1.3 billion reasons why you can’t ignore digital [Gallery]

Three big trends are reshaping how consumers interact with brands and, while they are no secret, the point businesses often miss is that digital is not a marketing tool; it is essentially the new way for businesses to operate or run the risk of losing out.

Speakers at the MasterCard symposium on digital and social held in Sydney reiterated this issue.

(See the photos from the event at the end of the story.)

Here is a brief overview of these three changes:

The zero moment of truth

Historically, the first step for brands was to create stimulus or awareness of the product which led to the first moment of truth – purchase – and eventually, the second moment of truth – consumers experiencing the product.

Now, a crucial step has emerged before the first moment, called the zero moment of truth. It’s when after being made aware of the product, the consumer searches the product online and seeks reviews and referrals before making the decision to purchase it.

“Brands need to be prepared for this moment. If you and your marketing teams are only creating that stimulus, you are helping some other businesses, not yours,” said Taru Jain, founder of Maxential.

The network effect

Social media has given rise to the tremendous influence a consumer has online. Before you know it, a message has been amplified multiple folds – a reach which even paid media can never offer (or at least not without a hefty spend). Brands need to recognise this, especially in the Asia Pacific region where internet penetration, and therefore uptake of social media, is unprecedented.

The ability to target the right audience at the right time

Technology such as programmatic buying has now enabled brands to target a very specific audience in real time. With the right kind of content, brands stand a chance to garner the attention of their audience almost instantly. An agile approach to marketing messages and campaigns, therefore, can move the needle really quickly as far as business objectives are concerned.

“And if brands don’t get this right with the right kind of content, they can easily be labelled as spam,” said Sam Ahmed, senior vice-president and group head of marketing for Asia Pacific at MasterCard.

Read also: MasterCard launches “Priceless Engine”

What new age marketing looks like and what brands can learn

So, the question arises: why go digital now?

As Jain pointed out: “In the markets that many of you operate (referring to Asia Pacific), that are your major growth areas, and source of revenue, 1.3 billion people are using the internet.”

And that number is only growing. Every month nearly 11.5 million new users are coming online.

“It is not a new or emerging media. It is fully emerged, so if you are still toying with the idea of digital, this is how much opportunity you lose out every month,” he said.

And what are the consumers doing online? They are shopping – e-commerce is growing at a staggering 30% in APAC. Lastly, the world’s most social media active population is Asia Pacific.

“As a business leader, and not just a marketer, your job has changed fundamentally. The time to wait has gone. The time to act is upon us,” Jain said.

Therefore, there are three crucial things businesses need to prepare for and they are precision targeting, creating compelling content and investing in analytics.