Close to 30 per cent feel they have a highly evolved digital marketing system and strategy, compared to 23 per cent in 2012.
For marketers who haven’t fully formulated their systems, 44 per cent said they are continuing to explore and evaluate all digital options, as customer preference (67 per cent) and cost efficiency (66 per cent) will continue to drive digital marketing adoption across Asia-Pacific.
The study is based on surveys conducted in the past six months with 276 senior marketers in six markets, including Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong and India.
More than half of marketers (69 per cent) measured and tested results of digital campaigns, while a majority of them (80 per cent) used digital marketing analytics and reporting technologies.
However, they are still struggling with their ability to measure the value and return of digital marketing investments, with more than one third (34 per cent) in need of improvement and only 4 per cent doing an excellent job. This is mainly due to budget limitations (71 per cent) and lack of in-house skills (69 per cent).
Although 64 per cent of respondents are working with one or more marketing agencies to execute digital marketing campaigns, the majority of them said that agency partners are only delivering moderate results, and being strong in some areas but weak in others.
Most marketers were using standard metrics to evaluate the performance of digital marketing programmes, including website performance data (75 per cent), conversion rates (73 per cent) and click-through rates (68 per cent), but failed to tap into the business-driving metrics such as customer lifetime value (15 per cent), customer churn (10 per cent), sales and channel feedback (17 per cent), and market share improvements (12 per cent).
“To tap into those [business-driving metrics], marketers need to combine internal business metrics, such as sales data, with other metrics, but lack of knowledge and tracking tools doesn’t allow them to do that,” said Tuomas Peltoniemi, head of digital at Digital Arts Network Singapore.
Scott McBride, head of digital at Ogilvy & Mather Group Hong Kong, agreed that there is lack of in-house skills and knowledge, such as ability to interpret the data and derive insights, as well as ability to translate those insights into the business and consumer context.
“Marketers need to focus on the data that counts by implementing the right tools and hiring the right people,” he said. “In any campaign or programme, there are likely two or three key performance indicators (KPIs) that really matter. They need to be defined and tracked.”
Good news is that almost half of marketing executives (49 per cent) in Asia Pacific indicated that they are receiving support from senior management to explore new digital opportunities, up from 30 per cent in 2012.
On the other hand, there are still 12 per cent of respondents feeling it has been difficult to convince leadership of the value of digital, while 8 per cent feel their leaders are still wedded to traditional projects.
Despite growing support from C-level leadership, budget continues to be the biggest constraint and challenge for digital marketing according to 51 per cent of respondents, while more than one third of them (38 per cent) spent less than 10 per cent of total budgets on the digital channel.
Moving into 2014, a positive sign shows that more marketers will push budgets forward as 42 per cent of them estimate they will spend 10 to 24 per cent of their total budget on digital marketing, while 9 per cent will allocate more than 70 per cent.
Currently, marketers are still tending to spent most of their digital marketing budgets on the more traditional areas, including websites (76 per cent), email marketing (65 per cent), and SEO (63 per cent).
With their better understanding of how to effectively use the channel to engage with audiences, there were significant shifts in their priorities in 2013. Almost 75 per cent of them were strengthening digital marketing content strategy, more than doubled from 2012 (36 per cent). Other top priorities include social media optimisation (59 per cent), as well as increasing and improving search and online display advertising (45 per cent).
While such shift of priorities will close the digital gap that exists between brands and their consumers, McBride suggested that marketers need to get more savvy is in their view on performance from a single consumer view, as consumers think or feel intent, rather than seeing channels or platforms.
“We should focus on building our ability to track and analyse performance cross platforms or channels at a single consumer level from the first impression to conversion,” he said. “Then the individual plus network value of a customer over their lifetime or relationship with the brand.”