Holistic Approach to Online Marketing (in SG and SouthEast Asia)

Hi lads,

Today topic is about “Holistic approach to online marketing”. As you can see, the topic name is quite self-explanatory.


The reason that motivates to write about this topic is because times and again I face with the challenge of creating a campaign proposal that can meet client key performance indicators (KPIs). However, if by just looking from the angle of search engine marketing alone, the numbers do not make sense.

In Singapore and SouthEast Asia, it’s either the case of too little qualified traffic or the client specified online Cost per Acquisition (CPA) / Cost per Conversion is too low which makes the onsite conversion rate extremely high.

The word “qualified traffic” is used here based on the assumption that keywords used are those that people in this region “might” use to look for the product hence the traffic is deemed qualified.

CPA calculation example

Let me use the numbers to make myself clear:

Assume that the CPA value is $10.0, which simply means the client is willing to pay up to $10.0 to get a conversion ( a conversion can be a sales, a sales lead, a sign up etc…)
If it costs $1.0 to bring 1 potential customer to the site, then it means after driving 10 visitors to the site, the total ad spend is $1.0 x 10 = $10.0
Since the CPA is $10.0, in order to hit this value, one out of 10 visitors needs to convert or the aggregated onsite conversion rate is 1/10 or 10%

If you ask me whether the aggregated onsite conversion rate of 10% is high, i would say generally it is. From my working experience, i have seen campaigns with aggregated onsite conversion rate of 50% but hell, they are very rare.
The normal conversion rate is about 1% or less, which is the dream conversion rate for offline media actually.
If you put an ads on newspaper with the circulation of about 300,000/day, with the aggregated conversion rate of 1%, you will get 3,000 conversions ( a bit too high from the normal figure you get right?)

As a rule of thumb, the more qualified the traffic is, the lesser the amount of traffic available. Paid search can drive quite targeted traffic but there are times that this is not enough.

Further down the rabbit hole…

To make the situation a little bit more complicated, as you know when consumers searching for something, it’s not like they will buy or book a ticket every time they find what they are looking for on search engine. There is a pretty high chance that they just do another search, or close the browser or consult their spouse before making decision etc…

After this big round of consideration/consultation (boys, general Singaporean like to compare offers; they are highly analytical when it comes to buy stuff), they finally go back online, if they remember the website, they will key in the exact URL or they just google another time for the brand name or the keyword used previously.

Hence, there are a couple of points i want to make here:

  • It takes multiple exposures for consumers to make a decision <= which is a no brainer
  • Because people are lazy, they most likely won’t remember the exact website address(URL) of the company, firm, agency, they will just google another time. This makes the onsite conversion rate of the Paid Search Campaign even lower.
  • If you use free Google Analytics, Advanced Conversion Tracking, you can’t track the user journey which means you can’t differentiate whether it is the same user who visits the client’s site by Paid search first. Subsequently he/she comes back through either typing the URL (direct traffic) or typing in the brand name and clicking on the natural search result (natural search) or simply he sees a client’s banner somewhere offering a promotion, click on it and make a purchase.

All of these delays, deviations can’t be tracked by using the free Google Analytics. In the end it’s just a free tool so we can’t expect much from it. Detailed discussion about what free Google Analytics can or can’t do is simply out of the scope of this post, i will definitely dedicate one article to discuss about this.

Back to holistic

Ok guys, i know that i may seem to go a bit too far from the “holistic approach topic” and why i face the challenge of generating a proposal to meet client KPIs by using only Paid Search (PPC).
But in fact, the opposite is true. I just briefly show you the various routes/online ways that consumers interact with a brand, a company, a website. Hence, if you just look at the conversions directly and strictly through Paid Search, the number seems impossible to achieve.

What i mean by looking at the conversions directly and strictly through Paid Search is you only count the conversions by counting those consumers that click on the paid search link, go to the website then immediately make a purchase right the way online or even call your staff to make an inquiry.

So to address this issue, in my opinion, a good online marketing professional needs to explain to client the big picture of online, a holistic approach to online is the long term solution. Of course, client needs to have a clear objective of what they want to achieve, before any of these recommendations can happen :D.
Also, the use of a good tracking tool is essential to track the full user journey. Take note that this high level skill of analysis is not readily available with all the agencies or online marketing professionals. Most probably, people will be swamp by tons and tons of data and have no ideas of what info is important and what is not for a particular KPI.

In my previous post about “The future of marketing in Singapore context“, i mentioned about different channels of online that advertisers can use to target potential customers. For the sake of those who are lazy to click on the link, i will list various channels here again 😀

  • Sponsored websites like blog etc…
  • Pop-up and pop-under ads
  • Rich media ads

Again, what you may want to remember is that a potential client might interact with all of these channels before making a decision. Hence, to advertisers, even though you receive reports about people visiting your website through Paid Search, Email Marketing
, rich media ads etc…
you need to identify that whether or not it’s the same person.

The guys in travel industry knows this very well. They already know that with a highly competitive industry like travel, the potential buyers normally visit the website multiple times through different channels probably. But they can track everything, or at least the good agency or in house team can.
Zuji or AsiaRoom so far is the most aggressive player online in the travel industry. They appear everywhere and i do mean everywhere. For some people, it may seem that they are throwing away money through some “funny banner”, but in fact i bet they can track it all to the level that they need.

So in conclusion, only three things that i want to drive home for this article:

  • If you are serious about online, you need to view the internet as a single channel. It doesn’t matter whether you are a big player spending $200,000.00/month or a small SME with just $200.00/month. And with regards to Search Engine Marketing in its niche territory, you need to take a look at both Pay Per Click (Paid Search) and Search Engine Optimization.
  • Advertisers need a good tracking solution. I use the word solution because it’s not just about using a good tool but customizing that tool to suite your business objectives and KPIs. A bunch of impressions or clicks or visits per day do you no good if your ultimate goal is people book a room in my hotel.
  • Start experimenting different online channels, or if you want to save time and money, hire a high profile agency who has a concrete record of being channel neutral, who understands your industry and ask for their service. Again i need to stress the importance of being a high profile and high professional agency.

I am going to leave you with notes extracted from Google learning Center themselves about different online channels that customers interact with:

Purchasing decisions are made all over the web. They can be on search sites (Google or Yahoo search), product review sites, shopping comparison sites, professional interest pages, target newsletter etc… It just so happens that when people are in the buying mode, they will go to Google and search for the name they want.

Search pages contain less than 5% of the internet. People spend not much time on search site when they are online compared to reading news, writing emails and many other types of portals.


Ok lads, that’s it for today. After reading this article again, i have the feeling that something is missing. It seems incomplete. I will think about it and update the article accordingly. If you have any comments, questions, feel free to raise them up here.

Have a nice weekend to you all,

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