Internet Marketing Strategies
This article will focus on Internet marketing and the strategies used to make the efforts successful. The Internet poses both opportunities and threats to the field of marketing. When developing a strategic marketing plan, organizations will need to determine if and when internet marketing will be utilized. The success of the Internet as a medium for marketing depends upon how well the system outperforms alternative systems. This article will also explore how an organization can establish a customer base with the site-centric and symbiotic marketing approaches.
Keywords Advertising; Commerce Service Providers; Direct Marketing; Internet marketing; Marketing channels; Marketing Strategies; Public Relations; Site-centric Model; Spamming; Symbiotic Marketing
Marketing: Internet Marketing Strategies
The use of the Internet is exploding, especially in the United States. People spend a lot of time on the Internet because there is a wealth of information to be found. In addition, many consumers feel comfortable purchasing online and value the Internet's capacity for providing information about different products and services. As a result, Internet marketing has blossomed and become a key part of many companies’ advertising efforts. The Internet has reduced costs associated with starting and running a small business (Boaze, 2004), which allows these companies to have an Internet presence because the medium is affordable. Companies have also found the Internet to be an effective communication tool for customers, potential consumers, and other businesses, and the advent of social media further enabled companies to connect and interact directly with consumers.
As a result, marketing has experienced significant changes in how it operates. The Internet poses both opportunities and threats to the field of traditional marketing (Lemoine, 1999). When creating a marketing plan, organizations must determine (1) if the tool is useful for marketing their products, (2) which products can benefit from Internet marketing, (3) when it is best to use traditional marketing, Internet marketing, or a combination of both, and (4) what pitfalls need to be avoided so organizations do not experience failure when using Internet marketing. Internet marketing research has provided years’ worth of valuable findings (Hou & Rego, 2002). The Internet has forever changed the way that organizations, governments, and individuals conduct business. Therefore, companies have responded by changing the way that they market their products.
Opportunities for Internet Marketing
The Internet opened many new avenues for companies to market new products and provided opportunities to restructure how they were marketing their established products. Benefits of the Internet include its ability to market globally, provide a free market without regulations and barriers to entry, and determine which products sell well in an online format. Companies can decide which products are best to sell online. In addition, they can determine whether they want to sell on their own site or sell products through online retailers such as Amazon. The Internet provides opportunities and challenges for the four Ps of marketing (price, promotion, product, and place) by being an unpredictable distribution channel, a powerful marketing communication and promotional tool, an effective marketing research tool, and an efficient tool for segmenting and targeting consumers and customers (Lemoine, 1999).
The Internet can be considered an integrated marketing communication tool. It has the capability to combine the efforts of direct marketing, advertising, and public relations.
- Direct Marketing: Companies can communicate and promote products and services to a target market by using e-mail, customized pages, and promotional systems. For example, a company can offer a free product if members of a target market go to a particular survey link to answer questions. The feedback can be used to customize a promotional opportunity to that particular market. However, if the company uses e-mail as a mechanism, the company must ensure that its promotional e-mails are not considered spam—unwanted marketing messages—by their recipients.
Advertising: Companies can target global markets and make sure their ads are seen by consumers who will buy their products. Organizations are able to track the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns by tracking how many people see their ad and how many people visit the site based on a particular ad. In addition, the cost of online advertising is typically cheaper than traditional advertising methods such as print or television advertising. In some cases, a company may pay for an advertisement only when a user clicks on it; this system is known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
Public Relations: Companies may also use the Internet to provide corporate information about the organization and its products. Potential customers will be able to find information such as names and background of the senior management team, investor information, history, and product information. Through the use of social media, companies can respond to complaints or other customer concerns quickly and effectively, thus managing their online reputation and establishing rapport with consumers.
The success of the Internet as a medium for marketing depends upon how well the system outperforms any alternative systems. The features of the Internet must be better than any of these alternative systems, and consumers must be able to benefit. Studies have indicated that the Internet is, in fact, one of the best venues for marketing products and services. These studies include one that distinguishes online and traditional retail formats with regard to the costs and benefits for consumers (Alba, Lynch, Weitz, Janiszewski, Lutz, Sayer & Wood, 1997) and another that illustrates how the Internet shares some of the same characteristics as other mediums but also offers new and unique features (Peterson, Balasubramanian, and Bronnenberg, 1997). Some of the unique features of the Internet are:
- Ability to store larger amounts of information at lower costs
- Ability to provide information that is interactive and can be customized
- Provision of power and inexpensive ways to search, organize, and distribute information
- Provision to perceive (i.e. 3D image and video preview)
- Capability to serve as a transaction and distribution tool for certain products
- Establishment of a presence at a low cost
Consumers tend to focus on formats that provide them with the most benefits. The Internet provides consumers with many benefits, such as accessibility to goods that are not in the local market, lower prices, the availability of different alternatives within the same product category, and the ability to shop at any time.
Internet Marketing Strategies
Developing a successful Internet marketing strategy is necessary if an organization wants to make an impression online. A successful strategy should include a great product, a web site designed to sell, and an outstanding marketing strategy (Lowery, n.d.). All three of these areas are important and must be developed. If one area fails, chances of success may be reduced. Lowery suggests a three-step process for ensuring the success of an internet marketing strategy.
- Step 1: Develop Product — A company should create a unique product that gives potential customers what they want. The product should fill a void in order to overcome the threat of competition. The company must also develop a target market. Researching the market is key. The company will need to find out what people want in order to develop a unique, quality product presentation.
- Step 2: Develop Website — The web site should be designed to sell the product(s). The purpose of the website is to convince the consumer to buy the product. Therefore, words become important. Although graphics are impressive, words mean more. Consumers seek information and...
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