The Dominican Republic currently boasts the fastest growing economy in all of Latin America, having a year on year growth in GDP of over 5%. Aside from its quickly growing economy, the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement, which is a trade agreement between the United States, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, makes it easy for companies in the U.S. to perform business in the Dominican Republic. The CAFTA-DR free trade agreement has also resulted in a strong reputation for U.S. products and services in the island. As one can see, the Dominican Republic can be a very appealing market for businesses trying to go international.
Now, when it comes to your digital marketing efforts, you may face a few issues.
Aside from the main language in the Dominican Republic being Spanish, internet penetration is only at 64%, a relatively low number compared to the 95% internet penetration seen in the United States. Social media penetration for the Dominican Republic is also rather low, at only 52%. These numbers complicate digital marketing when it comes to targeting, making it difficult to understand which cities in the Dominican Republic are the best to target with your digital marketing efforts to avoid wasted dollars and yield higher ROIs. Audiences in the Dominican Republic also spend their time on social media platforms differently than audiences in the United States, and to further complicate things, their culture and needs makes their interest in content different.
Despite these issues, digital marketing in the Dominican Republic is possible, as many companies have successfully done it before. In this article, we will provide you with a general understanding of successfully creating a digital marketing strategy towards the Dominican Republic that will help you overcome these obstacles.
Creating a Goal for Your Strategy
When creating a digital marketing strategy towards the Dominican Republic, it is important to already have a goal in mind. Your goal can consist of increasing traffic to your website, increasing brand awareness, generating leads, increasing brand loyalty, and more, however, your goal may vary depending on how long you have been doing business in the Dominican Republic.
A business just now entering the Dominican market should focus on increasing brand awareness. If your target audience in the island does not know your brand or what you do, you will find it difficult to sell your product/service, which is why it is recommended to first focus on increasing brand awareness if you are just entering this market. If you are an already established brand in the island introducing a new product or service, it is also recommended that you focus on developing brand awareness for that new product/service.
For firms already doing business in the Dominican market, your digital marketing goal should be somewhat based on the type of product/service you sell, as well as how you sell it. If you have a physical store location in the Dominican Republic, your goal could possibly be to drive more foot traffic into your store. An online business should focus on driving traffic to its website and possibly generating more leads. Despite already being established on the island, it is important that you do not shy away from increasing brand awareness, as increasing brand awareness could result in new customers for your business. Be sure to consider increasing brand loyalty for your existing customers in your strategy's goal, as it is more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep your current customers.
Identifying Your Target Audience in the Dominican Republic
Different regions of the Dominican Republic have significantly different standards of living, ranging from extreme poverty to significant amounts of wealth. With these different standards of living, comes a lack of internet access in certain areas. It is important to focus your digital marketing efforts on a region of the Dominican Republic that has both your target audience and access to the internet. By conducting digital marketing efforts in a region that has little internet access, not only are you not reaching anyone, but you are also being charged for a radius that will not yield you much results.
Santo Domingo, the island's capital, is usually a good city to target if you are seeking middle class or wealthier audiences. It is also where a bulk of the island's population resides and has the highest internet penetration on the island, due to it being an urbanized location. There are also other cities on the island that are less urbanized but have significant internet access and may be areas that you want to target. Santiago de los Caballeros and San Pedro de Macorís are both examples of these types of cities you may want to target.
There are differences in occupation, economic status, needs, and more, depending on the city you target in the Dominican Republic, so possibly consider testing your digital marketing efforts in different cities that contain your target audience to see if you get better results.
Selecting Digital Marketing Channels
In the Dominican Republic, social media usage and methods of communication differ quite a bit. Facebook is the most used social media platform on the island, with around 50% of the population being active on the platform. About 20% of the entire population can be found on Instagram and only about 10% use Snapchat. Of all the major social media platforms, Twitter is the least used platform on the island with only a little over 300,000 users in the Dominican Republic, out of a total population of nearly 11 million. LinkedIn is also another platform that struggles quite a bit within the country, but it is experiencing a decent growth in users each year. At the moment, LinkedIn is only at around 900,000 users, but the platform is continuing to grow on an international level, so it is something to keep an eye out for.
If you are a B2C business, you will definitely be wanting to market on Facebook and Instagram. Including Snapchat in your digital marketing strategy could be beneficial as well if you are targeting audiences younger than 16, but we would recommend devoting more time to your Facebook and Instagram efforts. For B2B businesses, we recommend devoting a max of 20% of your time and social media budget on LinkedIn. Although LinkedIn is a great place to connect with professionals, the platform is barely used in the country, therefor, you will most likely not see too many results coming from there. As a B2B business, we would recommend focusing more of your time on Facebook when it comes to social media, as it is frequently used in the island.
For search engine marketing efforts, we strongly recommend using Google. 90% of all searches in Latin America happen on Google and this usage applies to the Dominican Republic as well.
Incorporating instant messaging into your strategy could also be a big plus, as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are used frequently to communicate both casually and professionally in the country. Consider, if possible, replacing email marketing with instant messaging in some aspects of your business. A study by HubSpot shows that only 39% of consumers in Latin America want to see emails from brands, while 83% of consumers would prefer contacting a company via WhatsApp and 73% via Facebook Messenger.
Aside from social media and search engines, blog posts and video content strongly appeal to Latin audiences and are used for learning and entertainment purposes. Which brings us to our next topic.
As mentioned before, the Dominican Republic is a Spanish speaking country, therefor, you should ensure that you are prepared for all of your content to be in Spanish when creating your digital marketing strategy towards the Dominican Republic.
Video content is huge in Latin America, as it is preferred significantly more than in Europe and the U.S. according to the same study we mentioned earlier that was performed by HubSpot. The study shows that a staggering 56% of Latin Americans prefer branded video content, while only 39% of consumers in the United States prefer branded video content. 79% of Latin Americans also say they want informative and educational video content, in comparison to the 53% of consumers surveyed in the United States. With this being said, be sure to incorporate video into your content strategy, as it is strongly preferred in Latin America.
When it comes to blog articles, 22% of Latin Americans prefer to see this type of content from brands, where as in the U.S, only 12% prefer this method of content. When creating blog articles, try to include a PDF form for readers to look at later, as 23% of Latin Americans take interest in being able to download a PDF version of the article.
Remember, your content should align with your strategy's goals. If your strategy is meant to drive in more leads, create content that entices your audience to use your product/service. If your goal is to build brand loyalty, create content on how your product/service is doing good in their community or how your brand is constantly improving, as some examples. Good call to actions also play a major part in your content achieving your strategy's goal, so be sure to carefully take into consideration what your call to action will be.
Adapting Your Message to the Dominican Republic's Culture
The culture of the Dominican Republic is quite different than that of the United States, and in order for your efforts to be successful, you're going to have to adapt your message to the country's culture.
Music is a big part of the country's culture, with merengue and bachata being the most popular genres of music on the island. Dominicans love to dance to both genres of music at parties, clubs, and really any place they have the opportunity to dance. If you can somehow tie these genres of music or dancing into your digital marketing efforts, possibly through video content or blog articles, it could really help you draw attention on the island.
Baseball really fuels the Dominican Republic, as it is the main sport of the island, having allowed them to produce stars such as David Ortiz, Robinson Canó, Albert Pujols, and many more. Their winter league, LIDOM, is also very popular on the island, with games filled with excitement, music, and fans cheering on players born in different parts of the island. Baseball is a major aspect of the Dominican culture and if you really wish to adapt your message to the island's culture, this is definitely a way to do it. Consider creating some video content and social media campaigns centered around the sport.
Holidays such as Christmas, Dominican Independence Day, and Semana Santa, also play a major role in the islands culture, thus, it is important to stay aware of these major holidays. Here is a webpage where you can keep up with all the Dominican holidays. By including these holidays in your messages, it will earn your brand more trust on the island.
The Dominican Republic ranks very low on individualism, meaning their culture consists of them helping each other out and taking responsibility for one another. Family is very important on the island and Dominicans tend to remain very close with their families throughout their entire lives. When creating content with videos and images, be sure to include families, as it will better relate to your target audience.
The country also has a low uncertainty avoidance, meaning Dominicans are not the type to have set plans or many rules, they tend to just go with the flow of things. Dominicans are also more relaxed, having less of a focus on work. A low uncertainty avoidance also means that they are more open to change, which is a positive if you are trying to market an innovative product on the island. With all this being said, try to shy away from messages that represent the American concept of work being a priority.
Getting Help with Your Strategy
We've just gone over a lot of areas of opportunity and how to capitalize on many different aspects of the Dominican culture in your digital marketing efforts, however, after reading this article, you may be wondering how you are going to accomplish all of this. Well, no need to worry, because Selva Digital is here to help you in your efforts!
Selva Digital is a LATAM Digital Marketing agency located in South Florida that focuses on creating and executing digital marketing strategies towards Latin American countries for businesses around the world. Our expertise and extensive market research on culture, political and economic situations, technological advancements, and digital marketing in Latin America, enables us to be successful in our efforts within these countries.
When it comes to executing and creating your digital marketing strategy towards the Dominican Republic, Selva Digital has got your back. We will ensure that you have the proper goals in place and that you are targeting locations on the island that have your ideal target audience. We will also help you create digital marketing campaigns and content that aligns with the country's culture.
Confidently run your digital marketing efforts in the Dominican Republic by reaching out to us today, via our contact page!