Digital marketing is a form of marketing for promoting and selling products or services on the Internet through digital channels. It involves all the marketing activities that take place in the online environment.
Therefore, social media presence for professional purposes can also be discussed within the broader scope of digital marketing in this day and age. This is especially relevant for sectors such as tourism (highly driven by inspirational social media content), but will only be powerful when used effectively and with purpose.
The main aims of this Bite Size are:
- To provide a brief overview of Digital Marketing Strategies.
- To understand the key components of a Digital Marketing Plan.
- To understand the Digital Marketing Channels and the importance of social media for small businesses.
What is Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing can be defined as the digital communication for the promotion of brands to connect with potential customers by utilizing a combination of online marketing channels to reach the target audience where they are – online – and ultimately increase sales and overall company branding.
The process refers to the creation and dissemination of content through various digital media channels —websites, landing pages, social media, email, and mobile applications— and the promotion of that content using a variety of strategies.
A Digital Marketing Strategy is a plan for establishing an internet presence through online channels such as organic search, social media, paid ads, and other web-based mediums such as your website.
The goal of digital marketing strategies is to increase awareness about your business and attract new customers to your brand.
Digital marketing and its importance in today’s business world
Digital marketing is an essential part of today’s business world, as it:
- Allows companies to reach a wider audience and build relationships with customers.
- Digital marketing helps businesses to increase their visibility, reach more potential customers, and generate more leads and sales.
- It also helps to build brand awareness and loyalty, as well as to measure and track the success of campaigns.
For these reasons, among many other potential benefits, having a Digital Marketing Strategy with clear objectives is crucial in determining your brand’s success in the future. Creating content to engage the audience will improve consumer and business engagement. Resulting in increased brand awareness, generating more web traffic, higher leads, increased sales and profit and improved the overall customer experience.
As a professional in the tourism sector, you will find that probably many national and regional tourism bodies’ plans and policies, and how they execute them, have been designed to help you become visible on the global marketplace. As part of their campaigns, they usually offer tools and support that can help blend and shape your strategy to define your bespoke offering.
Also, and because of that, we invite you to allocate some time to research for training or funding opportunities in your ecosystem, and to take advantage of them for upskilling and business innovation purposes.
Digital Marketing Strategy
A digital marketing plan is a document in which you strategically map out your SME’s goals for promoting product & services online as well the actions you’ll take to achieve those objectives.
According to PR Smith (SOSTAC®) – There are 9 Key components to consider when building your Digital Marketing Strategy, which are:
- Target Market – Clearly identify your target market. Breaking your market into segments and carefully selecting the right segments to target. i.e., targeting the low hanging fruit – customers who can easily be reached and who really want your product or service.
- Objectives –It is essential to summarize what objective the strategy will fulfil. E.g. “increase sales by 10% by the end of the year” or “introduce a new product for the next season”. Having a clear Digital Marketing Goal is essential for effective outcomes. Therefore, we recommend you to use the SMART methodology when designing your goals in digital marketing, which refer to: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-focused, and Time-bound goals. This model ensures your objectives are well articulated, and eases monitoring activity.
Sourcef: The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran and used in many instances from then.
- Positioning – How you want to be positioned or perceived in the minds of your target customers. Positioning your brand and ultimate customer experience
- Processes – Processes are important, the idea of introducing new processes can be strategic, new processes like a new CRM system or a new marketing automation system or AI.
- Partnership – Strategic Alliances, co-marketing to make marketing more cost effective. Are there potential partners out there whose customers would welcome your organization’s product or service. Learn more about it within the “Your Ecosystem” area of knowledge.
- Sequence – Develop Credibility before raising Visibility. How to direct to a website or app if it works.
- Engagement – what level of customer engagement is required? There are different levels of engagement. From encouraging visitors and customers to give ratings and reviews to nurturing advocates to collaborating and co-creating ideas and products.
This is the Ladder of engagement starts with the Low-level engagement (ratings and reviews) to the top of the ladder is collaborative Co-creation.
Source: PR Smith
- Experience – Are you creating a new Customer Experience (CX)? Defining what kind of experience you want your customer to have is at the heart of your plan.
- Data – can data be used to add value or target customers. Integrating customer data online and offline is a strategic decision. Having your data – history of leads and customer activity in one place is invaluable to your company as you know what works.
Objectives of a Digital Marketing Plan
Some of the most common goals for entrepreneurs or expert in the field of digital marketing in small companies are:
- Greater Brand Awareness – grow your brand name and increase the reach.
- More Website Traffic – Increase your website traffic, rank in google with the help of different SEO techniques of digital marketing.
- Promotion of new product or service
- Increase Sales/Profits
- Increase Lead Generation
- Increase Engagement
- Improve User Experience (CX) – use digital marketing techniques to engage more audience on your website. It will make your customers loyal towards your business and you can hold them for the long run.
Digital Marketing Channels
These platforms allow digital marketers to connect with their target audience and make them aware of their brand, products, or services.
An Effective Digital Marketing plan will assist you in selecting the most appropriate social media channels to adopt.
- Social Media Marketing – utilising the popular social media networks to achieve your marketing and branding goals e.g., Facebook, TikTok, etc. Potencially, this might be one of the most popular marketing channels nowadays, as it allow companies to meet their potential clients where they are: online, and to build up relationships based on provided value and meaningful connection.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Is the process of making your website effective and rank high in the Search Engines. Integrating SEO tracking into your website can help you understand how your website is performing in terms of organic search engine rankings. It can also help you identify areas of improvement and track the progress of your SEO efforts.
- Content Marketing – focuses on creating and distributing quality, valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain customers. E.g., regular updated blogs, publications, video links etc
- Email Marketing – Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fundraising messages to an audience.
- Pay per click – Pay-per-click (PPC) is an online advertising model in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked.
- Mobile Marketing – relates to any promotional activity that takes place on smartphones, tablets and handheld devices. It specifically takes advantage of mobile channels like SMS, MMS messaging and Location Services, to tailor marketing campaigns based on an individual’s location.,
- Marketing Analytics – is using models and metrics to study and analyze the data to evaluate the performance of a specific marketing activity.
- Affiliate Marketing – is promoting another company’s products or service in return for a small commission for each sale.
Using Social Media for Marketing purposes
Social Media marketing is essential for every new start-up and established SME to promote their products and services and increase their brand awareness.
This is of extreme importance to the Tourism & Blue Economy micro-business to enhance their digital marketing, create awareness, brand recognition and ultimately gain new customers.
The main benefits of adopting a social media campaign for marketing purposes are cost effectiveness, brand recognition, increased level of customer satisfaction and increased brand loyalty.
The most popular social media channels include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and Snapchat. However, bear in mind that trends online are ever-changing, so even though TikTok is hugely popular among young generations (Gen Zs and Millennials), some years ago Instagram was the big deal, and it might happen that in a few months time another major player enters the game, so keep yourself posted on the latest shifts so not to miss any opportunity!
TRENDS & BEST PRACTICES IN DIGITAL MARKETING
You can learn further about digital marketing trends and best practices on international markets in Europe here:
According to the Hootsuite, in “January 2022, the number of social media users worldwide was 4.62 billion”. That’s more than half of the entire population of earth.
Choosing the correct mix of social media channels for your digital marketing campaign can be depending on your Target Market, so take your time to reflect upon:
- What is the demographic of your target market?
- What social media channel(s) do they relate to or currently use?
These questions will inform the correct social media campaign for your digital marketing strategy.
Again, according to Hootsuite “Facebook is still the world’s most popular social media platform. It currently has almost 3 billion global active users.”
“Every month, the average internet user uses 7.5 different social media platforms. The country using the least number of social platforms is Japan (an average of 3.9 per month) and the country using the most social platforms is Brazil (an average of 8.7 monthly).”
Want to know more about social media demographics? Go visit: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-demographics/ ©Hootsuite
Effective Digital marketing strategy and adoption is essential to the lifespan of any micro business active in blue economy ecosystems.
Since tourism businesses need digital marketing to attract new customers and buy into the visitor’s experience, the European Commission has implemented several actions to boost the competitiveness of businesses in the European tourism sector, integrate them into global digital value chains, and improve their ability to create more jobs.
Also, there are many organisations aiming to help SMEs to thrive in their online performance, such as Failte Ireland. This organisation provides training support to tourism businesses with some cost-effective marketing tactics that can be applied to all tourism and hospitality micro-businesses. Yo can learn more on it and discover interesting resources for your business in tourism here: Digital Marketing On A Shoestring
Digitalisation of the energy system – can help integrate the growing share of renewable energy by delivering flexible electricity systems that provide demand-side solutions and energy storage.
Discover more here: Digitalisation of the energy system
The SEAI works with citizens, businesses, communities, and government to transform how we think about, generate, and use energy. They cover the wider remit of information, advocacy, training, and implementation of the Governments plans in Delivering Ireland’s Energy Revolution. The digital marketing strategy adopted by SEAI is a one-stop-shop for all relevant information and we have found this resource is growing exponentially.
The UNEP Digital Transformation (DT) subprogramme focuses on accelerating and scaling environmental sustainability by applying data, digital technologies and solutions to UNEP’s key activities, products and services and ultimately delivers on it’s key action areas – climate, nature and pollution.
Have a look here: Digital Transformation | UNEP – UN Environment Programme
Several options are available to marketeers in sourcing core information and learning prior to publishing their own digital marketing strategies.
For intense, as there is more than one specific sector looking after the promotional and marketing message for Transport and Ports of Entry to the Island of Ireland time should be taken to understand the commitment and legislative restrictions you must understand prior to signing off your organisational Transport & Ports of Entry Digital Marketing Strategy.
As approaches might vary from place to place, we highly encourage you to take your time to do research and investigate entities in your ecosystem.
Professional representative organisations provide information and support for their own sectors and individuals and companies should also look to government agencies and support networks to understand better the service or products offered to add context to their digital Marketing Strategy as this will help to define your plan and target the right audience.
We have found the following organisations and agencies that provide clear, validated information that helps you present a plan that is current, relevant and up-to-date.
- Donegal Local Enterprise Office [LEO]
- Fáilte Ireland
- Recycle your cooking oil
- Sustainable small ports
- Greek Travel Pages
- Navigator Travel &Tourist Services Ltd
- Blue Growth
- Port de Barcelona
- Garganta de los Infiernos: actividades en la naturaleza
- Cádiz Atlántica
- Create a Facebook Page for your business | Meta Business Help Centre
- Funding for Digital in the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework | Shaping Europe’s digital future (europa.eu)
- PR Smith – SOSTAC – Guide to your perfect Digital Marketing Plan