Making it Work

Digital marketing agency plans British and EU expansion after ‘surpassing all targets’

Shannon-based digital marketing agency Core Optimisation saw its revenue quadruple last year, as turnover reached €4 million

David Brett, chief operations officer, and Caroline Dunlea, chief executive of Core Optimisation in Shannon Co Clare: ‘We really prize two things: relationships and results.’ Picture: Arthur Ellis

Core Optimisation, the midwest-based digital marketing agency, achieved 400 per cent revenue growth last year while turnover reached €4 million.

Caroline Dunlea, the Enterprise Ireland-backed firm’s founder and chief executive, said its growth had been “fantastic”.

“We continue to surpass all our targets,” she said.

Core Optimisation now employs 43 people at its offices in Shannon and wants its revenues to top €5.5 million, with further ambitious growth targets for next year.

The expansion is down primarily to two factors, Dunlea explained: a pandemic-inspired shift to online sales, and a diversified portfolio of services.

“We started Core in 2015, and we started out in the hospitality industry. But since then we’ve diversified into a number of other sectors, and we’re now very strong in retail, finance, professional services and software as a service.”

Today, Core counts the likes of Fáilte Ireland, Press Up Entertainment Group, Kilkenny Shop, Expert Electrical, Louis Copeland, Golden Discs and Riverdance among its clients.

It provides digital transformation strategies including search engine optimisation, paid search, paid social and conversion optimisation.

“We’re very much competing with agencies in Dublin, and winning business from indigenous Irish brands,” Dunlea said. “We’re standing out, in a very busy and highly competitive industry, as a leading agency in Ireland. That was always a key objective for us.”

Core, which has grown its operations without external investment, prides itself on the bespoke services it offers.

“It’s very tailored, and that’s really important for us,” Dunlea said. “We really prize two things: relationships and results. We have specialists in a number of disciplines – paid search, SEO, social media and others – so we have expertise in very specific areas.”

During the pandemic, many companies realised how vital it was to develop coherent and functioning digital marketing strategies, Dunlea said, in a development that proved beneficial for Core.

“The pandemic changed an awful lot. It made everyone realise how important digital marketing is. In the past, that was probably an item on everybody’s agenda, but it wasn’t necessarily top. But that has changed, and our reputation has stood to us in that process, in terms of relationship management and the results we get for clients.”

Driven by ever-rising sales, Core is now targeting expansion in Britain and Europe, and has recently set up a business development team in the former market.

“We were always in the UK – it was really important to us. But having more consultants who are specifically focused on that market, that will help achieve growth in that market.”

Despite its overseas aspirations, Core is tied fast to its base in Shannon, Dunlea noted: “It’s great to have been able to grow from the midwest, and see our employees grow on the back of that. We’re moving into new office space in September, which is based on our projected growth and a real commitment to the Shannon region.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland