It is 2023! You are probably wondering if you should still hire an agency! ChatGPT came out in the same year and took the world by storm. It turned the term “AI” from just a corporate buzzword into an everyday tool. Besides Chatgpt, new revolutionary AI tools such as Midjourney, Dall-E and Descript can do everything from blog writing to image generation and video editing for you.
In your search for a digital marketing agency in Singapore, the traditional checklist no longer applies. This year is a watershed in digital marketing because companies that cannot keep up will be made obsolete faster than before.
An agency should adapt to the times and assist you in taking advantage of the latest technology! On top of that, there are simple tasks that you can bring in-house by leveraging AI tools. This article explores the various aspects of digital marketing and how to work together with digital marketing agencies to achieve the best results.
Google and Facebook AI Ads Agency
Given the importance of AI, Google and Facebook are sparing no expense in this area. Facebook alone is setting aside $29-34 billion in AI, data centres and servers (interlinked because AI is nothing without data and servers).
To that end, we have already experienced the prowess of an AI-enhanced ad platform on Facebook and Google.
Google released ‘Performance Max’, their biggest and latest evolution in the ads platform over the last 10 years. Facebook/Meta introduced Dynamic ads and Campaign budget optimization features, among other game-changers in the platform. We are talking about having AI test out multiple combinations of ads and target audiences at an accelerated rate to give us an optimal output. Our early trials have shown very positive signs with these new improvements.
Lucky for us, competition is heating up in the AI war, and the resulting innovations benefit SMEs and advertisers like ourselves. Leveraging machine learning in Google and Facebook ads platform is a must in 2023 and beyond. From our experience, using additional 3rd party AI tools for targeting or otherwise is unnecessary. If anything, it meddles with Google & Facebook’s AI machine learning.
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 are not looking for sophisticated design work, you can “outsource” it to AI and save some money! Dall-E and Midjourney are some of the most fantastic AI image-generation tools currently available. They are also very user-friendly and made for laymen. You simply give instructions to it the way you would instruct a designer. The tool can come out with an image that is uncannily close to what you have in mind. When using generative AI tools, a tip here is to be as specific as possible in describing what you want.
Dall-e prompt: Dog sitting on a throne wearing sunglass smoking cigar using laptop
Marketing automation agency
The competitive landscape in digital marketing has also intensified. It is no longer sufficient to merely do digital marketing . It matters what happens after the lead or prospect comes in. The average lead requires 5-12 touchpoints before they’re ready to convert. 64% of customers say speed is as important as price when choosing a business(Timetowin survey 2022). Using marketing automation allows you to follow up with prospects quickly without hiring additional staffing for the task.
For example, you can let your leads receive an immediate WhatsApp message to keep them engaged as soon as they sign up. A 2nd and 3rd message is sent out based on actions taken. It is like a robot sales assistant for your sales team. It boosts your closing rate while relieving your staffing needs. This is possible with the advent of AI and technology. Watch the video to understand more about using marketing automation and a system approach to enhance the quality of your leads.
Tiktok is here to stay, and it is joining the ranks of Google and Facebook as a vital platform for SMEs. This is because Tiktok is geared towards leads and sales generation, with pixels for conversion tracking and lead form for bottom-funnel activities. On the other hand, if you advertise with other platforms, such as Carousell or Smartlocal, they are very unlikely to have a conversation with you about leads and sales.
These days, influencer marketing is also evolving and making way for a new type of strategy known as “UGC(User-generated Content) marketing”. It is prevalent on Tiktok but also seen on Instagram or Facebook. UGC content doesn’t come with the exorbitant price tag of influencer marketing because you are not engaging a ‘famous’ influencer, neither are you tapping on the influencer’s audience. Instead, with UGC, you get a real person endorsing your product or service in an authentic way, while you leverage the creative asset to run ads and drive sales. It has been known to boost sales sustainably
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.
When it comes to SEO, we all know that
regular content production/blog posting is vital. With ChatGPT and other
generative AI tools such as SEO.ai and
Hypotenuse, you can take the content production in-house and save some good
money. For aspects of SEO that require professional expertise, such as
link-building and on-site optimization, you probably still need to work with an
agency to get it right.
If your business is that of an interior design firm, you can go to Qanvast to buy leads. If you run a wedding boutique, you can head to Singaporebrides. If you have an education business, Digitalsenior is the go-to. For every niche, there is a platform that specifically supports your business. Technically, they are not agencies, but at the end of the day, they also provide you with what you want: exposure or leads & sales. Typically, their offerings are cheaper(few hundred per month) than agencies because of the “cost sharing” structure. For example, Qanvast re-sell each lead to 3-5 interior design companies, so it is much more affordable for each; Ideal for businesses starting out.
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.
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, essentially taking care of everything! 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. We also incorporate marketing automation and AI to create the results you see below:
Bioskin: Generates 150 new customers every month
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.
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 $1.2k/month but we help our clients typically make 3x more than what they pay.
PSG Pre-approved vendor
SEO, video marketing, SEM, PPC and other paid ads are all examples of activities included in the PSG digital marketing solutions category. Before you start to celebrate, do note the caveats:
- Ad budgets paid to Google and Facebook are not covered by the grants; only agency fees are.
- This is a new scheme, and slots allocated to each vendor are very limited at this juncture. It is on an application basis only.
- The grants only cover the first 3 to 6 months of the engagement with the digital marketing agency. However, digital marketing is an ongoing activity, so you are still on your own for the long term.
That said, some help is better than none! So this is good news for SMEs, no matter what.
If you are interested in finding out your eligibility for the grant, look no further. Ice Cube marketing is also a PSG pre-approved vendor for digital marketing solutions in Singapore, so you might want to drop in an enquiry.
Undoubtedly, the importance of digital marketing has been recognized, especially after the onset of Covid-19. Digital marketing is becoming inevitable for any SME. Whether or not you apply for a grant, you must do digital marketing!
How to choose?
There are at least 1000 agencies in Singapore including freelancers and conglomerates. There are pros and cons to each. If you work with a large agency, the over-commercialization may lead to cookie-cutter work created using templates. If you work with freelancers, the lack of checks and balances may result in the undesirable quality of work or tardy submissions. You want to find an agency that not only has the personal touch but also systems in place to ensure consistency of performance. Some questions you can ask:
– How do you ensure consistency? Do you use checklists, tools or project management software?
– How do you ensure that my ads are not cookie-cutter and boring? Do you have a framework for creating new and refreshing ads?
– How do you maintain standards over time and prevent ad fatigue?
– Do I get to meet the specialist running the campaign instead of the account manager? Is the person based locally or overseas?
– What do you do to make sure you understand my business and my industry? Do you do a deep-dive onboarding session with me?
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!)
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. Feel free to request a free consultation with us.