A confident continent: Asian Marcom Professionals buoyant on growth and omnichannel evolution

Data from Aspectus Group also details anxiety around ROI and lack of skill sets in more complex areas of digital marketing 

1st of February 2024, Singapore – Asia based marcom professionals believe the region is flourishing and are increasingly focusing on digitally integrated campaigns. But over-measuring marcom ROI and a lack of skills in more technical digital areas remain a concern.  

This is according to Aspectus Group’s latest industry survey which includes insights from leading marcom experts in the region. Another key perspective is that presence and knowledge on the ground is essential for any form of success for global brands with regional marcom activity:  

  • 78% of respondents are positive about their ability to capture and grow opportunities for their business’s clients 
  • Nearly half (48%) believe the marcom industry in Asia is established and thriving  

Digital First  

It appears the bullish mood of the industry rests on the increasing integration between traditional marketing – such as PR and content – with digital. This mix is driving smarter campaigns, taking the best of both worlds to deliver more tangible ROI – something that still creates anxieties for marketers looking to drive the sales funnel.  

  • 47% of marketers believe digital marketing is the biggest opportunity to capture market share  
  • That’s triple the number of respondents who voted for strategic communications (16%) or branding and messaging (16%) 
  • When it comes to Gen Z – 83% view digital marketing as the way to obtain audience cut through  
  • When asked what their most important communication channels are –social media (90%) platforms and online media – such as digital ads – (87%) came out on top.   
  • This is way ahead of traditional media (43%) and events and conferences (37%)  
  • While 36% identify public relations as a primary area of focus, just 8% think standalone media relations (without a digital faction) present one of the biggest opportunities for capturing market share.  

Signs of a talent drought?  

It appears that many marketers today cover many different skills. But this doesn’t mean there is enough talent to cover all aspects of the industry machinery. This is especially relevant to more technical roles where top talent appears to be in short supply.  

  • Overall digital marketing is the area where more skill is most required (40%), followed by branding and messaging (38%), strategic communications (36%) and design (25%) 
  • Just 6% of respondents work in AX/UI design – the lowest of any job role in the survey  
  • Only 18% of respondents operate in SEO/SEM analytics  
  • AI appears to be an area of focus – or at least an increasing part of the modern marketer’s skillset with 9% saying they work as a specialist in this position.  

Justifying marketing spend and activity  

The age-old perception of marketing’s value and intrinsic relationship to the sales pipeline appears to still ring true in Asia. It is a major concern. Most respondents say they face the expectation of immediate monetary returns and in a digital world this means quantifiable outcomes are expected more than ever before.  

  • 51% of respondents say they experience an undervalued perception of the marcom function  
  • 42% say there is a lack of understanding of the ROI that marcom can provide  
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) tell us there are high expectations of immediate monetary returns or sales conversion from marketing activity  
  • This worryingly could be affecting the quality of output, with 56% saying a focus on metrics stifles the quality of their output.  

On the ground and in the know  

Asia is a complex market and to outsiders seeking to grow market share   experts take the view that global companies cannot simply replicate strategies from their home market – knowing local nuances has never been more important to getting marketing results.  

  • 92% of respondents say that on-the-ground representation in Asia is important  
  • When asked about barriers to success in Asia, 70% say a failure to understand local dynamics is the biggest issue  
  • Finding suitable local partners or agencies is also hard with 55% identifying this as a challenge 
  • Cultural and language differences, according to 35% of marketers can be a major drawback to success in Asia  

Commenting on the report, Koh Juat May, President, Institute of Public Relations of Singapore said: “The marcom space in Asia is thriving. The confidence and optimism among respondents are crucial to encourage growth and secure investments for marcoms activities. Asia is unique and what is clear is the most successful marcom team is one that embraces cultural diversity and understands the sensitivities that work on the ground – and displays this through their marketing campaigns.” 

Christopher See, Head of Marketing, SGX, FX said: “It is clear that having the knowledge and desire for campaigns to run across different digital platforms is now a must for marketing departments. But upskilling and understanding the mechanics of new types of marketing can be hard – regardless of the appetite to learn – given time constraints and the amount of ground marketers need to cover. Finding and harnessing successful, on-the-ground partnerships is a sure way to stand out from your competition.”  

Louise Veitch, Head of South East Asia, Aspectus concluded: “Any marcom specialist will know that demonstrating results that go towards the sales pipeline has never been more important – and more demanded – by key stakeholders. What often goes overlooked however, is the ability of an omnichannel campaign to show exactly what has been achieved. Everyone knows that earned media or PR drives brand recognition and encourages sales conversion, but it’s often hard to evidence. By combining stories into wider digital marketing campaigns – marketers across Asia will have something more tangible to show.”  

Access the full report here.

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