We talked to Alva Chew of Stridec on how they help businesses acquire more traffic, customers and revenue to win in the digital age.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alva Chew: The family and I are fine. Luckily we are based in Singapore, where the Covid situation is largely contained, and people have already started going about their daily lives.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Stridec.
Alva Chew: I started Stridec as a software development company 20 years ago in 2001, just before I stepped into university, and have never looked back since.
Over the years, we have evolved and pivoted the company a few times before finding our true calling in digital branding and marketing, specifically in the areas of SEO and eCommerce. Because of the way we approached SEO, we managed to rank ourselves on page 1 of Google search within a short period and gained some notable companies’ attention, which later became our clients.
These days, we are recognized in Singapore and around the Asia region as a leading SEO agency that delivers results and sustainable ROI for the clients whom we work with.
How does Stridec innovate?
Alva Chew: As a data-driven technology-oriented company, we constantly think of how to streamline our internal workflows and processes with automation, sometimes with hilarious and disastrous results. But we learn immensely from those experiences and, after a while, will jump right back into trying out new ways of doing things. I am somewhat obsessed with the beauty of simple, streamlined, and systematic processes, which drive our endless operational experiments.
On the product front, we are always thinking of positioning our solution as a direct catalyst to the clients’ revenue and ROI. A huge part of our methodology revolves around establishing the client’s online authority and leadership through sound SEO strategies. Rather than offering piecemeal services, we always look to structure a solution that directly hits the client’s topline objectives rather than vanity metrics.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Alva Chew: Our business actually spiked due to the pandemic. Many businesses realized that they could no longer put off plans for digitization and had to really scramble for solutions to kick it off. At the same time, people are spending more time on the internet searching for stuff, so being visible on Google search results becomes that much more important to many businesses if it hasn’t already before. I would say 90% of our enquiries during this period are pertaining to SEO-related work. At the height of the pandemic, we were working non-stop for months just to keep up with the projects that were coming in. As much as we would like to take on all projects and help every business in need, we eventually had to be selective about who to bring onboard so that we are able to deliver the value of our work without compromise.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alva Chew: I wouldn’t say I have difficult choices to make; more like these days, choices were made through a different set of considerations.
Like a lot of people going through this, the pandemic made me rethink about life’s priorities and what is really important to us. Before the start of the pandemic, we have made very aggressive growth plans for the company with very ambitious expansion intentions. Now, we are glad that we are still growing and expanding but have taken a more measured pace to it all and do at times have to reject working with some clients so that we have breathing space to take it slower.
I think the biggest lesson is that you never know what will hit you the next moment, so don’t get too caught up with insisting that everything has to go your way; there are many ways that life can be experienced and enjoyed. On the business side, it is much more enjoyable and healthier psychologically to work only with clients who are aligned with your own thinking and beliefs, even if it means taking on fewer clients and earning less.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Alva Chew: For our work, we use SEO management tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush quite extensively. For project management, we love Basecamp. G Suite is also something that we cannot do without. Our emails, documents, and pretty much every work-related piece of information is on G Suite.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alva Chew: competitors would be the established SEO and digital marketing agencies in Singapore and Asia. We are actively working on improving our authority and thought leadership presence in the industry to be seen as a leader rather than a follower.
At the end of the day, the promise of our work is to deliver measurable results for the clients. Our singular focus is always to make sure that we deliver results to the benefit of our clients.
What also differentiates us and sets us apart from the competition is that our solutions are always structured from a branding angle instead of a tactical angle.
Your final thoughts?
Alva Chew: The pandemic really threw a lot of presumptions about business out of the window and forced every one of us to reimagine how to conduct business in an increasingly contactless environment moving forward. We feel that digital branding and digital marketing will play an even more critical role for businesses trying to get out of this situation stronger and are glad that we are in a position to be able to help our clients achieve this.