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MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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Eat my digital dust: Hong Kong left behind by Singapore in internet marketing

Singapore rivals are three times more engaged in digital marketing.

A new study has found that Singapore businesses are three times more likely to be switched on to Internet Marketing than their rivals in Hong Kong. The research, carried out by WL Media HK, shows that Hong Kong firms are being left in the digital dust by Singapore Exchange listed companies, who seem to be more digital savvy and better able to promote their firms online.

Despite its reputation for digital prowess, a greater number of Hong Kong businesses fell short on even the most basic of marketing activities, according to the study. Those based in Hong Kong were less likely to have claimed their free Google My Business listing for example, which is essential for Google local search visibility. More than 7% of listed Hong Kong companies do not even have a phone number registered with Google, meaning that click-to-dial functions on mobile phones won’t work. This compares with only 1.2% of Singapore firms missing this essential datum.

“Companies who don’t claim their listing from Google Business are not taking advantage of one of the most basic ways to promote their business and improve their interaction with their online customers and stakeholders,” said Raymond Lowe, from WL Media HK who led the study.

While internet marketing has boomed in Hong Kong over the last ten years, it seems that Singapore continues to have the upper hand and is making bigger inroads into the digital marketplace, despite its smaller stature. “I think the higher standard of English skills in Singapore contributes to their advantage,” said Winnie Tsoi, Digital Marketing Consultant. “Despite internationalisation much of the technical documentation for Internet Marketing standards currently only exist in English”.

Despite Google’s dominance of search traffic, some businesses in the study were found to prefer other tools such as social media and directory sites. The Google Business Directory listing applies in Hong Kong and Singapore but has little or no relevance in the rest of China where Google is banned. With Facebook also off-limits behind the Chinese Firewall, a number of Hong Kong companies appear to be more interested in optimising their Baidu listing. This is a problem for those firms wanting to do business internationally, with Baidu used rarely by a Google-first Europe and American marketplace.

Josh Steimle, CEO of MWI said, “Hong Kong businesses are missing out on a lot of revenue by ignoring the opportunity offered by Google My Business listings. It is one of the hidden treasures of online marketing in Hong Kong right now, and the local businesses that move first to optimize their listings are going to have a significant advantage over their slower moving competitors.”

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