clickTRUE is the Pay Per Performance online advertising services division of Hardware Zone Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SPH Magazines Pte Ltd.

Adrian Tan, Director of clickTRUE was so kind to give us insights into his vast Internet marketing expertise by answering questions related to the focus of this issue, namely Internet Marketing solutions.

clickTRUE started its specializing in offering Search Engine Marketing solutions, Online Media Planning, Web Analytics and Landing Page Optimization Consultancy in September 2006. The company’s primary objective has always been to provide effective advertising solutions to clients interested in online advertising with a focus on tracking conversions and performance indicators. With its holistic Pay Per Performance driven online advertising services, the company intends to attract especially media agencies, MNCs, mid-sized companies, and SMEs. The company offers a whole bunch of services that help advertisers capture the limitless market available on the internet. It gives the client's websites page one visibility on an impressive list of search engines which includes Yahoo!, Google, MSN Live Search, as well as Chinese search site Baidu. In addition, it offers ad placements on social networking sites Facebook and Friendster, as well as popular sites like YouTube and of course their own web properties Hardware Zone and SPH Magazines.

Since clickTRUE started out as an SEM unit under Hardware Zone Pte Ltd. it has grown rapidly, and can be now called one of the leading online marketing agencies in Singapore. “We are one of the first few online advertising agencies to meet Google's requirements and to attain recognition as a Qualified Google Advertising Professional and Yahoo! Search Marketing Ambassador”, clickTRUE’s director tells us proudly.

According to Tan, clickTrue adopts a neutrality policy towards the choice of online media and search engines (Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search, MSN Live, Baidu, Facebook etc.) for their clients, which is maybe the secret of their success. With the majority of their clients expanding to overseas markets, it is vital for them to extract the best performance from the relevant media in those countries. “For example, users are more likely to turn to Yahoo in Hong Kong and Baidu in China while Google has an edge in Singapore and South East Asian countries”, he explains.

Their goal is not just to help clients do ad placements in the various media, but to give them advise in key areas, too: from how they should structure and design their websites, to the recommendation on the kind of marketing activities and advertising messages they should adopt. All this would be in line with their objective to enable their clients to get maximum mileage from their online advertising budget.

Of course, clickTRUE provides data and statistics as well, and Tan even claims: “lots of it”. Adding: “We help our clients process these data and statistics so that they know that we are giving them quantifiable results. We want them to feel assured that what they are paying for advertising is translating into sales.”

As a member of Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), the company is constantly organizing seminars and workshops to advocate search engine marketing in the industry. And coupled with their close working relationship with the people at the search engines like Google and Yahoo! and supporting vendors like Acquisio, Omniture and Hitwise among others, Tan says that they are “well placed with their one-stop solutions and able to ensure excellence with their advertiser’s online advertising campaigns”

clickTRUE is aware that with the looming of global economic crisis beyond 2008 and into 2009, advertisers are more uptight and conscious with their advertising expenditure. However, this seems to be an opportunity for online advertising in the downturn market, as online marketing agencies are now benefiting from advertisers’ shift from traditional ad dollars to more effective and qualitative online campaign results. Last December 2008, a study by Internet firm Yahoo! and media specialist Nielsen found that the online advertising industry is expected to grow by more than 60 per cent between this year and 2010. This would mean significant growth in the market, creating more competition between search marketing firms. Challenges for clickTRUE in 2009 would be to put themselves in the leading edge for SEM and keeping pace with the rapid evolution in the industry as customers most probably in turn have higher expectations to be ensured that their time and money is spent the best way.

When asked if he could give those considering Internet marketing in the future some best practices, Tan says that it would be “essential to plan online ad campaigns with clear goals and objectives in mind. Advertisers should build measurement, targeting and optimization into the campaign process. Not forgetting most importantly, to review and assess the final results to identify what practices could improve for future advertising initiatives.” He adds: “A success cycle is thus built up in which a small business would see returns that can be directly attributed to the online advertising efforts, reinvest those returns into a bigger budget for the next wave of online ads along with other web based initiatives like an e-commerce website or engaging in social networking media, and eventually achieving an broader and improved online presence.”

As the top 3 tools he recommends to improve the performance of a website he names:

  1. Google Analytics helps to get an idea of what is already working on your site - for example, which sites are referring visitors and which keywords your visitors search. Knowing exactly how many visits you get, and what those visitors look at on your site provides an important baseline to improve on.
  2. Google Website Optimizer is a great tool for testing site content that could increase your site effectiveness and visitor satisfaction, which leads to higher conversion rates and a higher return on investments (ROI).
  3. Search-based keyword tool takes a close look into the site and makes suggestions for keywords that you have missed out but relevant to your paid search campaign.

Asked about the most common issues that he has heard from Webmasters in terms of problems with ranking on Google or Yahoo he says that “Webmasters are naturally fixated on the ranking of their site and they would normally implement certain strategies to get a better ranking”. Therefore many webmasters would predominantly turn to “off page” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. The methodology of some of these techniques however is according to Tan questionable and the benefits therefore hard to quantify. Thus, a better solution could be the emphasis on more “on page” SEO. This would involve making the website more attractive to the visitors rather than on a one-sided fixation with the technical structure of the site (which is nevertheless important) with respect to the Search Engine spiders.

Tan recommends further that PPC and SEO should be used together to complement each other in order to maximize ROI. This would help to increase the company’s visibility to not only as many people as possible, but also to keep campaigns targeted to the right people. However, with reference to SEO, a long term view should be adopted rather than quick fix solutions of getting the cheapest SEO consultant to get transient improvements in ranking for just a few selected keywords.
Asian e-Marketing appreciated that Mr. Tan gave us his opinion on the Search Engine Marketing Certification program (SEMPO) when asked if he believes that it makes sense to “certify” search marketers. “SEMPO is a reputable global organization serving the search engine marketing industry and marketing professionals”, he states, adding: “Holding a certification from SEMPO would help agencies to differentiate themselves from strong competition by showing that they have highly trained professionals skilled in search engine marketing. While certification can be handy in a professional environment, most companies will still best benefit from search marketers who spend time upgrading and equipping themselves with up-to-date industry knowledge. The true value in certification courses is not in the piece of paper you get at the end, but in the quality training you have received.”

clickTRUE expects Internet marketing to become big and an integral part of most marketers’ plans. This will be especially true in the Asia Pacific region where most of the budget has traditionally been diverted to the offline media. Thus business owners and marketers have to get themselves re-educated and re-aligned with what is required to exploit internet marketing. This could provide a strain on a company’s resources at the initial stages, but the rewards will be bountiful (and measureable).  Not to forget that still “content is king”, Tan reminds us. “Ensuring a good frequency, uniqueness and quality of content will help in generating quality traffic. An increase in affiliate revenue will naturally follow”, he says.
It seems that you are in good hands with clickTRUE when you are looking for more online visibility and a larger market share of your target industry audience in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

By Daniela La Marca


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