Digital Advertising Strategy for a Small Business
Internet network is a global information system functioning as a medium for cooperation and communication between people and the world’s way of broadcasting and transmission, as well as a powerful tool for business. It is difficult to find any kind of human activitiy which would not need to use the Internet. Internet is an indispensable tool in tourism. Tourist business in recent years has changed significantly due to the development of computer and information technologies.
Full application of the Internet technologies is becoming one of the most urgent problems in the tourism industry. Booking of accommodation and transport, sightseeing and cultural-recreational services, packet or individual tours, acquiring information about the presence of various tours, dates of flights, routes - this set of questions becomes relevant to the organization of the current and future activities of the tourist enterprises.
Nowadays, the presence of a working website becomes a sign of professionalism and stability. Internet has already become not only a means of communication but also a major area for commercial activities (Plummer et al, 2007).
The importance of a digital advertising can be viewed by using a fictional travel agency as an example.
Travel agency “Tour Planet” was established in 2006 in Nashville, Tennessee. It works as a tour operator in the organization of tourist routes and weekend recreation for groups of American tourists. The main activities of the agency are tourist and excursion services:
- Provision of accommodation services in hotels, tourist centers, boarding houses, motels, recreation centers.
- Rent of the rooms in hotels, tourist complexes, resorts, motels, recreation centers.
- Providing services on nutrition in restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, bars and other public catering organizations.
- Reservation of railway and airline tickets, travel documents for sea and river vessels.
- Vehicle rental (trains, cars, aircrafts, etc.).
- Providing services for visas, passports, insurance policies, vouchers for trips of citizens, delegations, individual tourists and tourist groups.
The agency is mostly targeting the local market of travel services because of its small size. The choice of this market is also reasonable because the company is still not very well known due to its rather passive advertising policy, which was mostly limited by publishing the advertisement in the local newspapers and giving out promotion flyers. However, managers of the agency hope to change this soon, with the implementation of a new advertising strategy, which is focused on the digital advertising.
Reasons for using the Internet in the agency are providing information support to the customers, product advertising and brand promotion of the organization on the market. Such a trend has emerged in late 2006, and it has gained momentum since then. Of course, such support must be provided through the use of a corporate site.
Analysis of the impact of the site on a number of clients who have turned to it via the Internet indicates that the mere presence of a website increases the number of customers almost twice. In this case, the site of high quality doubles the number of customers compared with companies with low quality site (Tibbs, 2010).
Companies working in the travel sector, such as “Tour Planet”, are characterized by an even stronger impact site on the number of customers who contacted the company via the Internet.
In order to organize an advertising campaign in the Internet, the company should have its own server or a web page where potential customers would be able to get acquainted with the company, find information about interesting proposals of the firm, and ask their questions.
Business website is a complete analog of a corporate brochure with an unlimited access. In the case of the e-commerce, the site can simultaneously be an office and a store as well.
From a marketing standpoint, a website is a collection of information blocks and tools to interact with one or more segments of the target audience. What information will be presented on the site, what tools will be used, how they will interact with each other depends on two aspects:
- The chosen business model, short-term and long-term objectives;
- The type of segment targeted audience and the means of interaction with it in any other way in order.
Imagine that one of the sites is simply a text on a white background divided into paragraphs and the other has an interesting stylish design, nice selection of colors and friendly text layout and navigation. About 85% of visitors would choose the site with an appealing design (Plummer et al., 2007). After all, the designer is trying to the convenience of visitors. Therefore, it is imperative to analyze websites of other travel agencies in order to create a successful and attractive one. The best option is to conclude the analysis of websites of the company’s competitors – travel agencies “Dynatour” and “Vega”.
Travel Agency “Dynatour”
The basis of the site is to provide information on the activities of the agency, types of tours it provides and its contacts. The site is not very functional, however, because there is only a single module to search from. As for the site interface, it is easy to use, has well-chosen color scheme that blends well with the theme of the site.
- Presence of a search module;
- User-friendly interface;
- Nice palette;
- Full information about the activities of travel agency;
- The site has a minimum number of functions, which does not simplify the work of the operator, as well as user actions, such as ordering a tour.
Travel Agency “Vega”
The site contains mostly information about tours and the travel agency that provides them. It has only a function of the use’s communication with the operator. Basically, this site is based on the information function. The site’s interface is not the best example of selection of colors and size of the text.
- Feedback to the operator agency;
- Information about the agency’s activities and tours that it provides.
- Minimum number of functions meaning the website does not simplify the activity of both operator and user;
- The site’s interface is poorly designed; it is overloaded with plain text, and it has an inappropriate color scheme (text printed in different colors, which leads to irritation of the eyes).
After analyzing and considering the disadvantages of the competitors’ sites, a project of the company’s website will be created. It will supplement competitor’s sites in terms of functionality, as well as with a simple interface, which is not overloaded with information, with an appealing design.
For the travel agency “Tour Planet”, the most suitable choice is a website that will combine the following functions: information and remote application. Information function will be presented in the form of providing relevant materials on the activities of the agency, so users can learn about this information any time by only having access to the Internet. Function of remote application will be to create specific modules that simplify actions of the user, as well as a customer of the agency. The website will also contain the following features:
- Giving the visitors an opportunity to specify search criteria and get only a list of tours that meet the specified criteria. If desired, the visitor can send a request for a service he/she is interested at.
- Attractive headlines for offered tour. Title and price - that is what the user will see in the first place. The most interesting offers will be displayed as separate lines.
- Creating a constantly updated list of proposals offered by the agency.
- Special offers will be displayed above the usual search results. They sometimes can be more expensive than the usual accommodation tours, but these offers will not go unnoticed.
As a conclusion, it can be said that creating a website will play a vital role in implementation of the company’s advertising strategy. However, advertising opportunities on the Internet are not limited to tourist sites. Another very useful advertising platform for a travel agency is a search engine like Google (Springer, 2009). The company’s goal is to make its website be first on all relevant requests free of charge. However, it is quite difficult to achieve as competition between travel agents is very high. To work this out, it is necessary to turn to the professionals, such as advertising agencies, that can help find the right phrases to advertise certain tours. Another method is the usage of the opportunity to place paid advertisements for specific requests.
The most affordable and most accepted way of Internet advertising is a banner, so the agency should consider this opportunity, as well. The price of such advertising may be determined depending on time and place of the banner or is calculated in the price per 1,000 banner displays (Springer, 2009). On some sites, there is a possibility of placing a banner with payment not by displaying but by clicking on it. In other words, the agency will place its banners on the maximum number of local sites, thus increasing the number of visitors of its corporate website and potential customers as well. The company’s banners will use calls inciting action, such as “Press it!”, “Move it!”, “Let's go!”, which can significantly increase the rate of the banner. The agency will use animated advertising banners, response of which is higher than that of static ones.
During last years, the rapidly increasing popularity of various social networks has been spotted. Considering this fact, the company’s management made a decision of utilizing the opportunities offered by social networks in its advertising strategy. The agency is planning to use Facebook and Twitter in achieving its goals. The Twitter account will give users a possibility to monitor any changes in the services of the company like hot tours, special offers, or discounts. Facebook page of the company will offer the users basic information of the agency and the services it offers, as well as contain a link to the company’s website. It is also will give all visitors a possibility to subscribe in order to receive the latest news considering the agency. The company is also planning to hold a lottery among all its Facebook subscribers, with a chance of winning a free tour to a place chosen by the winner.
As a conclusion, it can be said that traditional media in all their clarity and familiarity are no longer able to provide the level of efficiency required by a modern man. Therefore, more and more people are turning to the Internet to get the latest information about services and prices, or just news. The information on the website can be changed several times a day, so it will always be up to date. This attracts millions of Internet users (and potential customers) every day. Thus, the companies working in the services sector such as abovementioned travel agency “Tour Planet” must consider this fact when designing their advertisement strategy.