Why Digital Marketing in Singapore Does Not Work for Some Companies

Savvy business managers and owners know that going digital is more than a buzzword. But, the reality is, digital marketing in Singapore does not work for some companies.

In recent years, the government has been encouraging local companies to transform digitally with initiatives like SMEs Go Digital and various support grants like the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) and Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG).

The COVID-19 pandemic has also been responsible for the increase in businesses’ moving their internal communications, work processes and custom acquisition online. The Straits Times reported that the pandemic prompted a “20 per cent year-on-year increase in firms starting digital transformation” (5 Jun 2020).

One area most businesses need help in is generating leads and converting customers to increase sales and revenue online.

This is where digital marketing comes in.


According to the Digital Marketer, “Digital marketing is the act of promoting and selling products and services by leveraging online marketing tactics such as social media marketing, search marketing and email marketing”.

Essentially, it a specialised marketing discipline that covers all forms of marketing activity that takes place in the digital space.


In a rush to market to customers online, many companies, especially offline ones, make the mistake of engaging in digital marketing immediately.

They set up social media advertising campaigns in the hopes to drive traffic to their website or product page. Thousands of dollars spent, and a dozen clicks later, the poor return on investment suggests digital marketing in Singapore is not working for the company.

The above example is a digital marketing tactic without a strategy.

Social media is just one example of a type of digital marketing. Some types of digital marketing may not be useful or even relevant to your business.

As I wrote in my book, “Evolve, Adapt or Collapse“,

“digital is not a strategy and strategy is not just going digital”.


Common mistakes that companies make when it comes to digital marketing include:

  • A business that engages a web designer, who does not have technical SEO and on-page SEO knowledge, to build a new website with an e-commerce platform
  • A business that sets up a website and directs users to contact their sales staff for more information on their products & services
  • A B2B company that runs untargeted Facebook ads to promote their services
  • A B2C retailer running Google search ads without researching competitive keywords and user search volume
  • A B2C company buying an email list of 10,000 email address to send out an email blast that directs recipients to their website homepage
  • A B2B company that sets up a Tik Tok account as they learnt it is the newest fastest growing social media platform

The above are “mistakes” because the marketing tactics employed do not take into account a digital marketing strategy that is crafted based on:

  • The Nature of the Business
  • The Target Customer or Client
  • The Relevant Call-to-Action
  • Research into User Behaviour, Search Data and Online Competition

While most SMEs have the right mindset when it comes to seeing the need for digitalisation, many approach digital marketing incorrectly.

The execution of tactics before crafting a strategy is the reason why digital marketing does not work for many companies.

Essentially, businesses have the right idea but employ the wrong tools.

But, this can be easily prevented.


Before you revamp your website or hire a digital marketing agency in Singapore, here are two things you can do right away.

Check out these two free online tools that will point you in the right direction on how to go about engaging in digital marketing for your business, whether it is by doing it yourself or engaging a digital marketing consultant of your choosing.

#1 - Free Online Digital Marketing Assessment

Take this “AI-Digital Marketing Self-Test” that will help you determine which types of digital marketing you need and what steps you can take to close the digital gap.

This self-test is entirely free and was featured by local and international media including MoneyFM89.3, Market Watch, Medium and Digital Journal.

It will take only 2-minutes to complete but could change your business forever.

#2 - Free Digital Marketing Book

“Behind the Click” is a free digital marketing book (PDF) that discusses how digital marketing fits into your business. As discussed earlier, the approach should always be strategy before tactics.

The book will provide you with a broad overview understanding of what digital marketing is and how it fits into the modern marketing mix.

Behind the Click | Free Digital Marketing Book

We will also explore the distinction between digital marketing channels and assets, and the all-important digital marketing strategy.

This book was written for:

  • Business Owners
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Marketers
  • Sales Professionals


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J C Sum

J C Sum is a certified management consultant (TR 43:2015), an American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) in marketing management as well as a certified digital marketing strategist (SSG-WSQ accredited) with 12 years of experience specializing in search engine optimization, content marketing, and analytics. J C holds a Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and is the author of "Evolve, Adapt or Collapse". He has been featured on The Straits Times, Business Times, Channel News Asia, The Edge Singapore, CNA938, and Money FM 89.3.

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