Indian marketers have the highest level of confidence in their digital abilities compared to their Asia Pacific (APAC) counterparts, according to the Adobe-CMO Council APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard report. An Indian marketer's confidence in digital media stands at 42 per cent followed by Australia and Singapore at 37 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively. This could be spurred on by estimates that by 2015, 40 per cent of smartphone users and 35 per cent of tablet users will reside in APAC. The Adobe study further reveals that in India more than 50 per cent think a focus on going digital creates a more customer-centric and responsive organisation. Forty five per cent believe it creates brand differentiation and greater customer affinity and attachment. This is a shift from 2012 findings when this figure stood at less than 20 per cent. Over 42 per cent believe digital marketing improves efficiency and effectiveness of marketing programmes, while 60 per cent believe it has the ability to better engage and activate audiences. When it comes to engaging and activating audiences, 40 per cent of Indian marketers believe digital marketing to be 'pretty good' and this is a shift from barely a year ago, when 19 per cent believed it to be so. Over 22 per cent marketers put over half of their marketing budget in digital media with a majority putting in more than 70 per cent.
This is a welcome change from last year when less than 2 per cent did this. There has also been a big drop in the percentage of marketers who put in less than 10 per cent of their marketing money in digital - from 55 per cent to less than 25 per cent. Social has been a clear priority for marketers this time around, followed by increasing and improving paid search and online display advertising, and customer listening, feedback and community. In terms of spends, 75 per cent marketers have been allocating digital marketing funds on their websites (content development and performance optimisation), search engine optimisation and search engine marketing, social media and email. On comparing 2012 and 2013 at an APAC level, the report finds that there is an increase in the number of chief marketing officers or the dedicated heads of marketing who are now also functioning as the leads of digital marketing, clearly indicating that digital marketing is slowly shedding its image of being seen as an offshoot of overall marketing. For 40 per cent marketers, their digital marketing strategy is developed and executed from their global head offices and for 20 per cent, it is localised and executed in APAC and at their country level. Coming back to India, 28 per cent of marketers rate their ability to measure the value and return on digital marketing as excellent or very good, and Australia and Singapore follow suit at 21 per cent each. However, some countries are not yet as confident in their ability to demonstrate return on investment, like Korea (3 per cent), China (7 per cent), Hong Kong (9 per cent) and the rest of APAC (12 per cent). Clearly, not all is rosy on the digital front. One in four respondents says they are unable to find the right staff with the right skills while 34 per cent say their agency capabilities are also lacking, limiting their ability to execute effectively. What is also limiting is that typically, marketers across APAC are measuring standard areas such as web performance data (75 per cent), click-through rates (68 per cent), conversion (72 per cent) and acquisition or lead costs (49 per cent). Certainly, these are all excellent and necessary measurements but to demonstrate return, more emphasis needs to be placed on critical performance indicators, which are currently low on the list, such as customer lifetime value (15 per cent), churn rate (9 per cent) and market share improvements (12 per cent). Marketers are failing to tap into the business-driving metrics that will help convince senior management, the impact of which is felt in current budget allocations. To conclude, 20 per cent APAC marketers agree they don't have any specialist skills or experience of digital marketing while another 20 per cent believe that their skill set is improving, but it is still not up to the mark.