Strategies That Fuel Current Business Growth.

By ANDERSON CHOW

At the recent Exabyte Internet Marketing Summit 2018 held at Cyberjaya, Kuala Lumpur, there’s an approximate 800 marketers, entrepreneurs, digital experts, brand practitioners/owners, startups and students congregated for an exclusive one day event where everyone shared and exchanged the latest trends and practices throughout the digital marketing space within the Southeast Asia region. Brands include Facebook, Hubspot, iPay88, Fave, to Mindvalley and Youtube came together to discuss the current digital marketing trends and strategies that had helped them grow. A total of 35 digital marketing experts and gurus shared their insight and knowledge on that day.
 
What also attracted us at Supervideo during that particular day was a little hallway survey that took place on the side. It’s a little sticker board survey conducted with attendees who bothered to participate and shared their current marketing strategies. We took this photo (see below) a little around 4 pm as the event were well into its last leg of forums and workshops conducted on two different tracks. The reason we found real treasures within this little survey was that it is an insight into what the region (albeit Malaysian predominantly) marketers are currently spending on their marketing efforts.
 
 
How did it work?
The survey was divided into 8 different categories (circles) or better explained as 8 different strategies comprised social media, video marketing, content marketing, SEO, influencers, online ads, email marketing and affiliate marketing. Participants interested to share would just simply put a colored sticker (no difference between the two colors) and voila! As this is an open survey, there aren’t any set ground rules on the number of votes each can have. This could mean the same person/brand possibly vote more than once. While this may seem unfair, the objective of the survey was to find out what participants of the summit are currently employing as their preferred strategy/strategies.
 
Result
We tabulated the score and a total of 283 stickers were accounted for in the 8 circles (strategies). With an estimated over 800 attendees and speakers, that’s an approximate 35% attendees responded to the survey.
 
Here is the breakdown of the result.
 
Social Media which includes social and sponsored posts on FB, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat etc is the top choice for marketers and brands with results close to 22%. This could easily be explained by the low barrier of entry to social media marketing. Participants of this survey could, in fact, posted anything and categorically be considered as a marketing effort hence the weakness of this unquantified hallway survey. While social media marketing is clearly the winner, Content Marketing came in very close losing only 3 votes making it the second top choice for participants. Blogs, content writing, and podcast are all within this section although I suspected that some may do social video posting and simply voted under this, but then I could be bias.
 
Search Engine Optimization came in third with 46 votes at 16.25%. To do SEO requires effort and investment of either time or money. This is possibly where real investment counts and brands are seemingly more committed to their marketing strategies compare with the earlier 2 sections. To make SEO works you’ll need to wait out for months to see results and any brands that worth their salt wouldn’t want to miss this.
 
Online Ad ranked 4th with 34 votes at 12%. Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and most other social media platforms have one way or another forms of online ad space to sell. Google includes Google Display Networks, Facebook and Instagram sponsored ads, YouTube paid ads include the display, overlay, skippable and non-skippable video, bumper and sponsored cards, Besides the more popular social platforms, other enterprise ad platforms, programmatic ads, site publishers and ad exchanges also provide online ad space. Others include banner ads, classified ads, pop-ups, contextual ads and even spyware.
 
At the fifth position, Video Marketing got a total of over 10%. Despite empirical studies where 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool in 2017, we suspect the lower than expected ranking is mainly due to 1. higher cost of entry  2. technical complexity 3. Asia lags in catch-up to US data.
1. The higher cost of entry includes equipment required to produce and software to do post-production. Although this has been vastly misconstrued with more new hardware and software dedicated to creating videos for online consumption especially for the social media platforms at a fraction of the actual cost.
2. Technical skills required for creating video marketing online is the next major hurdle where knowledge to do planning, production and post-production still poses a high barrier to entry for most business. While social video may not need to be too stringent with the quality of production preferring the raw elements, enterprise and brand actually need to create and maintain a high standard nonetheless.
3. Playing catch-up in knowledge, skills and market acceptance is still lagging between the two continents. This gap is fast closing through globalization and advent of new technology. It is even in reverse in some areas like China’s major cities and how they turned WeChat and its entire market into a cashless society right down to the hawker on the street.
 
Next, Influencer marketing is the new flavor of the month judging by how advertisers are engaging with social media or YouTube stars these days. In June this year, Facebook jumped on the bandwagon with its introduction Brand Collabs Manager search engine, to help connect marketers to social media influencers. Ranked 6th in the survey, we suspect influencer and video marketing will be the mainstay in the very near future.
 
Who doesn’t have an email in these days and age? Voted and ranked as the second last category fueling the marketing strategies by the attendees, email marketing remains relevant and a crucial strategy for marketers. Just about every site you’ll visit today will eventually try to get you on their mailing list. It is apparently surprising for us to see it ranked so low on the chart.
 
Affiliate marketing came in last (one vote behind email) on the list as it merely becoming the new buzzword sometime this year. Founded four years into the formation of World Wide Web, it is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own efforts. Affiliate marketing is different thing depending on who you speak and it is still in its infancy here in Malaysia to the general marketers.
 
Conclusion
This hallway survey is merely a glimpse into how SEA particularly marketers and brands in Malaysia understand, accept and eventually apply into their larger marketing strategies. The result cannot conclusively determine how Southeast Asia’s companies employ their marketing strategy or how each is fuelling their business growth. It does, however, serves as an interesting fact for us to somewhat identify the current trends within this group of very targeted attendees. It will be interesting to see this survey being extended to the C suite with more international brands participation.
 
For now, we’ll have to settle with this tiny segment of small medium companies and startups interested in business growth by employing various online marketing and digital strategies. Hopefully, in a year’s time at the next Internet Marketing Summit, we could see some concrete differences to better establish how marketers in this region achieves their objectives using the strategies made here.