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Strategic marketing and branding is one of the leading sectors in marketing today. Gone are the days of ‘set and forget’ marketing tactics or ‘hope for the best’ strategies; nowadays, it’s all about strategic insights and taking action on collated data. One of the affects of this shift is that marketers must now have at the very least a good awareness of the impact of their work – and, hopefully, an ability to understand that impact.

As we’ve seen before throughout the Marketing Expert Series, marketers come from all sorts of backgrounds and paths. For some, jumping into the world of marketing is no surprise: a logical step from their background or education that just makes sense. One such individual is our Expert for this issue, Bernard Yong, the Head of Strategic Marketing and Brand Experience at Mah Sing Group, one of Malaysia’s leading property developers. With an affinity for data and analytics, and with a Bachelor’s in Software Engineering, it’s no surprise really that Bernard found his way into marketing, bypassing the IT industry altogether.

Join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series to gain a deeper insight into the world of property development marketing and strategic marketing and branding.


Welcome, Bernard! Thanks for joining us in this issue of the Marketing Expert Series! Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get to where you are now? 

My background actually is in Computer Science, more specifically in software engineering – I have a Bachelors. However, I haven’t touched a single line of code ever since I graduated back in 2002. I guess at that time, a career in programming just didn’t strike my fancy. After graduating, I did a stint of corporate advisory (with an international accounting firm), where we advised clients on fund-raising and listings.

I first got into property in 2006. Although I had no background nor experience whatsoever in property at that time, I’ve always had a personal interest in property as a product, as an investment vehicle, and as an embodiment of someone’s dreams and aspirations. My role was as Marketing Manager, handling high-end strata projects in Kuala Lumpur.

From there, I moved from strength to strength, and have been in property – in one form or another – ever since. My initial years were focused on sales & marketing, and I made the switch to specialize in Branding and Strategic Marketing when I made the move to TRX City Sdn Bhd back in 2012. Moving away from the core of sales and marketing, into branding and B2B initiatives, was a great learning experience.

I joined my current company in 2017, and my portfolio – besides handling branding & strategic marketing – expanded in 2020 to include the nascent Experience Management division – which I basically kickstarted. The purpose of this new division is to drive increased customer satisfaction amongst our buyers.

Were you always interested in marketing? How did you find your way into this career?

I’ve always had an interest in marketing. During my 20s, I embarked on quite a number of start-ups and business ventures (part-time), ranging from an online clothing retailer to an aggregator of property news. As with any start-up, a robust understanding of marketing was a must, and all these learnings complemented and added value to what I was doing in my day job.

Currently, you’re the Head of Strategic Marketing and Brand Experience at Mah Sing Group. What sort of work does Mah Sing do and what role do you play there?

Mah Sing is one of Malaysia’s largest property developers, and my role is multifold as I head two departments within the organization.

One of my departments – Branding & Strategic Marketing (BSM for short), is the steward of the brand, focusing on driving positive brand perception, awareness and recall. This department also handles all group-related marketing initiatives, ranging from group sales campaigns to partnerships and sponsorships. We’re also tasked with improving overall marketing efficiency for the group, in terms of increased conversions, reduced CPAs, and improving overall marketing ROI.

My second department, which is Experience Management (XM), serves to improve customer experience and satisfaction with regards to our business. We kickstarted a ‘Voice of Customer’ program, where we obtain real-time feedback from customers, and use it to measure out NPS and CSAT scores. With this in place, we’ve then had to work to develop the right KPIs, set up the right organizational structures, obtain the buy-in from key stakeholders, in order to drive change and improvements.

Property development is an interesting industry. What sort of challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?

Yes, it’s an interesting industry. The main challenges now are, and I’ll keep it brief:

  1. The awareness and discovery phases of marketing are increasingly taking place online. This may not seem like a big deal for most industries, but property is still a very bricks-and-mortar physical product. Customers mostly still want to see the physical product (in our case, it’ll be the show unit), before they sign on the dotted line. So, it is this straddling off online and offline, or online-to-offline (O2O as they call it), and striking the right balance, which poses an interesting challenge. We overcome this by building up our online offerings and channels, as we’ve always been strong offline. By building up, I mean ensuring that the sales process is digitized so that it can be monitored and tracked, focusing on increasing the effectiveness of our web assets, shifting more spend to digital marketing, and training and upskilling our team to sell across different modes of communication.
  2. In Malaysia, the property market is going through a soft patch. Structural issues mostly – oversupply caused by many years of rampant development, economic slowdown caused by COVID-19, stagnation in wages and compressed affordability, etc. We’ve responded by shifting our product offerings over the years, to focus more on mass affordable properties. 91% of our recent products are priced below RM700K. The days of selling million-ringgit properties are for now at least, put on hold in view of buyer preference and sentiment.

Let’s talk about you personally, you’re a successful marketer with a lot of experience in branding and creating strong customer experiences. How have your career experiences shaped you as a marketer?

I think all our experiences, be it career or personal, help shape who we are as a professional. There were many lessons learned, and yes mistakes made. I think given my background in IT, and my fondness for data and analytics, I’ve evolved into a marketer who is very much focused on performance.

No matter what we roll out, my question to my team is always “Well, how did it do? Did it meet our objectives?”. The days of execution for execution’s sake, or as the famous saying goes “Half of our marketing budget is going to waste, the problem is I don’t know which half”, are long gone. Marketing is becoming increasingly data-centric, and attributable, and that has greatly informed the way I approach marketing, and even branding in general.

Looking back at your career, is there any experience that you feel had a bigger impact on your life as a whole? Or do you feel like they all add up?

They definitely all add up. I can name one experience which really made me pause and evaluate myself and my approach to leadership. There was one incident where my department suffered a flurry of resignations. Needless to say, this was highly discouraging – to me personally, and disruptive to our operations.

Looking back, I believe I could have perhaps been more attuned to the sentiment of the team, and been that stronger leader they needed at that time. A bitter pill to swallow, yes, but a necessary one. That has definitely impacted the way I lead now, hopefully for the better. I’m still learning.

Now, COVID-19 – the topic none of us can ignore. How have the lockdowns and movement control orders impacted the property market and your work at Mah Sing?

It definitely has impacted the property market. While interest is still high, people are still registering their interest and making bookings (online), there is still a lot of waiting and seeing before they finalize their sale (sign on the sales and purchase agreement). We hope that with the NRP announced recently, the opening up of the economy will happen sooner rather than later.

Do you think there will be a lasting impact from the pandemic that will affect how property developers and indeed marketers go about their business?

Yes, it will. This has been a global, market shifting experience. One that will leave a lasting impact. For one, the way property developers design properties will change. From the previous focus on increasingly fancy common areas and a focus on ‘placemaking’, we have shifted to a strategy of ‘homemaking’, whereby the home is now the core of your personal life. A home is now to be more flexible, cosy, intimate, secure.

In terms of marketing, the massive shift to online and virtual channels will definitely affect how we plan and execute our marketing campaigns. We’re still experimenting with a lot of different formats and mediums, and it’ll be an interesting journey of learning for sure.

What’s next for you, personally? Is there anything you’re looking forward to most when this pandemic is over and done with at last?

I most look forward to hitting the skies and travelling with my family again! I think 99% of people out there would echo this sentiment.

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

To achieve success for all your plans and initiatives, you need to know what success looks like. What is the outcome (measurable) that you want to achieve? Plan that out, measure it, and work your butt off to achieve it. In today’s world, there is no longer a divide between traditional and digital marketing. Marketing = Digital. So, get comfortable with metrics and analytics, it’ll serve you well.

Thanks for spending some time with us, Bernard! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bernardyong/

Mobile/WhatsApp: +6012-5266551

 

 

 

 

Account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, allow for marketers to increase their focus, prioritizing quality over quantity and thus improving ROI and the conversion of leads into higher valued customers.

Traditional B2B sales and marketing have been around for a long time – changing and developing with the growth of the digital landscape. It allows marketers to use a broad approach to lead generation, to capture a higher quantity of leads without necessarily focusing on their quality. As a result, the sales and marketing funnel tends to get more and more narrow the further in – true to its ‘funnel’ shape, as it were. However, as a result of this approach, the majority of B2B leads collected never convert to customers. Enter ABM.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing is a focused approach to B2B marketing that brings marketing and sales teams together. This teamwork – often nicknamed ‘smarketing’ – allows for sales and marketing teams to align their strategies and work together to target best-fit prospects and convert them into customers. The age of information and the Internet has raised the stakes, driving competition between digital marketers, who are always fighting for the attention of their potential customers.

This competition tends to drive return of investments (ROI) up, and companies want to focus on the highest ROI need and thus place their attention on high-value accounts while considering account penetration, marketing penetration, and logos. Reaching business goals means that marketing teams need to use strategies that combine sales and marketing tactics so they can focus on high-value accounts that deliver the highest level of ROI.

Why should you adopt Account-Based Marketing?

Capturing the attention of potential customers is a lot trickier today than it was even a few years ago. With the rise of digitalization, everyone is vying for attention left, right, and centre. Engagement is a valuable digital currency, and in an era where everyone and everything is connected, it’s what marketers are vying for. Using ABM, sales and marketing teams can direct their energies towards potential and existing accounts that deliver the best ROI.

ABM is not a new idea, but it has seen a new boost because of the latest developments of technologies and the evolution of the digital landscape. ABM is a proven strategy that helps boost marketing ROI, drive attributed revenue, generate more conversions and qualified leads, and align sales and marketing. Generally, B2B marketers target their leads using broad tactics, casting a net, to appeal to as many different prospects as possible. This tactic may generate more leads in the long run but doesn’t deliver the best ROI.

The implementation of a strong ABM strategy can help improve ROI, drive attribution revenue, improve conversions and generate qualified leads. In the past, it was more difficult to scale ABM initiatives because of the level of personalization it required. However, with the development in technology, it’s now fairly straightforward and more affordable than ever before, making it easy for marketers to adopt an ABM strategy in their team to drive higher ROI and customer value outcomes.

7 Steps to Implementing Account-Based Marketing

1. Gather your Sales & Marketing Teams

ABM aligns your marketing and sales teams, so it’s only right that you start it off by bringing both departments together. Too often we see pillarization between sales and marketing, and one of the key strengths of ABM is that it gets rid of that pillarization and aligns the two. Both departments can strengthen each other by sharing information.

2. Define & Set your Goals and Strategy

Once you’ve got your teams together, you must work together to establish joint goals and tactics. Sales and marketing need to work together for ABM to deliver on its promises, and the best way to get them aligned is for them to discuss and agree upon KPIs and target goals. While tactics need to be adapted to each department’s strengths, of course, they do need to be aligned to reach their joint goals.

3. Select your ABM Technology

Thanks to the development of technology, ABM has seen such a resurgence in recent years.  Without the growth the ABM software development, we’d have no chance to scale our strategies. As a result, getting a good handle on the available ABM technology and learning how to best use it is an important step to scaling your ABM strategies.

4. Choose the Right Targets

ABM strategy relies on research, and there’s no getting around it. Once your team has established its goals, setting targets and prioritizing them is next. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to develop and optimize your buyer personas. Remember, it’s a good idea to have your sales team involved in this optimization since they speak to customers and prospects one-on-one probably more often than your marketing team does.

5. Select your Channels & Craft your Messages

Know your target audience? Great. Next up is making sure that you reach them the right way at the right time, in the place where they’re most easily reached. This means choosing your channels and crafting your messaging. Again, the sales team can be of use during this process, so be sure to include them.

6. Execute your Campaigns

Once you’re happy with your messaging, it’s time to get your campaigns out in the world.

7. Evaluate & Optimize

Of course, once your campaigns are live it’s important to stay on top of them. Campaigns, like any other piece of marketing, should never be ‘set and forget’. Evaluating their progress and impact and making live tweaks to optimize them is part and parcel of any strong marketing initiative, especially one backed by ABM strategies.

 

Wrapping Up

Account-based marketing is a powerful tool that not only aligns marketing and sales more effectively, but also boosts lead generation efficiency. At its core, account-based marketing is all about converting more leads by improving the quality of the leads gathered from the start of a marketing campaign. ABM has seen a resurgence, and it’s not difficult to see why, in this age of digital transformation it is a more efficient way of capturing high value leads and convert a higher number of them into higher valued customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about account-based marketing or B2B strategies, check out some of our relevant other articles or reach out to us directly.

Blockchain technology is making waves. By now, most of us will have heard of it one way or another, but most of us aren’t exactly clear on what it is or how it works, let alone why it’s having the impact that it’s having. Blockchain technology isn’t as complicated as it seems, but it’s new, and it’s different, challenging the way we have previously thought about data storage and distribution. 

Before we can implement its benefits, we need to fully understand what blockchain is all about, how it works, and how we can use it to our advantage.

What is Blockchain?

On the face of it, blockchain seems a lot more complicated than it actually is. In fact, the blockchain concept is quite simply an enormous database of sorts. Blockchain, also referred to as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and is unique in that it creates a history of any digital asset unalterable and transparent through the use of decentralization and cryptographic hashing.  

To get the best picture, it’s key to understand what a database actually is. Many of us know what a database is, but it’s one of those terms we take for granted, so here’s an excuse to get better acquainted with a database.

Understanding Databases

A database is a collection of information – data – that is stored electronically. The information in databases is normally structured in a table format to allow for easy filtering and searching, thus providing a clearer overview of the data as needed. 

How does that differ from, say, me using an Excel spreadsheet to organize something? Spreadsheets, like you, would use for a basic budget or plan, for example, tend to be designed for use by at most a small group of people. This makes them useful for collecting, storing, and using data gathered by departmental teams or individuals. 

On the other hand, a database deals with significantly larger data sets, dealing with massive loads of information. This is one of the reasons they’re often housed on specific servers built on powerful computers – it takes a lot of space and power to access, filter, and use the data contained in these databases.

Understanding Blockchain

Now, what’s up with blockchain? How is it different from a regular database? 

The key difference is in the way blockchain databases store their data. A blockchain’s data is stored together in groups – also called ‘blocks’. Each block has a certain capacity limit and when they’re full, they then link to another block and form a chain of data, thus the name ‘blockchain’. 

Unlike the database, where data is stored in tables, blockchain structures its data in blocks – this means that all blockchains are databases but not all databases are blockchains if that makes sense. The way that blockchains are structured also means that there’s a clear and irreversible timeline of when the data comes in – when a block is filled, it is ‘set in stone’ and is locked into this timeline, complete with a timestamp. This makes it incredibly easy to track the data’s journey and keeps the data unadulterated and secure. 

If you’re looking for an easy way to picture how blockchain works, think of a Google Doc. When it’s created and its shared with a group of people, the document is shared – distributed – instead of copied. This creates a decentralized distribution chain that gives everyone access to the Google Doc simultaneously – no one is locked out while waiting for changes, but all document modifications are being recorded and can be tracked and traced. This is very simplistic analogy, of course, but it’s a good place to get started. 

How is Blockchain Used?

Blockchain technology can be used for a variety of purposes, from providing financial services to administering voting systems, but to give you a basic idea:

  • Cryptocurrency
  • Banking
  • Asset Transfers
  • Smart Contracts
  • Supply Chain Monitoring
  • Voting

What’s the connection between Blockchain and Digital Marketing?

Blockchain is relatively new, but it’s already making a big impact on digital marketing. Most people who have heard of blockchain may associate it primarily with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. For digital marketing, it provides transparency, security, and accessibility of monetary and data flows. It can benefit not only the business, but the consumer as well – allowing for improved monetary outflow for businesses on digital campaigns, and direct ownership of data. 

Data is what drives the markets, a new currency, if you will, that fuels businesses with information and insight into consumer behaviour. 

The Impact of Data-Privacy Awareness

Since the increased awareness about data privacy and the scandals that sprung out of previously relaxed attitudes, restrictions and regulations on data storage, use, and sharing have become stricter.  It’s no surprise, therefore, that we are now seeing the exodus of third-party cookies and the IOS 14.5 update. The further we go down this path, the more innovative digital marketers have had to become. 

Blockchain technology potentially gives control back to data owners targeting digital advertising. This creates a direct data exchange between consumers and brands, resulting in better transparency and improved trust. 

How can Blockchain benefit Digital?

1. Improves Digital Marketing & Advertising Campaigns

Due to blockchain’s ability to link merchants directly with marketers and providing transparent data insights, eliminating the need for a liaison. Data from digital advertising can be difficult to interpret – and can sometimes be inaccurate – making improvement difficult. Being more in touch with campaign data is one of the advantages of blockchain – monitoring campaigns in real-time is achievable with blockchain. This is one of the reasons why we’re seeing big brand names like Unilever applying blockchain to improve their digital advertising efficiently. 

2. Boosts Transparency

In digital advertising, it can be tricky to know if the metrics you gain are actual people or bots that are skewing your results. Research is now showing that bots have cost companies more than 7billion USD in 2016. With blockchain, there is a clear, transparent chain, encrypted within the digital ledger system. As a result, the transparency is inviolable for every piece of data moving through the data flow chain. This will save organizations a lot of money by making sure that their ads are actually reaching their targeted audience, thus assuring that companies are getting what they paid for. 

3. Generates Trust & Credibility

Businesses prefer blockchain because it enhances the security of data and information, providing increased protection. Similarly, shared data is more easily verified and tracked, allowing for an increase in trust between parties. Small businesses, in particular, is finding it incredibly useful to use blockchain to build trust because it allows them to prove where their products are coming from and forge a willingness to be open with their customers. 

4. Prevents Fraud

Blockchain can be used to authorize and record authenticated digital outlets, thus preventing any fraudulent access. With the increased transparency and tracking ability, it’s easy to ensure that only those who should have access are allowed in. It’s one of the reasons why brands like Toyota have been using blockchain specifically for this purpose, and are seeing a 21% improvement in website visitor traffic already.

5. Improves Content Monetization

As we’ve said many times before, content is at the heart of digital marketing, and a solid content marketing strategy is vital to promoting products and services. Through blockchain, consumers, bloggers, and streamers can be rewarded directly rather than through third-party content platforms

Future Outlook of Blockchain

Blockchain is already making a big impact, but what is clear is that it is slowly and steadily changing the digital world. There is a shift of power, digital privacy and data protection awareness is driving a change, and blockchain is part of this change. 

Some reports estimate that blockchain solutions will grow from 1.5 billion (2016) to nearly 16 billion in 2023. Every industry can see a use and a benefit in blockchain technology; the financial sector alone has already shown a 60% growth in 2018. 

Wrapping Up

Blockchain is a fascinating new technology that is changing the way we store and work with data. It is going to keep making waves and impact the digital scene for years to come, and it’s important that we stay on top of the changes it creates in its wake and the opportunity it presents.

If you’re keen to find out how you can use blockchain technology to benefit your business, you can always get in touch with us. We stand ready to help you navigate the changes and the opportunities and make sure your business excels. 

Last week we introduced the topic of integrated marketing communications (IMC). In the world of marketing, IMC is a term that has survived the developments of the modern digital era. The reason for this is simple: the advantages and strengths that an IMC strategy gives any marketing department are enduring and vital to its success.

A quick recap then on integrated marketing communication and what it is. 

What is Integrated Marketing Communication?

An IMC strategy aims to breakdown barriers and silo that would otherwise divide departments. It connects all strategies and initiatives together into a unified front. St. Bonaventure University (SBU) explains it as “an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force.”

So why do you need an IMC strategy?

3 Key Reasons Why You Need an Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy

1. Build Brand Recognition and Trust

Let’s say you have a friend named Tom. In the morning, Tom tells you that drinking his homemade apple juice will fight cancer due to the high level of antioxidants. You may or may not believe him, but that’s what he’s telling you. That afternoon, however, he proudly informs you that his homemade apple juice will actually cure cancer. You start to get a little dubious. By evening, you’ve heard that Tom’s homemade apple juice will help heal broken bones, fix your migraines, cure cancer, help you pay off your mortgage, and make you rich by next month. 

Clearly Tom has some other issues, but let’s assume that his apple juice is good for you and that he’s just having trouble communicating that. That vague communication, the back and forth, casts doubt on the validity of his claims and the product. Would you want to buy a product when you’ve heard conflicting messages? 

It’s a lot easier to trust a brand that speaks to its audience consistently. To build brand trust it’s important to maintain consistent brand messaging across all platforms. Audiences want security above all else – they want to know that they made the right choice, and if you’re sending them mixed messages they are not going to commit.

2. Increase Audience Reach

 With consistent messaging across more channels not only builds stronger brand awareness, trust, and loyalty, it also lets you reach a larger number of people. Let’s say for a moment you are looking to advertise Tom’s Homemade Apple Juice (properly this time), and your target is female office workers. If you launched your advertising campaign int he form of posters and stuck them only in the male bathrooms, you’re going to be in trouble. Let’s say you hung them only in one hallway in the building, what would that achieve? Better reach, certainly, but still limited. You’d be missing out on a large slice of your prospective audience. Having an awareness of IMC allows brands to create a multi-pronged marketing campaign that targets a wider audience. It would be like hanging those posters in every hallway and every office throughout the building. But just that building. So it’s reaching your targeted audience, but this time it’s reaching a larger slice of them.

With increased data from your running campaigns – on each metaphorical floor – you gather more information which will allow you to finetune your approach. Perhaps the majority of women frequent specific floors, and as such your saturation of those floors should increase accordingly. In this case, of course, floors are your channels – and you want to be where your audience is.

3. Yields Higher Positive ROI

So, we’ve show you how an IMC can build trust, brand awareness, customer loyalty, and help you increase your audience reach. All of these things mean that a strong integrated marketing communications can lead to a higher positive return on investment (ROI) and revenues. A strong, consistent messaging targeted at a specific audience on the correct channels means better targeted and consisten ad spend as well. Less wastage of campaign budgets and a clearer picture of the insights from campaigns. Consolidating and integrating your marketing efforts means that you can easily adjust to changing trends as well, and that means saving resources on materials when circumstances change. 

In short, a good IMC strategy gives you better control and a deeper understanding of the advertising campaigns.

Final Thoughts

An integrated marketing communications strategy can help any brand earn its position and market share. It breaks down internal walls that might otherwise create silos between departments and even inside each department. As a result, it’s important to approach digital marketing strategies, crafting brand narratives, and reaching our target audiences, with a single, consolidated strategy. Building up an integrated approach across the board to all your marketing and communications campaigns can be the one thing that defines your brand’s strength. 

If you’re not sure where to start, that’s alright – you’re not alone, we can help you find the best way to get started. Integrated marketing communications can seem overwhelming, but we’ve got hands-on experience with establishing a strong strategy that can help you achieve your business outcomes.

A digital maturity model (DMM) is a structural framework that companies use to see where they stand in their digital maturity. Most digitally-savvy companies will be aware of a DMM and may understand their place in it, but many struggle to use the model to help them plan their future. To fully understand how a digital maturity model can benefit your company, it’s important to grasp how they work.

What is the Digital Maturity Model?

One of the most common DMMs you encounter when researching them, is the Google and Boston Consulting Group version. These two entities collaborated to build the model which consists of four stages, in this case: Nascent, Emerging, Connected, and Multi-Moment. This model showcases the basics of DMMs – the skeletal structure if you will. Companies often have their own versions, with different names but essentially all DMMs follow the same concepts: 

  • At least 4 phases of digital maturity ranging from ‘beginner to master’ levels. These phases, or stages, come with requisites, digital tools or skills that a company employs at certain stages, that dictate the digital maturity. The names of the stages vary from company to company, so don’t get distracted by the titles. What the Google-Boston model calls ‘Nascent’ others may call ‘Starter’ (at 2Stallions Digital we call it the ‘Basic’ stage).

  • The universal truth of a DMMs is that it plots effectiveness versus efficiency. The aim is to optimize both effectiveness and efficiency, with the last ‘phase’ providing perpetual, lifetime value. Different companies may set different definitions or standards for each stage depending on their business goals.

Why do you need a Digital Maturity Model?

As we mentioned, a digital maturity model is a framework that helps map and guide your company towards a digitally successful future with potential limitless opportunities. Without know where your digital maturity currently stands, it becomes difficult to plot your course to digital maturity. Data shows that a focus on improving digital maturity improves efficiency and effectiveness of marketing and business success.

Essentially, think of a digital maturity model as the roadmap that guides your company through its own digital transformation.

The future is digital. If the global pandemic of the 2020s teaches us anything it’s that digital transformation is not only inevitable, it’s also necessary for company growth and long term survival. Digital transformation drives new business opportunities and operational efficiencies that were previously bottlenecked by traditional systems and processes. With the rise of digital technology, organizations are  able to easily redefine the way they operate, but all that depends on the what stage of digital maturity you are in. Enter the digital maturity model!

How can you use the Digital Maturity Model to Drive Business Growth?

A digital maturity model lays out  priorities and goals needed to achieve the next stage of digital maturity. So where do you start? The first thing is to understand where your company is currently at – is it just beginning its digital transformation, already further into its journey, or close to achieving full digitization? Depending on where you are in your digital transformation journey, that’s where you start with your digital maturity model.

A digital transformation comes with significant opportunities and threats, and it impacts every industry. Increasing digital and online connectivity allows companies to improve their entire business, improving internal cohesion, customer relations, and sales and marketing strategies. 

Depending on what stage you’re in, you can use the DMM to set objectives, targets, and define the strategies and tactics you need to get there. To use our DMM as an example, if we would find that you’re at the ‘Ad Hoc’ stage, where you’re running online ads but need to improve the ROI (return on investment) or perhaps you have a social media presence but aren’t seeing any engagement.

The stage’s name ‘Ad Hoc’ indicates that you might be reacting to developments rather than proactively planning out the strategies to drive them. Working towards the next stage would include the development of a consolidated strategy based on your business needs and objectives. Each stage comes with its own targets and its own direction, aimed at reaching the next stage. 

Final Thoughts

Every business needs a roadmap to get to where it wants to go. With the inevitability of a digital transformation lying in wait for every company, it’s vital that your business learns where it stands in its digital maturity and where it wants to go. Mapping the journey and following the plan it lays out is the biggest strength of having a DMM tailored to your needs. 

Of course, it helps to have a guide on the journey, just to help you navigate. That’s where we at 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency can help you! We’ve got a decade of experience helping our clients grow their businesses by leveraging digital performance marketing. 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a performance strategist? Performance marketing is – as its name suggests – marketing based on performance. It’s a term that refers to a skillful combination of online marketing and advertising campaign programs.

Did you know that between 2019 and 2020, digital marketing budgets saw an increase in an average of 13%? This upward trending budget indicates an uptake in digital marketing. Technology is constantly changing, and performance marketing uses those advancements to drive successes. Performance marketing initiatives are the latest ‘hot’ thing, and not likely to go away, in fact, it’s likely to dominate the marketing sphere for the years to come.

As a result, a performance strategist plays a key role in the future of marketing. This week, we hear more about what makes a performance strategist tick, and how our very own performance strategist, Geetha Boyani, found her way to the #2StallionFamily.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you and where did you come from?

Hey! I am Geetha. I’m a Performance Strategist at 2Stallions. To break down my job title, I build data-driven strategies to reach target audiences in the digital space. I specialize in Search Engine Marketing (think of Google!). Furthermore, I’m a tech nerd, especially when it comes to tracking what users do on a website and how they become customers.

I come from an Engineering background, with a degree in Civil Engineering. Fresh out of college, I found an interest in the financial aspects of construction projects. Later, I went on to get a Masters in Project Management. After graduating, I made the conscious decision to switch to a career that blends my interest in dollars and numbers with project management. I must say I found that golden blend in digital marketing.

Is there someone who inspires you? Or something that motivates you?

I don’t really have role models per se. Being a numbers person, I find motivation in results. I wake up every day knowing I have a challenge ready for me at work. Solving these challenges and hearing “wow, it’s solved!” is definitely inspiring. I store these reactions so I can draw on them when things get tough.

You’ve come from a non-marketing background. Was it difficult for you to work in a field that was outside of your degree specialization? Do you have any advice for fresh graduates who are currently looking for jobs and are open to explore different career paths?

The world of work has changed drastically. We’re moving away from the belief that your degree decides your entire professional life and with technology updating practically every day, new opportunities are constantly created. 

In my opinion, learning new skills based on your passions can go a long way.  For example, I learned Java programming as part of my school curriculum nine years ago. Between then and now, I hardly used it in my work. When I made the transition to digital marketing and joined 2Stallions, one of the early projects required a custom script to track how users interact with a form. The script used Javascript. Going back to the basics I learnt nine years ago, I picked up how Javascript works and then implemented the solution. 

I started my journey as a fresher in all three  companies I have worked in so far. Each experience has been different however the common learning has been to stay teachable. Also, as freshers, we come into industries with some expectations like about the kind of work we do, or the team we are in. We all need to identify what our priorities are, not every workplace has a pool table. Ask yourself, does that even matter? What worked for me was to find a mentor or  friend to talk with. Those conversations helped me manage my expectations.

Are there any tips or tricks you use to get yourself going when you might find yourself stuck with developing a strategy or tactic to help a client or even your own personal brand?

Competition is a Pandora’s Box of insights. When I develop strategic plans for clients, I take time to check out what the competition is doing. This puts me in the place of an end user. When I am stuck, I go back to that user journey and ask myself, “Why would I go for this <brand> vs the other?” This gives me a new perspective on what I am missing and how I can better provide for my client.

Can you share some of your favorite marketing guides/non-marketing books?

I prefer to listen to podcasts or read blogs for marketing aspects. Currently, I have The Paid Search Podcast and Neil Patel’s Marketing School on my playlist. The audiobook Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis is lined up as my next read.

As for non-marketing books, I found Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis memorable. It’s a must-read for anyone feeling that they are not good enough.

Is it true that an agency life is work without play? Tell us a little bit more about the culture at 2Stallions.

Honestly, I was scared to join an agency after hearing those stories. After joining 2Stallions, I believe the team played a huge role in helping me fit in. Our agency culture is best defined as “supportive”. I found amazing friends in my co-workers. Even though we are all working from home for most of this last year, we have come together virtually (and sometimes in person) to catch up on life outside work.

What about outside of work? What makes you tick? 

Anyone who knows me associates me with the word “Toastmasters”. When I am not working, there are high chances that I will be working on Toastmasters related projects. 

Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit organization, based in the USA, committed to developing communication and leadership skills with a learn-by-doing approach. In Singapore, there are more than 200 clubs where people can practice their speaking skills. I have been part of Toastmasters for close to 10 years now, and through this movement, I have met my mentors as well as got the opportunity to mentor others. To an extent, I would credit Toastmasters for helping me identify digital marketing as a career choice.

Wrapping Up 

Connect with Geetha on LinkedIn to learn more about her work as a performance strategist or about her work with Toastmasters!

Get to know our #2Stallionsfamily with the #2Steamstories tag.  Discover the works done by our diverse team of digital marketing professionals who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. Browse and download our case studies now. 

If you’re looking for a content marketing expert, don’t hesitate to contact us

Consumer electronics, communications, marketing – elements that combine very easily if you are familiar with the market you work in. Electronic industry giants have a unique approach to market to the tech-savvy citizens of Asia. With the pandemic turning 2020 upside down, how has the industry been impacted? More importantly for us, how have its marketers adapted to the changes we are all facing this year?  

Straight out of university and into the whirlwind of experiences and growth, comes Matthew Hui. The Regional Consumer Marketing Manager for Sony Asia Pacific, Matthew started his career journey on a different path, one that took him on a roundabout journey through the industry and the region, until it brought him to Singapore and the role he is now in. Join us now with the kick-off of our Marketing Expert Series, and learn more about how Matthew has adapted and learned from the many experiences and perspectives he has encountered throughout his professional and personal life.


Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Matthew, thank you for joining us as its inaugural interviewee! Let’s kick off with a bit of your history. Tell us a bit about your journey so far. How did you end up in your current role? 

I joined Sony right after graduating from university as a management trainee in Hong Kong. I went through quite a few rotations during the first two years of my career, working in multiple functions to understand the whole operation flow. During these years I learned how a consumer electronic firm operated, from backend operations like customer service and logistics, sales and marketing initiatives such as online marketing, product marketing, marketing communication, and  even front end direct store sales. 

In the end, I landed in the position of Sony’s product marketing manager in Hong Kong. This role oversees decision making for product marketing – so every day I am making decisions across different units from logistics to retail, from ATL/BTL marketing to after sales services – and my experience and understanding of Sony’s operations helps me with this.

After a few more years working locally, gaining more experience, I challenged myself and took on a new regional role in B2B product marketing for Asia Pacific. 

After a couple more years, the new role of Line Up Manager gave me the opportunity to travel between Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Most recently, in 2018, I took a permanent station in Singapore and moved back to my main focus, marketing consumer electronics in South East Asia, and this is where I’m still at right now.

So, what first drew you to marketing? Was it something you always wanted to do?

I studied business, with finance as a major because I thought that becoming a fund manager would be cool.  After a few years of studying, and actually working in the finance industry, I discovered that  sometimes, in the finance industry, your efforts and contributions to society aren’t very tangible or direct. This was not for me. I wanted a job where I could work on something direct, where your effort can be visualized, seen, and really make an impact on society. Apparently, what I was looking for was marketing, and just like that, I found my career path.

Right now you work with Sony APAC, what do you enjoy most about your role with such a giant in the industry?

Working at a tech consumer electronic giant is cool, every month you are launching something new into the market. There is never an end to new experiences, new things to try, and new things to learn in a company with such a diverse product portfolio targeting such a large and variable market segment. 

And what’s it like working in the electronics industry as a marketer? 

Well, marketing in the  electronics industry may not be as advanced as in the SAAS/ App industry, where  marketers rely on real time augmented marketing driven by data collected from  customers at every touch point. 

Being a marketer in the electronics industry is very hands-on. You need to have a good sense and understanding of all the latest marketing trends, skills, and technologies as well as a well-honed  sensitivity to data. At the same time you also need to have a feel for the human touch because you have many opportunities to communicate face-to-face with dealers, customers, and/or business partners. I’d say it would be good to be an ‘all-rounder’ as an electronics industry marketer. 

Are there any professional or personal experiences that influence your marketing style?

My extensive marketing experience with both local and  regional, crossing both B2B and B2C electronic marketing allow me to be flexible to understand different perspectives. This helps with bringing new insight into current marketing decisions I have to make. 

Many industries have been impacted one way or the other by the pandemic, I imagine it’s the same for consumer electronics, has it impacted your marketing strategies in any way? 

Yes, of course. Due to the pandemic, customers are staying at home more and more and the chance that they visit brick-and-mortar shops is very low. As a result, as marketers, we have to shift our marketing strategies to be more online driven. We also have to be sympathetic to different customer situations and tailor our targeted approaches accordingly. However, I also see it as an opportunity for marketing as customer time spent online will increase which means that we can have more engagement with the customer online. 

Have you had any positive or negative surprises due to pandemic that have impacted your tactics or methods?

This situation has never happened before,  and I’ve seen a big change in human behavior because of it. I am constantly relearning how to market to our audiences these days. Recently, I’ve seen customers engage a lot more with online advertisement. They’re more influenced by the ads they see, and the influencers they follow. I am seeing a general shift throughout the industry from storefront conversion rates to online conversion rates during the lockdown. Recently, however, I’ve also seen a recovery in offline sales as well. I believe this is due to the customers now being more eager to purchase when they are able to visit a shop front than they maybe were in the past, because the chance of visiting a physical store now is more valuable. As a result, while they’re out at the shopfront they are more determined and more ready to purchase. 

On top of that, the ability to test or try out a product before purchase is harder, at the moment, so people are more likely to buy sight unseen, so to speak.  All these are things that I am still  adapting to, trying to create the most effective way to market our products. I  believe that’s not not a bad thing in marketing, to adapt to changing situations,  because we must always take customer behavior changes into account.

Do you see any lasting marketing changes that you and the industry are going to have to embrace after COVID-19?

I definitely believe customers will be driven online, and I think that the online portion of above-the-line (ATL)  marketing is going to increase because of it. I also think there will be more and more  e-commerce. For offline marketing, I think brick-and-mortar stores will be increasingly focussed on customer experience building instead of converting sales, largely because of this shift to e-commerce. 

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s the next big thing on your horizon?

I can’t wait to travel. Being a marketer, I like to stay sharp on things that are happening in the world, and  travelling allows me to gain more insight into different perspectives and customer behaviors. I can’t wait to travel again, for business to get first hand experience in local markets and, of course, also for pleasure, to reconnect to the world. 

What is some advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers? 

Keep exploring. Keep learning and adopting new ideas. Something that’s definitely right today won’t necessarily be right tomorrow. Being a marketer means staying close to what is happening in the world,  so don’t let narrow-mindedness or your own fixed experiences defeat you.  The more experienced you are, the more you have to jump out of your comfort zone and listen to others. Challenge yourself and dare to learn from  a wrong decision. 

Thank you for sharing these insights and experiences, Matthew! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more?

In my free time, I love vlogging and photography to record my life. You can connect with me via my Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Can’t wait to connect with everyone!


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 marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

The world almost came to a standstill as most economic activities are halted. As countries keep people at home, cities go into lockdown mode and travel gets banned, everyone is affected in one way or another. Businesses and consumers alike have to come to terms with a new way of life during this pandemic.

Every industry is adapting to a new business environment during this pandemic. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is forcing companies and organizations around the world to rapidly adapt and change their businesses models. 

Read on to learn how companies are doing so and how your company can adopt these practices in order to remain resilient even in the face of a recession.

7 Marketing Essentials for Your Business In Times of Uncertainty

1. Prioritise business challenges

Many companies slash the budget, cancel projects, retrench employees in order to save costs and continue operations during the outbreak.

During this period, your team like most other companies is likely to be inundated with many unprecedented challenges.

But you can’t tackle them all at once. To prevent your team from feeling overwhelmed, prioritization is key. Evaluate what are the aspects of your business within your control and manage them first.

Focus on projects that will drive the best short term impact. Strategize, take action and then move on to manage tasks that are less within your control.

Examples of challenges that companies can address first:

While you prioritize important tasks that are manageable now, you should also remember to be far-sighted. Plan and prepare ahead. Identify new business opportunities and work on them.

Also, even if clients withdraw their projects now, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be possible collaborations for you in the future. Stay connected with both your existing and potential clients. Offer your help if needed. Building strong customer relationships will pave the way for more business opportunities for you in the future.

2. Reallocate rather than arbitrarily cancelling your budgets

During an economic downturn due to a crisis like a pandemic, advertisers and marketers stop budget spend immediately as one of their first cost-cutting measures.  

However, it’s actually critical for brands to continue advertising amid times of changes and uncertainty.

The key is to focus on where you get the best results. Leverage channels that enable flexibility and be more specific with your marketing efforts, targeting audiences that show the highest purchase intent.

The importance of maintaining a strong brand presence

John Williams, founder and president of Logoyes.com and contributing writer to Entrepreneur said, “Your brand is your promise to your customer.”

Building and maintaining a brand that consumers recognize and trust are one of the best ways to reduce risk when the economy takes a turn for the worst. That’s why, in each recession cycle, companies with a strong brand presence have come out on top.

No matter your business size and industry, standing by your consumers in times when they need help is critical. Maintaining a strong brand presence is needed to convey your company’s credibility, value, and experience, especially in times of uncertainty. When it comes to marketing and advertising, those that have a strong brand presence will hold an enormous competitive advantage.

Companies can consider reallocating budget from paid advertisements to content marketing. Build on sharing your brand story and convince customers to trust in you. Show your customers that your brand is ready to help even in difficult times.  

For example, our agency recognises the need to pivot our marketing strategies for business continuity. Rather than cancelling our annual networking event (#SPEAKEASYASIA), we have switched it to a series of online webinars.

Doing so allows us to continue informing our customers about the latest market trends, provide marketing tips and keep our customers updated with the latest insights that could help them make better decisions for their business. By providing marketing tips into various aspects of digital marketing, we aim to help our consumers prepare for the digital era.

Dhawal sharing about website optimization at the 3rd webinar that is part of
#SPEAKEASYASIA edition 7

3. Research your customers’ behaviour

While it’s clear that consumers and businesses are going online amid this outbreak period,  consumer behaviour remains unpredictable.

The impact of customer behaviour on marketing strategies has become more pronounced during this pandemic. Panic buying, remote working and consumers re-prioritising purchases  are all reasons contributing to the inconsistent demand for different services. Some research experts even predict that these behaviour changes might remain even post-pandemic.

With a new economic climate, many businesses are left unsure of how they can adapt to these rapidly evolving consumption patterns. The best way to do so is to research and understand your customer base with tools such as Google Analytics or social media audience insights.

As you gain a deeper understanding of your customers’ search and consumption patterns, identify their new needs and wants. Develop customer personas to help you craft the right message to appeal to the right audience and improve conversions.

Elevate your audience targeting strategy with audience or customer segmentation to convert  groups of consumers with the highest purchase intent. A common strategy that businesses do is creating dynamic ads and dynamic retargeting ads. This allows companies to reap the greatest return on ad spend by advertising to groups of people with the highest conversion probability.

4. Analyse and track your marketing efforts closely

During periods of uncertainty, knowing exactly what kind of return each investment is providing and why it works will be your key to not just survival, but the growth of your business. That’s because companies cannot afford to waste any budget. More importantly, companies have to be smart with their budget allocation, only spending on areas which will most likely generate results.

This is when digital marketing comes in. In fact, 52% of marketers around the world have made digital transformation as their key focus for driving business growth.

Digital marketing has long been accepted as thebest low-cost, high-return marketing strategy, largely due to measurability and targeting capabilities.

An examples of using data to measure your marketing efforts:

  • A high bounce rate but long dwell time on your site could highlight that users are reading your content, but aren’t sure about the next step for their journey. Hence, customers are leaving your site without further action. In this case, it’d be worth to add a CTA button or use active voice to provide a clearer CTA.

Another advantage of digital marketing is also because companies can always track their progress and revise the strategy whenever needed. This helps businesses save time and money on their campaign to increase the effectiveness of a certain approach or strategy.

To learn more about digital marketing and how a digital marketing agency can help you manage budgets or campaigns, click here.

5. Focus on consistent communication

Keep your customers updated

We can see a shift in how brands communicate during times of crisis. Companies are making fundamental changes to their processes and communication, reflecting their evolving relevance in these unprecedented times.

One such change is the shift from physical networking events to online webinars. For example, just in March alone, there was a 330% increase in the number of webinars hosted on the platform ON24. Furthermore, the increase in demand for webinars and remote team calls have also prompted Microsoft, Google and Zoom to offer free video call services.

Email marketing and social media marketing are also communication strategies that are used to connect and engage with customers. During this period, consistent communication is critical to brand awareness. To keep your brand name at the top of people’s mind, you’ll have to make your brand known through regular updates on your social media or corporate blog. Create new customer networks by increasing “shareability” of your content.

Remember to be sensitive in your marketing messages. You must be mindful that this is not a business as usual situation. You’ll have to tweak your marketing message and tone in order to cater to the new business climate. One way to start is to send monthly newsletters and emails (marketing automation) to your customers. Show care and concern for your customers before anything else. Let them see that your brand is sincere about helping.

Support and motivate your employees through this critical period

Businesses should also not forget about their employees. These are the people supporting your business amidst a crisis, and they’re experiencing a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety as they adjust to a new working arrangement.  

As the leader of the company, you have to

  • Show empathy for your workers, acknowledge new challenges and provide support
  • Keep in touch with your team members regularly, give them words of encouragement to help boost morale
  • Make use of internal newsletters to provide positive news about the company and drive motivation among remote offices

Do not rush into task assignments and setting deadlines. Firstly, present yourself as an empathetic leader, recognise new challenges your employees are facing and make the necessary work adjustments to help them cope with remote working.

Every phase of transition comes with its own set of challenges and obstacles. During this period, don’t neglect the mental and physical health of your company’s greatest asset.

Tough times don’t last, but tough teams do. Stay connected and support each other as a team, and your company is sure to overcome any challenges now and in the future. To learn more about how you can boost morale for your team, read the full article here.

6. Omnichannel Is The Optimal Strategy

Digital marketing is the new norm in 2020 and should be a part of a company’s omnichannel marketing strategy.

Worldwide stay-at-home orders mean a large influx of customers moving online, igniting the rapid move to digital commerce  for B2C and B2B merchants. As people remain isolated and the need for essential goods remains high, they turn to online shopping.

To address this shift in customer behaviour, it’s essential to build an omnichannel marketing strategy that places customers as the central focus. That means understanding what your consumers need and meeting where your customers are-which is online across multiple touchpoints.

Companies should move resources to digital marketing strategies and switch an e-commerce model to keep their business running amid uncertain market situations. Marketers should also use different possible marketing channels like social media, emails and blog articles among others to drive consumers to their online stores.

To cope with the online demand, it’s also important to ensure your website are secure and optimised to provide a seamless shopping experience for your customers.  By fostering a pleasant buying experience for consumers, it will keep them coming back.

This will be beneficial for your businesses in the long run.

In fact, companies with well-defined omnichannel customer experience strategies in place achieve a 91% higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate on average, compared to organizations without omnichannel programs in place. As such, leveraging on omnichannel will cultivate strong brand awareness and brand loyalty in the long run.

Learn more about why omnichannel marketing is increasingly important now.

7. Revise and revisit your strategies

Just because one marketing strategy has worked doesn’t mean it’s fool proof. The most valuable lesson that this outbreak has taught all of us is the importance of adaptability.

Refine and evolve.

By now, you already know the importance of collecting data and analysing them for your future marketing plans. Once you’ve pulled the data each month, take the time to really look and reflect on the data. Think about what those numbers mean for your company, what it means for your customers and thus your content. Data such as web traffic, source of referrals, open rates for your EDM are good indicators of the success of your current strategy.

Once you give yourself the space to think about content performance, you’ll really start to think about how every piece is being interacted with. You can then feed that into the next pieces of content you create or go back to a piece that hasn’t done as well. Then think about how you can refine or switch it in a new format that could give you better results the next time.

Wrapping Up

Without warning and choice, brands and retailers have had to adapt to a pandemic that no one saw coming.

The most valuable lesson the pandemic has taught us is the importance of flexibility and adaptability, and how companies need to learn how to run campaigns that will reap results beyond this moment. 

It’s also important that we keep an open mind and be quick in our response in order to turn any moment of crisis into opportunity.

If you’re thinking of adopting a digital marketing strategy but unsure where to start, talk to us! We provide personalised digital solutions for clients and we’d happy to provide one for you too.

For the latest digital marketing tips, subscribe to our newsletter! 

SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, is something whose outcome you’ve interacted with a billion times.

Maybe not a billion times, but you’ve probably read enough about the topic to know the basics of what SEO is all about.

You see the term “SEO” getting thrown around the Internet, you know what it is, and you’re aware of the immense benefits that SEO can bring to your business’ growth.

Over time you start to think, “Hey maybe I should adopt an SEO strategy for my company too!”

So now you dive into the process of engaging an SEO agency. You want to hire one for your company’s marketing needs to take your business further and get ahead of the competition.

Picking the right SEO agency is crucial.

Most importantly, you need to find the best SEO agency for your company and not just an agency ranking 1st on Google for most articles.

A partnership with an SEO agency is long-term. Not all SEO agencies you come across can deliver on promises of more traffic, better rankings and more leads. 

How to choose an SEO agency

To help you get started, here is a checklist of 5 questions to help you find the best SEO agency for your company.

1. Is SEO a marketing priority for my company now?

SEO is essential for any business looking to boost their online visibility. However, SEO may not be a company’s priority when it comes to marketing. Some companies work with a limited budget, and they have to be smart with how they allocate their resources.

Before engaging SEO services, you need to be aware of your company’s marketing goals. Ask yourself, do you know what you’re looking to achieve in this financial year?

If your answer is no, you need to define your marketing goals first.

Gather your insights, pull out past monthly data and identify areas your business wants to improve upon. For example, if your aim is to grow your organic traffic, SEO would the right strategy for you.

However, if you need to boost sales or scale conversions over a short period (during seasonal and holiday periods for instance), then perhaps creating landing pages coupled with dynamic social media ads would be a more viable solution.

2. Can we do SEO in-house or should we hire an SEO agency?

There are certainly basic on-site SEO tasks that marketers are capable of handling if they have the time and knowledge for it.

Here are some examples of on-site search engine optimization tasks:

  • Keyword optimization
  • Title tags
  • Building internal links

However, these are just some factors that impact SEO.

Good SEO is a complex and time-consuming process that requires one to have a deep knowledge of various analytical tools. There are over 200 google ranking factors to optimise for, both on-site and off-site, in order to rank higher in search results, and the list is continually evolving.

Your SEO Specialist must keep up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes on major search engines and adapt his or her SEO strategies to successfully improve your site’s performance.  

If you don’t have the budget for an SEO specialist in your company, it is recommended to hire an agency to manage your SEO tasks and provide you with monthly updates. You can have peace of mind knowing your SEO is in good hands while you focus on other marketing tasks.

Recently, we sat down with one of our SEO specialists to learn more about “a day in the work-life of an SEO expert”. You can read his insights before deciding on hiring an agency for your business.

3. How credible are the SEO agencies that I am considering?

Make an effort to understand the company that you’ll be hiring.

Don’t rely only on listicles like “top 10 best agencies of 2020” or “the best SEO agencies in X country”. The best way to check the credibility of an SEO company is for you to reach out to the company and having a conversation about your SEO needs.

An easier way to find a credible SEO agency would be asking for referrals from your business partners in the industry. They may already have an established relationship with an SEO agency that they are happy to refer due to their good work. These trusted sources of yours can also recommend tips on how to search for your ideal SEO agency.

Additionally, you should conduct your own research to find an agency that will deliver the best results while providing you with a great working partnership. One effective way to check the reliability of an SEO agency is to download and read their case studies to understand:

  • The agency’s SEO approach (understand the agency’s work process)
  • Their SEO campaign objectives (what matters when it comes to SEO campaigns)
  • Their campaign results (understand the key metrics used to measure “success”)

Other things you should read about include client testimonials and the list of awards that the agency has won over the years. Awards are not just badges of honour, they are a testament to an agency’s capability to drive results for clients.

It’s also important to keep in mind what your needs are and your preferred style of communication. If you’re someone who likes to be involved in the work process, you need to keep a lookout for an agency focused on transparent communication with their clients. Hence, read up on the company’s mission and values to know the team that you’ll be hiring and working with.

SEO agency vs full-service digital agency

You may also wonder about hiring an agency specialised in SEO versus working with a full-service digital agency that could help you with other digital needs as well.

This decision is highly dependent on your marketing goals and available budget. If you’re working with a smaller budget allocated only towards an SEO project, an agency specialised in SEO may be the better option.

A full-service digital agency offers various marketing services, including search engine marketing, programmatic advertising and creative services.

The biggest advantage of a full-service digital marketing agency is that they approach your digital needs from a macro-perspective based on your marketing objectives and recommend services most likely to benefit your company by reaching your goals. They would be able to recommend SEO strategies that are aligned with your overall marketing plans.

Another big plus point of having a full-service agency managing both your SEM and SEO is that they can use the insights from the SEM campaigns to further refine your SEO strategy. Additionally, they can identify other areas of improvement on top of SEO services for your business. 

4. Local SEO agency vs overseas SEO agency – which is the better option?

More often than not, companies are attracted to agencies based overseas on the premise that they can provide cost-competitive SEO packages. However, that is a common pitfall that companies should avoid when considering which SEO agency they should hire.

That’s not to say overseas agencies do not provide quality service, because local agencies sometimes fail to deliver on their promises as well.

When you consider hiring an agency, you must weigh the quality of their work against the price that you’re paying. Are you obtaining greater value than the price you’re paying? Does the company have a proven track record of producing stellar results that justify the price they’re asking for?

It’s dangerous to assume:

  • Competitive rates = Lower quality of work/service
  • Expensive rates = Greater quality of work/service

Price Is an important factor, but it shouldn’t be the only factor.

Other areas of consideration such as credibility and types of services offered should also be critical to your hiring decision. Pay attention to the agency’s proposal and note their SEO approach. Is the agency hearing your concerns and proposing strategies that serve your needs while advising you on the key metrics that matter? 

Look through all the factors and consider carefully. Picking the right agency can make or break your success with SEO, so choose wisely and consider beyond the price and location of an agency.

5. When should I talk to an SEO consultant from an agency?

You should ask for an SEO consultation from an agency only when you have done enough research and after you’re sure of hiring an SEO agency.

While most agencies offer free SEO consultations, it is best that you come having done your homework.

Prepare a list of questions, define your SEO targets and SEO budget. This would facilitate an efficient meeting that wouldn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed with excessive information likely to be shared during the consultation session.

Of course, you should also expect the agency to come prepared. A sloppy presentation with unclear strategies is a warning sign that you should look for an alternative agency!

Be smart with your hiring decision and budget spend. Otherwise, you can risk spending more than needed or regret hiring an agency that’s not the best fit for your company.

Wrapping Up

This is the year of digital acceleration, with ever more companies joining the space of e-commerce and digital marketing. Many businesses are keeping a lookout for SEO agencies to fix their sites for optimal performance. While hopping onto the bandwagon of searching for an SEO agency, keep in mind that you’re looking for the ideal agency for your company. When you hire the agency that’s the best fit your company, it can pave the way to a long-lasting partnership. You might even be able to pick up important SEO tips along the way!

Kick your search off with the 5 questions we’ve provided and you’ll be well on your way to picking the best agency for your SEO needs!

We are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Singapore. From strategy to execution, we provide personalised SEO solutions for over 300+ clients ranging from government institutions to SMEs. Find out how you may grow your business with us. Contact us today!

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a phrase every marketer knows but not one that every marketer fully understands.

Most articles that seek to teach the layman about Search engine optimization focus on keyword research, keyword optimization and link building. This creates the impression that SEO is simply the science of manipulating keywords and link building to boost a site’s ranking.

Only an SEO specialist will understand all the nitty-gritty of SEO and the copious amount of effort needed to optimize any site’s performance.

To help you better understand the role of an SEO expert, we sat down with J.C. Aranzado, one of the SEO specialists here at 2Stallions, to give you a closer look at SEO and how his typical workday looks like.

Please describe your job. Why did you choose SEO as a career?

I work as an SEO Specialist at 2Stallions. I manage SEO campaigns for various brands and help them improve their online visibility, rankings and overall site health. SEO reporting is a critical part of my job. I create reports to share insights and developments for my SEO campaigns.

I took SEO as a career path by chance. Back in 2013, I worked as a Lead Generation Specialist in a company. From there, I started to learn about SEO and fell in love with it. I find SEO both fun and challenging. It’s also rewarding to see clients constantly challenging themselves to rank their sites higher on Google and eventually succeed in improving their online presence.

What is expected of an SEO expert?

An SEO expert must not only know the SEO fundamentals and tools but must also know how to implement them. To be considered as such, one must be able to do the following:

  • Find popular and relevant keywords with good search traffic
  • Analyse different competitors’ websites to develop an SEO strategy
  • Optimize websites and content for the search engines and users alike
  • Build high-quality links to improve a website’s ranking on search engines
  • Keep up with the industry’s ever-evolving trends and strategies

Also, an SEO expert typically spends time working with other teams to align goals and strategies. Among these departments are content marketing, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and web development. Click here to learn more about these other departments.

What are your day-to-day activities?

SEO specialists perform various tasks each day, but we usually spend our working days around the following SEO tasks:

Keyword research. Good keyword research is the foundation of a solid SEO strategy. With the right keyword and phrase choices, a website can rise the ranks to the top search engine results.

As an SEO specialist, I research popular keywords that are relevant to the target audience that the client wants to attract. The main tools I use in my daily work are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Ahrefs.

Optimization. SEO isn’t only about targeting the best possible keywords for conversion. It’s also very much about optimizing web content. Optimization is one of the significant roles of SEO professionals, and it can be broken down into two types—on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO optimization happens within the website. At a very high level, this involves ensuring that the webpage copy (i.e. landing pages, blogs, etc.) has the target keywords, and meta descriptions, as well as title tags and alt tags are optimized, and the HTML code is structured correctly. I further take into account the overall content quality, content structure, as well as page performance.

Off-page SEO refers to all the activities that occur outside the website. Examples of such activities are getting inbound links, guest article posting, increasing traffic from social media to the website, and more.

Link building. A backlink or inbound link is one of the most crucial ranking factors. At a high level, when a website is linked to another, Google grants the linked website more domain authority, thus boosting its ranking on their search results.

This off-page activity is an important part of my job as an SEO specialist. I find opportunities to get other websites to legitimately link to our clients’ sites.

Performance Analytics. Analytics is another essential part of any SEO strategy. This helps measure the impact of ongoing efforts for a business’ SEO campaign.

To ensure our clients’ SEO campaigns are headed towards success, I regularly check analytics to see how their websites, landing pages and keywords are performing. Doing this also helps us pivot our priorities when something isn’t working.

What are some of the notable SEO campaigns you have worked on at 2Stallions?

I have managed/am managing SEO campaigns for 2Stallions’ clients such as AQ Services, MedTrainer and TC Acoustics, amongst others. As mentioned above, performing keyword research, optimization, and link building are part of my day-to-day activities.

Here’s a typical list of tasks that I do for clients:

On-page SEO

  • Optimizing metadata such as titles, descriptions, and header tags
  • Optimizing image alt text
  • Updating XML sitemap and robots.txt
  • Implementing Schema markup
  • URL optimization
  • Setting up Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Tag Manager accounts
  • Monitoring and preparing SEO reports

Off-page SEO

  • Article posting
  • Local citations
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Guest posting

Recently, I’ve also started work on App Store Optimization for LU Global. The objective of the project is to improve their app’s visibility within Google Play and Apple App stores to increase downloads of their app.

What is your advice to aspiring SEO experts?

While SEO is a fun and rewarding career, it’s also a challenging job. SEO aspirants must realize that search engine optimization is not a one-time process. Instead, it’s a job that is constantly changing and evolving.

Anyone interested in an SEO career should also undergo SEO training to learn the basics of how search engines work and understand SEO strategies and concepts. They should also familiarize themselves with key SEO tools to understand websites better when they’re optimizing them for SEO and conversions.

Also, an SEO role might require technical skills. It helps if they have basic knowledge on HTML, CSS and JavaScript to identify technical obstacles that hinder search engine ranking improvements.

I would also advise them to join a company like 2Stallions, which has experienced SEO specialists, who can provide invaluable guidance as they are learning and help them to level up their skills faster.

Hire an SEO Expert

Search engine optimization is integral to the Internet. As long as people continue searching for websites online, businesses need to optimize their own websites to be found on search engines.

Business owners must hire a skilled SEO professional or a reputable SEO agency who can build website popularity and authority. If they’re not sure how to hire the right agency, they can start here. Increasing search engine visibility can directly impact web site traffic, company branding and revenue, so it’s best to tap the services of an SEO expert.

Speak to us if you’d like to start building a SEO strategy for your company, or learn how you can kick-start your digital marketing journey with our beginner’s guide.


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