Hong Kong an Internet Marketing Leader? #NOT
Or not necessarily as Singapore Listed Companies outpace Hong Kong in Internet Marketing
What matters more than being listed on the Stock Exchange for a HK company? For a lot of companies the answer is Google. While stock markets in Hong Kong have existed since 1891 the real importance for today’s companies may depend on whether customers can find them easily, and finding means searching and searching means Google.
Singapore edges ahead again and leaves Hong Kong in the digital dust, with Singapore Exchange listed companies more than 3% more likely to have claimed their Google Business Listing compared to their Hong Kong equivalents, according to our latest study. (Also available in Chinese)
It makes you think how a major company, because the listed companies are indeed substantial, can fail to get even this basic thing wrong. I’m sure they are listed in the phone book, but when is the last time you saw someone using a Yellow Pages except as a weight to prop something up?
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. After seeing this was true for a quite a few businesses in HK we decided to take a more comprehensive look and conducted a little analytical study.
Comparing the results against those of Hong Kong, our regional neighbour and often-time competitor meant that the results would not be in a vacuum. There were some surprising results, some disappointing and some simply strange.
Hong Kong businesses are missing out on a lot of revenue due to ignoring the opportunity of Google My Business listings. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to find a restaurant or other type of business, and I’ve found what seems to be the right fit but I had to choose a different business because the Google My Business listing wasn’t up to date, often missing a phone number, and so I wasn’t sure if the business was open or not. It’s especially tragic because it’s so easy to create and maintain a listing. It takes all of a few minutes once, and then perhaps a few minutes a year. Companies that do more by adding photos and responding to reviews show that they are an active, open business, and responsive to customer needs, and they get more business because of it. This 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.
Surprising, Disappointing and Simply Strange
The study found that over 7% of listed Hong Kong companies do not 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.
WL Media HK did the best practices study comparing listed companies in Hong Kong and Singapore as part of their benchmarking process. Being listed in Google Business Directory is one of the first things they check when helping a client to develop their online presence.
The results of the study were not what they were expecting. Although we expected a lot of variation the quantity of missing information in both Hong Kong and Singapore listings was a surprise. Some variation was found between the two cities in particular areas, but they had in common the fact that firms in both cities are simply not paying attention to getting listed in Google Business.
And if they are not even doing getting listed in major online locations such as Google what about the smaller, but still relevant business directories? They all matter, even if your company just gets three listings it can make a substantial difference to online visibility and hence customer engagement.
While internet marketing has boomed in Hong Kong over the last ten years, it seems that Singapore continues to have the upper edge, though slightly, despite its small size. “I think the higher standard of English skills in Singapore contributes to their advantage,” said Winnie Tsoi, Digital Marketing Consultant, “as despite internationalisation much of the technical documentation for Internet Marketing standards are still in English only”.
Some business people feel that Facebook and other alternatives have more impact on their public image than Google. 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 the obvious alternative of Facebook also off-limits behind the Great Chinese Firewall the interest for Hong Kong companies may be higher in being listed in Baidu.
Mainland domains the worst
Of the companies that listed their official website as being a .cn the percentage who have not even claimed their business listing was over 97%. Slightly over 60% of Hong Kong companies and 52% Singapore companies opted for a .com domain name, with the remainder mostly choosing their country “.hk” or “.sg”. Some Hong Kong-listed companies chose “.cn” indicating their businesses are primarily sited in China.
For more information about the WL Media HK study of Hong Kong and Singapore Listed companies, and their use of the internet, read the report at: