More than 100 B2B and B2C in-house marketers from around the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and beyond met at Digital Cream Singapore 2012 to discuss best practice in digital marketing.

Brands are at very different stages of adoption and maturity when it comes to digital marketing across the region, but certain themes arose consistently throughout the event:

  • ASEAN brands see the benefits and are aware of the challenges posed by social media, but are fully behind social media marketing and are largely “learning on the job”.
  • Organizations in the region need to improve on ecommerce, content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
  • ASEAN companies are keen to capitalize on the potential of mobile, especially given advanced mobile economies in Asia, such as Singapore or China.

Therefore, syncing social, content, mobile and ecommerce programs in 2013 will be the main challenge and there is almost universal recognition of the need for a joined-up, omnichannel, omni-device approach to marketing.

Senior client-side marketers at the event spoke about struggling to find experienced digital marketing and ecommerce experts who could take their business to the next level, a common theme across all debating tables. 

According to Econsultancy trainer and consultant Saleem Jumbhoy, this lack of skills could negatively impact morale and business success. He said:

Teams here feel that they are either ill-equipped to conceptualize, develop and execute their own email marketing efforts. If there is a shortfall on the available resources, would you not want to have teams with strong skills?

One area of great disparity was ecommerce, where influences outside of digital marketing – such as the lack of credit card penetration across ASEAN – are believed to restrict development. As Econsultancy trainer and consultant John Sinke put it:

A lack of digital talent, poor analytical tools and low credit card penetration are some of the barriers that organizations in Asia-Pacific are facing when implementing ecommerce best practices.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains an area of mystery that needs addressing urgently. Two key stand-out quotes include:

The overwhelming consensus among those attending this debate was that understanding about search marketing – how it works and how it can help achieve business objectives – is low in general.

Delegates agreed that analytics had become a business tool instead of a marketing tool for supporting critical business decision.

Despite the apparent skills shortage, organizations based in the ASEAN region remain positive about the opportunities posed by digital marketing, especially social media.

According to Ketan Samani, Senior Vice President, Regional eBusiness at DBS Bank, who moderated a table:

Excitement was mainly derived from possibilities and challenges from aspects of successfully commercializing social media space.

The feedback and commentary from both delegates and moderators has been used to create our South-East Asia Digital Marketing Trends Briefing, which provides an insight into the challenges faced by digital marketers in Southeast Asia.

The report, which is free to download, provides highlights from 10 different roundtables at Digital Cream. As Digital Cream is conducted according to Chatham House Rules, marketers have spoken candidly about their issues in the following areas:

  • Ecommerce and onsite conversion rate optimization.
  • Online advertising: strategy and maximizing returns.
  • Email marketing.
  • Cross-channel online marketing.
  • Search engine marketing optimization and data analytics.
  • Social media optimization – managing, marketing and measuring.
  • Customer experience management.
  • Mobile commerce marketing and apps.
  • Strategic content development, curation and marketing .
  • Social media tools and best practices.

Download a copy of the report to find out more. This trends briefing is free to download to all registered members. Registration takes only a few moments, and our Bronze membership level is free.

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