Online marketing the way the big kids do it

by Rita Nguyen

The few times that I’ve talked to leaders in Vietnam about their online product or marketing initiatives, I’ve been fairly shocked in how much they spend on some pretty base line stuff.  Agencies and experts all pitch online advertising and social media initiatives that build likes and followers but few have really gone beyond that to true conversion.

That’s right, I don’t do online advertising

When I tell people here that I built and led teams that created online experiences with millions of unique visitors, communities with tens of thousands of followers and tens of millions of units sold, yet I have no idea how to do an online media buy, THEY are shocked.  That’s right. I’m an online marketing expert and I don’t know anything about online advertising because frankly, it’s the least exciting part of the equation for me.  Let the advertising dudes run numbers through their spreadsheets, I’m more interested in analyzing who these potential customers are, where they are coming from, where you lead their journey and how you get them to buy.

So what does that mean?

Going beyond CPM’s

Most of the activities I see in Vietnam only circle around the top of the funnel with little in the way of moving the customer to full conversion. I *think* it’s because most people here are relying on their agencies to do their online strategy.  Agencies certainly have their uses but they universally love “impressions” which used to infuriate me at EA.  So old school! Who cares if someone may or may not have seen my banner on the Facebook side bar?  Until they do something about it, it means nothing to me. Up until now, that’s not been too major of an issue in Vietnam but as more and more brands go online, the fight for mind share is going to get tougher.  Consumers are starting to turn blinders to the noise on websites, something we saw happening in North America years ago.  It’s no longer enough to just buy online ads.

Performance Marketing

At EA we used to call it performance marketing.   While it sounds like yet another buzz word, like gamification, the underlying logic is that you are actively and continuously interacting with your leads. It’s one thing to build a fancy, flashy website and content that people “like” but are you actually converting them?  In Vietnam, it seems to be only about building a contest or Facebook app, in addition to the online buy of course.  No mention of segmentation, personalization or multivariate testing.

Ah, the tools

Online marketing is scientific, which means creating hypotheses and lots of testing but doing it really quickly.  One of the reasons I love what I do is that the online marketing world has countless tools to test, iterate and optimize at a speed that is not possible with any other form of marketing.  These days most of the tools are either free or so cheap that it’s close enough.  And yet the only tool I’ve heard the experts here mention is Google Analytics. Soon this isn’t going to be enough. If everyone is doing the same thing as you are, you need to find an edge.

So how do the big kids do online marketing?

If you are in Asia and want to take your online initiatives to the next level, get a hold of me and I’ll show you what an online strategiest for one of the largest brands in the world actually does.