Digital Marketing for Hong Kong Interior Designers
From residential interiors to office and hotel styling the range of services provided by the Interior Designers of Hong Kong is huge.
While a slowdown in luxury residential investment in the region may have affected some parts of the industry the development of new styles of business culture has continued to generate a need for a new generation of corporate workspace interior designers. Influenced by the practices of booming online giants such as LinkedIn and Facebook many more companies in more traditional industries are turning to open plan, heavily designed office arrangements that merge home comforts, luxury more associated with 5-star hotels, and ergonomic working conveniences that millennials demands from their employers.
This trend means more office renovations, and more thought going into the development of new office spaces as relocations and new builds are conducted. Demand and competition for design skills is still strong in Hong Kong with over 370 employment opportunities placed just within one month at HK JobsDB.
Commercial interior design for retail outlets continues to demand cutting-edge thinking. As increasing rents for shops in all districts of Hong Kong, from malls in residential estates to upmarket arcades in business districts, drives a high turnover, there is correspondingly a demand for design as new tenants move into new store locations.
973 interior designers in Hong Kong included in study
Using publicly available information 973 companies or individuals working as interior designers in HK were identified. This includes everything from small local shops, independant designers as sole-proprietors, individuals with that function in larger organisations, HK offices of regional or international design firms, as well as HK headquartered regional companies.
973 Interior Designers in HK included in study
377 different websites identified
Using Websites for Online Marketing is not new for HK Interior Designers
- .com 55.2% 55.2%
- .hk 39.8% 39.8%
- Others 5.0% 5.0%
Most interior designers, as with other companies in Hong Kong stuck with the traditional “.com” for their online presence. Today the use of a .hk does more clearly indicate to customers and other viewers that this business is rooted in the region, and with the congestion of the .com namespace making it difficult to find a particular name available more and more are switching to .hk although .com remains the leader.
In the last five years 34 new .com websites were added to the list but in the same period the .hk growth was only 13 domains.
The oldest registered website in the study that is still being used by the same design company is that of Herbert Un Architects, but that is a slightly unfair example as the domain was registered when Un was still located in Canada. The first .HK domain was used by Fusion Design Limited which has operated in Hong Kong continuously since the 90s. Of the newer domains used by interior designers the newest in our study is New City Design of Tsuen Wan who started their website in Oct 2016.
Highly competitive: Google 1st page for Interior Designer in HK
With big bucks on the line for both residential and commercial design work, the competition is fierce in the industry and that is reflected in the results seen when searching on Google. Few people today would purchase an expensive service without first Googling either to find vendors or to do due-diligence on providers who have been suggested via other avenues. That means that being visible in Google searches is vital. And although many people search for new and unique queries, the 15% “new query” figure hasn’t changed for many years; there are still some simple and obvious searches that people make which constitute the bulk. The phrase “interior designer” is an obvious one and according to Google Keyword Planner is searched between 100 and 1,000 times a month in Hong Kong
Together these take up all the space above the fold and show little in the way of informative websites.
The results are different on mobile and if the search is for “interior designer Hong Kong”, but similiarly they do not list many choices of actual designers. In fact the resources listed are mostly lists, guides and directories.
With all the space taken up by Wikipedia, the SCMP, JobsDB and similar sites there is only space for a few actual designers in the top 10 natural or organic results. The search results vary day-to-day and are also affected by how much Google may be personalising results based on information it holds on the searchers’ history and interests.
Actual designers who are listed in many cases include hoo, by YC Chen for residential interiors, and COMODO covering residential and commercial properties.
Design vs Function: Websites using Flash
Over 300 websites of HK interior designers were examined to see what sort of technologies are being used for their website, and to determine if they are in keeping with the modern demands of SEO and social media marketing
- WordPress 19% 19%
- Mobile friendly 27% 27%
- Using Flash 12% 12%
- Dreamweaver 3% 3%
Website designers are moving towards using CMS software instead of static software such as Dreamweaver, and replacing Flash with modern HTML5 technologies that, amoung other things, let websites more easily display correctly on mobile devices.
Social Media in Hong Kong
Facebook is by far the largest social media network in Hong Kong, and it reaches almost all adults in some way or another.
Facebook Users in Hong Kong
Percentage of HK Population using Facebook
It would seem reasonable therefore that any business hoping to connect with customers in Hong Kong should have a Facebook presence, but this is not the case.
Interior Designers with Facebook Pages as their primary online presence
Interior Design Websites with correct Facebook open graph tags for enhanced sharing
Interior Design Websites that list their Facebook pages
Facebook engagement on Interior Designer websites
- None 49% 49%
- 1 – 25 32% 32%
- 26 – 50 8% 8%
- 51 – 75 2% 2%
- 76 – 100 2% 2%
- 101 + 7% 7%
Some websites are able to gain substantial amounts of Facebook activity though, and these include Boss Design Ltd, Red Dot Design Ltd and All Star Design Ltd.
Although designers may, as everybody in Hong Kong, be using these messengers both personally and professionally, they don’t yet advertise these channels on their website.
Google wants to know your business
Whether a company is one of those small ones who needs to be listed in Google, or a larger one with an entry that may not be entirely accurate, it is a basic first step to online marketing to get a Knowledge Box or business record via the Google My Business system.
When people search for a company by name they expect to see this, and often take the information as being official. Therefore the accuracy of this data should be something that companies manage for quality and correctness.
Often, as in this case for Axis Design International Limited, the “bad” review seems to be a misunderstanding and should be resolved by the company. This can only be done if the business has claimed ownership of the Google business listing which is often not the case among Hong Kong Interior Designers.
973 Interior Designers in HK included in study
557 have Knowledge Boxes
303 Knowledge Boxes are unclaimed
Is bigger better for a website?
Websites come in all sizes as well as styles, but making a large website involves effort and expense so not all are going to be very large. Smaller websites can still function as an online brochure to provide a basic portfolio and contact information. Larger sites may give more opportunities for promotion and gain more engagement on search engines, but only if they are filled with high quality textual information.
- Blank 7% 7%
- 1 – 25 29% 29%
- 26 – 50 11% 11%
- 51 – 75 8% 8%
- 76 – 100 6% 6%
- 101 + 40% 40%
While companies such as HASSELL which are HK offices of international companies can gather news and project updates from all over the world to expand their websites.
For the smaller companies though this is often difficult and more modest website of less than 25 pages still is working successfully for almost a third of companies.
The few websites where no pages are visible though are opportunities missed that those companies could rectify by putting up a simple brochure.
Very noticable is the fact that few companies have claimed their automatically generated Google Business listings, or have created or promote Facebook business Pages. These two short comings mean that business are not able to be visible, and to engage with potential clients.
Considering that these steps are low effort and with no direct costs it is suprising to see such little uptake. That may reflect a lack of awareness either of online marketing in general, or its potential to boost business.
Like most HK industries the majority of new customers are introduced as referals by old customers, and with this taken as the norm there may be less interest in other forms of marketing.