Unlocking Growth: Digital Strategy to Win the Market for SMEs in Vietnam

Unlocking Growth: Digital Strategy to Win the Market for SMEs in Vietnam

In the previous article, we explored the common challenges faced by new businesses in Vietnam regarding their utilization of social advertising. We looked at market research findings that indicated a disproportionate increase in sellers compared to a relatively stagnant number of buyers. Furthermore, we provided a technical analysis highlighting prevalent errors in setup, optimization, and strategic direction. Building on these findings, today's discussion will center on actionable steps and strategic adjustments crucial for navigating the saturated market landscape. You may not be the person in charge of digital marketing at your company but I think this strategy can help you to find the right people in charge and understand their issues to support company growth hacking.
If you have not had a roadmap of building your e-commerce, you can check 7 Strategic Steps to Kickstart Your E-Commerce Venture in Vietnam: A Beginner's Roadmap.

1. Efficient Campaign Structuring

This crucial step is often overlooked by individuals unfamiliar with data-driven digital marketing practices or by businesses lacking experience in this domain. As discussed earlier, instead of laughing numerous campaigns without a clear optimization strategy, a more scientific approach is recommended. This involves drilling down into specific details.

a. Media Plan

For digital marketers adopting a strategic and data-centric approach, the initial focus when formulating a plan revolves around creating a comprehensive media plan. This includes establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are based on reality rather than arbitrary targets that satisfy your boss and customers. These KPIs provide a realistic projection of circumstances, ranging from the most positive to the most negative, based on historical data (from the previous year or the immediate past three months), giving you strategies for distributing ads correctly.
The media plan is meticulously tracked daily, including aspects such as budget allocation and key metrics like clicks, Click-Through Rate (CTR), Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS), and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). Every ten days, a review is conducted to assess the plan's alignment with actual performance, facilitating adjustments to stay closely aligned with data-driven insights. Tools such as Google Spreadsheet, Excel, and Locker Studio can aid in streamline KPI tracking. For organizational leaders, it's advisable to request detailed monthly media plans from employees, including:
  • Estimated budget and objectives
  • Channel allocation
  • Target audience segmentation
  • Daily allocation
  • Implementation tactics
  • Optimization metrics

b. Campaign Structure

In larger marketing agencies, especially for large branding campaigns with a monthly spending reach of billions of VND, the volume of ad setups can be overwhelming. To meet this challenge, agencies often delegate ad setup tasks to trainees or interns. However, supervising the work of these individuals and ensuring accuracy can be a daunting task. How do they keep track of what the newbies are doing right or wrong? Senior marketers act as architects, creating specific campaign structure templates.
These templates serve as blueprints that outline audience segmentation, campaign structure, ad sets, and budget allocation. Creative assets, such as banners and content, are methodically categorized to help interns seamlessly follow the plan and create ads with precision.
So what do we learn? Typically, advertising campaigns are left entirely in the hands of employees. However, risks often come from simple problems that we do not expect. Wrong setup, problematic content, or oversight in tracking. Such mistakes, while seemingly minor, can result in significant losses for businesses. For example, Google Display ads often tend to overspend, potentially depleting a monthly budget in a matter of days. A structured approach not only helps optimize campaign performance but also helps effectively limit budget overruns.
Once setup is complete, you can use SyncWith or Supermetrics to pull data from Facebook and Google into a spreadsheet file. Then combine the values you want to the metrics following KPIs using the Split Text formula in Google Spreadsheet/Excel.
For example, here we can get parameters on audience, creativity, location, gender, and campaign type to see how much we spent, how effective it was, and what actions we need to take to optimize.

2. Streamlined Ad Duplication

While there are benefits to replicating ads, it's important to approach this strategy with caution. Here, we'll discuss the key metrics to consider before duplicating ads:
  • What contributes more to effective advertising: audience or creativity?
If the effectiveness of an ad depends largely on its audience, then duplicating the ad set to create 1-3 additional ad groups targeting similar audiences is advisable, depending on your organization's budget. Note, however, that you should add some new content or creativity to the ad to expand the testable capacity.
If creativity is the primary driver of ad effectiveness, a simple approach is to replicate successful creative elements in other client files, especially new files to speed up the evaluation of their effectiveness.
  • What is the current frequency of advertising?
Each customer cohort has a different size. For example, campaigns for low-cost, mass-market products tend to have broader targeting, while those for specialized products often have a narrower approach to speed A/B testing (typically under 300,000 - 500,000 estimated audience size). Therefore, it's wise to consider ad frequency metrics before initiating duplication. If customers see ads three times a day, replication will only make Facebook more money and potentially annoy customers. In such scenarios, exploring new content avenues with the existing team is preferable.
  • How much duplication is optimal?
There's no set amount. Depending on the size of your audience and the diversity of your product, you can duplicate as much as you want. However, we recommend limiting simultaneous duplication to no more than three groups to reduce ad redundancy. Allocating additional time for customer research can lead to more compelling content and campaign concepts.

3. Diversification of Sales Channels

In today's e-commerce world, many people claim to be entrepreneurs, but not all fit the bill. There are two main types: The Mercian and the Entrepreneur.
To be a mercian, building a brand is good but it's not necessary. e-commerce can be a good place for you to scale while you have the advantage of inventory and pricing. Just to be sure customers recognize you as a reputable distributor, you catch the trend, and sales will come.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs aim to build strong brands for sustainability. While E-commerce helps with growth, it's not the best place to start. Why?

a. Fees

✓ Fixed costs: 4%
✓ Commission fees: 4%
✓ Payment fees: 4%
✓ Advertising fees: 10% - 20%
✓ Return fees: 2%
✓ Voucher/Free Shipping/Discount
In addition, there are many other small fees related to customer support, the total costs can be up to 50%. Of course, this is the most optimal cost, because for a new shop, an advertising fee of 10% is unimaginable, not to mention promotions or loyalty campaigns. After all, simply, no promotion means you create demand for your competitors' products competitors. Besides, Shopee will keep the money for 15-20 days before refunding the seller, it will be very difficult for you to rotate capital within the above mentioned time.

b. Customer Data

Shopee and all e-commerce marketplaces in the world do not share customer information with you. You as a seller will not know who your customers are. You don't have their phone or email for re-targeting and marketing purposes. You also cannot visualize your customer portraits for the next upcoming products or product improvements.
There are many other related issues, such as how to develop a brand story and clarify product features when Shopee limits information to 3,000 characters. Doing business on the marketplace is simple because it is for everyone, but because of that simplicity, we have to be thoughtful. So proactively build, optimize, and focus on your website. Think of Shopee, Lazada, or TikTok Shop as a channel at the end of your funnel, helping you convert people in need into your customers. This is the best way to build a sustainable brand.

c. How to build an e-commerce website?

Shopify can be a great choice to build your e-commerce website if you plan to scale your business. With a foundation built on data from around the world, Shopify is designed to make it easy for users to use and manage products. In addition, Shopify has an app marketplace ecosystem where you can search for and install additional apps to extend the functionality of your online store.
Some popular apps in the Shopify App Marketplace include
  • Mailchimp: For creating and managing email marketing strategies.
  • Oberlo: To easily import goods from AliExpress into your Shopify store.
  • Yotpo: To create and manage product ratings and reviews from customers.
  • Bold Upsell: Increase sales by suggesting related or higher-value products to customers during the checkout process.
  • ReCharge: Create and manage monthly or quarterly subscription programs for recurring products.
  • SEA‑Market Connector: Integrate product, inventory, and customer information between Shopify and Shopee/Lazada.
Feedforce Vietnam, as a Shopify partner, can support you to build and developing your e-commerce website in Vietnam.
Source: Shopify
Source: Shopify

4. Building Brand story and Brand Identity

“The death of advertising. Certainly, conventional advertising—ads that seek to persuade people to think differently about product benefits—are becoming less effective as media becomes more fragmented and as audiences become more cynical about marketers’ claims. But cultural branding is different. Iconic brands perform ads that people love to watch. With the advent of the Web, customers search out these”
"Brand loyalty is the customer's willingness to stay with the brand when competitors come knocking with offerings that would be considered equally attractive had not the customer and the brand shared a history. The degree of customer stickiness is the key to a brand's market power."
This is just one of many excerpts from the book "How Brands Become Icons" by Douglas B. Holt, a selective read that might not be the most popular but certainly ranks among the must-reads in the Harvard Business School library. Although published in 2004, the book lays bare issues relevant to today's businesses, which often prioritize short-term strategies over building brand narratives for their target customers.
According to Holt, the crux of the matter lies in the fact that corporate brand managers, typically armed with MBAs, excel in financial metrics like revenue projections and ROI, yet lack insight into the narratives and life experiences that truly drive consumer purchasing behavior. Holt illustrates how iconic brands such as Mountain Dew, Harley-Davidson, and Coca-Cola cultivate a culture around their brand, targeting specific customer segments. These groups then become advocates, spreading the brand message virally to the masses, those who are drawn to the aspirational lifestyle embodied by Harley or Moutain Dew fans. This phenomenon parallels the rise of Rap music's popularity in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Print ads from Harley-Davidson in 1963
Print ads from Harley-Davidson in 1963

5. Conclusion

In summary, navigating the complexities of social advertising for emerging businesses in Vietnam requires a multifaceted approach. By addressing common challenges such as market saturation and technical errors head-on, companies can lay a solid foundation for success. Efficient campaign structuring, including the development of realistic KPIs and meticulous tracking, serves as a cornerstone for effective marketing strategies. It's important not to focus solely on growth hacking methods to increase short-term sales such as live streams, discounts, and free shipping. We need to harmoniously combine issues related to building brand identity and value with sales commitment according to KPI, measuring the formation of word of mouth marketing to ensure that our business We are on the right track.

6. Maximize Your E-commerce Sales in Vietnam With Us

Feedforce Vietnam is a team of e-commerce consultants with marketing and technology expertise for the fast-growing Vietnamese market.
We are an agency with strengths in upstream consulting and comprehensive one-stop support for e-commerce site production, marketplace management, and advertising operations. We understand the dynamics of platforms like Shopee, Lazada, Shopify, and more.