Special Feature

Experts optimistic about future of digital marketing

14 Oct,2016


Dhaka, Special Report:

Speakers at this year’s Digital Marketing Summit has expressed optimism about the bright prospect of digital marketing in the country.

They also opined that the local businesses should bring changes to their marketing policies, embracing digital platforms in order to connect effectively with their users.

Organised by Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF), the summit was presented by Huawei, powered by SSD-Tech and was organized in association with The Daily Star. It was the third such summit, with this year’s theme being ‘Demystifying Digital Marketing’, given its infant stages of operation.

The day long summit was conducted with five keynote sessions of globally recognized digital marketing experts, two case study presentations, one interactive panel discussion, four break-out sessions and digital expositions of different brands.

Digital impact focused in keynote speeches

Keynote speakers included digital industry stalwarts such as Monirul Kabir, Chief Information Officer of Spider Digital Innovations, who predicted several digital innovations which will disrupt traditional marketing. For example, he talked about how companies today are using artificial intelligence in the form of chat-bots.

When a visitor of an ecommerce website browses through several categories for a period of time, an automated chat-bot is activated by the company to chat with the visitor, answering any service-related queries, similar to Google Assistant, or even Apple’s voice-activated Siri. Local websites such as Doze Internet are also experimenting with this feature.

Suresh Ramaswamy, Digital Lead and Regional Director for Southeast Asia at Grey Group, told UNB that although it is his first visit to Bangladesh, as a keynote speaker at DMS 2016, he found the summit to be informative. He added that although digital marketing is still not as exposed as it should be, it is expected, as Bangladesh is facing the same challenges in this sector Hong Kong had faced eight years back.

He also stressed the need for agencies to go beyond the emotional engagement and strive for bigger things, as the digital network will get bigger over time. “You don’t have to wait for perfection, but understanding your limits and keeping it simple till then is the key to successful digital marketing,” he added.

Md Mehedi Reza, Product Operations Manager at Alibaba Group, reminisced during his keynote speech about how he had pitched several companies about the significance of digital marketing a few years back, but to no luck. He stressed on the popularity of ecommerce websites to be the initial drivers of digital marketing success presently and in future.

Another speaker, Fergus O’Hare, Director of Facebook Creative Shop for APAC, shared some recent statistics which depict the immense potential of digital marketing, especially through smartphone penetration. ‘One user joins Facebook every twelve seconds from Bangladesh,’ he mentioned, aligning it with how the world is truly being mobile.

He also talked about how viewer habits, thanks to smartphones, are changing with times. With a television commercial, for example, viewers had to wait until the end to witness the brand or its underlying message. But thanks to smartphones, users can ignore an advertisement without finishing it if its content is not captivating enough. He cited several ‘thumb stopping creatives’ to denote how businesses are innovating regularly with newer creatives to ensure that users do not scroll away from their brands.

Digital theory transformed into success

Two successful case studies were presented by Strategeek Digital and Magnito Digital. Stratageek talked about teaming up with mobile operator Robi and how they successfully conducted a social media campaign on Mother’s Day, titled ‘Dhonnobaad Ma’, where a few activations based on the interaction between mothers and their children generated huge interest on social media and increased their traction.

Magnito Digital, on the other hand, talked about how they pitched a daylong programme to Grameenphone for GP Music and what could be done in light of National Independence Day on 26th March. Together they came up with ‘Shadhinotar Shure’, a campaign where they streamed a daylong podcast of six shows, akin to that of Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during 1971’s War of Liberation, incorporating the same individuals who voiced the shows back in 1971.

Opinions gathered at panel discussions

The panel discussion on ‘creating meaningful consumer engagement through digital marketing’ picked up a lot of traction as several speakers shared their two cents on the matter. Syed Tanzim Rezwan, Managing Director of Reckitt Benckiser Bangladesh, shed light on how a brand manager has to approach the management to integrate digital marketing into their marketing policies and then seek digital agencies to come up with viable ideas or promotions to enhance consumer engagement.

Tanzim also questioned effectiveness of pre-existing templates as local context needs to be realised and put into perspective for success through digital marketing.

Redwan Hafiz, co-founder of Analyzen Bangladesh, talked about how clients are still not ready to explore the full spectrum of digital marketing in the country. His views were acknowledged by Solaiman Sukhon, Head of Marketing at Aamra Networks, who added that it is difficult to pitch digital campaigns to corporate houses even now, as they are met with resistance.

Sukhon said that companies should move out of the mindset that they have to spend, for example,

“Tk 20 lakh for 500,000 likes on their Facebook pages.” Consumer engagement, he believes, goes beyond that.

Summit reactions

When asked how BBF can play a vital role in enhancing the role of digital marketing in Bangladesh, Shariful Islam, Founder and Managing Director of BBF shared their plan of creating an online portal for digital marketing experts, who can elaborate more on how to create new businesses, train and teach aspiring digital marketers.

“Although it is still in an early stage, digital marketing’s scope is immense,” he said, “We need to understand everything about it and what more can be done from all the related stakeholders.”

“We feel proud to be a partner of such an event,” said Mashrur Hasan Mim, Head of Marketing, Device at Huawei Technologies Bangladesh Ltd, “as there has been no such platform to provide a thorough knowledge about digital marketing till now.”

He described how Huawei Mobile has started to integrate digital marketing and enhance their presence on social media networks such as Facebook to their traditional marketing policies – the results of which is a fanbase of over one million users. “Through social media we are able to communicate our products to our target demographic, most of whom are active in social media,” he surmised.

The visitors of the event also left enlightened, with a heightened sense of perception as to how they should approach their clients from now on, according to Tanveer Ahmed, Business Director, Digital Services at Ogilvy & Mather Communications Pvt Ltd. “We are learning about it right from the development stage,” he told UNB, “digital marketing will help us to minimise our efforts as an agency, as we will be able to give better content.”

While speaking to UNB, Solaiman Sukhon echoed similar sentiments, mentioning that the sector is still evolving. “With different speakers and angles presented during the summit, it is bound to either cause agreement or friction – but at least a dialogue is inaugurated, success will only bloom from such multi-faceted dialogues’ he observed,” top tier managements should perceive digital marketing as an investment, rather than cost.

“In Bangladesh we are seeing a lot of interest among people on digital marketing,” said Nazia Andaleeb Preema, Director at BBF. While speaking to UNB, she stressed on the need to push the digital marketing space in order to keep up with the global markets.

“Digital marketing should aim for customer satisfaction,” she added, “Otherwise a non-engaging website is never going to attract customers.” She beamed about DMS 2016 reaching maximum capacity and how it depicts people willing to learn more about it. “If small and medium entrepreneurs can be successful only thanks to their marketing through Facebook, imagine how a wholesome digital marketing strategy can do good to their business and to the economy overall.”

More Special Feature