6 Types of Digital Marketing Agency in Singapore that you’ve always mistaken as the same

 It is no secret that numerous SMEs in Singapore have had their fingers burnt from their engagement with a digital marketing agency. To quote Eugene from i.Poise Design, a boutique firm in Singapore: “Even after advertising for 1 year and spending nearly $15,000 with this company, we had hardly 2 genuine leads and any ROI”

Before going with an agency in Singapore, you have to understand what you are paying for:

  • Is the local team carrying out your work or are they outsourcing it to contractors in the Philippines or India?
  • Are they bundling all sorts of services that you do not require inside the package?
  • Are they specialized in getting the results that you are looking for?

It all starts with knowing what you want and the problem to be solved. 

If water is leaking from your basin, you wouldn’t call an aircon contractor to fix it.

Image result for meme i can fix anything with a hammer

The same wisdom applies to digital marketing. Each digital marketing agency in Singapore has its unique expertise.

Here is a basic introduction to the different types of “marketing” agencies in Singapore.

Below, you will find out the approximate price range of each type of agency as well as their respective KPIs. On top of that, if you want to save costs by going for DIY, you can also read on to learn more. 

Creative Agencies
PR Agencies
SEO Agencies
Web Design/Development Agencies
Marketing Automation Agencies
Direct Response Agencies

Below is a breakdown of each agency – what they are and what they have to offer businesses and advertisers operating in Singapore.

Free bonus:
Download insider PDF: 5 things you need to know before engaging an agency

Click here to download

Creative Agency

Creative agencies are tech-agnostic which means they can help you with anything from the design of logos or brochures to that of online creatives such as banners, infographics or videos.  For example, if you need to create an image for Facebook advertising, the dimensions required is 1200x628px and the image must not contain more than 20% text. Bouncing to-and-from with your agency takes up valuable time and may cost you extra fees for editing, so it is important to be clear at the outset!

You can engage an agency such as Penji for unlimited designs from $550/month onwards.

If you have one-off small design needs, you can work with freelancers from Upwork or Fiverr at very affordable prices. For example, a banner may cost $30 onwards. 


PR/Influencer Agency

PR agencies write news-worthy editorials for companies & individuals, which are strategically placed on relevant websites, TV programs, and Newspapers. In the digital-first world, landing a mention in the digital publication could prove to be even more valuable than that of a print publication, considering that the article stays on the internet forever. If you are lucky, it even provides SEO value for the business.

The KPI of a content marketing or PR agency is typically traffic or article views; their objective being to maintain a business’ reputation as being honest, relevant, and important in the eyes of the public.

You can engage a PR agency or work with media sites directly.

For example, an advertorial article with Daily Vanity or TheSmartLocal cost upwards of $5000 while a website with smaller traffic may charge $1000 to $3000. If you engage an influencer to promote your product, you can expect to pay an average of $500 to $1000 per post on Instagram. 

Even for SMEs and startups, it can be a good idea to engage in PR and content marketing activities to start building trust around your brand. The positive reputation could indirectly improve the results of advertising campaigns and bring you more sales.

In fact, if you have an overarching strategy(find out by using this tool), content marketing can also contribute towards the generation of leads and sales. For example, the articles & videos you create can serve as top-of-funnel content for nurturing of your audiences. By using retargeting, you can bring them down the funnel and convert them into customers. Below is an example of a retargeting campaign for a client of ours selling tongue brushes. The target audience reads an informative copy about how dirty our tongue is, and is then retargeted with an offer.

Retargeting campaign

SEO Agency

With 1000+ searches on Google each month, “SEO agency” is likely the most popular agency on this list.

Simply put, Search engine optimization (SEO) agencies in Singapore make search-engine friendly technical and content changes to a client’s website that help it to rank higher in search engines like Google. Ranking on the first page of Google captures 71%-93% of all search traffic clicks.

The KPI of an SEO agency would typically be ranking on 1st page of Google search results. There is a lot of misconception that rankings always translate to sales results, but that is not the case. There are several situations whereby SEO is not recommended for SMEs .e.g. when the search volume is low or when it is too competitive. You may already have heard of complaints and scams about outsourcing digital marketing and it arises when expectations don’t match reality.

The average cost of SEO in Singapore at the moment is between $800-$5000 per month, and it is worth the price if you managed to work with a legitimate vendor that can provide a lasting result.

You might have to take note that SEO is not necessarily a lead generation strategy.  Ranking on 1st page of Google can provide you with the much-needed exposure for your brand but it is not effective for lead generation, particularly if your website is not optimized for conversion. Check out the video below to understand the difference between SEO and lead generation strategy.

In other words, you always have to understand what you are paying for in the first place.

Free bonus:
Download insider PDF: 5 things you need to know before engaging an agency

Click here to download

Website Design/Development Agency

Is website design and development the same? No!

What are the differences?

Website design is concerned with a website’s aesthetics and usability, while web development takes the design and brings it to life (i.e., makes it possible). Web designers use programs like Adobe Photoshop to create the layout of the website and web developers use programming languages like HTML & CSS to make the created layouts appear and function as they should.

When you hire a web design/development agency, it would be essential to check if they help with both aspects. It is not uncommon for businesses to get a rude shock when they see their new website lacking visual appeal. Examples of web design companies in Singapore that do both are Hello Pomelo and Lemonade. Web design project may start from $3000. 

Another critical clarification when it comes to web design is the difference between aesthetics and User Interface(UI). Both are not the same. A website with good UI helps in converting web visitors to leads & customers better. It considers the user experience and psychology bit and typically requires the expertise of a digital marketer. It is therefore recommended that you gain clarity on the customer acquisition action plan first before you decide to spend money on a website.

Marketing Automation Agency

What is marketing automation?

This is an up-and-coming aspect of agency service. It covers cool things such as Facebook chatbot, email automation, CRM and other forms of automation. This is typically carried out with the use of software such as Hubspot(one-stop sales-and-marketing), MailChimp(email marketing automation), Infusionsoft(email and CRM), Manychat(Chat automation), Buffer(social media) and more. Its applications range from customer service to lead nurturing to content marketing.

Hubspot marketing automation plan costs $1120/month whereas a simple email marketing plan is free on Mailchimp for the first 2000 subscribers. 


Many of the above software are designed to be user-friendly enough to be implemented on your own but if you need an agency, there is always one here in Singapore. For example, happy marketer helps in Hubspot CRM implementation. 

In the digital world, you want to be especially mindful of the shiny object syndrome which is the constant chasing after new things. Marketing automation typically makes sense when you have filled up your pipeline sufficiently with leads or customers and want to take things to the next level. You also want to make sure that your new idea doesn’t conflict with the overall strategy.  For example, implementation of chatbot means you cannot track leads conversion on Facebook.

Direct Response Agency

Basically, there are two major types of marketing strategies, branding & direct response. While the former influences sales over the long term, the latter directly generate sales.

You may have heard stories about viral videos that failed to generate a single customer or influencers campaign not being able to drive sales, such as this one about an influencer with 2.6million followers but barely any sales.

This is the reason why Direct Response Marketing has been gaining prominence over the last few years. Businesses are tired of paying for vanity metrics such as clicks, impressions, likes and shares.

This is especially the case after the onset of Covid-19 which caused all businesses to tighten their purse strings. CNBC reported that direct response was a bright spot in Facebook and Google’s ads business while all other areas were down.

This is the only agency in this list with a clear KPI of generating leads and sales. A direct response advertisement will always contain some kind of CTA (call-to-action) to entice a prospect to ‘move’ in a certain direction.

There are some features that are particular to direct response marketing, some of which are given below:

Trackable/Measurable: When an action is taken, the specific ad, media, and channel can be known and therefore a marketing campaign can be optimized to keep running the ‘winners’ and cutting the ‘losers’ to increase ROI.

Targeting: Direct response campaigns are centered around a target audience. This allows for more immediate results from a campaign since the advertiser can craft a message in the ‘language’ which the targeted audience understands.

Call-to-action: Intentional messaging that brings audiences across various stages of awareness from Attention to Interest, Desire and finally Action. This is done so with calibrated copywriting and rhetoric based on a firm understanding of the target audiences’ psyche.

A direct response agency plans, creates, and manages direct response campaigns for their clients! Our agency Ice Cube Marketing falls in this category. With a singular focus, we have gotten so good at what we do that clients tend to see a positive ROI within 2months. Some of our results include:

Absolute Wellness: Increased sales by 30% in 3 months.

Airconnection: Increased ROI 11x by replacing foot traffic with online traffic.

CA International College: Increased the number of leads by 52% while lowering the cost per lead (CPL) simultaneously.

Kumon: lowered cost per lead by 35% within 1 month

Dian Xiao Er: Increased online sales by 5-figures.

i.Poise Design: Turned a small ad budget into 6-figures of revenue in 1 month.

Due to the nature of direct response marketing, we work on a performance-based arrangement with many of our clients. Feel free to request a free consultation with us. You can also answer a few questions in this suitability quiz to find out if direct response is the right approach for your business now. Our fees starts from $1k/month but we help our clients typically make 3x more than what they pay. 

How to choose?

There are at least 1000 agencies in Singapore. Once you have an idea of what you need, it narrows your search drastically and reduces your overwhelm. An agency typically has a core strength, be it copywriting, design, technology or SEO.

In order to gain more clarity, do not be afraid of engaging agencies in a no-obligation chat to get advice about what you should do. You can ask for their track record, case studies and find out if they have a framework or process for carrying out the work. (Otherwise, the standards may vary across individual employees)

As due diligence, you can also check platform sites to find out about an agency’s credentials. For example, Hubspot directory shows that there are 59 Hubspot partners in Singapore. Facebook Agencies Directory has 55 Facebook Marketing Partner agencies (we are one of them!)


Move forward

I am glad you took the time to read this article because having clear expectations helps in creating a successful working relationship with any agency you work with. A word of caution here: do not get stuck in “analysis paralysis” as many businesses do. In the digital world, things move fast and you want to be ahead of the competition.

In our agency, we do not believe in tying up clients in 1-year contract or the like. We typically enter a 3months trial so that both parties can understand if it is the right fit for each other to work long term. You may be hard-pressed to undergo digital transformation but a journey of thousand miles start with the first step. Instead of getting caught up with perfectionism, take one step at a time and you will be ahead of the rest in no time.

3 ways to market like you are reading your prospects’ minds

One of the biggest challenges that you face as a business owner is to get your marketing to engage your prospects. The average person sees 1,700 banner ads per month. When you add online videos, newspapers, billboards, radio, and TV, it’s easy to see that consumers are inundated with ads.

That’s why it’s so vital that you market in a way that really speaks to your prospects. Think of how much more impactful your marketing will be if you can make prospects feel like you’re reading their minds. Doing this will get your prospects to focus on your message while also helping you establish a connection with your prospects.

Here are three different things that you can do to achieve this.

1. Deliver on What They Want

A common mistake that business owners make with their marketing is trying to communicate to their prospects what they need. For instance, take the Impossible Foods company. They made it a mission to provide a meat alternative that is just as delicious as real beef.

What people want is a delicious burger, not an alternative that doesn’t taste as good. What if Impossible Foods tried to push the message for consumers to be responsible and eat a meat alternative because the production of meat is one of the biggest environmental problems in the world? This would never work.

Instead, Impossible Burger focused their marketing on its identical taste to real beef. They got many people trying out their burgers and sharing feedback about how delicious and authentic it tasted.

This was when they reinforced their message of why people needed to eat their burgers.
They communicated that their meat alternative was sustainable, healthy, and affordable. By focusing on the core want, they got the attention of their target audience. By following up with explaining why the audience needed the product, it gives the logical justification for why customers need to purchase the product.

If your problem is not knowing exactly what customers want and even need, here is a set of questions to learn about your target customer.

2. Use Reverse Selling to Draw in Prospects

It makes a lot of sense for business owners to be aggressive when it comes to their marketing and sales. But this can be very counterproductive in some cases. The more a salesperson tries to put the pressure on and get the prospect to make the purchase, the more resistant the prospect can get.

Instead, you want to use reverse selling techniques to draw in prospects and get them committed to your message. One technique you can use is to rally prospects to your side. By being more vulnerable and honest, you can create a personal connection with prospects.

This can be done through stories and personal anecdotes that relate to the issues prospects face. The salesperson that admits that he was skeptical of the product he was selling when he first discovered it will do a far better job in engaging the prospects than the salesperson that is constantly trying to move the prospect to buy. This scenario would even be more convincing if the salesperson shares anecdotes of other products he’s tried and compared.

Another technique is to get the prospects to qualify themselves. Ask prospects why they were interested in your product or service. Ask them why they took the time to meet with you. This gets the prospect is selling themselves on why they need your product or service.

This is also a great way to pre-qualify your prospects. You want to make sure you are using your limited resources on prospects that actually have an interest in what you have to sell. Here are a couple of different ways that you can qualify your sales leads online so that you attract the right audience.

The third reverse selling technique is using negative qualifiers. By communicating who your product or service isn’t for, you are conveying the product’s uniqueness, pre-qualifying prospects, and also engaging the right kind of audience. Some prospects may even feel like they are missing out if they don’t fit into the qualifications.

3. Emphasize What Your Audience Can Lose

One of the most puzzling aspects of consumer psychology is the fact that people will do more to avoid loss than to gain something. This is referred to as loss aversion in marketing. The reason people behave this way is that they want to hold on to what they know and are comfortable with rather than possibly gaining from something they’re unfamiliar with. How can you use this in your marketing?

There are many different ways to emphasize loss. The most direct way is to offer your products at a discount for a limited time or offer a limited number of your products at a lower price. There’s a reason why the biggest companies always offer steep discounts during the holidays for a specific number of days.

But what if you’re trying to target a new audience and bring in new customers? Try to come up with a loss aversion angle tied to the product or service you are offering. For example, what if you let your audience know that they’re losing 10 percent of their home’s value by neglecting an important renovation or maintenance job?

Another approach is to let your audience understand how your product can help them save money or educate them on how much money they’re wasting by not using your product. It always helps to quantify exactly how much they are losing and get them to imagine what that money could’ve been used for.

If you are having problems reaching your prospects and getting them to focus your attention on your message, then you need to change your approach. You want to market in a way that reads your prospects’ minds. These three strategies will shift the way you create your marketing campaign and consequently improve your campaign results.


5 COVID-19 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

The COVID-19 crisis has made businesses scrambling to survive. Various business restrictions, decreased consumer spending, and a global economic slowdown means revenues and profits have taken a dramatic hit. But this doesn’t mean that you should be sitting idle waiting for this to pass over.

You want to be proactive and take the necessary steps to market your business. But what exactly can you do? Here are five COVID-19 marketing tips that you can use to ensure your business can come out of this crisis stronger:

[Prefer to watch a video? Here you go!]

1. Set Up an Affiliate Program

Some businesses are finding it difficult to come up with the capital they need to run advertising and marketing campaigns. If you’re struggling to see sales, you should set up an affiliate program. This is basically a program where you pay people a flat or percentage-based commission when somebody they refer turns into a customer.

The great thing about running an affiliate program is that you only pay out a commission when a sale is made. You are not making any kind of upfront investment to bring in customers. And with Internet usage being very high, more people are open to referring others to a product or service they believe in to make some kind of money. You can check Referralcandy to setup such a program.

But with affiliate programs, you have to make sure that you create a win-win scenario. The commissions should be reasonable. If the commission is too low, this will result in a weak incentive for people to promote you.

2. Run Ads

You would think that during this crisis you should be cutting back on your ads. But you have to be smart about how you run ads. In some industries, the cost of advertising has gone down 20 to 25 percent. This is a great opportunity to test out ads to see if you can make them profitable.

While the data shows that social media ad spend is down all over the world, there hasn’t been a big decline in East Asia. This is probably because many Eastern regions have handled it better than the Western regions. Consumers still are purchasing in Singapore, so businesses are continuing to advertise.

Don’t let fear guide your decisions. Run some social media or search engine ads and use the data to guide your next steps. And remember, these ad platforms are also great because you have a lot of control over your budget.

3. Sell Postponables

If you are running a business that is not allowed to operate, you can still generate sales by selling postponables. Postponables are simply a form of credit that the customers can use for a later time. This can be anything from coupons, gift cards, to free service cards.

The way you want to sell postponables is to make the offer irresistible. For example, if customers buy credit for your business product or services now, they can save 20 percent off the normal price. You can even set up pricing structures that give increased savings based on the amount they purchase.

Even Google is allowing businesses to set up a link on their business pages that links to their gift cards. It might even be a great way to combine postponables with your ads. It’s a far better option than doing nothing because your business isn’t allowed to operate.

4. Improve Your Sales Page

Since everybody is spending most of their time at home, they are opting to purchase remotely. They’re not coming into contact with salespeople as they usually do. That’s why the role of the salesperson has shifted to your website.

If you want to sell effectively on your website, you need to improve your sales page. You need to create a great sales presentation whether it’s text-based, an infographic, or a video. Work on the sales copy or script so that you are communicating effectively and convincing the person on the other end to make a purchase.

5. Work On Your Message

Now isn’t the time to force your message or communicate in a tone-deaf manner. Everyone is going through a difficult period right now. Instead of trying to push your message, enter the conversation that’s already in the minds of your customers.

Think about the mindset they have when it comes to your market or industry. What conversations are they having? What worries them? Why did they visit your website? You want to enter the psychology of your target audience, not try to hijack it.

Obviously, everybody is worried about COVID-19. You will need to address that in some manner or form in your message. Don’t assume that it’s just business as usual. Communicate how you’re dealing with this crisis and how you plan on supporting your customers.

These are five things that you can do to market your business during the COVID-19 crisis. Most business owners are having a tough time right now and a good number of businesses probably will not make it. If you want your business to survive and come out strong when this is all over, you need to be proactive with your marketing.

Google vs Facebook ads: How to reach the untapped market?

In any market, only 3% of your target are actively searching your product. Find out how you can maximize your exposure and reach out to the untapped market.

You are marketing to a different segment of audience when running ads on Google vs Facebook. The approach has to be tailored to each platform.

How to speak at the “same level” as your target audience and resonate with them? [Video]

Digital marketing in Singapore 101: 5 things you need to know

As an advertiser spending more than 1million dollars each year across different industries, we gleaned several lessons about digital marketing in Singapore. Here’s the thing; Most of our digital marketing practices here hail from the United States but advertisers need to know that there are nuances in doing digital marketing in Singapore. In fact, many marketers make the fatal mistake of copy-and-pasting tactics from the US marketers and wonder why their campaigns are not working! Here are 5 lessons that may help you shine a light on your campaign.


“With so many possibilities in digital marketing, where do we even start?”

This is the most common question we hear from businesses in Singapore. It’s simpler than you think. From a channel perspective, just go with the big 2: Google and Facebook.

How about Twitter, Wechat, Snapchat, Yahoo, Vine, Quora and xyz and abc that are highly popular in other countries?

We advise businesses to stick with Google & Facebook for these reasons:

  • Number of users: Google and Facebook each has more than 4million users in Singapore(practically whole of Singapore) which makes it suitable for any business in Singapore.
  • Mature ads platform: When Facebook Ads started in 2009, the ads technology is pathetic. However, over the years, its machine learning and targeting capabilities have gotten much more sophisticated. This means increasingly better ROI for businesses. Other platforms may have users in Singapore but their ads platform still leaves much to be desired. Google is the old guard and needs no introduction.
  • Scalable: Sure you do not need so many customers to make a profit from ads, but Google and Facebook allows you to scale your advertising campaign when you want to. There is a compound effect. The more you advertise on Facebook, the more it learns about your target audience and improves on its targeting precision.
  • Reliability: Other platforms may give you a trickle of a few customers but they quickly dry out. Facebook & Google are able to give a consistent stream of customers each month based on your ad budget– basically, what SMEs in Singapore need the most.

The common argument here is that Google and Facebook are already fraught with advertisers and have gotten too competitive.(see point 4 below on our thoughts on ads saturation).

Our advice applies to the average advertiser in Singapore. Unless you are spending close to 6 figures a month on online ads, you probably have not reached your cap on Google & Facebook. Before you reach your cap, you will be fine sticking to Google and Facebook.

Facebook Targeting

You’ve probably heard about Facebook’s ability to go laser targeted on your ideal prospects based on a large amount of data it has collected of its users. Unlike in the US (in which Facebook has access to more data), however, a number of targeting options are not available to us in Singapore, for example, income level, home type, b2b buyers, and certain purchase behaviors are not available.

Guess what; this is only part 1 of the story.

The real potential around Facebook targeting lies in its use of machine learning. It basically takes over our job as advertisers and decides who to target for us. The longer you run your campaign and accumulate more data, the more accurate it becomes. Facebook ads is built for bigger countries like USA with hundred of millions in population, so when it comes to Singapore, imagine how much easier and faster it is for Facebook to find your ideal prospects.

Time and again, it has been shown. No matter what audiences you choose in your targeting settings, there is bound to be overlaps in the audience being targeted as Facebook takes over the driver’s seat in finding you the perfect audience. For example, if you are an interior designer and you are targeting people who are interested in interior design as well as people who are fans of Renovation portals such as Renotalk, Renonation, Qanvast, Facebook will almost show your ads to the same group of people most likely to click on your ad.

The whole point of this barrage is to tell you that you should focus your effort on crafting the best ad message instead. It will make targeting a whole lot easier; Surprise, surprise. By using ad copies that attract your target audiences to engage with or click on, Facebook develops an idea of your best prospects and show your ads to more of the same type. This way, your ad actually does the “targeting” for you! Put simply, Ads ideation trumps audience targeting, particularly in Singapore.

Funnels: Online vs offline 

If you follow any of the top US marketers such as Russell Brunson or Ramit Sethi, you know that a lot of them are proponents of sales funnels that are 100% online and even automated. They tend to run ads that send traffic to a webinar or an automated email sequence which nurtures and ultimately converts the prospects, collecting payment online.

However, in Singapore, consumer expectations are slightly different. Perhaps due in part to the size and density of the city, we expect to meet people face to face before making the buying decision. (I’m talking about relatively bigger ticket items of 1k and above, or possibly $500.)

An O2O(Online to offline) approach is needed. Here’s how it works. As per the proven internet marketing strategy, you still run an online campaign, buy ads and send them to a landing page but the call-to-action offer will be in the offline context. For example, you can get people to sign up for a free consultation, a free trial, a free diagnostic assessment, a free site survey, free strategy session, free workshop, free masterclass. You want to ascribe a specific value to your offer so that it compels people to come down, rather than position it as a sales trap.

Cost of advertising

Sure, Google and Facebook advertising costs have risen over the years, but in Singapore, it is nowhere near its peak. Just look at the stats for the USA; the most expensive keywords go for as high as US$47 per click. The same keywords cost anywhere between $2 to $17 per click in Singapore.

In many other countries, the cost of advertising is way higher than in Singapore(even though Singapore has one of the highest costs of living in the world). In terms of Advertising costs, Singapore is only at probably the 50 percentile(by estimate).

Unsurprisingly, SMEs in USA also spend way more than SMEs in Singapore on online ads. Data from Wordstream showed that the average spend is $9k-10k/month for an SME in the USA. On the other hand, from our experience, SMEs in Singapore prefer to spend anywhere from $500 to $4k/month. A survey by Equinet Academy indicates that 31% of businesses allocate less than $1k/month for marketing. This is likely due to the unfamiliarity of local businesses with social media and digital marketing in Singapore, preferring to tread on safer waters.

Given that Singapore has one of the highest social media penetration rate of 93% in the world, opportunities abound for SMEs to dominate their marketplace online. Interested to learn more about advertising costs? Check our article on Facebook ad costs.

 “Cowboy” advertising

Some marketers think that the internet has no boundaries & rulings and they are free to post anything they want. Well, Singapore is one of the first few countries to introduce a law to fight fake news by restricting the content published on social media and on the internet.

This comes after news reports of sightings of articles using fake stories to promote digital currency trading.

What this means is that the Singapore government and its people have a very low tolerance for deceptive marketing practices.

When running digital campaigns in Singapore, advertisers also have to take into consideration advertising guidelines specific to highly-regulated industries such as in healthcare. For example, words like ‘best,’ ‘discounts,’ ‘Singapore’s No. 1’  are not allowed under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act.


The takeaway here goes further than just obeying the law. In fact, being honest in your ads is just good marketing. Advertising legend, David Ogilvy has this to say, “The consumer is not a moron, she’s your wife! Don’t insult her intelligence. You wouldn’t lie to your wife, don’t lie to mine.”

Considering that Singaporeans are a highly educated and savvy bunch, it pays to be transparent and authentic in your ads. Now, who says you can’t add impact to your ads with strong copywriting techniques while staying with the facts?

Learn more about the basics of copywriting by appealing to emotions in this video here:

Tips for doing marketing in  Singapore

With all that said, here are 3 bonus tips for running marketing campaigns in Singapore.

1. Appeal to our inner ‘kiasu-ism’: From Hello Kitties to Iphones to hawker fare, it is no secret that Singaporeans are willing to queue for hours(and even days) to get our hands on desirable products. A queue begets an even longer queue because of the power of social proof. You can create social proof online too; using testimonials, media features, user stats, and other methods. It doesn’t hurt to throw in some ‘scarcity’ to amp up the desirability of your product. Scarcity can take the form of a time-limited offer or exclusive coupons.

2. Demonstrate value: Some businesses think that Singaporeans are very ‘cheap,’ from the fact that we like to go for Fave deals, GSS promotions, and free gifts. They assume that giving discounts is the only way to grab attention. That is not true. The reality is that Singaporeans are savvy consumers that know how to discern a good deal. This means that businesses need to demonstrate that their products have a higher value than what they are selling it for. It is about “value-for-money” rather than “cheap.”

3. Start small: The happening Telco space has taught us marketers several lessons, one of which is that Singaporeans are commitment-phobic. Singtel and Starhub used to lock us into 2-year contracts which come with high termination penalties. New providers came along and provided plans with no contracts. Boy, do we love them. No-contract plans are now the defacto plans here. Likewise, think about what you can offer your target audience online without getting them into heavy commitments of time and money. The easiest way to go about it would be to offer a free trial in your online campaign, to get “a-foot-in-the-door.”

Bring your marketing to the next level

At the end of the day, “marketing” should not be detached from “digital marketing.” Marketing entails going back to basics and gaining a real understanding of the target audience. Digital is but a channel. This article provides you with general insights into the Singapore market, but in order to win in your marketplace, you have to get more specific and dive deeper. If you need any help in your digital marketing, don’t forget to check out our agency services and get your free consultation.

9 traps of facebook marketing that causes Singapore business owners to burn time and money

You probably don’t need another person to tell you that ”everyone is on Facebook” and your business should also leverage social media marketing in Singapore. It’s widespread these days.

Well, these people are not lying. Facebook records a user base of about 3million people in Singapore. On average, Singaporeans spend 2.2 hours daily on this platform. These are staggering numbers from a marketing standpoint.

The problem is; Facebook introduced so many features & changes in their platform in the recent 2-3 years, its easy to lag behind and misapply outdated strategies that waste our precious resources as SMEs. Having worked with companies ranging from startups to MNCs in their advertising efforts. We have identified 9 common traps you need to be aware of:

Don’t bother posting on Facebook

Are you thinking about what to post on your Facebook page next week? Well, you can probably drop the thought.

This would have been a good move in 2012 when your post can reach as much as 16% of your fanbase. The figure dropped to 6.5% in 2014. Now, it is less than 2%. That’s not all. Only a further 5% or less of this measly 2% is going to pay attention to your post on their newsfeed. That is only about 0.1% of your fanbase. Shocking?

Facebook page organic reach to your fans per post

*Note: These are average figures. Your numbers will vary depending on the level of engagement on your page & post

*Note: These are average figures. Your numbers will vary depending on the level of engagement on your page & post

It would have account for something if you have a fanbase of say, 10,000. If your Facebook fancount is 1000 or less, honestly, the time would be better spent elsewhere. There is absolutely no need to put up posts daily, or even weekly for that matter, as with the case of so many businesses I see. We all love to think that we are very important and everyone is waiting for us to post. Fact?  People are so busy with stalking their friends and relatives on Facebook to give us any attention.

On the other hand, you cannot totally ignore Facebook either. People need to know that you are still in business. Strive to at least post once a month, but there is absolutely no need to scratch your head agonizing what to write everyday.

Be careful of the default

So you learned that your organic posts do not go far and advertising on Facebook is the only way to reach more people at (very) reasonable costs.

Source: Moz

Source: Moz

You started buying ads on Facebook, only to receive alot of likes…. but zero new business. Before you start concluding that Facebook ads are a waste of time & money for businesses, think again.

The problem usually lies with how you set your targeting. By default, Facebook shows your ads to users on Facebook, Instagram and Facebook ad network.



Did you know only the first option is for advertising on Facebook? 2nd option shows your ads in Facebook’s subsidiary, Instagram and for the 3rd option, you don’t even know where your ads are displayed!

You may think it’s harmless but Instagram burns your money faster than fire spreads in the forest. (Instagram is hardly profitable for most businesses) If you do not have a big budget to invest for ‘brand awareness’, do scrutinize your settings before clicking ‘confirm’, or you may just fall into one of these traps. Bear in mind, not all forms of social media marketing works in Singapore.


Free bonus: Get a 1-page Cheatsheet to Facebook advertising in 2021: Step-by-step guide

Click here to download

Foreign likes

Lets say you checked your targeting settings hundred times and have made sure that you are targeting high networth individuals in Singapore. Your ads are still not getting any sales. You decided to click into the profile of people who like your ads. To the shock of your life, these are not locals! You got alot of engagement with plenty of unfamiliar-looking profiles instead.

Another trap of Facebook advertising is its ‘smart’ algorithm. Facebook automatically optimizes your ads to appear infront of people most likely to click or engage with ads. Coincidentally, these people may not be people who buy, but people who like to like your posts. More often than not, these are not the locals.

What can you do about it?

Well, Facebook’s advertising platform is a powerful machine, as long as you know how to tap on its potential. Make use of the ‘exclude’ feature to exclude the audience you do not want to target! You can exclude foreigners or other groups you know will never convert into a customer. In one of our campaign for a property company, we excluded all property agents in Singapore.

The shortcut

If you are wondering why the options above are not accessible in your computer, you probably have been boosting posts only.

Amazon and other e-commerce stores have their 1-click purchase to make it easy for people to buy. Facebook came out with their own version of this with the ‘1-click advertise’ option, which is the boost post button.

It saves time&hassle at the expense of cutting out a lot of features you would see in ads manager and power editor. To encourage its use, Facebook repeatedly reminds you with messages like this:


Many advertisers have likened clicking boost-post to writing a blank cheque to Facebook.  If you don’t have deep pockets, avoid the trap of the shortcut and instead go deeper into what Facebook offers.

Facebook’s share price has been on the rise as more and more businesses jump on the advertising bandwagon. Without proper know-how, businesses owners are just contributing to the bottom line of Facebook. On the other hand, with the right strategy, you can be among those succeeding.

Source: Convinceandconvert

Be a geek

Since Google, Facebook and other digital advertising platforms came into the picture, marketing has largely evolved into more of geeky sports. It is a great thing for businesses because the data tells us what is working and what is not, allowing us to optimize the campaign for better results.

Moreover, the reports are fairly straightforward. You don’t need a data scientist to interpret them.

The trap here is in focusing on the wrong metrics. Most advertisers are overly concerned about Cost per Click and number of clicks they are getting. They pride themselves on getting clicks for as low as 10cents per click. When you probe deeper about sales results, they are not able to answer because there is none.

Here’s the thing. The most important metric in advertising is ROI. In fact, if you refer to the screenshot of an actual Facebook ads campaign below, the cost per click is a whopping $5.11 but it doesn’t bother us one bit. This is because the revenue generated is $14,240 as shown below, from an adspend of $3,685.82. The ROI is 3.86x!  This is not counting potential referrals and repeat business from the initial purchase. (Check out your ad budget estimation here as well)


The sad thing is that most businesses don’t even know how many leads are coming from their campaigns because they do not have tracking in place. It is as simple as installing pixel on the website and setting up custom conversion for the campaign. Without the fundamental data, it is like going into the battlefield with their eyes covered. Bullets fly everywhere.


Trust Facebook

In 2019 and beyond, Facebook ads has gotten even smarter. Their machine learning is quite something to marvel at. By setting the right objective, you can basically trust Facebook to find the right target audience to show your ads to. Manual targeting is becoming less important, particularly when running Facebook ads in Singapore(due to our small market size).

Yet we see advertisers spending so much time trying to get targeting right. Instead, what is going to have a bigger impact on your ROI would be conceiving the winning ads. Ads copywriting and ideation is something AI still cannot do(at the moment).  Check out the screenshot below. While targeting the same group of audience, one of the ads is getting in leads at about ¼ of the cost while generating more than 100 leads. The power of ads copywriting!


Lower Quality leads 

By using lead ad forms and messenger ads, some businesses are receiving leads that are barely turning into customers. Watch this video for more information.


Softer conversions

Facebook likes to keep users within Facebook. That’s obvious, no media publisher wants to send people away.  That’s why they introduced new features such as Canvas ads, as well as instant articles to confine people within their ecosystem. As an advertiser, this is not to your advantage. Facebook is the land of shiny objects where a thousand and one things demand the attention of your prospects.

Think cat videos, ex-girlfriend’s pictures etc etc. As an advertiser, instead of trying to sell your product on facebook where attention span is almost nonexistent, strive to get them to click into your website or landing page and opt in to an offer that doesn’t take alot of brainpower to process. Don’t be overly ambitious in getting them to buy on the spot. Use soft conversions. For example, by changing the call-to-action from “Get a Free consultation” to “Get a Free quote”(lower commitment) for one of our clients, we were able to lower the cost per lead by  40%.


Facebook distraction

Facebook distraction 

Scaling your ads

Perhaps your Facebook ads has started to work and you are getting some leads. You excitedly increase the budget of your campaign from $5/day to $50/day. The next thing you realize, your ads do not work as well as before. Clickthrough and conversion rate starts to nosedive and you wondered what happened. Well, thats Facebook’s mechanism.

When you increase your ad budget suddenly, ad frequency starts to increase drastically and effectiveness of ads decline. To get around this, instead duplicate your adset and tweak one of the variables- either ad image, copy, targeting or campaign objective.

Alternatively, don’t forget other ads platform as well.

Youtube ads are fantastic for getting huge reach at low prices. Google search ads are ideal for established industries with proven demand. Video, search and social are all huge in Singapore(check out our stats) A laundry business we helped out with closes 20 over deals consistently a month from Google but didn’t fare well in Facebook.


At the end of the day, don’t stop trying. Getting burnt on Facebook once doesn’t make it a useless platform.  Afterall, isn’t it the spirit of entrepreneurship to keep trying?  Having taken the time to educate yourself on the 9 traps above, you are better equipped to deal with Facebook than ever before. Like all other aspects of your business, once you find the right formula, Facebook will skyrocket your sales. Importantly, it provides the consistency and stability of business that all of us need. Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity! Facebook ads is going to get more expensive over time. The best time to jumpstart your engine is now. Don’t want to spend time and money paying ‘tuition fees’ to Facebook? Check out our Facebook marketing services!


Free bonus: Get a 1-page Cheatsheet to Facebook advertising in 2021: Step-by-step guide

Click here to download

How much does it cost to do Facebook Advertising in Singapore?

Unlike advertising on traditional mediums such as Straits Times where you fork out $7000 to buy a ”half-page ad space” , things are very different on Facebook.  So how much will it cost to advertise on Facebook?

One of the biggest difference in ads pricing on Facebook vs traditional media is the flexibility in choosing your budget. When it comes to Facebook marketing, there is absolutely no minimum required amount for getting started with paid ads. You can literally spend $1 or $0.50 and have your advertisement show up. Of course, the budget then gets exhausted in probably one click with minimal impact. Facebook uses a PPC(pay per click) model of advertising.

Bidding Options

There are a few bidding options you can choose from. Facebook charges you by : Cost per click, Cost per mile or Cost per conversion. Depending on your requirements & situation, you will choose the bidding option accordingly.

Source: Adespresso.com

For example, CPC bidding lets you bid for clicks. As long as your ad is clicked, you have to pay, whether it results in a conversion or not.

Other than clicks to your website, clicks on the “like”, “share”, and “comment” buttons are also charged. For CPM bidding, you decide the maximum amount you want to pay for 1,000 impressions.

The cost per action is another option where you bid for actions being taken, designed to get more sales conversions and a higher ROI.

So how much is it?

It can be annoying to say this, but there is no specific magic number. The costs depend on a variety of factors different for each type of business (which you find out for your business here)

The cost for one click can range from $0.10 to more than $2, depending on your requirements and other factors. You can decide yourself how much you’re willing to spend and form a budget for yourself.

Although we don’t have exact figures, we have historical averages that you can possibly use as a reference. In 2015, a report by Nanigans revealed that the average cost per click was $0.11, and the CPM was $1.61 in Southeast Asia.

Source: Nanigans Asia-Pacific Facebook Advertising Benchmark Report

Adespresso also estimates that in 2016, the average cost per click for Singapore was $0.41.

Source: Adespresso.com

Factors That Influence Facebook Advertising Costs

Facebook and other online advertising platforms such as Google base your advertising costs on 2 main factors: 1)competition in your market , 2)quality of your advertisement .

Free bonus:
Get a 1-page Cheatsheet to Facebook advertising: Step-by-step guide

Click here to download


The theory behind this is simple – if many other advertisers are going after the same demographic group(s) as you, expect to pay more. Vice versa, if you are the only one, or the rare few, then the costs will go down.


Different industries require different costs. Usually, industries with higher costs are professional services, e-commerce, technology, and education.

Source: Fitsmallbusiness.com

Advertisement Quality and Relevance

Similar to Google’s Quality Score, Facebook’s algorithm provides a score to every advertisement that partakes in the bidding process.

Each ad has a relevance score that will constantly evolve depending on the ad’s performance.  An ad is considered to have performed well if a large portion of the target audience interacts with it, which is determined by click-through rate. Naturally, the advertiser with the highest relevance score holds a distinct advantage over the rest.

Even with a lower bid, that advertiser can win the auction and pay lesser for clicks. Therefore, the better the quality score, the lower the costs. To put it simply, an advertisement with good engagement may cost up to 10 times lesser than that of a poor advertisement targeting the same set of audience.

Like Google, Facebook rewards advertisers that meet users’ needs with cheaper advertising costs. This is to ensure that users’ experience are being protected from spammy ads.

Hence, you could be paying alot more to Facebook if you do not have the time, effort or know-how to optimize your ads.

Setting Up a Budget for Testing Costs

Before launching your Facebook advertisement, it is necessary to implement a budget for testing costs. These can include costs for audience testing, ad copies, images, and it is recommended to fork out at least $500 to $1000. During this process, different variations of ad images, ad copy and audience are tested in order to find the combination that works best.

Ads take time, effort and some trial and error – you can’t expect them to kick off successfully from the beginning. Therefore, you have to include costs for these into your budget to ensure a more successful advertising result.

On the other hand, if you choose to outsource your work to an agency, you have to take the agency fees into account as well. Different agencies have different charging models: they can be fixed monthly retainer fees or a percentage of your budget. You can also get a free quote by answering a few questions here.

For the latter, the figure can range between 20% to 40% of the budget. Some companies can also charge by performance, such as the cost per lead.

How much to spend on Facebook ?

There are 2 main ways to make this decision: 1)Your marketing budget  2)What do you want to achieve?

If you are a business owner determined to grow your business, it is almost always recommended that you use the 2nd method to derive your spending on Facebook.

Think of it this way. If you have a machine that reliably gives you $300 for every $100 you put in, how much money would you put in the machine ??

Infinite ! The same philosophy applies in Facebook.

If you can reliably spend $100 on Facebook to gain a new customer that brings in $300 in sale, would it make sense to continue ? Why not? Unless you have capacity issues, a company aiming for growth will always reinvest their earnings in Facebook.

How to calculate your spending

Say it takes a 100 clicks for you to get one lead.

One click costs $0.50.

100 clicks * $0.50cents/click = $50 per lead.

One click on facebook will get you nowhere, since the average conversion rate is at 2-3%. The minimum spending, if any, is to generate 200-300 clicks at the very least. From there, you can have an idea of what kind of results it will yield you, and whether to continue or not.

In deciding how much to spend, you will then have to decide how much is a lead worth to you ? As legendary marketer, Dan Kennedy puts it, the winner is not the business that gets the cheapest leads, but the one that can afford to pay the most per lead.

The Bottom Line

No matter which method you use, you should test and compare each of them out repeatedly to determine which will give you the best results. Don’t forget that the main goal of any Facebook advertisement is not to reduce costs, but to maximize ROI.

Many variables come into play, such as the click-through rate and bid price to conclude which provides the best return. Be patient, because doing so needs time. Additionally, go for the one that best meets your overall objectives.