Official Guide: Digital Tools for Business in Malaysia

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Last Updated: 14 September 2012


There are a large number of digital applications available to help you launch and manage your business.  This post is not a comprehensive resource, but an introductory guide to get you started.

Also, please note that while the products I discuss below are used around the world, they are still very effective in the Malaysian marketplace.


Social Media

What: Social media has been emerging for many years now and it is now so permeated in society that businesses cannot afford to ignore this communication medium.

Why: Most social media platforms offer free sign-up accounts.  When used correctly these accounts can be incredibly powerful to discover new customers but also stay connected with existing customers.  Additionally, some of these platforms can be very powerful to ignite a viral message.

Some Recommendations:

  • FacebookFacebook is open for everyone and many people use it to stay connected with not only people but businesses.  Create a Facebook Page for your business so you can stay connected with existing customers and attract new customers.  This is probably the most used online social network in Malaysia (over 13 million accounts based in Malaysia).
  • Twitter.  Twitter is a great way to share small pieces of information (140 characters or less).  Like Facebook, this can be a great platform to stay connected with your customers and attract new ones.  Twitter is also among the top social networks used in Malaysia.
  • LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is an excellent social network for the business community.  This can be great for connecting with people on a business-to-business level.  You could easily be surprised about the opportunities that emerge for you when this isused correctly.  In November 2012, Linkedin announced that Malaysia had over 1 million members.


Online Advertising

What: There are many choices available for online advertising, including search-baedads, text ads, display ads, sponsored editorial, and more.


Why: Online  advertising can be very powerful for reaching targeted markets at low costs.  Online advertising can also be  an easier medium for calculating your return on investment.

Some Recommendations:

  • Google AdWordsGoogle AdWords is a great way to reach people who might be actively searching for something that relates to your product.  For example, if you manage a flowership that provides an online service, it could be wise to buy ads for people searching keywords that relates to that, such as “buy flower online”.  It also have some demographic targeting settings, but not as powerful as Facebook.  AdWords is an incredibly powerful tool reach people who are searching for a specific product or service.
  • Facebook Advertising.  Facebook advertising is great for reach specific demographic of people.  Facebook probably represent the single largest demographic database of people in the world.  Facebook ads is an incredibly powerful tool to reach a specific type of person, such gender, country of residence, age group, relationship status, specific interests, and more.
  • Local Media Websites.  Consider contacting local media websites that also reach your target audience.  Many of these media sites can customize an ad campaign to directly suit your marketing goals and budget constraints.  Many website can also help you tell a story about your product, service, or brand, which can go a long way to connect with an audience.   Here are some local media websites in Malaysia:


Direct Communications

What: There are many forms of direct online communications, including email, messaging, and voice and video calling applications.

Why: Some of these direct communications are essential and others can help you communicate with your customers, suppliers, or colleagues much more efficiently and economically.

Some Recommendations:

  • Gmail and Other Emails:  Not having an email address, is like not having a telephone number – it’s an essential communication medium.  For your company to appear established, it’s best to setup a website (e.g. www.examplecompany.com) and have a matching email address ([email protected]).  If you’re not at that stage yet, Gmail can be a great starting point.  They provide over 10 gigabytes of space.  Here are some great web hosting companies to help you get started:
  • MailChimp:  Mail Chimp is a great service for managing an email database and sending email newsletters.  MailChimp is a free service with your first 2,000 members, which is perfect for a small start-up.
  • Skype: Skype is a great way to call people over the internet.  It can significantly reduce your phone bills for international and local calls.  Also, the video function adds another dimension to your call.
  • Google Hangout: Google Hangout requires you to have a Google+ account but is a great, easy-to-you video chat platform.  It offers group chats, screenshare (i.e. display your desktop screen to the person your speak with), and other visual and audio effects.  Additionally, this video chat platform operates directly through a browser, so you don’t need to open a separate application to run it.


Other Useful Tools

There are many digital applications that can help you manage, organize, and operate your business.

Some Recommendations:

  • MS Office: Microsoft Office Suite is the universal standard for business applications.  MS Word is used for writing reports, MS Excel is used for managing data and financials, and MS PowerPoint is used for creating presentations.  The applications can be expensive, but you won’t regret having them.
  • Google Docs:  Google Docs is a good alternative for MS Office – particularly the text and spreadsheet docs.  While the features are not as robust or widely used as MS Office, Google Docs still offers some great benefits.  Google Docs is free of charge, can be stored in the cloud (meaning they are saved in space online and easily accessible from any devic with internet access), constantly saves, and offers collaborative functionality (built-in chat functions and real-time editing).
  • Dropbox: Dropbox is a great way to share documents through the internet, especially those that have large file sizes.   DropBox offers different packages, some designed specifically for business teams.  Dropbox is a free service and the first two gigabytes of space are free.  You can also share create and share specific folders in DropBox to grant specific access to third-parties.  Download Dropbox for free.
  • Evernote: Evernote is a well-designed application useful for making notes and to do lists.  It’s easy to navigate and organize, allowing you to tag notes with specific keywords and group notes into ‘notebooks’.   The application is available on many devices (smartphones, tablets, and personal computers), so it can sync your notes among all your devices.  You’ll never again wonder what happened to that critical idea you wrote on that flimsy, misplaced scrap paper.



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