With the needs of digital consumers becoming more personal, companies must learn about their online habits and preferred channels to serve them better.

Throughout our waking hours, we filter the world through screens. Our cellphones are the first thing we check in the morning, followed by the laptops and tablets we use for work and entertainment, and perhaps a last look at our personal digital devices just before we go to sleep.

More people today are using digital devices such as smartphones, laptops/desktops and tablets, with smartphone users alone reaching 1.86 billion worldwide in 2015 and expecting to rise to 2.66 billion in 2019. The top five activities that Internet users perform with their mobile devices include e-mail, working, reading news articles/articles/books, using social media, and watching movies/videos online, indicating that the Internet is a primary source for information that digital consumers can also use to make purchase decisions.

Although an online strategy must be carefully designed before implemented, all businesses should realize that the end-users of their products are themselves taking their transactions online, morphing into digital consumers with the use of personal digital devices. Companies looking to reach their customers more efficiently will find that the Internet and connected devices allow for many opportunities to do so.
Every business transaction starts with the consumer seeking satisfaction, and with so much access to information via digital devices, needs are becoming more personal and specific. It’s necessary for enterprises to learn the habits of the digital consumer so that they can fulfill these needs, increase customer satisfaction, and help build a healthy digital economy while reaping its benefits.

Asian consumers are a receptive audience

According to Digital Consumer View 2015 (Asia), more than 60% of survey respondents in Asia say they use their smartphones often, while 50% also use laptops and desktops. This high penetration of smartphones and personal computers spells great opportunities for marketing to the digital consumer. The same survey reveals that an average of about 70% in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Thailand and Singapore are happy to receive promotional content on mobile, digital and social platforms, making for a very receptive audience that businesses should start addressing.

Consumers in Asia are increasingly buying products and services using the devices they own, from early steps such as comparing information between products to the final action of purchasing. This is because their digital screens make it easy for them to do entire processes with the use of one app.

In the above survey, 75% of respondents said that they used their digital devices for banking transactions, which was followed by shopping at 70%. We’ve all experienced waiting in long lines at the bank to make a simple deposit transaction, sometimes nervous about the fact that we’re carrying a significant amount of cash. Similarly, making a huge purchase at a store can call some unwanted attention, and there’s still the problem of storing the item while going on with your shopping. The use of digital devices to reduce or eliminate such steps and get the product or service quickly to the customer is what has made adoption swift for digital consumers.

Start talking through e-mail and social media

Besides searching for information on a browser, other ways that digital consumers gather information about products and services are through e-mail and social media.

In the survey, 68% of respondents said they opened e-mails in their smartphones, which means that marketers should be creating mobile-responsive messages that can be read with ease on smaller screens. With 60% also saying they opened e-mails on their laptops and desktops, e-mail in general still proves to be a significant communication channel for marketers to use in reaching their customers.

Social media is also a great tool that companies can use to not only inform customers, but also to engage them in conversation. Half of the survey respondents said that they bought a product after seeing a promotional post on social media. The platform also allows for conversations about your product to occur, and these may have a positive impact on sales. If you see one friend tweet that a product is good, you can also check out what other people tweeted about it and base your decision to buy on their reviews. This type of conversation and others also occur on social chat apps such as WeChat and LINE, which have high penetration in Asia and amplify promotions on a larger scale with relatively little effort.

Make messages personal

However, it’s not enough to identify which channels to use in reaching the digital consumer—what really matters is the message. Forty percent of survey respondents said that they weren’t interested in integrated content sent to their e-mail addresses, indicating that messages sent to customers must be targeted and personalized to a certain extent.

One factor that companies should consider in fine-tuning the messages they send to digital consumers is the user experience. According to the survey, although respondents in Asia said they found well-rounded content on most channels, they also thought that a significant amount of content on these channels tended to be repetitive or boring. It’s easy to spot whether the “person” at the other end is a living being who genuinely cares or a “bot” rattling off a script.

Companies must make the effort to perform dynamic content management, sending messages to consumers in a variety of flavors that portray a consistent yet exciting brand identity. It would also help to give customers the information they need in the easiest way possible because convenience is most likely a factor that would generate return business. Yes, we’d love to view your catalog of new products—but please remove all these pop-ups on your landing pages so we can find prices right off the bat.

Give the right, relevant information

Companies should also ensure that their messages contain accurate information and content relevant to the user. Between 29% and 44% of respondents said that they had received conflicting promotions across different channels, which means that marketers in Asia should work harder to achieve content congruency in their use of multiple digital platforms.

Making content relevant to digital consumers in Asia may be achieved by personalization, or understanding the individual preferences of customers through collected data. Digital Consumer View 2015 (Asia), cited personal information such as location, recently viewed items, delivery options and purchase history as some of the best clues that could lead digital consumers from a promotional message to a purchase. Marketing products to people based on their proximity and what they already bought gives digital consumers a sense that attention is being paid to them, that a company is anticipating their needs and looking out for them.

Enterprises should sincerely care

Overall, Asians are receptive to data collection for personalized marketing, with the exception of the Chinese, who reportedly had the highest percentages of unhappiness at the prospect of their information being collected. Fifty-nine percent of respondents also said they were “happy” or “very happy” with offers they received from companies based on their purchase history.

This means that despite certain privacy concerns, digital consumers still respond well to enterprises that seem to care about their needs and are eager to address them, as long as the information used involves a relevant operation—e.g. purchase history for shopping, or account information retained for future banking transactions.

Combined with responsible data collection and a sincere desire to cater to customers on their own terms, enterprises can reach out to digital consumers through online channels and find out what services they prefer and how to improve their interactions. Enterprises must get to know their digital consumers to learn more about their own business and work to provide a richer user experience that can be mutually beneficial.