We analysed the content marketing efforts of 60+ Singapore start-ups. Here's what we found.
Mint Content goes to Singapore! We've spent the past month in Singapore learning about the future of our industry and identifying new business opportunities. In this post, Bronte Mann shares her research into Singapore's thriving start-up scene, benchmarks content marketing performance, and provides suggestions for how to improve.
Over to Bronte...
Singapore may not yet be as synonymous with digital as Silicon Valley or East London. However, with technology companies keen to cash in on Asia’s booming economy, this could all be about to change.
In fact, Singapore has its own Silicon Valley equivalent, known as Blk71. Launched by the National University of Singapore and packed into 175,000 square feet of co-working space, Blk71 is the heart of the region's entrepreneurial scene.
What better place to start our research?
We used the Blk71 directory to identify our reference companies. After eliminating companies that were no longer operating, or had zero web presence, 64 were left.
The firms were mostly tech and software firms, venture capitalists, startup incubators and media studios. Tech companies made up 35 percent of the field.
(Interesting side note: there are almost as many startup incubators and venture capitalists at Blk71 as there are start ups. If you're a start up and want funding, go to Singapore!)
Types of firms
What we looked for
We wanted to understand the content marketing maturity level of each company. We set out to find out:
- If a company had already engaged a content writer
- Whether they had in-house marketing resources
- Which companies were using content marketing
- Each company's content marketing strengths and weaknesses
We broke the companies into industries, and looked at their main product and service offerings. We assessed their blog posts and social media presence, taking note of:
- Topics covered
- Post frequency and consistency
- Channels used - i.e. Twitter, company blog, Facebook
- Language, tone and style
- Audience engagement
- Content quality - i.e. readability, spelling and grammar
Each company received a score out of ten. To receive a perfect score, a company would need to:
- Publish helpful and powerful blog content
- Share frequent and engaging posts on social media
- Maintain a consistent posting schedule for blog and social media pages
- Produce compelling website content that resonated with its target audience
We collected this data between February and March 2017.
What we found
The short answer: most companies just aren't using content marketing effectively.
The average company had a content maturity rating of 2.82, with a median score of two. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) scored between zero and three.
I know this makes us sound like harsh critics. Maybe we are, but we don't believe in sugar-coating here at Mint, especially when it comes to content.
It's simple. Low scores reflect a lack of time, effort and resources being put into content marketing strategies. Here are the four key areas where most companies struggled.
1. Setting up social media is easy; maintenance a challenge
Most companies were using social media platforms, and almost half had blogs.
However, few maintained them. Only 43.7 percent of firms posted regularly on social media channels. Of those with a blog, only 29 percent published posts regularly.
We also noticed many firms posted inconsistently. In one case, a company posted four times in one month, followed by a year of radio silence.
2. Inconsistent content quality
Poor-quality content was another issue holding companies back from content marketing success.
The lowest scoring firms published weak content with bad grammar, stuffy corporate language, and long-winded sentences. They chose topics that offered little value to their target audience, and devoted much of their blog real estate to talking about why their products were awesome.
3. A sell, sell, sell approach to social media
One-third of the companies using social media only posted promotional content about products or services.
The fact that these businesses use social media suggests they recognise its value. What they don't appear to understand, however, is that social media is not an advertising channel.
Even the most committed social media campaign will fail if it is too self-promotional. As a result, we'd bet that most of these companies have not experienced returns on their social media investment.
4. Where are the marketing managers?
Here's an interesting find: our research shows that most companies don't have a marketing manager or coordinator.
We scoured LinkedIn and Twitter for marketing contacts for each company - and were successful just 14 percent of the time.
The tech firms listed several software engineers. The startup incubators had many mentors. And the venture capitalists employed multiple investment consultants.
This suggests that each firm has a strong focus on developing and selling high-quality products. But there's a problem. Without a marketing manager, who is nurturing customer relationships? Who facilitates audience engagement? Who fosters brand awareness and feeds the sales team leads?
It's easy to see why so many companies ranked at the bottom end of the content maturity scale. A marketing focus is essential for producing consistent, relevant content. When there's no marketing team - either in-house or outsourced - it's almost impossible to reach peak content maturity.
Meet the industry leaders
Let's take a closer look at how these superstars approach content development, and what others can learn from their success.
99.co is an online portal for buyers and renters in Singapore's competitive property market. It claims to be the fastest growing property portal in the country, and we suspect its winning content strategies have played an important role in earning that title.
A best practice business blog
We wish all corporate blogs were like 99.co's! This blog is a trove of information for people interested in property. Blog post authors are generous with their knowledge, which not only provides value to readers, but also builds credibility.
99.co knows the Singapore property industry back to front. Its blog content positions it as industry thought leaders. Best of all, it posts an average of seven posts a week - a commendable effort.
Consistent, helpful social media
99.co uses social media as an extension of its blog. It shares a combination of articles, videos and blog content.
Unlike others we analysed, 99.co doesn't overtly promote its services. Instead, it focuses on sharing information that is helpful, engaging and relevant.
The company posts on social media almost daily. Here are some examples...
Ever heard of Carousell? The fast-growing mobile classifieds app company started in Singapore in 2012. It's now in 19 cities in seven countries.
In our analysis, Carousell emerged as a clear content marketing leader. It maintained a consistent, engaging online presence that aligned with its brand image. It had a strong voice, well-produced content, and a demonstrated commitment to using content marketing to support growth.
Carousell's blog succeeds where many start-up blogs fail: nailing personality and voice. The tone is relaxed and casual, while the topics are more fun than corporate. Its blog post content includes:
- Insights into the company's culture
- Helpful hints for using the app
- Stories behind purchases made through the app
Carousell carefully curates content to ensure it appeals to sellers and buyers. (Can't have one without the other, right?)
It posts between two and three articles each week. We recommend adopting a similar publishing schedule to quickly increase website traffic and boost SEO.
Tailored social media
Carousell understands the nuances of different social media platforms. Rather than reposting the same content on every channel, it adjusts to suit the needs of each audience. On its Facebook page, for example, it shares:
- Interesting items for sale
- Its own content - i.e. blog posts
- Third-party articles relevant to the brand and its audience
On LinkedIn, Carousell caters to a more professional audience. While it still shares its own articles, it also posts links to news stories about the company and job vacancies. Twitter doubles as a support platform, while YouTube gives viewers a look behind the scenes.
Carousell averages three posts per week on each social platform, which is a realistic target for most companies.
Tips for content marketing success
What do Carousell and 99.co have in common? They produce content that is:
· Engaging - well-written, informative and tailored to target audiences
· Consistent - they share content regularly, instead of whenever they remember or have time
· Valuable - content is in-depth, thoughtful and likely to fit within a broader content strategy
· Relevant - focused on solving customer problems and sharing insights
Both companies strike a balance between using social media to educate, inform and inspire; and using it to promote products and services.
To do the same in your organisation, follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of posts should be non-promotional, with just 20 percent focused on your brand.
Our analysis suggests that while most companies know content is important, they don't know how to execute it strategically.
· 64 percent of companies had a content maturity rating of between zero and three
· 33.3 percent used social media primarily to promote their products - as opposed to sharing expertise and contributing to conversations
· Less than half posted regularly on social media channels or blogs
· Just 14 percent of the firms had a marketing manager
· Only two companies achieved perfect content marketing scores - 99.co and Carousell
Why do these findings matter? Because people associate the quality of an organisation's content with the quality of its product or service.
If you want to be an industry leader with extensive knowledge in your field, you need to prove it. Do not tell your target audience that you're great. Show them your expertise - through killer content.
Content marketing isn't new. From building engaged online communities to boosting brand awareness, the benefits of producing stand-out content are clear. So why are many Singapore tech companies lagging behind?
It's true that it takes time to start, grow and maintain an effective content marketing practice. But as 99.co and Carousell demonstrate, the returns are absolutely worth the investment.
How does your company compare? Where do you rank on the content maturity scale? Let us know in the comments below.
For a free 15-minute consultation on how to supercharge your content marketing efforts, contact Mint Content today.