about monetisation of the platforms. As they’ve increased the amount of advertising, consumers have become bombarded with all kinds of messages,” Teresa says. “It’s become hard for consumers to decipher what’s ‘fake news’, if a product is quality or if they’re potentially being taken for a ride.”

Adam brings up the idea that, on these platforms, the consumer is essentially the product. “It’s a real awakening,” he says. “Consumers are realising that if they’re the product through their data, then that means they’re valuable. So, naturally, they’ve become even more protective over their data.”

It seems what that’s creating is a data economy as a consumer. We’re going to see a shift to a value exchange where the platform says give me your data, and I’ll give you something to make it worth your while. That’s when social platforms will start regaining consumer trust.

Teresa adds, “Customer expectation is changing. The brands that are going to win moving ahead are those that have earned the right to effectively communicate, earned the right to be entrusted with data and are able to retain the right to utilise that data. And a lot of that comes back to control and consent.”

Meanwhile, Cheetah Digital’s report also shows that email still reigns supreme when it comes to driving sales, beating paid social and display advertising by up to 228%. “The statistics don’t lie. We’ve gone back to the future of marketing, in a sense. In light of all the creepy advertising, marketers are going back to the basics of building a brand. And that’s putting the spotlight back on email.

Email continues to be a trusted channel. At least 90% of consumer brands have emails and it’s widely accepted. So it’s a great foundation and super effective for marketers.

A new era of ‘relationship marketing’

The findings in Cheetah Digital’s report signal a new era of relationship marketing. 63% of consumers are willing to pay more to purchase from a trusted brand. Almost half (40%) of consumers are more likely to take part in loyalty programs compared to last year. And 24% of consumers left their favourite brand because they didn’t feel valued as a customer. 

Relationship marketing is personalisation on a deep one-to-one level. It’s really about understanding your consumer, listening and building a relationship with them. It’s marketing to them the things they actually care about. Because that’s what relationship marketing is all about, caring about each other.

“There are many layers to relationship marketing,” Adam adds. “And a lot of it is contextual. Some customers might want a transactional relationship with one brand and a more personalised relationship with another. But all customers want acknowledgement and appreciation.”

In today’s competitive landscape, brands are finding it increasingly challenging to maintain loyalty and build strong relationships, Teresa says. Even more, many marketing teams are pushed to do more with the same resources. It’s the perfect storm, keeping their relationship marketing strategies stagnant and transactional.

“Many are still very transactional and predominantly focused on delivering business outcomes rather than providing real value to the customer,” Teresa points out. 

“Value exchange is so important. Yet it still feels like much of the activity that brands are driving to market is about what they want the customer to do and what outcomes they’re looking to achieve as opposed to truly understanding what it is that the customer wants. 

“You have to go out and talk to them. As brands, we’re still not very good at listening to our customers. It’s really hard to do relationship marketing when we don’t understand our customers intimately.”

A brand that is hitting it out of the park when it comes to relationship marketing, Teresa says, is Starbucks. “Starbucks invested early in understanding the customer and driving loyalty. It knows that in an ever-changing landscape, its customers want convenience and frictionless experiences. The experiences that Starbucks has developed deliver true value to its customers.”

The double-edged sword of privacy in a cookie-less world

The death of the third-party cookie is imminent. And for consumers, it won’t get here a moment too soon. According to Cheetah Digital’s report, a staggering 69% of consumers think product recommendations from cookie tracking or similar is creepy, not cool. And while only around one in 10 (13%) consumers will miss cookies and think they make for a better experience; the number of marketers who will miss them is likely a lot more. 

“I don’t think brands are ready for a cookie-less future,” Teresa insists. “We recently surveyed over 200 senior digital marketing leaders from brands, big and small, for our 2022 Marketing State of Play report. We found that only 12% of brands feel like they have a clear path forward, and almost half admitted they have yet to start planning for the change that’s coming.”

Despite all the buzz about third-party cookies, Teresa believes brands haven’t fully grasped what it truly means. And a significant part of the issue is data literacy. “Our report reveals that there are very low levels of data literacy within marketing teams in this country. Only one in three feel that their teams have strong data literacy,” she explains. “That’s part of what’s driving this. It’s very hard to know how to adapt when you don’t have strong data literacy or knowledge about concepts like cookies.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Teresa shares how brands are typically slow to adapt without a catalyst. Take COVID, for instance. Brands should’ve been working on their digital transformation long before March 2020. But it took this unprecedented event just to get them started. She says the same is likely to happen with cookies. Brands will scramble to change the day third-party cookies die. 

Their first line of defence will have to be a first-party data strategy in the form of a loyalty program. However, it’s vital that brands recognise that loyalty is only one piece of the puzzle. 

Loyalty programs are a great tool to get first-party data, preferences and all the things that help a brand understand its customers. But there’s still a long way for brands to go. They need to figure out how to go to market with their limited budgets, all the information we provide and with some tech behind it to make it happen.

The takeaway message for brands, the panellists concede, is to be brave. If you remain fearful, you’ll never evolve and innovate. It takes having the right champions in place who are willing to be bold enough to take the brand through a true digital transformation. To take their data renaissance to the next level. 

Access the webinar free and on-demand here.

This article is written by Miles Toolin, senior solutions consultant at Cheetah Digital.

Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider for the modern marketer. The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalised experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies to meet the changing demands of today’s consumer.

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Marketing Featured APAC

How APAC marketers can ‘dial up’ their mobile marketing strategy

There’s a mounting pile of evidence, highlighting what many of us already know – we’re inextricably obsessed with our mobiles. For marketers and brands, this obsession translates into endless opportunities, especially as the third-party cookie crumbles and relationship marketing emerges as king of the marketing paradigm.

Smaller than a wallet and thinner than a notebook, smartphones have changed our lives in big ways. They’re often the first thing people reach for when they wake up and the last thing they touch before going to bed. According to app monitoring firm data.ai (formerly App Annie), people devote a third of their waking hours to mobile apps and upwards of five hours a day on their mobile phones.

APAC marketers get this. In fact, 58% of APAC marketers are creating mobile-specific content as a strategy to improve engagement, and the majority of marketing professionals (84%) consider ad length and design for mobile when creating mobile content, according to a recent WARC report. 

That’s because relevant and timely messaging, which SMS and apps so easily provide, is key to educating customers, minimising friction, building purchase consideration, and developing deeper relationships. 

Compared to different channels, mobile is a compelling way to communicate with customers because brands can be confident their message will be read and acted upon in a short amount of time. There’s up to a 19% click-through rate for personalised links. 

And where there’s a call to action, that percentage spikes to 45%. For a company that wants to send a message out to all of its customers using technology that’s just as familiar to a 14-year-old as it is to an 85-year-old, there’s little in terms of alternatives that can provide the same value that mobile does.

The challenge: Extracting value from mobile marketing

Despite mobile marketing emerging as the hottest trend in relationship marketing, some brands and organisations are still hesitant to latch on. It all comes down to the three key reasons, including the inability to know how to get started, indecision and ‘analysis paralysis’ and regulatory concerns.

In order to overcome these challenges here are four strategies to help kickstart your mobile marketing strategy:

1. Master the value exchange: Before any marketing can occur, you must gain consent to communicate with your audience and learn about their true interests. First, an organisation must identify its value proposition whereby a customer feels a compelling reason to access that value by enrolling in a program. This is not limited to promotions but could be for convenience, better service, information updates, exclusive access to content and the list goes on — this is called creating a ‘value exchange.’

Once the value has been set, it’s time for a brand to spread the word. This is where mobile plays a considerable role, as it builds customer awareness and enables sign-up beyond the laptop, casting the net further afield into any other environment. This could be adding a QR code or a short code on physical banners, TV, receipts, shop windows or on the hotel bedside table – directing customers to use their mobile to engage with the brand. Simply put, mobile offers boundless flexibility to provide a doorway to value in any environment.

2. Power real-time contextual engagement: In the digital marketing space, it’s about getting the right message to the right person at the right moment. Mobile is instrumental to achieving real-time, relevant and impactful customer engagement.

There is an increasing number of markets where mobile penetration is greater than 100%, and that provides an ecosystem where brands can be confident they can serve any of their customers at any moment in time. It is not just the ubiquitous nature and the ‘always o’ accessibility that distinguishes mobile, but the immediacy it can offer when compared to other channels.

This is why time and business-critical messages are sent using mobile channels. Within banking, this could be for two-factor authentication or fraud alerts; for a restaurant, this may be sending a reservation reminder; or for a retailer, this could include shipment delivery notifications — the list goes on. But the power of immediacy is what makes old technology like SMS continue to have double-digit growth year-on-year.

3. Eliminate silos: There’s a lot of talk about communication channels not residing in silos. And for good reason – customers’ circumstances may evolve when they have a change in geography, disposable income, relationship, preference or because they’re influenced by interactions with a competitor. Simply because a customer is enrolled in a loyalty program, it does not mean that he/she is an advocate, nor that your brand is his/her first choice. This is important to succeed in driving longer-lasting customer relationships.

With this in mind, it is important for enterprises to actively seek customer feedback, listen to their preferences and continue to check in with them. Mobile offers the ability to gain further insights, address all customers and drive real-time contextual engagements. We see brands leverage mobile apps as an impactful solution for driving customer loyalty and benefiting from the assets of this environment.

Customers who download an enterprise app and opt-in for communications have actively chosen to have a closer relationship with a brand; these are some of your most valuable customers. They should be nurtured and catered to, and a loyalty program is suited for just that. 

4. Become a customer know-it-all: Marketers’ ability to effectively communicate with customers is highly dependent on having ready access to key data sources and the right tools to act on that data at scale.

With handcuffs increasingly being placed on former data assets through policy, regulation and a more data-conscious consumer, mobile apps can offer a unique environment from which brands can gain great insights into customer behaviours.

Mobile apps offer insights such as customer frequency, recency, pages visited, products clicked on and many others, which can help enterprises better understand their customers. This helps serve them in the best manner possible.

A customer’s duration in an app can help brands understand and cater to their customers’ needs. For a bank, a short duration may be desired to make a payment and if there is an observed delay then a communication may be triggered to provide help. For a sports team, a long duration in the app may be a success indicator, representing fan engagement and attention. 

The future of mobile marketing is exciting

It’s not enough for a brand or organisation to have an SMS program with notifications, promotions and alerts set up. They have to personalise each message to ensure it is relevant to the consumer.

Enterprises that know their customers better, and can contextually serve them, according to insights will positively differentiate themselves. Mobile offers a wealth of assets, equipping brands to do exactly this. The insights gained from mobile can be applied across any form of customer engagement to deliver a more personalised and impactful relationship.

This article is written by Andy Gladwin, Head of Global Mobile GTM at Cheetah Digital.

Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider for the modern marketer. The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalised experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies, underpinned by an engagement data platform that can scale to meet the changing demands of today’s consumer.

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Marketing Featured APAC

In a brave new world, trust is the most precious commodity in advertising

Pandemics, war, political dogfights and soaring inflation. You’re not imagining it – we’re being put through the wringer currently.

The recent instability we’ve experienced has only been exacerbated by the massive amounts of information being thrown at us every day. We’re being inundated – and when we’re trying to understand what our new future looks like, it’s important to have information we can rely on.

This is a major reason why news websites have seen surges in audience numbers lately. People need reliable and accurate information to understand the changing world around them.

There is no more room for misinformation. Not when we’ve all seen how dangerous it can be. Being able to trust the content we’re consuming is now one of the biggest differentiators in choosing which online platforms we frequent.

Trust has always been essential to advertisers, but it’s now more important, and difficult to achieve than ever. And with so many online media platforms competing for attention, it’s no wonder why customers are feeling a bit suspicious of the ads they’re seeing.

A recent global study by Outbrain and Savanta looked into the changing nature of trust, recommendations and advertising online. The research discovered that news sites are some of the most trusted online spaces, with 75% of respondents saying they trust the information they find there. That’s compared to just 54% who trust social media sites.

So while trust is harder to win, it can still be won with robust and accurate information. The more likely a website is to offer unreliable information, the more likely it will lose its audience. The said study found that 21% of people are planning to spend less time on social media in the next six months. Of that group, 36% are planning to spend that time visiting websites with editorial content.

This movement means it’s increasingly important that advertisers and marketers think more deeply about where brands appear online. Advertising needs to foster trust for both the page and the brand alike – it’s not just about ensuring the ad aligns with the general theme of the page anymore.

We can already see the effects of this shift in some major internet companies. Take Netflix and Facebook. Netflix had a widely publicised fall in subscribers for the first time in the first quarter of this year, and Facebook reported a drop in Daily Average Users in the last quarter of 2021.

These are both stalwarts of the digital space, and both are battling a content problem. Their trust exchanges are failing as their audiences no longer believe their attention (and in Netflix’s case – money) is being rewarded adequately. The situations aren’t unrelated.

In the new world, customers expect that in exchange for the attention they pay to your brand, they’ll be rewarded with helpful information they can actually use in their lives. Audiences cannot be taken for granted anymore. Any value your brand can provide needs to be established before they can expect to move customers through the purchase journey. 

So in the battle to win trust in the online arena, there are a few ways brands can ensure they’re targeting customers in the most effective and engaging way possible.

Native advertising is considered the least intrusive ad type, with only 20% of people considering it intrusive and 64% placing their trust in it. This is compared to 29% of respondents who say social feed ads are the most intrusive. People are either going online to escape or to find specific information – don’t disrupt that experience with a jarring ad.

Headlines and personalisation are also key ways to ensure you’re targeting customers in the most unobtrusive way. Most customers now prefer to see their recommendations personalised with headlines. Specifically, the research by Outbrain found that household decision-makers are significantly more likely to prefer personalised recommendations (59%) and headlines (58%) than non-decision makers.

These headlines need to be short, sharp and snappy – much like a news headline would be. They’re most effective for grabbing attention and pulling customers in to learn more about the topic.

Personalisation is also one of the best ways to achieve trust and provide a helpful experience online for younger age groups. These demographics resoundingly prefer an evolving experience unique to their preferences, with 53% of 18-24 year olds and 48% of 25-34 year olds choosing this option. To reach these groups, update your creative to highlight the products or services they’re interested in. Be smart about optimising your messaging to reflect where your customers are in their purchasing journey – if you get that wrong, you risk isolating them for good.

It may feel as if it’s all doom and gloom at the moment. But in a time of uncertainty, being trusted by your customer is invaluable – and can be the difference between your brand and your competitors.

This article is written by Ben Steel, general manager of Outbrain for SEA.

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Platforms Featured APAC

The ‘everyday creator’: Let’s talk about the creator economy

Who said you can’t earn money from following your passion? Thanks to today’s digital world, it’s now possible for anybody to monetise their hobbies and passions – not just full-time professionals – such as influencers and content creators. 

From purchase reviews to how-to videos to self-help discussions, digital platforms make it easier than ever for people to enter the creator economy and earn revenue through the content they create around their interests. Nearly any topic or subject has monetisation potential, providing equal opportunities for everyone to access and create alternative income streams. 

The advent of the ‘everyday creator’

Technological advances, evolving definitions of work and our transition to a digital-first world have led to the rise of the creator economy – an inclusive, accessible ecosystem where independent creatives can earn revenue from their creations.

With devices such as mobile phones becoming increasingly sophisticated, as well as the prevalence and accessibility of feature-rich social media platforms, people no longer need a sophisticated setup or professional production team to produce content in their spare time.

Such ‘everyday creators’ can spend as much (or as little) time and effort as they want to create content, often with just a smartphone in hand. This provides them with a significant amount of flexibility and freedom in creating – particularly with regards to monetisation opportunities and content genres. 

Monetisation opportunities for all

Previously, traditional monetisation channels mainly allowed digital content creators to earn money through ad revenues and brand sponsorships. However, this required them to have amassed a significant following or achieving partner status on digital platforms – a difficult task for casual creators to undertake without significant effort. 

Today, however, there are many levels of monetisation for all levels of content creators – especially earning revenue directly from the audience. For instance, the creation of cash-convertible in-app currencies on apps allows audiences to support creators through virtual gifting.

Instead of having to chase a minimum number of postings or followers, content creators are now free to create and post their content as they like, while generating income. This means that they do not have to constantly source for corporate sponsorships or post excessively to maintain their partner status; both of which could dilute content quality and require an outsized amount of effort. 

Additionally, if their content gains popularity over time, creators can make the seamless transition from a hobby that occasionally earns money to a full-time career providing a main income stream.

Built-in support facilitates passionate creation

Monetisation aside, the tell-tale sign of a successful content creator is their ability to engage with audiences and build a following around their content. Half of this battle is already won due to the multitude of supporting mechanisms present within content platforms. 

For instance, through community detection algorithms that are based on commonalities among audiences such as their interests or location, creators can identify, segment and reach their intended viewers automatically. Furthermore, the real-time nature of content such as livestreaming enables impactful and personalised social interactivity between creator and consumer, further building their following. 

For the ‘everyday creator’, these systems are key to achieving greater discoverability and reachability. It means that they only have to focus on creating the content they want instead of basing their creative efforts on content that will attract the most eyeballs.

This means that there are now endless varieties of content and themes that creators can choose to make and monetise. For instance, while a significant amount of content is entertainment-based, such as funny videos or trend responses, many creators may also choose to create educational and helpful content. These may revolve around issues and subjects that they have some expertise or experience in, such as in fields like parenting, self-help, cooking and wellness.

Social media provides a platform for and amplifies relevant content based on audience interests and needs, enabling the content to reach the people who need it. This is further enhanced by the creator’s natural charisma and relatability, as well as the social community that forms around the creator as a result of the content produced. Aside from the audience’s interest in the content, creators’ inherent charisma and relatability can further gel the community. 

Platforms like Instagram, Whatsapp and even Bigo Live have recently launched features that enable creators to build communities to connect users of similar interests and act as a cradle for the sharing of ideas. These virtual communities foster a sense of belonging while motivating creators to actively produce content.

The future of content is inclusive

Inclusive growth has been the model of economic development in modern times, and the creator economy has evolved into a sterling example of inclusivity and accessibility. It has removed the high time and effort investment barrier that previously separated revenue-generating creators from pure hobbyists, allowing everyone to translate their passions into monetary benefits.

Anybody with access to the internet can participate in this burgeoning economy; the only prerequisite is their love of producing content. With content platforms now enabling round-the-clock monetisation and engagement, it is also more feasible and seamless than ever for an ‘everyday creator’ to go full-time if they wish. Given this freedom and flexibility, we look forward to seeing the creator economy expand and flourish even more in the future – for everyone.

This article is written by Mike Ong, VP of BIGO Technology.

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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

What’s NEXT: Why brands must adopt a multi-platform strategy for social advertising

The pandemic has pushed for even greater dependence on social media. And while the platforms have already been ingrained in the fabric of peoples’ daily lives even pre-pandemic, the current times have made it evolve to now serve different purposes to consumers as well as to give birth to new challenges along with its usage. 

According to Statista, the most popular social media platforms worldwide as of October 2021 are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. The popularized short-video platform TikTok during the pandemic has also expectedly entered the list. 

In an interview with Stewart Hunter, the director of social advertising platform Smartly.io for customer success in APAC, he said that within this overcrowded social media space, brands are not only up against other brands, but are now dealing with a situation that requires them to understand the mindset of consumers towards each social media platform as each gives rise to unique perceptions and behaviours. 

Hunter explains that today, each social media platform has grown to “serve a different role in the funnel and this poses challenges also to the brand message and format in various platforms.” 

One of the greatest changes we saw during the pandemic was the transformation of the role of social media in consumers’ shopping journeys. While social media merely stood as a branding and promotional strategy for brands before, it has now made its way to the purchase pathway itself, serving as the touchpoint from discovery to purchase. 

The multiple consumer touchpoints within social media

As we enter the new year still in the pandemic, it’s crucial to talk about how to approach social media now that it has become consumers’ go-to when searching for brands and products to purchase in the past two years.

Hunter explains that with this being the reality, brands will now have to deal with unique multiple touchpoints present in the consumer journey. 

 “As consumers spend more and more time on social media, they also have multiple touchpoints with a brand before ever making a purchase decision, and every touchpoint matters,” said Hunter. 

This rings true for example with Australian shoppers, where one study found that 64% of 18- to 25-year-olds have researched products on Instagram during the past 12 months, while 67% of those 26 to 35-year-olds have done the same product research, this time on Facebook, within the same period.

Hunter shares a few principles to consider in navigating the new phase of social media, and lo and behold – values that brands must emulate in today’s social advertising are far from novel, emphasising that the fundamentals remain supreme – just directed towards a different goal.

For one, brands must take note of the importance of having a strong brand messaging and creatives.

Through an earlier experiment with some popular fashion brands, Smartly.io has also found that a clear brand identity drives business results and the social advertising platform showed the importance of branding in its platform to help in delivering more than product pictures – across the sales funnel. 

In the post-cookie world as well, creative will be more critical than ever in driving successful campaigns. Hunter says that this has often been undervalued, but as privacy regulations take effect and social media platforms take proactive steps to change the way data is available to be used, advertisers will have to get creative with the privacy-friendly approach in 2022. 

Second, in line with the stronger call for digital privacy, brands need to show that they are data compliant and ensure they are responsible with their consumers’ data.

“People want [openness] and transparency from brands around what their data is being used for and why. We have already seen some changes within the publishing industry, and a number of eCommerce platforms could follow suit,” said Hunter.

Above these changes in social media is an emerging new dimension – with the easing of restrictions, consumers will soon move from online to offline, and it is now brands’ job to find how the interactivity of social media with the offline journey will evolve. 

“Shopping journeys will continue to grow complex as consumers seamlessly move from online to offline (with the easing of the restrictions in some countries) and jump between social channels. Hence for brands to succeed, they need to invest in a multi-platform strategy which allows you to meet your customers where they are while communicating a coherent brand story and ultimately building trust among your audience,” asserts Hunter. 

Jumping into a multi-platform strategy this 2022

Fast gone are the days that each social media platform is viewed in silos. Hunter believes that brands must start diversifying investments across social media channels. 

First of all, there’s no better time than now to start investing in social advertising and ramping up one’s efforts in this area. In fact, according to Smartly.io’s recent annual survey with top CMOs in APAC, one-third of respondents said that they will spend more on social media advertising in 2022 than they did in 2021.

For a brand to create genuine and long-lasting customer relationships with its consumers, building a multi-platform social advertising strategy will be key.

In order to successfully bring this to fruition, Hunter says to focus on talent and find ways on how expertise in the team can be leveraged such as by strategically adopting creative tech. 

72.3% of respondents say that their social media advertising creation and delivery still involve manual processes that are often time-consuming. This manual work can be off-putting to talent and takes time away from the more fulfilling creative and strategic functions of the job. 

With 51.5% of respondents naming lack of talent as one of the biggest internal challenges to their social media advertising processes, it’s time brands prioritise employees and take a closer look at the actual work being done.

Hunter says it’s important to automate in order to create and deliver social media ads at scale. Platforms like Smartly.io allow brands to manage their sprawling campaigns in a single place, enabling easy coordination and optimisation of creatives across platforms and formats. 

Marketing trends to leverage in social advertising 

We now know that we are now up against a different kind of social media and the next crucial step, therefore, is knowing which type of content and format are currently on top of consumers’ radar 

Hunter says right off the bat – video. 

TikTok has led the pack and has shown everybody how powerful short but sweet videos can make an impact on audience engagement. Hunter says the use of video will continue to become more prominent, with mobile being the medium. 

The heightened fondness for videos has made social media platforms Facebook and Instagram roll out more video formats, and we expect to see more brands adopting video. So what type of video content would then attract audiences? 

The style of videos will continue to evolve to follow what consumers want from their brands – which is authentic, open, and closer to their lives, said Hunter. 

According to Hunter, campaigns that are based on user-generated content (UGC) will enable this style of communication and align with what TikTok and Instagram reels were made for – content created by people rather than brands. Advertisers should spend some time understanding how UGC aligns with their brand strategy and resonates with their consumers.

Another one is augmented reality. Today’s virtual reality space has now seen the emergence of the metaverse, which means that earlier immersive tech such as augmented reality will grow more into maturity, making it an imperative format for brands to stay relevant. 

“As consumers get deeper into the use of social media and devices become more immersive and powerful, augmented reality will become a bigger part of social media creativity,” said Hunter. 

AR is no doubt a powerful tool for consumer engagement and makes it even much easier for brands to showcase creativity through applying filters to videos, feature-changing effects to the people in them, and adding playful or informative stickers to enhance the message.

This article is written based on an interview with Stewart Hunter, director of Smartly.io for customer success in APAC.

Smartly.io is a global platform that automates every step of social advertising. With a global team of over 650, the platform automates creative production and ad buying at scale.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

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Main Feature Platforms Southeast Asia

What’s NEXT: Unpacking opportunities in digital finance for 2022

The Singapore Business Times reports that in the Asia-Pacific region, more than 21% of the population is unbanked. This is most apparent in Southeast Asia, where more than 44% of people do not have bank accounts. The disparity between the banked and unbanked in the region creates opportunities for digital financial services to close the gap, with the acceleration in adoption already being seen in Southeast Asia. A 2021 report from MoEngage reports a 55% increase in daily users across all digital banking activities.

MoEngage
Source: MoEngage

This movement is led primarily by millennials and Gen Z, who have readily embraced services from online banking to digital wallets. In Singapore and Vietnam, for example, commercial banks have launched digital banking solutions targeted specifically for their younger consumers. UOB, a Singaporean multinational investment bank and financial services company, launched TMRW, an AI-powered mobile-only bank. And MSB, Vietnam’s leading commercial bank, launched TNEX, the first digital-only bank in the country.

Another fast-emerging trend is mobile payments, stemming from the increased usage of mobile phones in Southeast Asian markets. The Fintech Times reports that in the Philippines, there are at least 1.59 mobile phones for every person. Acceptance of mobile payments by both consumer and retailer has paved the way for non-financial companies like Grab, a leading mobile app for transportation and food delivery services in Southeast Asia, and regional e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee, to offer their consumers new cash payment methods.

While giants like Apple, Google, Alibaba, and Tencent have led the way for card-based mobile wallets in more developed markets, stored value mobile wallets are more popular in emerging markets. Credit-card and debit-card usage are lower in the latter, paving the way for local players to grab a share of the growing pie. Some of the top mobile wallet players are GCash (Philippines), GrabPay (Malaysia), Ovo (Indonesia), TrueMoney (Thailand), and MoMo (Vietnam), per a 2021 Boku report.

The growth of digital finance technology and adoption is uncovering new opportunities for marketers in 2022 and beyond, and there are four ways in which these opportunities could be unlocked.

1. Delivery of hyper-targeted ads and end-to-end experiences

The growing scale and data captured by apps with digital finance components provide opportunities for hyper-targeted advertising, where audiences are selected based on their financial capability and purchasing behaviour. Moreover, the loop from awareness to purchase to loyalty can be closed all in a single platform. 

Grab is one of the largest mobile apps in Southeast Asia with a 142m estimated number of users from 400 cities and towns. GrabPay, its financial arm, has been showing robust growth with total payments increasing by 60% year-on-year. The app allows for targeting of audiences based on day-to-day transactions and activities such as the type of card and size of spending along with restaurant visits and shopping behaviours, going beyond the typical interest and affinity-based targeting that relies on proxies of engagement.

Source: Grab

Alongside targeting the right audiences, marketers can drive awareness and consideration through Grab’s placement assets, conversions are fluidly done through GrabFood or GrabMart and loyalty points can be provided through GrabRewards. 

2. Providing more meaningful offers and incentives

Based on the survey of global insurance provider Swiss Re, 58% of respondents across Southeast Asian markets actively searched for new insurance policies during the pandemic and nearly half are open to purchasing new policies because of the outbreak. Digital finance companies are increasing the accessibility of policies through micro-insurance with low cash outlays, especially appealing to Gen Z and millennials.

Marketers can now use digitally distributed policies to make offerings and incentives more relevant for younger generations. For instance, Digi Telecommunications, a mobile service provider in Malaysia, partnered with AXA Affin, a multinational insurance and finance company, to provide free life insurance to its new prepaid plan subscribers. Similarly, Tiki, an e-commerce site in Vietnam, partnered with FWD, a life insurance company, to provide free coverage for 100,000 customers. 

3. Scaling promotions beyond point-of-purchase

One of the key benefits of digital finance is the ease of distribution of digital vouchers and rewards. Mobile wallets are already being used as distribution channels for relief funds or e-vouchers of food and medicine. Brands can capitalize on this phenomenon through digital-based promotions and sampling, giving them a broader scale versus on-ground activations. This is especially relevant in the pandemic environment wherein mounting events or delivering items are more challenging due to varying restrictions. Instead of manually handing out coupons and prizes, marketers can now partner with e-wallet apps for cashback promos and automated rewards redemption.

4. Increasing the accessibility of products and services

Traditionally, purchasing big-ticket items can only be done by the small base of affluent consumers paying with cash or with credit cards. Today, even the unbanked can pay in instalments with convenient applications and fast approvals through e-commerce platforms. Ecommerce platform Lazada partners with financial apps in the Philippines and offers LazPayLater in Indonesia to allow non-credit card customers to pay in increments. Shopee offers SPayLater in Indonesia and Thailand, wherein loans of select unbanked customers are approved in as fast as 10 minutes.

As more consumers try to stretch their money, they will be more open to purchasing in instalments with minimal interest. Instead of relying solely on credit cards, marketers now have the option to expand their financial partners to e-commerce websites and digital loan providers to enable more audiences to buy their products.

Digital finance adoption is accelerating as consumers become more knowledgeable about the industry’s products and services. Digital finance has created new possibilities for brands and retailers across a myriad of marketing touchpoints, and marketers should be capitalizing on these opportunities to be the first in reaping its benefits.

Elizabeth Shie (left) and Abygayle Brani (right)

This article was written by Elizabeth Shie, senior regional strategist at UM APAC, and Abygayle Brani, regional marketing & communications strategist at UM APAC.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

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Main Feature Technology APAC

How data helps unlock new business revenue streams

Going back to basics

COVID has turned businesses upside down and highlighted weaknesses in legacy systems used within organisations. Organisations are now in a position to consider either resuming business-as-usual practices or seeing the pandemic as a fresh opportunity to reinvent in order to thrive in the new economy.

Those who have gone ‘back to basics’ and rethought a more innovative, data-driven approach are strategically driving revenue, enhancing customer experience, and managing costs. In fact, more than ever before, data and analytics, combined with faster delivery, reliability, and scalability are now critical to uncover new revenue streams and enhance commercial offerings.

Data is data, how you derive insights unlocks its value

There are now over 44 zettabytes of data being generated every year. At an organisational level, a business can have millions or billions of data points, but it is the insights you can glean from the data that hold value. So how do we take the right data sets and turn them into actionable insights that support business objectives like revenue growth, enhanced customer experience, or cost management?

Critical data-driven revenue pillars explained

There are two pillars of generating revenue. First, organisations can infuse analytics seamlessly at key decision points and go beyond traditional dashboards. To achieve this, organisations need to articulate their insights outside the dashboard. While dashboards are handy to communicate data, they do not drive actionable insights as staff are unlikely to check the dashboards every morning.

The real value is created when data-driven insights and critical data sources are available at key points of business decision-making. Organisations want their data to be relevant, in context, and personalised. When the right data sets are available at the right place and at the right time, organisations will derive far more valuable insights to drive faster decision making at scale. By infusing analytics at those key decision points, organisations have an exciting opportunity to monetise and leverage these data-driven insights immediately.

The second pillar of generating revenue is by embedding data into the solutions, applications, and interactions leveraged by key stakeholders such as customers, partners, and suppliers.

A common sentiment is “we want it better, faster, cheaper but you can only do two.” However, stakeholders want all three. So how do organisations get better margins from the data they have?

By leveraging the power of data, it’s easier to understand business problems and goals such as generating revenue or addressing a customer issue, which therefore optimises stakeholder interactions, enhances customer experience, or manages costs.

Standing out from the crowd

Having the right tools to decipher through data and give an organisation the right information at the right time can be revolutionary to a business.

As an example, Sisense recently helped a large retailer remedy their customer ‘churn’ problem by infusing data analytics across the organisation.

Before leveraging Sisense, the retailer had many manual processes. Their staff was required to check an Excel spreadsheet every morning to view and enter data on customer orders. Sometimes the staff found that an order was delayed for more than 72 hours and the customer hadn’t been contacted.

Once the retailer began infusing analytics into the business, employees started getting an alert about delayed packages. As part of the alert, the staff member was given a list of actions they could activate to compensate the customer for a delayed order, such as a free gift or discount.

These alerts are all now API driven. The insights are sourced from the dashboard and automatically offered to the staff member at the point of decision making. The team no longer needs to access a dashboard or an Excel spreadsheet to understand what they need to do. The process is instantaneous. When something happens, the staff gets a message immediately.

By ‘infusing’ data analytics, the retailer has now significantly improved its customer experience. Their customer satisfaction increased, repeat sales became more evident, and complaints decreased significantly around the holiday season. And this is just one of hundreds of examples of great data-driven strategies currently revolutionising business operations all around the world.

New year, a new way of working

Looking back, the way data and insights have been procured has evolved significantly over the past thirty years. In the 1990s, organisations required help from large enterprises or the IT department to access data-driven insights. It was a cumbersome and lengthy process that could take over a month.

The mid-2000s saw the advent of desktop solutions, business intelligence, and analytics. Data visualisation and storytelling became important for future-focused organisations as they allowed them to manage the data internally. These were the best-of-breed solutions.

Now, organisations have next-generation technology, cloud-based solutions, API driven and AI-driven machine learning solutions. Technology is changing constantly and offering more exciting and groundbreaking new opportunities.

These dynamic changes to technology means that organisations are at different stages of the analytics maturity curve. Some organisations are still using manual Excel spreadsheets to manage their data, while others are at the cutting edge of innovation, leveraging data in exceptional ways to drive business growth.

With the landscape evolving so rapidly, we are currently on the precipice of change once again with infused analytics. The new year brings with it exciting opportunities to unlock new revenue streams, infusing analytics into commercial offerings, and turnaround operational efficiencies at scale – all through the power of data.

This article is written by Rohan Persaud, director of channels and alliances at Sisense for APAC.

Sisense is a business intelligence company. Sisense Fusion is its highly customisable and AI-driven analytics cloud platform that infuses intelligence for companies.

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

Why marketers should say no to ‘renting’ customer data

It’s a stressful time for marketers. Many believe that their lives will be disrupted to the nth degree without cookies. Meanwhile, consumers are more protective of their personal data than ever. In the Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2020, 7 in 10 respondents nominated privacy as a major concern for them, while 87% wanted more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal information.

Experts like Lauren Solomon, CEO of Consumer Policy Research Centre, further notes how data processes are clunky and outdated.

According to research from the Consumer Policy Research Centre, 70 percent of consumers accept consent terms, even if they are not comfortable with them. When asked why, three quarters of consumers said it’s because it’s the only way to access the product.

Meanwhile, the research further revealed more than 90 percent of Australian consumers are uncomfortable with how their data is collected and shared – and they’re disempowered to do anything about it.

“They want the government to intervene and protect them,” Lauren says.

“There also isn’t actually any way for consumers to express the preferences that they have and to acquire products that meet those preferences – because it’s a take it or leave it proposition,” added Lauren.

What is the solution?

Companies need to stop ‘renting data’ and build their own database through direct-to-consumer relationships. The key to future success is building a loyalty initiative that offers mutual value exchange. Customers can willingly offer their personal details, in exchange for a better customer experience.

With the death of the cookies, the ‘value exchange’ between businesses and their customers’ willingness to share personal data has never been so important. Activating cookie-less data, using it to enhance customer experience and derive insights is a craft and skill that marketers need to invest in and develop.

Unlocking the value of loyalty in a cookieless future

The importance of loyalty programs should not be overlooked as a critical part of a marketer’s toolkit. Loyalty programs are the perfect replacement for connecting customers with brands in new and innovative ways now and beyond a cookie-less world. They give organizations a clear, zero-party data approach to unlock deeper insights into their customers, unlock fresh CX opportunities, and open powerful new ways to forge more long-lasting and meaningful customer relationships.

But what makes a great loyalty program? Adam Posner, CEO and Founder of The Point of Loyalty, shares the seven zones that make up the ‘wheel of loyalty fortune’. Organizations need to implement each one of these points to ensure they have a strong, steadfast loyalty program that will benefit both customers and brands.

1. Business: First and foremost a business must be profitable and sustainable.

2. Members: Organizations should understand their loyalty member’s behaviors, beliefs, and belongings.

3. Program: The loyalty program needs to be meaningful and desirable to consumers.

4. Team: The organization’s employees need to buy-in for the loyalty program and be willing to endorse it.

5. Technology: The technology should be fit-for-future rather than fit-for-now.

6. Data: Ensuring the loyalty program captures the data necessary for analysis and for relevant action.

7. Dialogue: Any company dialogue to the customer needs to be dynamic and personal at all times.

It’s time for a new marketing recipe

There is life after the death of the cookie. Zero-party data can help marketers connect with their customers. This preference data comes directly from the consumer. There are no intermediaries and no guesswork — it’s psychographic data that includes the customers’ values, attitudes, interests, and personality traits.

Marketers will need to survive, lead and stay relevant in a cookie-less society – a reality that is right around the corner. Leading with loyalty and adopting a Zero Party Data strategy will help marketers survive by creating long-lasting customer relationships with a clear and concise value exchange.

This article is written by Billy Loizou, VP for Go To Market for APAC at Cheetah Digital.

Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider that enables marketers to create personalized experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies.

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Main Feature Technology Partners APAC

What’s NEXT: Why marketers need DXP more than ever in 2022

Why do marketers need digital experience platforms (DXP)? The answer is simple. Most people check out a brand online before they walk into the store, or check out its physical office, or if they even have one at all. And this touchpoint has become even more ingrained in a consumer’s journey in the new normal, where lockdowns have dampened the relevance of brick-and-mortar stores.

According to the latest E-conomy report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, the Southeast Asia region is charging ahead at full steam, having added 60 million new digital consumers to the internet economy since the pandemic started, with 20 million of them joining in H1 2021 alone. And this will further increase as e-commerce becomes the be-all-and-end-all of consumers’ shopping demands.

DXP as the vital baseline of consumer experiences

When we walk into a store, say Uniqlo – the entire experience matters – from the lighting, the smell, and the layout to the customer service and the checkout experience. Now imagine trying to replicate this online, purely digitally – you take away the physical elements like touch, smell, and feeling of being in the store; so what you have to do is to ensure the online experience is as powerful as possible to instill positive emotions in the customer.

In the case of digital experience, this will be the user interface, the simplicity of navigation, the speed of page loading, the personalization of the page itself, and micro components to make the experience enriching while being bespoke, along with the checkout process remaining seamless, the omnichannel engagement fulfilling, among many others. If the experience is positive across the customer journey and all the multiple touchpoints, then the customer’s experience towards the brand will naturally be uplifting, leading to more engagement, advocacy, sales, and loyalty.

Digital experience has been way underrated – brands spend many more times the budget on traditional campaigns, loud billboards, and posters, but all these are turning into spam and noise for the customer. Even if the advert catches their eyeballs, and they land on a website that is poorly designed, all that money spent will be in vain. However, a superbly executed website or app has the potential to go viral effortlessly simply because of human nature – we experience something good and we want to share it with others, and if the site is made to be shareable easily, then it will proliferate.

There are many ways to measure DXP ROI – but rather than using a template and then measuring that against variables which may not matter or are very intangible, using a composable DXP allows you to build a martech stack against a specific business objective. So, for example, with all things being equal, you want to measure increase in conversions – adding a shopping cart + marketing automation and then tracking the differences over a period of time, or against the same interval as compared to last year or years before – this will allow you to see the incremental gains which you can then use against the tech/resource investment to get the ROI.

Breaking ROI down into specific objectives will allow marketers to pinpoint what really works for them and what doesn’t, rather than get a digital transformation solution that costs millions and waiting for a couple of years for that to ‘transform’ the revenue. It simply doesn’t work that way; apart from the tech investment, there is also change management you need to take into account – the retraining of people and reshaping of processes in order to fit the new ‘solution’, not to mention the attrition as well.

Asia is one of the most creative and competitive markets in the world, and they are constantly leading the pack with innovative ways of engaging the customer. For some of the brands, there is a ‘family business’ approach where marketers work in silos, and for the others, they pay millions of dollars a year for solutions that they barely even use 10% of. 

As marketers get savvier digitally, and the role of digital leaders become more empowered, they will be able to focus their investments better and get better ROI from those investments, as well as use agile solutions to adapt rapidly to changes in the market in order to take advantage of these disruptions.

The new marketer is the one who sees change as an opportunity, not as a tragedy. And with this new normal, the future of DXP in Asia is really the only way to go – whoever can embrace digital first, will displace the competition first. And once you gain that foothold, the others can only play catchup. Our younger generations are digital natives, and digital is the future as the world becomes a giant online city.

This article is written by Don Lee, managing director for APAC of CMS provider Magnolia.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

What’s NEXT: Guide to help you master the art of content marketing in 2022

More marketers are recognizing the power of branded content in our rapidly evolving digital age. Consumers are constantly being bombarded with all sorts of adverts, so it is vital for brands to tell stories that resonate with their customers to ensure they stand out from the crowd. 

Content marketing also offers a range of other business benefits, including helping companies to build brand awareness, cultivate consumer loyalty, and generate organic growth through publicity.

Up to 80 percent of marketers regard content creation as one of the top priorities, according to a 2021 report by Hubspot. It also shows that content marketing makes up 26 percent of their business-to-business marketing budgets, while spending is on the rise.

Plan your next successful content marketing campaign

To better plan, manage and evaluate a successful content marketing campaign, it is important that companies put a clear structure in place. Here is our five-step guide to help you plan your next content marketing campaign.

1. Define your strategy with a framework for measurement

Brand equity modeling is a useful tool to assess the impact of measures of brand equity on long-term brand performance. Marketers should first include metrics such as ‘trust’, ‘quality’, and ‘reliability’ with a definitive monetary value and hierarchy, alongside other tangible indicators such as the audience engagement level or sales conversion.

With such a framework, marketers can constantly measure the effectiveness of each campaign and adjust their strategy to optimize the results.

2. Know your audience through data

Storytelling is a form of art, but tailoring your content to the right audience is a science. Making use of first-, second- or third-party data is instrumental in mapping out the key communications challenges of engaging your target audience.

By analyzing the data, which shows such things as who your audience is, what content they consume, and how they behave; marketers will have a better idea about how to strengthen the brand relevance to the target audiences in the right context.

3. Internal support for creative process 

Compelling content requires creativity, but the bureaucratic approval process sometimes kills imaginative thinking. As such, marketers should lobby internally and get the backing of C-suite, or senior executives, to ensure the least intervention in the creative process, while gatekeepers are in place for quality assurance and crisis prevention. Ideally, two to three sign-offs would be sufficient in keeping the right balance between gatekeeping and the creative process.

4. Tailor your distribution plan to match user journey

With a massive volume of content available, both online and offline, marketers need to work towards more than just clicks and eyeballs. Instead, they should curate a content journey – through the right distribution channels at the right time for the right audience – that allows people to discover your brand, generate interest and build brand loyalty.

5. Focus on long-term benefits

Most content marketers define the success of a content marketing campaign by the number of sales conversions. This overemphasis on short-term results prevents marketers from benefiting from the long-term returns – gained from: creating real bonds with your customers and cultivating customer loyalty.

This article is written by Darryl Choo, regional sales director for APAC at South China Morning Post.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT.

This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought leadership published on the platform.