PRELUDE

My journey in digital marketing started in 2009, almost by accident. I was serving my military duties, and one day chanced upon a book belonging to a bunkmate. It was one of those entrepreneurial books advising you on how to start an online business, by focusing on a niche that you are interested in, and yet has little competition. Back then, it was much easier to spot one as compared to now.

I was intrigued, and took action to start a blog dedicated to one of my favourite video games. There was hardly any competition at that time. As I have been spending years of my life on the game since young, I had substantial knowledge and creating content was pretty straightforward.

To increase my web traffic, I looked into Search Engine Optimization as it was considered free, in the sense that it only takes time and not money. I was able to gain a decent amount of visitors each month.

For around 3 to 4 years, the website was simply a fun hobby. I played the game almost daily, spent time creating content, replied to comments and built a small community. I didn’t think about monetising it, as I assumed that no one will pay for video game tutorials, much less one not published by an established company.

I graduated slightly earlier than my peers, due to me completing a special term during one of the holiday breaks. I could have to started my professional career early, but decided that I should do something fun before that. With about 3 to 4 months on my side before the standard graduation date, I re-looked into my website project, and decided to try and monetise it. If no one wants to pay for it, that’s fine. At least I tried. In any case, it will be a good learning experience.

I improved the content, redesigned the website, set up the payment infrastructure, and hoped for the best. 2 days later, I received my first sale. It was not much, just $9, but it was the best $9 I have ever made. I recalled that it was the day before Chinese New Year. Wow, it will be a prosperous year. I thought. I emailed my first customer to thank him.

More sales trickled in over the next few days. I further improved on the website’s visuals and content, tried Paid Media (Google Ads, Facebook), and partnered with other gaming website owners. Sales became more consistent over the next few months.

It was not a lot of money. It was hardly enough to cover my living expenses. But it gave me great pride. Somebody actually paid for what I have created. And the earnings were sufficient to pay for the web hosting. So all good.

Those months passed by quickly. While the project was fun, I felt that I need some professional working experience. I need to learn more about marketing from experts. I applied for a few jobs in the marketing industry. Agencies. MNCs. Local businesses. Luckily, my results are pretty decent, and received a couple of replies. In the end, I went ahead with a digital marketing role in a local agency.

That is my start in the professional digital marketing field. I had a great mentor, helpful colleagues, and a caring boss, all of whom were very willing to share their knowledge with a kid fresh out of school. They gave me the opportunity to handle some of the biggest brand names. And I joined the team of trainers running digital marketing courses with our corporate clients. It was awesome.

My first project was a B2B company selling bolts and nuts. I have zero knowledge of that industry, and spent lots of time reading up on the product. It was memorable as that client gave me the opportunity to launch my first Google Ads campaign, running Search Engine Marketing. I could still recall the apprehension before launching the campaign, doing multiple checks on the settings and budgets.

The large pool of clients managed by the agency allowed me to run campaigns across industries, countries and digital channels. I am thankful for that.

Slightly more than a year later, I took a 2 months break to travel to a few countries in Asia and Europe. I justified it as my long-overdue graduation trip. A few days upon my return, I received a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn, and after a few rounds of interview, joined another media agency, headquartered in EMEA with offices in all regions.

New clients and new teammates allowed me to soak in new knowledge from experts all over the world.

With all these years of digital marketing experience, I felt that I have something useful to share with you. Digital marketing is an important skill in this age. It is no longer a good-to-have. It is no longer an afterthought. It is probably the first thing in your business plan. Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to build your brand, a marketer tasked to manage digital campaigns, or a student looking to break into the digital marketing industry, I am sure you will find this useful. And I thank you for taking time to read this.

As cliche as it sounds, I am excited to be able to share my knowledge with you. People often ask why I enjoy training others. It is a simple reason. My mentor in my first job has made a strong impact in my life. He had selflessly shared his knowledge that enabled me to do what I can now. I am really thankful for him. And I hope to deliver a similar impact to others. It makes really me proud to see a teammate grow in confidence and be able to manage their own campaigns.

Digital marketing has been around for years now, and unlike what many ‘gurus’ may claim, there is no dark art or secret sauce. In fact, everything that you read here can pretty much be learnt elsewhere online. I am probably crazy for telling you this, as no authors in the right frame of mind will tell their readers that, but that’s the truth. I am not going to claim that I possess secrets that can help your company generate millions of profits within a year.

Having said that, there are many benefits you can enjoy out of this book.

You receive a succinct summary of the massive amount of knowledge out on the internet, without big claims and half-truths.

You will be exposed to new concepts and terms, which you may not previously be aware of.

You will also learn about my experience on running digital campaigns for clients, and my own portfolio, over the last 10 years.

I won’t reveal any confidential data, because that is not the right thing to do. However, I believe that the content will contain some useful tips for your campaigns.

    This will not be a long book. Most readers equate quantity to value. They feel that a thick book means that they are getting their money worth. I don’t think so. How many times have you put aside a book because it is full of fluff and nothing substantial? I know I have.

    I will keep things short and simple. I believe that value is in the quality, not the quantity. I aim to introduce digital marketing to you in the simplest manner, such that you can easily complete this book, and keep the learning momentum going.

    I will not go into step-by-step tutorials on how to use the advertising platforms. There are better designed versions of that in the platforms’ help page. And those will always be updated.

    If there are any parts of the book that seemed confusing initially, I will suggest for you to continue reading. The answer will likely pop out to you in the next few pages. If it doesn’t, a quick Google search will do the trick.

    What you will gain from your time with me, is a strong understanding of how digital marketing works. You will possess sufficient knowledge to collaborate with your digital marketing team, oversee the work done by your digital agency, and plan a digital campaign yourself.

    I am excited to start this journey with you.