Australia is poised to become a digital marketing regional centre of expertise according to new research from the CMO Council and Adobe.
The research has revealed Australia continues to lead the APAC region in the adoption of digital marketing, but investment and skill shortages could stall adoption of more advanced implementation.
The second annual APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard Report was conducted by the CMO Council in partnership with Adobe, and included a six-month in-field program comprising quantitative and qualitative surveys.
The study benchmarked the levels of adoption, traction and success of digital marketing in Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and India.
276 senior marketers within the Asia-Pacific region from a range of industries took part.
The report found stronger support for digital marketing from company leadership compared with other countries across the region.
Customer preference, cost efficiencies and return on investment are cited as the driving forces behind the shift to digital, and this year's study highlights content strategy and web content development as overwhelming priorities on marketers' agendas.
However, industry skill shortages and lack of investment are noted as impediments to maximizing the potential adoption of more sophisticated digital marketing strategies and techniques.
Support for digital marketing from company leadership is highest in Australia with 44 per cent of senior managers providing very strong support. This was up from 29 per cent in 2012.
It compares with Singapore (26 per cent), India (25 per cent) and zero in South Korea this year.
Measurement capabilities, cost efficiency and the ability to prove a return on investment have emerged as major drivers, according to 69 per cent of marketers.
Australian investment in digital marketing increased in 2013 and our marketers continue to invest more than any other country in the region.
An aggregate of 49 per cent of Australian companies participating in the survey spend 25 per cent of their total marketing budgets or higher on digital marketing, compared with 41 per cent in 2012.
This compares with India (42 per cent), Singapore (31 per cent) and South Korea (3 per cent).
The average global spend on digital marketing is between 25 -- 35 per cent of total marketing budgets.
77 per cent of marketers nominated digital marketing content strategy as top of their list, ranking as a top priority for the first time.
Secondary priorities include social media optimization, which was first last year; and increasing and improving search and online display (each ranked at 42 per cent). Adobe A/NZ managing director, Paul Robson, said support from senior leadership and higher investment was allowing Australia to surge ahead of other countries in Asia Pacific in digital marketing adoption. "This year's research shows more senior business leaders are getting behind the adoption of digital marketing and that is driving growth in Australia," he said.
"The research shows senior leaders are basing their support not only on customer preference for digital but also on the promise of greater productivity, visibility and accountability for investment."
"They are now seeing proof of the promise for digital marketing to bring value and accountability to a major investment area."
However, while investment levels are highest in Australia, marketers are also reporting insufficient investment and a lack of skills are preventing them from broadening their digital marketing strategies beyond some of the more standard metrics such as website performance (87 per cent) and click through rates (77 per cent), according to Robson. "These are excellent measurements but important performance indicators such as churn rate and customer lifetime value are too low in priority at 13 per cent each," Robson said. "In spite of this, with so many of the fundamentals in place, Australia has the potential to establish itself as a regional centre of digital marketing expertise if these issues can be addressed." Robson said this year's Dashboard highlighted that customers are king. "We are living in the middle of the digital revolution and people want to access content wherever they are and on whatever device they prefer to use," he said.
"Marketers are leveraging the potential for digital marketing to deliver more targeted and personalised campaigns on any device," he said.
The report also found the highest level of digital marketing funding is again being directed towards website content development in 2013 at 89 per cent (compared with 83 per cent in 2012).
However, email marketing has moved to second place at 77 per cent (compared with 54 per cent in 2012) with search engine optimisation third at 74 per cent (compared with 66 per cent in 2012).
The report suggest Australian marketers are still engaging multiple digital agencies to deliver campaigns with 79 per cent reporting this in 2013, up from 65 per cent in 2012.
Marketers report working with a variety of firms to manage different specialty areas within the digital marketing mix including Web campaigns, social media and online advertising.