Social media and digitals domains as a platform for marketing, communication and promotion has emerged as a critical tool for communicating, acquiring, servicing customers and also to gain critical insights into customer behaviours in recent times (Kim and Ko 2012; Castronovo and Huang 2012). The same is evidently expected to play significant role in the marketing and business development initiatives of business entities with direct impacts on revenue generation and profitability (Kim and Ko 2012; Castronovo and Huang 2012). In this context, the organization identified to undertake this study is Ad Astra Institute (Ad Astra). Ad Astra is an education institute with specific focus over hospitality industry in Australia. The entity by having direct links with the hospitality industry provides its students with significant opportunities for learning from professionals (Ad Astra 2017a). At the outset, the various services offered by Ad Astra comprise assistances for language as well as learning skillsets, accommodation for the students, recreational activities, personal guidance and also health services for ensuring their students to experience that is well balanced and effective in its outcome (Ad Astra 2017a). Given the nature of the services offered and in general, social media / digital marketing and communications represent a significant medium for the company to reach out to prospective clients (students) and enhance its marketing efforts.
In specific the platforms that shall be focussed in this report include social media efforts using Facebook platform and an email based marketing using Mailchimp platform. Based on assessments of Ad Astra, its marketing needs and evaluation of these identified tools suitable recommendations have also been proposed.
Digital Marketing Platform #1 – Facebook
Facebook is a social media platform in online domain with services of social networking. The company was established in the year 2004 and has been forefront in one of the earliest and most successful social media (Facebook 2017). Facebook continues to be one of the widely used social media across globe for social networking making it an inevitable tool for marketers and business organizations to have a large and effective presence for their marketing, promotional and communication purposes (Facebook 2017). Further in a recent study undertaken, it has been established that Facebook provides the maximum ROI amongst the various social media platforms that exist (Emarketer 206). Naturally, the rationale for using Facebook as a platform for social media marketing is well established. The negative aspects of the same is quite limited and one of the major one is that Facebook being the first choice for most marketers and Facebook being used by users for wide and varied reasons like receive feeds of their friends, various news and infotainment feeds and promotions / communications from numerous sources could lead to data overload causing the users to miss on the company’s posts (Facebook 2017). However the same could be addressed through effective and focussed strategy around the users to ensure maximum and direct access.
In this context, the initial assessment of the Facebook presence by Ad Astra indicates that the company makes use of this platform to share promotions, infographic stressing the need and attractiveness of getting trained for a career in hospitality industry and also direct communication for customer acquisition related efforts (Ad Astra 2017b). Some of the samples of the efforts already undertaken by the company are presented as follows,
Figure 1 – Ad Astra’s Current Presence in Facebook (Ad Astra 2017b)
On the basis of the evaluation of the Facebook initiatives already undertaken by the company, further changes can be undertaken that shall meet the following objectives of its digital marketing / communication efforts – create an effective impression on the minds of prospective clients on what Ad Astra offers and the how effective Ad Astra delivers its services and act as a board for converting prospective clients to actual customers by creating suitable motivations (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013). While the current efforts of the company already addresses these objectives, the following changes can offer much more significant fillip to its existing efforts,
- At foremost and primary requirement lies the need for creating Facebook posts that lead to increased interaction with the prospective clients. This can aid is an effort to create a visibility of personalized communication and at the same time offer insights into the behaviour of the customers (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013).
Create a campaign with a hashtag of #AdAskAstra with an aim to motivate and drive the people interested in the services offered by the company to ask their queries, clarifications, any information regarding career prospects within hospitality industry, etc. (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013). A group of social media team can be established for this purpose and by way of creating an interactive drive, the scope for effective impression and chances of customer acquisition enhances significantly (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013).
- In addition to the infographic and text based promotional material the company posts to the user feeds, short video presentation highlighting the effectives of its services needs to be made for increased visits and larger reach of its promotions (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013).
- A series of short videos with testimonials of students who have completed their course at Ad Astra can offer a personalized endorsing to the company (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013).
- A short video illustrating the facilities offered at the company’s facilities like the various kind of equipment, accommodating services, etc. offered can create an immediate impression on the people interested (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013).
Digital Marketing Platform #1 – Email Marketing (Mailchimp)
Email marketing, at the outset, represents modern and digitized version of direct marketing initiatives that could aid in a direct one way communication with the prospective customers which shall communicate key information in an effective manner that shall either pique interest of prospective customers to accord their interest in making career in hospitality industry and make use of the services of Ad Astra or else make effective acquisition of the prospective customers who have already made up their mind to make a career in hospitality industry and seeking suitable service provides for the same (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Ashley and Tuten 2015; Papasolomou and Melanthiou 2012).
The tool identified for the purpose of undertaking the email marketing initiative is Mailchimp, an established and effective service provided for undertaking email marketing in a large scale with effective outcomes (Wang et al. 2012; Tuten and Solomon 2014; Mailchimp 2017). Mailchimp represents a platform that enables marketing automation as well as offers services for email marketing. Mailchimp is a service brand offered by the operating group called Rocket Science Group (Mailchimp 2017). This company was established in the United States during the year 2001 (Mailchimp 2017). The company initially started the services of Mailchimp in the paid model and gradually included a free service in the year 2009 (Mailchimp 2017). The introduction of the free services tool enabled the company to enhance its user base to significant extent with emergence as largest service provider in terms of usage for sending bulk marketing emails (Mailchimp 2017).
In the context of the overall strategy for marketing and promotion in digital mediums, the proposed email marketing efforts shall aid in meeting the following objectives – reate an effective impression on the minds of prospective clients on what Ad Astra offers and the how effective Ad Astra delivers its services and act as a board for converting prospective clients to actual customers by creating suitable motivations (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013). The following Email marketing strategies and efforts can offer significant boost to its existing marketing efforts,
- Create a simple yet effective infographic based content for emails which include various metrics and simple statements that illustrate the significance of making a career in the hospitality industry, the effectiveness of service offered by the company in ensuring the students develop requisite skillsets, etc. (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013). The content that can be shared with the targeted customer based needs to be aligned with all of the existing marketing efforts and specifically the posts that are made in its Facebook pages (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013). The sample of the content is presented as follows,
- Create and share simple videos and other text / visual simplification of the video based promotional materials illustrating the facilities offered at the company’s facilities like the various kind of equipment, accommodating services, etc. offered can create an immediate impression on the people interested (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013).
The earlier sections offered a critical case for using the tools identified in a manner that is effective and most suitable to the company’s need for digital marketing and affiliated communications. While the tools per se are means to ends certain needs, the identification, strategizing and planning of these needs are very critical. The need in this instance is creating effective marketing impact in terms of increased people and more importantly the targeted customer base getting visibility of the promotions / marketing efforts being undertaken and the effectiveness by which these efforts convert prospective customers to actual customers (Armstrong et al. 2015; Scott 2015; Sigala et al. 2012). In this context, the broader recommendations made in this context, include the following,
- At the outset, the overall context across the various marketing mediums like the conventional mediums, social media marketing using Facebook, and the Email marketing using Mailchimp need to be aligned to the overall organizational strategy and specific marketing strategy of the company (Armstrong et al. 2015; Ashley and Tuten 2015; Papasolomou and Melanthiou 2012).
- In addition, the overall context across the various marketing mediums like the conventional mediums, social media marketing using Facebook, and the Email marketing using Mailchimp need to be consistent in terms of the content / information being shared (Armstrong et al. 2015; Ashley and Tuten 2015; Papasolomou and Melanthiou 2012).
- Further in specific the marketing tools in digital platforms should require additional focus while preparing newer contents as the same needs to address the identified objectives of creating an effective form of impression with the prospective clients on what Ad Astra offers in terms of the services and the how effective Ad Astra delivers these services and shall act as a jumping board for converting prospective clients to actual customers by creating suitable motivations (Ad Astra 2017a; Ad Astra 2017b; Khang et al. 2012; Whiting and Williams 2013).
- More importantly, it shall become essential for establishing an internal team (either as new recruits or within the existing marketing team) or else employing the services of external agencies to manage the digital marketing / communications as a sustained, continued, dynamic and immediate environment related efforts / contents alone garner the interests of the customers and lie at the heart of successful outcomes using the digital marketing initiatives (Armstrong et al. 2015; Ashley and Tuten 2015; Papasolomou and Melanthiou 2012).
At the outset, this report presented a detailed evaluation of the prevailing social media presence of Ad Astra, identified tools that are essential given the nature of its services, social media / digital marketing objectives and proposed changes in its Facebook presence as well as offered an effective communications approach using Mailchimp Email services. In addition, the recommendations made offered an integrated and broader guidance on aligning these tools and affiliated initiatives in the context of broader overall strategy of the Ad Astra Institute.
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