Omnichannel audience engagement is rapidly becoming a marketing priority for companies around the world. It’s no surprise that omnichannel practices are gaining a particularly strong foothold amid the booming economies and competitive commercial sectors of Southeast Asia, a region denoted by its huge appetite for mobile devices and keen demand for digital services.
A recent study, commissioned by real-time conversation marketing solutions provider Resulticks, shows an increasing proportion of businesses in the region are actively looking to deliver a more integrated customer experience by providing real-time engagement across multiple channels. The report’s launch coincided with Resulticks’ announcement of its plans to expand presence in four SEA markets: Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
“Like many aspects of commerce in the digital age, omnichannel is an area of tremendous opportunity that is often talked about but rarely done well,” said Redickaa Subrammanian, co-founder and CEO of Resulticks, upon the announcement. “As Southeast Asia continues its rise as a global economic powerhouse and local companies become more sophisticated, we will be here to serve as a key partner in their real-time customer engagement initiatives and business growth plans.”
The online survey of 345 enterprise businesses in the region highlights the widespread eagerness of Southeast Asian firms to implement an omnichannel approach: the top two priorities for near-term marketing strategies are now real-time marketing (65%) and omnichannel delivery and engagement (52%).
Meanwhile, some 32% of businesses in the region strongly agree they’re taking an integrated approach to customer engagement across various channels by leveraging first, second and third-party customer data with the technology and processes to support this. Fewer than one in five businesses are not taking this approach at all.
In turn, across Southeast Asia, consumers are growing increasingly tech-savvy and ‘channel-agnostic’—meaning they expect to receive individualised experiences in real time, across any number of channels they prefer—social media, online, email, mobile apps, SMS messaging or other channels. It stands to reason that brands that can meet this demand (referred to as ‘leaders’ in the report) will thrive, compared with their regional and global peers who fail to step up to the plate (‘laggards’).
The report highlights some of the factors leading marketers in Southeast Asia and the wider APAC region should consider as the omnichannel shift continues.
Maintaining a unified view of customer data is essential for brands that want to deliver a holistic experience to customers throughout their journeys across various channels. Some 92% of omnichannel leaders demonstrate that they have a consolidated customer engagement database – while only 82% of laggards report the same.
Leaders are also significantly more likely than laggards to emphasise personalisation (63% versus 45%); more likely to use a customer data platform (42% versus 33%) and more likely to employ customer journey mapping (51% versus 46%). Around eight in ten of the companies identified as ‘leaders’ report an increase in omnichannel investment for 2019, compared to 45% of laggards.
The basic tenants of omnichannel readiness are clear. Maintaining a consolidated data ‘backbone’ to connect your channels and systems, keeping an appropriate mix of touchpoints in physical and digital realms and possessing the marketing technology to deliver communications in real time will all significantly improve a company’s ability to deliver contextual, seamless customer experiences.
However, while this advice may sound intuitive, building an omnichannel approach can be fraught with problems. Almost six out of 10 organisations reported their expectations are not always met when orchestrating multichannel campaigns. Software and technology limitations were the most commonly reported problem – 41% of respondents listed this as their key challenge.
Many of the respondents in the survey also highlighted ongoing difficulties of having too much data to manage (38%), poor integration across their systems (38%), an inability to act on data in real-time (30%), inability to effectively segment data (29%) and a lack of analytics capability (28%).
Against this simmering backdrop, Resulticks is well placed to meet a pressing demand for advanced real-time, omnichannel solutions in the region. A series of four regional launch events were held last month to mark the solidification of the company’s presence in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, with Resulticks executives engaging with lively audiences comprising local marketing experts and business leaders.
“We are building the team in key markets across Southeast Asia because it has massive potential in terms of digital reach,” Mani Gopalaratnam, CTO of customer success at Resulticks, explained during the Bangkok launch event. “In Thailand and Malaysia, for example, mobile reach is almost 100%, with almost 75% of the population using smartphones. It is a very good place to be!”
Gopalaratnam also touched upon the importance of not losing sight of the customer amid an onslaught of data. “Traditionally, we're very used to creating demographic segments or transactional segments,” he said. “But in the omnichannel world, that is not enough. You need to know your customer as a person, not as a segment. To do that you need to be able to mine whatever data is coming in, and then, depending on the person's choice, alter the channels of engagement in context and in real time.”
This is where the future of big data comes in. “Not every organisation can afford big data because it requires skills and computing power,” said Gopalaratnam. “If you have a place that gathers all your responses, irrespective of the channel, then you can correlate between the outcomes you expected and the outcomes that you have actually achieved, and create a real-time feedback loop. This brings us to our work on the marketing blockchain. There is a lot of hype around blockchain, and people tend to associate it with crypto and so on. But blockchain has a very important use case when it comes to facilitating transparency, data authenticity, seamless coordination, and a host of other benefits for a marketing ecosystem of company and its partners or agencies.”
During the Philippines launch event, Kulmeet Bawa, COO and president, JAPAC at Resulticks, highlighted the successes the company has helped achieve for brands across markets, including over $125 million in incremental revenue for a leading consumer electronics company, 14 billion communications facilitated per week, and 30% in cost savings for its clients.
There are undoubtedly challenges lying in wait for marketers as omnichannel gains ground across different industries in Southeast Asia. However, one thing is clear: marketers know what they want. They now need the technological sophistication to help them achieve it.