Fringe to mainstream: 3 trends transforming Malaysian digital marketing in 2018

Malaysia is one of the most digitally connected economies in Asia Pacific. Besides boasting a large, connected consumer base, this also means that global social and digital trends are likely to impact business here – fast. As such, social media and the socially-connected consumer can be expected to continue pushing businesses to evolve quickly, or risk being left behind.

The rise of the buy button

2018 is likely to see social commerce take off in a big way in Malaysia. Businesses in Malaysia have the luxury of operating in a market that enjoys high penetration of digital, social and smartphones. Combined, this means that the consumer base here is largely mobile-first, digitally savvy and always connected. Today, Malaysia represents the fourth largest market in the world for social commerce adopters, with social media users who are highly likely to convert into paying customers.

For brands that are able to adapt quickly, this represents an opportunity to connect with, engage, and sell to customers – all on social media. Instead of just using social media advertising to drum up interest in products or drive users to a separate landing page, brands are now be able to compress the entire marketing funnel by integrating ‘buy’-buttons in their campaigns. To do this, businesses must analyse and optimise existing factors such as operation processes and UX design, to provide a more seamless online shopping experience. With a built-in buy button and mobile payment options, customers should be able to go from discovery to checkout with a single click.

It also means that marketers will finally make the big leap to measuring success beyond vanity metrics such as likes, follows and shares, to meaningful performance markers such as conversions .

Cashless economy goes mainstream

In 2018, selling to customers on the go will no longer be recognised as the sole domain of e-tailers and high-tech e-commerce startups. Recent developments in the industry indicate that mobile payment is set to go fully mainstream in the coming year, and every merchant needs to be prepared.

As the economy continues to go cashless in a major way, advertisers need to acknowledge that their responsibilities no longer stop at awareness-based metrics. To fully capitalise on the rise of mobile payment systems, brands and marketers need to have such capabilities readily integrated into their platforms, allowing for seamless discovery-to-purchase processes. Partnerships with merchants to offer greater value to consumers will also grow significantly, as the battle for the e-wallet intensifies.

Less becomes more with influencer marketing

The meteoric rise of Instagram – both globally and in Malaysia – has made celebrities out of a select group of prolific users. Brands hoping to borrow some of their reach and credibility have quickly followed with sponsorships and endorsements. As a result ‘Insta-stardom’ has become somewhat of a full-time job for these high-profile users, who juggle both paid and organic content for their armies of followers.

However, brands are also realising that influencer marketing needs to take into account audience interests, and be as efficient as a sophisticated digital campaign to drive results. 2018 is likely to see businesses embrace microinfluencer marketing.

Unlike traditional influencers, microinfluencers, both on YouTube & Instagram usually have a more modest following, and share content that revolve around a specific passion, such as food or fitness. Until recently, many brands have overlooked these microinfluencers – and their hyper-engaged audiences. This will change in 2018, as businesses expand their personalisation strategies to influencer marketing. By activating a pool of microinfluencers and nurturing them over a long period , brands will actually be able to access a more engaged audience, while building brand value through more credible advocates.

Content marketing gains adulthood, finally

What exactly is content marketing? For too long, even marketers themselves have recognised content marketing simply as a subset of their usual advertising and marketing efforts. As the always-on customer takes centre stage in the coming year, content marketing is set to grow in importance and establish itself as a separate pillar of marketing altogether.

Advertising, much in the same way as it has for years, continues to be organised in burst-based campaigns. In contrast, content marketing establishes a steady, consistent channel of communication with the consumer, a key consumer relationship building tool in the age of social. In the same vein, the content marketing practice will also grow its appetite for creatives and creative professionals in 2018, especially in terms of video. Budgets for content marketing are also expected to grow, and marketers will need to choose meaningful measurement metrics to justify ROI on the increased spending.

The coming year will see consumers take an ever-increasing number of processes on mobile. Businesses that are able to anticipate, prepare for, and leverage these changes, now have an opportunity to take the lead in the industry and eventually gain an even deeper connection with their customers. 2018 will be the year where personalised marketing will hit the escape velocity in Malaysia and in the region

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