A recent Econsultancy survey asked marketers what they felt was the most exciting opportunity in digital.  

How did multichannel marketing fare in APAC?

Just before we start, I’d like to highlight that Econsultancy will be hosting a webinar on the subject, Multichannel Marketing: Trends, Data and Best Practice (APAC), on 29 October at 10am Singapore / 1pm Sydney time.  

Multichannel in APAC

For our Digital Trends 2015 report we published in January of this year, we asked thousands of marketers globally: “What is the single most exciting digital opportunity?” and broke down the responses by region.

Now multichannel marketing is surely one of the most talked about topics in digital, which is why Econsultancy is discussing it in our monthly webinar.  

But, surprisingly, multichannel campaign management appeared near the bottom for each region and only 7% in APAC said that multichannel was the most exciting opportunity.  

What’s going on?

Let’s take a step back

Before labelling multichannel as unexciting and burying it for dead, let’s ask ourselves what the term ‘multichannel’ really means.

A traditional definition of multichannel is the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. In short it’s taking our marketing message and figuring out how to deliver it across the fragmented media landscape.

And so, in one sense, multichannnel marketing refers to a campaign which crosses distribution channels to attract, engage, and (hopefully) convert an observer into a customer.

An example

One vivid example of multichannel marketing that we experienced recently in APAC was the Dolce & Gabbana light blue campaign.

The ad campaign for the fragrance was truly multichannel. Not only was the fragrance’s model, David Gandy, featured in print, on billboards, and on the D&G website but he also recently made personal appearances in Singapore and Sydney to promote the brand.

And his Instagram post reinforced the point of the campaign. He was out here as the brand’s message in a physical channel, selling the product.

Multichannel in APAC

However, multichannel marketing in APAC is more complicated than just delivering a message across multiple channels.  

Some reasons for this are that the region is quite geographically, culturally, and linguistically diverse.

And many marketers find that trying to deliver a singular message throughout APAC is simply not effective.

But perhaps a more important factor than the diversity of the region is the massive impact that mobile has had here. 

I mean, APAC leads the world in mobile traffic consumption…

we spend more time on our mobiles than those in other regions…

…and, according to a recent Econsultancy survey, agencies report that 40% of their clients get more than 25% of their revenue from mobile.

And this proliferation of mobile has impacted how we have to deliver our marketing in the region.

What I mean is that because of the proliferation of mobile and the increase in mobile commerce, the customer journey has become more complicated in APAC.  

This has made it difficult for brands to market effectively to these customers. In response to this new challenge, though, a new approach to multichannel marketing is emerging. 

A new approach which is much more exciting.

A new definition

So the traditional multichannel definition, delivering the marketing strategy across all engagement channels, probably isn’t good enough for APAC in 2015.

We also need to take the new, complicated customer journey into consideration. A customer journey which involves our customers being on-the-go, with different distractions and concerns, and a reduced ability to consume our message.

So, instead of just producing, delivering and managing a brand message across multiple channels, APAC marketers have to look at the business strategy at a higher level.

That is, they have to look at the new, complicated customer journey (including mobile) and essentially change the business to fit their customers’ new way of living.

And re-engineering the business around the customer experience is sometimes called ‘omnichannel marketing’ to distinguish it from traditional multichannel marketing.

An example of new multichannel marketing

An example of this new multichannel marketing strategy can help shed some more light on this. 

Zalora has been a successful apparel ecommerce website in APAC since 2012.

But as we have moved from researching and buying via desktop to doing the same on our mobile devices, it has become harder for customers to buy apparel online.

It’s simply more difficult to make a purchasing decision about clothes on a smaller screen.

So, quite likely in response to this new mobile-induced shopping anxiety, Zalora has been opening up physical, ‘pop-up’ shops around Singapore.

And in these shops, you can see many of the clothes Zalora offers in real life, try them on, and purchase them either on your mobile or on the provided computers.

What’s super-interesting, though, is that you cannot take the clothes away when you buy them in the pop-up store. That would require, I suppose, staffing, stocking, and re-ordering that would be unprofitable for an ecommerce company.  

Instead you order online and have them delivered, or pick them up later in the store.

So, these pop-up shops are not stores in a traditional sense. But what are they? 

You guessed it, they are new multichannel marketing.

How is this different?

Now, if Zalora was using traditional multichannel marketing, its mobile strategy would just be mobile banner ads asking us to click through to the website.

Instead, it considered the very real problems that customers faced during their buying journey and built the marketing around that.  

Zalora went back to its core business goal of selling clothes, looked at how customers’ behaviors have changed, and came up with a new business concept in response.

And this high-level business re-engineering created the pop-up shop, and a great example of the new multichannel, or omnichannel, marketing.

So…

If we keep our new definition of multichannel marketing in mind and go back to our original stats about the most exciting opportunity, we see it very differently.

Instead of seeing multichannel languishing at the bottom of the chart, we see it, with our expanded definition, right at the top.  

That is, marketing which focuses on the customer experience is the most exciting opportunity for more marketers in our survey.  

And if we include mobile and the few who ticked the original multichannel, we have almost 50% of marketers voting that this new multichannel is the most exciting experience.

And as a final note, perhaps the reason why it appeared so low previously was that word ‘management’.

That is, it’s quite exciting to think about rebuilding the business around marketing, but the thought of ‘managing’ content across different channels sounds much less so!