Agencies need to innovate and better use technology as the world undergoes rapid transformation. In a 2020 McKinsey survey of more than 200 organisations across industries, McKinsey suggested that the pandemic has changed to sales models, and with that agencies must keep up to better service their clients.
According to McKinsey’s B2B Decision-Maker Pulse survey, 96% of businesses have changed their go-to-market model since the pandemic hit, with the overwhelming majority turning to multiple forms of digital engagement with customers. Sales coverage has been completely redefined as companies discover that virtual technology allows them to do things that were nearly impossible previously, such as assembling the perfect team of experts for every sales pitch.
Meanwhile, M&A activity recovered from and exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of this year, as companies compete to stay ahead of new living and working trends by acquiring needed capabilities. According to specialist advisory firm Ciesco, there were 472 transactions during this period, a 36% increase year-on-year from Q1 2020, and an 80% increase from Q1 2019. The overall disclosed value of deals also jumped from US$12.4 billion in Q1 2020 to US$28.4 billion in Q1 2021, just under the Q1 2019 level of US$30.2 billion.
We turned to our 2021 Agency of the Year Hong Kong results to find out who our judges thought were the five best MarTech agencies in Hong Kong. We've listed our top 5 winners alphabetically. Our list of agencies below won over our independent panel of high-calibre, client-side marketers not only by displaying the work they have done for clients, but also through their desire to nurture talent and create proprietary products for the execution of world-class campaigns.
Cymballe is an innovative agency based in Hong Kong, specialising in martech, retailtainment, and experiential marketing. It has worked with several prominent clients, including Citygate outlets, FWD Insurance and AIA. It has worked on campaigns such as "The Hunt Is On" from Citygate outlets was an O2O activation campaign consisting of viral videos from influencers, AR filters, Facebook AR chatbot treasure hunt, interactive vending machine, and event booth design and production. In the Live Fresh Campaign from DBS Bank (Hong Kong), Cymballe helped the bank launch a mini-site that can connect with three neon light walls, an interactive kiosk, a hologram, and an interactive vending machine for credit card promotion.
Also, Cymballe worked with FWD Insurance on the MAX Gamification Campaign, offering a series of festive mini-games to recruit new members to loyal programme and incentivise members; and the Disney Frozen Exhibition which offers a touchless capsule machine for giving out souvenirs to event visitors. Cymballe's team consists of 12 staffers. The company sets objectives and key results with employees to direct them to reach their career goals.
Full-service digital marketing agency Fimmick has been around for over 12 years and is headquartered in Hong Kong. The agency provides customised integrated digital marketing, social media marketing, programmatic and automated online advertising, creative marketing campaigns, content marketing, video production, mobile first marketing, customer relationship management, and influencer marketing solutions.
The agency has worked with notable brands such as AIA, Nestle, Shiseido, ASUS, Samsung, Panasonic, Coca-Cola, 3M, DBS, Bossini, and many others. Currently, its team has over 120 talents in Hong Kong with a majority of them being Millennials and Gen Z. It also expanded its account servicing, content creative digital partnership and growth and CRM departments.
Mentors and job rotation schemes are also created to ensure that its talents are nurtured. Learning programmes and allowances are also provided by the agency to keep them abreast of industry trends. Fimmick often organises webinars, Weekly Learning Wednesdays and Digital Fridays for its staff to learn through teaching as well. Last year, it also enabled flexible working hours and remote working for its staff.
iClick Interactive Asia Group
iClick Interactive Asia Group is an independent online marketing and enterprise data solutions provider in China. Despite the challenges during the pandemic, the company improved the profitability of marketing solutions, saw resilient growth from enterprise solutions and obtained new opportunities from partnerships.
In 2020, iClick reached a milestone in its innovative and strategic product offerings by bringing together a complete iSuite product suite comprised of iAudience, iAccess, iActivate and iNsights to provide the best full-stack data-driven marketing solutions for worldwide marketers to be effectively used in China by undertaking a programmatic cross-channel advertising approach through its unified data platform, including the identification of target audiences, omni-channel ad placement, campaign monitoring and measurement solutions, empowering more effective long-term ad campaigns across multiple markets to reach Chinese audiences.
In September 2020, it launched iNsights which is an efficient one-stop tracking solution that tracks and analyses cross-channel campaigns covering China and overseas markets. iClick Interactive Asia Group also strengthened its partnerships with media giants such as Google, Baidu, Xiaohongshu, Tencent and Douyin.
Xaxis Hong Kong
Xaxis Hong Konghas been enjoying growth since 2013 although it recorded a slight drop in 2020 due to COVID-19 impact. The agency still managed to win 17 new clients plus increased investment from loyalty clients. It works with notable clients including Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (HKDL) and Swiss underwear manufacturer Triumph.
By leveraging HKDL’s first party data and Xaxis DMP, HKDL successfully optimised awareness of its new offer, ticket and hotel room conversions and revenue. A tailor-make algorithm powered by AI Copilot was built to drive this campaign. As for Triumph, an advanced online-to-offline technology solution was established help the client drive in-store visits in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, to recognise the great work delivered by its employees, Xaxis organises quarterly case study battle globally. Xaxis Hong Kong won the the second quarter by showcasing HKDL and Triumph campaigns. It also launched a bi-weekly 30-minute learning session, an eLearning initiative open to everyone in Xaxis APAC to let the team share tips/tricks to all local teams to work smarter and to continually improve workflow.
XGATE responded swiftly to new business needs and design several innovative solutions to help clients transform effectively to maintain or grow new revenue streams. For example, the firm developed and launched clientele solutions for brands to enhance in-store retail experience using iPad or mobile devices, as well as headless commerce architecture, enabling brands to build a store front with improved user experience and launch rapidly.
XGATE worked with Timberland by developing a “headless commerce” solution using APIs to connect commerce systems. It also uses a loyalty system to filter target segments for an online order marketing campaign; technically supports retail sales to handle product enquiries, order placement and payment (PayMe). Also, XGATE successfully launched a retail strategy for Dolce & Gabbana that offered a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. Leveraging technology innovations, XGATE leverages the WeChat ecosystem to boost the discoverability of eCommerce across various touchpoints, driving traffic to eCommerce and generating sales too.
Looking ahead, XGATE actively works with Hong Kong Science & Technology Park to share the latest development in CRM and digital marketing practice and produces publications to educate the industry about eCommerce business. n advanced online-to-offline technology solution to help the client to drive in-store visits in HK, SG, MY & TW to drive retail sales.
(Photo courtesy: 123RF)
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