How Singapore Companies Can Market Overseas in This Digital Age

marketing overseas for singapore firms

Looking for actionable tips on how Singapore companies can market overseas in this digital age? Indeed, it is possible for Singapore companies to succeed abroad by applying the right marketing strategies. The beauty of the internet and digital marketing is that both allow businesses to expand and circumvent regional boundaries.

A number of Singapore companies that initially offered their services and products only locally have expanded and are now operating globally. Here are expert tips on how Singapore companies can market overseas in this digital age.

Buy Country Code Top Level Domain Name

Domain name plays a vital role in SEO. Your local website domain may have “.sg” and is doing well here but may not deliver the same results in other countries such as the United States and Singapore. One of the guaranteed ways of positioning your business for success in other countries is by buying the country’s code top-level domain name.

Research shows that “.com” works well in the United States but a more customised domain name that ends with “.co.uk” will give your business the power it needs to rank high in the United Kingdom. Such a customised domain will help with SEO of the target country and ensure that your digital marketing campaigns are not in vain.

Connect with Several Influencers

Influencer marketing entails hiring a social media personality to market your brand to their audience. The audience should be part of your target customers.

Over the last three years, influencer marketing has gained massive traction across the globe. Here are some statistics to show you the potent power of this new generation way of connecting with customers.

  • 70% of teens trust influencers more than the traditional celebrities
  • 49% of customers who shop online and offline depending on influencer recommendations
  • 6 out of 10 teens believe and follow the advice offered by influencers over the usual celebrities
  • Influencer marketing has an average ROI of $6.50 for every dollar spent
  • 86% of women rely on social media platforms for purchasing advice
  • 57% of fashion and beauty companies in the world use influencer marketing

These statistics support the mantra that influencer marketing is the fastest growing online customer acquisition method.

Connect with a few local influencers to penetrate the market quickly and more conveniently. This can be difficult for you especially during the initial stages, but if you have professional local SEO expert on your side, he/she can help you select the right one. Make sure that you use the proper translation when you engage with them to get the best results.

Concisely, your local SEO expert should act as your consultant and main gateway to connecting with the right influencers.

Leverage Local Social Media

Social media platforms have millions of active users on a daily basis. This is one of the primary reasons why most Singapore businesses are actively involved in social media marketing. When venturing to a new country, it is essential to study the local social media landscape. The research will help you to know the popular social media platforms in the country.

With that information at hand, you will be able to know which platforms to use for marketing and budget accordingly. Do not limit yourself to only the renowned social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Even though all of them are global, there may be other smaller social media platforms that are just as popular in the target countries.

Jumpstart your social media campaigns by creating a local page and group. Then, proceed to buy ads to get as much exposure in the country as possible. The influencer can also help you promote the platforms to his/her audience and this will help get things rolling in the right direction faster.

Here are some social media demographics statistics to help you develop a robust marketing plan.

  • 83% of female and 75% of male internet users are active Facebook users
  • Female internet users are more likely to use Instagram than men, 38% vs. 26%
  • 81% of millennials login to their Twitter accounts at least once per day
  • 91% of social media users access their preferred social media sites using mobile devices such as a smartphone
  • 80% of all time spent on social media sites happen on mobile
  • More than 2 million business rely on Facebook for advertising
  • More than 50 million businesses have Facebook Business pages
  • 88% of companies that have more than 100 employees rely on Twitter for marketing

Popular Search Engines in the Target Country

Google is undoubtedly one of the most popular search engines in the world. Nonetheless, there may be local search engines that are more popular than Google in the target countries. Therefore, fine-tune your SEO strategies to not only Google standards and requirements but also the local search engines.

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It is also important to note that SEO may be a little bit different in the target country. Your local SEO expert can help you understand the SEO landscape and come up with the right strategies. His/her involvement in your campaigns will significantly prevent you from spending money on the wrong approach or redundant campaigns.

Below is the global market share statistics of search engines.

  • Google: 92.74%
  • Yahoo: 2.32%
  • Bing: 2.17%
  • Baidu: 0.81%
  • Yandex RU: 0.60%
  • DuckDuckGo: 0.32%

Localize your Website

Customising your website for the local audience will help boost the growth of your business as well as enhance your competitiveness. The localisation process should be done by a professional who has an in-depth understanding of the market as well as the latest SEO techniques used by companies that offer similar or the same products and services.

Note that website localisation is more than nice visuals of your products and text translations. There are cultural aspects and dynamics that only a native SEO expert in the target country understands and can implement. Carry out extensive research on reputable sites that are known to offer accurate and trustworthy reviews.

Concisely, the wrong translation will result in the wrong message been conveyed to prospects. The same case applies to images and visuals. For example, in the United States, an owl is a common sign used to depict wisdom, but in other countries, it is a sign of death, evil, and sorcery.

Be Mindful About Keywords

Keywords are an integral part of your search engine optimisation and search engine marketing campaigns. The potential customers in the target country may not be using the same keywords you have been using in Singapore. Extensive research will help you to know the specific keywords and phrases that you should use for on-site, off-site, SEM, and even social media marketing campaigns.

Note that this is part of the website localisation process and is key to ensuring that the target audience gets to view your website on SERPs and social media platforms news feed.

Build a Local Emailing List

A local emailing list will help you connect with the potential customers directly. Make sure that the content in the email is relevant to the recipient and professionally written. The email should also have a CTA and links that a prospect can click on to view the product or visit your website for more details.

Convincing customers to give you their email address will not be easy especially during the initial stages. Encourage them to do so by offering specials such as freebies and discounts if they share your email with their colleagues, friends, and family members. You may need to hire a translator or seek a professional translation service on a retainer to do it right.

The emails should be sent out on a regular basis but not too often to become a unnecessary bother to the recipient. Note if the emails are too frequent or do not resonate with the preferences and needs of the recipient, they will be marked as spam and deleted without any hesitation.

Here are some insightful statistics about email marketing.

  • The average ROI is $38 for every dollar spent
  • Email is the 3rd most influential and impactful source of information of B2B audiences
  • In 2017, there were 3.7 billion email users and the number of predicted to increase to 4.1 billion by 2021
  • Mobile email account for 20%-75% of email opens
  • 80% will delete an email if it is not optimized for mobile
  • Incorporating video in your email has the potential of increasing click rate by 300%
  • Personalized emailing and email list segmentation provides the best results

Provide Top-Notch Customer Service

Customer service is of paramount importance regardless of the country or region that your business is operating. Give the potential customers an easy and convenient way of contact you to paint a positive image from the onset.

The most successful Singapore businesses that have mastered the art of marketing and selling their products as well as offering services overseas is by employing a native of the target country to handle this integral part of the business. Such an expert will be able to connect with the target customers in their native language.

While some cultures value patience and the people will not mind waiting for several hours to get a response, please do not count on it. Responding to customers promptly and consistently should be part of your brand promotion strategy. Go an extra mile and hire a social media expert to respond to clients queries about your products, service, and brand via your social media pages.

The above strategies will make it possible for Singapore companies to market overseas in this digital age. Here are additional tips to help you prepare to expand your business broad because eventually, you might need to set up offices and warehouses in the target country.

Be Informed

Before making any strategic decision, carry out extensive research about the target country. This includes:

  • Culture
  • Customs
  • Political and economic situation
  • Consumers spending habits
  • Business environment
  • Foreign trade
  • Entry requirements

Study the Local Market

Research the target market and local competition to know if your products and services are in demand in the country. The information gathered will cushion you from spending thousands of dollars on marketing strategies that will never deliver the expected results.

Understand the Legal and Tax Requirements

Consult widely to know the specific legal and tax requirements, international agreements, employment practices, customs procedures, local laws, regulated activities and much more. All this information will help you avoid legal tussles and other challenges that could compromise your reputation and credibility in the target countries.

Look for Professional Help

Some countries have organisations that are set up to provide professional help to foreign businesses that want to set up camp in the country. Make the most out of any professional advice that you get from:

  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Trade Missions
  • Consulates or Embassies

Select the Right Business Structure

Your goals and priorities will help choose the right business structure. The tax rates may vary depending on the business structure. Get to know the requirements and tax obligations of a bank office, joint venture, subsidiary, representative office or any other business structure available before making your final decision. It is also important to note that administrative procedures are not universal. Study each possible outcome before making your final decision.

Insurance and Funding Options

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Most developed countries have government funding programmes that are meant to support international business expansion. Take advantage of such support to make the process of setting up offices in the target countries easier and more affordable. It would help if you also took advantage of insurance policies to protect your business from unforeseen risks such as political instability and trade risks.

Closing Remarks

The above tips on how Singapore companies can market overseas in this digital age will help you to expand your wings to new territories. Make sure that you hire the right personnel to steer your local marketing campaigns in the right direction. The personnel will also help you to connect with the local target audience better and enhance your business ability to meet the customers’ needs and expectations amicably.

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Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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November 21, 2018

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