App, Apt and Away!

Ms Roshni Mahtani Cheung shares how she utilised her digital prowess to transform her business from a blog to a content, marketing, and e-commerce powerhouse. 

The inspiration for theAsianparent hit me when I found a gap that needed to be addressed — the dearth of online parenting content related to the Asian context of raising kids. I saw an opportunity and created theAsianparent blog and wrote the first 1,000 articles. In 2010, we launched theAsianparent Singapore website and over the years launched in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

From page to app

When we launched theAsianparent app in 2018, it wasn’t because we wanted to move from website to app, per se, but rather to create a platform that would enrich the user experience.

It was the first step to building a community that we could truly nurture and cater to on a more granular level. While our website amassed millions of traffic across the region, it still posed certain limitations to customising the user experience. The app allows us to follow each of our users’ pregnancy and parenting stage, and provide them with the content and tools relevant to their specific needs.

The data helps us validate what we could only hypothesise based on high level metrics on our website traffic. For example, we observed that a huge part of our organic web traffic points to pregnancy-related articles, but we can’t determine which pregnancy or parenting stage the readers are in. With the app, it tells us the complete journey of our users, from their parenting stage to the types of content and tools they frequently consume or use.

The data also allows us to create custom segments for our clients’ campaigns, giving them richer conversions coming from their target audience.

Listening to users and growing together

Part of our mission is to provide young families with opportunities to augment the household income. We conducted a regional poll on our app and determined our community’s desire or need for such opportunities. Hence, that was how theAsianparent VIP, our influencer marketing and content creator platform, came about in 2021.

Many of the mothers are stay-at-home mums without their own income; many of them are also educated yet would like the balance of providing hands-on care for their kids and earning at the same time. So far, our VIP platform has been successful in growing our membership because it answers a major community need: to earn and be able to provide for their families.

As we have already built a strong content and community foundation, it was a natural direction for The Parentinc, our holding company, to enter the ecommerce space and build our own D2C brand, Mama’s Choice.

Building a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand takes a community-first approach. You start with a community, hear them out, create products that cater to their concerns, and receive direct feedback so you can improve on those products — the turnaround is faster between the D2C brand and the community, which is a benefit to both parties. You enable an end-to-end customer relationship that is impossible otherwise in a traditional wholesale model.

Marketing for digital platforms

Using the native language helps tremendously especially if you’re targeting a bilingual market. In the Philippines, we published the website in English initially. But when we decided to focus on producing content in Filipino, our traffic increased by 200% within the year.

Making sure that you address the local concerns, such as the topics that your target audience often searches on Google, will improve your platform’s relevance and hence you’ll enjoy an increase in your traffic and the growth of your community.

For example, we initially applied one set of designs for all markets to use when developing our pregnancy tracker which would provide weekly size references of the growing foetus in comparison to fruits and vegetable. But we realised that our app users in Thailand didn’t find the original fruit and vegetable designs appealing enough. After our local graphic design team in Thailand changed the entire set, we saw an increase in the usage of pregnancy tracker in that market. Visuals really matter, so you have to rely on your local content and design team to decide on what will click best with the local audience.

theAsianparent platform sees over 35 million users monthly.

Build on your assets and community

At theAsianparent, we really value the community that we have. Now, as we move forward in the post-pandemic period, we aim to fortify our visibility and relationship within the industry and with the parenting communities in the markets we’re in by hosting our own or participating in mum and baby events (now that physical events are possible again).

Our in-house marketing arm, theAsianparent Insights, also complements the way we cater to our partner brands and our community. Brands come to us for insights on this segment and how best to reach and engage with them and earn their loyalty. It definitely helps to reinforce our position as the leader in marketing to mothers in SEA.

If you are planning to expand to other verticals, I strongly recommend doing thorough research. Test one market first, and do not branch out to so many at the same time. Observe what works,what doesn’t, and recalibrate as needed according to what you discover. Set a time limit also as to when you should pull the plug. You need to determine what your limits are, and to know when to keep pushing or to let go and move on.

It also helps to listen to your local teams and conduct regular focus group discussions involving the local communities to whom you cater to. Keep an ear on the ground so you are abreast of what your community’s interests and concerns are and be sure to address these. Expansion is more than establishing visibility in a market, but establishing relevance within your community.

Ms Roshni Mahtani Cheung is the founder of theAsianparent, Southeast Asia’s largest content and community platform for parents, with a reach of over 35 million users monthly and an app store rating of 4.9 stars. The platform is available in 11 languages across 13 countries. Her company also launched theAsianparent app in 2018 and its influencer marketing platform in 2021.