Companies in Ireland should make better use the Internet to improve their competitiveness, reduce their costs and ultimately survive the recession, according to quarterly bulletin State of the Net.
The Internet is highly cost-effective, totally accountable and used well can help transform a company’s bottom line, according to State of the Net. It proposes ten ways businesses can use the Internet to drive sales, improve customer service, maximise marketing budgets and cut operational costs.
These include creating virtual sales offices, deploying free rather than proprietary software, harvesting customer feedback and building up more extensive networks of contacts.
Another proposal is to make better use of social media sites. “Social media marketing campaigns can be delivered and generate real results and they don’t require big budgets. In fact, they needn’t have an advertising budget at all,” says Aileen O’Toole, Managing Director of online consultancy AMAS “Facebook, YouTube and Bebo are among the top ten websites used by Irish people and are very powerful in developing relationships and building awareness with particular audiences.”
Latest data show that YouTube has an Irish audience of close on a million while Facebook has close on 600,000 visitors a month, according to ComScore, and is one of the fastest-growing web properties in Ireland. Social media proved its value during the Ideas Campaign, the independent, non-political campaign citizens’ campaign which was initiated by AMAS and led by Aileen O’Toole.
“Social media was a core part of our promotional strategy and we didn’t spend any money on advertising,” she explained. “Apart from driving traffic and action on the campaign website (www.ideascampaign.ie), social media led to high local and international traffic, as well as considerable media interest from as far away as the US, Australia and Finland.”
State of the Net is produced by AMAS in association with the Irish Internet Association and tracks key Internet trends. The Summer 2009 edition of State of the Net also reports on:
- Online shopping – 36% of Irish consumers have shopped online, compared with just 14% back in 2004. Travel and hotel accommodation tops the league table of goods and services bought online Broadband – there are now 1.2 million broadband subscribers in Ireland, with growth rates tapering off. The gap between Irish broadband penetration rates and those of the EU is closing
- Online banking – more bank customers are signing up to doing routine banking transactions online. The banks have a total of 2.2 million online customers, up 28% on the previous year