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How to strike balance between long-term brand and short-term performance in APAC

The traditional marketing structure of divided disciplines is disappearing. Branding, which for so long stole the hearts, minds and budgets of most marketing departments, is being challenged across verticals as language has shifted from reach to ROI. And as a result, we have witnessed a clear pivot towards measurable, short-term performance.

Dentsu Aegis Network investigates this movement and the value of brand in today’s digital economy in a recent report, New Brand Balance. As digital disruptors gain momentum, established players are being pushed to reactively “focus more attention – and budget – and converting sales opportunities at the bottom end of the purchasing funnel, rather than on building long-term brand value at the top end.”

So, the big question is - how can marketers strike the brand balance necessary for sustainable success in the digital economy?

A case for both

Digital transformation, possibly the most overused phrase in our industry, demands that organisations recognise that technology has changed what a brand can offer and, with that, the expectations of consumers, suppliers, employees and regulators. Brands must respond to this by evolving the way they operate to remain viable businesses without compromising what has built the brand up to this point.

In reaction to the pressures which accompany digital transformation initiatives, we have seen brands reorganize their leadership team to include deeper expertise in platforms and tech functionality. Creating a customer-centric model through brand personas is no longer enough; brands want to have an ongoing dialogue with every consumer. Understanding the role of data in their marketing strategy is fundamental to achieving this. Data and analytics teams, who for years had little to no impact on marketing priorities, now have a bigger voice than brand leadership in many structures.

As a business rooted in performance, you might think we’d be cheering on our new data-driven friends, right?

For brands to succeed in the digital economy – whether a disruptor like Go-Jek or marketing giant like Coca-Cola – we believe it is critical they understand this new brand balance and most importantly, acknowledge the value in both. Experience is king; it is where users discover the reality of the brand promise. Brands will be differentiated through their ability to establish a valuable proposition for their customers and deliver upon it in order to build relationships with their consumers.

In iProspect’s 2019 Future Focus report, we found that 83% of marketers don’t believe brands will dominate over convenience in the future. User experience will continue to be fundamental in creating positive, frictionless moments between brands and consumers. However, too great of focus on short-term performance risks the devaluation of long-term brand value. The digital economy has brought renewed attention and conversation to the importance of trust and authenticity. In Future Focus, 76% of marketers reported they feel trust is important for consumers to continue purchasing their brand. Therefore, Brand Experience will increasingly be shaped not just by user experience but also by how they act and their ability to align themselves with the values of their consumers.

Brand advertisers need to shift how they approach their brand investment, as the winning teams are shifting around them.

We have identified three principles marketers should consider as they look to bring Brand and Performance closer together in Asia Pacific:

Understanding the value of integrated planning

Breaking down the silos is the first and often most difficult step for brands. However, having your entire marketing team present when making planning decisions is critical to aligning behind common KPIs and ensuring there is an integrated strategy in place for success. In our dynamic ecosystem, marketers wear many hats and singular views of discipline simply won’t last the winter. Creating a more integrated planning approach across teams minimizes insights silos and ensures you are building a customer view across all teams.

(We have found supplying food helps!)

Harnessing the power of intelligent content

As an industry we understand the importance of relevancy in an increasingly noisy landscape; however, this relevance is too often driven by the placements or specs and not the audience itself. Creating data-driven content requires successful application of clear methodology around the insights driving its creation. Five simple yet fundamental steps to this process include:

  • Start with your owned customer data and not what others are telling you
  • Analyse these customers and build your campaign strategy for them
  • Create the right content to maximise engagement and action
  • Commit to the process by amplifying the content with enough investment to have an impact
  • Measure each aspect of the campaign and continually evolve the process.

Creating an analytics framework to evaluate brand and performance

Like any good relationship, you need to know the impact that one has on the other. Creating an analytics framework which seeks to measure customer lifetime value will ensure you capture a holistic view of marketing investment.

Foundational to that aim is the brand’s ability to quantify the lifetime value of a customer. If it cannot, this should be a primary focus for the data workstream(s) of any transformation work. Such measurement capability is a key rationale for building a single customer view, alongside personalisation and compliance goals.

This supports brands in their efforts to understand the impact of brand and performance initiatives on the overall business goal. Digital has radically changed our ability to track both disciplines’ impact. Ultimately though, each demand a different measure of ROI and so the analytics framework must make this clear. Branding efforts’ payback will typically take longer, but by defining the purpose of a campaign and judging it by appropriate metrics, it can be evaluated by what it can achieve – increases in awareness, consideration, sentiment amongst a given audience – and not through a lens of immediate revenue uplift. Modelling such macro numbers’ effect on sales can then be used to highlight its importance, alongside investment in conversion-driving media and improvements to customer experience.

Alexander Oakden is head of strategy forAsia Pacific at iProspect.

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