Going Global Securing Growth

Less can be more when growing to new markets

The Southeast Asian market is a mobile-first one – according to Google[1], the region is poised to reach 480 million internet users by 2020, with 90 percent of them being smartphone users. Today, widespread e-commerce is already the reality, and we look to m-commerce to drive modern-day retail. Apps such as Go-Jek and Grab, which aim to empower consumers to control their everyday lives from within their palms, have quickly taken root in the region. From now on, mobile will only continue to grow in importance as a channel to engage customers.

Challenges for SMEs

While mobile is undoubtedly a crucial growth channel to consider for SMEs looking to expand their operations beyond borders, that is not to say it does not come without challenges. For one, mobile devices have come a long way from just being useful hardware, and now, take on the role of trusted companions to their owners. Innovations such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant have advanced the function of the smartphone far beyond connectivity and entertainment, and users now expect no less than an all-knowing sidekick from their mobile devices. Similarly, any brand wishing to engage with consumers via mobile will need to understand their audience just as intimately, in order to create a seamless and non-intrusive mobile experience.

On the surface, the provision of completely personalised mobile experiences may seem to require data analytics resources outside the reach of smaller businesses. However, brands today have a plethora of options to choose from, ranging from free tools such as Facebook’s Business Manager, to advanced capabilities afforded by third-party advertising technology providers. By tapping on the right mix of platforms, businesses can now unlock the power of mobile to reach new markets in the region.

Start thinking about your advertising strategies

With the benefits in mind, the next question for businesses then is how to begin taking advantage of mobile as a window to reach new customers. It is important for brands to note that advertising to users on mobile differs greatly from traditional, above-the-line channels. At the same time, even with social media advertising, which most marketers are familiar with, additional considerations must be made for effective outreach:

  • Less can sometimes be more – With more precise targeting capabilities, naturally, the pool of consumers that brands are trying to reach will shrink. Today, marketers can even segment their audiences by device type. While the initial reduction in reach numbers may be frightening, brands can also use data collected from past, successful campaigns to target similar demographics for future campaigns.

  • Adopt a “Glocal” mindset – Just because an advertising campaign works well in one market, does not mean it will see similar success in another. Brands need to possess strong local relevance in order to achieve an expansive global footprint. For mobile advertising campaigns, this stretch beyond content preferences, to factors such as infrastructure and connectivity. For example, video content is known to receive better engagement rates for brands on social media. However, video loading is often a problem outside urban areas in markets with less stable mobile connectivity infrastructure, especially in developing countries. To acquire users in these markets, lighter formats such as app-based alerts may work better.

  • Set the right targets – KPI-setting is an essential part of any advertising campaign, and mobile advertising is no different. Marketers should, however, take note to look beyond surface metrics to measure the performance of their campaigns. For example, high download rates may suggest that a mobile ad campaign is doing well, but that combined with a low number of daily or monthly active users may suggest that your ad content is great, but you are targeting the wrong users.

  • Try something new – Mobile ad formats have evolved beyond the traditional display and video formats. From in-app alerts to highly interactive content types, such as playable ads and incentivised video, mobile affords marketers a wide array of content types through which to engage their customers. Businesses can experiment with different types and constantly test their content as they seek to understand their users better, in order to effectively grow an active user base.

- Vivi Wang, Business Development Director Mobvista Southeast Asia and Taiwan -