APAC enterprises yet to leverage digital marketing

by CXOtoday News Desk    Nov 20, 2012

digital marketingEnterprises in the Asia-Pacific region believe that digital marketing can create a competitive advantage them but are yet to develop appropriate strategies and ROI metrics to capitalize on the growing opportunity, according to a recent report by Adobe Systems. The report noted that the failure to leverage digital marketing makes enterprises in this geography a laggard when compared to other regions.

High optimism

The study by Adobe Systems and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council observed that over 90 percent of marketers in the region believed digital marketing has the ability to better engage and activate audiences and 63 percent of respondents said that customer preferences are driving them to move to digital marketing activities, and that their audiences now expect and prefer digital engagement, it noted.

“Interest and optimism in digital marketing is high, but investment levels across Asia Pacific are still low. The majority of APAC marketers spend less than 25 percent of their total budget on digital. However, the number of APAC’s marketers who expect to allocate over half their budget to digital marketing is set to double in the fiscal year ahead. The commitment to digital is clearly happening,” said Mark Phibbs, Senior Director of Marketing at Adobe APAC.

Evaluating their level of adoption, only 6 percent respondents said they rated their own digital marketing operations as ‘highly evolved’, 44 percent rated themselves as still ‘evaluating and exploring’, 19 percent felt they were ‘followers’ and 11 percent said they were struggling.

The view that digital marketing holds high potential for business value is shared by APAC’s executive teams. While 38 percent of respondents said they had at least one strong digital marketing champion on the APAC leadership team of their organizations. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said the promise of greater accountability from the marketing function was driving their leadership team’s interest in digital marketing strategy and programs.

Low investment

According to Adobe, the greatest obstacle facing APAC marketers as they make the transition from traditional to digital marketing appears to be low budgets, with 53 percent of respondents citing budget limitations as a significant factor preventing them from undertaking critical activities such as testing and analysis.

Across APAC, 72 percent of respondents are spending less than 25 percent of their total marketing budget on digital marketing initiatives; and of that group, 37 percent are spending less than 10 percent. This budget definition includes website development and content, email marketing, search engine optimization, online advertising, social media community management and advertising, and more.

In spite of the current low spend, APAC marketers expect to increase investment in the fiscal year ahead. According to the report, 47 percent percent respondents said they would increase allocation to digital marketing to between 10 and 24 percent of their total marketing budget, and 22 percent said they would increase spend between 25 and 49 percent.

Skills Shortage

Skills shortage also appeared to be a significant issue across APAC. Nearly 49 percent of respondents said their current marketing teams didn’t have the right skills, experience or talent needed to take on digital marketing strategy, and 38 percent said they had insufficient budget to bring on the right level of senior talent. The right candidates were also not easily found, with 27 percent saying that they were unable to find the right staff with the right skills. The report found out that outsourcing is not the solution, as 32 percent of respondents saying their agencies’ capabilities were limiting their ability to execute effectively.

“Leveraging data to generate analytical insights is critical to help the region’s marketers move ahead of the curve in terms of tracking and mapping customer insights and behavior,” said Phibbs, adding that as APAC companies are competing globally, digital marketing is a critical factor in identifying and qualifying new markets, reaching out to new customers, building brands, and maintaining strong business opportunities internationally.