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Projections for 2020 digital marketing trends in Thailand made in the last few months of 2019 seemed interesting and optimistic: there’s going to be an increase in video consumption, more people using voice search, and a jump in social media shopping.

But in late February, the coronavirus outbreak burst into the scene and disrupted the economy on a global scale.

Every digital marketer in Thailand right now probably has a common question in mind:

How is the virus outbreak shaping digital marketing, and how long will this last?

In this blog post, I’ll be discussing key digital marketing trends in Thailand in 2020 that are shaping and will shape how we do business. Here are the topics we’re going to cover:

  1. Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Digital Marketing in Thailand
  2. Mobile Internet and Social Media Trends
  3. Best Thailand Digital Marketing Tactics for 2020
  4. High-Impact Tools for Digital Advertising in 2020
  5. The Role of Digital Marketing Agencies in Thailand
  6. The Rising Need for Customized Digital Marketing Approach

This is a pretty long blog post. I understand that life gets in the way, so if you can’t finish it in one sitting, I suggest that you bookmark it now so you can come back to it later.

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

Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Digital Marketing in Thailand

Thailand’s economy has been slowing down since 2018, and the coronavirus outbreak just adds to the long list of the country’s troubles.

As expected with an economy heavily dependent on tourism from China, Thailand is predicted to lose $3.51 billion due to the virus and the drop in Chinese tourists.

Aside from the travel industry, manufacturing, agriculture, exports, and retail are also heavily affected.

Further, the pandemic is projected to cost the global economy a total of $2.7 trillion.

Borders are closed, factories are shutting down, and there’s an impending global economic recession.

Expected increase in online marketing

As people are forced to stay indoors, internet usage has undoubtedly spiked over the weeks.

Thais are known as one of the “most online” people in the entire world, with internet penetration projected to reach 70% this year.

With the pandemic going on, being online has never been more important both for consumers and brands.

As consumers are forced to do their groceries, banking, entertainment, and socialization online, we are expecting to see a massive increase in digital ad spend over the next months.

This prediction is supported by the findings of Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) in a survey of 155 clients and client leaders all over China.

According to the report, 14% of the respondents said they were moving budget from offline to online media.

But this change is only a short-term strategy for 61% of the respondents, with only 9% making changes in their long-term plans.

Traffic and conversion rates in different industries

Some industries are hit badly while some are seeing a jump in their traffic and conversion.

This table by Neil Patel shows the industries that experience traffic or growth due to COVID-19:

Image Source

traffic growth or decline due to covid-19 - neil patel

If you own a travel website, you saw a big drop in traffic.

If you have a news website, you saw a significant boost.

What about conversion?

This table shows the conversion rate of these industries:

conversion growth or decline due to covid-19 - neil patel

As expected, media, food, pharma, and healthcare are seeing a jump in conversion rates while industries like travel, real estate, and construction are already suffering from massive revenue blows.

It’s up to the brands in these industries to innovate and find ways to drive sales in the current situation. Which brings us to the next topic: how mobile internet and social media usage can keep us all afloat.

Mobile Internet and Social Media Trends

The fact that Thais are one of the “most online” people in the world gives brands a fighting chance.

The Global Digital Report 2019 conducted by social media management platform Hootsuite and global agency WeAreSocial found that 49 million Thais use social media.

This translates to 71% mobile usage penetration.

The report provides more interesting figures, such as the following:

  • Thailand globally ranks No. 1 in access to mobile banking services, at 74% of the population. The global average was 41%.
  • Thailand ranked second at owning cryptocurrency, at 9.9% of internet users. Global average: 5.5%.
  • Thailand ranked third in mobile commerce, with 71% of internet users making an online purchase via their mobile phone. Global average: 55%.
Mobile Internet and Social Media Use in Thailand

To add, the report also found that Thais spend roughly 9 hours online on a daily basis.

What do they do online?

  • Spend 3 hours on social media.
  • Watch online streaming or video-on-demand for around 3 hours every day.
  • Spend 1 hour and 30 minutes to stream music.

Best Thailand Digital Marketing Tactics for 2020

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

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, these separate parts should run together in a smooth, well-coordinated process to get a full-running, fruitful digital marketing campaign.

Social media marketing: send the right message

With the dip in search engine traffic in most industries, the best place to be right now is on social media.

More people are staying on their phone maybe even more than 9 hours a day. It’s become a source of emotional support for many to get them through self-isolation and loneliness. It’s also become their top source of news, entertainment, socialization, and even shopping for food and other essentials.

You have to stay visible, say the right things, and use the right platforms or content form.

In Thailand, the 4 most popular social media channels are Facebook, YouTube, LINE, and FB Messenger.

how people use internet in Thailand

Image Source

As content creators, we owe it to our audience (and to our brands) to send the right message at this difficult time.

Consumers are looking to their favorite brands to understand the situation and provide help in any way they can.

It’s not entirely wrong to say that the way you respond to the current crisis will reward or haunt your brand months or years from now.

Chris Stephenson, regional head of strategy and planning of PHD Asia Pacific, advised brands to be careful in the way they craft messages.

“In developing a response, it is important to be sensitive in brand messaging to the situation – a brand should look to align their communications so that it’s in the public interest versus pushing messages for sales generation. As ever, brands should follow media consumption patterns to optimise media splits and take into account the context of placement as well as absolute reach potentials of increased home video or digital media consumption,” he says.

In other words, now’s not the time to be an aggressive salesman.

Now’s the time to be the good-natured neighborhood uncle or aunt who’s got everyone’s back.

Show that you care about your customers. If you’re a restaurant, this means closing stores to discourage people from going outside and opening up several digital communication lines for door-to-door deliveries.

McDonald’s does an excellent job of ensuring contactless deliveries and store pickups, and they communicate it well using well-designed graphics on their social media accounts.

macs safety measures

Video marketing

Video marketing is also growing exponentially in recent years. In Thailand, people watch videos on Facebook for around 105 minutes a day.

They also spend around 3 hours every day to watch online streaming or videos-on-demand.

See how you can produce videos at home while staying true to your brand voice and not compromising quality.

Live-streaming on Facebook is also becoming more popular as organizations, churches, and even national and local governments use it to give regular updates and reminders to their audiences.

Also, videos on Facebook play with the sound turned off by default because many folks get surprised (then annoyed) at randomly playing music. And many will keep watching the video without the sound on. So it’s important to provide clear captions so people can watch without turning the sound on.

video caption

Influencer marketing based on trust

“Influencers” are what I like to think as 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 stats

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.

You can partner with influencers to help drive your message and bring it in front of the right people who might need it. If you’re an online veterinarian, you can partner with a pet influencer to reach their wide audience of pet owners who might need medical care for their pets.

Delivery services can also take advantage of influencer marketing by delivering goods like food or medicine to an influencer for free in exchange for an unbiased review on their social media accounts.

Voice search

The voice search feature of Google has been getting more popular in recent years. And it’s no surprise since speaking is far easier than tapping on a screen.

Research shows that 20% of Google searches are made using the voice search feature, and this is expected to continuously grow well into 2020.

If you’re new to optimizing for voice search and need some guidance, you can contact a reputable SEO agency for professional help.

High-Impact Tools for Digital Advertising in 2020

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 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.

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.

Other high-impact digital marketing tools to watch out for are social media listening tools, data analytic platforms, e-commerce tools, bid optimization tools, and messaging apps.

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.

But the good news is, there are plenty of world-class digital marketing agencies in Thailand with the expertise and resources needed to succeed in a competitive global market.

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

Companies in the West will be happy to know that although the rates of Thai agencies are relatively lower than those in Western countries, the quality of service is on par or even exceeds that of Western agencies.

The Rising Need for Customized Digital Marketing Approach

I have one last thing I want to share with you:

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.

With digital marketing experience since 1998, 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.

Now It’s Your Turn

And those are the key digital marketing trends in Thailand in 2020.

With everything that’s going on, it’s important to stay agile and innovative to keep your brand relevant and at the forefront of consumers’ minds for the right things. But, most importantly, brands have a moral responsibility to do what they can to save lives and help fight the spread of the virus.

Now I want to know:

How is COVID-19 affecting the digital marketing strategy of your company?

Share it with us in a quick comment below!

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