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Top 5 digital marketing trends in Singapore for 2017

By Ted Chong

We all know the importance of staying ahead of the curve in business and not going in the footsteps of companies such as Nokia, Kodak, Borders, etc. In this rapidly changing technology world, it is all the more crucial to keep ourselves updated of the latest trends in our bid to move things forward.

In recent years, a lot more new technologies and platforms have emerged including the likes of Snapchat, Pokemon, and so on. Many of them sadly lost their shine as quickly as they shot up to popularity. As businesses, more often than not, it is futile to be chasing after the next big platform. In this post, I discuss trends around change in consumer behaviour and market landscape that businesses should be aware of.

Content marketing
Content marketing has been huge in the US with brands such as Linkedin, Coca-Cola, and Expedia having employed it to drive measurable increase in sales. With the continuous list of success stories, it is cliche to say that content is king by now. However, in 2017, content marketing is really going to take off in Singapore.

In April of 2016, the biggest champion of content marketing, a NASDAQ-listed company, Hubspot set up its APAC headquarters in Singapore, announcing its plan to hire 150 employees over the next three years. With multiple events in 2016 drilling the importance of inbound aka content marketing, we foresee more companies in Singapore jumping on the bandwagon in 2017.

Conversion optimisation
Google and Facebook are the two biggest online platforms in Singapore for getting eyeballs for your business. Both Google's and Facebook's advertising platforms work like an auction. The more advertisers jump onboard with higher bid prices, the more expensive it will become. Since 2002, Google ads prices have gone up steadily. Facebook ads are expected to follow the same trend.

To say that you will ditch online advertising is forgoing growth altogether. What we can do is maximise every single advertising dollar. It can be done by improving conversion. For example, say if for every 20 clicks to your website two become a customer instead of one, you would have increased your ROI by 100% without spending more money. The alternative is to look at how to increase customer lifetime value. 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.

Consumer power
In 2016, a newly wed couple took to social media to air their woes about a wedding photography service that wasn't up to expectations. The bride reportedly posted her 'badly taken' wedding photos on her Facebook account and it went viral with more than 13,000 shares. It later spilled across to national media. I would say it was pretty traumatic for the businesses involved in this saga.

Here are some interesting facts:
• She was not an influencer with tens of thousands of followers, just a normal Facebook user
• It was a harmless post and not meant as a complaint against her bridal service provider

It is an important lesson for businesses in Singapore. Social media has changed the world by democratising information sharing and spearheading the rise of the consumer power. Gone are the days where your advertising messages are the only ones that get circulated and broadcast. Consumers play a much bigger role in your marketing.

In the state of inbound report 2016 by Hubspot, customers are found to be least likely to obtain information from a salesperson and most likely to get it from fellow consumers when making buying decisions. In 2017, businesses need to start thinking about cultivating customer advocacy and encouraging reviews on third-party sites.

Authentic marketing
Again in 2016, another piece of news shook the marketing world. Billionaire investor Peter Lim filed a police report against online ads linking him to get-rich-quick schemes. Apparently, a company capitalised on Peter Lim's fame and reputation in promoting its products.

As the government steps up efforts to crack down on scams and baseless advertising claims in Singapore in 2017, businesses will find it harder to get away with exaggerated marketing messages created to drive sales. What companies can do is instead adopt a paradigm shift in marketing.

Another effect of the rise of consumer power is the need for more transparency in marketing.

Ethics aside, it is actually financially rewarding for the long term. For example, Domino's Pizza surveyed its customers in 2008 and – even with some very bad commentary from customers – shared the news publicly and asked customers to help them fix their pizza. The company’s stock is US$105.11, up from US$7.73 in 2009. It pays to be transparent and authentic in the world of savvy consumers.

Video marketing
As our smartphones become faster and better at processing data, video content is expected to be increasingly popular over the next few years. In Singapore, already 48% of people watch video on their smartphones daily. From a marketing standpoint, video constitutes a fabulous tool in your arsenal since it allows marketers to communicate a story much better and easier.

To spread video content, marketers can look at Facebook video advertising or Youtube advertising platforms. Given that many businesses in Singapore are not creating videos yet, it will be a great way for the first movers to stand out in the crowded space.

At the end of the day, the general trend remains. Internet is going to play a bigger and bigger role in the acquisition of customers by businesses. As information becomes more readily available over the internet, consumers will expect more transparency from the companies they are dealing with. Businesses would have to look into how to serve their customers better and create more value for them as the power shifts from the establishments to the individuals. 

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