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Australia leads the way in digital marketing

Transformation to the digital world is a significant factor in all businesses and industries these days, and Australian marketers are already leading other Asia Pacific countries in digital marketing proficiency.

And, despite a talent and skills gap being a major obstacle to digital advancement for some agencies in the APAC region, the value of digital marketing is growing right across the region as it fast becomes the catalyst for business transformation and customer engagement optimisation.

According to research by Adobe and the CMO Council, even with the growth in digital marketing, marketers in many APAC countries still struggle to validate investment and build a business case for digital.

“Australia’s marketers are still largely focused on single vector metrics that measure past success or single campaign performance only. They are typically not measuring the impact of harder business metrics such as sales pipeline performance or customer lifetime value,” the report emphasises.

The research also shows that marketers who measure business value metrics spend a higher proportion of their marketing budget on digital, and are almost twice as likely to allocate more than 50% of their budget to digital than marketers who don’t measure the same metrics (19% vs 10%).

Similarly, marketers who track business value metrics have higher levels of confidence in digital than their non-measuring peers (75% vs 59%), are more likely to say that digital can grow a profitable business faster (45% vs 33%) and are less likely to say they struggle to make a business case for digital spend (31% vs 40%), the report further reveals.

Adobe and the CMO Council say Australian early adopter digital marketers, as well as leading the region in marketing proficiency, are able to prove value to their organisations and industries.

“Digital and business transformation is a complex and challenging task, but the rewards are great. Early adopters in Australia are leading the region in digital marketing proficiency and are able to prove value to their organisations and industries. These companies are using customer intelligence in an insightful way and are leading with data. They are raising the bar by measuring, predicting and using insights across multiple channels to create relevant and personalised experiences to satisfy customers,” says Paul Robson, President, Adobe Asia Pacific.

“Adobe and CMO Council have been tracking the digital journey of APAC’s marketers since 2011. We have also worked with many companies to successfully transform their operations, teams, technologies and strategies as they consolidate digital channels to deliver unified, exceptional customer experiences.”

The new research reveals findings based on data collected from 648 respondents in Australia, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.

Liz Miller, Vice President of Marketing at CMO Council, agrees with Robson, and says that “digital has truly come of age”.

Miller says that Australian respondents to the survey are confirming that digital enables additional touchpoints (68%), delivers more cost-effective customer acquisition (51%), improves customer loyalty (41%) and improves the overall customer experience and responsiveness (34%).

“The challenge now, is to turn our attention to extracting greater value and insights from data to provide ideas and knowledge that improve product, services and customer engagement and provide the foundations for a stronger internal pitch to boost investment and resourcing.”

Other top-line Australian findings from the Adobe APAC Digital Directions survey include:  

•    35% of Australian marketers rate their organisation as pretty good or high in digital marketing efficiency, compared with the APAC average of 24%

•    The top 3 challenges and complexities experienced in building in-house and virtual digital marketing teams in Australia are a lack of the right talent and skills (55%), budget limitations (42%) and identifying the right tools and technologies needed to take the next step (40%)

•    The top 3 challenges to digital campaign execution in Australia are budget limitations (54%), determining the best technology solutions and services to use (41%) and making a business case for digital marketing spend

•    The top 3 digital priorities for Australian marketers are strengthening the digital content strategy (68%), richer, deeper customer profiling and insights (51%); and social media optimisation (50%).

For marketers across the entire APAC region, including Australia, Adobe and the CMO recommend they adopt three “digital imperatives” to accelerate their digital journey:  

•    Optimise strategies for engagement and enablement by diving deeper into intelligence, insights and customer analytics. Best practice leaders in the region are demonstrating this by integrating tools that help streamline operations, and rolling out new strategies that leverage online and offline data to create smarter experiences

•    Boost team performance and skills. The talent gap consistently manifests as a major obstacle to digital advancement. In 2013, 37% of marketers across Asia Pacific said their agency’s capabilities and experience were holding them back. In this latest survey, that number has jumped to 47% of respondents, which is especially problematic when you consider that 74% of respondents said they were working with one or more digital agencies across the region, and

•    Allocate around a customer-centric business case. Digital budgets are slowly increasing in Asia Pacific, with 78% of respondents saying they have increased budgets over the last 12 months. Marketers who leverage metrics tied to the bottom line, profitability and growth, are having greater success persuading internal stakeholders to increase their investment in digital.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).