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Micro-enterprises finds online market crowded

Micro-enterprises finds online market crowded

THURSDAY, July 28, 2016
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MICRO-ENTERPRISES will find it increasingly difficult to survive and compete in the online marketplace, digital-marketing veteran Kampol Tanapanyaworakhun has warned.

These very small players that are mushrooming on social media and other digital platforms, such as those who sell clothing and gadgets online, will be squeezed as online advertising costs soar and larger companies take up online space.
“You may see that large brands have already occupied most of Facebook’s newsfeed,” said Kampol, who is chief executive officer of iTopPlus, a digital marketing agency.
His firm offers digital marketing and website development services to small and medium-sized enterprises that are mostly B2B (business-to-business) and are larger than micro-enterprises, most of which are B2C (business-to-customer).
The company, which is one of the four Google SME Premium Partners in Thailand, expects its Google advertising sales to grow by 40 per cent this year.
Chief marketing officer Praewpilai Chinsakchai said the average rate of Google’s search keywords in Thailand was currently about Bt20 per click and the highest was Bt300. Since Google adjusted its search algorithm in March, the click rate of some keywords has skyrocketed from Bt70 to Bt220.
Kampol said: “It’s like a good location – the good places have their prices increase over time.”
ITopPlus will this year target industries that sell high-value products such as real estate, education and manufactured goods, since many of them have not yet started to do online marketing.
The company also foresees an opportunity to develop mobile sites for enterprises since Google has announced a plan to introduce an algorithm that will exclude websites that are not mobile-ready from its search results.
“Thailand has about 400,000 websites, of which about 250,000-300,000 are likely not to be mobile-ready,” Kampol said.
ITopPlus has 8,000 clients, 85 per cent of them using its website development services, and the rest buying online advertisements. A total of 60 per cent of its Bt200-million annual revenue is derived from advertisement sales and the rest from website services.
For the past two years, the group has expanded into large corporate customers through its affiliated firm iTopSpark as well as setting up iTopClasses to provide online marketing courses and training. Praewpilai said iTopSpark had increased its customer base from 10 in the first year to about 40 at present.
“This year our target is to increase the number of customers by 60 per cent and to double our team [headcount],” she said.
ITopSpark’s customers include Kasikornbank, the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology, L’Occitane, Pruksa Real Estate, the Electronic Transactions Development Agency and Garmin.
ITopSpark says it strives to be a performance-based digital partner for corporate customers, offering a full range of services from strategic planning to online advertising technical skills and data analytics. It recently opened a new department to provide online research service.
Since 2014, iTopClasses has offered six courses, with more than 250 participants. By the end of this year, it will open three more courses on Google Apps for Work, Google Apps on Mobile for Business, and YouTube for Business. It also provides digital-marketing training for organisations.