Digital marketing has become an integral part of business for SMEs, according to a survey conducted by Bord Gais Energy among members of the Small Firms Association (SFA) at a free "Business Bytes" seminar on digital marketing this week.
The research shows that over three-quarters of SMEs surveyed handle their digital marketing requirements in-house, with more than half (52pc) having attended a digital- marketing training course or having sent a staff member to upskill in this field.
While every business surveyed has an online presence, 59pc of respondents sell their products or services online, with more than one-third of these targeting overseas markets to boost business sales.
Unsurprisingly, the website remains the most important digital marketing tool for SMEs, according to 59pc of respondents but social media is not far behind.
Other popular digital marketing channels include direct email (50pc); search engine optimisation (50pc); e-zines (31pc) and blogs (29pc).
In terms of digital marketing spend, one-third of companies report investing between €1,001 and €5,000 annually while one-fifth invest in excess of €5,000 a year.
Commenting on the results, Joe Walsh, business category controller in Bord Gais Energy, said: "For small businesses operating in the current marketplace, innovation is key to maintaining a competitive edge. Our digital marketing research shows that given its potential reach and cost-effectiveness, digital marketing is no longer just an addition to the traditional marketing mix but rather a significant business driver for SMEs."
The majority of SMEs surveyed (57pc) consider digital marketing to be very important for their business and 92pc of respondents believe that it will become even more important for business over the coming year.
KBC wins Business to Arts award
KBC Bank Ireland has been awarded the Allianz Business to Arts Award for the 'Best Long Term Partnership' between an arts organisation and a commercial entity.
Speaking after the awards, KBC boss John Reynolds said: "Over the past 15 years, KBC Bank Ireland has developed a very strong creative partnership with the Great Music in Irish Houses Festival.
"Our sponsorship is one of the longest running in the arts sector in Ireland today and it is an example of the mutually beneficial relationship which develops when the relationship is built from a long-term perspective," he added.
Nicktoons joins Sky's portfolio
SKY Ireland claims it is to offer advertisers "increased choice" in the kids' TV market with the addition of Nicktoons to its portfolio from October 16. Nicktoons, bringing the very best animation to Ireland, joins kids channels Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.
The channels will "further enhance the strength of Sky Media Ireland's portfolio", Sky says, which currently comprises 20 high-quality pay TV brands across entertainment, sports, documentaries, news and kids, including Sky1, Sky Atlantic, MTV, Dave, Sky Sports 1 & 2, Sky News, Discovery and Nickelodeon.
Sky Media Ireland sales director Richard Kelly said the deal meant his firm would "continue to offer Irish advertisers increased choice and value in the market".
Tina McCann of Nickelodeon UK & Ireland said she was "delighted" to have completed the agreement with Sky.