To kick off our partner introduction series, we recently had a chance to sit down with Rohan Lock, dotmailer's APAC Director at the Dotlive event in Singapore, to talk about some of the latest e-commerce trends, the importance of marketing automation for merchants in Southeast Asia, and how they can prepare themselves to maximize on those exciting opportunities.
Rohan Lock, Regional Director, APAC, dotmailer
Q: Could you please introduce yourself and your role at dotmailer?
Rohan: I have worked in the ecommerce industry for the past 10 years, helping ecommerce brands optimise their digital marketing. After heading up dotmailer’s sales and account management teams, and then becoming group sales director based in the UK, I’ve recently moved back to Melbourne as a means to develop the brand’s presence in APAC. Now as dotmailer’s regional director, I work with local integration and agency partners, as well as key global relationships and integrations, including Magento, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to bring dotmailer’s technology offering to local organisations.
Q: What can you tell our audience about dotmailer? Its product and vision?
Rohan: dotmailer is a SaaS (Software as a Service) email marketing platform that integrates with Magento, MS Dynamics CRM, Salesforce and other systems to build and send optimised messages to multiple channels. Our mission is to empower marketers with the tools that enable them to think smart, act fast and scale quickly, enabling them to get dramatic results, every time. Perhaps that’s why we’ve more than 80,000 happy users in 150 countries, across the B2B and B2C markets.
dotmailer founder, Tink Taylor describes our offering as “NASA technology with a Fisher Price interface.” dotmailer is extremely user-friendly and works well for medium businesses through to large enterprises. Our automated email solution is ideal for organisations with medium to large contact lists and that send a high volume of emails. We also offer custom packages for larger customers that need a more tailored solution.
Q: What is the role of email for consumer nowadays and how brands can utilize on this channel?
Rohan: Email has become every online consumer’s digital key. Being without an email address is equivalent to being homeless online! If you look at anything that’s multichannel, the bit that’s ubiquitous is email. Even with the rise of smartphones, the number one activity is looking at your email. There are many applications that have come along that might challenge the importance of email – including Slack and Google Wave – yet email is the only channel where the consumer is in control. They can turn it off, or unsubscribe. What we’re seeing now is everyone embracing email more than ever, and marketing automation has become the new term for sending out email intelligently.
Used correctly, email marketing can help build loyalty and trust in your brand, help build relationships with prospects, leads, current customers, and even past customers, because it gives you a chance to speak directly to them, in their inbox, at a time that is convenient for them.
Q: Could you share some common mistakes of an email marketing campaign?
Rohan: If you’re looking to promote your business with an email marketing campaign, there are some common mistakes that you will be wise to avoid:
1. Don’t send marketing emails without an ‘unsubscribe link’ included in your email. This is a legal requirement and helps to build trust with your recipients whilst cleaning your database.
2. Don’t send out emails without a clearly written contact email address for responses. It’s preferable that your company name appears in the ‘from’ field and that a return email address is included somewhere in the email’s footer/boilerplate text.
3. Don’t send out bland and lifeless emails. If you’re doing email marketing, send emails which are going to grab the recipient’s attention! Find an email marketing provider with the skills and accreditation so that you can send image and content-rich emails with links and even video.
4. Don’t send out an email unless it has at least one link back to your business site. It’s amazing the amount of email marketing campaigns that are run with a simple image and a “call this number”. You are far more likely to increase your revenue by including links back to your business website from the email shots you send out. This will help your website’s presence on the internet by increasing the number of hits your site receives per day.
5. Don’t have a mixed-message email. Keep your email easy to read, short, concise and with a focussed theme and a single-minded proposition.
6. Finally, don’t just send your email marketing campaign to every single email address you can lay your hands on. By targeting a demographic of your customer base with specific messages and offers, you are far more likely to have a higher success rate. Why send 5,000 un-targeted emails and only get a 10% response when you can take your time, find your market, and send 2,000 emails with 50% response rate?
Q: Could you give an example of an e-Commerce site successfully applying email marketing automation?
Rohan: DHL Express, the global market leader in the international express courier business, sends up to 400,000 emails across three waves, in four different languages and to 40 different countries. The need to be organised and keep each country, language and version precise is paramount for the team. The dotmailer platform offers the ability to create emails in multiple languages and alphabets, and each of DHL’s country teams are responsible for ensuring their own localised text is colloquially accurate. To make the process run smoothly, dotmailer has built in appropriate checks and balances to make things streamlined for the team.
DHL Express uses dotmailer’s managed services to help deliver its complex marketing communications process. When we first started working with DHL, the delivery of emails was very labour-intensive. Many of the countries in the Americas region do not have local marketing support, but each country is responsible for sending out its own emails. This did not give a good cost-benefit ratio or quality output. Now, we have a single process that substantially reduces the workload by centralising everything in one place, and providing a single point of contact for everyone in the region.
Q: We have seen a lot of technology innovations in the e-commerce field such as automated marketing, personalized shopping, and artificial intelligence. So what is the role of the human in the success of e-commerce businesses?
Rohan: There is a plethora of marketing automation, personalisation and AI technologies available today that provide powerful solutions to help drive business, engage with customers and potential buyers, and scale their activities. These technologies are awesome, but they really are only as good as the people who implement them and manage them on a day-to-day basis. These technologies can only be powerful if “humans” know how to use them correctly. It’s extremely important to think about your team structure when putting software systems in place.
Additionally, believe it or not, even in today’s golden age of technological innovation, humans still like to interact with other humans! Customers might have queries or problems related to products, features or shipping. To handle such issues, you need to have a good customer support team who knows how to tackle real-time customer issues. Some things are hard to replace with a machine and exemplary customer service is one!
Q: dotmailer is a premier technology partner of Magento. Could you explain what it means for dotmailer as well as online retailers who are using this platform?
Rohan: dotmailer is Magento’s first and only Platinum Technology Partner for marketing and provides the most feature-rich Magento integration for Magento 1 & 2. Our team of dedicated Magento developers spent months building the approved connectors that conform to the ecommerce platform's optimised code base. More Magento clients have chosen dotmailer over any other email service provider.
There are many reasons why the Magento connectors make marketing easier for retailers. We're right in the Magento admin panel - meaning single sign-on, and the real-time data synchronisation enables faster and smarter predictive email marketing.
Q: Could you explain the partnership between SmartOSC and dotmailer, and how does that help online retailers to be more competitive?
Rohan: We look forward to working closely with SmartOSC to enable leading online retailers in Southeast Asia to create and send smarter, sexier emails with fast, intuitive tools. Furthermore, SmartOSC works closely with Magento customers across the region, and dotmailer being aMagento Platinum Partner, working together was a no-brainer. We are eager to help SmartOSC customers extend their Magento 1 & 2 platforms with our world-class email marketing extension.
Q: What e-commerce trends in Southeast Asia do you foresee for 2017?
Rohan: Ecommerce in Southeast Asia is still in its infancy. According to eMarketer, only 1% of total retail GMV is being generated online in Southeast Asia, versus 7.1% and 15.9% in the United States and China. However, all indicators point to the region becoming the next frontier for ecommerce opportunity. Furthermore, research from TechInAsia predicts that the market will grow 32% year-on-year to $88 billion by 2025, up from today’s $5.5 billion. Here are two ecommerce trends that are likely to impact the online retail market in Southeast Asia in 2017.
Rise of the Mobile-only Marketplaces
In 2017, there is likely to be a continued proliferation of mcommerce in Southeast Asia. We already find many C2C online retailers jumping straight into mobile marketplaces. In mature ecommerce markets, traditional desktop C2C marketplaces play an important role. Southeast Asia, on the other hand, is leapfrogging towards mobile and disrupting the traditional desktop-first model.
Carousell and Garena-backed Shopee are examples of mobile-only C2C marketplaces that are making aggressive moves against their older desktop counterparts like Tarad in Thailand and Tokopedia in Indonesia.
Game of Thrones – Amazon vs. Alibaba
Amazon recently announced plans to enter Southeast Asia, with a launch in Singapore within the first quarter of 2017. Alibaba-backed Lazada will be ready for a South-East Asian war for marketplace supremacy when Amazon opens shop in the region. Alibaba has established its dominance in China and Amazon has clinched the US market – now both are looking to dominate the overseas market. It will be interesting to see how the cards fall in Southeast Asia.
In my opinion, Alibaba is leading the race at this point. It has the first mover advantage and is in the process of rolling out a series of initiatives in anticipation of Amazon entering the market. It recently invested in flash sales website, Mei.com, and has also increased its stake in SingPost, in an effort to increase cross-border commerce and make its ecommerce operations more efficient.
Regardless who wins the game for ecommerce supremacy in Southeast Asia, local online retailers will face significant competition and they are going to have to adapt to survive the disruption.