New research from Adobe and CMO Council has revealed that India has emerged as one of the digital marketing performance leaders in the APAC (Asia Pacific) region after Australia.
The annual study that measures digital marketing performance on four key parameters - mindset, marketing readiness, marketing skills and organisational alignment - shows that India's digital marketing performance is at par with the APAC average across mindset, organisational alignment and marketing skills, but well ahead of it in marketing readiness.
However, while India has emerged as one of the leaders, it has dipped in its own performance this year as compared to last year. It is important to note that India scored much higher than the APAC average last year.
"This year we are noticing that the Indian marketers are reflecting on the efficacy of their campaigns and shifting from a tactical campaign-specific, KPI-driven approach, to demonstrating the business impact and value of digital as a strategy to engage customers," says Umang Bedi, Managing Director - South Asia, Adobe. "India is going through the same stage of advancement that was noticed in mature markets like Australia and North America a while back. We expect that India's leadership in digital marketing will only get stronger from here and will enter the next phase of digital advancement."
India leads in the confidence in digital marketing as a driver of competitive advantage, but questions engagement and activation:
96% of the Indian marketers have high confidence in the ability of digital marketing to drive competitive advantage. This is amongst the highest in APAC with only Australia leading with 97%.
However, while Indian marketers believe that the key driver to adopting digital is the ever-growing internet population (70% in India vs. 59% in APAC), their belief that customer preference and digital dependence drive the adoption of digital, and that digital can engage and activate the audience, is lower than the APAC averages.
"Customer preference and digital dependence would increase along with the increase in penetration of Internet in the Indian market. Therefore, what would matter is how the Indian marketers are able to increase engagement and activate audience through digital marketing. This presents challenges in program planning, execution and most importantly measurement," says Bedi.
The role of stakeholders in driving digital marketing; more acceptance from ecosystem:
Overall, digital marketing performance is improving across APAC, especially with regard to organisational alignment. For India, organisational aligment is at par with APAC and at the same level as 2013.
Some trends this year:
Strong senior management support and receptivity to piloting and testing is less for India than the APAC average. Senior management is now shifting focus from piloting and testing, to committing to the programs in place, and giving priority to establish a strong digital marketing base before exploring newer areas. The good news, however, is that Indian marketers have been able to keep to the same level of digital champions on the leadership team as last year.
As compared to their APAC counterparts, Indian marketers are receiving lesser support from channel and sales teams for increasing digital spends. However, they are doing better as compared to last year, suggesting that departments that have a customer interface are realising the importance of digital marketing in augmenting their efforts. This is a critical learning and reinforces the importance of digital marketing in the integrated marketing plans of organisations.
IT is collaborating with marketing much more in India than the rest of APAC and is a big contributor and partner in selecting and deploying digital, which is suggestive of an internal mandate from the leadership to IT on digital.
High use of analytics but low confidence in understanding of ROI:
Indian marketers are more confident than their APAC counterparts overall in their marketing maturity (58% feel they are high or progressive in marketing maturity as compared to 35% in APAC). And more marketers are using analytics and measurement technologies to prove the value of digital. However, their understanding of digital marketing effectiveness is very much in the developing stage (company's ability to measure value of digital and its ROI: getting better - 43%; needs improvement - 31%; high on excellence - 5%).
"Marketers are measuring more than ever. However, the value of digital and data can be demonstrated by using it to create differentiated advantage and driving connected relationship strategy for the business," says Bedi.
Talent gap continues to challenge marketers:
More marketers in India have dedicated and experienced in-house digital marketing analysts as compared to APAC. 30% of them have a dedicated director of digital. However, a very measly percentage of marketers believe that data is integrated throughout the marketing lifecycle.
Marketers are also disappointed in their agencies' effectiveness across strategy, execution and measurement. Clearly, better progress is needed in the country to narrow the gaps in skills and talent.
"Data is the backbone for business and marketers, and India has the potential to be the center of excellence for data. We have got a big opportunity ahead of us, and organisations need to act fast and invest in skills development," added Bedi.