Top Five Skills For Modern APAC Marketers

Leading regional marketers recognize that measurement and a more granular understanding of the customer can turn marketing from a cost center into a corporate growth engine.

Top Five Skills For Modern APAC Marketers

In 2016, marketing success in the Asia-Pacific region will hinge on growth.

Savvy marketers who can successfully wrangle online tools while unleashing their creativity to engage with consumers will be more likely to turn a search into a sale. These marketers recognise that measurement and a more granular understanding of the customer, combined with predictive analytics to pinpoint consumer wants and needs, can turn marketing from a cost centre into a corporate growth engine.

Leading regional marketers identified five crucial marketing skills for 2016.

1. Customer Focus

Sharpen your customer and growth focus so that marketing becomes a revenue generator. To ensure ROI, you must build trust with your audience.

“Customers place a higher value on ‘self discovery and trust’ than other intangible when making a purchasing decision,” according to Grant Pattison, senior manager, marketing, sales technology at APAC insurance firm IAG.

Pattison called this a “heuristic” behaviour, explaining there is no guidebook on how to search the Internet or navigate social channels. “Most of us are self-taught and have our own trusted sources to get what we need quickly,” he said.

2. Data Analytics

Develop a more analytical approach; make data your friend to understand your customers. Data is the answer to most marketing questions–especially on how to deliver growth.

“In the past, marketing has involved a lot of gut feel–we don’t have to be that way,” said Ambera Cruz, head of marketing, Asia-Pacific, for media monitoring company Meltwater. “Combine the forces: Use the gut feel, but back it up with data. And be careful not to focus just on one area because that is where the data says you are getting results.”

Pattison pointed out three key data insights marketers should focus on to meaningfully understand the customer path to purchase: behavioural, psychological, and internal CRM.

“Behavioural will give you information on each interaction across your owned channels and will tell you which content to show,” he said. “Psychographic data must be leveraged when placing targeted ads across media channels. Finally, don’t forget to use your internal CRM data in combination with the above to drive better segmentation and content targeting.”

3. Automation Insight

Embrace automation for campaigns and customer engagement. To maximise the power of content, technology must be used to drive ROI.

“You have to know how to generate demand, how marketing automation works, and plan out using user paths and buying cycles to tighten conversions,” Cruz said. “And use content. Understand what sort of touch users should be receiving. You have got to know how to generate demand and leads.”

But, as Pattison suggested, this may be easier said than done.

“Many [companies] struggle to align their people, processes, and technology to achieve this goal,” he said. “Marketing automation is the technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”

The maximum benefit from automation is derived from digital technology integration, Pattison added.

“As we expand our skill sets, best practices, plugins, and apps, we can develop a constant flow of automation insights and a true marketing ecosystem,” he said.

4. Storytelling Smarts

Embrace content and storytelling–but with a hard marketing edge.

Rickie Hobbie, marketing director, APAC, for marketing solutions provider Epsilon, weighed in on the importance of content in the digital marketing experience. “We did a study in Singapore recently and found that reading brand advertisements was one of the top three ways people engaged with a brand after Web browsing and visiting the store,” Hobbie said.

Cruz agreed: “If you nail a really good story, it will do more than all the data,” she said. “Stories always hold their value–not the [electronic direct mail] I sent out last week.”

But creating compelling content and linking great content to lead generation or a sale are not the same. As a result, a key hire in your 2016 marketing team should be someone who demonstrates engagement of both–the scientific left and creative–hemispheres of the brain, Pattison said.

“Understanding consumer action, identity, and sentiment will require individuals to combine their process, data-driven, analytical, and software skills with their creative, design-oriented, emphatic, and customer focus to be successful,” Pattison said.

5. Local Nous

Build digital marketing teams across the Asia-Pacific region, each with a focus on local language, multilingual SEO, and cultural nuance, particularly for social media campaigns.

“It’s critical to have a team that reflects cultural nuance in social media content. “Take China social media marketing: It is a different animal in China. I do social, but I need an insider who knows China better,” said Hong Kong-based Hobbie.

With half of all Web searches made in a language other than English, according to Google, campaign success depends a great deal on a marketer’s ability to consider cultural and language variations in the APAC region.

Frederic Chanut, managing director of Sydney firm In Marketing We Trust, is an inbound marketing and SEO specialist. In his previous role, he was responsible for 28 websites in 14 languages and grew the Asian market by 30%.

“Success and failure for international SEO has three major components: your marketing efforts at a country level; your technical solutions and how well you can cater for different locations; and your connection with the local team.” he said.