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Marketing Club lunch on digital marketing

On 3 March 2016, the ECCT's Marketing Club hosted a lunch on the topic "Integrated digital market strategy - What it is, and why you need one?" featuring guest speaker Martin Hiesboeck, Senior Consultant & Director of Digital Marketing at Geber Consulting. The speaker spoke about how his company is helping its clients to market themselves successfully in the fast-changing world. He underlined the necessity for a comprehensive digital strategy in any organization, its main components, rules of implementation, the obstacles companies face and why they fail in the digital marketplace. He also made some predictions on future trends in digital marketing and technology.

Most companies do not properly understand why their websites and digital platforms are not working as they should, which is why companies need an integrated digital marketing strategy. According to Hiesboeck, 95% of companies in Taiwan don't have a digital strategy and many of them still believe that simply having a Facebook page is sufficient.

There are now 3.4 billion internet users, 2.3 billion active social media users, 3.7 billion mobile users and just under two billion active mobile social users. In 2007, 50% of all media was digital. This had risen to 66% by 2010 and is expected to reach 80% by 2020. This has had a hugely disruptive impact on traditional media. According to Hiesboeck, 15 newpapers close every day.

According to Hiesboeck, the average person now spends more time online than all other media combined and the internet is the largest medium for advertising. However, he believes that 95% of companies operating in Taiwan do not have an integrated digital strategy and one third of marketers say they don't know which digital marketing tactic has the biggest positive impact on revenue.

According to Hiesboeck the number of internet users installing ad-blocking software had risen from 21 million in 2009 to 198 million in 2015. In addition, young people have become accustomed to ignoring adverts. This should ring alarm bells for companies relying on internet adverts for marketing purposes.

A large online presence can boost your brand, but it also has the potential to greatly amplify your shortcomings. Social media platforms can be a powerful tool to promote business but allowing users to post feedback is a double-edged sword. Positive comments are valuable but negative comments can be very damaging as they get amplified to a global audience.

People make mistakes all the time, both minor, such as grammatical mistakes, or more serious or embarrassing ones, which is why a good strategy has in place a mechanism to find and correct errors.

Since the number of mobile phones has overtaken those of desktop PCs, 55% of people only see websites on their mobile phones. This is a problem if websites are not optimized for mobile devices. It also means there is less space and time to communicate your message. Mobile users demand immediate interaction.

Country barriers have already been eroded by the internet and language barriers are now being eroded as programmes that translate content on the internet improve. In the future, we can expect any content to be automatically translated into the user's preferred language.

A good integrated digital market strategy (IDMS) should take into account the individual, the team, the company, partners, customers as well as enemies if it is to establish a consistent and positive digital presence that increases the value of the brand. Developing a strategy in a silo will never work. It needs the input and buy-in from all stakeholders, including management. Strategies need to be flexible, inclusive, broad, engaging and have contingencies in the event of problems on any particular platform.

The digital landscape is changing. Hiesboeck believes that the rise in integrated chat platforms will eventually make email and websites irrelevant. While WeChat (in China) and LINE (a Japanese subsidiary of Korea's Naver) are good current examples, they may not necessarily be the ones that ultimately prevail. However, what they are doing is a good indication of things to come that are threating many business models.

For example, on WeChat, besides chatting with friends, you can now pay bills, transfer money, split bills in restaurants, call a taxi, read news and websites, order food and drinks or any delivery service, book a table at a restaurant table or theater seat, scan product barcodes, send bitcoin, share a location, access a brokerage account, donate to charities, configure a dream car, try on clothes (virtually) and even apply for a job.

LINE is now offering official accounts for businesses which can send messages to their followers based on geolocation. From inside the app, you can access novels and comic books, thousands of LINE games, a payment system, and a LINE timeline feature which is competing directly with Facebook.

Hiesboeck concluded with a number of predictions. He predicts that in the next 5-10 years, websites and email will become irrelevant as interaction with individuals and companies moves onto ever more diversified chat platforms. Moreover, the payment systems offered by these platforms will become dominant currencies and replace many banking processes. He believes that whoever wins the race will be the world's most valuable company by 2025.

In addition, advertising will become less and less effective, but still consume 90% of company budgets. Furthermore, brands and agencies will continue to create apps, many of which will hardly be used. Many companies will have accelerators, labs, incubators (knowledge silos) instead of really changing corporate culture and taking action that will help them to thrive in the digital world. In contrast, companies that succeed will have in place effective IDMS that involve every layer of management and every department, create feedback networks for continuous improvement, break down hierarchies and pre-digital structures that affect every organizational process and, ultimately, changes the corporate culture.