Singapore has the highest internet penetration in Southeast Asia, along with the fourth highest smartphone adoption globally. Despite this online and mobile dominance, brands struggle to reach their digitally savvy consumers effectively.
2014 is predicted to be the year data drives marketing in Asia. This has already happened across Europe and the US, after the global financial crisis (GFC) forced senior managers to rethink operations and start asking the marketing department to be more accountable for their spending.
But why is “data driven marketing” new? In a few words, because it’s hard! We are effectively studying human behaviour in real time. The internet makes it possible to understand so much more about consumers - when they are searching for things, what they are searching for - enabling a company to become closer to consumers and give them what they want, when they want it. Google can even predict what time of the year men propose to their girlfriends based on search insights! The possibilities are endless!
While the opportunities are great, the complexity may sometimes appear greater. The use of social and mobile has created endless amounts of data, which has grown to an unmanageable scale, and for many companies is too fragmented to make sense of.
Far too frequently companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on tracking technologies, generating information they simply don’t use. They don’t use it because they don’t possess the skills and experience to extract actionable insights. Instead of insights, companies create reports and review metrics for the sake of reports and metrics.
Last year Accenture released its ASEAN Analytics study, showing that 67% of executives found getting outcomes from data challenging, and 55% struggled to find the right internal talent. This is unfortunate, because when done correctly, analytics yields results; up to five per cent or six per cent profit and productivity gains, according to McKinsey.
In Singapore, companies have said that while they feel they are behind and less equipped to keep up with their digitally savvy consumers, 40% say they do have executive support to implement and test digital channels.
They do however feel that talent and budgets are restrictive factors. With consumers online and mobile usage as high as it is in Singapore, it is more important than ever for big brands and local companies to understand how to market effectively within the digital space and be accountable for it.
To win in the digital space, companies need to understand how to market for the consumer, and not for the marketer. What this means is, just because your message resonated across a billboard, magazine or TV campaign, does not mean it will have the same effect online, where behaviour is immediate.
This ties in to the need to understand how to deliver messages differently across devices according to a consumer’s behaviour and the buying cycle. Brand experience on a mobile is different than on a desktop - the screen is smaller, and the circumstances are different; people are often commuting when searching on their phone for example.
Companies also need to move beyond ‘vanity metrics’ - clicks, impressions, likes - and challenge their internal teams and agencies to use more meaningful metrics - sales, average order value, customer lifetime value, loyalty. These measures make it much easier to tie your digital activity to business metrics, and really understand how your activity has impacted the overall business.
If companies can better integrate online activity into their overall marketing strategy and empower their teams to focus on metrics and data that move the business, they will be more effective in working towards a data-centric organisation and will move away from reporting for the sake of reporting.
By creating a ‘data architecture’ that answers business objectives first, and drives success in these areas, companies will become more confident and self sufficient within the digital space, and will ultimately become more successful in understanding their consumers and delivering more effective products and messaging.
(Sources- World Internet Stats, Nielsen, Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance)
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.
Aleetza Senn is a Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Sparkline. Aleetza’s expertise lies in branding, strategy, marketing consulting, and organisational development. In her prior role at Google, she spent over nine and a half years in a range of customer-focused strategic roles and was one of the pioneers for Google’s office in the Asia Pacific region. Aleetza was the sixth person hired in Google’s Australia office and the first YouTube employee in the Asia Pacific region.