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How to be successful in digital marketing in Asia

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What is digital marketing like in Asia? This section will cover fundamental tips on how to be successful in Asia digital marketing.

Why is it important to have a separate strategy for Asia and for each of the markets?
How much budget should I invest in digital marketing campaigns in Asia?
What are the roadblocks to day to day operation of successful global campaigns?
How do I find and hire the right people for the right position at the right time?
How do I stay connected and thrive globally with regional teams?
How do I find and partner with regional ad agencies?
What is the best practice for implementing a successful paid search campaign (keywords and ad copies)?
What are the challenges of running local campaigns through local search engines such as Yahoo Japan, Naver, Baidu etc. ?
Why is it important to have a separate strategy for Asia and for each of the markets?

It is important to understand the differences in preferences, trends etc. seen due to unique cultures in each of the markets, and we believe that this is where things become very interesting and exciting. We have the opportunity to serve people from all walks of life and this is a great opportunity for us to grow! When we understand the needs and provide them in a way that fits their communication style, we increase the chances of success. So what is the best way to understand the needs of different cultures and develop strategies accordingly?

It is through listening. One of the ways to listen to the audience is through past campaign performance data. One of the reasons why it is so important to analyze data is because sometimes what we perceive to be the cultural norm proves not to be the case. Does it mean that because the media paints a picture of the teens as being less formal in behavior formal tones in ad copies won’t perform well? It is best to look into the performance data. We can also listen to the needs of the audience through voices in social media, responses to questionnaires, client inquiries, general research data in the market etc.. However, with all the information that are available in the market, the challenge is to make the decision based on those data but sometimes we are not sure. What I personally do is to listen to the voice of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit within me Who leads me by peace, and the results are astounding!

How much budget should I invest in digital marketing campaigns in Asia?

First item that should be clarified is the objective of the campaign. Is the objective to raise awareness, drive conversions etc.? Which regions are the areas of high priority and growth potential for your business? Who are your target audience? What types of marketing promotional campaigns have you implemented in the past that may potentially impact the outcome of your next campaign? What resources do you have internally that you may be able to leverage when partnering with vendors? What is the sales target and its timeline that you will need to adjust to for your marketing plans?

Secondly, we will need to make selections on which media channels to utilize to achieve the desired results as well as consider the potential costs associated. For example, if we wanted to raise awareness of your fashion retail business for the India market targeting those in the 20’s, we can consider advertising on Facebook using video ads on Facebook feed. We will then need to forecast potential volume of Key Performance Indicator (ex. impressions, video views, clicks to your website, CPC etc. ). Would this media channel give you the desired outcome? If yes, what would be the estimated cost to achieve the goal? Although we may be able to bring other elements to come up with the ideal media and the estimated budget, this should at least give you the basic direction of where and how much to invest your marketing budget. But very importantly, some markets and medias have relatively high Cost Per Clicks where ROI may not make sense for your business so it is important to consider various media options to achieve your KPI for different markets.

What are the roadblocks to day to day operation of successful global campaigns?

Simple top down approach may perform well in organizations where regional teams are relatively inexperienced and need to rely on the leadership of the HQ. In this case, clearly set objectives and especially KPI (CPC, CPA, clicks, impressions etc.) is essential. Simple translations of the ad copies may be implemented for an initial launch. Working with ad agencies will be a plus in order to maximize allocated budget as well as to gain professional guidance on what to do next. Regional teams may gain experience as the campaigns progresses, which will take us to the next stage of the successful operation.

When the regional teams are relatively more experienced, delegations to the regional teams to develop their own local strategies and KPI (Key Performance Indicator)s is ideal. However, since the global organizations’ marketing teams usually aim for a common KPI goal globally centered around the directions from their HQ (Head Quarter)s, some adjustments may need to be made to maximize local performance. For example, what happens if the global direction is to maximize traffic by lowering CPC (Cost Per Click) but the regional marketing director is aiming to gain as much conversions as possible by lowering CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) ? First step to take would be to prioritize KPIs to be accomplished. In the example above, we should ask ourselves questions like what is the primary objective that needs to be accomplished globally? What is the secondary objective that needs to be accomplished at the regional level? Additionally, we can also ask questions like, if we aimed globally for low CPC to maximize traffic, would this also contribute to lower CPA? Second step would be to set expectations for each of the markets since regional markets may need to make some adjustments to account for deprioritizing their primary KPI.

How do I find and hire the right people for the right position at the right time?

From my experience, finding the right people for the right position at the right time is challenging. This is especially the case when hiring someone with bilingual communication skills, digital marketing experience, right personality fit for the team etc..

However, there is a solution to this. Skills, experiences can be developed with abilities but the most important is the character of the individual. If the candidate has the right character for the team, then the candidate can always grow to be the right teammate as a team player who would go the extra mile for the success of the organization. Skills and experience can always improve with the right character.

Although, skills and experience can be improved with the right attitude, being able to communicate in a foreign language is a special skill that is highly desired to have at the time of entry into the organization. Digital marketing knowledge and techniques can be learned relatively easily but language skills depend to a large extent on the given abilities of the individual and may not be acquired to the level that is needed to fulfill the role with time and training.

Also wait for the right person to appear at the right time. We should never make the mistake of rushing to make the decision. If you are not confident about the candidate then it would be better for you to take on the role and its responsibilities by yourself until you find the right person.

Finally, as with other decision making processes, what I personally do is to listen to the voice of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit within me Who leads me by peace, and the results are astounding!

How do I stay connected and thrive globally with regional teams?

Some of the countries in Asia especially with Japanese, Chinese and/or Korean cultural heritage prefer face to face meetings to teleconferencing and email communications. This is rooted in the cultural communication styles of those markets and it is important to take these elements into consideration when building global marketing teams.

For this reason, although regular email, telephone or video conferencing may prove to be efficient for day to day operational purposes, face to face quarterly or annual meeting is strongly recommended to build a strong foundation of the team.

How do I find and partner with regional ad agencies?

If there is a lack in an internal resource, then one of the options to consider is to partner with regional ad agencies in Asia. What are the three key areas that are vital to your success? I would recommend the following: (1) Passion and responsibility (2) Honesty and transparency (3) Ability and experience.

When the agency team is full of passion, is willing to go the extra mile to provide an excellent service, and is fully committed to serving the interests of the client, then they have the basic foundation to be a great partner for your business in Asia.

Honesty and transparency is important as well if we are to build a successful partnership. If there are any errors, mistakes, issues that have been made or exist, it is very important that these matters are brought up in the conversation to come up with a solution. We all make mistakes and there is no need to hide.

Lastly, in terms of experience and abilities, you may want to ask yourselves some questions to clarify what is needed. What is the objective of the campaign you want to launch in Asia? What are the skills, experience that are needed to fulfill the objective? For example, if you are interested in running digital media campaigns across multiple channels, does the agency have the experience, the potential, as well as the structure to run various types of digital marketing programs? What does the agency team organizational structure look like? Do they have a dedicated person for day to day operation? Who will be your point of contact for escalation. Experience and abilities supported by right team environment is important here.

You don’t need to compromise. Find the best team that you are confident working with. It is better for you to work by yourselves than to work with a team that will only keep you where you are. Do you have inner peace in your decision making?

What is the best practice for implementing a successful paid search campaign (keywords and ad copies)?

Markets in Asia are diverse and each has its very distinct qualities and trends. For this reason, rather than simply translating English keywords, ad copies that have been approved at the HQ level into local languages, English content should be used mainly as directional. For maximum success, it is highly recommended that advertisers work with local specialists that can provide professional advice on local trends that will be reflected on the selection of keywords, and tone of the ad copies.

What are the challenges of running local campaigns through local search engines such as Yahoo Japan, Naver, Baidu etc. ?

One of the challenges of managing a local paid search campaign for search engines like Yahoo Japan is the management of budgets due to the use of local currencies. Because foreign exchange rates do fluctuate, we need to take this into consideration when managing budgets. However, since it is very likely that we will have other campaigns to manage, it would be unrealistic to give our full attention to fluctuating currencies each day. So the solution for this type of challenge is to act in faith believing that all the financial needs will be fully met in case of a major fluctuation.

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