SME Online Success Story: Escalate

Blog | How an Irish digital marketing agency leverages their .ie website to attract major clients

.ie domains
SME Evolve online
SME online success story
by Laura Boyle
19 Dec 2023, a digital marketing agency based in Dublin, boosts their clients’ business goals through modern strategies in social media marketing, website design, online advertising, and content creation. I was fortunate to sit down with Aaron McGee, the Digital Strategy Director and co-founder, to learn how he and his team built the Escalate brand from the ground up.

The Beginnings

Aaron and his co-founder, Andy Nolan, both worked in the hospitality and nightlife industries during their college education. Through their hands-on experiences, they identified a significant gap in the market. Specifically, there was an obvious need for an Irish agency specialising in digital marketing services tailored to the unique requirements of the hospitality and nightlife sectors. Once they both graduated in 2014, this realisation prompted them to set up Escalate, an agency focused on the distinctive challenges and opportunities within these sectors.

As a homegrown Irish brand dedicated to serving local clients, Aaron and Andy recognised the inherent benefits of a .ie domain. They were committed to maximising visibility and accessibility for their target audience in the Irish market. Given this emphasis on SEO, opting for a .ie domain was the obvious choice, considering the prominence of .ie websites in Irish search engine rankings.

“Our target audiences are local Irish businesses and we wanted to show up first on search engines like Google when they searched for digital marketing services.”

During our conversation, Aaron took a trip down memory lane, sharing how he and Andy decided to name their brand based on the available .ie domain names, steering away from the typical .com route.

“We actually based the name of the business on the available .ie domains. Through lots of brainstorming and searching through the available options, we decided was the right fit and luckily it was free. Having a .com just didn’t feel suitable. We know a .ie website shows credibility to our clients so it was non-negotiable for us.”

The website

As a fully online business, Escalate recognises the importance of maintaining a contemporary and functional website, which is adaptable to the preferences of their target audience. In today’s fast-paced environment, food and beverage businesses simply don’t have the time to endlessly scroll through websites to find information they need, or make phone calls to agencies during business hours. Given their expertise as a digital marketing agency, building a website tailored to these needs is at the core of Escalate’s operations. They have consistently enhanced the website, incorporating new content, modernising the layout, and refreshing the overall theme.

“Anytime the business goes through a change in direction, it’s our priority to keep the website up-to-date to reflect this. Its constantly evolving, we are probably on the 5th or 6th iteration of the website at the moment.”

Homepage visitors are immediately presented with a clear call to action, urging them to reach out. The user-friendly form on the site delves into the prospect’s business specifics, budget considerations, and asks how Escalate can help them in achieving their marketing goals. In a matter of minutes, Escalate gains a comprehensive understanding of the prospect’s needs, enabling them to devise a customised marketing strategy, all accomplished seamlessly without the need to talk to a sales representative.

The services section on the website cleverly outlines all the offerings Escalate can deliver for their clients throughout their digital marketing journey. Covering everything from website design to social media promotion, the contemporary layout visually presents each service that Escalate provides. Tactically placed, and unique calls-to-action guide users seamlessly to the ‘Contact Us’ page where they can directly request a call-back from the team.

Escalate is currently undergoing a rebranding process, with ongoing updates to the website to ensure alignment with their evolving brand.

Growth and promotion

Over the years, Escalate’s clientele predominantly consisted of local businesses in the nightlife and restaurant sector. However, in more recent times, they’ve strategically opted to refine their focus and specialise in the food and beverage industry. This approach has proven successful for the agency, enabling them to expand their team and secure prominent international clients with a presence in Ireland, including notable names such as Apache Pizza, Granby Sausages and Bewley’s coffee.

“When we first started it was local business oriented, targeting bars and restaurants but over the years we have narrowed our target and primarily focus on serving the food and beverage industry. We are currently taking on loads of new clients within this sector and as a result we are hiring to grow our team.”

To boost website traffic, Escalate has introduced a blog page featuring regular posts covering a spectrum from industry tips and tricks to the latest news. Additionally, they craft compelling case studies that spotlight successful digital marketing strategies implemented for their clients.

When it comes to social media platforms,  Escalate are particularly active on Instagram and TikTok, sharing engaging content that highlights the key points of their written content driving the viewers from social media to the website for further reading. Given their specialisation in social media marketing, the Escalate team knows how to harness its full power. That being said, they leverage all promotional activities on these platforms to drive traffic to their website.

“Your website is your digital flagship store. We know better than anyone that social media can be very volatile. We could grow 1 million followers on Instagram today and it could all be gone tomorrow. Even when making recommendations to our own clients, we always say having a website is a must and we like to lead by example.”

Escalate prefers to connect with their audience using various mediums, including actively employing email marketing. This strategy allows them to engage with their target at multiple touchpoints, guiding them along their journey from prospect to client.

“You own your website and control everything that happens on it. We use that to our advantage by creating a database for email marketing campaigns. We like to use multiple ways of communicating with our audience other than social media.”

In addition to their digital efforts, Escalate actively participates in various networking events and industry expos, such as the Food, Retail & Hospitality Expo. These engagements serve as valuable opportunities for them to introduce themselves to prospective clients, establish meaningful connections, and enhance brand awareness within the sector. By fostering in-person interactions, Escalate aims to create lasting impressions and build relationships that extend beyond digital.

Top Tips

  • Choose a reliable Irish hosting provider with a local customer service team — our choice is Hosting Ireland. Consolidate all your domain names under one account to streamline logins. Many clients struggle with scattered provider logins, leading to confusion and potential complications.
  • If your business is local, securing a .ie domain is a must. It’s the obvious choice.
  • Invest in your website by choosing a professional design. As your primary owned platform, it’s essential to keep it current and visually appealing because your audience often reviews it before making a purchase. Where possible, refrain from stock imagery. Personalise it with authentic pictures, ensuring it aligns with your brand and tone of voice.
  • Prioritize clear and consistent Calls to Action (CTAs) on your website, addressing your audience’s needs and guiding them on the desired actions. Whether it’s a straightforward ‘Enquire now’ or ‘Get a Quote,’ make sure it stands out and is easily visible to users.

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Check out our other SME Online Success Stories.

Our SME Start and SME Evolve pages offer practical insights and business supports that enable you to thrive online.

Laura Boyle is our Marketing Assistant working within our corporate communications team.