Singapore has a fast-growing online marketplace. This means that businesses can no longer overlook the Internet moving forward. In 2015, Singapore ranks among the highest in the world in terms of percentage of the Internet population. In Southeast Asia, we have the highest Internet penetration rate, with about 80% of our population online.
We also rank the highest globally for smartphone penetration, with nine out of 10 having access to a smartphone. Our 4G mobile Internet coverage is also one of the most extensive in the world.
Of our online population, 96% possess at least one social media account. The number of active Facebook users, for instance, is about 3.5 million. Online shopping has grown significantly over the years, totalling $3.5 billion in 2015. By 2020, this figure is poised to double.
If anything, these figures are indicative of present and future consumer buying trends. It suggests a rapidly changing consumer landscape where you are either part of it or not. These figures remind us that small businesses need an online and offline marketing mix to grow their business.
What is Internet marketing?
Internet marketing involves promoting your business’ products or services on the Internet. It is a subset of digital marketing which comprises other electronic marketing formats such as SMS marketing.
Internet marketing is not just about getting your products and services on the web. It involves active metrics monitoring to make out your audience’s habits and trends. This means that for all the “talking” your products and services do, you need to listen and then learn to engage your audience better.
How long do they browse your website? What are the sales conversion rates? These are guideposts that serve as a barometer of success for your online marketing efforts. And like traditional marketing, Internet marketing is an ongoing process.
3 Internet marketing essentials for SMEs
You cannot ignore the power of the Internet but do not know how to begin? For a start, there are 3 areas of marketing that you should know:
Content marketing involves creating valuable content that informs or educates audience to drive engagement or action. It reinforces brand awareness and conveys your brand values. In a crowded online marketplace where businesses are concerned with search engine optimisation (SEO) to increase online visibility, good content drive SEO since quality content ranks well.
Blogs are an example of content marketing. Some blogs offer real information that engages and converts readers. Today, consumers tend to compare products and services online. A blog allows consumers to know about your business more in-depth. Good blogs should reinforce the brand’s image. If yours is a consulting firm, your blog should project you as a subject matter expert who is resourceful and knowledgeable in the expertise you proffer. If yours is a construction business, it should set you apart from your competition as a credible and trusted provider. The point is establishing you or your business as an industry leader.
Content can be presented in different formats. It can be represented through text or even infographics to compartmentalise chunks of information. This makes the information more “digestible”.
Apart from blogs, good content can come in the form of business case studies on your company website, e-books, podcasts and videos.
Social media marketing
Social media platforms have become important channels for today’s audience to receive information. Visuals accompanied with to-the-point messages provide bite-sized information suited in a fast-paced information-overladen society.
In Singapore, Facebook and Instagram are some of the more popular social media platforms. There are more platforms like Google+, Pinterest and Twitter, but there is no need for your business to be present on every single one. Instead, focus on one or two platforms and start by creating authentic posts with some advertising. Through these platforms, you should aim to drive traffic to your website. Remember your website is the base for your online presence. If well executed, your social marketing campaign can increase brand awareness and loyalty. It can also be a powerful customer engagement engine and web traffic, driver.
When they first started out, social media platforms relied on images. Since the third quarter of 2014, businesses have been investing in videos to create more attention-grabbing content. Currently, video posts are trending and are in fact the most effective type of post. Live video streaming is also an emerging trend.
This might seem old-school, but it is still one of the best communication modes with your audience with an ROI of around 4,300%! But by emails, we do not refer to just any emails. Here, we are talking about email content that will get your audience to sit up rather than to trash the email at first glance.
This calls for an effective subject to get your email opened in the first place. In this email, you need to deliver content that is worthy of your audience’s time. It also has to be information optimised for mobile phones, since many people check their inbox on the go. They are people who have most likely visited your website and have subscribed to some free newsletter or updates. This means that they are interested in what you have to offer. They are people whom you should follow-up with.
As mentioned earlier, Internet marketing involves analysing metrics. So it comes as no surprise that there is also an “auspicious” hour to send out emails. According to a research conducted by Experian Marketing Services, the prime day and time to send out emails are 8pm to midnight on weekends. So yes, email marketing is both an art and science, as with all other online marketing efforts, you will soon realise.
Internet marketing is one big master plan where your collective efforts should be aligned and consistent in relaying your brand’s message. It involves a well-planned campaign or growth strategy that is unified across diverse channels. It is an ongoing effort that cannot be rushed.
Focus on building connections with your audience first. Your brand’s authenticity would flow through in your messages.