At the recent round table hosted by LEWIS PR Hong Kong, conversation didn’t pause for a single minute as analysts, corporate communication and marketing directors and journalists discussed digital marketing engagement challenges and strategies in Asia Pacific.
The event featured Andrew Stockwell (Vice President, Asia Pacific at Forrester Research), Mark Lepine (Regional Director at Forrester), as well as marketing and communications professionals from B2B technology companies.
Andrew opened with his thoughts on the importance of companies’ ability to navigate social, cultural, and economic complexities, and understand country-specific consumer technology adoption and behaviour. In addition, he also provided guidance on how this will help marketing and strategy professionals to build an effective digital marketing strategy to engage via multiple digital touch points and deliver valuable customer experiences.
The conversation then opened up to participants around the table. The discussion highlighted the challenges and a number of questions, which the digital community may feel have been addressed, but still linger in the minds of B2B technology companies in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific.
1. Who is in charge of an integrated approach to digital marketing and should a new role be created?
User engagement with brands today spans devices, platforms and networks – posing a challenge to marketing and public relations departments of large organisations in Asia Pacific. Often these two departments handle the social and digital media channels separately, in two different silos. Hence it is often difficult to establish who is in charge of the digital marketing programme and ensures it is integrated with the marketing mix. Dedicated social media teams are trying to overcome this challenge but still the question remains: who is in charge of delivering integrated communication campaigns? Do we need to create a new role, the digital marketing manager, who sits on top of the marketing and public relations’ departments? The overall consensus was that organisations did not need to create a new role, but simply individuals and teams should talk more – after all we are in the communications industry. The focus, perhaps, should turn to the CMO – a role that should be able to bring these various departments together.
2. Who needs digital marketing?
Social media platforms are no longer considered necessary or relevant for B2C organisations alone – B2B tech companies also need them to drive conversations and engagement. The role of social media platforms has changed. The consensus at the roundtable was that instead of viewing them as channels where consumers can voice their opinions or complaints, businesses today see digital marketing as a value add: it helps build communities for brand awareness and engagement.
Digital marketing has become more and more important, especially in the communications with partners, suppliers and vendors. B2C and B2B companies in Hong Kong have recognised that social media platforms are an alternate support channel and are focusing their attention on launching new and expanding existing social media channels.
3. Which platform is right for us?
At the roundtable we also argued about the ‘right’ platform – but it is not that easy. The age of blind adoption has given way to finding relevant customised platforms that give organisations the option to deliver targeted content to their customers. While Facebook may not be the most obvious choice for B2B companies to engage with customers, the fact remains that it is hugely popular in Hong Kong, with an estimated 3.7 million users in Hong Kong alone. Other channels are Twitter, YouTube and the Chinese counterparts of Ren Ren, Sina Weibo etc. While Google+ and LinkedIn may not (yet) be dominant on the digital marketing team’s radar, it is impossible to overlook them.
Organisations are also focused on metrics and measurement tools to establish the reach and success of their digital marketing strategy. While this is not a step that needs to be taken right at the beginning of digital marketing strategy, metrics play an important part and cannot be overlooked. At our event, there were different views about which tools and criteria are the most suitable ones and it is clear that the different needs demand customised solutions. But that’s a topic to explore in more detail in another post.
4. Where should we start?
It has become obvious that digital marketing is important and companies do not question its validity, but rather where to start. Case studies that demonstrate how other organisations in the same space have successfully launched a digital marketing strategy are much in demand amongst B2B organisations in Hong Kong. The general consensus is that businesses in Hong Kong are more cautious and prefer learning from previous experiences than some of their counterparts in other countries.
The round table brought forward several insights based on direct experiences and challenges. The examples that served to underline the perspectives were obviously specific to the region and it was refreshing for us to move beyond the obvious challenges like content and strategy localisation that is necessary to address specific cultural and language contexts. It was easy to see that the round table was a starting point for many conversations.
Are you a marketing professional in Asia Pacific? How do you view the key questions raised at our event?
Tell us your thoughts via the Comments below or @lewispr_asia