Singapore has the highest digital penetration rate in Southeast Asia of 4.4 Million People. The average number of digital devices owned by Singaporeans is 3.3. Most Singaporeans use the internet to research a product or service before purchasing it.
With these stats, it is no wonder digital marketing in Singapore has become a buzzword of the 21st century. With it being a relatively new field, the lack of in-house expertise compels local businesses to outsource digital marketing work to external vendors.
Here’s the problem; Digital marketing is a broad ‘umbrella’ term to define all marketing efforts that work in conjunction with the internet and electronic devices. As you can see, that definition covers a vast spectrum of activities.
Different agencies are good at different things, depending on your objectives. You have to find out their strengths. If you ask them to tell you, they will say they are good at everything.
Here is a basic intro of the different types of “digital marketing” agencies in Singapore.
The most common marketing-specific agencies include:
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.
A digital agency typically deals more with the influx of online traffic to a businesses’ online property, as well as converting that traffic into leads and sales. This, of course, may or may not include creative designs as part of their marketing strategy.
Creative agencies are experts at branding through their use of designs. However, creative design is not limited to logos and other offline advertising paraphernalia. Businesses also use creative agencies to design their ads with eye-catching colors and lettering, as well as creative video ads clips that give their campaigns an advantage over their competitors’.
Do you need a creative agency for your Singapore business?
That all depends on how focused you are on branding your business.
BBDO Singapore is a well-known creative agency that has worked with some pretty big names across the globe including Tiger Beer, Visa, and Procter & Gamble. They are best known for the work they did on Guinness’s “Rise” & A1A’s “What’s Your Why”. Another creative agency in Singapore, TheSmartLocal specializes in helping brands create viral campaigns using videos and articles. There’s no guarantee that it will go viral but their emphasis is on the creative aspect.
Guinness’s Rise Video
Content marketing/PR 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.
While the primary goal of public relations work and advertising remains the same – promoting clients – their approaches in doing so is uniquely different. The main aim of a PR campaign is to validate and maintain a client’s reputation as being honest, relevant, and important in the eyes of the public. This is in deep contrast to advertising, which is to create sales.
Does your business need a PR campaign?
Many big-name brands utilize them as they have a reputation to uphold and news-style content gives them the credibility they need to continue their goodwill amongst their audience.
Twitter recently hired the Golin Singapore PR agency to create purpose-driven public relation campaigns that would inspire businesses and consumers in Southeast Asia to view Twitter as a must-have communication platform.
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.
Content marketing agencies also help clients create editorial and informative content to build up trust with their target audience, with the content typically posted on the company blog or Facebook page. An example of a content marketing agency in Singapore is Cooler Insights.
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 design 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. 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.
The average cost of SEO in Singapore at the moment is between $500-$3000 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 have to understand what you are paying for in the first place.
Video on SEO vs Paid ads
Website Design/Development Agency
Are 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. An example of a web design company in Singapore that does both is Verz Design.
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.
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.
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 and ScaleUpMarketing helps in Infusionsoft automation.
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.
Direct response marketing differs from other forms of marketing like social media marketing, content marketing, and inbound marketing as it seeks to produce measurable and immediate results over brand awareness and long-term customer acquisition.
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 narrow target audience which pertains to the advertiser’s specific niche or vertical. This allows for more immediate results from a campaign since the advertiser can craft a message in the ‘language’ which the targeted audience understands.
Offer: Direct response ads focus on offers that will provide value to the prospect instead of focusing on the brand that is supplying the offering.
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 compensation arrangement with many of our clients.
With so many different types of digital agencies and services out in the market, it is easy to get stuck figuring out where to start. Even though businesses know that digital is important, the information overload prevents a lot of SMEs from making their first move.
To make things worse, “full-service” agencies claim to help businesses with everything at a hefty package pricing. The reality is that you do not need everything; you just need what you need. It will be helpful to think through your marketing objective first before approaching a digital marketing agency. As you embark on your journey of digital transformation, take one small step at a time and you will be ahead of the rest in no time.
Ted is the director of Ice Cube Marketing. His insights on marketing has been featured in AsiaOne Business, Singapore Business Review , e27 and TechinAsia. He graduated with a 1st class honors degree in Business IT from NTU. While not planning campaigns for clients, he enjoys a good read on books related to psychology.