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Author

Olwen van Dijk-Hildebrand

Browsing

Welcome to another whirling issue of the Marketing Expert Series!

In this issue is a digital marketer whose attention to detail and passion has carried her through multiple industries and career paths. Brenda Hobin is the Marketing Director at Shiok Meats, and she knows what it means to adapt to challenges and grow your marketing funnel. Join us as Brenda takes us through not only her own story but the story of Shiok Meats, the challenges and obstacles faced and overcome, and what it takes to be a great marketer in a trying age.


Hi, Brenda, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now?

Thank you, Olwen! I’ve had an exciting career and portfolio journey.

From the airline industry, non-government organizations, fast-moving consumer goods, luxury brands, hotels, real estate, master planning, HoReCa, and sailing to the marketing of golf courses. I have also been involved in pro-bono activities such as fundraising to procure necessities to feed the poor or empower children of humble backgrounds to pursue an education, my way of giving back to society. I studied psychology, criminology, sustainable economics, and innovation. The diversity of the industries, combined with my educational qualifications, gave me an edge in deciphering human behaviours and actions. Different backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures dictate how a similar product or message is perceived.

These insights are crucial, as they are the key to understanding human desires and pain points. By understanding these behaviours, we can create products, campaigns, and messages that are relatable and solve a problem or need. My husband, family, and the people I met and worked with play an essential role in my life; because of them, I am where I am today, and probably because of them, I will be where I will be tomorrow or in the future.

You’re the Marketing Director at Shiok Meats. Can you tell us a bit about Shiok Meats and the product philosophy you have?

Shiok Meats was launched in August 2018 in Singapore by Dr. Sandhya Sriram and Dr. Ka Yi Ling. They both have PhDs in stem cell biology and come from scientific backgrounds. Sandhya is also a seasoned entrepreneur. They firmly believe a sustainable solution was required to feed the ever-increasing population without creating additional pressure on the otherwise declining ocean health. They started in a lab with two founders, and today the company has an agile team of 35+ scientists, researchers, food technologists, and business professionals working on a path-breaking technology and building a manufacturing plant of its own.

If you take a shrimp, deshell, devein it, and remove the organs, you are left with muscle and fat cells. This is the part Shiok Meats cultivate, and the same goes for crab, lobster, and red meat. From a taste point of view, the taste is the same with seafood and crustaceans. The flavour comes from the cells themselves and also the liquid nutrients that we feed the cells for them to grow. It is a combination of the two, exactly what happens in nature. The stem cell comes from the animal initially, and we trick these cells into believing they are still inside the animal’s body. We feed them what the animal would give them. These stem cells are grown in large stainless steel tanks, known as bioreactors. Think of a big tank, where trillions of cells are floating around in a liquid medium (liquid nutrients), much like a brewery. By the end of four to six weeks, the cells have increased so much that we perform a step called differentiation, which triggers these stem cells to form the organ they are supposed to form – muscle and fat – the final product. Our final product looks, tastes, and cooks like meat. Our products are all minced, and we are working on a structure (whole shrimp, for example) for the near future.

We are building a system wherein we work with many different animal-free growth factors, food-grade media, and plant-based alternatives that have the potential to yield at scale and lower price points. Some of these are being developed in-house, while we are leveraging strategic partnerships with media development companies for some others. We are also looking at the apparent by-products and upcycling cell media for flavouring mixes and essences. Overall, we are ramping up the construction of our pilot production facility in Singapore to speed up large-scale manufacturing and launch in at least one premium restaurant in 2023.
We want Shiok Meats to be the world leader in cultivated seafood and meat technology. If that means expanding the suite of product offerings to other kinds of meat, poultry, seafood, and other by-products, we are going for it.

What role do you play as Marketing Director? Is there a part of your role you enjoy most?

Currently, I am focusing on the higher marketing funnels, from branding and creating awareness to building a community of mindful consumers. We aim to encourage and influence a mindset shift toward consuming sustainably-grown crustaceans and meats. I am incredibly psyched about building a team of marketers who shares our passion for sustainable living.

How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How have you overcome them?

Shiok Meats was founded to mitigate the challenges of feeding a growing population ethically and sustainably. COVID-19 only reiterated the fact that we are on the right track. The food supply chain has faced severe disruption. Our patent-pending food technology will only create a favourable condition for self-sufficiency at a national level benefitting the people. If anything, COVID-19 has accelerated and brought attention to what we are doing locally, regionally, and globally.

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry?

There was a greater reliance on digital news and platforms during the lockdown period. We are part of the growing and evolving digital ecosystem. There is no turning back, given the history of how people have accepted digital as the new norm. What is new today will be antiquated tomorrow. The start of lasting impact began a long time ago if we look at the adoption rate of the internet or the proliferation of the use of the new social media channels.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

As marketers, we must stay tuned and sync with the changes and evolution of communication channels, including digital transformation. The brand strategies, story-telling, and content must align with changing human developments, needs, and desires. Marketing messaging must be relatable. Marketers’ ability to accurately nail down all the touchpoints affects go-to-market strategies.

Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers?

Stay humble, stay curious. Make “Being an Expert Marketer” a lifelong aspiration.

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Brenda, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Shiok Meats?

It is an honour to share what we do with you and your readers. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!

Marketing in 360° may sound like the obvious choice, but it’s not always the simplest strategy. With the variety and diversity of digital and traditional channels that we now have access to, it’s a small wonder that digital marketers don’t go mad. Quite the contrary, we seem to thrive on the ability to understand, learn and track different platforms and channels to the benefit of our brands and our target audiences.

Joining us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series is Veronica Sin, a woman who embraces the challenges of brand marketing a fintech company with a 360° approach to reaching audiences in the wake of the pandemic. Sharing her insights into the combining of brand marketing and public relations, Veronica paints a clear picture of what it takes to be dedicated and successful 360° marketing strategies.


Hi, Veronica, welcome to the Marketing Expert Series! Thank you for joining us. Let’s kick off with some history: tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now?

Hi Olwen! Thanks for having me. I never thought I would end up in Branding or Marketing. In fact, I started my career with a heart to engineer social good through public relations (PR).

My fascination with PR began during college break when I chanced upon WWII documentaries on Hitler. I remember being awed by how the Nazi high command could influence Germany to believe in outrageous propaganda simply through strategic PR campaigns, such that I thought to myself, “If Hitler could use PR to inspire a nation towards hostility, I could use the same (PR) to inspire equally powerful good and change a nation.”

It was an idyllic idea, but I had a concrete plan:

  1. Spend 2-3 years in a PR agency
  2. Take the skills learned to a nonprofit or cause-driven organization and influence social good from there

Sticking to this plan, I started my career with 2 award-winning PR agencies, helping clients like BMW Group and Facebook build their brands through press engagements. Although I enjoyed managing crisis communications and pitching strategic stories to the media, work-life balance was a concern in the agency world.

After 3 years, I joined Projek57 – a social enterprise devoted to building unity in Malaysia through racial harmony projects and unity-themed retail. This was my first brush with marketing: As it was a small team of 5, my role evolved constantly. Although they hired me to manage the Press Launch for the Unity Ribbon, I was soon managing social media, influencer campaigns, retail marketing and even corporate sponsorship marketing. 6 months in, Projek57 gave me a choice: Stay as Inventory Manager or move on, because they do not need a Marketing Communications Lead at that time.

Changes in HR needs like these are quite common in social enterprises and startups where funding and resources may be limited, but I didn’t know that back then. I left with a bitter thought, “I am done with this non-profit or cause-driven plan”.

I began applying to anything but non-profit organizations and landed a role as Senior Brand Communications Executive in iMoney. They were looking for someone with social media marketing experience, and my time with Projek57 – though short – gave me a foot in the door.

3 years and a lot of learning on the job later, here I am in iMoney – still learning the ropes of branding and marketing, but blessed with a team which empowers me to validate campaign ideas and concepts.

You’re the outgoing Group Brand & Marketing Manager at iMoney. Please tell us what iMoney is all about and the role you play there.

iMoney is a personal finance platform which helps people get more out of their money by:

  1. Comparing and applying for the right financial products through our Aggregator
  2. Learning money management via jargon-free articles and initiatives
  3. Planning your finances with insightful tools like our income tax calculator

As Group Brand & Marketing Manager, I manage 3 portfolios: Brand Communications, PR and Social Media. The role also entails proposing and executing strategic marketing campaigns which encompass the 3 portfolios whenever opportunities arise.

To execute these campaigns, I will usually come up with a campaign plan and set up a briefing session with experts from the various teams – ranging from SEO to Performance Marketing and Email Marketing, to get their feedback on how to maximize results and meet campaign objectives by leveraging on everyone’s capabilities.

Marketing financial technology isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. What sort of strategies do you find most useful for marketing iMoney? How do you stand out from your competition?

The difference between sales and marketing is that while the former focuses on selling, the latter focuses on building relationships. Once a relationship between a brand and a target audience is strong enough, the sale will automatically follow.

Of course, building a relationship between a brand and a target audience is not as simple as dating in real life, simply because a brand is not a person and hence needs to be personified through effective marketing strategies – before you can even push the brand or product to be “loved” or “preferred” over its competitors.

While iMoney earns through the application of financial products, content marketing, and partnerships, the brand is ultimately about personal finance – a highly personal topic, as money is central to every life goal. If you can address your audience’s pain and passion points, your marketing initiatives will likely positively impact your brand and ultimately, your business.

This is my usual game plan when building a marketing campaign:

  1. I usually start with our brand purpose: Why did iMoney exist in the first place? What sort of impact does iMoney want to make in our target audience’s life?
  2. Next, identify opportunities within our brand purpose: What’s happening within the personal finance space? What’s bothering our target audience (e.g. single young working adults earning below RM5,000/month)? For example, is price inflation on many people’s minds? Or is it income tax season where everyone is figuring out how to maximize their tax returns?
  3. Key message: Based on the brand purpose and market opportunities, Build a topic which matters to your target audience, be it educating people about scams or discussing investment strategies for newlyweds.
  4. Channels and tactics: Where does your target audience usually hang out? How do they prefer to engage in a conversation? Is it through Facebook Live or email subscription? Do they prefer listening to a certified financial advisor or learning from success stories?

Have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies as Head of Marketing? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How have you overcome them?

Definitely. The 2 biggest marketing lessons I learned from the pandemic are:

  1. Learn from other brands
  2. Be flexible and dare to test out new ideas
  3. You are as good as your team

One of the biggest challenges is content creation during the start of the pandemic, specifically video productions since physical shooting is no longer allowed. Take our 2020 Raya campaign video for example: Instead of the usual physical film production, we’ve had to produce a video by weaving together clips of iMoney staff at home and fitting it into a script.

Funnily, the idea came when my colleague shared videos by Apple and Google who were making these DIY videos, basically just a collage of stock footage fitted to a script and a soundtrack – since the whole world was on lockdown. I remember discussing with my colleague if we could also pull this off, and achieve the same impact that these giant brands achieved.

Themed “i Bersama u” (or “I am with you”), we built a script which heavily relies on the script and soundtrack to tell the story. Next, we assigned several iMoney staff to shoot video clips of themselves at home. These clips will then be woven together to form a video.

While this sounds easy, it took a lot of briefing and coordination with colleagues who were assigned to be featured in the video. To amplify the sombre sentiment of MCO and at the same time instil optimism, our Design Team also had to get creative with the right soundtrack and video treatment, given the limitations to shooting footage and directing on set.

At the end of the day, our #iBersamaU Raya campaign helped us overtake our competitors in the share of voice (SOV), a key metric in brand performance, at a small budget. Our social media pages also saw higher-than-average growth immediately after the campaign. Taking from this success, we have since produced a few more similar DIY videos with decent results.

At the end of the day, I learnt that perhaps the most important thing to succeed, in spite of the pandemic, is having a team who sits down and works towards the objectives outlined – and the graciousness of your superiors to let you test new ideas.

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on iMoney and the industry in general?

  1. Social media is likely to remain a primary touchpoint:
    Although we are slowly easing back to pre-pandemic life, the past 2 years have globally cultivated a collective social-media-first consciousness where social media is not just seen as a space for business updates but concurrently a customer service front, community space, and experiential relationship between brand and consumer. For example, followers of Burger King’s Facebook page are not just expecting updates of the latest promo but also the brand’s responses to trending topics. The more relevant and personal you can be with your followers, the more likely you can build brand trust and top-of-mind (TOM) recall. Consequently, the more likely you are to convert a follower into a potential customer.I think the pandemic has also made brands realize the potential of social media to amplify any marketing initiative – be it a digital campaign or a physical one.
  2. Collaborations not just to survive, but thrive:
    Digital-led efforts are about maximizing the dollar spent. If you execute a campaign by yourself, how many people can you reach as compared to collaborating with a strategic partner with a different sphere of influence? One thing iMoney – and I am sure many other brands – learnt is that “together we are stronger”. Be it through affiliate partnerships, webinar collaborations, or sponsorship campaigns, you achieve more when you leverage each other’s reach, brand associations, and engagements – provided that the collaboration is a strategic one.
  3. 360° digital-first campaign.
    One thing the iMoney marketing team learned during the pandemic was the necessity of working together across different teams. Before the pandemic, many of our marketing initiatives were planned by a single team – only involving other teams to support.But once the pandemic hit, we realized the importance of involving every team in the planning stage itself to leverage each other’s expertise in order to amplify the impact. Perhaps it’s also that added realization that “all we’ve got is one another to achieve this” – the pandemic does have that effect on our team at least. For example, our recent #TaxTalk campaign – a Facebook Live discussion on how to maximize your income tax returns – encompasses Email marketing, Learning Centre articles from our Editorial Team, engagement posts from the Social Media Team, and even the Affiliate Marketing Team and SEO Team who advised us on the forms of content to prioritize during this season.The stellar results of such a cross-team campaign are a testament to the importance of such holistic campaigns, and definitely, a motivator for us to continue such collaborative efforts in the future.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

Definitely. Personally, I see our marketing strategy going more towards a 360° approach – where any initiative will be conceived with a view of maximizing the impact by involving all relevant teams from the planning phase itself. Naturally, the primary objectives and key message will be set by one person – who will then consult experts from every team on how we can collectively amplify the campaign results.

Again, this is based on the discovery that no marketing channel exists in a silo – especially in the digital world where the effective touchpoint is two devices at most per person – a laptop and a mobile phone. The more coordinated your campaign efforts, the more amplified your impact will be.

Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers?

Marketing may seem all glitz and glam from the outside – with the flashy film productions, influencer campaigns, and Facebook Live giveaways – but what translates the glitz and glam into meaningful impact are:

  1. Excellence: If you are planning a Facebook Live webinar, it goes beyond engaging the right speaker and promoting your event. Do you keep a timeline and event checklist? Do you brief your guest speakers and provide them with scripts? Do your research and prepare for all anticipated questions that may arise during your Live event? Have you assigned people to manage the comment section? In short, have you given your best to ensure that the event is airtight? It will make a difference to the outcome of your initiative. Having said that, it is ok to make mistakes as that is where you will be learning many of your lessons.
  2. Critical and strategic thinking: Marketers are essentially strategic communicators. We need to anticipate how our target audience can interpret a piece of content. It is never just ” simple or fun ” even for something that seems simple or fun like preparing a meme or social media series, it is never just “simple or fun”. What is the key message you are trying to convey? What is the marketing outcome you want to achieve? Are there possibilities this could be misinterpreted, and if so, what is your rough contingency plan?
  3. Attention to detail: The brand is built in the details. One of the hardest things to enforce among junior marketers – myself included when I first started my career – is keeping the format. If your Facebook banners all have different alignment and font sizes, how unprofessional will that reflect on your brand? If your campaign report has different font colours, what does that say about you as a communicator? Can I trust you with 14 Facebook ad banners in the next credit card giveaway campaign if you can’t handle font sizes for an internal report?
  4. Being organized: Marketers are underrated master organizers who often need to work with people from vastly diverse backgrounds to make “marketing magic” happen. To execute a holistic campaign that spans 5 different channels and at times even stakeholders from different teams and organizations, you need to be chronically organized – equipped with a timeline and campaign checklist whilst keeping an eye on the budget and deliverables. At the same time, you must ensure that people from different backgrounds understand your marketing campaign brief.

If you want to excel as a marketer, start honing your organizational and people skills. At times, you may even need to describe the same thing in 3 different ways – one for the tech people, another for the non-profit partner, and yet another one for the SEO team.


The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in the next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

When you put determination, tech-savvy and the motivation to expand your knowledge together, you get a great digital marketer. As we’ve discovered over the many issues of the Marketing Expert Series, digital marketers find their way to their careers from all walks of life, arriving in the world of marketing from varied backgrounds and educational streams. 

Crispian Leong is a digital marketer who symbolises us all in this aspect: motivated, and determined with a background in computer science. Not content with the path his degree had launched him into, he made a change and landed in a marketing career that has lasted the years. Now, as the Head of Marketing Singapore for Pet Lovers Centre, Crispian shares his story and his hard-won knowledge about how to make the best of any digital opportunity.


Hi, Crispian, welcome to the Marketing Expert Series! Thank you for joining us. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

I guess you can say I stumbled upon marketing as a career. I can honestly say I wasn’t one of those lucky people who knew from the get-go what they wanted to be when they grew up. 

My education routes were either planned by my parents, teachers or the system. Even the course that I ended up graduating from – Computer Science – wasn’t my first choice. I actually wanted to study journalism, but none of the local universities offered back in 1996 and studying overseas was out of the question as I didn’t want to burden my parents financially. 

So. Computer Science. I didn’t know anything about it, nor did I expect to get anything useful out of it either. I just thought that since I’m a fairly logical person with a good grasp of science and mathematics, it would be a course I could most easily obtain a degree in.

Only during my final year project with IBM, did I realise being a programmer or a system administrator wasn’t something I wanted as a career. I preferred a job where I could talk and collaborate with people and develop… things. 

The job market in 1996 was quite good for graduates in Singapore. Companies were expanding or being set up and there weren’t enough graduates to fill the manpower crunch. I was spoiled for choice when I was sending out resumes, and there were plenty of job openings in sales and marketing. 

Eventually, I joined a firm that distributed computer hardware and software. I remembered the pay being quite decent at that time, and I was sold when the HR Manager said, “You’ll definitely get to meet lots of people and go for incentive trips paid for by vendors like Hewlett Packard and Microsoft!” It sounded fun, and it was!

I remembered thinking, “Well, if this doesn’t work out I can still fall back on my IT degree”. But somehow, marketing stuck. One year became two. Two became four. Then I joined SingTel and spent 10 years there, and the next thing I realized, it had become a career.

You’re the Head of Marketing at Pet Lovers Centre Singapore. Can you tell us a little about what it is that Pet Lovers Centre does exactly?

Pet Lovers Centre (PLC) is the largest pet care retail chain in South East Asia with a presence in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It was founded in 1973 and the brand offers the widest and freshest range of products you can ever find for your pets.

On top of that, PLC offers a wide range of services from pet grooming to pet boarding and even pet pharmacies. 

As the Head of Marketing, I oversee all aspects of marketing across the region – including digital, retail, PR and e-Commerce, and I have teams in Singapore and Malaysia that help me.

The pet care industry is massive. What sort of strategies do you find most useful for spreading the word about Pet Lovers Centre? How do you stand out from your competition?

The thing about PLC is that we are the largest and most well-known pet retail brand chain in South East Asia, so a lot of strategies that we employ are defensive. What do I mean by that? In Singapore and Malaysia where we are the eminent brand in the industry, we don’t need to splash obscene amounts on outdoor or mall advertising. 

Our prolific retail footprint is our OOH brand advertisement. Our main advertising dollars are spent on digital and social media. Even then, we only spend enough to ensure our brand and products are positioned right at the top of searches, that our shopper ads have the largest impression share amongst our competitors, and we do enough work with the KOLs to ensure our share of voice is optimal. 

This gives us more time and resources to do the type of marketing which, in my opinion, is most important – strengthening the brand within the pet owners’ community. And we do that through CSR activities and collaborations with animal welfare groups, organizing meaningful and educational events to inform people on responsible pet ownership, and so forth.

Have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies as Regional Head of Marketing? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How have you overcome them?

I joined PLC in May 2021, in the midst of the pandemic. Consumer behaviour by then had certainly shifted. We saw an almost two-old increase in online sales. All I ever did when I joined was to review and fine-tune the SEO, SEM and social media go-to-market processes, tighten the narratives and visual consistency, strengthen the performance marketing tracking, and voila! We saw conversion rates jump three-fold between May 2021 and October 2021. As of last month, our conversion rates were at an all-time high despite the relaxing of COVID restrictions in Singapore and Malaysia.

Most times, you don’t actually need massive life-altering paradigms to make positive uplifts to the business. 

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on Pet Lovers Centre and your industry in general?

Well, more people appreciate the joys of digital shopping. They’re also more confident in shopping online now. This is good because PLC is well-positioned to meet the demands and challenges of this shift in consumer behaviour, having an e-commerce platform and marketing communications firmly entrenched in the digital space even before the pandemic happened.

And this trend is not going to revert anytime soon. So the important question is – what’s next right?

Well, the key challenge I am gleefully tackling right now is how to strengthen the Pet Lovers Centre brand affinity. People know our brand, but how do we make them love us and stay with us longer? That involves quite a few exciting initiatives involving omnichannel marketing strategies, further enhancing our app and launching a new price communication platform. All very exciting and which I am currently knee-deep in.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

For sure this impact has permanently changed how my team and I work. I mean, I had to reorganize my team and put the less digitally-savvy teammates on courses to upskill themselves to speak the digital lingo. 

When I first joined, I’m not afraid to say that I realised I had shortcomings in certain areas such as SEO and Google Analytics myself, and for the first few months, after work, I watched tons of YouTube and LinkedIn videos to sharpen my SEO and GA skills just to be able to have productive and meaningful conversations with my digital marketing managers.

Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers? 

Always place your customers at the core of what you do. Always ask yourself – how does this narrative help our customers? Can we improve this process to delight our customers further? Will our customers’ lives improve from this feature or product?

It’s been a pleasure to learn more about your work and your experiences, Crispian, thank you for sharing these insights with us. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Pet Lovers Centre?

I’m reachable at my LinkedIn profile


The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

As the world slowly crosses into a post-pandemic norm, it has become more important to understand how brands adapt and change to meet evolving expectations and considerations. Digital marketing is about having an adaptable mindset, letting you take in information, foresee trends and act accordingly – brand marketing is no exception here. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, experienced brand consultant and digital expert, Tania Tai, takes it one step further. 

Encouraging us to ‘outsee, outthink and outdo’, Tania shares her life and career experiences. She offers insights into the world of brand consulting, and what it takes to make a strong, lasting impression on consumers and team members alike. 


Hi, Tania, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with your background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

My pleasure Olwen. I have always believed in the shaping influence of life experiences. Honestly, it’s quite amazing how seemingly unexpected connections come together as mini-experiments for us to tinker, learn and grow in new domains. All we need to do is stay true to ourselves yet have an open mind to explore and muster up enough courage to pivot when the time is ripe. As such, was my journey of self-discovery until I found my calling in brand consulting.

The early years in divergent fields of financial audit and hospitality taught me valuable lifelong lessons. If you take systems-based thinking from auditing and fuse it with the precious human moments from hoteling, violà! You will have a winning combination to drive success in branding, marketing and communications.

I will always be grateful to Su (founder of Su Yeang Design, subsequently Holmes & Marchant) who provided the first stepping-stone when I contemplated my career pivot and nurtured my growth trajectory in the pioneering years of branding in Singapore. Fast track 20 years down the road, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside visionary leaders across categories to co-create brands that are worthy of remark. This is the worthy work that I do. And I’m still as passionate about until today – helping brands find their purpose, design better futures and become that special force of positive impact in the world.

Marketing, as we know, comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be rather demanding. How do you believe that marketing leaders can help their brands – and their teams – grow in today’s world?

Thriving in these exceptional times requires a very different mindset. Brand owners need to plan ahead, ride the wave of hopeful rebounds and help society regenerate. Just like how Pantone launched a more vibrant colour palette to mark a brighter 2022, I’d like to share some useful habits to help marketing teams grow their brands and ride this optimistic wave back to normalcy:

Outsee: Consider the brand ecosystem and deep-dive to align beliefs. The power of branding lies in how meaningfully your brand connects to beliefs, be it leadership, customers or employees. When customer experiences are well aligned with culture (i.e. employee experiences), and brought to life by brand experiences based on the bedrock of shared values to improve the world, you will discover the magic formula for sustainable branding. The ultimate goal is to build brand love by forging deep emotional connections based on empathy and compelling storytelling.

Take for example the rebranding of Progresif, a telco in Brunei. Beyond the impressive numbers of new customers onboarded, the zero to hero story of its successful rebranding was because we created a brand that stood for all things progressive from the retail experience to the curation of an emergent tribe of influencers. Little by little, a new Progresif movement was born, fueled by a growing tribe of Progresifs who believed in leading where others feared to tread. And it was this progressive tribe of loyal customers that helped the brand weather Covid’s perfect storm.

Outthink: There is nothing more inspiring when beautiful minds come together at ideation sessions during workshops. Whenever you’re in need of a creative jolt to solve the toughest of challenges, always remember that imagination is our strongest currency. Ideation is a non-linear process, so be prepared to reframe challenges and reimagine your world from a different lens.

From experience, let me share a lateral thinking technique that has been particularly effective – “Embrace Constraints”. During the envisioning workshop for Penang Butterfly Farm, one of the breakout team activities was to come up with a new brand name for the well-loved tourist attraction. We needed to hunt for a name that better reflected their refreshed positioning to be the voice of nature – an edutainment destination of the future that celebrates the unsung heroes of nature (i.e. insects and butterflies). Under the constraints of a whole slew of taboo words, such as “butterfly”, “nature” and “park”, ideation ventured into the unexpected. A turf that is far from the norm. Eventually, it was an exploration in a science-inspired realm that “Entopia” came about, coined from “Entomology” and “Utopia”.

Outdo: In the go-to-market race to the next normal, the world has reset at a different level. The pandemic has mainstreamed conversations on sustainability, digital futures and a hybrid way of life. Whether your brand is ready for the metaverse or not, brands now have more room to play across platforms virtually and/or physically. With the blurring of boundaries between online and offline and access to rich data-driven insights, welcome to the era of omnichannel marketing on steroids!

This is the time for brands to shine in moments that matter by sharing content that enriches the lives of their customers. Brands that win the battle, will be those that are prepared to back what they promise with heartwarming brand acts. So that more people can not only see and hear what the brand is about but also feel the brand love.

Take the case of Lexus when they launched the Lexus ES Self-Charging Hybrid “Feel Your Best” campaign last year, emotional AI was used to offer viewers a more personalised experience through facial recognition. Imagine adapting content real-time in immersive cinematic sequences. Imagine the thrill of an ad that responds to your emotions just as the car responds to the driver’s behaviour and needs. Wow!

You’re the outgoing Managing Director at DIA Brand Consultants. Can you tell us a bit about the work you did there? How does it compare to other career experiences?

DIA made its way to Malaysia when I settled here 15 years ago. At that time, branding was still in its nascent stage. It was exciting to build the business and share the invisible aspects of branding that people often miss or overlook. Through the years, I’m thrilled to have helped businesses at different life stages unlock their full brand potential and empowered brand teams to realise their path to purpose.

A career in brand consulting is like no other. It’s fascinating because you get to work with a lot of different clients from divergent industries, which gives you the chance to immerse and understand each category better. Perks of the trade: when you consult on FMCG projects, you become a smarter consumer too because you will understand the category and the competitive landscape most intimately. And so, you will know how to make the best choices that suit your needs.

How did the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affect your own strategies at DIA? What challenges and/or developments did you have to adapt to since the start of 2020? 

The benefit of a diversified portfolio strategy is that your business becomes more resilient in times like these.

From a project perspective, new opportunities emerged in the health and wellbeing space, which led to projects such as DuPont’s digital immunity cookbook and Top’s Anti-virus laundry detergent packaging revamp. When you brand, you brand for the long haul so that you can hit the ground running faster when the good times return. That’s why brand training and design thinking workshops carried on unabated during these pandemic times. Although workshops did take a very different form, 100% virtual and more interactive, thanks to Miro.

From a workplace perspective, we had to quickly adapt to working from home. Suddenly, the home transformed from a downtime nest to an uptime hub. A whole new set of challenges around work-life integration jump-started the future of work. Looking on the brighter side of life, the team had to learn faster, become more disciplined and self-aware, and master the art of setting boundaries. Regular check-ins, fun projects, wellbeing gifting and virtual parties kept the team together while apart. True to the wisdom of Stoic philosopher Seneca, on how adversity sparks greatness.

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on the various industries in which you’ve worked over the years?

The pandemic has left a mark on every industry, and the world has changed. Once we have tasted the convenience and benefits of digital life, it is hard to go back. The stage is now set for more exciting times of digital integration and data mining post-pandemic. As people are by nature highly social, which is why I believe that hybrid experiences will be the future of everything, from the way we live, learn, work and play. Right here, right now. This is the moment for all of us to respond with a deeper sense of awareness as a community to reshape the world that we should make.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you will go about your work in the future – whatever work that may be? 

Yes, the impact is here to stay for a long time to come. The best way forward is for everyone to embrace the future of work as soon as possible and use this opportunity to reinvent. Given the current reality of burnout, anxiety and mental health concerns, we will need to find new ways to collaborate better remotely or in-person going forward.

To manage a hybrid way of work, it’s healthy to be more transparent and lock-in downtime too. By scheduling non-meeting times, especially heads-down time (when we need alone-time for deep thinking) or me-time (for self-improvement and growth to stoke our passion). It’s good to make time and schedule these often-neglected moments so that we can always be at our best.

Leadership and mentoring have never been more important during uncertain times, especially for women. What role do you believe women with successful careers, like yourself, can play in the lives of women today?

Leadership and mentoring have evolved in these uncertain times too. Irrespective of new joiners or experienced professionals, many interesting situations present themselves as meaningful coaching-learning moments. Women, like men, play multiple roles at home or at work. The key is in finding the right happy balance.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has painfully highlighted the disproportionate impact on women in Southeast Asia. A sad fact according to the recent research by the Asian Development Bank at the end of 2021. There is much work to be done to reverse this, be it through peer professional networks or mentoring startup communities, or even reaching out to those not typically under the radar, such as Women of Will for single mums or Ideas Academy to educate displaced teens.

What would you say to aspiring marketers just starting with their careers?

If you love a world in perpetual beta, thrive on discovering something new everyday or get a high from solving thorny problems… Brand consulting is the best career to start off with. Here you will have the best arena to hone your full-stacked marketing and creative thinking skills amidst a smorgasbord of industries. It is indeed a career less ordinary, where taste, style, wit and intelligence come together wonderfully. It is the best platform for you to discover yourself and how to navigate your future.

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Tania, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I’m taking some time off the grid at the moment, so LinkedIn would be the best way to reach out.

Despite being one of the oldest forms of digital communication, most people still rely on email for work-related and personal communication. Yes, there are newer communication methods  – the world is awash with social media messengers and live chat platforms like Telegram and Whatsapp – and yet email is still used by over 4 billion people.

The truth is that email marketing has been around for so long that it’s just not going to go out of style anytime soon. The benefits are endless, and you have instant access to your customers’ inboxes; with all the available channels, it’s still one of the most effective ways to reach potential consumers. 

In fact, email continues to be a top channel for both B2C and B2B marketers, with 87% of B2B marketers and 77% of B2C marketers using email marketing to nurture their audiences.

Email marketing gives you more control and protection against algorithm changes since you’re the one who owns contacts. That’s why email marketing is so important when building a successful outreach campaign. And if you needed more convincing, email marketing has an ROI of 42 USD for every dollar spent, meaning it deserves a place in every marketer’s toolbox. 

The big challenge we face with email marketing, however, is that many people are doing it wrong. If you’ve ever received one of those spammy looking emails in your inbox, then you know all about this!

There are many benefits to email marketing, but getting it right can be tricky. Here are useful tips, tools and strategies to help you optimise – or start! – your email marketing campaigns:

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a form of direct mail marketing used by businesses to promote products and services. It involves sending emails to potential customers about your business and product/service offerings. 

An email marketing campaign is a planned series of emails sent out by businesses to their customers. The purpose of these emails is to accomplish a specific goal for the company, such as nurturing leads or engaging customers.

Through email, you’re able to stay top-of-mind with customers. You can keep them in a loop with timely information, and you can do this at scale with marketing automation tools. 

When sending out email campaigns, make sure your recipients opt-in to get emails from you. Each piece should also provide value to your email subscribers.

Here are two key things to keep in mind as you dive into the world of email marketing:

  1. Awareness – Not everyone who opts into your email list is really interested in buying anything. You can use email to stay top of mind and provide valuable educational content that’s most relevant to them. Lead nurturing is another tool to help you stay top of mind and get your emails to become sales-ready.
  2. Revenue Generation – You can upsell and cross-sell to your existing customers or prospects using email marketing. You can also create emails to capture a sales conversion from leads who are close to making a purchase.
Email marketing

Email Marketing Tips for the Busy Marketer

  1. Use a catchy subject line
  2. Include a call-to-action
  3. Make sure you’re sending emails to people who want to receive them
  4. Keep your message short
  5. Add images or videos
  6. Don’t use too many links
  7. Be creative
  8. Offer something free
  9. Always include a link back to your site
  10. Give away something valuable

How does Email Marketing work?

Email marketing is one of the top-performing strategies, in no small measure because it’s relatively intuitive and frequently automated. 

You can use email marketing to achieve many business goals, such as driving sales, boosting brand awareness, generating leads, keeping customers engaged, increasing customer loyalty, and nurturing existing customers. 

Your mailing list and goals must align before you can start executing an effective email marketing campaign. First, you need to segment your email list based on demographic information or actions. Then, craft an email or series of messages designed to get consumers to take some action.

To get started, you’ll need two key things:

1. A Strategy

Before you dive into writing your email marketing campaign and start sending messages left, right and centre, you need to establish your strategy. You need to know why you’re doing this: what do you hope to gain from your email marketing campaign? Why are you targeting these people on your mailing list? How are you going to track your successes and failures?

To break it down and keep it simple, it’s a good idea to clarify these things before you get started:

  • Who are you going to add to your mailing list and why?
  • What messages are you going to send them?
  • How often will you message them?
  • What do you want your target audience to do with your messages?
  • What defines a ‘successful’ campaign – which metrics are you going to be measuring?

Knowing these things will make it easier for you to draft your email messages and set a catchy call to action (CTA) to go with them. 

2. Mailing List

You’ll need the email addresses of the people you want to reach. To be most effective, you must first build an email list with emails that you know are active and reachable. You can do this by creating a lead magnet or offer. Should your target audience become interested in your offer, collect emails and ask them to sign up for your newsletter.

A Note on Email Service Providers (ESPs)

An email service provider (ESP) helps you create and send emails. You can use them to personalise interactions with your customers. Email marketing platforms allow you to automate certain tasks, such as sending out newsletters or other messages to your customers.

There are many different ESPs to choose from, so it’s really up to you what sort of tools you’d like to go with. Some free ESPs include familiar names like Gmail, Outlook, ProtonMail, AOL, Zoho Mail, iCloud Mail, Yahoo! Mail, and GMX.

Email marketing can help grow your business.

5 Steps to Successful Email Marketing

Step 1: Your Email Marketing Mailing List

Your mailing list – or adding to an existing one – is the place to get started. After all, you can’t begin sending messages without a mailing list.

Building Your Mailing List

There are two main ways to build a mailing list: collecting email addresses and importing contacts.

For collecting email addresses, you can use pop-ups, sign-up forms, or even just ask for people’s emails at various points throughout your website or app. You can do this by adding an email signup form on your website or blog, using pop-ups, or sending people emails with an opt-in form.

By exploring ways to get people to share their email addresses, you can naturally grow your email list. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that people aren’t going to give you their emails ‘just because’. Trust starts with the collection of email addresses, so a good way for address collection to go smoothly is to offer your prospective audience something in return.  

For example, you can offer downloads like whitepapers or reports, you can also offer free products or demos. People are more inclined to give you access to the inner sanctum of their email inbox if you’ve given them in return.  

For importing contacts, you need to upload your contacts from an existing excel file and then import them into your customer relations management (CRM) system.

Respect the Sanctity of The Inbox

Once you’ve been granted access to someone’s email address, you have access to what is arguably one of the most personal spaces on the Internet. Respecting a person’s inbox means making sure that you’re only sending them what they signed up for and not spamming them to pieces.

A Note on Legal Requirements

In this same vein, it’s also crucial to stay abreast of the legality of email marketing. Many countries have strict rules on spam emailing and access to email addresses as this falls under privacy protection acts. 

Do your research and make sure you’re not breaking any laws when sending out your email marketing campaigns! The last thing you want to face is legal repercussions like penalty fines for sending unsolicited emails or breaching data privacy and security regulations. 

The law usually has rules about how subscriptions should work, with most countries pushing for double opt-in systems that require would-be subscribers to verify their email addresses. This exists in part to ensure that people aren’t randomly added to email marketing mailing lists that they’ve not consented to.

Step 2:  Compose Your Content

Once you’ve established your strategy, set your goals and put together your mailing list, you’ll know what sort of messages you want to be sending out, how many you’ll need and how often your mailing list will be receiving them.

The absolute basics of any effective email marketing strategy need three essential components: subject line, body text, and call to action. 

How to Write A Kick-Ass Subject Line

Your subject line is the key to your target audience opening your email. How many times have you flicked an email in your inbox and ignored or deleted it because the subject line was boring, spammy or just plain weird? The email that you’ve clicked to open had an interesting subject title, something that caught your eye and spoke to you on a personal level. To get the best open rates, you need to speak to your audience – in which case it really helps to have fully-fleshed out buyer personas that can help you understand your audience.

Here are some quick tips for your subject line:

  • Use keywords: Make it clear to your recipients what the email is about, so use the keywords in the subject line to let them know. 
  • Make it benefit-driven: People are more likely to open your email if they see a potential benefit to doing so, so be clear in how you write it.
  • Use active voice: Be decisive and use assertive tones. No one will open your email if you’re being wishy-washy.
  • Personalise whenever possible: Personalising people’s names is a great way to encourage people to open your email. 

Step 3: Choose Your Campaign Format

What sort of email marketing campaign are you going to be sending? Is it a newsletter? Is it an offer for a free demo or a trial? Before you get started, make sure you’re keyed into the best campaign format that’ll help you meet your goals. The most common kinds of campaigns are:

  • Newsletters – are regularly distributed email campaigns that tend to be about one topic or theme. These are usually sent out once a week, month or quarter. Their purpose is to engage an existing audience or customers to stay top of mind and guide people back to your website.
  • Offers – Offers are a nice way to get people to engage with your products or services. By offering free services, product trials, or special discounts for subscriptions, you can drive a lot of traffic to your website. A ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Book Now’ button is a good CTA to accompany an offer and ensure your audience doesn’t stray.
  • Announcements – Got news on new products, features or services? An announcement email is a perfect way to get the information out into the crowd. It will keep your customers up-to-date on new releases and latest products, encouraging them to come back to your website to check out the details.
  • Invitations – People like to feel special. Inviting prospects to virtual or physical events can sway them to engage with your business. Plus, it also helps you fill seats for your events!
Email marketing gives you access to your audience pretty much anywhere!

Step 4: Setup & Go

Once you’ve made your decision and acquired some followers, it’s time to start creating the emails for your campaign. Using email marketing tools makes it easy to create beautiful email campaigns, but there are some fundamentals that you should know to get the best results.

A typical adult has an attention span of 8 seconds, so if you’re trying to persuade people, you’ve got a short window to do it. They’ll tend to skim through your message, spending less time on each sentence. 

Long-winded email campaigns don’t work. You need to structure your emails carefully so you’ll attract the reader’s attention and keep them interested long enough for them to take action on a call to action. 

Step 5: Measure Results and Optimise for Your Campaigns

Once your campaign results are in, it’s time to measure and analyse. Your metrics can tell you a whole lot about what’s working and what’s not. This is the time to optimise your campaign, learn from mistakes, and run tests to see how you can improve your open and click-through rate (CTR).

Depending on what tool you’re using to run your email marketing campaigns, you’ll have access to different types of reporting dashboards. Generally, reports will provide insights into key metrics of your email marketing campaign, including metrics like:

  • Unique opens: The number of subscribers who opened your campaign.
  • Unopened rate: How many subscribers did not open your campaign.
  • Open rate: The number of your total subscribers who opened your campaign, in percentage.
  • CTR: The number of people who clicked on a link provided in your campaign, in percentage.
  • Unsubscribe rate: People who opted out of your campaign, again as a percentage.
Email marketing comes with solid analytics and metrics.

Chances are you see room for improvement in your metrics – after all, we always want to do better, right? Here are a few things you can try to improve your metrics:

1. Split Test Subject Lines

By splitting your mailing list into two or more pieces – aka. segmenting – you can send each segment the same content with a different subject line and see which has more impact on your open rates. 

Start with small changes – you want to make sure you know the variables you’re throwing into the mix. A great place to start is by sending identical subject lines, but have one lead with the subscriber’s first name – see if the personalisation makes a difference.

2. Improve CTR 

A strong call to action is always necessary. If you want people to follow up and buy something, you should also consider other factors:

For example, make sure your email looks great, and try out different images to see if they work better than the ones you’ve been using. You can also try redesigning your template to make it easier to read – audiences are quick to turn-off emails that are complicated to follow.

Your CTAs should be easy to find as well – let them stand out, so people know their links. Play with the phrasing to see if you can entice more subscribers to click on them. Where you place your CTAs is also important. Some companies get a better CTR when they put their call to action in a sidebar on the right side of an email. However, this may not be true for your audience, so experiment.

The timing of your campaign is another essential factor to consider when improving all your metrics. Does your audience have the time and state of mind at that point to open and read your email? Consider the day and time you’re sending your campaign and try testing a segment on a different schedule to see if that makes a difference.

3. Different types of Content

Subscribers can be fickle: they can get bored if you send the same kind of content to them every time, and they might get turned off if you mix it up too much. Find a balance of what content formats your audience prefers overall – videos, articles, just a message? – through segmenting and A/B testing your campaign style.

 3 Things to do After Every Email Marketing Campaign

1. Resend

People have their reasons why they didn’t open your email. So, segment your list and resend your campaign specifically to those who didn’t open it the first time around. This offers them a second chance to see the email in case it got lost, or it provides you with further opportunities to test your subject lines and send times. It also lets you know who’s really not interested.

2. Clean Your List

After several rounds of split testing, segmentation and sending your campaign out, you’ll notice who’s not into what you’re offering. When that happens, remove those people from your mailing list. Good mailing list hygiene can help you improve your engagement and open rates.

3. Build Brand Awareness

After your campaign has run its course, it’s time to build awareness for your brand across different marketing channels. More people will know about your brand, and you’ll be able to get more subscribers and followers. You’ll also increase engagement and get more leads and conversions. Diversification of your audience – within reason! – is a great way to build your mailing list and bump up those metrics.

What’s the Deal with Email Marketing Automation?

Depending on the kind of email marketing campaigns you want or need to run, you might want to consider automating your email marketing. Automation is a great way to streamline your email communications and increase the ROI of your campaigns. You can use it to automate email broadcasts and response sequences, for example, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a great option if you are running an e-commerce store or if you have a lot of subscribers. 

Email marketing automation offers a variety of benefits, including:

  • Boosts time efficiency: After you’ve set up your email marketing automation system you can just hit ‘go’ and sit back.
  • Improve UX: You’ll never have to worry about forgetting to follow up with your leads or prospects.
  • Drive Sales: With built-in conversions and nurture email campaigns, you’ll be able to grow your customer base – and bottom line.

Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation

Email marketing and marketing automation are two terms that are often lumped together, so to be clear: they are not the same thing. There’s a bit of overlap to be sure, but it’s best to think of email marketing as a subset of marketing automation:

Email Marketing 

Email marketing automation is the process of sending targeted email campaigns to your customers automatically through a pre-built and self-operating system, usually made with the help of software. When you use the right tools, you can automatically capture leads, get them sent to your mailing list, and create and send automated email campaigns to transform them into paying customers.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation software, on the other hand, monitors all of a lead’s digital interactions with your business. It also compiles all this data into an activity history that lets you quickly and easily get information about lead behaviour and their digital habits.

Do you need both?

Both email service providers and marketing automation platforms are handy tools for any marketer but deciding which tool is right for your business depends on whether you are looking to close leads faster or just provide quality, valuable information.

If all you need to do with the leads is send them a few valuable content pieces before passing them on to the sales team, then a lead scoring software might be perfect for your needs. Lead scoring is a solid tactic for strengthening your lead generation strategy.

If your sales cycle is relatively simple and prospects don’t need a lot of hand-holding, an email marketing automation solution might be ideal for you. A marketing automation platform may be too sophisticated and expensive.

14 Email Marketing Tools to Consider

  1. OptinMonster
  2. Intercom
  3. BenchmarkONE
  4. E-goi
  5. Sendinblue
  6. Drip
  7. RafflePress
  8. Contactually
  9. SAP Sales Cloud (Formerly CallidusCloud)
  10. HubSpot
  11. Marketo
  12. Act-On
  13. LeadSquared
  14. ActiveCampaign

The Conclusion: Is Email Marketing still a ‘thing’?

The short answer is ‘yes, it’s still a thing’. In fact, it’s still a big thing! Yes, we know: email isn’t a new technology. In 1971, it was one of the very first means of digital communication. Today, it’s used more than ever before. People still use email!

When you think of the advantages that email marketing provides, it remains one of the quickest and easiest ways to reach your business goals, whether they be revenue growth, customer outreach, or raising brand awareness and engagement. 

Consider that email marketing campaigns can be personalised more than any other channel, making them more interesting and engaging for target audiences. Additionally, costs are comparatively low, especially when compared to social media marketing, making email marketing an accessible option for all businesses – no matter the size or budget. 

Embarking on your email marketing journey? 2Stallions is experienced in setting up and even running email marketing campaigns, and we know that it can be tricky to get it right. If our experience can help, give us a call or shoot us an email.

You can also sign up for our newsletter and get monthly insights into the world of digital marketing!

Email marketing makes a marketer's life easy.

The world is a very strange place. As we drift towards a post-pandemic normal, we are finding ways to grow from the lessons we learned during the last two and half years. Many of the adaptations we’ve had to make have been out of sheer necessity, for the survival of society and our economies, and many of those adaptations will have lasting considerations for the future.

One of the adaptations we’ve made is the increase in our use of digital tools for self-improvement and advancement – especially when it comes to job hunting. Leading the charge, platforms like JobStreet by SEEK ran special initiatives to bring people together and provide much-needed help when it was needed.

In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series Julie Wang, Head of Marketing Singapore for JobStreet by Seek, shares her insights and experiences in her role during the pandemic.


Hi, Julie, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s begin with a little history: can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

I’m currently the Head of Marketing at JobStreet by SEEK, Asia’s leading online job portal. I started my career in advertising sales and was at my peak when I decided to do a career switch after 5 years, to pursue my passion in marketing. It was a painful decision at that point in time, not only to have a 50% pay cut but to also start from the bottom of the ladder. I did feel that this risk paid off, being able to gain exposure at the giant FMCGs companies of the world like Nestle, Unilever and Danone for both local and regional markets. I even manage to put my classically trained FMCG marketing skills to good use by starting a tea training school.

In 2019, after 10 years in FMCG, I decide to take stab at the world of e-commerce/tech marketing and joined Lazada as I believe that this is the future. It was a very interesting period where e-commerce growth exploded due to Covid. I recalled having to deal with late-night crisis management of panic & bulk buying on our grocery channel, RedMart after the government raise its DORSCON level to Orange. It was also a period that saw an unprecedented adoption of e-commerce even among the most traditional brands. Consumer buying behaviour was also erratic and dynamic. That further built my agility to make the most out of the changes and capitalize on new opportunities.

Having made several career changes by then, I decided to take the offer at JobStreet by SEEK as a way to share my career experiences and help job seekers improve their lives through better careers, while at the same time, continue to hone my skills in tech marketing.

 

Tell us a little about the work that JobStreet does and the role you play there.

SEEK’s purpose is to help people live more fulfilling and productive working lives and help organizations succeed.  We are committed to making a difference to our community as well as to our company. Our strategy is to match more candidates to opportunities than anyone else through using our marketplace scale to build a radically more efficient and effective employment marketplace.

As Head of Marketing for Singapore, I’m responsible for moving the company forward not only to be a more digital, data driven, and innovative organization but also to achieve in-market operational excellence for local activations through my team of 10 that cuts across brand building, performance marketing, content, PR, SEO & social.

In March 2022, we held Asia’s biggest virtual career fair that connected thousands of job seekers to tech and digital job opportunities across various career stages to fill employment gaps as the economy gradually recovers.

 

Is there a part about your role that you enjoy most?

I love how this role enables me to empower job seekers to find work that is rewarding, and they can be passionate about, and by finding companies motivated and able employees.

Late last year, we launched the #LetsGetToWork movement to encourage job seekers to stand up and stand out, to take that bold step and pursue the job that they love. In last month’s virtual career fair, we also launched the Women in Tech series to encourage gender diversity in the tech sector. I feel proud and fulfilled to lead such initiatives to contribute back to society,

 

How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies at JobStreet? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How did you overcome these challenges?

The COVID-19 crisis had deeply scored the world’s workforce, with entire industries forced to temporarily shut down, stalling or cutting off the jobs these industries supported. As the pandemic unfolded over the rest of 2020 and to mid-2021, total employment in Singapore continued to fall.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are also getting more frustrated at work, fuelling the Great Resignation wave and hence, giving raise to vacancies especially in growth sectors like tech and healthcare.

At JobStreet, we started the #LetsGetToWork movement and Asia’s Biggest Virtual Career Fair to empower job seekers to pursue the job that they want, to upskill and reskill in the face of rapid digitalization while helping hirers to better find qualified candidates through our hiring tools and career fairs. At the same time, continue to advocate to hirers for healthier work cultures, gender diversity and building a multi-generational workforce to better cope with the changing needs of employees.

 

Marketing, as we know, comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be rather demanding. How do you believe that marketing leaders can help their brands – and their teams – grow in today’s world?

  • Know your consumer, audit and rewire your marketing programme when needed
    It is critical to know what your consumers are thinking, how are they feeling and what are their beliefs. Be in tune with changing needs of consumers (we definitely see more of this with the pandemic) and even anticipate ahead with data analytics. Focus on what is working, fix what is broken, and cut what is not working anymore.
  • Drive authentic engagement with a clear and meaningful brand purpose
    Consumers today are being bombarded by too many messages every day. Hence, they are also getting savvier and choosing which brands to engage in. Therefore, a clear and meaningful brand purpose that resonates deeply with your target consumers can help to motivate and engage them authentically. Knowing this will allow brands raise from the clutter and stand out.
  • Invest in Innovation
    With digitalization, the marketing landscape is evolving more rapidly than ever. What is relevant today might be obsolete tomorrow. Hence, if you don’t try new things or invest in innovation, your brand’s ability to grow will be limited. Consider setting aside a part of your resources to experiment outside the box.
  • Develop talent and capabilities for the future
    A strong team can be the competitive advantage that takes the organization to new heights. Engage your people and address their concerns early. Be invested in their career development and build their skills for the future.
  • Lead authentically with empathy and humility
    The pandemic led to many employees changing priorities, with many shifting towards jobs that are more fulfilling and meaningful to them, as well as a positive work culture. It is therefore, more important than ever before to focus on building authentic connections and trust with your team. Make the extra effort to understand their situations and what they are going through, in order to offer support and help. Recognize their contributions and keep them motivated with positive reinforcements, so that they can remain dedicated and joyful about their work, their leader and the company they work for.

 

Any advice for aspiring, young marketers?

In today’s VUCA world, agility is key and change is the only constant. What seems like the right thing to do today, might become irrelevant tomorrow. So be prepared to constantly unlearn and relearn. The more you know, the more you don’t know. Never stop learning.

 

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Julie, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you and the work you do at Jobstreet?

They can connect with me via LinkedIn.


The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

 

 

 

 

 

Most of us thinking about wealth management and financial planning as something meant for the 1% – those with enough money to actually need such services. The truth is, wealth management and financial planning is something we should all be doing – if only to safeguard our retirement funds.

Helping us fully understand the importance of correctly managing and saving money for a secure and safe future, is digital marketing expert Jason Huan, Chief Marketing Officer at Endowus. Join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series as Jason lets us into the world of wealth management and financial planning.


Hi, Jason, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with some background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now?

It’s been a good 15 years since I last graduated from the pioneer batch of a Technopreneurship program in NUS (National University of Singapore) which focuses on Technology entrepreneurship. From there I’ve honed my functional capabilities across various sectors from education, financial services, and recruitment, to my recent 5 years where I’ve spent time in fast-growth technology companies as the CMO for Lazada Singapore / Philippines as well as Endowus, a wealth management app where I’m currently based.

I was largely on a generalist track focused on digital marketing skillsets. And in the various roles that I’ve served at, I was razor-focused on ensuring that these roles would attend to the knowledge gaps for me to effectively strategise and execute marketing campaigns in an integrated manner.

 

You’re the Chief Marketing Officer at Endowus. Please tell us a little about the work Endowus does and your role there.

Endowus is the first and only digital advisor in Singapore that is able to manage the core of Singaporeans’ wealth in 3 key sources – namely, the national pension scheme (CPF), a retirement scheme (SRS) and cash. The founders came together to solve for retirement adequacy by curating time-tested and more affordable investment products in the market, as well as removing errant fees being levied on investors that eat into returns by introducing an all-in-one simple fee structure.

The result is creating an investment platform that’s 100% aligned to our clients’ interest as we are not incentivised by anyone else but the client to act in their best interest — as we rebate a 100% of trailer fees back to our clients.

As part of the founding team, I was entrusted with the role of building a brand that is underpinned by core principles of trust, transparency and security. And as a brand which launched through Covid-19, we were thrust into hyper-growth as we doubled down on paid performance on digital channels, as well as content and community marketing, creating video and web content to help people manage their wealth better over periods of uncertainty. Amidst orchestrating content initiatives that are focused on delivering financial literacy, brand campaigns are developed to help people understand how we can help grow their wealth, alongside amplification via paid performance channels.

 

Is there a part of your role you enjoy most?

I think more than just the role itself is the company’s mission and values. We were founded on improving accessibility to better investment products, as well as lowering the cost of investing which overall improves investment outcomes, so people can live better tomorrow. And I find the work that I do extremely meaningful as a result.

Retirement planning is typically not on the top of the priority list for most, but it doesn’t take a lot to be better planned for that important eventuality. At Endowus, we want to make that first step to building a retirement nest easier.

 

You also spent some time at Lazada Group – how do those experiences differ from your time at Endowus? Did it prepare you for your current role in any way?

I think the key similarities between the two were that they were hyper growth-focused, where traffic and customer acquisition are key objectives on top of building a strong brand. But where the length of the sales cycle is concerned, they differ vastly in that there’s absolutely a lot more products that can be attractive to a customer on Lazada, versus considering an investment product that requires a minimum investment on Endowus that may fluctuate with market changes.

While the consumer psyche between an e-commerce site and an investment platform is vastly different, from digital marketing touchpoints to the UX onsite, optimisations to improve content discovery and eventual conversions are conceptually similar. Overall, the way we optimize ROI for traffic, as well as customer acquisition, is similar, adjusting for revenue projections based on customer lifetime value.

 

How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies as a CMO? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How have you overcome them?

We pivoted very swiftly when news of an islandwide lockdown broke. We converted in-person events to webinars to which we broke down a curriculum-based seasonally on the market and economic events that were unfolding, to help people understand the benefits of taking ownership of their financial health.

The key challenge was convincing investors that they should be looking at managing their wealth more than ever during this period of volatility. But in doubling down on education, as well as outlining our track record from a sound investment strategy—we managed to increase client acquisition many-fold as well as trend strongly as one of the leading robo-advisors with the largest video reach on YouTube, on top of gunning awards for supporting financial literacy.

 

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry?

Specific to the industry, I think there was a pronounced impact on the need to enhance one’s knowledge of personal finance and investing. As Covid lockdowns affected economies everywhere, shuttering companies and causing people to go out of work, there was a need to be more financially responsible rather than live paycheck to paycheck.

For the savvier investors, there was also the need to be personally empowered to make their own financial decisions as physical bank branches and financial advisors were out of reach. The acceleration in the adoption of digital advisory services like ours while met with initial apprehension is now understood as the new way forward to managing and growing wealth.

 

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

Financial advisory services have typically been a high touch business—, particularly wealth management. Banks have long depended on their physical presence to reach their clients with more sophisticated products and services. Our work requires us to optimise the way we manage wealth for our clients, from setting up the stage to understanding their needs, to performing KYC, all on a digital platform—enhancing and continually improving on an app-first experience is critical to business success.

In terms of overall strategy, we are hyper-focused on app-first enablement, and optimising the experience around that. From engaging and acquiring our clients via performance marketing channels, to enhancing their ability to explore other products and services we can offer based on their needs at different life stages. We need to be able to offer a holistic one-stop experience that continues to delight them as they grow their wealth with us.

 

Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers?

Never stop learning. The world has evolved tremendously over Covid, and the world of marketing will continue to evolve at a fast pace with changes that are not within our control. Tightening privacy laws, changing regulations—no matter which area of functional expertise, it’ll inadvertently affect your strategy.

 


It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Jason, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Endowus?

Feel free to drop me a message on LinkedIn anytime!



The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

 

When chasing audience engagement and building customer satisfaction and loyalty, content marketing plays a key role. Content marketing is the act of using content to attract and retain customers. It’s any media that can be used to create awareness about a product, service, or event.

The goal of content marketing is to create valuable and compelling information so that people will keep coming back for more. The easiest way for marketers to do this is by creating blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc. Content marketers want their content to be informative and interesting or entertaining enough that people will want more of it.

Why Content Marketing is the Most Important Skill for Marketers

In the age of digital marketing, content marketing has become a significant factor in many marketing strategies. The long-term success of a company hinges on its ability to produce and distribute high-quality content that resonates with customers. In recent years, marketers have started to recognise the importance of content. They have begun embracing content marketing as a means of targeting their customers and driving sales.

Key Content Marketing Skills:

  1. Understand customer behaviour: Marketers should have a good understanding of what customers want and how they behave in order to create effective content that will resonate with their target audience.
  2. Storytelling: Good storytelling is what makes a marketing message memorable. It’s the art of telling a brand’s story in an interesting way that will resonate with the audience.

Developing a Successful and Sustainable Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing works hand-in-hand with integrated marketing – a marketing approach that takes into account the customer’s journey and touchpoints.

Integrated marketing is more than advertising across multiple channels; it integrates all aspects of communication (i.e., advertising, public relations, events, web design and social media) to create a cohesive customer experience. 

When developing a content marketing strategy, take the integrated approach.   Convey a clear, unified branded message to drive higher customer engagement on your company’s products or services. Also, keep in mind that your four P’s of content marketing – Purpose, People, Placement, and Promotion – should work together in an integrated marketing campaign.

Marketing’s Four P’s and Their Role in Your Content Marketing Strategy

The four P’s provide a solid foundation for your content marketing strategy. They serve as the building blocks for creating content that’s relevant, valuable, and engaging. 

Purpose

What’s the purpose of this piece of content? What goals are you trying to achieve? The purpose of content is to provide value to your audience. When you’re creating content, ask yourself “what am I trying to accomplish with this piece?” If you’re trying to make your audience laugh, for example, then you’ll want to create humour. If you want your audience to get more engaged with the brand, then focus on a call-to-action or build awareness about your brand.

People

People are the most important part of content marketing. Without people, there would be no need for content. So, it’s crucial to know who your target audience is and what you’re trying to reach with your content.

There are many different types of people in our world today and each type of person has their own interests and needs. Suppose your business sells vegan products. Your target audience will be individuals who want to eat healthier or people who have dietary restrictions. If you run a business that sells athletic equipment, then your target audience will be those who want to improve their health or those who are athletes themselves.

Placement

The placement of your content is another critical aspect to look at. If it’s being used for a social media campaign, it needs to be distributed on the appropriate channels. For example, if the content is about how to make an omelette, post it on social media channels that are popular with foodies and those interested in cooking.

Promotion

How are you going to promote your content? Promotion is essential to make sure your content gets the attention it deserves. In general, there are two main types of content promotion: organic and paid. Organic promotion includes submitting your content to directories like Hacker News, Reddit, Quora or Facebook Groups while paid promotion includes services like sponsored tweets on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Key Elements of a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

A good content marketing strategy is a mix of various content types, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and webinars. Remember that content marketing isn’t only about writing content, but also about distributing the content across your website and social media profiles.

  1. The strategy should be tailored and varied.

    For example, if the content is for a company website then it should be geared towards attracting potential customers. If it’s for an email marketing campaign, it should seek to build relationships with current customers. Content should be tailored to the purpose it serves and varied so that it does not bore consumers.
     
  2. The strategy should be executable and achievable.

    Every content marketing strategy needs to be achievable – setting objectives that are too far out of reach will only cause stress and frustration in the long run. It’s important to set targets that are doable and achievable will boost productivity and morale.
  3. The strategy should be continuous and never stop.

    Your content marketing strategy should not be time-limited like regular marketing campaigns. Aim for ongoing engagement, instead, it should be ongoing and sustainable, so that your potential clients feel that they can trust your company at all times.

Best Practices for a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

1. Know your audience and their need for information.

The more you know about your audience, the better able you will be to provide them with what they want. This means that you must do some research on who’s reading your blog or website. 

You should also understand what types of articles they like and don’t like. Your content needs to be useful and applicable to your readers. If you write something that doesn’t interest anyone, no one will read it.

2. Create a plan and think about the message you want to deliver

Before you start writing, come up with a clear idea of what you want to say. Think about why you’re writing and what you hope to achieve from your content.

You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start somewhere. Start by brainstorming ideas for your first draft. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling at this point; just focus on getting your thoughts down on paper. A good way to start is to write down ideas that come to you in an ‘Idea Bank’. 

3. Focus on quality content and not quantity

Quality content is the key to success online. While blogs with low-quality content can get quickly shared and become popular on social media, these posts are rarely read for long periods of time. 

Focus on publishing quality content that appeals to your target audience. Write content pieces that educate people, engage or entertain readers, or provide a point of view that’s difficult to find elsewhere.

4. Find your voice and start creating content that is uniquely yours

“Finding your voice” is often the first step people take when starting to blog. There are many different styles of writing and finding the one that suits you best can be difficult. One way to find your voice is to start by asking yourself what it is that you want to say. Once you know this, it becomes much easier to determine how to say it, what tone of voice would be best on a personal or professional level.

5. Make sure that you have enough time to write content every day

It’s important to make sure that you have enough time to write content every day. Anyone who wants to be successful with copywriting or just writing, in general, knows that it can be hard to find time to write. 

Content development can take a lot of time, especially when you’re first starting out. So, be sure to set aside enough time to work on your content every day. Just like with any new skill, it will improve with more practice.

6. Have a clear goal or target audience in mind before writing any content

Writing for the Internet and the search engines shouldn’t be a guessing game. By focusing your writing on your specific goal and target audience, you can create content that will resonate with your site visitors. The more focused you are on these areas, the more likely your visitors will find what they’re looking for.

7. Be consistent with the frequency of publishing new pieces of content

The frequency with which you publish new content is dependent on the goals of your company, the needs of your customers and what your competition is doing. Posting content at least once a week will help to maintain high levels of traffic to your site, but this may not be possible for all companies.

8. Know what type of content works best for your product/service

The content you create for your product or service is one of the most important factors to its success. Knowing how to create content that works for your target demographic will help you gain followers, generate engagement, and drive conversions.

Creating the right content is the first step to helping your target demographic find you. However, people are bombarded with content all day long on social media, through email, and on other platforms; which makes it difficult for people to notice your post or message. If you want them to take notice of what you’re posting, make sure you put in enough time and effort into creating it.

9. Make sure that you know the different types of social media channels where you should publish your posts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.).

Social media has been a major influence on the way people interact with each other. In addition to being a place to share news and connect with friends, social media is also where people find jobs, make business deals, gather news, and access entertainment. However, it can be difficult to keep up with all of these different channels and make sure your posts are seen by the right audience. 

Be mindful of what kind of content your target audience wants to see when they visit different social media platforms as opposed to your blog – your content should be tailored to match the channel it’s being published on or delivered to. The best way to do this is by understanding the audience that will be viewing your content.

 

Building Dynamic Buyer Personas for Content Marketing

You have a list of 10,000 possible customers. What do you do? You can’t target all of them, but you need to decide which ones to focus on.

Buyer personas are a tool for narrowing that list down to a few key groups, based on the roles they play in their lives and the problems they’re trying to solve. When you’re developing your buyer personas, remember that they should never be static – that is, your buyer personas should be constantly evolving and be adapting to changes in the market and their lives.

People don’t stay the same after all, so why would your buyer personas stay the same? Their needs and pain points change as they grow older, move, have families, start and leave school, etc. It’s important that your buyer personas reflect the developments in your buyer personas’ lives, that way you can adapt your content to match their interests and needs.

For example, if you have a buyer persona named ‘Homemaker Hannah’, a homemaker in charge of housekeeping, looking after the family and taking care of the home. Let’s say she was only recently married and you were targeting her as a young woman.

After a few years, however, your ‘Homemaker Hannah’ may have started a family, started a job to earn extra cash, or maybe she got divorced… Either way, her life no longer fits the label ‘Homemaker Hannah’. Time to change it up and update ‘Homemaker Hannah’ to match whatever your new research dictates.

 

Creating Successful Content

People want to find new information on their own, but they also want to be told what to do. If you’re an expert in your field, share your thoughts on trends and new developments in your field. Be careful to avoid “sales pitches” and instead offer value-added content that provides new insights. Remember, one of the principal purposes of content marketing is to earn your audiences’ trust and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your content:

  1. Make your content relevant

The content you make should address your target audience’s needs. When you’re setting your goals for your content creation, make sure you’re thinking about what questions it’s answering or the problems it’s solving for your audience. 

  1. Make your content Interesting

When was the last time you actually read an article or watched a video that was boring? Probably never. Why would you? Boring content is boring, after all, why would you read something that you did not find interesting? This is a key point when you go about creating your content: if it’s not interesting, your audience isn’t going to read it.

  1. Make sure your content is understandable

Having the best content in the world isn’t going to do you any good if no one can understand a word of it. Nothing turns audiences off faster than a technical, jargon-filled piece of content, whether it’s an article, video, or podcast. 

Your audience is only human, and not all of them will be experts in your field so make sure you’re using lay terms and not overloading them with jargon.

 

A Note about ‘Going Viral’

In the world of content, people often talk about ‘going viral’. Social media trends are defined by the number of people who view them. Virality means that something spreads quickly throughout social networks. 

A video goes viral when many people watch it online. An article goes viral if many people read it online. A petition goes viral when many people sign it. A website goes viral when many people visit it online. Viral content goes viral when it reaches a large audience. When someone shares something online, that person gets at least one other person who visits the page.

For example, if you write a blog post about how to make a doughnut-shaped cake, then three people read the blog post, and two of them share it with their friends. Their friends may also read the article and share it with their friends, and so on. Each person sharing your content is called a ‘viral’ user. In this case, the number of visitors to your site could be as high as 1 million people.

Virality ratios are calculated by dividing the number of new visitors from a given period by the number of existing visitors from the same period. A site may go viral if the virality ratio is above 1. For example, if you have 10,000 visitors per day and 2,000 of them come from the previous month, then your virality ratio is 20% (2,000 divided by 10,000). This means that you need to increase the number of new visitors by 20% to reach viral status.

Pros and Cons of Viral Content

As with most things in life, trying – or succeeding – at going viral is a double-edged sword. There are many benefits of viral content that you shouldn’t ignore, including:

  1. Good source of traffic: Viral content by its definition reaches a lot of people, and so has the potential to provide you with a lot of traffic.
     
  2. An efficient way to get your message out: Due to its wide reach and massive sharing, viral content allows you to get your message out more efficiently than non-viral content.
  3. Great way to build your brand’s reputation: Do you want to spread the word about your brand? Going viral has the power to spread your reputation far and wide.
     
  4. A refreshing way to market your business: Viral content has the potential to reach potential customers who may not otherwise see your content or hear about your brand.
     
  5. Save a lot of money on advertising: Viral sharing is a positive experience and allows your customers to keep the message going by continually sharing and resharing it, thus saving you money down the road that you might spend on advertising.
     
  6. Adds creativity to your marketing: Digital content doesn’t always go viral. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – you have to put in the effort and focus to hit your virality targets. This means adding creativity and really speaking to your audience.
     
  7. Let’s you stand out: Viral content is interesting and makes a lot of noise, allowing you to cut through the chaos of social media channels.  

On the other hand, there are also disadvantages to going viral that should be taken into consideration if viral marketing is the strategy you’re going for:

  1. People might not take your content seriously because they think it’s just a joke: Viral content tends towards the amusing or entertaining, and if you’re not careful your original message can get lost in the ensuing sharing-frenzy.
     
  2. Less control once you’ve put it out there: Once it’s live, it’s out there forever and you have little control over where it goes or what people do with it. While this is true of almost everything that gets published online, viral content draws a special kind of attention to itself so it bears warning you of the loss of control.
     
  3. Needs more hands-on messaging to keep reinforcing your brand messages: Viral marketing is more engaging than other kinds of content marketing, and requires marketers to stay plugged in to limit the negative content that may be generated as a result.
     
  4. Can be a waste of time if it doesn’t hit your actual target audience: Your viral content may go viral with the wrong audience, and there’s not really much you can do about it.
     
  5. Can be hard to achieve virality: Generating viral content isn’t something that you ‘just do’. It requires a solid understanding of your audience and their psychology. It can be very easy to get it wrong and never go viral at all.  

Measuring Content Marketing Success

Measuring your content marketing success is a two-pronged approach: metrics and return on investment (ROI). Most marketers, especially when first starting out, are more familiar with metrics than with ROI, so let’s start there first.

Which Content Marketing Metrics Should You Measure?

Many first-time marketers start off with vanity metrics – page followers, likes, etc. – rather than look at engagement metrics, which is where the truth of success or failure truly lies. There are six key content marketing metrics that you should be measuring:

  1. Lead Quality
    How good are the leads that your content is generating? How valuable are they? How long do they stay with the company? It’s a good idea at this stage to know how to calculate lifetime customer values (CLTVs) which is done simply with this formula: “Customer Lifetime Value = (Customer Value * Average Customer Lifespan)”. 
  2. Conversions (Sales)
    What percentage of your leads generated are converted to real customers? It’s easy to talk about leads brought in, but their true value lies in whether they become customers or not.
  3. Web Traffic
    How many visitors does your content pull to your website? Calculating the unique visitor count and understanding the demographic that visits your site will help you ensure that your content is hitting its mark. 
  4. Onsite Engagement
    What is your website traffic doing once it’s on your site? Is it exciting at certain points or lingering at others? Knowing how your website’s visitors are moving through your website can help you optimise their touchpoints and improve your content at each level.
  5. Social Media Engagement
    Only now do we get to dive into all those shiny metrics that many of us are familiar with: likes, shares, comments, followers, etc. These metrics are all great ways to track just how engaging your content is and whether it is having the effect that you were aiming for.
  6. SEO Success
    Content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) go hand in hand and should always aim to work together. Making sure that your content is helping drive SEO and vice versa will provide a solid foundation for your content marketing success. For more information on SEO and how to make it work for you, check out our SEO Ultimate Guide.
Happy Content Marketing Team

What is Content Marketing ROI?

Content marketing ROI is the percentage showcasing the revenue gained from your content marketing initiatives versus what you spent on it. For content marketing to be successful, the ROI must be positive. 

The success of your content marketing strategy goes beyond just the money you make. If you don’t get any pageviews, shares, or visitors, then no one will find your business to buy your products or services. To get an accurate idea of your content marketing ROI, you have to identify what metrics will provide the clearest picture of its performance.

4 Steps to Measure Content Marketing ROI

You can calculate your content marketing ROI in four simple steps:

Step 1. Calculate your Expenditure

How much did it cost to create the content? If you’re working with an in-house team you’ll need to take into account the salaries of the team members involved in the content creation – copywriters, designers, etc. Also, be sure to include any expenses you incurred for content assets; for example if you needed to purchase images, video or audio stock.

Step 2. Calculate your Distribution Cost

What did it cost to get your content out there? Again, don’t forget to include in-house costs that may fall under this category. This will also include your paid promotions like PPC, social or SEM advertising. Be sure to include any costs for special tools or software for your content distribution or creation. 

For example, if you pay for and use a social media management tool like Hootsuite, Buffer, or SproutSocial, or you use content creation tools like premium Canva, then these costs need to be added to your calculation.

Step 3. Calculate Sales Value

When your content strategy is working, it will generate leads that convert. In other words, you’ll be adding to company revenue. 

In some cases, this is incredibly obvious and easy to track – a basic call-to-action on a content piece that someone clicks to buy a product. 

Other times this relationship is less clear and indirect, in which case you’ll need to get a little creative with how you calculate the influence your content piece had on generating that specific lead. Most marketers do this by claiming a certain percentage of the lead revenue rather than the whole hog.

Step 4. Apply Formula

Steps 1 and 2 provide the total cost of your content development, and with step 3 you now have the value. 

To get your ROI percentage,  simply apply the formula below:”.

Everything Keeps Changing

“Omnia mutantir, nihil interit.” – Ovid

We live in a dynamic world, where things are constantly changing. Digital transformation has been spurred along by the pandemic of the 2020s, and content marketing strategies have had to swivel, pivot and overcome a whole host of challenges.

What was once a simpler game has now become a complex warren of strategies and goals. Content marketing leads the way in the development and showing of new ideas, innovations, technology and communication with target audiences. There’s little doubt that the impact of the global pandemic will leave its mark on digital marketing as a whole, and force content marketers to keep up with changing trends. 

Everything is constantly changing and we are constantly learning how to adapt to the changes and use them to our advantage. As a content marketer, it is your responsibility to accept change and build on what came before you.

Ready to supercharge your content marketing initiatives? 2Stallions has an award-winning Content Marketing Team ready to help you achieve your objectives and grow your business.

Key Takeaways

  1. Messaging: Understand how to tell a good story and communicate your brand message to your audience.
  2. Target Audience: Know who they are, what they do and who to reach them by crafting dynamic buyer personas.
  3. Strategy: Build a content marketing strategy that is tailored, executable and continuous.
  4. Create Quality: Focus on creating quality content over a lot of content.
  5. Objectives: Set goals, understand them and know how you’re going to achieve them.
  6. Channels: Understand which channels you are going to be using and how best to use them to reach your target audience.
  7. Successful content: Know how to build content that is relevant, interesting and understandable.
  8. Innovate: Consider how to disrupt the market with your content.
  9. Metrics: Know what metrics you should be tracking and how to measure their success for your content marketing strategy.
  10. Value: Know how to measure and calculate your ROI.
Content Marketing Strategy Key Takeaways

Terms like ‘eCommerce’ and ‘group-buy’ have become increasingly popular over the last few years. With the Pandemic a part of everyday life, it’s no surprise that e-commerce platforms and social e-commerce marketing have become such a big part of how consumers make purchase decisions.

In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, Januel Koh, Marketing Manager at WEBUY, takes us on a tour of the whats, hows, and whys behind e-commerce marketing strategies. Join us on a whirlwind journey and catch a glimpse into the world of social e-commerce marketing and how it really works.


Hi, Januel, welcome to the Marketing Expert Series! Thank you for joining us. Let’s start background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

My background is originally in sales, but my passion was always for marketing. Being the top salesman in a sales agency helped me better understand how consumers think. Marketing, to me, is the skilful art of packaging an item. It’s like the wrapper for chocolate or presents, elevating the appeal of the product or service to the fullest.

Previously, I was part of a fast-growing marketing agency which gave me experience and exposure to multiple industries. While at the helm of the digital marketing department, as well as managing the campaigns of multiple clients, I gained insights through the success and failure of each campaign. To date, I have run more than 100 marketing campaigns and over 4000 ads through platforms like Google, Facebook, Linkedin and TikTok. 


With these experiences, I identified that content with the right message, audience, placement, objective and positioning is the key to running successful campaigns. 

Creating viral content elevates the success rate of engagement, click-through rate (CTR), acquisitions and purchases. Together with data analysis, it brought me to where I am today: helping businesses gain customers and grow revenues. 

Currently, you’re the Marketing Manager at WeBuy. Please tell us more about WeBuy and what the company is all about.

WEBUY is a one-stop e-commerce platform with two key elements: 

The first element is what we call “group buys” – buying items together and sharing the savings together. On WEBUY, there are more than a thousand “Group Leaders”. These are people like your next-door neighbours that facilitate group buys and serve as the collection points within your community. 

For example, buying a single bottle of Coca Cola versus buying a carton of Coca Cola bottles and sharing the amount and cost among the group makes a big difference in long term savings. 

People can also do group buys for lunch and dinners from famous eateries, making it really convenient for merchants and consumers because it’s all consolidated into one order placed in advance!

The second element is this upcoming digital trend on short videos. With the digital transformation in China and Southeast Asia, short videos are getting more and more popular. An increasing amount of average screen time is spent on platforms like TikTok, Instagram stories and Facebook videos. 

By sharing short videos on the WEBUY platform, consumers on WEBUY can experience the fun of watching short videos, finding out new items/products that they haven’t tried before. It also helps with the consumer’s decision-making process. Many of these videos are created and uploaded by other consumers that have used or tried the product before, making the videos highly credible. 

What about your role as Marketing Manager at WeBuy? What kind of work do you do to get WeBuy growing and moving?

Primarily, I manage WEBUY digital marketing campaigns and content across all social media platforms as well as running advertisements for growth and revenue. I am also in charge of all our offline marketing campaigns and public relations.

I usually create content for A/B tests using our wide range of products from different merchants and our USPs/concept of group buys to attract customers. After each test, I plan marketing strategies to make sure that my ads or content runs at the lowest CPA (cost per acquisition), with the given budget and KPI. 

In the past months, I have also run offline marketing campaigns, roadshows, for example, helping us acquire new users. With our unique business model with the group leaders, we had group leaders give out eggs to their community/neighbours for them to join group buys within their community.

I understand that WeBuy was founded in late 2019, what sort of impact did it have on your development as a marketer?

I joined WEBUY in mid-2021. Finding myself in a face-paced environment, on an e-commerce platform, I had to adapt to various trends in the market really quickly. The Pandemic came in as a blessing in disguise where consumer behaviour had quickly turned into online purchases.

My development in this company made me grow in terms of my decision-making skills, but I had to make really fast decisions and adapt to various changes to campaigns at the very last minute for better results. There were times when I literally had to google for information and to learn new skills right before the campaign started. 

Have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies as Marketing Manager? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How have you overcome them?

The development of the COVID-19 Pandemic has spurred online purchases since 2020. Since then there have been many changes that the company had to deal with. For example, one of the industries that struggled to keep up was the F&B industry with multiple business owners that had not yet made the leap to digital. 

WEBUY launched food deliveries options to connect consumers and F&B businesses, helping launch group-buy food deliveries. These orders are placed in advance so that F&B owners, especially hawkers can prepare adequate ingredients beforehand. 

This initiative helped to secure a large number of orders so that these businesses could stay afloat. One F&B owner was saying that before the Pandemic, he was able to sell 200 plates of duck rice per day, but when the Pandemic struck, he only managed to sell 30 plates or less. After WEBUY came into the picture, we were able to bring him 300 over orders per day through the power of group buys. Our customers were also happy because they could order food with cost savings and have food delivered to them without the need of paying delivery fees. We managed to bring the demand from the consumer to our merchants.

Recently, with more and more restrictions lifted overseas, we launched the Group Buy Travel Services for consumers to travel with their family and friends at the cheapest cost in the market. Customers can even send requests to customise their tours with us!

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on WeBuy and your industry in general?

I believe that consumers have seen how we had handled the Pandemic and many are now used to ordering from our platform. We trained group leaders to understand how our e-commerce system works so that they can also teach their neighbours and community how to do online purchases. 

Consumers are quite used to our platforms, and the forced accelerations of the digital platform pushed us to increase the functionality and improve user-friendliness. For example, our short video functions allow consumers to make decisions more quickly, and our in-app chat allows customers who have issues to chat directly with the group leaders or our customer service.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

I believe it has definitely impacted our mindset and adaptability. We, as a team, are not afraid to try new campaigns to test our performance of each campaign. In the next few years, WEBUY definitely wants to bring this successful model to the rest of Southeast Asia. In fact, we are already present in Malaysia and Indonesia. Recently, we also expanded and bought Indonesia E-commerce startup Chilibeli.

We are confident because our team is always ready and fast to react!

Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers? 

Don’t be afraid to try; learn from every success and failure. In marketing, there are no rights or wrongs before making a start. 

It’s been a pleasure to learn more about you and your work, Januel, thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or WeBuy?

They can connect with me through Linkedin.

One of the brighter things to come out of the global pandemic is an increased focus on education technology (edtech). With so many lockdowns and restrictions, children and adults were unable to attend classes and courses in person. Education providers were forced to pivot and develop alternate ways of offering their subjects and programs. This shift to online education and technology has allowed many of us to continue with otherwise-stalled learning paths, opening avenues for further learning and opportunities for growth.

One edtech company that has successfully navigated the last two years is General Assembly (GA). Joining us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series is Sima Saadat, Head of Marketing at GA. An experienced marketer and passionate about edtech, in this interview, Sima shares her story and how she – and GA – grew together against the odds.


Hi, Sima, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

I am originally from California. I started my career in HR as a New College Graduate Recruiter. Then I decided I wanted to shift into marketing and I took on a role at a startup doing Partner Marketing. I moved around from a few different startups and learned so much at each one of them. 

Eventually, I joined an EdTech company called Teachers’ Curriculum Institute. It was there I found my passion for the edtech industry. I wore a lot of hats at TCI and got to experience different marketing tactics and strategies. When I moved to Singapore, I wanted to stay in EdTech and was excited when I learned about a Marketing Producer role at General Assembly. 

I joined right before Covid, when a major of our local marketing strategy was around events and community building. Once Covid hit, we (and everyone else) had to shift tactics, providing me with an opportunity to help with a new strategy. I’ve grown my career at GA starting as a Marketing Producer, moving to a Partnerships Manager and now am the Head of Marketing for the APAC region.  

 

You’re the Head of Marketing APAC at General Assembly. Please tell us about the work General Assembly is doing and your role there.

General Assembly is working to help professionals pursue careers they love. We do this by focusing on the most relevant and in-demand skills across data, design, business, and technology. GA confronts the global skills gap through award-winning, best-in-class instruction and innovative opportunities across diverse communities. GA works with students online and in-person across the globe and partners with top employers to help companies source, assess and transform talent.

My role specifically is focused on brand awareness and lead generation within the APAC region. I help get the word out there about GA and build a community. 

 

Has General Assembly’s role changed since the onset of the global pandemic? For example, has there been a change in the courses people are choosing to take?

The reasons for students to join General Assembly (GA) have often revolved around wanting to transition their career into tech and to ensure their skills evolve with the job market demands. While the pandemic has not changed students’ reasons for joining GA, it has highlighted the need to pick up tech and digital skills that they could apply to their current work or next role. This is largely driven by the shifts in the market and companies accelerating their digital initiatives.

We didn’t see any specific changes in the course subjects people were choosing, However, we did see a transition in the modality of the courses. Previously, GA offered all-immersive programs as 10-12 week-long full-time courses in areas such as Data Science, Digital Marketing, Software Engineering, and User Experience Design. This requires individuals to leave their current jobs to take up the course full-time and transition to a new career.  

One of the trends we noticed during the pandemic is that while people do want to transition to new careers, they are more hesitant to leave their current jobs – understandably! Last year, we began offering our immersive courses in a “Flex” format. They are the full curriculum, but run part-time over a longer 20 – 24 week period, allowing individuals to pick up new skills while remaining in their current jobs and then transition to a new role after they graduate. 

 

How have these changes affected your own strategies as Head of Marketing? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? 

Like many companies, much of GA’s events were only in person. GA hosted a wide variety of in-person events to build our community, brand and educate the public. The events were a place to gather industry leaders to discuss trending topics within tech and beyond. However, when the pandemic hit, we had to quickly transition our entire event process to become virtual. The goal was to continue to provide quality content while building and fostering our community virtually. 

The content and partnerships strategy around events had to shift, as zoom and webinar fatigue began to emerge. In order to stand out and continue to provide quality content, GA produced a few event series, which allowed for a virtual conference feel and was able to tie the content into a common theme. Partners were also excited to join in with GA, as we became experts in running virtual events. The series quickly gained a reputation as a fast way to hear about the latest trends or learn something new in a casual and friendly environment. 

 

Some companies – especially those in the digital space – are finding hybrid or pure work-from-home models very useful, with many planning not to return to traditional office spaces. Do you think these different working models are sustainable in the long term based on your own experiences? How will a sustained remote or hybrid work situation for your audience impact your marketing initiatives for General Assembly?

We are currently working in a hybrid model, where we go into the office two days a week and work from home the other three days. Personally, I love it. I feel it’s the best of both worlds. From a product perspective, we are also offering remote courses and hybrid courses. This allows us to meet our customers wherever is most convenient for them. 

Similarly, our marketing efforts around community building can move towards a hybrid method. Remote events allow us to have amazing panelists from all over the world and we open up the knowledge share to a larger audience. Of course, on the flip side, in-person events allow for networking with like-minded individuals within your specific community. Offering a variety of opportunities for our audience to interact with General Assembly allows us to expand our reach and build a stronger community. 

 

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry?

Previously, there were some reservations around virtual learning and its effectiveness. However, now that learning online has become parts and parcels of life, most can realise and appreciate its benefits and advantages compared to traditional learning formats. It is so impressive how the instructors can adapt their teaching methods to keep the students engaged and excited throughout the class. 

The pandemic also popularised the usage of some great tools such as Slack to help enhance a virtual classroom environment. I believe even as in-person classes can resume, both teachers and learners will continue to appreciate the flexibility of a hybrid arrangement.

 

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

There have definitely been strategic shifts that resulted from the recent changes. We’ve transitioned all in-person events and workshops to online and on top of that, expanded our strategies to incorporate greater digital and content marketing. The benefit of running events virtually is that we can maximise the value of the content generated by using it for other platforms like our blog, social media, and more. Allowing industry experts to share their knowledge through multiple platforms continue to provide value to our audience. 

Diversifying our marketing approaches will also allow us to work smarter as we have more access to data around what is and isn’t working, and then channel our efforts and resources on the winning strategies.

As for the next few years, I envision the strategy shifting towards more content-based marketing and data analytics to find new target markets who are ready for reskilling and upskilling.

 

Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers? 

Beginning my career in the startup world helped me learn to be agile and to embrace the growth mindset. Jumping into any and all projects made me appreciate how important it is to continuously be learning and growing. No matter what type of company you work for, I would always advise young marketers to insert themselves into as many different projects as possible. 

In the tech world where things are constantly changing, you’ll never know all there is to know, so don’t be scared of working on new things and figuring it out as you go. And for any specific skills you might need, General Assembly is here to help! (Shameless plug) 

Another piece of advice that I know is common but extremely important, is to find a mentor. It sometimes can feel awkward or forced, but having people you can rely on to support your career can make a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out to people you look up to. 

 

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Sima, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or General Assembly?

Feel free to add me on LinkedIn, and learn more about General Assembly online. Make sure to check out some of the amazing events our team is working on!

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