The evolution of the internet and information technologies therein has led to great changes in the marketing philosophy. In addition to many businesses going for the opportunities created by the new technologies, they are struggling to create customer loyalty through online marketing. Unfortunately, online environment is dominated by dynamics that many firms find hard to respond to. The emerging idea is to leave the traditional exchange of goods and enable connectivity, interactivity and service (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). The internet allows for the accomplishment of such changes only if the firm has resources and ability to integrate relevant technologies. Successful firm are enjoying the advantages of internet marketing to a great deal despite the cost limitations associated. The purpose of this study is to draw previous studies into a conceptual model for investigating the practical application of internet marketing in the business context and make relevant recommendations.
The basic elements involved in online selling especially for new entrants include the establishment of internet business models and online advertisements. There are many marketing concepts that determine the kind of models that are effective to particular business such as business to business, business to consumer, consumer to consumer and business to employee. Notably, the factors that determine the effectiveness of a particular website include, but not limited to, the size of the business, the nature of the products and the target customers. In as much as online marketing is to be successful, managers should be responsible for the creation and implementation of the strategies involved and must understand the benefits and cost of such initiatives.
Research findings and analysis
Recent literature on marketing suggests the limited impact of conventional marketing on today’s consumers who are becoming more and more sensitive to information technology. Therefore, the only way to find consumers and relay the information about the firm and its product is through the internet. Successful internet marketers have identified the online social places where people meet and have used this breakthrough to understand their needs and created value for them through developing products and services that meet those needs. It is obvious that the more a business becomes sensitive to online environment, the more it will reach the potential customers and be able to attract them by fast and relevant responses to their problems.
Advantages and disadvantages of online marketing
There are many advantages of online marketing. The most important one is the relatively low cost when compared with other marketing strategies. By just investing a little amount of money, a firm is able to reach so many customers. Firms which embark on other marketing campaigns such as integrated campaign involving road shows incur higher costs, yet impact on a very small population of consumers. Through the internet, consumers can transact at their own convenience as they can buy products from the comfort of their offices and homes without necessarily walking to distant stores (Schumann & Thorson, 2007). Moreover, the internet allows firms to access a lot of information regarding to the success of their business. For instance, they can get feedbacks from customers, be able to track the number of customers and follow the flow of products.
Many disadvantages of online marketing are associated with technological advancement and cost. The rapid growth of technology is forcing firms to discard resources and equipments before they give the returns anticipated during their acquisition. This is a cost that many firms cannot meet especially small and medium size businesses. In addition to that, online marketing does not allow consumers to gain immediate experience of their merchandise. This means that the buyer is not allowed to choose a product at will. Nonetheless, online marketing is associated with many security issues. The exchange of delicate information through the web is in danger of dishonest brokers who may pass a firm’s information to other competitors.
Different concepts of online marketing
Business to business (B2B) marketing is a kind of online marketing targeted to other businesses such as vendors that can facilitate the selling of products. Chakraborty, Lala and Warren (2003) pointed out some important constructs in B2B website models which include: personalization, interactivity, informativeness, organization, accessibility, privacy and security. Apparently, organization is the most important element that any firm adopting a B2B model should focus. This is because the effective use of this model relies on the capacity of a business to influence other businesses that can sell its products or services.
Business to consumer (B2C) marketing is the type of online business model that focuses on creating an interactive environment with customers. The critical goal of this model is to convert online shoppers into royal customers through effective but low-cost strategies. Firms that use B2C business model have the advantage of interacting with unlimited number of internet users. With proper understanding of their needs, the business can be able to segment and target the potential customers. Note that many internet visitors seek for the easiest and convenient ways of shopping.
Online advertising and its impacts on business
Online advertising is emerging out as the most effective method of campaigning and which the businesses of today are turning to. The content of online advertisement contains the important elements that determine the effectiveness of the advert. As Adler, Kelly and Rhind (2008) put it, a shallow content is no more effective than an unpopular video game. Therefore, the main objective of online advertisements should be to enhance performance and increase brand awareness. Among the important elements of an online advertisement is the size of the advert. Schumann and Thorson (2007) emphasize that larger advertisements are more effective than smaller advertisements. The use of new technologies is also a good strategy to increase the effectiveness of an advertisement. DHTML and Flash technologies have emerged out to be the most appropriate in increasing internet advertising effectiveness (Jonaschka, 2004). The major reason is that these technologies enable advertisers to develop files of small sizes but with rich graphics that attract visitors.
In addition, the positioning of an online advertisement is an important consideration. Surveys have found that interstitial adverts could be more effective in enhancing brand effectiveness (Goldfarb & Tucker, 2010). However, other advertisement such as pop ups have slight effect despite their positioning. Another important consideration is the inclusion of creative elements. According to studies the number of elements within an online advert such as a banner is related to brand awareness (Thompson & Wassmuth, 2001). Advertisements that are more organized have a greater impact than disorganized ones. Moreover, advertisement should be designed to attract the attention of a visitor once they appear on the web page. Indeed, adverts that disturb the concentration of a viewer will have little effect on the business.
The online environment is a great advantage to a business with respect to understanding the needs and behaviors of prospective customers. Lafayette (2008) observes how internet allows access to browsing behavior of individuals unlike the traditional media. Through publishers and advertising networks, the firm can track the IP address of the user and know exactly the region the user comes from. This knowledge is particularly important during market segmentation and positioning. Through the IP address, the firm can also know the websites that the user visits regularly in order to position their advertisement better. They can also use individual sites available to collect user information and established strategies based on such findings.
Tools used in online advertising
For internet advertising just like any other method of marketing to be successful, it is important for a business to know the potential customers, where to look for them and the manner in which to deliver the message. Through different tools and resources provided by the online environment, businesses can manage to acquire more customers. For instance, Google ad Planner helps with online advertisement placement by defining the audience by demographics and interests, and also finds the websites that are relevant to the target audience (Parmar, 2008). These tools particularly facilitate the process of media planning within the online context.
Within the global online environment, there are numerous search engines, fully integrated to facilitate advertising such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and Baidu. These engines are especially effective because they have inbuilt strategies and content to attract visitors. They also provide business with advertising space that already has users and shoppers or ready market to invest in. The search engines supply most of the technologies required to maneuver through the online environment. Specifically, they operate the communication technology and programs that position advertisements placed by businesses at the most convenient time for the users. The suppliers can also develop customized tools for the customers to reach any segment of their users.
The analysis of previous researches suggest that any firm wishing to establish online sales must first select the internet business model through which it will develop a website to market its products. Accordingly, the best model for a retailing company is B2C marketing which can enhance the selling of products and services directly to customers on the online environment. For instance, Perry and Lackshin (2010) researched on the use of B2C websites by South Australian wineries and identified the important elements of these websites. Such websites should contain a large amount of information on the firm, products, prices, various outlets, and so on.
When developing the internet marketing campaign, the retail company should consider the characteristic of the target audience, product factors, overall advertising goals, and the methods to be used in delivering the message. The target market consists of people who are ford of the internet and use it regularly for varying reasons. These are privileged people who can access the internet any time they wish to. The campaign should then employ various forms of online advertisements such as website advertising, banners, and pop ups in order to cover the various sites visited. The company should also consider the issues of cost and popularity when deciding on the tools to use during the advertising campaign.
The changing market logic is forcing many firms to engage in online marketing and enjoy the many advantages associated with it. B2C online business model is the most relevant to a retailing company especially when deciding on how to develop a website to facilitate sales. The strategy becomes even more effective when accompanied by an online advertising campaign that uses the most effective tools on internet users. Therefore, the company size and behaviors of target consumers are the key determinants of the marketing strategy as well as the advertising campaign. Effective implementation of these initiatives will lead to increased brand awareness and therefore higher overall performance.
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