Marketing automation is of growing interest to APAC marketers, but what hurdles do they face and how can they overcome them?

A fifth (21%) of APAC-based marketers reported earlier this year that they planned to increase their investment in marketing automation technology over the next 12 months.

To address this growing area of focus for the region’s marketers, Econsultancy teamed up with emarsys to produce the Marketing Automation in Asia Pacific Best Practice Guide.

Marketing automation is a category of technology aimed at streamlining the sales and marketing processes through the automation of repetitive tasks, enabling marketers to target and retarget potential customers while increasing operational efficiency.

As the report indicates, marketing automation is not solely a technology solution; it is an enabler that relies on process and execution and does not replace the marketer. Rather, marketing automation – when implemented correctly – should free up marketers to be more creative as they can make sense of and act upon reams of useful data on customer and prospect behaviour.

The report covers the core tenets of marketing automation – content generation, lead management, lead intelligence, sales enablement and technology – so that APAC marketers can ask the right questions when preparing for the journey into marketing automation.

Barriers to adoption

One of the key observations to come out of the report is that getting C-level buy-in is both critical and difficult to achieve. Decision-makers and budget holders want to see business case studies and the Marketing Automation in Asia-Pacific Best Practice Guide contains some insightful interviews with regional marketers who are early adopters (and beneficiaries) of marketing automation.

The perennial issue of digital skills shortage and C-suite understanding is by no means exclusive to APAC but is particularly acute given the massive advances and variety in the area. APAC’s make-up – linguistic, cultural, economic and technological variety – also presents a challenge to marketers.

Other key issues faced by marketers in the region which the best practice guide addresses include:

  • How can I deliver the same message to my recipients across email, web, mobile and social?
  • Can I understand who my customers are and how they interact with my brand across different channels?
  • Is it possible to collect, analyse and understand customer loyalty across different channels?
  • Can data we have in other systems be harvested and connected to a single user ID?
  • Finally, if we have all the data we want, is it possible to automate the marketing processes and develop automated visual lifecycles using technology and not labour?

The customer journey

Understanding the customer decision journey is core to successful marketing and marketing automation technology can present marketers with incredible insights on customer and prospect behaviour, grade them according to their apparent readiness to buy and target them with the right content at the right time to stand the best chance of a sale.

According to Chinese ecommerce site

"Marketing automation is a necessary and crucial phase when it comes to online marketing. All marketing activities should always be based on customers’ needs. If we can fully understand their requirements and needs and better satisfy their expectations, we will gain the returns and be rewarded."

Equipping for marketing automation

A consistent response from those interviewed for this report was that in order to implement marketing automation you don't only need C-level support, but also a strong, coherent team effort between the key implementers: marketing, sales, customer service and IT.

Chinese fashion website Milanoo states:

"Our marketing and sales activities all reside in the marketing department. One of the main tasks for the marketing department is to research on new marketing methods, techniques and services, and introduce any actionable ones. IT acts like a supporting department – it helps us develop new features or even new systems in order to implement our marketing automation projects."

And finally, the benefits

Asia-Pacific marketers can learn a lot from the mature markets when it comes to implementing marketing automation, but it is clear that the bold organisations which rise to the challenge could develop a significant competitive edge.

Following best practice, marketers should see:

  1. Saving time and money: Marketing automation reduces the human-intensive workload of non-automated processes, meaning less people are required to manage and implement campaigns. Also, marketing automation users can cut down on third-party suppliers.
  2. Control of investments: Using analytics, marketers can more accurately view where their marketing is most and least effective, enabling them to create or amend content and re-targeting strategies and tactics around data.
  3. Increased revenues: If marketers follow marketing automation best practice throughout, they should see an increase in revenues.

What are your tips?

Have you implemented marketing automation? Where have you experienced success? Or are there any pitfalls you want to share?

Chris Lee

Published 4 December, 2013 by Chris Lee

Chris Lee is a freelance digital consultant, trainer and copywriter. He is also @CMRLee on Twitter.

9 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)


Sandhya Ramesh

Marketing Automation does indeed save a lot of time and increase lead retention for a company, but - and that's a huge but - only when used correctly. We find that a lot of customers make terrible mistakes with MA - emails/tweets too frequent, incorrect subject lines, irrelevant content. When we provide demos to new MA users for Agile CRM, we always make them aware of the issues that could rise with bad usage of it. A marketing automation platform, no matter how powerful, is only as efficient as the people who are using it.

over 4 years ago

Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Founder at Silvester & Finch Ltd.

Thanks Sandhya, you have hit the spot with the final comment "MA is only as efficient as the people who are using it".

The opportunity to personalise the customer experience is crucial, so on-target, timely content is essential. MA is not a tech solution, it's a whole new mindset and culture.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

over 4 years ago


Lee Goff

Wonderful article, my name is Lee Goff, CEO of GetUWired - Internet Marketing Automation Agency.

My firm is in the process of implementing between 80 - 100 marketing automation projects on a daily basis. I have a few pointers I would like to add to this article, hopefully it will help some business owners save a little money and spend a little more time with their families.

Here are some answers based upon our experience.

How can I deliver the same message to my recipients across email, web, mobile and social?

---- You must select the right cloud based marketing automation and crm combination, most of the major platforms have email, web, social and mobile plugins available. For example, Infusionsoft, Marketo, Salesforce/Pardot all have plugins for SMS, Web Forms and Social media. Of course you have to design all web properties in responsive site frameworks, to ensure proper brand and message deliverability.

Can I understand who my customers are and how they interact with my brand across different channels?

----- Yes, this boils down to testing and tracking, use tags, trackable phone numbers, trackable links and trackable short codes. If you use these properly, you can actually lead score your prospects/customers in a very precise manner.

Finally, if we have all the data we want, is it possible to automate the marketing processes and develop automated visual lifecycles using technology and not labour?

------VERY MUCH SO! Sorry for yelling, but this is a passionate topic for me. Using video, text, social media, email and offline tactics you can literally automate the entire educational and most of the trust building phases of the sales and marketing process. I could literally list 20 different benefits to this process being automated, but I think Entrepreneur Magazine said it best. In a recent article (Sept 2013 Ed.)
they stated some amazing statistics.

* Companies that automate lead management saw an increase of 10% in six to nine months.
*Companies that use marketing automation to nurture prospects saw an increase of 451% qualified leads.

These two are just a couple of examples, again I could go on for days about this topic.

There is one thing I did not see in your article that might deserve a little mention, and that is marketing automation content packages that are specific to your industry. For example, Real Estate, Dentist, Wedding Coordinators, etc..... Before you go down the long road of marketing automation, look for an industry specific content package first.

Hope this helps,

Lee Goff

over 4 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.