Asia-Pacific’s Economic Future to Be Driven by Digital Deals

APEC* celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014, and with economic confidence growing, the future of the region looks positive. Studies and commentators point to digital technologies as both a conduit and driving force for growth.

Hong Kong is one of Asia-Pacific’s digital hubs. At the centre of Hong Kong, digital agency First Page are well placed to both track the changes and forecast trends.

Asia-Pacific forces: Established and emerging

To illustrate the upsurge in internet users, First Page operations manager Luke McCormack points to Indonesia. Less than a decade ago there were only about five million internet users in Jakarta, now there are 45 million.

“I would not be surprised if Jakarta becomes the new digital Hub within Asia Pacific within the next generation,” he said.

Obviously the People’s Republic of China is the biggest force within the region and it is impossible for businesses not be effected by its influence. However First Page says the digital space makes a distinction as “Hong Kong and Singapore are currently the hubs as they are more tech advanced and have the resources already in place”.

Other South East Asian markets such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are becoming more and more developed. Especially in digital mobile technology, increasing online access for scores of populations, which will only continue to rise in the near future.

Just for some context, there are 2.2 billion mobile users in Asia-Pacific.

Confidence is up in APEC

The comments around the emergence of Asia-Pacific as a digital trading centre are lent support by a recent Harvard Business Review piece that listed Hong Kong and Singapore in the Stand Out category for the fastest moving digital economy.

The same study also listed Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in the Break Out grouping. This listed countries that have the potential to develop strong digital economies.

Research conducted by PWC shows that about 46% of CEO in Asia-Pacific are `very confident` about near-term revenue growth, with only 10% `not confident. This is a strong increase since 2012 when the numbers were 36% and 17%, respectively.

The unique elements to digital media deals in Asia-Pacific?

  • Realistic goal planning: This means ensuring that client expectations are realistic. For example; a new jewellery e-commerce site wants to target the USA. Long tail key phrases are vital in US-based SEO, even if they do yield relatively lower traffic. Client education and communication will be crucial to explaining the technical aspect that achieve results over time.
  • In-depth qualification and business analysis: Understanding the clients business is crucial, First Page think and act as if a client’s business is their business. This is to ensure that all efforts are fully customer-centric and are based on attracting the right traffic.
  • Multi-cultural companies and business style: In general, companies within the Asia pacific have a broader target group and are more aggressive in the countries that they want to penetrate. They will often also have strict processes around how deals progress, based on myriad ethnicities.
  • Preference for proven global strategies: If all other variables were equal, proven experience in successfully operating across borders will win you a great deal of prestige.



Pay attention to detail

There are multiple pitfalls if you try and rush deals through in a region where generally longer sales cycles prevail. Here are two of the more common issues that arise with international business deals in Asia-Pacific.

  • Poor website structure for international SEO: With digital at the core of around 62% of all business in the region, having a website that functions seamlessly across multiple languages is a primary tool for communicating your brand. First Page cover the essential tips for multi-language sites in a recent blog-post.
  • Previous SEO work which is detrimental: With every update, search engines get more selective on what types of backlinks build authority. Broken, paid links or irrelevant links can have a negative impact on your rankings and visibility.

“The benefit of the longer sales cycle within Asian cultures, is that there is no excuse for proper due diligence not being carried out,” said Luke.

A parting piece of advice

For your business to be well-placed as Asia-Pacific grows through digital channels, the team at First Page recommend a two-pace strategy.

Firstly, move quickly to strengthen your digital position so you can ride the wave as it builds, and not struggle to catch up. Secondly, be very, very patient when making deals, no matter the medium.

Adding to the patience factor there is openness and reporting. Always ask what the internal processes are and what business style clients adopt. Finally, make sure you always provide a status report on the progress of dealings, especially for longer sales cycle opportunities.

*APEC membership

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Est 1989. Goal: to facilitate economic growth, prosperity and closer ties in the region. Membership: 21.

Founding members: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

Joined in 1991: Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China.

Joined in 1993: Mexico and Papua New Guinea.

Joined in 1994: Chile.

Joined in 1998: Peru, Russian Federation and Vietnam.