MALAYSIAN Internet users have an average of four social media accounts — among which would probably be WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, WeChat or Instagram — all top social media platforms for Malaysians.
YouTube is the number 1 social media platform in Malaysia, with Facebook a close second and WhatsApp in the third spot. Out of 22 million Facebook users in Malaysia, 56 per cent are male and 44 per cent are female.
But, despite being in the digital age and having an Internet-savvy population, e-commerce sales penetration is only 1.1 per cent of total retail sales. This is projected to grow to 5.4 per cent in 2025.
These are interesting facts for businesses to take note, said James Ho, who is the co-founder and chief executive of training and development outfit ClickAcademy Asia.
Reaching out to customers via traditional marketing may no longer cut it for most products and services, said Ho. Instead they would have to look to digital marketing and this requires companies to have personnel who are adept at digital marketing.
“Digital marketing is a tactic under the broad field of marketing. It refers to marketing using digital technologies like social media search engines, websites, mobile applications, virtual reality or other digital platforms.
Sanjaya S. Gaur.
“Digital marketing has been trending for the last 10 years as consumers change the way they find, research and buy goods and services due to the increasing adoption of digital platforms. As consumers become more tech savvy, marketers cannot just rely on traditional marketing such as through newspapers, television, billboards, magazines and flyers. Marketers need to adopt new digital marketing technologies to be relevant and continue reaching and influencing their customers and prospects,” he explained.
The ubiquitous influence of the Internet of Things with the help of technologies such as wireless, mobile, wearables and more, have created unimaginable opportunities for marketing and marketers around the globe, said Professor Sanjaya S. Gaur who heads the Department of Marketing at Sunway University School of Business.
“Today people are consuming more digital content every second and that, too, in real time. People would always want faster, economical and more convenient ways to satisfy their needs, wants and preferences. Digital media has empowered today’s consumers in a desired manner and thus, consumers are able to buy desired products at desired prices from desired providers at desired times.
“Marketers had always faced the challenge of identifying the right segments to target and appropriate offerings for the identified markets. Digital technologies have enabled marketers to meet this challenge in an effective and efficient manner. This has caused the trending of digital marketing,” he elaborated.
To be in digital marketing, Sanjaya said both specialist and general skills are required.
General digital marketing skills in the area of marketing strategy, brand management, channel management, dynamic pricing and integrated marketing communication are needed for senior managerial positions. Specific technical skills are required to manage content, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, mobile marketing, marketing analytics, user experience (UX) and social media (enabled by web 2.0, web 3.0, web 4.0, web 5.0 and so on).
“The digital marketers with the help of appropriate technology platforms work to increase brand awareness, promote company goods and or services, set prices, deal with completion, and facilitate the sales. They also look into the placement of advertisements using various technical platforms and integration of communication across channels, cross-platform marketing, and reporting and managing returns on investment (ROI) of digital strategies and actions,” he said.
There are many job opportunities for digital marketers today. The hot ones are data analysts, social media marketers, UX/UI specialists (user experience/user interface), and programmatic media buying. According to www.payscale.com, the median salary for a digital marketing manager in Malaysia is RM96,541 per year. In the digital marketing space, the salary ranges from RM42,000 to RM200,000 per year depending on the experience.
So when and how should a university graduate skill up on digital marketing — during university or after getting a degree or job experience? Ho and Sanjaya are of two differing opinions.
“When at university, attend course modules related to digital marketing. There are also external certification, like Google AdWords certification, that a graduate can pursue in parallel. However, job experience is ultimately important as a good digital marketer needs exposure to real world digital marketing campaigns and challenges,” said Ho.
“Digital marketing is best learned through specialist digital marketing training academies. Most universities do not offer practice-oriented digital marketing training. There are many unbranded workshops you can attend in digital or social media marketing, but nothing beats a brand name certification you can add to your resume. At the very least, attain a globally recognised certificate,” he highlighted.
Meanwhile, Sanjay said acquiring digital marketing skills is best done while studying at university where one gets free access to the latest technology, related research, expertise, guidance and environment to acquire these skills. But because of the rapidly evolving field of digital technology, workers need to keep upskilling themselves even after getting a degree and while on the job.
“The digital marketing course at Sunway University Business School, for example, introduces students to various marketing theories and conceptual frameworks that are often used in digital marketing context by both online business-to-consumer (B2C) and online business-to-business (B2B) players. Students also learn to evaluate, design and integrate the appropriate digital marketing tools and activities to meet specific marketing objectives. Proper understanding, strategising, designing, and the integration of appropriate digital marketing tools and activities is expected to enable students to see a bigger picture of business’s usage of digital marketing campaigns.”
For Jayasilen Sivapragasam, 32, a business unit manager at Alterni — an Australian healthcare company providing natural health supplements which is a subsidiary of biotech outfit Holista Colltech, upskilling to have digital marketing skills via certification has allowed him to create new channels to reach out to customers.
“As a company that communicates and provide services directly to consumers, our digital presence is important as a majority of our target audience do their research online before purchase, regardless online or offline. In the case of the healthcare industry, content marketing is the most important method for us to reach out and gain customers’ interest and appeal to their desire. Therefore, it is important for us to be in these key moments and platforms of customer research to inspire people to buy our product or service,” said the biotech graduate who now holds an MBA as well as an Econsultancy UK Certificate in Digital Marketing and Content Marketing for Web, Mobile & Social Media, Google Adwords & Analytics certificates.
And what does the future hold for him? “I foresee heading the marketing or IT department of a company, if not the whole company, of different sizes and backgrounds to layout their digital marketing blueprint in order for them to gain more online presence and eventually to increase their revenue. These digital marketing skills may also be useful for me to start my own online or e-commerce business with sufficient funding,” he shared.
What is digital marketing?
• Marketing is the process of anticipation, management and satisfaction of the needs, wants and desires and preferences of people through social exchange.
• Digital marketing is about the use of digital technologies (ie email, Internet, wireless, smartphones, IPTV, apps, social media, etc) to enable marketing for today’s businesses.
Technical functions of a digital marketer:
• Design and development of websites and/or apps
• Website optimisation
• Content development and optimisation
• Search engine marketing
• Social media marketing
• Mobile marketing
• Email marketing