An exploratory study of Digital Marketing implementation by SMEs in the West of Ireland during the COVID-19 Pandemic
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This exploratory research focuses on how SMEs in the West of Ireland have upscaled their use of Digital Marketing since March 2020. This study reviews how SMEs in the West of Ireland reacted during this rapid digitalisation period, and uncovers the benefits of this digitalisation as well as difficulties encountered during the process. It also examines the attitudes of participating SMEs to Digital Marketing and challenges they faced along the way. The research methodology employed was exploratory comprising eight in-depth semi-structured interviews chosen as the primary data collection. The study employed a thematic analysis to best answer three research questions: 1. What barriers, if any, have prevented SMEs in the West of Ireland from utilising Digital Marketing? 2. How has the use of Digital Marketing by SMEs been impacted by the challenges presented during the period of the COVID-19 Pandemic? 3. Has the West of Ireland location of SMEs impacted their use of Digital Marketing? The study found some interesting results including how SMEs in the West of Ireland were leveraging their location to their advantage to not only survive this difficult period but also to grow and conquer new markets. From the research it is clear that SMEs in the West of Ireland have a clear preference for Digital Marketing methods with an eagerness to improve on their own skillsets. Unlike what previous research would suggest, their marketing practices are highly organised and data driven. It is hoped that this study will act as a foundation for future research on the Digital Marketing activities of SMEs in the West of Ireland.
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