digital marketing


A digital maturity model (DMM) is a structural framework that companies use to see where they stand in their digital maturity. Most digitally-savvy companies will be aware of a DMM and may understand their place in it, but many struggle to use the model to help them plan their future. To fully understand how a digital maturity model can benefit your company, it’s important to grasp how they work.

What is the Digital Maturity Model?

One of the most common DMMs you encounter when researching them, is the Google and Boston Consulting Group version. These two entities collaborated to build the model which consists of four stages, in this case: Nascent, Emerging, Connected, and Multi-Moment. This model showcases the basics of DMMs – the skeletal structure if you will. Companies often have their own versions, with different names but essentially all DMMs follow the same concepts: 

  • At least 4 phases of digital maturity ranging from ‘beginner to master’ levels. These phases, or stages, come with requisites, digital tools or skills that a company employs at certain stages, that dictate the digital maturity. The names of the stages vary from company to company, so don’t get distracted by the titles. What the Google-Boston model calls ‘Nascent’ others may call ‘Starter’ (at 2Stallions Digital we call it the ‘Basic’ stage).

  • The universal truth of a DMMs is that it plots effectiveness versus efficiency. The aim is to optimize both effectiveness and efficiency, with the last ‘phase’ providing perpetual, lifetime value. Different companies may set different definitions or standards for each stage depending on their business goals.

Why do you need a Digital Maturity Model?

As we mentioned, a digital maturity model is a framework that helps map and guide your company towards a digitally successful future with potential limitless opportunities. Without know where your digital maturity currently stands, it becomes difficult to plot your course to digital maturity. Data shows that a focus on improving digital maturity improves efficiency and effectiveness of marketing and business success.

Essentially, think of a digital maturity model as the roadmap that guides your company through its own digital transformation.

The future is digital. If the global pandemic of the 2020s teaches us anything it’s that digital transformation is not only inevitable, it’s also necessary for company growth and long term survival. Digital transformation drives new business opportunities and operational efficiencies that were previously bottlenecked by traditional systems and processes. With the rise of digital technology, organizations are  able to easily redefine the way they operate, but all that depends on the what stage of digital maturity you are in. Enter the digital maturity model!

How can you use the Digital Maturity Model to Drive Business Growth?

A digital maturity model lays out  priorities and goals needed to achieve the next stage of digital maturity. So where do you start? The first thing is to understand where your company is currently at – is it just beginning its digital transformation, already further into its journey, or close to achieving full digitization? Depending on where you are in your digital transformation journey, that’s where you start with your digital maturity model.

A digital transformation comes with significant opportunities and threats, and it impacts every industry. Increasing digital and online connectivity allows companies to improve their entire business, improving internal cohesion, customer relations, and sales and marketing strategies. 

Depending on what stage you’re in, you can use the DMM to set objectives, targets, and define the strategies and tactics you need to get there. To use our DMM as an example, if we would find that you’re at the ‘Ad Hoc’ stage, where you’re running online ads but need to improve the ROI (return on investment) or perhaps you have a social media presence but aren’t seeing any engagement.

The stage’s name ‘Ad Hoc’ indicates that you might be reacting to developments rather than proactively planning out the strategies to drive them. Working towards the next stage would include the development of a consolidated strategy based on your business needs and objectives. Each stage comes with its own targets and its own direction, aimed at reaching the next stage. 

Final Thoughts

Every business needs a roadmap to get to where it wants to go. With the inevitability of a digital transformation lying in wait for every company, it’s vital that your business learns where it stands in its digital maturity and where it wants to go. Mapping the journey and following the plan it lays out is the biggest strength of having a DMM tailored to your needs. 

Of course, it helps to have a guide on the journey, just to help you navigate. That’s where we at 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency can help you! We’ve got a decade of experience helping our clients grow their businesses by leveraging digital performance marketing. 

Education is a vital aspect of modern society. Young people learn to navigate the diverse world around them, and grow their social skills during their educational journeys. Education, of course, takes different forms – homeschooling, private tuition, public schools, higher education like universities, etc – but they all have one thing in common: they are all striving to help build a better society through our youth.

Higher education marketing is a role that many of us will have encountered at some point in our lives, whether subconsciously or obviously. Physical flyers or digital advertisements have at all drawn our attention to different educational opportunities. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, we delve into the complex and fascinating world of marketing in the higher education industry. Join us as we speak with Ooi Lay Tin, Head of Marketing & Sales at the International University of Malaya-Wales in Kuala Lumpur. With her vast wealth of knowledge, Lay Tin talks in depth about her diverse experience in the industry and her outlook of its future.

Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Lay Tin, thank you for coming onboard. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

During my school days in Penang and my uni days in Kuala Lumpur, I was an introvert. I also bloomed late in my career. For a time I worked in the publishing and the retail industry – all very much people-based lines of work. Since then, I have been in the private higher  education industry for some 29 years. 

The demands of a customer-facing and business development role, and adapting to constant change, moulded me into more of an extrovert in my work. I enjoy learning and solving problems. Somehow I never liked standardised operational or compliance work. In marketing, sales, business development, and communications no two days are the same. These areas are always evolving and are even more challenging to navigate in difficult times.

What was it that first attracted you to this work? 

It all started with an opportunity to join an enterprising Malaysia education group (MBf Education Group) and work with the president. The internal Management Development Programme allowed me to move into areas I showed an affinity for.  

At an international marketing conference, a topic on the “Importance of Branding Strategy” really spoke to me. I even did my MBA dissertation on it!  Afterwards, all my bosses gave me opportunities in different roles to help their organisations grow.

Looking back now, I realise that my underlying interest was in writing and communicating, meeting many new people, while further developing myself.

Currently, you’re the Head of Marketing and Sales at the International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW). It seems like such a unique combination – Malaysia and Wales – can you tell us a bit about IUMW? 

Yes, I am back in an organisation that has links or roots close to my heart. I am a proud alumna of University Malaya. 

IUMW is owned by two prestigious universities – University of Malaya and the University of Wales, UK. Set up 8 years ago, it provides affordable study for students in Malaysia and more than 40 other countries. We offer programmes at the foundation or pre-university level to MBA, DBA and PhD. 

The University is special because of its Dual Awards programmes. When students graduate, they receive 2 certifications, one from IUMW and one from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in the UK.

Dual Awards programmes also provide a valuable opportunity for students to experience global education by spending a semester abroad at UWTSD in the UK.

What is it like to shape the marketing strategy of a university like IUMW? 

While there are similarities, each university I’ve worked at has its own organisational culture, is at a different product lifecycle stage, and attracts a slightly different market segment. The market strategy depends on differentiation, specialisation, segmentation and positioning. 

Being young, IUMW has a much flatter and leaner structure. With its reputation and management,  the academic quality is very much governed by the University of Malaya, a highly ranked university internationally and the oldest university in Malaysia. 

This year, we looked for modest growth by increasing sales of existing programmes and introducing new online programmes. We are also growing distribution channels using student recruitment agents and direct digital marketing efforts, competitive pricing, and partnerships. Our efforts using omnichannel marketing focus on the highest return initiatives. 

For 2021, it’s about enhancing student experiences and rebuilding consumer confidence in online and blended learning.

Do you think that we will continue to see a growth in the online and blended learning opportunities in Malaysia and South East Asia even after the pandemic is over?

Students need to study and follow well-structured lesson plans so that they can graduate on time. With the uncertainties and the dynamic changes of the last year, institutions are blending online and face-to-face learning. This entails combining online seminars and tutorials with face-to-face delivery prioritised for workshops, and studio and practical laboratory work.

We expect growth; both students and lecturers find this blended method of learning viable. The downsides, however, include lack of social interaction, limited collaborative learning,  and the need for more preparation and adjustment time.

The review of pedagogy (approach to learning), learning design, curricula and assessments  to meet the needs of the future generations and global  competitiveness of the education industry will need a lot of effort.

Before joining IUMW, you worked as the Deputy Director of Marketing at Monash University Malaysia, and before that you were at Taylor’s University College, ACCA and at the International Medical University. You clearly have an affinity for marketing in the education sector. What is it about this industry that drew you to it? 

I’m thankful to have led marketing at 5 top education brands, contributing my ideas, and sometimes even shaping structure at each institution.

Somehow opportunities were always there for me as a higher education marketer and I do like a people or service-related job. At IMU, I worked alongside professors of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing. These super smart yet humble colleagues inspired me. It’s like they say: everyone you meet knows something you don’t. I spent days talking to students and parents about study opportunities in Malaysia and abroad. We shared countless real-life experiences and stories with them. The end goal is to make someone else’s life better. 

Can you give us some insight into your time at Monash and Taylor’s? What was it like? Is IUMW very different?

Private higher education is very competitive and the Ministry of Higher Education strictly regulates it. Taylor’s was always on-the-go and would invest a lot to have top-of-mind recall. It had large marketing budgets and produced amazing work, they still do it today. It was a place determined to be a trendsetter.

It was a privilege to work for Monash. Working with such a strong global brand, I got noticed and was even invited to events as a panel speaker at marketing conferences. I worked with the CMOs in Australia and was involved in brand refresh, brand reputation projects, research positioning, and digital transformation projects. The scale of marketing campaign projects aimed at global audiences amazed me. The ‘Monash – Change it” campaign, for example, focused on research initiatives to bring real positive impact to communities. (For these projects, I worked with Ms Margot Burke and Mr Fabian Marrone, CMOs of Monash University in Australia).

In IUMW, my aim is to help in talent development, team upskilling, spearhead the digital marketing direction, and using resources effectively and efficiently.  Exploring the huge Malay student market is an interesting new project. With the changing customer landscape, my team and I spend time to finetune our customer lookalike audiences and customer personas. We also work with industry and brand names that want to collaborate more with universities.

In every organisation, I have worked with incredible people – colleagues in Malaysia and abroad and  mentors who have become personal friends. It is truly a satisfying industry to be in.

What is the best part of your role? Is there a specific thing you enjoy most about your work?

In a way, it’s about getting visibility. Business viability rests on a strong and visible brand and annual student growth. With this knowledge and the skills I’ve learned, I can go places; I feel that I am seen and heard.

I enjoy working with many different people and learning from them. I like helping academic researchers profile themselves and their outstanding research. I feel relevant when it comes to digital transformation, especially in brand building and key market outreach. There’s so much to learn and I enjoy sharing results with like-minded people from the sales and marketing fields. 

Recently, however, I feel that it’s much more about doing something meaningful for younger people. For example, I feel like we should be working with Student Councils and youth leaders of clubs and societies.

Universities have been under a lot of pressure during the pandemic. How have you and IUMW worked to overcome any obstacles or challenges you’ve had to face this crisis?

When the COVID-19 situation hit universities in March 2020, our priority was the health and safety of our students and staff. Communication and messaging played a key role in this area. 

We also sought the help of our parent universities since we needed to accelerate our digital teaching readiness. Today, we use a plethora of tools such as Google Classroom, Open Learning, Zoom, Discord, and Labster (Science) to deliver the lessons. 

On the marketing front, my team sets up virtual open days and exhibitions, runs live chats and FB sessions, hosts webinars, and responds quickly to our customers. I am grateful to have a team that can work outside the normal office hours; for example, when we reached out to interests from the Middle East markets in the virtual education exhibition. 

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

I have yet to see many more exotic places and experience new cultures. Travelling within the country and to other new places abroad such as Scandinavia is on my agenda. Meanwhile, I have earned certifications for coaching and mentoring. I’ve also successfully completed the certification to be an HRDF trainer. 

There is still so much I can offer.  I would like to help SMEs (small-medium enterprises)  set up sales and marketing functions. Help them  build a talent pool, set KPIs, integrate and streamline key processes, that sort of thing.

Now, your career and your many successes are inspiring to women everywhere. I understand that you’ve done some work to help advocate for women entering more C-level, leadership roles. Could you share something about that with us? Why is it so important for women to be part of the leadership fabric?

Women improve the company’s performance and gender-diverse teams have higher sales and profits (Gallup). Having women in leadership roles can bring some balance to male-dominated industries. My contribution would be in the area of ‘brand visibility’. I am glad to assist many female academic staff tell their research-related stories. I also enjoy helping them get noticed by upper management, and be able to compete for and win grants or funding for their projects.

Now is an exciting time for women. We are strong and capable and we need to support one another by acknowledging achievements and encouraging each other.

My colleagues and I look forward to helping  young students and student leaders increase their confidence and unlock their potential. 

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers, particularly those with an eye for the education sector? 

After all these years, it’s truly a blessing to be in the private higher education sector. It helped me guide my own children in their educational journey and they are making good progress in their respective careers.

All experiences are individual, and for me, it would be to have a love for learning and keep company with knowledge workers. Be curious and have the ability to communicate well with a wide variety of stakeholders, from your customers (students and parents, alumni), corporate colleagues, media agencies, to the rest of the academic  community. We need to emphasize interpersonal skills and learning to sustain conversations. 

The decision to pursue a higher education degree or postgraduate degree requires a lot of research, thought, budgeting or financial commitments, as well as some soul searching for the intended career pathways. A young marketers planning to build a career in this specialised area of marketing should:

  1. Enjoy working with people and be customer-centric or customer focussed. You will have to create campaigns that appeal to the emotions of students and their parents. You don’t work on your own so you need the support of the academic team.
  2. You must be digital savvy. Understand the purpose of your campaigns, and know which need investment: video marketing, podcasts, social media campaigns, website development, Google search, etc.
  3. You should enjoy creative work and  engaging with your target audience. You should also know that you must deliver the right message and outcomes (lower cost per lead, conversion rates, etc).
  4. You can grow in this industry if you are someone who loves to learn and isn’t afraid to  ask “why?” or “how?”.

Things to consider for career growth for young people in this sector:

  1. The international education, distance learning, and virtual learning market are expanding. Aspiring marketers will find lots of opportunities to learn, contribute and to grow. Foreign universities are always looking for talents in Malaysia and the South East Asian markets.
  2. Learn finance and analytics to understand the student enrolment numbers and to help you make business decisions. 
  3. As a staff benefit, most  institutions offer full or partial scholarships for you to continue your postgraduate studies. We look for staff with open mindsets, seeking to do more.

It’s been a great pleasure and privilege to learn more about you and your very impressive career, Lay Tin, thank you for sharing your experiences. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I am quite active on LinkedIn and use it as a learning and engagement tool with people around the globe. I am also active on Instagram @ooilaytin which I use to showcase my home cooked food and travel experiences.

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

When marketers launch their careers, the engineering industry isn’t usually the first to jump to mind. Yet it’s this industry that builds the infrastructure that we take for granted – roads, bridges, apartment blocks, houses; without the engineering equipment, the world as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. With the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, the engineering industry has had to undergo a digital transformation to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Join us in this issue of the Marketing Expert Series as we talk with one of the most experienced marketing professionals in the South-East Asian engineering industry. Mei Huang Loh is the head of marketing for the industrial equipment division of Konecranes APAC. With more than fifteen years of experience, Mei Huang entered the engineering industry by accident, finding a niche for which she developed not only a passion but a keen interest in marketing industrial equipment.

Welcome, Mei Huang! Excited for you to join us on this issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Let’s start with something easy. Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are today?

Based in Malaysia, I am currently leading the marketing for the industrial equipment division of Konecranes in the APAC region. Before being appointed to the role, for four years I was the regional marketing manager of MHE-Demag (a member of the Konecranes Group) for Southeast Asia, Australia and Taiwan. I have been in marketing for 15 years, since 2005. Starting with zero marketing knowledge and skills, I was fortunate to have great marketing and career mentors at different stages of my career. Without their generous guidance and opportunities given, I would not be where I am today. 

You’ve been working as a marketer in the engineering and construction sector for quite some time now. Was there something that attracted you to this industry in particular?

I did not choose this industry in the beginning. It was a job opportunity with Monier Malaysia (Lafarge Roofing back then) referred by a friend. I took a four-hour bus ride, went for the interview, got the job, and returned home by bus on the same day. This marketing role then led me to BlueScope and AkzoNobel, which are also related to the construction and building material industries. 

Back then marketing in the engineering and construction sectors was limited to B2B marketing, which I would say less interesting compared to F&B, beauty, and other FMCG marketing. However, times are different now. I personally think there is no boundary between B2B and B2C marketing. A CEO of a development company browses Facebook every day, a director of an engineering consultant uses Instagram too, so when doing strategic marketing, why should we define our target audience as B2B or B2C? 

The most interesting thing with marketing in engineering-related businesses is that there is so much more to do because our marketing is not as advanced and vibrant as the consumer industry yet. Introducing a new way of marketing and ensuring it works in supporting the business growth keeps me excited and motivated. 

Another interesting factor is the people. It is very fulfilling to grow marketers in the engineering industry and equip them with relevant digital marketing knowledge and skills. The appreciation received from my coworker is another reason why I love this industry. Little did they know, I’m only paying it forward, just like how my bosses guided me in the past. 

Now, I have to ask, how does one go about marketing large equipment like cranes or diggers? 

In the past, marketing for large equipment, specifically engineering equipment like cranes and diggers, mainly involved in the “conventional” way of marketing such as exhibitions, brochures, billboards, etc. While these methods still work to a certain extent, digital transformation and digital marketing introduce new mechanisms, new tools, new processes and so on to the way we do marketing now. Webinars, live demo, e-commerce, mobile apps, you name it. 10 years ago who would have thought we could sell excavators or demonstrate crane maintenance services on Facebook live? Nobody expected to rent a wheel loader via a webshop too. And it actually works. 

On top of the tools and platforms, data analytics also play an important role in increasing the effectiveness of our marketing initiatives. There are fewer trials and errors, the accuracy of data helps us to offer the right solution to the right audience via the most effective channels. 

At the moment, of course, you’re with Konecranes, leading marketing initiatives. Can you tell us about the work Konecranes does? 

“Lifting Businesses™” is not just a beautiful slogan but a mission that everyone at Konecranes truly believes in. We have real-time knowledge of how millions of lifting devices perform, and we use this knowledge, around the clock, to make our customers’ operations safer and more productive.

The business is divided into three business areas, Service, Port Solutions and Industrial Equipment, where I am attached. 

Konecranes Industrial Equipment provides an extensive range of industrial cranes, from components and light duty applications to demanding process use and solutions – serving general manufacturing and various process industries. We are the world’s largest supplier of industrial cranes and wire rope hoists and a technology leader with digital controls, software and automation. serving a broad range of customers including manufacturing and process industries, shipyards, ports and terminals.

With the acquisition of MHE-Demag in January 2020, the Industrial Equipment portfolio is now expanded, especially in Southeast Asia. On top of cranes and hoist, we engineer, manufacture and maintain a comprehensive range of warehousing equipment such as lift trucks and dock levellers, aerial work platforms, building maintenance units for safe working at heights, compact construction, as well as automated car parking systems. 

Now, officially, you’ve only been with Konecranes since November 2020. Before that you were working as the Regional Marketing Manager for SEA, Australia and Taiwan at MHE-Demag, which I understand is a member of the Konecranes Group? What was the experience like, shifting within the same company group?

Cultural difference was the first thing I experienced when Konecranes acquired MHE-Demag in January 2020. Headquartered in Singapore, MHE-Demag operated almost like a family enterprise which is completely different if compared to Konecranes, a public listed global company with headquarter in Hyvinkää, Finland. However, we are lucky to have a group of Integration Management Team consisting of colleagues from both the legacies who lead the integration processes and change management in a professional way. My boss always talks about stages of change. I must say the whole structure and the leadership help us to move on from the denial stage fast and effectively. 

Before taking up the new role of APAC marketing, I was heavily involved in the integration projects, so the transition was quite smooth. The biggest difference is I now have a bigger product portfolio and more responsibilities. The fundamental of marketing remains unchanged. 

Is there something you enjoy most about your work in the sector or at Konecranes in particular?

Interestingly the integration that gave me culture shock also became the reason I enjoy working in Konecranes. It enables me to meet new colleagues from various backgrounds and functions. I like meeting new friends and hearing their work and life stories, which certainly open my mind and enable me to see things from new perspectives. 

As a successful global business, there are many things I learned in Konecranes including new technology, new tools, new processes, way of doing business, resources management, etc. What better way to understand a business than to be part of it? New knowledge is also acquired by learning and working with new colleagues who have different skill sets and experiences, which are valuable to the business.

It’s clear that the sector you work in has been impacted by the pandemic, how have you and Konecranes worked to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19?

It is not easy. Everyone in the company plays a role and puts in tremendous effort in the area of their responsibilities to ensure “business as usual”, and “usual” means adapting to the new norm. One of the examples is the lockdown in many countries that prevented our sales team from meeting their customers. Activities such as seminars, roadshows, exhibitions, test drives, demonstrations, launches, training, etc. can no longer be conducted in ways they used to be done. Thanks to management with the foresight to invest in digitization and digital marketing, our processes, platforms and tools were put to good use during the pandemic.

What impressed me the most is how fast the employees accepted and coped with the change. Webinars, Facebook live, campaigns that incorporate social distancing, etc, our employees did their best to reduce the business impact by ensuring our products and services to customers are not affected. In some countries, our e-commerce business improves significantly during the pandemic. 

One thing the pandemic did was transform the way many industries and individuals think about their online presence. How do you see marketing evolving as a result of these difficult times? What do you think will be the biggest impacts faced by B2B and B2C companies in the region?

Customer acquisition, customer retention and value creation remain the basics of marketing. Speed to market gives a business a competitive edge over their competition. On top of technology, material planning, after-sales service and a few more key areas, businesses cannot run away from digitisation and digital marketing. Sadly, many still do not see the importance or are confused between the two. I have met people who told me they do digital marketing for their businesses, and what they meant is by registering a Facebook account and LinkedIn account for their companies. 

Digitalisation and digital marketing are new to many of us, including myself. Companies should start investing in these two if they have not done so, and most importantly, get the right people to lead and to execute the much-needed change. 

How about when the pandemic is finally behind us and we can safely go into the ‘new normal’, do you have any big plans?

Travelling and scuba diving! 

I don’t think we will ever go back to the old days but yes, we can always adapt to the “new normal”. The pandemic has changed the lives of many and “online” is another new norm that we are now used to, and is proven effective and efficient in many areas. The business will continue to grow with the right people, strategy, products, processes, etc. However, when we are back to the new norm, what I want to do the most is to connect with people, face to face. As much as we try, technology can never replace human touch. As a marketer, I want to create opportunities for people to get connected, in a fun and safe way.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers, particularly those with an interest in engineering or construction? 

Marketing in the engineering or construction industry may not be as glamorous as beauty, F&B, or entertainment industries, but it is people from this industry who built the houses we live in, the roads in our neighborhood, the train we took, etc. I personally find marketing in the engineering industry meaningful, not only because it lifts businesses like the Konecranes mission wants, it improves the lives of many.

If you are keen to do marketing for engineering, never let the “industry norm” or the old-timers like me stop your creativity. Work in a company and with a boss who allows your imagination to run wild and turn your creativity into reality. 

Thanks for taking part in this Series, Mei, and for sharing your experiences with us! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

People now search the web for products and services, make online purchases, and transact with e-retailers. Since customers have gone digital, companies should create digital customer experiences too. 

The new market reality encourages businesses to step-up their marketing initiatives and take advantage of the digital media (i.e., website, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). Otherwise, they would lose their customers and revenues to more digitally savvy competitors.

What Is Digital Customer Experience

As the name suggests, digital customer experience (DCX) refers to the customer touchpoints while interacting with a brand online. It involves a series of actions, including information search, evaluation of alternatives, product inquiry, and most importantly—purchase.

The approach to DCX is different from traditional CX. In brick-and-mortar shops, the store’s ambience, customer service quality, security concerns, product display, and many other factors can influence customer satisfaction.

In the virtual space, there are several factors affect customers’ experience and buying decisions. These include website aesthetics and speed, mobile responsiveness, ease of navigation, language, information quality, and so on.

Digitized customer experience matters now more than ever before, especially considering the increase of in-home media consumption due to the coronavirus outbreak. People spend longer on social media and computers, listen to more streaming services, and watch or upload content on YouTube.

For these reasons, businesses should build a digital customer experience strategy to foster a satisfied online customer base.

Why Is It Important to Digitize Customers’ Experiences?

1. More Customers Are Going Digital

Customers adapt to and grow with technological advancements and market trends. They learn and embrace such things, not because of the fear of missing out (FOMO) but because they want to satisfy their needs.

Take Internet commerce as an example. Most people now find online shopping more convenient than in-store shopping. The steady rise of mobile apps and eCommerce websites has also made it easier for customers to shop for anything they want without leaving their homes.

According to UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study, consumers in the U.S., Europe, Mexico and Brazil have the highest satisfaction with their overall shopping experience. Online shoppers use a single channel like desktop or laptop, tablet and smartphone, or a combination of each.

The study also reported that smartphone users in Asia have the highest percentage of online purchases on their smartphones (37%) and using their smartphones for research (84%), compared to shoppers in other regions.

These research findings suggest that consumers prefer time-saving, no sales pressure, convenient, not to mention discreet shopping method. Shoppers are also getting smarter with their purchasing decisions, so if businesses fail to meet their expectations, chances are the business will not be able to regain the customer’s trust or loyalty.

If building an eCommerce website is not possible, many other digital platforms can come to the rescue. Facebook, for example, offers a great way to promote a brand and interact with customers. Users can also launch ad campaigns in this social media app to propel their marketing efforts and drive sales.

2. Digital Channels Uncover Customer Insights

In today’s digital era, customers will experience less brick and more click. The absence of human touch, however, is not a bad thing—it is the other way around.

While digital marketing channels lack face-to-face human contact and interaction, they allow companies to interpret sets of customer data easier than other traditional media.

Web performance, for example, can be measured by using analytics tools like Google Analytics (GA). Through this web analytics tool, marketers can examine website activities and understand customers’ behaviours.

Here are a few digital metrics for websites that businesses should take advantage of to create a positive digital customer experience:

  • Traffic: the total number of site or page visits in a given time.
  • Page View: the total number of pages viewed; it includes repeated views of a single page.
  • Unique Page Views: the number of visitors who have viewed a specific page at least once during a visit.
  • Average time on Page: the average amount of time users spend viewing a specific page or screen or set of pages or screens.
  • Bounce Rate: the percentage of single-page visits or the number of visits in which people left your website from the same page they visited

Google Analytics provides insights on the above metrics. The tool can tell what path site visitors or users take, how long they stay on a specific web page, what actions they take during the visit, and more.

3. Tailor Products or Services to Individual Users

Digital transformation is not solely about technology. It is about one’s ability to harness technology’s power in creating individualized customer experiences.

When businesses decide to integrate digital technology into their business operations, it becomes easier to address each phase of the customer journey. The advances in data collection and analysis allow marketers to implement personalized approaches tailored to customer’s specific needs.

Personalization is crucial in delivering a meaningful overall digital customer experience. It is the finishing touch to secure sales and generate brand loyalty. In fact, many studies have proven the link between personalization and customer satisfaction—and Gladly’s Customer Expectations Report is one of them.

Below are the other customer insights from the report:

  • 61% of the respondents feel that brands treat them as case numbers—not as people.
  • 75% of customers are more likely to purchase if given personalized recommendations.
  • Social media customer service chat messaging has increased by over 6% since 2017, and email has decreased by 18%.

These figures indicate that customer service and content personalization are marketing game-changers. Brands should tailor engagement across digital channels to earn and build customer loyalty.

Bonus: Tips for Digitizing Customer Experience

1. Combine Digital and Human Elements

Virtual customer assistants (VCAs) like chatbots are becoming increasingly popular in the digital landscape. These messenger bots can automate customers’ inquiries and enable personalized interactions.

H&M is an excellent example of a company that combined digital and human elements successfully. The multinational clothing-retail company used a chatbot to provide users with a mix of user-focused technology and highly-personalized human connection.

H&M, chatbot, men's clothing, messenger, chat

2. Provide Personalized Content

Thanks to digital analytics, it is easy to create a content plan that addresses customers’ interests and buying habits. By looking at the available data, businesses can share content pieces—be they landing pages, social media posts, blogs, newsletters, and infographics—that speak to them.

3. Optimize Mobile User Experience

Mobile usage statistics vary per study, but one thing is clear—the global mobile population is ever-changing and increasing. People around the world own smartphones and use them for a variety of things, including shopping.

Businesses should make use of this insight and focus on improving customer experiences on mobile. Some of the ways that can help them optimize mobile user experience include:

  • Keep layouts simple
  • Use easy-to-read text
  • Aim for a responsive web design
  • Use faster-loading image formats
  • Improve the search feature in the app

Final Thoughts

As the world becomes increasingly digital, the need for pairing digital tech with a solid marketing strategy also increases. Brands should treat customers’ online journey as a critical aspect and find ways to deliver optimum digital customer experience.

If you are thinking about developing a digital transformation strategy, 2Stallions can help lay the foundation so you can make the most out of digitization. We offer the right mix of digital marketing services, including search engine optimization, social media marketing, content marketing, and more.

Get in touch with us today to find out how you can further and improve all your digital marketing efforts. 

Digital marketing and thought leadership go hand in hand. With the recent rise in key opinion leader (KOL) marketing, personal branding has become even more important to successfully dominating the thought leadership arena. This issue of the Marketing Expert Series introduces us to one of the most prolific advocates of digital marketing and personal branding in Malaysia. Nowrid Amin discovered a passion for digital marketing and turned it into a successful career, choosing to share his knowledge and expertise with those around him. Currently the Head of Digital Marketing for Juwai IQI, Nowrid is also extremely active in the marketing community, speaking at numerous conferences and running several workshops every year. 

Join us as Nowrid takes us through his passion for digital marketing and vast knowledge of personal branding. Learn why he believes it’s so important to help pass on knowledge, and how he has managed to lead his team to great successes, despite the Covid-19 crises of 2020.

Welcome, Nowrid! Happy to have you with us for this next issue of Marketing Expert Series! Let’s get the ball rolling with an easy question. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

Hello, thanks for inviting me! Pleasure to be here. 

I am a passionate Digital Marketer who loves everything about digital marketing. Currently, I am working in Juwai IQI as the Head of Digital Marketing. I love and enjoy public speaking, and have attended more than 50 conferences as a speaker, including Tedx Talk. Besides that, I am a freelance digital marketing trainer and have trained more than 10,000 people so far.

Were you always interested in digital marketing, or did it grow on you?

My love for digital marketing started after I read a book called ‘Purple Cow’ by Seth Godin in 2011. He is my marketing guru. I then explored more on it, and read more books about marketing. However, implementing what I learned into real life was challenging because of the language barrier. Most of the books I read are from US or European business perspectives, and I was working in Bangladesh during that period of time. 

In 2014, I found out about digital marketing and realized that it is something AMAZING. Implementing and measuring the performance of digital marketing is universal. The targeting, marketing spend and operation were all very exciting to me. As a result of my newfound passion, I left my well-settled job and joined a startup in 2015 to learn more and further execute it in real life. From there, my journey has never stopped.

Currently,  you’re the Head of Digital Marketing for Juwai-IQI. Can you tell us more about IQI and the work that you do there? 

Sure! Currently, I am working as the Head of Digital Marketing in Juwai IQI, leading the digital marketing team in Malaysia, Canada and China which consists of a team of 22 people. My core job is to manage my team, and to set the strategy and direction to ensure a strong digital presence. Optimizing existing resources and usage of marketing budgets is something I need to take care of as well.

Juwai IQI spends 80% of its budget on digital marketing. When we are talking about digital marketing, it covers operations for: Facebook marketing, Instagram ads, Linkedin marketing, SEO, blog writing, and video production. All this and more, we implement it ourselves using our internal resources.

And on that note, I would like to add that the marketing team has made a significant impact to grow the business in 2020 for Juwai IQI. We brought in more than 320% increase in website traffic and business leads from our paid ads, and optimized our ad cost up to 50%. I believe that we are among the few companies who not only hit the target in 2020 successfully, but also excelled in performance despite the Covid-19 crisis.

Back in 2019, I first ran into you at an Inbound Marketing Masterclass hosted by Hubspot and Launchpad in Kuala Lumpur, where you gave an in-depth talk about using LinkedIn. You’re very active in the digital marketing community, online and offline – can you tell us more about these activities? What drives you to do them?

I told you, anything about digital marketing or content creation just gets me excited!

Why am I massively active in the digital marketing community? This is because of the two challenges I faced when I first came to Malaysia from Bangladesh. I was keen to learn about digital marketing. Firstly, not everyone is the expert or practitioner they claim to be to the public. Secondly, people who are actually the real deal may not be willing to spend time or give any information for free. Malaysia is a country where people are keen to learn about new skills and want to listen to you, if you can offer them added-value. 

I saw this window of opportunity and seized it. I know that I have the expertise and if I want people to listen to me, I have to offer good value for FREE. I did just that, and I got an overwhelming response! Following that perspective, I decided to assist people in digital marketing with free content. To do that, nothing can be better than LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn not only helps you to connect with industry leaders, but also allows you to consume content from industry practitioners. Most importantly, you can share your voice there and make an impact in society. You can probably tell that Linkedin is something very close to my heart, that’s because LinkedIn made me what I am today. 

You’re certainly a strong advocate for teaching digital marketing. What is it like, working with – most often – younger people looking to break into the marketing and communications world nowadays?

I have been working in Malaysia for the last 5 years and let me tell you something, the young generation here is immensely talented. They don’t stop! They are hungry to learn new things and keep improving themselves. They are finishing their Bachelors or even a Masters degrees, and they are still going for professional training and online courses! Impressive. 

Most of my team is aged between 22 to 26. Honestly speaking, when I was 26 I had no clue what to do with my life and career. These very people are the ones playing vital roles, taking care of different projects, and making it happen. Most importantly, they are not afraid to grow!

If you ask me to highlight one of their most promising key aspects, it’s speed. They are blazing fast and know how to take up responsibilities.

I’ve heard you speak on the importance of personal branding and what it can do for anyone, even a non-marketer, why the focus on personal branding?

If you would like to grow yourself or your business, personal branding is key. In 2020, people didn’t want to believe what companies were saying. People are interested in people; what they do, where they travel, where they eat, etc. If people are paying attention to you or are interested in knowing about you, they will eventually find out about your work and business. If you can influence your followers, it can make a great impact on your business. This is the reason social media stories, influencer or key opinion leader (KOL) marketing are getting more popular.

We all know digital marketing now is no longer a choice, it is a must. The same thing is happening with personal branding and KOL marketing as well.

Some people ask me: how can I become a KOL? My answer is that personal branding is your first step. The steps for creating a personal brand? It’s simple. Discover your passion, find your niche, create content out of your passion, find the platform to share your content, be consistent, and connect with people. Boom. You just kick started your journey to become a KOL.

Now, COVID-19 – the topic on everyone’s mind this last year. WIth lockdowns and movement control orders in Malaysia driving everyone a little crazy, has it had any impact on your work at all – either as a digital marketing influencer or at IQI?

I think Covid-19 has brought change to the way we used to think and how we live our lives. For most, Covid-19 sounds negative, but I try to see it in a positive light. Come to think of it, Covid-19 actually exposed us. Exposed us to the fact that we know what we need to do, but we are still not doing it. However, if you are someone who can adapt to change, be agile, complain less and focus on working, you can surely survive in this tough time.

With regards to my job and workplace, Covid-19 has definitely made an impact on everyone, as we have never experienced anything like this before. However, we adapted to it very quickly and as a team, we have sold more units in 2020 than in 2019. My team has even achieved exciting improvements in times like this, with them being a part of a conference as a speaker or a trainer in a workshop.

We can go anywhere with digital and technology, and we never tried to use its best elements before Covid-19 hit us. 

And when, finally, this pandemic is behind us – what’s next for you?

This pandemic made us all feel one thing for sure, and that is that you have one life, literally one. There may not even be a tomorrow, we shouldn’t waste it by over thinking, dwelling, or complaining.

I am so excited about 2021 for so many reasons. I am officially launching #IamSocial, my very own platform. It will be for youths! They can enjoy free training, write blogs, share their ideas and also be a part of different global events. I am also excited as I am now promoted as the Head of Digital Marketing in Juwai IQI. From now on, I will take care of the digital marketing operations for a few other countries alongside Malaysia, Canada and China.

Aside from this, I am also excited to see how business will evolve, and to make our youths ready to be active in business and grow during and after this tough time. 

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers specialists? 

Don’t chase or do something just to please others, or to get social media engagement. Put in real work. As a trainer, I found out recently that people go crazy to get certificates from sessions, or focus too much on CGPA while not actually interested to learn in class. So focus on what you need to grow, personally and professionally. No one cares about certificates or CGPA if you cannot explain your learning in an interview, or it cannot reflect in your work.

Learn from the right source, improve your knowledge and implement your learning in your work. Look at how you can make an impact with your learning. Your work can make a difference, not the amount of certificates.

Thanks for spending some time with us, Nowrid! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Thank you as well. Anyone can connect with me on Linkedin or Instagram. On Linkedin, you will find me as Nowrid Amin and on Instagram you will find me as nowrid. 

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Welcome back to the Marketing Expert Series! In this issue we venture into the fields and minds of some of the most important people on Earth: our agricultural experts. Most of us do not give much thought to how the agricultural industry works, and how they have adapted to the changes in technologies and consumer trends. Who among us has stopped to think about how the agricultural industry has adopted new technology to improve the quality, quantity, and sustainability of the food that ends up on our tables.

Meet Avinash Deshmukh, Vice President for Marketing for BASF Asia Pacific, a man not only passionate about the agricultural industry but also about humanity. Well-traveled, vastly experienced, Avinash has worked in agriculture for most of his life, and takes us on a fascinating journey of digital transformation and adaptation in an industry that we really should all be paying more attention to. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed below are personal and should NOT be interpreted as BASF views, although several references have been made to BASF.

Welcome, Avinash, it’s great to have you on our Marketing Expert Series. To get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in your current role? 

While growing up in Mumbai, India, I visited my uncle’s farm every year during the summer vacation. This led me to study agriculture and has become both a passion and my life over the years. 

I am grateful for the  opportunities in my life, which has taken me around the world – circa 10 years in the UK while also working across Europe, around another 10 years in the USA, followed by 6 years in Germany, and now 4 years in Singapore looking after Asia-Pacific marketing. 

In agricultural business, I meet many farmers and associated colleagues. I’ve visited places that you tend not to find in the ‘Top 100 Must-Visit Tourist Places’ and I enjoy every bit of it. I have met farmers who farm more than 10,000ha and farmers who farm less than 1.  I find amazing similarities in all their passion for food production and their feet-on-the-ground approach. 

On a personal side, my wife’s support has been the most critical success factor in living around the world, travelling +50% of the time and bringing up our son in so many different places. Currently, my son is pursuing his PhD in Astrophysics in Germany and I am hoping that he will contribute to agriculture in the Space 😊.

Was there something that first drew you to marketing? Was it something you always wanted to do?

I started my career with a passion for agriculture and a strong desire to work internationally. Flexibility, attitude, and respect for humanity have been my key companions in this journey. I’ve been a salesperson, logistic coordinator, regulatory affairs manager, product manager, commercial (export) manager, strategic manager, a leader, helping M&A etc. I never looked at any of these roles as being less important than others. I don’t even have a formal MBA in marketing, and my MBA was achieved over 30+ years interacting with farmers, professionals, colleagues in real life across various roles & with differing responsibilities.

At the moment you work with BASF Asia Pacific, what kind of work does BASF do? 

We create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. 

Our portfolio is organized into six segments: chemicals, materials, industrial solutions, surface technologies, nutrition & care, and agricultural solutions. I work for the Agricultural Solutions segment where we firmly believe that farming is the biggest job on Earth – and it’s getting bigger and more complex. The challenge is to give our growing population access to enough healthy, affordable food, while reducing its impact on the environment for future generations. At BASF, we not only take up this challenge but also aspire to  lead the way forward for agriculture by finding the right balance for success – for farmers, for agriculture, and for future generations. 

To sum up in 6 words: “The Right Balance For Better Yield”.

Is there something in particular you enjoy most about your role at BASF?

Several things actually, but to name just a few: 

First and foremost, the people-oriented culture & creative working atmosphere.

Secondly, the diversity of businesses, people and cultures throughout the organization.

And lastly, for me personally, the unmatched opportunity to interact, learn from and contribute to the farmers, professionals, and colleagues who ensure there is enough food on our table.

When I first approached you about joining this Series, you mentioned that agriculture is the latest frontier being disrupted by digitization. What’s it like working in the agriculture industry as a marketer? 

We could talk about this for hours. Digitization is changing the world at a much faster pace, especially with the COVID-19 situation. Although we use digitization as a generic term, I want to focus on three areas: automation, outreach, and convenience. 

Agriculture has always been people’s business and will stay that way, but the way we do business is changing. 

Examples of automation in the industry include GPS-guided farm machinery allowing precision sowing/seeding,  harvesting, etc.. Machine learning and algorithms are also helping provide prognoses and solutions for future problems, while computing allows us to access and record farm data.

In terms of outreach: traditionally, a new product training or piece of information was disseminated through face-to-face meetings. This method is time-consuming and less efficient. Today we can reach an audience of 50,000+ in one go through online platforms. 

With regards to convenience, many farmers can now buy and sell their produce at a click of a button. They can spray their crops using drones – making the operation both faster and safer for the operator. BASF has recently announced a joint venture with Bosch in the field of smart seeders and smart sprayer technologies. Additionally, through BASF’s Xarvio digital platform, we are already helping thousands of farmers identify crop-specific problems and solutions – all through a simple app on the smartphone.

Agriculture is undergoing tremendous changes this decade as many genius minds and organizations are focusing on this sector. Personally, I believe that all these changes will contribute to sustainable agriculture that we will all be proud of.

Has being involved with agriculture impacted your marketing style in any way?

Absolutely. I deal with farmers, channel partners, and professionals who live either on the farm, usually in rural places and small villages. There are many special  traits of the farming community. For example, this is the only community that consistently sees sunrise every day. In my travels many of my meetings have started at 6am. Also, farmers buy everything retail but sell their produce wholesale. And lastly, farming is still the most unpredictable, largest scale operation in the world that is totally at the mercy of mother nature – you can not control rain, shine, wind, hail, cold, hot…… I can go on 😊.

Having worked with this community over the years makes me appreciate their challenges, contribution, and needs. BASF is a trusted brand all over the world for that very reason, because every employee is in it to find that right balance.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, has there been any strain on the industry? Have you had to adapt your marketing strategy to any changes?

Fortunately, agriculture is one of the least affected industries because food production is the basic need. That said, the industry has suffered from supply delays or additional freight costs, shortages, volatility in currency rates, trade barriers, low commodity prices etc. Closure of restaurants, public places, and state boundaries has affected demand for fruits, vegetables and perishables. I am confident, however, that the resilient farming community is overcoming these pressures.

For us, not being able to meet our customers face-to-face has been the most important challenge. We are adapting our interactions to online platforms, virtual trial tours, permissible small face-to-face meetings, and various other means. Digital Marketing has become extremely important, especially content creation. So we are adapting our digital marketing outreach. For example, BASF Agricultural Products has one of the largest Facebook follower communities in Asian agricultural markets.

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

Well, first and foremost, I would like to see my family and friends face to face. Then I will take as much time as required to connect with the farming community “in person” and fill my lungs with farm air – honestly, I miss it. The majority of the food is and will be produced on the farm for the foreseeable future and I cannot wait to get out there to find that right balance for success – for farmers, for agriculture, and for future generations.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers? 

I would not call it advice, but rather a sharing of what has worked for me. 

Flexibility, attitude, and respect for humanity have been my key companions in this journey. In any business, it is important to identify and resolve the pain points of the customer, and/or to create a new “wow” experience. It is vitally important that the marketed product meets the value propositions assured by an organization. Always remember that customers will ultimately figure out the authenticity of your product/service promise.

There will be rapid changes all around us but as long as you have a big heart, open mind and a strong character,  you will always come out better.

Thank you, Avinash, for sharing these insights and experiences. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more?

You can always reach me at +65 8139 6153 either by phone or WhatsApp, or they can always email me at

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Despite being the tragedy of 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has driven a new wave of digital transformation and innovation approaches. Businesses learned to navigate the challenges of the coronavirus while addressing the needs of their employees, customers, and clients.

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting company, found that COVID-19 has forced many companies to accelerate their digital initiatives.

The research also reported that digital adoption rates during COVID-19 have increased compared to the previous surveys conducted in pre-crisis time.

These findings suggest that the coronavirus pandemic awakened businesses to the importance of digital technology. Most organizations have sped up their digital efforts to keep pace with changing consumer behaviour.

Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses

When COVID-19 broke out, businesses all over the world were impacted by a range of challenges: keeping employees and customers safe, maintaining operations, navigating government support schemes, and managing revenue.

Smaller companies, particularly start-ups, faced more devastating effects, including mass employee layoffs. In fact, small businesses had to lay off people in just a few weeks after the onset.

According to Startup Genome’s Global Startup Survey, a majority of startups saw a decline in revenue since the beginning of the crisis. The key findings from the survey include:

  • 41% of startups globally are threatened in the “red zone”—they have three months or less of cash runway left.
  • 16% of startups saw their revenue drop by more than 80%
  • 74% of startups have had to terminate full-time employees a few weeks after the onset
  • 39% of all startups had to lay off 20% or more of their staff, and 26% had to let go 60% of employees or more
  • North America is the place with the biggest share of companies reducing headcount (84%), followed by Europe (67%) and Asia (59%).

Also, micro, small, and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) struggle to survive the effects of COVID-19 as the crisis lengthens.

In the ILO SCORE Global Covid-19 Enterprise Survey, survey results show that 70% of MSMEs have had to shut down operations. Nearly 9 out of 10 businesses are experiencing a shortage in their cashflow, affecting business continuity.

Another study  also found that the sectors with the most business closures globally were the following:

  • Travel or tourism agencies (54%)
  • Hospitality and event services (47%)
  • Education and child care services (45%
  • Performing arts and entertainment (36%)
  • Hotels, cafes, and restaurants (32%)

While many start-ups are moving closer to closure and bankruptcy, the pandemic has opened doors to many entrepreneurial businesses.

Entrepreneurs have pivoted to offer goods and services borne out of the crisis, such as face masks, commercial cleaning services, delivery and errand services, and so on.

Moreover, some businesses have managed to stay operational in the midst of COVID-19—and accelerating digital transformation has helped them a lot.

3 Ways Businesses Adopted Digital Technology During COVID-19

1. Reshape Remote Working

A vast majority of businesses across the globe have made an abrupt shift to remote work. Many have normalized the “work from home” model to protect employees, serve customers, and most importantly, establish business continuity.

Remote work and virtual teams also put a spotlight on the importance of technology.

For example, Zoom, a video conferencing application, emerged as one of the most useful tools during COVID-19. Organizations use it to collaborate with their team members, in real-time.

Other online productivity tools and employee-facing technologies have also helped employees to more easily operate at similar levels of productivity, despite working outside the office.

According to a Synergy Research Group study, cloud providers see aggressive growth amidst the coronavirus crisis. It only means that more businesses have moved to the cloud to support a remote workforce.

With COVID-19 making remote work the new normal, companies—small or large —should see cloud-based technologies as a digital transformation priority.

2. Adopt Technology-Driven Systems

The success of remote work setup during the pandemic depends on several factors, including digital technologies.

Small to medium-sized businesses, and most especially, larger corporations must invest in digital tech to manage remote employees and facilitate fast communication and collaboration.

However, the virtual work environment is susceptible to data protection and data privacy risks, requiring businesses to adopt a technology-driven system to allay the fears of security risks.

The latest Exabeam report finds that there has been a significant increase in enterprise adoption of cloud-based security solutions to support a remote workforce.

The data found that 44% of enterprises use cloud-based security products to protect corporate financial information compared to the earlier study, where only 12% were protecting corporate financial information in this way.

Additionally, about 90% of companies said they rolled out cloud-based security products at the right time for the business. Many deployed such software solutions to safeguard customer information while sending emails and sharing files.

Those who incorporated cloud technology have also seen improvements in monitoring and tracking of cyber attacks (21%) and accessing the software’s latest features (20%). These findings are evidence that digital transformation minimizes resources and overheads, allowing security analysts to complete tasks faster and focus on other projects.

3. Digitize Customer Experience

The virus not only changed the way people work but also the way people use the Internet.

With the lockdowns and limitations of activities, people seek out alternative entertainment and socialization. These include the uptake of the use of streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon,  and YouTube.  People are also connecting with distant friends on social media apps like Facebook.

Time spent online has increased, and so has how much money people spend online.

COVID-19 has driven changes in consumer behavior and put e-commerce at the forefront of retail. Pandemic-weary consumers are looking for new normal must-haves online from alcohol to hand sanitizers, face masks, cleaning supplies, skincare products, groceries, and more.

This new consumer behavior pattern has encouraged many businesses to digitize customer experiences using technological solutions like chatbots.

Short for chatterbot, this Artificial Intelligence (AI) feature helped retailers to bridge the gap in customer communications. The tool lets customers receive quick replies to their queries, eliminating the need for emails and long customer service wait times.

Use of live video streaming also spiked during the pandemic. Amazon, a big player in the e-commerce industry, entered into the live streaming space to add a human touch to internet shopping.

Facebook has got more involved with live streaming since many online merchants strive to provide personal assistance and in-store experience to their followers.

McKinsey & Company acknowledged the importance of elevating customer experience in the time of COVID-19. Engagement is a crucial aspect of digital transformation that businesses should not neglect to remain economically viable.

Final Thoughts

Businesses that embraced the digital transformation, adding cloud technology and digitized customer experiences to their arsenal, can weather any challenge, even a pandemic. They can innovate employee collaboration, protect sensitive data, and digitize the customer experience, among other benefits.

The role of marketing in this transformation is crucial. Companies should pair digital tech with a solid marketing strategy to create, drive, and deliver a customer-centric experience.

At 2Stallions, we provide digital marketing services (i.e. social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, etc.) that will help businesses understand and connect with their customers in today’s digital era. 

Check out our complete list of services at

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” When Anthony J. D’Angelo said these words, he impacted many individuals and industries alike – especially those in the marketing and communications sector.  Creativity, passion, and learning all go hand in hand with a marketer’s ability to deliver relevant and insightful information to our readers. The way in which marketers harness creativity leads directly to some of the massive innovations that they are able to put to use. 

From the cradle to a whirlwind of a life that traverses the world, Marta Grutka has never let go of her passion for learning, a passion that has allowed her to empower the marketing industry for more nearly two decades. With experiences spanning AOL, Hollywood, corporates, and personal businesses,  Marta’s expertise ranges from setting up company communication departments from scratch to stepping into full leadership roles. She has advised corporations, mentored individuals, and now she shares her story with us. Join us now in the second issue of our Marketing Expert Series, and be inspired by Marta’s passion, and her drive to share that enthusiasm with the world.

Hello, Marta, and thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. You’ve done so many amazing things in your life, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

Thank you for the kind words, I feel very blessed to have lived such an adventurous life and often ask myself that exact question: How DID I get to where I am now? It’s been a bit of a windy path that has taken me all around the world, and admittedly not all of it has been “by design,” as I have tended to follow my heart more than a “step-by-step” plan. 

I’ve moved cities, countries and continents in six weeks or less eight times now: three times primarily for love, and the rest primarily for work. I’ve been a “career learner” more than a “career ladder climber,” so many of my decisions have been based on the opportunity I saw to stretch and enjoy myself while making a meaningful contribution. I’ve also started three companies/side businesses since 2002, again, based on the opportunity I saw in the market and my confidence that I could deliver something better. 

At the moment, I am working to make some quantum leaps and am committed to being more intentional with the career and life choices I make next. Hopefully the rest of the interview will give you a bit more insight into the types of experiences I’ve had, and that they will inspire! 

What was it that first drew you to this work? Was it something you were always going to do?

My father used to talk about me “reading my linen book” when I was in my crib as a baby – he swore I could understand what I was looking at. Whether he was right or not, storytelling was a big part of my foundation. I grew up doing musical theatre and playing violin, and was drawn to foreign languages, studying French and German in both high school and college. When I was young I journaled a lot, did public speaking and improv and was the Editor-in-Chief of my high school yearbook. So I guess it was a theme throughout my life, though I never thought of working in communications or marketing per se. As it turned out, it’s been the perfect path to bring my love of learning, languages and travel together with some of my natural gifts.  

When we look at your website and your CV there’s a list of some serious achievements, for example, you describe yourself as ‘one of the original digital storytellers at AOL’, what was that like?

It was one of the most incredible work experiences I have ever had, actually, and is a good example of the types of career journeys that the best companies can take people on to retain them. It was the late 90’s and America Online (AOL) was leading the way in terms of bringing the Internet to the U.S. My second day on the job, we celebrated reaching five million members nationwide – a very exciting moment! 

Back then we were mailing floppy disks to people’s homes so they could load AOL software onto their computers. Email, instant messaging, and participating in online communities were brand new concepts to most people, and a big part of the jobs I had over six years at AOL was to educate the general public about the possibilities getting online could bring to their lives. 

I started in the AOL Greenhouse, which operated like a VC firm for entrepreneurs who had great ideas for online businesses that they wanted to bring to market. If we liked the concept and felt it had legs, we invested some seed funding and gave them a full launch team providing tech development, content/creative services, and PR and marketing support. I was an account executive driving the teams to pull everything together, and also did quite a bit of execution on every front – it was a great way to learn what it takes to create a successful digital brand from start to finish!

Six months later, I moved to the International Channel, one of the content areas on AOL targeting a US-based audience interested in global affairs – a dream come true for me at the time because I’d just finished my Masters in International Relations in Belgium and loved the idea of being able to bring people from all around the world together in an instant! 

In this role, I was the head of content strategy and programming and led a team of 300 remote staff/volunteers who received free AOL accounts and other perks in exchange for creating or curating and cross-linking to the “best of the Web” and helping me to come up with fresh topics and fun ways to engage people. We developed very niche communities – like Tagalog chat rooms or Royal Family fan clubs – with regularly scheduled activities and special events – it was very dynamic and incredibly creative work. 

In that position, I was also responsible for business development and built an advertising model that today people are calling “programmatic.” Back then, it was just common sense: sell a banner ad to the BBC or Financial Times on our global news page, for example – but the intention was a bit different than it is today. Today, it’s about “getting eyeballs.” But then, the intention was about making it easy for people to find the very best quality content available anywhere. 

It was well before Google, so the AOL pages were a gateway to the content that was out there, and we had strict editorial standards about what we promoted and exposed people to. Before leaving this role and moving to the new product marketing team, I helped to support the launch of AOL into the UK, Australia, and, finally, Hong Kong during the handover from British rule – it’s incredible to see the state of things in Hong Kong today as I remember this! 

My last role as comms director in the new product marketing group involved even more complex education and engagement, as we were talking about things that were very futuristic at the time. I traveled the world attending trade shows promoting our “AOL Anywhere” strategy and vision of a world where “You can watch a movie on your phone.” You could literally see people’s eyes glaze over – they simply couldn’t comprehend what we were talking about – so we did a lot of work with early adopters and REAL influencers and media who were not paid, but received early demos and tester samples of the AOL service on some of the first mobile phones, internet appliances, and interactive televisions, and in exchange they could help write or talk about the experience. 

By this time, the inherent issues associated with the Internet started to emerge, too, and so my job became as much about customer service and crisis comms as it was about generating positive consumer press. Before I left, AOL was big enough to buy Time Warner – it was the largest corporate merger in history and a case study of what happens when such an integration is done too quickly and the culture clash is mismanaged. 

The work I did at AOL set me up for my next role in Hollywood, and that role brought me to Asia.  

You’ve also worked with a lot of other brands during your career, like Disney, Alibaba, Danone, and the NBN project in Australia. What do you find most rewarding about working for brands or projects like these?

The people. 

The other day a friend and former colleague and I were lamenting the fact that it’s been very hard to find a place with as many creative, fun, smart and generally talented people as the group we worked with at AOL. You can find a few here and there but it’s not the norm as much anymore to see entire companies with exceptional talent from the top to bottom and across the organization. 

I like to have fun while getting things done and to learn from the people I am working with. In that way, I’ve been lucky to work with some great individuals at every brand, and almost every one of them has been on the leading edge of their respective industry or issue. The most progressive people and companies have always been purpose-led, too, which is what makes the work truly rewarding. 

At the moment you’re not in a full-time position, instead you’re consulting and helping other companies all over the world from the comfort of your Singapore home. Is remote work something you’ve done regularly for brands or is it a result of the circumstances we find ourselves in this year?

I have been working remotely and managing remote teams since 1996 – it’s been interesting to realize that so many companies and people were still not as familiar or comfortable with that this year, and that many places weren’t even offering flexible work options! 

Over the years, though, I’ve done too much of it!! I am much more in my power when I can put on a nice outfit, go to a proper office, be organized in my own space, see other people and co-create solutions in person than I am when working from home, in cafes, or even coworking spaces all the time. So, ironically, my primary focus this year was to land a full-time, in-house leadership position, and the opportunities that came to me were in other countries, which made COVID a hindering factor in terms of making a move. I am fortunate that because I’ve done so much working from home and consulting I was able to negotiate remote working arrangements with those companies – it’s also a sign of how progressive and open they were in their thinking. 

I don’t feel it’s desirable or sustainable for us to imagine that we’ll never go back to the office again. I think it’s dangerous also, to imagine that everyone will be “doing their own thing.” It takes HUGE amounts of energy to do your own thing in a way that is sustainable and not everyone is cut out for it. I don’t see companies micro-hiring indefinitely, either. 

Where do you see your work going due to the impact of COVID-19 in 2020, any big changes you’re gearing up for?

Like many, I’ve been asking lots of questions about how I can make the most impact now. And I am realizing that my diverse, global, remote, digital, marcomms, consulting, entrepreneurial, professional background, as well as some of the personal challenges and deep heartaches I have overcome and hard lessons I have learned along the way as a result of this unconventional, “leading edge lifestyle” make me uniquely qualified to help a lot of people and companies right now. 

In other words, I am starting to see how my whole life has prepared me for a time like this. I can help create conscious solutions and would love a true leadership/C-suite role where I can have a meaningful impact. 

In the meantime, I am ramping up my executive mentoring work and offering some COVID specials to help people prepare for 2021. I also have just started a three-month program that will teach me how to lay the foundation for a thought leadership practice, and am excited about that. 

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

A massive trip to visit my friends in various countries – I am sure I am not alone in that – and especially London, which has been calling to me for years! 🙂 

I shared in another interview earlier this year that I have not given up on finding a loving life partner, and during COVID I received some dedicated coaching in this area that I believe has made me ready for that relationship to drop in soon. I also enjoyed virtual voice lessons twice a month since May, and would love to get back to doing some singing with other people when this is over. 

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers or communication specialists? 

  1. The words we speak and the pictures we see create our reality. In this regard, you have a very real and incredibly important responsibility to be mindful in the work you do – always look for the most meaningful story you can tell and then do so in the most positive way you can. 
  2. Treat your job like an artform, but always think like a savvy executive, ensuring it adds real value to your audience and the business. 
  3. Comms and marketing roles give you insight into entire organizations and industries, and access to some of the most influential people in the world, if you can learn to work across the marcomms mix, you will have even more choice – the world will be your oyster, playground, and your stage.
  4. For Heaven’s sake, PLEASE learn how to write!!!!
  5. Don’t buy the hype! Get a great mentor, be open minded and focus always on doing what is right for real people – make that your “bottom line.”   

Thank you, Marta, for sharing your experiences with us. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Thank you again for your interest! People can email me at or book a complimentary, quick-start conversation via my website:

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

On Sunday, 11th October, 2020, our Regional Managing Director, Daniël Heerkens, spoke with Glenn van Zutphen on MONEY FM 89.3 Weekend Mornings about the types digital disruption trends currently impacting the consumer landscape in Asia and how to stay on top of them. 

The interview covered a broad range of questions, focusing on Daniël’s expertise and his 10+ years of experience as a digital marketer. During the course of the conversation, he provided insight into digital marketing trends like the ongoing digital transformation, omnichannel marketing, and digital marketing strategies for MNCs and SMEs alike, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. South-East Asia is making great strides with its digital transformation, taking advantage of the upwards trends in the realm of digital advancements. 

If you missed it, you can listen to the audio here.

Would you like to know more about what Daniël does? Feel free to connect with him! The digital disruption trends have been propelled forward by the arrival of COVID-19, and with it we are now facing opportunities and obstacles in our personal and professional worlds. The digital marketing trends have changed to reflect this shifting landscape. At 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency, we stay ahead of those changes and strive to help our clients do the same. If you’re keen to know how we can use our experience and expertise to help your business thrive, please get in touch and let’s start your digital transformation.

At present, the Asia-Pacific region is leading in global B2C e-commerce, with the total retail sales surpassing Western Europe and North America markets.

In fact, countries in the region are reported to have the highest levels of e-commerce adoption in the world. Currently, there are approximately 260 million users in the SEA region. This makes SEA the 4th largest market in the world and the region’s B2C e-commerce market is estimated to be valued at US$770 billion.

According to GlobalWebIndex, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam are all ahead of the global average while the Philippines matches the global average at 75%. Singapore, however, comes in just below that average, at 73%.

The SEA market is also a fast growing market , expanding at a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 per cent. The growth is further accelerated with the onset of a pandemic which saw 400% sales increase for products such as groceries.

The phenomenal growth in e-commerce is also not just about big, established platforms such as Shopee and Lazada. 2020 also saw other rising players in the region, including Vietnam’s Sendo,  Tokopedia and Bukalapak in Indonesia as well.

With the increasing popularity of e-commerce, it’s no surprise that Southeast Asia has adopted the industry well. If you are transitioning to e-commerce and unsure how to maximise your digital potential, there is no reason to fret. Here are 3 Rising E-Commerce Trends that will inform your marketing decisions and drive your brand forward.

Rising Trends in the APAC/SEA Region

 Trend #1: Mobile-first connectivity

High mobile phone user penetration is one of the major drivers of e-commerce growth in Southeast Asia.

A 2018 GSMA Intelligence’s Mobile Connectivity report indicated that 33% of Southeast Asia’s population is now covered by a mobile network, with 82% of the population living within the range of a 4G connection.

The increasing availability of affordable smartphones and the rollout of mobile telecommunication services across SEA markets also play an integral part in the growing mobile penetration in the region.

When it comes to internet penetration, Southeast Asian countries also lead the way. As of May 2020, Brunei ranks first with 95.3% followed by Singapore with 88.4% and Thailand with 81.7%.

This growing mobile consumption and internet use in the SEA increases the likelihood of consumers making purchases via their mobile phones. Not only that, but this could also mean a higher probability of them researching product information on their smartphones.

How to keep up with this trend?

Given the Southeast Asians’ high mobile usage, you should optimize your website for mobile devices. Your e-commerce site must feature a responsive design—be it viewed through a web browser on a PC or a smartphone.

The loading speed of your website also matters. Most people prefer using mobile phones when they want an immediate response, so slow-loading products and sluggish checkout process might not help.

Building a mobile app is another way to keep pace with this trend. This will help you tap your customer base easier and engage with them faster.

Trend #2: Growing Number of e-shops

The rising demand for e-commerce has compelled many aspiring businesses to enter the industry.

Before, people are hesitant to buy things online. That is not the case anymore. Shoppers now prefer purchasing online primarily because it is convenient. Some online stores also offer a wider selection and better prices compared to physical stores.

This is particularly evident in today’s Covid-19 pandemic, wherein more people are turning to e-commerce to purchase items they might have otherwise purchased in person.

Indeed, the Internet has transformed shopping in Southeast Asia—and studies have proven it many times. According to a report by Hootsuite and We Are Social, 63% of the SEA population use the internet, putting the region ahead of Eastern, Central, and Southern Asia.

Internet penetration around the world has directly impacted the increase of e-commerce around the world.

Also, the SEA’s e-commerce big players—Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia—contribute to the growing e-shops in the region. It is no doubt that these leading platforms greatly impact the rapidly increasing popularity of e-commerce.

How to keep up with this trend?

Since more people are dipping their toes in the e-commerce field, you must take a step ahead in bringing your brand to life.

Learn to use technology to your advantage.

Incorporate tech features in your website to provide customers with a personalised shopping experiences. Many e-commerce stores have developed “virtual try on” for their products so that customers can shop in the comfort of their own homes.

  • Sephora’s Virtual Artist

Sephora’s app has a Virtual Artist feature which allows you to try on makeup without visiting the physical stores. It is a time efficient way for customers to shop on the go, and it also solves the problems of customers who need to see and test the product when they’re unsure of the actual effect and suitability of a particular product. 

Trend #3: Evolving Customer Journey

Business trends across many industries can change rapidly, and so do customer expectations. As customers’ shopping behaviour changes over time, it’s important that businesses models can capture and grow in tandem with these shifting expectations.

This is especially so for Southeast Asian customers, whose shopping journeys are becoming increasingly complicated. While most of them shop online, a significant portion of them also research offline before purchasing online.

According to Forrester, SEA consumers’ shopping journey is a mix of online and offline touchpoints. Xiaofeng Wang, Senior Analyst in Forrester pointed out that they frequently research products and services on mobile phones, compare prices, look up product info, read customer reviews, and scan QR codes, to name a few.

Examples of such significant offline channels that customers go through are telephone, coupons, loyalty card, click and collect scheme, and so on.

How to keep up with this trend?

With customers in the region using varied channels for interaction, it’s crucial to bring align the customer’s online and offline shopping experience.

One way to do so is to implement an omnichannel marketing approach.  This will help make your brand a most trusted product supplier or service provider. Doing this also further increases the possibility of getting customer retention.

The Takeaway

Southeast Asia is a part of the world where mobile phones and the Internet are no longer just wants but needs—and this could also explain why e-commerce is booming in the region.

If you’re thinking of starting an e-commerce business in the SEA, it’s not too late to do so. Getting into e-commerce could greatly benefit your business especially in times like a pandemic. Of course, you’ll ultimately need a strategy and a high-performance website or mobile app to stand out in a crowded field.

When it comes to web and app development, you can rely on 2Stallions. As a digital marketing agency, we can help to develop an instant e-commerce website that can market your business online and boost your sales. Talk to us today!


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