With 21 million Internet users in the country, Malaysia is one of the most digitally connected nations in the region. The number of internet users has been steadily on the rise and last year, the Department of Statistics reported a 145 percent mobile penetration, with 44.5 million subscriptions in the country.
As Malaysia poises to thrust itself into the forefront of the digital economy, the trend is expected to continue – sending a powerful message to brands that are looking for direction in digital marketing. Beyond the mobile device, the high percentage of digital reach also means that the advertising industry can and has pivoted in a new direction to include possibilities that were previously unheard of.
The Asia Pacific digital ad market achieved five percent growth in 2016, and has accelerated even further this year. Based on spending alone, it’s clear that marketers are fully aware of the impact of digital. Yet, because of the free reign it provides, it is just as easy to have investments spiral down a dark tunnel.
This fear of the unknown and lack of transparency have resulted in tighter restrictions on digital spending, where ads are not placed in front of the right – or even real – eyeballs. Retreating from this untapped potential, global retail behemoth Procter & Gamble (P&G) recently revealed a fall in digital ad spending. Similarly, Unilever also highlighted this year that a significant portion of its three-year US$7 billion cost cuts would come from its marketing spend.
While the sea of social media users in Malaysia is large – and brimming with potential for marketers –we cannot assume that anything thrown into this ocean will reel in good results. Advertisers need to understand the bottlenecks achieving their desired results and put their dollars in the same bucket as their objectives.
Budget aside, much can be done organically to improve a brand’s reach in the crowded social space. Here are four areas that marketers can explore:
The speed of social media makes it possible for marketers to scale and run numerous personalised ad campaigns in parallel. While marketers may be concerned about ROI on reach and be tempted to run generic advertisements to reach wider audiences, the truth is that social media marketing efforts that go the extra mile to speak to consumers as individuals are often more efficient in cutting through the noise. Instead of trying to repurpose one ad, brands need to target specific ads to specific audiences depending on which stage of the marketing funnel they fall under – developing an end-to-end strategy and execution.
Define Clear Goals
From brand awareness to lead generation, marketers need to be clear in what they want to achieve. They also need to set reasonable, quantifiable metrics to prove how social media efforts are helping the business reach its objectives. These should extend beyond vanity metrics such as likes, comments and shares, and instead go on to assess measures such as conversions or repeat visits, which ultimately indicate longer term value for the company.
Building Brand Love
As marketers become more tech-savvy, consumers are also quickly learning ways to make the most out of their screen time. Commonly used in parts of Asia like China, Indonesia, and India, adblocking technology is gaining traction in Malaysia. While users can easily cut out clutter from their screen time, marketers should not be disheartened – the phenomenon is actually an opportunity to get creative and reach consumers who actually want to see their content.
The digital world has already provided so much data around user demographics. Used right, data can help marketers micro-segment their intended audience. Ads are only noise if they are irrelevant to the user. If a piece of content is helpful, users will not only welcome it, they may even seek more from advertisers.
Connecting Online Efforts to Offline Sales Conversions
Digital marketing efforts and offline sales conversions serve a common goal, yet are often regarded independently. The benefit of the digital space is its ability to generate data. Brands can tap into the stream of data to better understand their audience, so they can tailor their efforts to an even greater extent, speaking directly to their customers and easing them along the purchase journey.
To succeed in a diverse, multicultural nation like Malaysia, brands need to truly understand the market and its segmentation in order to prompt a reaction among its audience. As a nation that takes much pride in their heritage and culture, marketers who find a way to tug on the heartstrings of its Malaysian consumers are already ahead of the game, even before bringing in the technicalities of digital marketing. With a clear understanding of user insights and their digital consumption habits, marketers can unravel the magic behind generating great content, sending a strong – and relevant – message to the various segments of Malaysian consumers. Whether it’s joining a conversation or creating one, the power is with marketers to make the most of the data that already exists around them.