Online vs Offline Marketing In Singapore


Singapore’s online and offline media advertising industry has undergone significant changes over the last couple of years. Companies are shifting from traditional advertising strategies to digital marketing in a bid to keep up with the changing trends and consumer expectations. Online marketing is fuelled by the increased internet connection across the country and high smartphone and mobile penetration.

A recent report shows that 4.3% of the total ad spending is accounted for by the retail industry. Advancement in technology will continue to redefine the industry and provide numerous opportunities that Singapore companies can capitalize on to expand their client base. By 2022, 62% of the total display revenue will be earned through programmatic advertising while mobile will account for 38% of the total ad spending.

Online Advertising Trends in Singapore

More Focus on Social Media and Mobile

A study that was conducted in 2017 showed that 3.55 million Singaporeans accessed the internet using mobile devices. The country has the highest smartphone penetration in the world, and most people prefer using these devices to access the internet. The number of active social media users is also estimated to be more than 3 million.

As a result, brands are focussing more on mobile and social media advertising than they did several years ago. Mobile remains one of the best ways to connect with a wide audience while social media provides the highest quality leads. Programmatic advertising is still pretty new in the country with most brands that have tried it out getting mixed results.

Creating Internal Online Advertising Teams

Even though digital marketing agencies are instrumental to the success of brands’ online marketing strategies, most companies are going the extra mile to set up in-house ad teams. These teams collaborate with external marketing agencies to create and monitor marketing campaigns.

Several brands have confessed that the quality of leads and traffic they get from internal campaigns is lower than those from external agency-led campaigns. This is proof of the critical role that marketing agencies play in the online and offline media in Singapore.

Implementation of New Ad Ideas

Millions of Singaporeans rely on the internet as the primary source of information when evaluating products and services offered by various companies in the country and abroad. As they do the research, they come across a ton of ads meant to lure them to make a purchase. Competition for their attention is getting fiercer by the day and marketers are left with no option but to come up with ingenious ways of connecting with the target audience.

Brand marketers spend hours creating new ads and looking for new content for their Singapore online advertising campaigns. Some opt for third-party content such as news articles from major publishers who are already considered an authority online. The influence that such publishers have on the market helps the companies to stand tall and get more website traffic.

There are also marketers who prefer including branded content and thought-leadership content in their online advertisements to capture the attention of the audience. The number of direct selling ads has dropped significantly due to the low click-through rate (CTR) recorded.

Creating a Nurturing Strategy

Most marketers feel that their online advertising efforts do not get the recognition they deserve. In a bid to improve the image of the Singapore digital marketing industry, some marketers are focused on creating tailor-made nurturing strategies. This includes making sure that potential leads are followed up systematically to boost the conversion rates of online stores.

Well, while most marketers believe that such nurturing strategies will deliver the expected results, a majority of industry leaders especially the B2B marketers feel that it will be difficult to implement them. Lead nurturing strategies in B2B organizations will require marketers to collaborate more with the sales teams.

While the marketing and sales teams should work together towards achieving the set goals, the reality is that most teams do not. Singapore businesses need to come up with robust ways of improving the relations and collaboration between sales and online advertising agencies if they are to succeed.

Singapore Offline Media Trends

Even though online marketing is the most preferred way of connecting with customers, some offline advertising strategies still work. Here are details of five offline marketing trends in Singapore. You can use them to complement your online marketing campaigns.

Donation of Products and Gift Certificates in Contests

This year, contests, where companies donate products and gift certificates to participants, have increased. The contents have proven to be effective in helping the brands increase their visibility offline and connect with the local communities.

For example, if you offer computer repair services in Singapore, you could provide a gift certificate for a 3-hour repair to individual clients or SMEs who might be in need of your services. A non-profit organization can appreciate such an offer and reciprocate by highlighting details of your business on the main website, newsletter, monthly publication, or even a press release.

Speak at Events such as Conferences

Professional events such as conferences will give you an opportunity to network and connect with new people who might be interested in the products and services that you offer. During the event, share ideas with the attendees to increase your brand awareness. Go the extra mile and request the event organizers to allow you to speak to the audience about a topic that is related to your business.

Successful companies are aware of the potent power of this marketing strategy and are always on the lookout for professional events that they can feature in and give a speech. Make sure that you contact the organizers early enough for your speech to be included in the day’s activities and agenda.

Guerrilla Offline Marketing Tactics

Guerrilla marketing is a general term that is used to describe unconventional marketing strategies that still work in Singapore and other parts of the world. Most companies are so focused on online advertising that they forget to connect with their target customers offline. Offline is the best area to flex your unconventional marketing muscle since most channels used for online marketing are very narrowly structured.

Here are some of the clever marketing tactics that help companies establish a strong base.

  • Leave sticky notes in random places that the target customers are likely to frequent such as coffee shops and restaurants
  • Chalk advertising on sidewalks
  • “Accidentally” leaving branded merchandise such as pens, diaries, caps in the banking hall
  • Donating branded merchandise to local libraries
  • Use sticky notes to create temporary artwork on cars and buildings (make sure that you seek permission from the management or owners to avoid a lawsuit)

Business Cards

Business cards are still useful in the country. Company executives often carry several cards to events and give them to new prospects. The cards have to be professionally designed and should contain information about the business such as an address, telephone number, a brief list of products or services offered, operating hours, and much more.

Here are some ideas that you can use to ride the wave of this Singapore offline media-marketing trend successfully.

  • Put business cards in one of the many public bulletin boards in the commercial business areas
  • You can leave the business card alongside your tip at the restaurant or coffee shop
  • Whenever you come across a contest fishbowl for business cards, drop yours in
  • Head over to the local libraries and put your business cards in books that are related to the services that you offer

Boosting Social Campaigns Offline

Social media marketing is usually done primarily online. Unknown to most marketers and Singapore business owners is that offline marketing strategies can increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. At the time of writing, only a handful of businesses based in the country are promoting their campaigns offline. The few brands take quality photos, and videos of their daily activities and events then post them online.

For example, if one of your company executives is invited to speak at an event, attend and record the speech then upload it on the company’s YouTube channel. Real-life photos from the offline world will paint a positive image of your company and show the real personality of your company to the target audience. This turn boosts online and offline user engagement.

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Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms in Singapore with more than 2 million active users. Photos of your company’s daily activity have the potential of getting 84% more clicks and two times as many likes than general text posts. It is also important to note that most of the social platforms popular in Singapore and across the globe are image-based.

Summary of Online and Offline Advertising Trends in Singapore

These are major Singapore online and offline media advertising trends that you should leverage to give your business the edge it needs to succeed. You do not necessarily have to use all of them, experiment with a few to know which ones work best for your company. Concisely, some offline marketing strategies still work and can be used to complement online marketing campaigns.

Offline Marketing vs Online Marketing

The world has become a global village and at first glance, it seems that the world being a global village only has perks for businesses like access to new markets and better ways to approach the target audience but this is just the tip of the iceberg. No doubt, nowadays businesses all over the globe have better means to advertise their products and reach their target audience but because of the market saturation, it has become extremely costly, challenging, and sometimes even ineffective to do offline marketing.

What Are Some Means Of Offline Marketing And Online Marketing?

Offline marketing or direct marketing refers to using means like radio, TV, direct mails, brochures, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and billboards. As you can see, some of these methods are outdated while some are extremely costly that small businesses cannot possibly afford. It is reasonable to not spend a quarterly marketing budget on a 30-second ad on TV.

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Online marketing which is sometimes referred to as internet marketing includes online banners, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Google ads, content marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing, and of course social media. Most of these methods are free and there is no need to set up a whole department for that.

Advantages of Offline Marketing

Unlike internet marketing or online marketing, offline marketing means do not rely on the availability of the internet. However, this may not be a big advantage as more than 50% of the total population of the earth has access to the internet.

Tangibility is a huge advantage of offline marketing as it is all about the real world instead of a whole world trapped behind users’ laptops screen. Offline marketing gives users an opportunity to experience the service or product in the real world. In order to understand this point, compare shopping clothes on a website or in a physical store. In a physical store, you can touch the actual cloth and feel the fabric; that’s not the case with online marketing.

Advantages of Online Marketing

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Dramatically reduced cost is the biggest advantage of online marketing or internet marketing; this advantage alone makes online marketing a significantly more suitable marketing strategy for small businesses all over the world. Online marketing is not only cost-efficient but is also cost flexible where you can decide how much you want to spend and how much you want to gain.

There are ways to measure the performance of offline marketing but nothing comes near the accuracy of results of measuring the performance of online marketing strategies. There are hundreds of analytics tools available on the internet that allow businesses to measure the performance of their internet marketing efforts on an hourly basis. It means businesses can evolve and put more effort into strategies that are working well for them.

Online marketing has made it unbelievably easier for businesses to target their customers. Based on demographical factors like sex, age, geographical location, income group, marital status, and many others, businesses can approach the exact target audience without wasting their resources on others.

Online Marketing versus Offline Marketing – Brief Glance at the Concept of Marketing

Marketing is as old as commerce itself. Sellers have always wanted to keep their goods and services in the eyes of the public to drive sales. In its broadest definition, marketing is any activity undertaken by an individual or organization to promote the selling and buying of a given product or service.

The chief goal of any marketing strategy is to get the elusive attention of the potential audience, and this can only be achieved through advertisement and endorsements. Just as Steuart Henderson Britt once said, doing business without advertising is like winking at a beautiful girl in the dark, yes you know what you’re doing, but no one else does.

This means that you must reach out to the masses for them to understand what you’re offering, or else you wouldn’t sell anything no matter the quality or pricing.

It is reckoned that the first-ever marketing occurred during the urban revolution of ancient Mesopotamia around the end of the 4th Century BC, but it could have been practiced earlier.

Fast forward to modern marketing; the rapid economic development in Britain during the 18th century, spurred by the industrial revolution, laid the foundation of modern forms of marketing. Online Marketing, also known as Digital Marketing, is a relatively new concept compared to Offline Marketing.

Online Marketing versus Offline Marketing – Advantages Of Online Marketing to Offline Marketing


Companies spend huge sums of money on promoting their brands to boost their sales and services. When we consider gross expenses incurred by organizations on either type of marketing, offline marketing turns out to be costlier. One of the reasons why offline marketing is expensive is the fact that we’re mainly dealing with brick and mortar marketing companies that are also engaged in other business activities. So they must maintain stock, pay rent, give salaries, and pay other bills. Things are different in online marketing; the only major expenses incurred are the starting capital to optimize the website (Search Engine Optimization) and Social Media Optimization, which are affordable compared to placing ads on TV and Newspapers.

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If I put a billboard at the intersection of major highways or along the streets in a city, it will only be visible to those who move along those roads. My TV advert will have to be shown only at a specific time, maybe during the news hour or during a popular program.

Offline marketing tends to be limited to a given geographic location. Online marketing, on the other hand, is worldwide and has a wider audience. This could be one of the reasons why e-commerce has been so successful; your children toys business may be based in Singapore, but your adverts will be visible all over the world, so, if a parent in Canada is interested in your toys, she’ll just have to order them on Amazon and have them delivered to her doorstep.

Convenience – 24/7 round the year

Internet marketing is highly advantageous when it comes to convenience – as long as your advert is online, it will be visible to any target you’ve specified at any time. Offline marketing, on another hand, is overly reliant on time slots; the TV channel will only advertise your beer when men are likely to be watching a sporting event; if you’re selling baby pampers, the TV channel will only show your advert when mothers are more likely to be watching.


In internet marketing, personalization works like magic. People’s purchase histories are tracked for a long time. If you combine these data and what companies such as Google already knows about the audience, you can easily give specific offers to particular categories of customers. That’s why you often see NIVEA and L’Oreal products after you’ve searched anything about perfumes or lotions on Google.

Online marketing also allows you to target a given category of individuals for specific promotions. Offline marketing, on the other hand, struggles to target particular groups of people with particular consumption trends.

For instance, although a lot of men might be interested in Alcohol, some of them could be just interested in a specific kind of whisky. Online marketing will make it possible to target the whisky guys while the TV will assume every male viewer is interested in alcohol.

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Social Media Influence

The advent of social media has drastically increased internet usage among young and old folks alike. I might be interested in the Economist, WIRED, Amazon, Nestle, and my favorite pet food seller but I don’t have a lot of time to visit their websites every day.

The easiest way to know what they are doing daily is to follow them on Social Media. And if they have a good offer for me, they’ll target me on a platform I often use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram. Social media marketing goes beyond SMM optimization, satisfied customers on social media can directly or indirectly refer to an online store and instantly increase traffic to that site, which translates to sales.

Offline marketing has social followers, but regional boundaries limit its success. For instance, if I’m a resident in Singapore and came across an advert about a service or product sold in Malaysia, by any chance, I would be less willing to take a plane to Malaysia to buy it.

Ease of Measuring and Tracking Results

It is hard to measure the success of an offline marketing campaign. How many people heard my radio advert? How many motorists saw my banner on the roadside? Did the readers who saw my Chilli Sauce in today’s newspaper end up buying it from the store?

It’s hard to know. Measuring such metrics is incredibly easy in online marketing; I can track the number of people who saw my advert, the number of those who clicked on it, and those who ended up making a purchase as well as those who left the items in the shopping cart. With such information readily available, I can measure the progress of my campaign and determine how I can make it even better by being more specific with my targeting and growing traffic.

Ability to Multitask

The core benefit of internet marketing is the ability to handle millions of clients at once. As long as your website’s infrastructure isn’t down, numerous transactions can occur simultaneously. Better yet, the website is still capable of giving satisfactory service to everyone, even when a large number of transactions are taking place at the same time.

Easy Tweaking to Stay Relevant With Trends

Once you place an ad on TV or any other offline marketing platform, that advert can’t be changed easily. In online marketing, however, you can easily tweak your adverts while they’re life to stay abreast of trends and optimize your campaigns.

Therefore, you can change two to three lines in your CSS, change the look of the online shopping, and even alter your targeting specifications without halting the entire campaign.

Perfect for Social or Politics-Oriented Campaigns

Nothing illustrates the power of online marketing in politics like what transpired at Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. Cambridge Analytica aside, both national and local parties can reap huge benefits by creating buzz around campaigns just before run-up elections.

But because of the partisan nature of politics and how inflammatory some things can turn out to be, stringent rules are starting to be established on some platforms; Twitter banned political adverts on their platform effective 2019. Why is online marketing attractive for political campaigns?

Well, if you went to Facebook or Twitter, you would realize that it is easier to identify a guy who loves politician X or party Y than a guy who loves to eat a bar of chocolate – people readily declare their political or ideological alignments than what they consume.

This makes it easy to target them with more feeds that match their convictions. And because politics is a dirty game, I can use this information to smear the opponent by feeding his/her supporters with misleading information about their candidate or even create a lot of negative stories around him/her to make the supporters start having doubts. Interestingly, smearing your political opponent is not a crime in most countries, so online political campaigns are here to stay.

Numerous Choices to Pick From

Just a handful of offline marketing methods are effective. For instance, if I am not thinking of TV, I’ll have to use billboards, Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, and maybe sponsor a local football club. Online marketing, on the other hand, provides numerous options, and almost all of them are effective. Think of social media marketing, email marketing, instant messaging marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, paid advertising, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, etc. All of these options target over 4 billion internet surfers worldwide.

Online Marketing versus Offline Marketing – Advantages of Offline Marketing to Online Marketing

Easy to order at short notice

Offline marketing is fast and can be ordered at short notice. When you are launching a product or preparing a trade show, there are several moving parts involved. Print materials can be ordered or designed in a short period. This is ideal for time-limited promotions and last-minute events, or if you forgot to order on time.

Online marketing, on the other hand, takes a long time to materialize. If I wanted to optimize my website with SEO, I would have to take months to put things in order.

Perfect for viral political campaigns

This is where both offline and online may somehow tie ineffectiveness. Print marketing materials such as posters are a cornerstone for the success of any political campaign. Both national and local parties can reap huge benefits by creating a local buzz around campaigns.

And there is more than one way they can promote their campaign. From informational flyers and personalized letters to leaflets – when these materials are combined with smart distribution, politicians can frame the correct message to the correct groups of people at the correct time.

Another reason why political campaigners would easily choose offline marketing is its ability to reinforce a message in a small geographical area. If I want to be the representative of the local town to the national assembly, I will place my campaign flyers in newspapers that circulate in the town.

Less invasive

Unlike online marketing which thrives on personal data of human targets – who can be concerned with infringement of personal privacy – offline marketing doesn’t operate on people’s personal data and is instead formulated on the marketer’s rough idea about “who is where at a specific time and what is s/he likely to be doing?”

Sticks with the audience longer

We all remember two or three funniest ads we saw on TV in our childhood. You can remember that distinctive radio advert you used to hear in the public transport bus on your way to work many years ago. Some offline ads can also stay relevant forever and even change how we consume goods and services in centuries to come.

One such ad was Rio Tinto’s Diamonds are Forever, which was common in American newspapers in the 1940s. This advert successfully marketed diamond rings as the best gift you can ever give your fiancé to mark your engagement.

Since then, we’ve never known any other perfect engagement ring like the diamond ring, whether it’s from Rio Tinto or not. I can’t even remember how the internet advert I saw today morning looks like.

The Best Method of Promoting Loyalty Schemes

If you are operating a mid-size or small business that doesn’t have a lot of money to create an integrated loyalty mobile app, you can buy paper loyalty card schemes and get the same benefits. You’ll be able to offer the same incentives to those found in digital applications such as free burgers, coffee, or after-sale service.

Choose an earn card and a classic stamp, or include an offer or voucher in your leaflet batch. Whichever option you choose, customers will flock to your business to claim their rewards. That’s tough to accomplish in online marketing unless you opt to go the promo code way, which isn’t as effective.

Get in touch with us for expert tips on how to do online marketing and offline marketing in Singapore. Our team will help you put up robust digital marketing campaigns that will catapult your brand to the next level of success. 

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About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Social Media




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