Marketers need to prepare for ‘screenagers,’ says expert
By Benjamin Cher December 15, 2015
- Marketers still do not understand the mindset of millennials
- Digital marketing now the norm in SEA, but growth is levelling off
IN this era of digital natives not just entering the workforce but also becoming customers, marketers need to adapt and reach out to ‘screenagers’ – teenagers who are glued to their screens.
“Marketing is being led by non-digital natives – we don’t understand the idea of digital being ingrained into the way we do things,” said Liz Miller, marketing vice president at the CMO (chief marketing officer) Council.
“We are still trying to apply our own behaviours and mindsets into how digital [marketing] advances, when in reality we have to listen to the customer,” she told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore recently.
If the customer is a millennial or a digital native, marketers need to ‘advance’ towards them, Miller argued.
“We have to actually listen to our customer, who they are, and how they are consuming our content,” she said.
“We have to ask questions about our data that is different from the assumptions we want to make,” she added.
That is the next big evolutionary leap in digital marketing, according to Miller, adding that the reality is that the right questions are not being asked, and hence the right answers are not being found.
Miller (pic above) was speaking to DNA to share the findings of the latest annual APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard. Together with Adobe Systems Inc, the CMO Council has been conducting the survey since 2012, to track the adoption, traction and success of digital marketing in Asia Pacific countries.
The CMO Council is a global network dedicated to knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of industries.
According to the latest findings, Asia Pacific businesses are no longer questioning the need to embrace digital technologies for their marketing efforts, but more can be done, according to Miller.
“Across Asia Pacific, we are advancing on this digital journey – but we are just not doing it as fast as we used to,” she said.
In 2015, 900 senior marketers from a range of industries took part in the survey.
For the first time, the Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard examined creative empowerment and content velocity indicators, both critical to delivering an integrated and compelling customer experience across digital and real-world touchpoints, the two parties said in a statement.
“The first three years of this performance evaluation, we saw markets leap forward in advancement and maturity – leading-edge countries like Singapore really made these huge strides in advancing digital,” said Miller.
READ ALSO: Singapore lags in digital advertising measurement: IAB study
Now the growth seems to be levelling off, where digital is almost becoming the new normal, she told DNA.
Organisations that demand only traditional marketing methods are becoming uncommon, while four years ago, they were still quite common – even in Singapore, she remarked.
“There is now a level of sophistication across South-East Asia, where the leadership understands that digital is core to customer experience,” Miller said.
“But there isn’t one single channel that everyone should be looking at, it really has to be this multi-channel approach,” she added.
Customers are now defining where and how they are starting relationships with businesses, and South-East Asia happens to be ‘mobile-first.’
“If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you are going to be very left behind, and I see that mindset is already there,” Miller said.
According to the survey, 84% of organisations in Asia Pacific are using digital marketing analytics and reporting technologies (click dashboard above to enlarge).
While the survey places marketing skills with digital at a low 1.8 out of 10, there has been a steady increase in the last four years in this category, according to Miller.
“What is extremely positive is that across Asia, we really now see digital as something that requires inhouse talent and knowledge – it is no longer something that someone ‘kinds of does’ or incorporates into [his or her regular] job,” she added.
In Singapore, the chief marketing officer (CMO) now feels responsible and owns the digital strategy, according to Miller. Digital is no longer seen as just the responsibility of a functional group within marketing.
Along with this focus, organisations are bringing in analytics talents. “But this is only 10% of organisations,” she said.
“As … organisations see how important data and digital is, we will see that number grow,” she said, adding that the problem then would be if there are enough people “with the talent and knowledge to fill those spots.”
Data is the issue – only 9% of organisations use it for the entire marketing lifecycle, or feel that it is being used as a competitive edge.
“Marketers need to change their mindset when it comes to data – the majority of them think about data as a way to report on past performance,” Miller said.
“Only 6% in Singapore think about data as a way to create a competitive difference, which is slightly lower than last year,” she added.
Marketers in Singapore are realising how hard it is to aggregate data and are taking a step back to rethink how to effectively use it.
“My prediction is that we will see a surge in Singapore next year, after they regroup and learn how to effectively use it,” Miller said.
In 2012, the majority of marketers either aggregated data and did not do anything with it, or did not gather any data at all. The majority of marketers in Asia admitted to not knowing what to do with data, Miller remarked.
“More marketers [in Singapore] are starting to look at data differently, starting to use it to improve performance and understand their customers deeply,” she said.
The rest of South-East Asia is still utilising data to report on key performance indicators (KPIs), which is good news as they are not just aggregating data, according to Miller.
“Mobile is forcing the rest of South-East Asia to rapidly advance into this area to use data to optimise content performance,” she said.
“What is different in South-East Asia is that mobile is ubiquitous across users – this trend is reflected in Malaysia and Indonesia where young startups are growing up with no bad habits and a mobile mindset already,” she added.
IT needs to be marketing heroes
Marketers are now also starting to think about the problems that customers face, which is a good sign.
“If marketing asks IT if [the business] has the tools to manage load-balancing in a data centre to prevent downtime at an inflection point – that represents a revolutionary shift,” Miller said.
“Marketers are beginning realise that all of this impacts the business, and this translates into customer experience, where IT, customer service and marketing are all involved,” she added.
Marketing has to work in concert with IT to ensure that the latter contributes to marketing success. “Year over year, it is probably the lowest data point we have in this study – few marketers see IT as a contributor to digital marketing,” Miller said.
“That’s a shame, because IT should be our greatest champion and hero,” she added.
The future of engagement
Meanwhile, Miller (pic) said it was hard to predict the future of digital marketing, with the emergence of a few big trends that will change the way marketers engage with customers.
“We are now in the midst of the digital enterprise trend, where digital smean more than just marketing,” she said.
“The digital enterprise has fundamentally changed companies from being their own silos that push information out, and into bi-directional organisations,” she added.
There are two trends that will change that and make things more complex. “First is the Internet of Things (IoT) – it has started and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Miller said.
“The IoT is both an opportunity and a huge challenge for marketers who want to push content through it – we need to look at it as a data source to ingest, to create smarter experiences,” she added.
Application program interfaces (APIs) are the second big trend that will shake things up for marketers.
“APIs are really running the world – we are now looking at product and services from non-traditional businesses, based on connecting two points together,” Miller said.
“We have to look at our organisations and ask if there is a way to create an API connection with consumers for a better experience with our brand,” she added.
There are going to be seismic shifts happening around opening up APIs to connect consumers to a better brand experience, according to Miller.
“The one thing I can say about digital that is it completely unpredictable – but it would be easy to predict that it is always going to change.
“What it offers us as marketers is infinite opportunities, which is terrifying for some and super-exciting for others,” she added.
Confidence in digital grows, but metrics a challenge for APAC marketers: Adobe
Consumers getting savvy about branded content: Google study
Digital marketing: More than just about the numbers
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