Ahead of her presentation at the Digital Marketing Leaders Summit in Singapore this September, we talk to Sakhee Dheer, Head of Digital Marketing, Global Business Marketing at Asia Pacific Facebook. Sakhee has shared with us her view on the role of digital marketing, its future trends, growth hacking, influencer marketing and many more.

1) What are your thoughts on the role of digital marketing in today’s world?

“Digital marketing” is becoming more and more just “marketing”. I think all marketing we do in some way interfaces with the digital world so it's slowly becoming not just a new kid on the block but the marketing function in of itself.

Now with everything we do with mobile and the increased penetrations of social media and the evolution of people's habits, businesses are able to reach individuals with more personalised and customised messaging. This is beneficial for both sides, whether it be consumers or businesses.Businesses can reach individuals better and individuals get the information they need.

I believe digital marketing has changed the whole landscape of the marketing function itself and also changed how consumers and individuals interacted with businesses in the past. Now it's more of a human-to-human connection rather than a B2B or a B2C interaction.

2) How do you see digital marketing evolving over the next five years?

A lot of what digital has come to be today  wasn’t around five years back, so five years is a long time in which things as we know now can completely change. The function is clearly evolving at a very fast pace whether it be the use of data, the use of technology and new trends like AI, blockchain, and virtual reality. All play a key role in how the next five years could evolve and look like.

At this point, it's really interesting to see the journey. As marketers, and as business people, it's our responsibility to keep evolving, learning and reading change as part of the journey and understanding what is new, what are the new formats and channels of reaching out to customers to drive impact for our organizations.

I don’t have a road map for digital marketing but what we know of the current marketplace is that it'll be very, very different. We will definitely be using a lot more data and a lot more personalisation, whether it be using technology like bots, AI or VR. Also, there'll be many more digital marketers in the whole ecosystem of business. It will become just marketing in digital world.

3) Are there any new marketing strategies that you or Facebook in general have attempted recently?

Yes - if you don't constantly keep doing something new and testing new strategies, you're doing yourselves and your organisation a disservice. My strategy is to always be testing something new with every campaign, and always having 10-20% of the campaign budget allocated to something new and innovative, whether it be targeting tests or new media buying or creating new channels.

In a current effort, we're test-building a seamless offline and online experience with QR codes, blending the digital with the physical world, and connecting with your audience across all touchpoints is important and needs constant iteration and learning.

4) How important do you see influencer marketing becoming?

It depends - I think it’s definitely an important aspect [of digital marketing] but it is something to activate when it makes sense as a part of your campaign and business objectives

Generally speaking, influencer marketing is extremely powerful however, based on your campaign and your products, it has varying levels of adaptability. Influencer marketing really works well when people want to know [about brands and products] from people like themselves, rather than brands. It's always good to have people who can vouch for your visibility and services.

5) With mobile video ad spending increasing substantially recently, what are your thoughts on this form of mobile advertising?

Cisco predicts that 75% of all internet traffic by 2020 would be video - which is huge. As per research by FacebookIQ, over the last year on a global scale, daily watch time for Facebook Live broadcasts has quadrupled and time spent watching video on Instagram has increased by 80%. From a consumer consumption and habit perspective, video works, especially short-form video. We’ve seen how quick users are to move from one context to another, how fast people scroll through their feed or articles they're reading.

So content marketing has to be powerful enough and be able to capture enough attention in the first 3-5 seconds so that people actually sit back, enjoy the content and learn about what they've seen in that particular ad to take action. It is a powerful medium and format to drive all action throughout the marketing funnel.

We also know that the marketing journey is no longer a linear customer journey. People jump from one format to another, one channel to another, one device to another in no particular order. The moment consumers discover stuff could also be the moment they make the final action.

Eventually, you hope that consumers should have a friction free experience so that they are able to navigate across your offerings, content, channel and message in a seamless manner, at the same time leaving with what they wanted and carrying back what you wanted them to take away. For now video, especially short form videos, seems to be the format that works across the whole marketing funnel. It is able to provide both awareness and education that people look for and also be a good format to allow the consumers enough information to take action in the moment.

6) What are your predictions for the use of video in video marketing?

I definitely do feel video consumption will continue to rise and continue to dominate. For business, it is important to find a good balance of using videos in their content marketing portfolio and how to best use budgets to build impactful videos across their efforts.

Videos will continue to evolve and marketers will have to keep innovating new ways to effectively deliver content to their audiences whether it is in the form of gifs, cinemagraphs, vertical videos or stories. Case in point, the consumption of Instagram stories has grown by 80% in the past year itself and 400M accounts now use Instagram Stories everyday. I believe video is the new marketing tool which when done right can help drive impact across all your marketing and sales activities.

7) As data becomes pivotal to creating more personalised experiences, how are you best optimising data for marketing?

I'm a big proponent of data and the power of digital marketing with data. If we as marketers are not leveraging data and using it to have marketing reach its full potential, we are missing out.

I use data across the whole journey of planning a campaign and a customer journey, whether it be how we can better target the audience we're trying to reach, or trying to build as narrow a segment as possible with the amount of data we have. Using data to help build customised messaging, creative and content for segments is also very powerful

Data, and using historical data, is extremely important in how you plan and run your marketing efforts. Make sure you use historical data to build benchmarks to find new customers and new lines of business, and to form an opinion on what we should be doing next.

8) How important do you see growth hacking becoming?

I don’t think growth hacking is an action, I think it's more of a mindset. It’s an attitude and ultimately growth hacking for me is about connecting the goal we want to have back to the action we take.

A lot of times in organisations, big or small, you will not have all the resources you need which poses different challenges. A growth hacking mindset is all about overcoming challenges and finding smart ways to still achieve what you need to achieve with the resources and capabilities you have on the team.

9) How do you see the challenges and opportunities brought up by AI technologies to digital transformation?

AI hasn't reached mainstream - it’s in a few industries but I don’t think we have use cases of large scale use of AI in marketing. However, I think AI can really help in bringing together all depths of data from different channels and media and really come together to create one view of the customer. That will help us to customise and personalise the journey. In addition, AI can help connect  all of our current technology and channels together and support in building a seamless omnichannel go to market strategy. For example, bots could provide very customised and personalised touchpoints leveraging AI empowered infrastructure and strategy.

Sakhee will speak at the Digital Marketing Leaders Summit Singapore 2018 on 12 - 13 September at the Marina Bay Sands.

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