Move over HK, Australia is the region's digital hub

Move over HK, Australia is the region's digital hub
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Australia is on track to become a hub of digital marketing expertise for the Asia Pacific region, but a confidence crisis could kill the opportunity.

Liz Miller, chief marketing officer of the CMO Council, told B&T Australia is one of the most advanced countries in the region when it comes to digital marketing, with the skills and experiences necessary to become a regional centre of learning.

“Quite frankly the biggest barrier I see is people being able to believe that this is true,” Miller said.

“Across Asia, people believe that if you want to be a viable Asia Pacific organisation you have to headquarter out of Singapore or Hong Kong.

“But what we are finding, specific to digital marketing, is that you have a level of skill and expertise here in Australia. Not only in the creation of digital experiences and content, but in the realm of digital measurement and driving that ROI from digital that you are able to share those best practices and really become that hub for Asian businesses.”

Support for digital marketing from company heads is highest in Australia than the rest of the region, including China, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and India, according to a CMO Council and Adobe report.

Fourty-four percent of senior managers now provide ‘very strong’ support for digital marketing, up from 29% in last year’s APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard Report.

The support in Australia is 100% more than what exists in South Korea and is higher than Singapore’s 26% and India’s 25%.

Driving the local support for digital marketing is a rise in measurement capabilities, cost efficiency and ability to prove ROI, according to 69% of marketers.

Miller said the rise in support has come amid a “mindset shift” for marketing.

“Marketing is gaining respect and is earning that strategic seat at the table because we have learned how to speak in the language of the business and stopped waxing lyrical about big fuzzy metrics like ‘oh our business is down, should we change our logo?’.”

Support is also coming from the bottom of organisations.

“The message coming from the frontline and bubbling through the organisation is that digital is a primary source of engagement for their customers and they want to see more of it.”

Social media optimisation was the priority for marketers in last year’s Dashboard Report but it has been bumped to second place in this year’s thanks to content marketing.

Content marketing is now a priority for 77% of surveyed marketers, up from around just 20% just 11 months ago.

Content marketing’s rapid rise could be a case of buzzword reaction, we will know if it is from its ranking in next year’s study, but Miller doubts its significance will wane.

“Content marketing and the understanding that content isn’t just a static piece of whitepaper that you throw out to the marketplace but that content is a constantly evolving, living breathing part of that customer experience is a very new concept.”

Ramping up and improving search and online display were tied as marketers’ third priority, with 42% each.

In addition to higher levels of support, digital marketing also commands the largest slice of marketing spend in Australia.

The number of local companies allocating a quarter of their marketing budgets to digital has risen from 41% to 49%.

In India 42% allocate 25% of their total marketing budget to digital, compared to 31% in Singapore and 3% in South Korea.

In Australia, website content commands the largest share of that 25% of total marketing spend, followed by email marketing and search engine optimisation.

When it comes to working with digital agencies, 79% of Australian marketers work with a range of specialised providers to deliver different ingredients of campaigns such as social media.

The number of clients working with multiple digital agencies has risen from 65% in 2012.

Paul Robson, Adobe’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said insufficient investment and a lack of skills are preventing marketers from broadening their skills.

“These are excellent measurements but important performance indicators such as churn rate and customer lifetime value are too low in priority at 13% each.”

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