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The State of Digital Marketing in Singapore in 2017

The State of Digital Marketing in Singapore in 2017

2016 was a great year for digital marketing in Singapore but 2017 seems to hold greater promise given that the industry never slows down. New innovations and technologies are always emerging in every sphere of digital marketing from social media, PPC and SEO to content and email marketing just to mention a few. It is time every digital marketing agency began evaluating the current trends in the industry and prepared accordingly.

Marketing, whether digital or traditional, is a complex field dominated by companies with the ability to plan ahead, take advantage of changes in the market, and beat their competitors in adapting to the changes. Like everywhere else in the world, Singaporean marketers hoping to continue being competitive in their respective industries should adapt to the changes in the market. It is, therefore, important to take note of the current state of digital marketing in Singapore in 2017 and prepare accordingly.

Increased Digital Usage and Consumption of Online Content in Singapore 

Singapore is not different from the rest of the world in terms of digital penetration and usage. At present, Singapore has the highest internet penetration in the entire South East Asia region. According to industry studies, internet penetration in Singapore stands at 80% while Malaysia comes second at 67%. The same study found that Singaporeans aged 25 to 34 have the highest internet usage at 31%. A majority of Singaporeans access online content via smartphones or tablets. Digital usage and consumption of online content are presently at an all-time high in Singapore.        

Studies have also shown that over 3.2 million Singaporeans use mobile devices to access social media sites. Close to 96% of the country’s internet users have at least one social media account and spend, on average, 2.5 hours on the account every day. APAC Consumer Barometer states that over 50% of Singaporean internet users watch online videos every day. 42% of Singaporeans rely on the Internet to research products and compare choices before making a purchasing decision. Of those who shop online, 75% prefer to do it via computers over mobile devices. It is clear from these statistics that Singapore is a highly digitalized society which is why every small and large company in Singapore is now turning to digital marketing. According to reports by Singapore Business Review, businesses in Singapore are today employing aggressive digital marketing strategies such as Facebook ads, SEO, paid search, and app marketing to reach an even wider audience across the island.

Current Trends in Consumer Behavior and Marketing in Singapore

Prior to 2017, we saw a rapid emergence of new and quite popular technologies including Pokemon Go, Snapchat, and a revamped Instagram. Many businesses have adopted some of these popular technologies to increase their brand awareness across the country. For instance, Instagram has been and still is a major branding platform in Singapore. It is only second to Facebook in terms of popularity. These current trends in the market landscape are occasioned by changes in consumer behavior. Here are some of the current hot trends every online marketing agency in Singapore will advise you to give special attention to. 

Content is Still King Even in Singapore

US brands such as Coca-Cola, Expedia, and LinkedIn have used content marketing to drive increased sales in recent years. The situation is not different in Singapore. In 2017, content marketing has already taken off in Singapore. Hubspot, one of the largest content marketing giants of the world, which is also listed on the NASDAQ, established its APAC Headquarters in Singapore in April 2016 with an announcement that it would hire 150 local employees in the next 3 years. With more conferences on digital marketing, especially on inbound or content marketing, planned for this year, we expect more companies to have a base in Singapore before the end of 2017.

There is also an increase in the use of “immersive experiences” in content marketing. Immersive experiences simply refer to giving your users or visitors a feeling that they are doing more than just looking at a smartphone or computer screen. You can interact and engage your audience at a deeper level through Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) technologies. The trend is slowly catching up in Singapore. Leading brands are using VR or AR to engage more effectively with their audiences while hosting live webinars and workshops. 

Increased Efforts in Optimizing Conversions

Today, Facebook and Google are the biggest platforms in Singapore that you can rely on to advertise your business. Both platforms function like an auction. More and more Singaporean businesses and advertisers are now using Google and Facebook ads for promotional and lead generation activities, resulting in higher bid prices. Google ads cost has been on a steady increase since 2002 and Facebook is poised to follow the same trend in 2017. However, increased bid prices should not be a reason to forgo online advertising. That would be like forgoing your company’s growth altogether. The most reasonable course of action in the face of increasing bid prices is to ensure that you maximize the return on investment (ROI) of each dollar you spend from your overall marketing budget. This can be achieved by placing an emphasis on improving conversion from a prospect to a paying customer. Remember the words of Dan Kennedy, the renowned marketer, who said the winner in PPC bid wars is not the marketer who gets the cheapest leads, but one who can comfortably afford to pay the most for every lead generated.

Consumers Have More Power Today

There is a story from 2016 about a newly-wed couple who took to social media to complain about the poor quality of service they had got from a wedding photography service. The bride went as far as posting her poorly taken wedding photos on Facebook. The photos went viral with over 13,000 shares. The story later attracted the national media’s attention and became the talk of the day in wedding circles. One can only imagine the damage the story did to the wedding company’s reputation. Keep in mind that the bride who posted the pictures was not a major influencer but your usual Facebook user. Her post was not even meant as a complaint against the wedding photography service but a normal day to day harmless post. 

The story is a reflection of the power consumers yield today, especially via social media. Businesses in Singapore are now giving serious attention to what their consumers more than ever before. Online reputation management is a key ingredient in the services provided by every digital marketing agency in Singapore today. Consumers can no longer be ignored as they play a critical role in marketing. 

A study done by Hubspot in 2016 on the state of inbound marketing showed that customers are more likely to get more information about your product and services from fellow consumers than your salesperson. Singaporeans are now making buying decisions based on recommendations and reviews from their peers and family via social media. Businesses in Singapore are now focusing on cultivating customer advocacy by encouraging customers to post reviews on third party websites. 

Increased Focus On Authentic and Transparent Marketing

Singaporean businesses are now giving serious thought to ethical, genuine, and transparent digital marketing practices. In 2016, Peter Lim, a billionaire investor filed a complaint with the police against ads that had linked him to some get-rich-quick schemes. It appears a company had taken advantage of Peter Lim’s fame to promote its products. 

In 2017, the government has intensified its efforts in cracking down online scams and exaggerated marketing in Singapore. Businesses that previously relied on exaggerated messages to push products and services to unsuspecting online consumers are now finding it harder to get away with unrealistic advertising. As every online marketing agency in Singapore would advise you, it has become imperative to use authentic and transparent marketing strategies in a world where consumers are becoming wiser by the day. 

Video Marketing is Still On the Rise

Video marketing took off in 2016 and is not relenting any time soon. Smartphones are becoming better and faster in processing data and video content. It is no wonder video content is king today. In Singapore, more than 48% of internet users watch videos via their mobile gadgets every day. Regardless of whichever digital agency you consult, they will tell you that video constitutes a very effective tool in your marketing strategy. It allows you to communicate your product or services story in an easy to digest format that consumers love.

To spread marketing messages via video, Singaporean marketers have turned to popular advertising platforms such as YouTube and Facebook ads. Video content marketing had a slow start in Singapore but has now picked up as marketers compete to reach an even larger audience. 

Users of social media are now demanding more in-the-moment content, a trend that has made live video streaming quite popular in Singapore. Live video streaming has really taken off in Singapore, thanks to the country’s faster internet speeds and high penetration of smartphones. There are many apps and sites providing consumers with some form of live streaming functionality. Marketers are turning to latest live video streaming features in social media such as Facebook Live to spread messages on product launches and much more. It is expected that more brands in Singapore will be jumping on the live video streaming bandwagon in 2017. 

Increased Use of Data Visualization Tools

Marketers thrive on data and Singaporean marketers are no exception to this rule. Every digital marketing agency and business owner needs quantitative data on who is buying what, why, and when the purchase was made in order to determine which ads are most effective. However, data analysts usually face a challenge in understanding raw data in text format. Studies have proven that the human brain is not quite effective in processing vast amounts of data in numerical form. Fortunately, there are numerous types of data visualization tools that make data interpretation quite easy through a visual format. In 2017, marketers are increasingly relying on data visualization tools to measure the performance of their campaigns. 

Factors Holding Back Singaporean Marketers from Implementing Successful Digital Marketing Strategies

According to leading business authorities such as Singapore Business Review and Novus Asia, there are several reasons why most Singaporean businesses and brands have not yet succeeded in implementing successful digital marketing strategies. Here are some of the key challenges faced by many digital marketers in Singapore today.

Limited digital marketing skills and strategies

Content is one of the key pillars of any digital marketing strategy. However, most Singaporean marketers are still stuck in an outbound way of marketing which does not work well with today’s savvy consumer. Marketers need to shift their focus to an inbound form of marketing. In an outbound form of thinking, the marketer approaches the customer with the mentality of “Look here, I’m selling this product” while an inbound content marketing strategy simply asks the consumer, “How can I help you solve your problem?” Asian businesses are still struggling with this concept of inbound marketing. 

It is time businesses in Singapore invested more on content strategies if they hope to compete effectively with the rest of the world. There are many companies in Singapore with a strong online presence but a poor content strategy. You need to invest in the right content, target the right audience, and use the right channels to reach your targeted audience.

Short-term expectations

The talk in most marketing circles today revolves around data analysis, and ROI. However, many businesses in Singapore seem to focus more on short-term rather than long-term success. They concentrate on getting the best ROI in the first quarter of the year, which does not happen quite often. As any marketing agency in Singapore would agree, online marketing is not a sprint but a marathon race. Success in digital marketing, though faster than traditional marketing, still takes months to be realized. You have to learn more about your audience, create engaging messages, deliver the right content, measure the performance of each campaign, and conduct A/B testing before you know what really works best. It is a lengthy process but certainly worth the while.  

Limited digital marketing talent and support

A 2016 report by Hubspot titled The Asia Pacific Content Marketing Report stated that 57% of all APAC businesses and marketers considered the production of high-quality content as their biggest obstacle to success. This challenge can be attributed to a limited pool of professional content production experts such as writers and video creators. The obvious solution to the problem would be to enlist the services of a digital marketing agency in Singapore but many businesses still view services provided by agencies as an unnecessary expenditure. 

The problem is further compounded by the fact that most digital marketing agencies in Singapore lack the expertise and talent needed to produce high-quality content. A generic advertising agency will not have a team of experienced designers, writers, photographers, and videographers to provide you with the right content. 

Current Digital Marketing Success Stories in Singapore

Despite the challenges faced by Singapore’s marketers in implementing successful digital marketing strategies, there are many companies that are doing exceedingly well in this field. All is not gloom in Singapore. There are many companies doing very well after investing in all forms of digital marketing strategies including content marketing and social media. Here are two good examples of Singapore’s success stories in digital marketing.


SingTel has been continuously investing and refining its social media and content strategies since 2010. The company has seen great success from the use of informational infographics and award-winning video marketing campaigns including HawkerHeroes and Need4GSpeed. Above all the company has always emphasized on putting its customers first. It has a strong social media presence. 

Changi Airport

Changi Airport launched a new digital marketing platform known as Now Boarding in September 2016. Now Boarding is basically an information hub that gives travelers a wide variety of resources such as travel tips, events taking place at the airport, and available special offers for travelers. The initiative is aimed at both local and international travelers. It has transformed Changi from just an airport to a lifestyle and shopping center. 


When all is said and done, the Internet will still play an even bigger role in every sphere of marketing in Singapore. As consumers continue to rely on the Internet to make purchasing decisions, it will be essential for every company in Singapore to have a strong online presence. Of course, it is important to note that the internet is very much a double edged sword. Due to the speed and efficiency at which it drives awareness, the average Singaporean consumer now wields enough power to not only promote a brand but also damage its reputation through social media and other popular online platforms. Hence, for a start, every company should start managing their online reputation. Once that is sound, online promotional activities can commence to achieve optimal expansion and success in 2017.

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