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For exporters, the mobile Internet has fast become the default place to engage with overseas customers – particularly in Southeast Asia. Spencer Bailey offers a five-step mobile marketing strategy.

The Internet has been a boon for internationally focused New Zealand companies wanting to research new markets and create ‘weightless exports’. While selling online is now a given, exporters need to understand the rapid shift to mobile Internet that is happening in many markets, including important export ones.

Take Southeast Asia, home to more than 600 million people and representing a ‘mobile-first’ generation of consumers who have leap-frogged desktop computers in favour of mobile phones. Mobile penetration throughout the region is huge – Singapore has the highest in the world – as is social network adoption. Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have some of the world’s highest levels of social network penetration, while Indonesia is actually the fourth largest country on Facebook (according to eMarketer, September, 2015).

We know the majority of Facebook users are now on mobile. In Indonesia, for example, Facebook reaches more than 45 million people each day, 42 million of them through mobile. In Thailand, the number of people who on average access Facebook daily on a mobile has jumped 40 percent in growth year-on-year. Even in Australia, Facebook and Instagram together account for over one in three minutes spent on mobile. Globally, people spend more than 50 minutes a day using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

If you’re not already, think of Facebook as your mobile marketing platform. With more than 1.6 billion people globally, most of them accessing it on mobile, the platform’s effective digital marketing tools make it possible for New Zealand exporters to create engaging and personalised relationships with customers anywhere in the world. This combination makes it possible to target specific audiences and overcome some of the traditional challenges facing export marketers, like truly knowing who the customer is when they live so far away, and achieving meaningful brand awareness against larger competitors.

Users in key Southeast Asian export markets are particularly comfortable engaging with businesses on Facebook. Our own data from December 2015 shows that nearly twice as many Thais and twice as many Singaporeans send Facebook messages to businesses each month compared to the global average. Malaysians send nearly 50 percent more Facebook messages to businesses each month compared to the global average.

It’s not just consumers living their lives on mobile. Marketing tools on Facebook and Instagram are simple to use and we believe this is why the number of small businesses without a website is a growing trend across Southeast Asia. Globally, over one million advertisers, typically small businesses, have created an ad directly from a mobile device.

A mobile marketing strategy might sound complex, but the good news is if your business has a Facebook page you are already a step ahead. Granted, a different mindset is required from traditional marketing campaigns, like telling a story fast, in seconds, not minutes, and using content adapted for the small screen.

So how do you make the most of the tools available to you? Here are five suggestions:

  1. Start with a Facebook Page. It is the new website or storefront and your customers are already there. Once your Page is set up, let potential customers know you are a reputable brand by verifying your page with a grey tick. It’s also helpful to let them know how quickly you will get back to their queries by updating your response rate on your business Page. Add a call to action for people to shop, book, or sign up easily.
  2. Use video to attract customers. One of the drivers of consumer adoption of mobile is mobile video. People are sharing and creating nearly three times more video on Facebook than they were a year ago. It’s important to make sure you capture viewers’ attention in the first three seconds. We call it the “three-second audition”. Sixty-five percent of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will watch for at least ten seconds and 45 percent continue watching for 30 seconds. Consider captions as, on average, captioned videos increase view time by 12 percent. If you have customers who live in different countries create posts in their language and schedule it for only them to see.
  3. Pretest for best results. Don’t just create a one-size-fits-all campaign. Think about your marketing objectives and come up with different ways to present your brand story, and then test which one delivers the best results.
  4. Use the campaign management tools. Carousel Ads, for example, let you have multiple images and links in one ad, and automatically optimise the order of the images and links shown. The recently launched Canvas tool is an immersive mobile experience for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products, including ‘tilt to view’ panoramic images and the ability to zoom in on detail. You can easily build your Canvas using a combination of videos, still images and call-to-action buttons.
  5. Measure the results. Check Ads Manager to go beyond engagement and fan counts and measure business impact instead – like sales, brand awareness and leads generated from your online advertising efforts.

The opportunity for Kiwi exporters using Facebook is to understand and cost-effectively engage with customers on mobile in a more personalised way than has been possible before. Export marketers need to recognise the fundamental shift to mobile that has occurred in key markets in Asia and adopt strategies to fit.  


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