Advances in Internet technology and use have created a new channel for businesses to market their goods and services. E-marketing is an evolving discipline in which the Internet is used as the medium for a business's marketing efforts, such as selling goods and services or collecting information about the needs and desires of potential customers. E-marketing can include pay-per-click advertising, banner ads, mass emailings, websites, blogging, and social media. Many tools are available to help businesses increase the traffic to their websites and to provide information about the users who view them. However, as these tools allow more and more data to be collected about the user, there is an increasing need to develop enforceable guidelines that balance the needs of the business with the privacy needs of the user.
Keywords: Blog; Cookie; Data Mining; Direct Marketing; E-Marketing; Marketing Mix; Search Engine Marketing (SEM); Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Social Media; Strategic Marketing; Web Bug
What is Direct Marketing?
In 1989, the movie Field of Dreams introduced the saying, "if you build it, he will come." Although a great tag line in conversation, in the marketing discipline this philosophy has little relevance. Merely having a great product is usually not sufficient to ensure its success in the marketplace. The target market must know that the product or service is available, what customer need the product or service fulfills, and how the product or service is superior to or a better investment than the products or services offered by competitors. To do this, a company needs to market, whether through such activities as simple word of mouth or through major multichannel marketing campaigns; or anything in between.
Direct marketing is a customer relationship management strategy in which the provider of the product or service delivers the promotional message directly to potential customers on a one-to-one basis rather than through the use of mass media. Direct marketing is often a part of a business's marketing mix, or the combination of product, price, place, and promotion that is used to get a product into the hands of the consumer. One of the primary tasks of the marketing function with an organization is to optimize the mix to best position the product for success in the marketplace. With the advent of the Internet, the strategic marketing plans of many businesses have been expanded to include the channel of electronic marketing (e-marketing).
E-marketing is a relatively new and evolving discipline in which the Internet is used as the medium for a company or an organization's marketing efforts to sell goods and services as well as to collect information about the needs and desires of potential customers. E-marketing can include pay-per-click advertising, banner ads, mass emailings, websites, blogging, and social media.
Perhaps the most obvious approach to electronic marketing is through email. In theory, the marketing of a product or service through this channel is simple: Just send out email advertisements to every potential that can be identified, usually from a list purchased through a third party, to increase the exposure of the business's goods or services. Unlike sending out hard copy advertisements, this approach does not incur an expense for each additional person contacted. Emails can be sent announcing upcoming sales or other promotional events, distributing online coupons for recipients (typically for ordering over the Internet, also called e-commerce), or with electronic newsletters that include short articles of interest to readers, updates on the business's projects and programs, and links to the business's website or blog.
However, for many reasons, this approach is often neither usable nor viable. As the use of the Internet has grown (making it a more attractive medium for marketing), so has its misuse. Mass unsolicited emails (i.e., spam) are often used by cybercriminals to spread computer viruses and spyware. Even when emails are harmless and sent with the best of intentions, if unsolicited, they are likely to be viewed as nuisances by the recipient. According to a 2009 study performed by the security company Symantec, over 90 percent of all emails sent are spam. This figure appears to be on the rise, and it even increased more than 5 percent between April and May of the year the report was released (Whitney, 2009). Based on the influx of spam into our daily email boxes, there is no evidence to believe that this trend will reverse . To reduce the amount of spam received, most email software and Web-based email, such as Google Mail, include spam filters to block the most obvious cases of spam. This means that even well-meaning marketing emails may fail to get through to their intended recipients if the latter did not request them.
Direct marketing on the Internet has become increasingly complicated. Typically, it is important to most businesses to have a website or other Internet presence to be competitive. No matter how well designed, however, a passive website is unlikely to bring in much new business. To be effective, a website needs to be well-designed, and potential customers need to know about it and visit it. Fortunately, for those businesses trying to market their goods and services, there are tools available to help them identify who is actually interested in their offerings and to drive them to their websites.
Search Engine Marketing
One approach to improving an organization's return on investment for marketing activities is to attempt to drive traffic from search engines to the website based on the words input by the user. Search engine marketing targets potential customers on the Internet who input specified keywords into a search engine that then directs them to the business's website. Search engine marketing tools include paid ads (typically with hyperlinks) on the results pages of search engines, and search engine optimization. Banner ads are a type of Internet advertising that can be used in this way. These ads may be placed on search results pages or on the websites of related but noncompeting organizations. Banner ads, as the name suggests, are spread across the top of a website and direct viewers to the business's website through the use of a hyperlink.
Many websites and search engine results pages also sell space for the inclusion of other hyperlinked ads. Like physical advertising, online advertisements can be purchased in a number of different ways, including as a one time advertisement for a set period of time (e.g., one week, three months). A novel approach enabled by Internet technology is the pay per click ad. Payment to the host page for this type of ad is not based on the time that the ad is posted on the site, but by the amount of traffic that the ad actually drives to the business's site. The business purchasing the ad only pays the host for the times that a user is redirected to the business's website by clicking on the hyperlink in the ad.
Search Engine Optimization
Another way to help drive traffic to one's website is to increase the probability that a search engine will include the business's site in its results-page listings for desired keywords and place the site prominently in the results pages. This approach is called search engine optimization. Search engine optimization includes such techniques as adjusting the content of the website to distinguish it from similar websites, correctly indexing the website, using the best keywords to describe the website, and ensuring that the content of the website is unique. There are a number of free online tools available to optimize one's results in search engines. These software tools help determine what words and phrases are most likely to be used by potential customers searching for the goods or services offered by a given business so that these can be included in the website design. Online tools are also available for helping to determine whether or not too many keywords are included; in which case a website may be banned from desirable search engines (Solomon, 2010).
One of the best known search engines is Google. In addition to allowing users to perform keyword searches, Google also offers a suite of tools to help website designers and marketers optimize the effectiveness of their websites. One of the best known tools for helping a business understand the traffic on its website and the effectiveness of its online marketing strategy is Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/). This free service helps marketers better understand what kind of person is visiting the business's website. Google Analytics summarizes key metrics about how the site is used by visitors and the keywords they used to get there. In addition, Google Insights for Search helps marketers determine which keywords can optimize the number of visitors to their...
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