2018 Digital Marketing Trends in Thailand: : Why You Need to Go Digital

I know you’ve heard about digital marketing and why you should be doing it.

But if you’ve never come across concrete reasons why you should, today you have.

In this blog post, I’ll be discussing key digital marketing trends in Thailand that are shaping and will shape how we do business.

Trends that you cannot ignore if your business is to stay relevant in the years to come.

But first, let me give you an overview of what we will be discussing.

Here’s a list of the topics covered in this post:

  1. The Current State of Digital Marketing in Thailand
  2. Mobile Internet and Social Media Trends
  3. Best Thailand Digital Marketing Tactics for 2018
  4. Industries with the Biggest Digital Advertising Spend in Thailand
  5. High-Impact Tools for Digital Advertising in 2018
  6. The Role of Digital Marketing Agencies in Thailand
  7. The Rising Need for Customized Digital Marketing Approach

You can click on them if you want to jump to specific sections, but it’s ideal to read in this order so you won’t miss juicy parts of the discussion crucial to understanding the subsequent topics.

Alright. Now that’s out of the way, let’s buckle up, sit tight, and begin!

The Current State of Digital Marketing in Thailand

Thais are one of the “most online” people in the entire world.

And because of this massive growth in the number of online consumers, the digital marketing industry in Thailand is predicted to continue growing and reach close to THB 20 billion by the year 2020.

But here’s what’s odd:

Thai businesses don’t seem to have gotten wind of the trend because the overall digital ad spend in the country still accounts for only 1% of the total ad spend.

It’s hard to believe this figure, but it points to the fact that Thai businesses still lack the skills and manpower needed to take their digital marketing efforts to the next level.

Right now, digital marketing is more like an afterthought rather than a project on its own. Businesses think first of traditional marketing and add a digital component to it if time and budget allows.

This needs to change for businesses to lay their claim in the online world.

The lack of competent digital marketing staff for 85% of Thai companies isn’t making this any easier, but fortunately, there is no shortage of digital marketing agencies in Thailand armed with the expertise needed to succeed in digital marketing.

“So my company needs to have a clearer digital footprint. But where should I focus our resources on?”

This takes us to the world of mobile internet and why it matters for you:

Mobile Internet and Social Media Trends

Here’s a striking prediction by the folks of Statista:

Mobile will account for 51% of the total revenue in the digital advertising market in Thailand in 2022.

And this is not unique in Thailand.

As eMarketer predicts, the entire Southeast Asian region is poised to have an exponential growth in mobile ad spending:

A few years from now, mobile will dominate the digital ad landscape – and we’re not the least bit surprised.

According to a 2016 national survey by the National Statistical Office of Thailand, more than 90% of the 62.8 million respondents access the internet via smartphone.

Around 15 million smartphones are sold in the country every year.

It’s also predicted that over half the Thai population will own smartphones by 2020.

Add the fact that Hootsuite and We Are Social recently named Thailand as the top country with the most time spent on mobile internet at 4.56 hours.

It beat Brazil at 4.21, Indonesia at 4.17, the Philippines at 4.13, and Nigeria at 4.05 hours.

All these numbers just mean that your business – if not already – should really be optimizing for an amazing, unforgettable mobile experience for your customers.

Now the question just lies on what exactly you should be doing on mobile.

Here’s the answer:

Social media network usage on mobile

It makes a lot of sense to discuss the country’s use of social media networks along with its mobile internet usage because… the fact of the matter is, when Thais use their smartphones, they are most likely checking their social media accounts or watching videos on social media sites.

In fact, in the “Digital 2018 Global Overview”, Thailand was ranked as the 8th country in the entire world with the highest number of mobile active user accounts in the top social media networks.

But here’s the kicker:

Thailand also landed in the top 4 spot for the countries with the most time spent on social media , with Facebook, YouTube, and LINE being the top three social networks.

YouTube, in particular, is a favorite, judging from the 1.7 hours of YouTube watch spent daily in 2016, with 65% of it done on mobile.

Further, Thailand has 48 million Facebook users and 13 million Instagram users as of 2017. This was a slight increase from 47 million users and 11 million users in 2016, respectively.

Mobile social media users by the millions. This is exactly why more and more Thai brands are dedicating more resources to mobile social media ad placements and mobile video marketing campaigns.

It’s also interesting to note that although Facebook users in the country are mostly 22-40 years old, “the number of users in their upper 50s is increasing, while Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Line TV will attract more teenagers,” according to Thoth Zocial Co managing director Kla Tangsuwan.

Geography and level of income

Let’s briefly go back to the National Statistical Office of Thailand 2016 survey.

Although it found that Thailand has an overall high rate of smartphone users, not every region showed the same results.

It was evident that the capital city Bangkok had more smartphone users (70.3% of the population) compared with the less developed Northeastern region (39.3%).

This implies that before you go crazy on your mobile campaign, you have to consider the geography and level of income of your target audience.

This will help you avoid a lot of headache and loss down the road.

Mobile app fatigue

Apparently, even Thai serial app users get tired of apps.

At least according to Think with Google APAC’s research. As Mike Jittivanich, head of marketing for Google Thailand, noted, although the average Thai smartphone owners install four apps per month, they also uninstall three.

So the number of installs isn’t the only thing to worry about now.

What does this mean for businesses with a mobile app or planning to launch one?

Your mobile app needs to stand out from the crowd to earn a permanent spot on users’ phones.

You need to make it the best in your industry to save it from the monthly purge.

Speed, functionality, user-friendliness, and personalized user experience all play a major role in this.

Let’s now talk about the best digital marketing tactics for 2018 and beyond, because mobile or not, marketing to online consumers is a tough task, and digital marketers need highly effective tactics to gain footing in this terrain.

Best Thailand Digital Marketing Tactics for 2018

Some digital marketing tactics come and go, but some prove to be classics in driving leads and converting customers.

Each of the many digital marketing tactics has weaknesses and strengths, and not one of them is supposed to be the panacea for digital marketing.

On the contrary, you’re supposed to get these separate parts running together in a smooth, well-coordinated process to get a full-running, fruitful digital marketing campaign.

Content marketing is a given, not a choice

Content marketing has always been the go-to marketing strategy if you want to establish your brand as an expert in your industry

It means building a blog and maintaining a social media page where you consistently share amazing, useful content.

It’s great for search and social media marketing, and it’s also handy in getting people to happily hand over their email addresses.

It’s also kind of expected of you to create content. As the 2017 Meaningful Brands study by Havas Group shows, 84 percent of people expect brands to create content.

In people’s minds – especially millennials – “salesy” content and ads are not trustworthy. So it’s up to you to use the power of content to establish a relationship with your target audience.

And here’s the kicker:

Most consumers’ journey starts with a quick non-branded search. If they land on your content that answers their question very clearly, you can bet that they’re going to be more interested to know more about your brand and how you can help them.

Social media marketing for brand awareness and loyalty

Considering how millions of Thais spend a huge chunk of their day on social media sites, using social media marketing in Thailand is a no-brainer.

Now here’s what you need to know:

Social media marketing is more than creating ads. It’s more about getting your brand out there, genuinely connecting with real people, and humanizing your brand.

It’s about forming relationships because, after all, it’s called social marketing for a reason.

Influencer marketing based on trust

“Influencers” are what I like to think the “modern-day celebrities” – those who take social media by storm with their engaging content, gaining thousands and even millions of followers in the process.

There is an emerging trend of looking for social media influencers in Thailand and asking them to do an unbiased review of products and services in exchange for a favor or fee.

This is basically what influencer marketing is, and it seems to be paying off, considering that this tactic can get you up to 11x the ROI of traditional advertising.

Here are more interesting stats about influencer marketing

Influencer marketing banks on the idea that consumers are getting more skeptic of your ads by the day.

Ninety percent of consumers would rather listen to their peers’ recommendations than a TV ad, but 88% would also trust a stranger’s review.

And in Thailand, 85% have bought a brand that they would not normally consider because they saw relevant information about it at the perfect moment.

See how big this is?

Traditional marketing – whether digital or not – has lost its once-powerful influence on consumers’ buying decisions.

Print ads, TV ads, and even digital ads are now the marketing channels with the least amount of influence.

We’re going to see a major growth in these digital marketing methods in Thailand, and it’s best to hop on the bandwagon before the competition does.

Industries with the Biggest Digital Advertising Spend in Thailand

Speaking of competition:

Let’s now see which industries are spending the most on digital ads.

The biggest digital ad spender in the country is the skincare industry, with an average of THB 1,089 million.

Communications and nonalcoholic beverages follow it at THB 1,016 million each.

Motor vehicles come in fourth at THB 984,000.

This is according to a study conducted by Kantar TNS and shown in the report “Thailand Digital Advertising Spend 2016-2017” released by the Digital Advertising Association (Thailand) in April 2017.

Here’s the rest of the country’s biggest digital ad spenders:

It’s safe to assume that these industries have seen high ROI from digital advertising, otherwise they wouldn’t bother coughing up millions every year for it.

High-Impact Tools for Digital Advertising in 2018

If there’s one thing digital marketers love talking about, it’s their tools.

Great digital marketers have great tools, and luckily for us, technology is on our side.

These tools are what makes large-scale digital advertising possible – and will continue to change the way we do digital advertising in the future.

Programmatic marketing

I’m particularly excited about programmatic marketing.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, programmatic marketing, as defined by Smart Insights, is:

“…automated bidding on advertising inventory in real time, for the opportunity to show an ad to a specific customer, in a specific context”.

Okay, what does this mean?

In simple terms, it means that when a user clicks on a webpage, in the milliseconds it takes to load, a software launches an automated algorithmic bidding for ads to be displayed on the webpage.

The top bidder, of course, wins, and their ad gets displayed on the webpage at the right moment for the right person.

Programmatic advertising takes out the guesswork in display advertising for better-targeted ads.

It’s gaining momentum in the rest of the world, and in Thailand, programmatic advertising will account for 67% of the display revenue in 2022.

Let that figure sink in for a while.

Programmatic advertising, however intimidating it may seem for many, is a lot more efficient and cost-effective than non-programmatic advertising.

One of the roadblocks to a higher penetration in Thailand is businesses’ lack of programmatic ad skills and knowledge, but this can easily be overcome with training or even outsourcing.

Real-time monitoring of KPIs

Digital marketers also don’t want to be left in the dark.

Seventy-five percent of the participants of Kanta TNS’ study stated that they are interested in tools that provide real-time updates on campaigns and KPIs.

You need to buy your own SEO tools to stay on top of the competition and achieve your KPI’s.

Tools with interactive dashboards where they can see their accounts all at once, with intuitive features and advanced reporting capabilities, are highly sought after as brands are getting smarter with how they monitor their marketing success

Brands are shifting from vanity KPIs that don’t really mean anything to those that directly impact business objectives and contribute to the company’s bottom line.

The Role of Digital Marketing Agencies in Thailand

Based on everything we’ve talked about so far, digital marketing is getting more and more exciting each year.

But if digital marketing is so amazing, why aren’t more Thai businesses focusing their energy and resources on it?

For many Thai businesses, it’s not that they don’t want to take digital marketing more seriously.

It’s that they don’t know how

They don’t know where to start.

And it’s not just Thai businesses that will benefit from outsourcing to Thai digital ad agencies.

The Rising Need for Customized Digital Marketing Approach

Here’s the last thing I want to share with you today:

Every business has its own strengths and challenges that call for a customized approach to digital marketing. Trends are only to serve as a guide, a possibility of where you can take your business.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide.

If you think you need help, whether you’re based in Thailand or overseas, we at Marketing Ignite are confident that we can help take your business to new heights.

In our 20+ years of experience, we’ve acquired the skills and knowledge needed to fully understand a business’ situation and suggest the best possible solution.

If you want to know more about how digital marketing can help your company’s specific needs, get in touch at +66 (0)118-0427 for a 100% free consultation.

There has never been a better time to invest in online marketing, so strike before the rest of the country wakes up!

Now It’s Your Turn

And those are the key digital marketing trends in Thailand.

Now tap yourself in the back because you just finished reading an almost 3000-word blog post!

Now I want to know:

What do you think is the biggest digital marketing trend to watch out for?

Share it with us in a quick comment.

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