23 June 2018
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“Sri Lankan companies are opening their eyes to the immense value of online marketing” - Rajitha Dahanayake, CEO of eMarketingEye

rajitha dahaeMarketingEye (www.emarketingeye.com), the award-winning Sri Lankan online marketing agency and a pioneer in the industry, celebrated its 8th anniversary recently. Established in 2007, eMarketingEye is a pioneer in the online marketing industry in Sri Lanka and has grown to be one of the best in the Asian region over the past eight years, having gained international recognition for its expertise in providing online marketing solutions to the travel and hospitality industry.

Speaking about the online marketing industry, Rajitha Dahanayake, Founder and CEO of eMarketingEye described how the industry has grown over the past few years and how Sri Lankan companies are fast catching up with the rest of the region.Within this context, following are excerpts of an interview conducted with him.

Q: How has online marketing evolved in Sri Lanka?
A: When we entered the Sri Lankan market around 2008, it was difficult. Organizations had very little understanding of online marketing and the focus was more on marketing on traditional media. As the years went by, online marketing became a powerful media globally and they understood the numerous benefits of it. Today, things are looking very positive in Sri Lanka. Online marketing has grown to such a level that companies are recruiting dedicated individuals or putting together teams for implementing digital strategy. When it comes to the vertical we specialize in – hotels and travel – it has now become a norm. Some companies even have a small online marketing team in-house. While that is a step in the right direction, ultimately only fully-fledged online marketing agencies knows the subject inside out and has the capability to keep abreast of the latest developments in this ever-changing field.

Q: Have Sri Lankan corporates embraced the concept of online marketing?
A: I am happy to say thatSri Lankan companies are opening their eyes to the immense value of online marketing. All the FMCGs have online marketing budgets, which is a huge win for the online marketing industry. The good thing is that the industry is continuing to grow and more and more companies across various industries are looking at online marketing as something they should pay closer attention to.

However, I must point out that sometimes companies make the wrong decision of letting a Web Developer or an IT Manager handle their online marketing. What they should ideally do is recruit an ecommerce person who can coordinate with online marketing agencies. Some of the larger companies have an in-house online marketing team where part of the work is done internally while part of it is given out to an online marketing agency.

While there is visible progress, the top management of some companies is still getting used to the concept of online marketing. For instance, a Marketing Head might publish 5 full-page ads in a Sunday newspaper - costing millions of Rupees - without stopping to think how effective it is. The ad will be seen only on one day by a few thousand people. If that same individual spends a fraction of that cost on an online marketing campaign for a couple of weeks, he would see that it would reach a wider audience for a longer period of time and with the added benefit of interacting with the user via a website or an app.

Q: How big is the industry globally and locally? What is the potential you see?
A: Global Digital Ad Spend is over US$ 140 billion in 2014.In 2015 it is expected to reach US$ 170 billion.

There is no doubt that Sri Lanka has huge potential in online marketing but the market is still growing. Outside Sri Lanka, certain markets are much more evolved and have an excellent understanding of online marketing. Therefore, they are ready to spend more and try out new things in order to stand out from the competition.

Q: How is it different from the global clients you service?
A: When it comes to the hotel and travel industry, at the middle management level, both local and foreign clients are at the same knowledge level. Actually, at times we find that the local middle managers are ahead of their counterparts in foreign companies. However, when it comes to the senior management, the foreign clients have a higher knowledge levels and they are willing to try out new things. Local companies that need to reach out to the foreign market are ready to invest heavily when it comes to things such as SEO or PPC. However, if they are targeting local clients, they primarily focus on social media tools such as Facebook and not SEO or PPC.

Q: How is eMarketingEye different in their approach for delighting clients?
A: Our approach is all about being transparent, flexible and performance-driven. We work very closely with our clients at all times and have transparent dealings when it comes to their projects. This means that the client knows exactly what happens to their money when they sign up with us.We are always flexible and are ready to go the extra mile to keep our clients happy. It is something we practice at every level within the company. We are also ready to give the option for campaigns to be performance-driven which is something welcomed by some clients. This helps both parties to achieve great things together. Our comprehensive analysis, systems and reporting is one of our key strengths that has helped us stay ahead of the competition. We have access to vast amounts of information so that, together with the client, we make strategic, informed decisions for the campaign.

Q: Why should one bring in online marketing into their marketing budgets?
A: Online marketing is well on its way to becoming a key component of marketing. In certain industries, such as hotels and travel, online marketing plays a crucial role in the marketing effort. If you don’t do it, you lose more revenue. For instance, if a hotel does not do online marketing, they will have to rely on tour companies and online travel agents for their bookings and this means that they’ll have to pocket out more money in terms of commissions. But if they do a proper online marketing campaign, they can get direct bookings and their yield will be more. Similarly, if you look at other industries, they see the potential in online marketing and how it can impact positively in their overall marketing effort.

Online marketing is not just an advertising medium we should look at that as a distribution or sales channel.

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