Strategic Digital Marketing Plan
Description of Business and its Market
Bargain Pages is an ongoing online bookstore. The company’s main goal is to acquire the college-level market share of used textbooks and study materials in the bookstore industry. The main direction that the company has taken is low prices, dominant product selection, competitive services including price cuts, trading-in and buyback programs, and availing hard-to-find books. The company also intends to provide a learning environment, complete with study materials for various courses and programs, including lecture notes, sample solutions, and peer tutorage on different programs. The company will focus primarily on tertiary learning, making use of the already available textbooks and reading materials from students. The marketing point for the company is that almost every text in use this year will not be needed in the coming semester or academic session. Therefore, our company wants to connect one user to the next, using very affordable pricing compared to what is available currently via the school library and other external sources. The process is made easier by the fact that now students are required to purchase e-books and other electronic versions of required materials. The company will offer a form of exchange program, linking one user to the next. Operating in the used bookstore industry, especially one that is as focused as ours, will immediately attract students who use hundreds of dollars on buying textbooks for one-time use. We intend to help customers cut back on such costs, making out products and services very attractive to all-level college students.
Description of the Business’ Current Position and Marketing Strategies
The business is currently on its first week of operation, relying only on its website and social media pages for sales. It is operating as an ecommerce establishment without any physical presence. The business model is quite simple and elaborate that targets students looking to purchase various books, study materials, or reference samples. To get the best prices, students will be encouraged to include some hard to find class content, audio books, ebooks, and reference samples in their accounts. These materials will be seen by others searching for the same content online. Generally, the business model connects buyers and sellers using bargain prices that are very competitive.
Bargain Pages has a mission to offer high-quality used literature of all kinds at the most competitive prices for college students. Currently, the business has targeted all types of university and college students within Australia and New Zealand. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learning has largely shifted to online learning, requiring students to manage their time more and study harder without the conventional classroom structures. Bargain Pages will target the same users for supply of used books and other study materials. The main attraction to customers and users is the large selection and availability of books, reference notes, lecture notes, audio books, and other learning content that are specifically required by particular institutions. Therefore, the website will also be categorized by institutions, allowing users to filter search results by institution, course, program, year of study, and year of publication and so on. Additionally, the trade-in and buy back option will lower the cost of acquisition for both the company and the supplier, allowing customers to easily discard books and other materials that are no longer in use for cash or other trade-in options.
The business employ a number of marketing strategies. Specifically, the main strategy used is social media marketing. According to Saravanakumar & SuganthaLakshmi (2012), it is one of the most effective and popular forms of marketing because more than 3 billion people around the world use different social media platforms every day. Additionally, consumers expect every business to have an online presence via social media. The strategy is used because it will improve the company’s levels of engagement as well as brand awareness. Wang & Kim (2017) and Karimi & Naghibi (2015) also point to the main benefits of social media marketing including low entry barriers and ease of use, making the value used per unit excellent for a company. The image below shows some of the available social media platforms, making it one of the most effective ways to reach consumers.
Despite the wide variety of platforms available to choose from, Bargain Pages will focus on Facebook, Twitter, and slideshare. These, as per a recent study by Bucher & Helmond (2017), are the most popular social media platforms for college students. In platforms such as Facebook, there are social groups created specifically for students in the same institutions and further divided into peer groups of those within the same course and study programs.
Critical Analysis of Current Digital Trends and Activities in the Microenvironment
In the company’s micro environment, the main elements include customers, the public, the suppliers, competitors, and resellers. The current digital trends and activities are characterized by a movement away from conventional interactions (offline in brick and mortar stores) to newer online interactions. The demand for education is very high. The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the learning environment, forcing learners, instructors, and educational institutions to relocate all teaching and learning activities online. One of the immediate consequences, relevant to the online bookstore industry, is that the demand for learning materials otherwise unavailable elsewhere has gone up. The demand for such material has put a lot of pressure on online libraries that do not fully meet the learning needs of students in colleges and universities. Bargain Pages is using this market gap to provide solutions to students. By providing a platform to sell old notes, books, educational magazines, and all other relevant content, the company is making it easier for students to access materials to facilitate learning. The public is moving more towards online shopping, not just for common household items but also for education needs. With such a trend, the movement towards online shopping has attracted rival companies and suppliers ready to occupy the online and used books market. The suppliers double up as the customers. Main competition will include free websites that provide study materials such as Slideshare and Google Scholar. Online libraries recommended by learning institutions will also pose a threat to the wellbeing of Bargain Pages.
Evidence-Based Digital Marketing Implementation and Timeline
Overview of the Current Situation for the Business
In the current atmosphere in the education sector, institutions of higher learning are facing changing market conditions that have affected their ability to adequately respond to the needs of the teaching and learning process. One of the most notable challenges as students, teachers, and said institutions learn to adopt to a world post-COVID is knowing how to meet the learning needs of students in remote learning setups. Now, more than ever, there is a need to support learning by providing materials more than required classroom textbooks to include audio books, e-books, notes, reference samples, and different forms of learner support. To achieve this, Bargain Pages will work to connect learners to other learners in an effort to create a peer to peer exchange and interaction that creates supply and demand for these learning support. In the current semester, the company will focus on using its preferred social media and search engine marketing approaches as the preferred strategies to reach the target market and to create brand awareness at all levels of tertiary learning. The intention is to create a community of learning support that is self-sufficient and sustainable in the long run.
A Hybrid Approach: Social Media and Search Engine Marketing
Social media marketing promises to deliver ease of use, low cost, a symbiotic relationship, best targeting, brand loyalty, and a ready means to measure success. Platforms such as Facebook and Slideshare are very easy to use because they have been around for quite some time. Customers are already used to spending a lot of time on these social sites. If the platform is easy to use, then it means that they are likely to spend more time there. On low cost, social media allows advertisers to pay when a user takes the desired action, thereby translating to reduced cost and effectiveness. Another major advantage of the social media marketing strategy is its ability to connect with other marketing efforts to form a symbiotic link (Kim & Hastak, 2018). It is easy to link social media marketing with other forms of brand or content marketing including videos, web links, photos, and webinars. Markedly, Wang & Kim (2017) found social media marketing to offer the best targeting because it allows advertisers to focus on audiences using different metrics such as personality, location, habits, interests, and so on. Brand loyalty is also a major factor in social media marketing as satisfied customers will likely recommend a brand to their followers through e-word of mouth. Lastly, social media marketing makes it easier for a business to track success through interactions. On Facebook and Twitter, mentions, likes, shares, and other forms of interactions can be used to determine reach. By checking how users are interacting to posts, a business is able to see which marketing efforts yield the best results at different settings.
Search engine marketing is a huge part of the strategy that Bargain Pages will use this semester. The main idea is for the business to appear first on popular search engines results (Aswani et al., 2018). Key search words such as “sample solutions”, “learning outcomes”, “lecture slides”, and any other key terms relating to study materials will be used to find the company. In search engine marketing, the intention is to increase the business’ chances of being chosen by students when working online. With so many competitors entering the used books resale sector, advertising online ensures better promotion of products and the growth of the business. One of the greatest advantages of using search engine marketing for Bargain Pages is that it will provide the opportunity to place ads in front of already motivated buyers willing to make purchases precisely at the moment of making the search. Search engine marketing and social media marketing will be effective strategies that will guide Bargain Pages to having evergreen traffic on the company website and social media pages. The two strategies used together will drive conversions of visitors to consumers at the bottom of the funnel.
Timeline for Implementation
In this semester, the company will target the following universities as the main target market: University of Adelaide, Australia National University, University of Sydney, University of Western Australia, University of Queensland, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of New South Wales, University of Technology, and University of Newcastle. These institutions are chosen for their size and infrastructure. The company’s website and social media pages will go live in three weeks, focusing on ensuring that students are able to access all learning materials this semester. The potential market for Bargain Pages is made up of all of the major universities in Australia an institutions in more than 40 universities. In the latter part of the semester, the website will be launched in New Zealand, extending the same benefits to students in New Zealand. In this semester, the company will focus on the Australian market. The main competition include the university bookstores and online retail websites and bookstores. To penetrate the market, Bargain Pages will focus on more than textbook sales to include the provision of class notes, curse materials, and other learning content that is unavailable anywhere. The peer to peer business model will ensure that traffic is gained faster and for the right price.
As a new venture, Bargain Pages will face several hurdles as it tries to enter a market that is laden with barriers. However, it will penetrate by providing low prices, dominant product selection, competitive services including price cuts, trading-in and buyback programs, and availing hard-to-find books. Additionally, Bargain Pages also intends to provide a learning environment, complete with study materials for various courses and programs, including lecture notes, sample solutions, and peer tutorage on different programs. It connect one user to the next, using very affordable pricing compared to what is available currently via the school library and other external sources. Operating in the used bookstore industry, especially one that is as focused as ours, will immediately attract students who use hundreds of dollars on buying textbooks for one-time use. The venture will be live this semester, using social media and search engine marketing to drive sales and gain traffic. References
Aswani, R., Kar, A. K., Ilavarasan, P. V., & Dwivedi, Y. K. (2018). Search engine marketing is not all gold: Insights from Twitter and SEOClerks. International Journal of Information Management, 38(1), 107-116.
Bucher, T., & Helmond, A. (2017). The affordances of social media platforms. The SAGE handbook of social media, 233-253.
Karimi, S., & Naghibi, H. S. (2015). Social media marketing (SMM) strategies for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). International Journal of Information, Business and Management, 7(4), 86.
Kim, J., & Hastak, M. (2018). Social network analysis: Characteristics of online social networks after a disaster. International Journal of Information Management, 38(1), 86-96.
Saravanakumar, M., & SuganthaLakshmi, T. (2012). Social media marketing. Life science journal, 9(4), 4444-4451.
Wang, Z., & Kim, H. G. (2017). Can social media marketing improve customer relationship capabilities and firm performance? Dynamic capability perspective. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 39, 15-26.