Traditionally, Asian markets have followed those in the West when it comes to technological developments but the number of 4G deployments in the region and the vast potential for new customers that still remains have helped to make it a world leader rather than a follower in mobile Internet. Six of the ten largest LTE operators are based in Asia, and South Korea – with 4G accounting for almost two thirds of its mobile connections – is the most advanced LTE market in the world. With mobile Internet usage overtaking that of desktop PCs for the first time in 2014, the significance of these figures should not be underrated. But what does all this mean for digital marketing specialists in Asia?
Back to Basics
Before we tackle the issues raised by the rise of mobile Internet usage, facilitated by high-speed 4G networks, we need to take a look at the basics of digital marketing. Without a solid foundation, any digital advertising campaign will find it hard to gain traction.
1. Paid Search – Pay Per Click advertising has always featured prominently in most companies’ promotional budgets, second only to content marketing, and this continues to be the case in 2015. The reason for its popularity is the great return on investment that companies enjoy when using PPC ads to attract visitors to their websites. Whilst click-through rates are relatively low (around 2% on average), ROI figures can be spectacular – over 400% in some cases. Dynamic PPC search ads are an exciting development that can increase click through rates for websites with good content.
2. Email – It may surprise you to learn that targeted emails are still one of the most effective online advertising channels, with up to 32% of recipients opening emails from companies that use this channel in a methodical manner. It is important to note that this figure starts to drop alarmingly for companies that send more than 30 emails a month.
3. Social Media – The most effective promotional activities are those that gain the most exposure, which is why social media has become such an important online advertising channel in recent years. If your advertising and content appears in the places that people spend the most time when they are online, it is more likely to be noticed and acted upon by your target audience. Establishing a regularly updated Facebook page is considered a crucial part of any comprehensive digital marketing campaign nowadays, with Twitter and Instagram also playing an increasingly important role.
4. Content – The creation and sharing of relevant and valuable content is second only to PPC advertising in terms of marketing investment, as mentioned earlier. The algorithms that Google uses to rank websites in search results are believed to favour content-rich sites heavily, which is a strong motivation for companies to ensure that their corporate websites contain something more substantial than attractive graphics and animations.
There are other important advertising channels, such as remarketing on the Google Display Network and affiliate marketing, but the above can be considered as the big four. To a certain degree they depend on each other and should be approached together, as part of a comprehensive digital strategy, rather than separately. For instance, pay-per-click advertising, especially dynamic search ads, will be far less effective without valuable content on your corporate website, as will a social media presence and email marketing. Well-developed content draws people in and keeps casual visitors interested long enough to turn them into loyal customers.
Keep It Simple
When you are formulating a new online marketing strategy, it is best to keep it simple and build a solid foundation first. The image that you create with your social media presence, emails, content and pay-per-click advertising will be difficult to shed so it is important to get it right first time.
Prepare Your Team
It is essential to ensure that your staff is ready to deal with the volume of new enquiries that your marketing activities will generate. These online advertising channels, when used effectively, will attract attention to your company and you need to be well prepared in order to capitalise on this attention and maximise your ROI. The manner in which email and telephone enquiries are dealt with will play a big part in deciding how effective your online campaigns are as far as turning leads into sales are concerned. Deal with people in a friendly, professional manner and they are more likely to trust your company and believe in what it is doing.
A Mobile Future
The rapid deployment of 4G networks that we mentioned at the beginning of this article is helping companies around the world, and especially in Asia, to take full advantage of the opportunities that mobile Internet marketing has to offer. One company that is grasping these opportunities with both hands is Baidu, the Chinese search giant. With 12-month sales growth running at just under 42% and mobile accounting for fully 50% of its total revenue in the first quarter of 2015, Baidu is a shining example of what can be achieved through online advertising channels.
Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce and Internet services company that dominates the local market, is another example of how companies in Asia are leading the way when it comes to mobile internet marketing. By creating highly targeted content with personalised data, and optimising its mobile advertising, Rakuten Ichiba was able to increase the number of visitors using mobile devices by 40% in just three months and now reports that more than half of its revenue is derived from these mobile visitors.
Understanding Cultural Differences
What stands out when examining the progress companies in Asia are making is the fact that it is locally owned firms rather than international giants that appear to be leading the way. The main reason for this is almost certainly due to the fact that local companies understand the manner in which their customers like to engage with them, which may differ substantially to how Western consumers prefer to engage with companies.