Vietnam online marketing updates

Time really flies. It has been 3 months since i moved to Ho Chi Minh city after 8 years of staying abroad.

My initial impression of the city is quite alright overall score 3/5. The food, the gals and the weather are great but the traffic is terrible. But this is not something new i supposed, lots of people have been complaining about the traffic in Ho Chi Minh city.

Today post will be a mixture of business (Online environment in Ho Chi Minh city of course) and personal. For those who only want to read about business, you can skip the second part.

Inadequate infrastructure

Well we can demand/expect the internet infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh to be comparable to that of Singapore but i still have to say people in Ho Chi Minh city are paying a fancy price for a sub standard level of service.
Take for example one normal internet package for family usage in Ho Chi Minh city, it costs about Singapore $31 monthly.
In Singapore a basic internet package costs about S$60, while GDP per capita for Singapore is S$53,192 in 2008, Vietnamese number is only S$ 1500++

In addition, internet connection is not stable at all. I wrote a few complaints about these weaknesses of Vietnamese Online infrastructure back in 2008.
The government/service provider really should make the internet much cheaper for everyone to fuel the growth.

Traffic condition, environmental condition, safety condition in Ho Chi Minh city are all that of a developing country so we can’t comment too much about that.

Terrible Search capability

I am from Ha Noi, the North of Vietnam so it’s quite natural that when i moved from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh city, i use Google to search for many basic daily life services.
While companies here most have their website, they can’t be found on the internet!

For example, i struggled for 1 week trying to find a Dry Cleaning place near my apartment using Google but failed. In the end i have to call “1080” – the local human search engine, and ask them to find suitable places for me. How sad is that!
Trying to search for gift/flower deliver service in Ho Chi Minh city proves to be equally difficult. Most of the top natural search results are for companies/websites based in the US and there are none, yup NONE, sponsored links.
Again, i had to call 1080 and pay a fancy price for my call. May be my Google skill is not that good…

As for banking services, most of the banks have SEO unfriendly sites! and they are not using Paid Search (PPC) to promote their products/services at all.
Take credit card, debit card for example, for the word “the tin dung” – credit card in vietnamese – only two banks have their links (both paid search and natural search result) on the first page!

In some cases, you can’t even find a site when typing in their brand names. These are, however, not small companies so it’s not right for me to quote the exact example here.
The point i am trying to make is if you are a marketing manager, one of the thing on your MUST DO list is searching for your own brand name on Google.
If your company website does not appear first on Google, you have to get something done.
Obviously there are exceptions i.e. when a company short form name is easily misunderstood as other terms, then the easiest thing to do is to use Paid Search right the way while you start working on optimizing your site.

An Online experience with Lotteria Vietnam

I really don’t want to mention name but well i ordered burgers from Lotteria today. Lotteria is a fast food chain. They sell burgers, chickens and the like. They have quite a lot of outlets in Vietnam (more than 30 outlets in Ho Chi Minh city alone) but the website is really really bad.
The most important part of the website for a fast food chain – menu portion – doesn’t work!
I tried to use Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome but still i can’t read a damn thing under menu section. Does Lotteria expect customers to remember all the things that they have plus the actual price???
The “Search for Lotteria Shop” function doesn’t work as well! It only shows me the list of all the stores, without any contact details whatsoever! and the addresses are all in English. Well ya i can read but the majority of Lotteria customers are local Vietnamese. They would prefer Vietnamese for sure.
How about that for Positive customer experience!

Can-do Business attitude

I have to say i admire businesses in Ho Chi Minh city because of this attitude. Companies are not afraid to try new things and if you can provide a good service, they will stay with you long term.
Because of this, there are a lot of things you can do in Ho Chi Minh city, very simple things, unlike the overly competitive marketplace in Singapore.
This openness and a bigger marketplace actually make it worth all the traffic jam, flood and other things.

The economics of a Search Engine Marketing business

For the past 6-9 months, i think more and more about the economics for our industry – Search Engine Marketing. It’s a new business and not an easy one. Challenges are many and in Ho Chi Minh city, the overall business environment is not making things easier.
However, i personally think that things can change but we have to work together.
Companies need to set aside their greed, personal gain, stop talking down, trying to find fault in others but working towards a common goal – a more prosperous SEM industry.

It would be best if 5 years from now, someone like myself won’t have such a hard time finding basic services on Search engine like i do.

Personal note

Well i now have a favorite local TV channel. It’s FBNC (Financial Business News Channel).
While i still can’t find their website after searching for the brand name on Google, they do have some quality content.
They have programs like: interview with prominent businessmen in Vietnam, “Toi va Vietnam” – Myself and Vietnam, financial market analysis etc…

A couple of places that have good beer like: hoa vien, bia tiep

Both Pizza Hut and KFC are not good in Vietnam, especially Pizza Hut, they taste terrible.

Zing mp3 offers almost any songs that you search for with good streaming quality/connection. I guess they want to follow Baidu footstep.

There is a restaurant called “Lion city” inside Phu My Hung, district 7, which offers Chili crabs (my fav Singaporean food).
While the taste is not the same, it has the resemblance of the famous chili crab in Singapore.

Well that’s about it for today. It’s 7 pm local time and i am all set for the big match tonight Liverpool vs MU 🙂

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