In my last blog post, we discussed the six most important digital development trends in ASEAN that multinational executives must keep in mind when designing tailored online channel strategies in the region. Today, I want to share several examples of how B2B and B2C companies have effectively localized their strategies to enhance online sales and marketing in Southeast Asia’s unique digital landscape:
For B2B companies, start with content-oriented marketing.
B2B businesses in Southeast Asia sometimes find it challenging to capture returns on online channel investment due to the nature of their products and services, which often require high levels of technical customization. Instead of investing in online sales, start by using online channels to educate customers and partners. With content-oriented marketing, position yourself as industry leaders in technical knowledge and broadcast your brand to customers, rather than pushing for a hard sale online.
- Healthcare: Social media campaigns targeted at clinical professionals
A medical equipment company started a regional social media campaign on Facebook to educate clinical practitioners and enhance brand awareness in Southeast Asia, targeting improved digital customer engagement among clinical professionals. While its clinical education strategy on social media was mainly on a regional level, the company is considering plans to localize the marketing content in terms of language and other local preferences, and to build a more integrated, omnichannel marketing structure to target audiences outside of existing social media follower groups. For example, it also initiated smaller campaigns on Line for specific markets, like Thailand.
- Technology: Interactive infotainment to showcase technology solutions
A tech company asked C-level executives, engineers, and IT managers in customer and prospect companies to participate in a game of building a space station model. The five-minute game on Facebook was structured as infotainment, and asked participants to use the company’s tech solutions while challenging their cognitive skills. The participants were also asked to invite/refer friends to earn more credits. The gamification campaign led to more than 50% of the participants expressing interest in learning more about the company’s IT solutions in Asia (Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and India).
- Industrial: Educational marketing in email outreach
An industrial company specializing in construction materials sought to engage key industry influencers such as architects and engineers. Given its limited digital resources, the company identified emails as the most cost-effective marketing method in the very traditional construction sector in Southeast Asia. The company sent out monthly newsletters to the key project influencers and intentionally designed the emails to showcase generic building materials knowledge for industrial education, rather than straightforward product promotions. With 5,000-6,000 recipients, the company received around 500 responses (comments or questions), which consistently enhanced awareness of its brand in the marketplace.
For B2C companies, capitalize on social commerce, or influence sales via social marketing.
With a thriving social media scene in Southeast Asia, retail companies are already active on key platforms such as Facebook and Instagram for advertising and marketing purposes, but many find it difficult to differentiate their brands. With social media players trying out new e-commerce offerings in Southeast Asia, some companies have started to capitalize on this trend. Direct sales via social media can offer a more convenient customer experience and help your business greatly expand marketing reach for existing and potential social media-influenced shoppers.
- Retail: Sales through social commerce platforms
Social media players in Southeast Asia are expanding services as the region’s digital ecosystem evolves. For example, Line launched its own e-commerce app, Line Shop, in 2014, as well as several pilot projects to tap into online commerce, most notably Line Flash Sale, Line Hot Deal, and Line Groceries. With social commerce, brands can “socialize” with customers in an interactive way and deliver the entire commercial experience on one platform.
Line’s strategy also brings innovation to e-commerce by catering to rising demand for an all-encompassing mobile app like China’s WeChat. Eyeing the opportunity on social commerce, a Thai ice cream company created a new, mobile-activated service with GPS tracking and interactive messaging. It launched a bot within the Line chat platform for users to order ice cream, with immediate fulfillment by a nearby vendor on wheels.
Given Southeast Asia’s rapidly developing online ecosystem, companies should proactively evaluate potential opportunities for digital customer engagement and leverage FSG’s best practices to help design localized strategies for the region.
These examples are part of our analysis in Localizing Digital Strategy in ASEAN, which is the second report in FSG’s two-part series on digital customer engagement in ASEAN. It complements the first report, Prioritizing Digital Markets in ASEAN, with tailored tactics and case studies.