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On the 15th of May, 2018, the Selangor Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (SITEC) held its last BM E-Commerce Class of the year, drawing 76 attendees to the Selangor Digital Creative Centre (SDCC) for the class, which was on the topic of digital marketing.

Sulaiman Mokhtar, e-Commerce Coach from Avana, started the class by speaking about the symptoms that can be seen in a problematic digital marketing strategy, such as only having friends among your followers, having a social media page that is only filled with catalogues and product pictures, and the business not having a website, or having a website that has not been updated in a long time.

Towards improving problematic digital marketing strategies, Sulaiman suggested the use of Google Trends as a first step. Google Trends provides an overview of public interest in a particular search term, as well as showing the level of interest over time, as well as interest by location, as well as related queries. This then provides information to vendors that can be used to draw traffic to their site, while plying their wares.

The next step, according to Sulaiman, was to make use of the marketing funnel. The initial level, which is to raise awareness of your brand or product, is for soft-selling and branding, essentially to show the value of the business. Taking KFC as an example, he noted that KFC’s ads were always about having a meal with family.

The next part of the funnel, Consideration, is for businesses to highlight products, begin selling, and emphasising the USP of the product. Continuing the KFC example, he noted that this would be where KFC talks about their family bucket.

The final part of the funnel, Action, is the portion of the funnel where consumers have already decided to buy, and where the business can talk about add-on products, or upsell products. Taking KFC as an example again, he likened this to the staff asking if the buyer would like to add-on Cheezy Wedges to their purchase.

Sulaiman noted that the next step after applying the funnel theory was to automate sales, such as using auto-reply bots, which would save time and improve response times to queries, using a payment gateway, which would make it easier to keep track of payments, as well as automating shipping, which would help to ease the burden of managing individual tracking numbers.

He offered Avana as a platform that would allow users to easily upload products, set auto-reply functions, handle payments, arrange shipping, and set up a webstore on Facebook with minimal hassle.

Sulaiman also explained that awareness is not a one-day affair, instead requiring a timeline to be set until the objective is met by the campaign. He also stressed the importance of having a clear objective when running a campaign.

Engku’s Experience

Next, Engku Anwar Hilmi spoke about his own digital marketing experiences running his own web stores, providing a primer on digital marketing as well as the customer journey.

He compared the e-Commerce funnel to the retail store funnel, pointing out that there were many similarities. He then went into further detail, dividing the funnel into separate sections, each with each own aims of marketing.

The top of the funnel represents those consumers who are unaware of the business, and are engaged through social media and ads to convert them into visitors. The middle of the funnel represents consumers who are looking to buy, but have not committed. Here, it becomes a matter of converting them into sales, with engagement through the landing page, content marketing, website optimisation, and email marketing.

The bottom of the funnel represents paying customers and loyal advocates, who can be engaged through email marketing as well, along with social media. Loyal advocates draw traffic as well, through word-of-mouth and recommendations to their own circles.

Engku noted that there were many ways to build loyalty, with active engagement such as offering memberships or reward programmes, as well as passive engagement, such as by strengthening the brand.

Engku also constantly stressed the importance of checking and optimising the effectiveness of any ad campaigns, such as through A-B split testing, so that businesses are better able to find what works and what does not, thus providing information that would allow for maximising returns on investment into the marketing campaigns, as well as to scale the campaigns.

A vital step in digital marketing is to know the customer. Engku noted that businesses should know their customer avatar, which is a clear description of their target market. Through profiling the demographics, characteristics, issues faced, and potential gains of the target audience, a business will have a clearer view of the needs and wants of their target market, and be able to cater to these needs and wants better.

Having a customer avatar is also vital towards planning a marketing campaign, as the avatar would also include information on the media most commonly used by the target audience, allowing for better coverage and requiring different strategies.

Engku also shared a tip, which was to take note of current trends while planning content. For example, the current trend he has noticed is that videos receive a lot of engagement such as likes and comments, which is why he has also moved towards video marketing such as Youtube ads and Facebook Live.

Another tip was to note the timing of promotions and posts. By knowing the target audience, it is possible to craft a timeline for when it is best to post promotions and content, such as during the month of Ramadhan if a business sells baju raya.

Market Sharing

For the market sharing session, Hussein Zawia, director of eRomman Marketplace, spoke about his platform, calling it a gateway to the Middle East, which he notes is one of the fastest growing e-Commerce markets in the world. eRomman targets leading market countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, and only draws a fee if someone buys a product, with payment and shipping taken care of by eRomman as well. Currently, the platform is looking for more sellers to join, and is offering free registration and listing fees, a year of free translation services, commission of between 1% to 12%, shipping fees at RM40 for the first 500g and RM25 at each subsequent 500g, with payment gateway fees at 3% of listing prices.