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How Southeast Asians Surf the Net: What Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Your consumers’ online experience affects your business more than you may think

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BY Cristina Morales - 08 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Entrepreneurs know that the success of their company hinges on how they present themselves online, most especially regarding their professional website. Bringing users onto your site is one thing, but actually making them stay and come back is another.

So what should businesses do? Content delivery network (CDN) service provider Limelight Networks surveyed 1,600 consumers chosen at random in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines for their report, The State of the User Experience - Southeast Asia, to find out how Internet users in the region behave.

“Today the success of any online service depends primarily on online experience, followed by the quality of the content,” says Jaheer Abbas, regional director of Limelight Networks, SEA Asia and ANZ. “Be it online video, e-commerce, or gaming sites, a great digital experience is favored by consumers across the board and businesses must understand the opportunities that a positive web experience provides.”

Failing to take their consumers’ digital experience into account could damage your brand’s reputation, impacting revenue, Abbas adds. Conversely, if you give your consumers a positive online experience, it can positively affect your bottom line. “Nearly everyone surveyed said that they’re likely to recommend a brand to a friend if they have a positive web experience,” he says. “On the flip side, they’ll leave and go to a competitor if it isn’t a good experience.”

Based on the report, here is what all businesses should be doing.

1. Build for mobile

Throughout the entire region, smartphones are the device of choice when accessing the Internet.

CREDIT: Limelight Networks

To reach more consumers in Southeast Asia, companies should consider refraining from building complex websites designed for desktop browsers. Instead, they should make sure that their online experience is optimized for mobile before even working on the desktop and laptop experience.

2. Keep your content fresh

How do you keep consumers coming back to your website? Make sure that you’re giving them something new each time they visit. Southeast Asians ranked “fresh and updated” content first in importance, trumping website performance and personalized content—though both are still important (more on that later).

CREDIT: Limelight Networks

And what kind of content do people consume? According to the survey, the majority of the respondents spend most of their online time on social media, closely followed by online video.

3. Personalize content

One-size-fits-all just doesn’t cut it in this day and age, especially in Southeast Asia. Take your cue from the tailor-made experiences offered by Netflix, YouTube, and Instagram: people want—and often expect—to see content that’s relative to them. 67% of respondents indicated that they would want a website to make recommendations based on their past visits.

CREDIT: Limelight Networks

It’s curious to note that Singaporeans in particular don’t desire this experience as much as their neighbors (only 53% indicated a desire for a personalized experience). “One probable reason is that Singapore users are more matured users who know what they want,” explains Abbas, who also factors in online security issues in the region. “As such, they are more selective in giving out information regarding their preferences when it comes to online experiences.”

4. Prioritize performance

Southeast Asian consumers are a patient bunch—77% indicated a willingness to give a website another chance if it performed poorly the first time. However, your site’s technical issues are probably causing a huge chunk of your target market to abandon your site for a competitor’s. 43% of those surveyed said they would move to a competitor’s site if they had to wait too long for a page to load.

CREDIT: Limelight Networks