Some services or products are sold purely online while other companies may have physical stores or headquarters in addition to their inline presence. E-Business describes any business to business transactions that take place online. For example a Web Design company often doesn’t sell products directly to consumers, but instead creates websites as a service for other companies, which will in turn be used to sell products or services to consumers. The internet has revolutionized the way companies do business.
The shift in the way people shop has had a big impact on both the micro environments – the individual companies and their direct stakeholders; and the macro environment – politics, economy and society as a whole. The death of the high street” has been an obvious effect of these changes with many stores shutting down. Those who fail to keep up with these changes will be more likely to feel the negative consequences – as was the case with HIM and Blockbuster, who were forced into administration as competing online services took over their market share. For those who do keep up however, business is booming. Tunes, Amazon and Nettling are Blockbuster’s and Ham’s online equivalents and all three have billions of users from all around the globe. While the amount of jobs available in retail positions has been on a steady cline over recent years the demand for skilled workers in the IT sector is bigger than ever – so much so that there is a shortage of candidates and many roles go unfilled. A report issued by the government regarding the UK cyber security strategy highlighted that the “current and future CIT and cyber security skills gap” was a “key challenge” in implementing the strategy. National Audit Office, 201 3) To address this problem the education system needed to be changed, as of 2014 children as young as 5 will be learning advanced computing as part of the curriculum. Higher Education institutes will also likely have to reassess their ours material to accommodate the new generation of students who will be leaving school with more in depth knowledge of computer systems and software development. Consumers gain many benefits from e-commerce, they now have the choice of shopping from an almost unlimited choice of companies from all around the world.
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Comparing prices and finding out what other customers thought of a product is also made much easier by the internet. The change in peoples shopping habits has changed the way companies advertise, huge marketing budgets for prime-time TV commercials are no longer he only way to get noticed and the potential audience is now global. Elements of Internet Marketing Traditional styles of advertising such as TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards etc are based on an “interruption” model.
A show is interrupted by TV advert; music is interrupted by a radio advert; the flow of an article is interrupted by a magazine article, etc. This style of advertising persisted and still exists today in many places – but more and more companies are realizing that demanding a customer’s attention in this way online does not yield good results. Some elements of internet marketing are examined below. Search Engines Organic search results account for a significant percentage of internet traffic. The actual number is hard to measure for reasons discussed in the “Internet Marketing Tools” section on page 11). Regardless of the specifics it is widely accepted that organic search results are where a huge amount of a websites visitors come from. Search Engine Optimization is therefore a vital part of a marketing strategy. Paid advertising through search engines may also be considered for extra exposure but is no substitute for a properly designed site structure and key word rich, quality content for search engine robots to crawl.
Often good practices for SEE also embody good practices for XX design and accessibility; humans and robots alike prefer sites that are easy to navigate and have well-structured content that makes use of headings and sections to make it easy to read; as well as alt tags on all images that give a clear description of what that image depicts; with internal and external links within the content when the context is relevant. In the early days of search engines keywords were all that mattered, so it was easy to rank high on Google simply by stuffing as many keywords into the headers meta-tag as possible.
Key word meta-tags are now obsolete and reach engines have become much more sophisticated. (Google, 201 1) As well as crawling site structure and content to determine the quality of a page search-bots also judge the integrity of a page. They do this by keeping track of how many external sources link to it – at first, this encouraged “link farms” (a company would pay for a web traffic boosting service, which would churn out their site’s URL over a network of dummy sites set up purely for the purpose of creating links) – as search engines evolved this method is no longer as effective.
Google now has algorithms that also measure the integrity of the sites that the inks come from to provide users with more relevant results. Ranking high on Google for certain keywords is a long process, a new website has to build up a reputation, get their content shared and linked by others in an organic way – by having an article shared on social media for example – not through a link farm. Google strives for excellence by constantly improving its algorithms, they want to offer their visitors relevant search results so people continue to use their service and marketing strategies have to adapt if they want to keep up.
Organic search results are a perfect example of marketing that doesn’t feel eke marketing to potential customers. They are using search engines to find something specific – the hard work has been done for you, they already want to buy something or have some sort of problem solved – and if good practices for SEE have been implemented there’s no reason a website they find through Google would be irrelevant and not what thieve looking for, Google’s algorithms make sure of that and there are no shortcuts or cheats to trick them.
A site filled with links and crammed with keywords for the sole purpose of getting more people to visit your website achieves nothing, if they click on it and it isn’t elevate to what thieve looking for they won’t just buy your product or service anyway, they will leave. The amount of time people spend on a website and the actions they take there (signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, etc) is all tracked by Google and used as part of the algorithms to determine the quality and integrity of a website.
Banner Ads Banner Advertisements are based on the classic interruption model and the vast majority of internet users don’t like them; and a huge percentage use software to block them completely. This has been determined multiple times ever the years by a number of different researchers. One study conducted by the Norman Nelson Group, experts in Usability Heuristics, found that most users will completely ignore anything that looks like an advert – even when it’s not; and even when it provides them with the information they are looking for.
In one study participants were asked to find the population of the United States using the U. S Census Bureau website – which was presented in large red numbers on the right hand side of the home page. 86% of users ignored it because it looked like an advert, it was bold and placed in the location that adverts are traditionally placed so was disregarded, despite containing the exact information they were looking for. The pie chart shows an overall representation of the behavior exhibited by users on the site.
In a different study eye tracking software and real time observation was used to measure exactly where people look on a website and how they interact with its various elements. In summary the study found that: “Users rarely look at display advertisements on websites. Of the 4 design elements that do attract a few ad fixations, one is unethical and reduces the value of advertising networks. (Nielsen, 2007) The four design elements in question that users have been found to give their attention are: text, faces, cleavage/other body parts (“sex sells” still rings true for internet marketing) and obnoxious, intruding banner advertisements.
Banners that sit and do nothing are considered a more ethical way of advertising, unfortunately studies show that ones that make sounds, pop up into the users line of sight or are animated attract more attention. However, just because a person is more likely to look at an obnoxious ad, that doesn’t mean they will click on it and be prepared to hand over payment details. I feel “Banner Blindness” would be taken more seriously than it currently is and companies need to find alternative methods of advertising, as this form has been proven to be ineffective for well over a decade now. The same study with the same findings was first conducted by the AN group in 1997. ) Social Media Websites such as Backbone, Twitter, Mainstream, etc are no longer just the domain of a young tech-savvy audience. Data collected from a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that Social Media usage has increased by 800% since 2005. In contrast, TV viewers has decreased by 50% in the same time frame. The graph below shows the findings, broken down by age Social media marketing can connect businesses with millions of potential customers.
Not only that, it can be done for free; unlike television and other traditional methods of advertising that require a substantial investment up front with virtually no guarantee of a return. Paid advertising on Social Media can also be tailored to target a specific audience. The ads can be set up to only display to those who will be the most likely to click on it. A bar advertising for fresher’s week for example could target their ads at students who were over 18 and living in the local area.
Strategic Content The use of strategic content ties in with SEE and Social Media marketing; it involves creating content (as a blob for example) that is useful or interesting in some way (as well as relevant to the business) to encourage visitors to come to a website. From an SEE standpoint this will make the site rich with content, keywords and links which can result in higher rankings on search engines which means visitors are more likely to find your website.
For example a company specializing in web design may have a design and technology blob providing expert information and up to date news on technology, or perhaps a section treating tutorials and templates. Providing free content that’s similar to what you’re trying to sell can seem counter intuitive but it helps cultivate trust, it provides evidence that the company knows what it’s talking about and gives potential customers an overview of how things are done. Content can be shared around social media, and if it’s interesting or informative people may share it with their friends which results in more exposure.
Partnerships Forming mutually beneficial deals with other companies and cross promoting each other can widen the audience they both reach. Youth and Twitch or example are used as platforms for gamers and game publishers to work together; publishers provide high influence content creators with early access to games, which they broadcast to all their fans. The content creators gain more views and in return more people get to hear about the game and see how it plays – making them more likely to buy it.
This kind of promotion doesn’t cost either party any money but is beneficial and profitable for everyone involved. All of these elements (and others) tailored to fit the needs of the company combine to create what’s commonly referred to among marketing professionals s “The Marketing Mix. ” The Marketing Mix The Marketing Mix: a phrase first used by Neil Borden in his paper “The Concept of the Marketing Mix” has become a well-known term for describing the strategies formulated to advertise services and products.
One of the most widely used marketing mix paradigms is “The Four AS”; proposed by EX McCarthy in 1964. The Four As are: Product Whether it be a tangible item or a service, first and foremost you need something to sell. What do customers want to buy? What features does your product or service need to fulfill the needs of your potential customers? Place In the past, brick and mortar stores and catalogues were the only two options to consider, the internet has made a global market much easier to reach but has also made the market much more competitive.
Companies need to consider where customers might look for their product. Is a physical location required or can the business exist solely online? The pros and cons of each would need to be considered, for example a small start-up clothing store would be competing with huge corporations such as Primary, Deadbeats, etc while paying for expensive running costs of a brick store, stock storage and paying for staff wages.
Online, that same start-up company would still be competing with those same corporations as on the high street, plus a huge other array of smaller or medium sized online outlets. However the running costs and risks of an online-only start- up are minimal. A company can exist solely as a part of a larger organization such as Ebay or Test; many who start out this way and find success then choose to invest in their own website for selling their products without the middle man.
Some then may also go on to open high-street stores, for example Simple Be existed as a purely online business at first before investing in physical stores; which have an advantage over online only clothing stores as customers can try things on and won’t have to worry about complicated returns procedures. Price Finding the right price for a product or service is a balancing act. Price too high for your target market and nobody will buy. Pricing too low not only means lower profit margins but can also label your product as “cheap” which may not be an image the company wants to convey.
Apple are a perfect example of hitting the perfect price to quality ratio for their products target market. Apple products are hugely popular despite being comparable in technical specifications to there, lower priced competing devices. Ken Seal, Apples former marketing executive, said himself that “Apple doesn’t do cheap” stating in his blob that Apple “makes products for people who care about design, simplicity, quality and a great experience ?? and are willing to pay more for these things.
For Apple to compromise in any of these areas would be a violation of the Prime Directive. ” (Seal, 2014) Apple products are desirable because they’re seen by their fans as the most prestigious and high quality brand, this image would be diminished if the products were cheaper; as was demonstrated by the relatively owe sales of the phone C which was made of plastic and lower in price than other Apple devices (Though still much more expensive than competing brands).
Promotion A great product won’t sell if nobody knows about it, but similarly a terrible product won’t sell well no matter how much time and money goes into advertising. The point of advertising is to convinced potential customers that your product or service will add value to their life in some way that’s relative to the price they would pay for it. This model can be applied to a wide range of services and products as it is non- pacific and can easily be tailored to fit the needs of the business using it. It all boils down to putting the right product in the right place at the right price.
Several alternatives and additions have been suggested by marketing experts and academics alike in the interest of creating a marketing mix that’s more relevant in an industry that has changed in ways nobody could have predicted. When the up’s were first introduced in the offs the internet as we know it today did not exist so it’s reasonable to say new strategies and updated methodologies are required. Some additions that have been suggested include “people” – encouraging good customer service and a good working environment for employees. Process” – looking at ways to streamline and reduce costs in both producing the product and how the business is run. “Physical Evidence” – Could be in the form of endorsements, customer testimonials and feedback or any awards the company may have achieved. Another popular paradigm that evolved from the original up’s is the “Four Co’s” model – proposed by R. F. Literature in 1993. Customer/Clients The customers are the driving force behind any business, so an organization should ask themselves what they can do for their customers – what needs and ants to they have and how can you help?
Cost How much will it cost the customers, are they getting good value? If your product is more expensive than competitors, why? Does it offer superior quality? If it’s cheaper, again customers will want to know why, will they be compromising on quality? Or does the business create lower costs by streamlining internal processes and passing the savings on to the consumer? Convenience People buy things that they believe will make their lives easier or enhance it in some way; and when they want something they want it to be easy to find and simple to purchase.
For example a clean, uncluttered website that makes finding and buying products easy will tend to sell more than one with confusing navigation and a lengthy checkout process. Communication All promotion and advertising is a way of communicating with customers, a way to get your message and brand out into the world and let people know what your product is and why people should buy it. Companies who stay engaged with their customers cultivate trust and loyalty which earns them repeat business and recommendations.
This model is essentially the same as the original version but is designed to encourage organizations to look at things from the customer’s point of view. There are merits to both sides of the debate over whether the up’s need revamping. On the one hand the original is broad enough for marketing executives to use as a very rough guide to shaping their own unique strategy. On the other hand in an ever changing industry improvements on old practices is a good thing – how can the world evolve if change is not embraced?
Doing things simply because that’s the way they have always been done may cause a company to stagnate and lose market share for not being innovative enough. Loud like to propose my own take on the marketing mix, the see’s model: Excellence No matter the product or service, striving to be the best at what you do is a good goal to aim for. This is more easily achieved if a business focuses on one particular area rather becoming a jack of all trades and a master of none. Take for example the gaming company Mooing, who were recently purchased by Microsoft for $2. Billion. They developed one game – Mineshaft – and they did it so well that it became more than just a simple browser game. It’s now an integral part of pop culture for this generations gamers with a huge diverse community hat’s still growing 5 years on. Similarly, Backbone bought Mainstream for $1 billion after it dominated the mobile photo sharing market and Watchstrap for a staggering $1 billion – a simple messaging service that took off in popularity and quickly overtook market share from the big players like Microsoft and Google. CNN Money, 2014) Backbone itself started as a simple project and is now one of the most powerful corporations in the world – buying off any competitors is one way to keep that lead. A simple concept executed well can change the world. Engagement Social media and the internet in general have made communicating with customers easier than ever before. The best way to figure out what consumers want is to ask them. A business selling food products for example could engage with their customers by making a post on social media asking what different flavors they would like to see.
This not only gives the company a firm idea of how popular a new product would be, it also generates buzz and makes the customers feel more involved in the process – making them more likely to actually buy said product when it’s released. Creating quality, relevant content for a website – perhaps in the form of a blob – gives customers a reason to regularly visit a website. Using a food company as an example again, they could have a recipe section on their website. Maybe even a community section where others could post and share their own recipes.
If these recipes are good quality it can lead to people thinking: “If the free recipes are this good, just imagine how great the food they sell will be! ” – turning casual visitors into paying customers. Ease Allow potential customers to make informed decisions by providing them with information about what’s on offer in a way that’s easy to understand and easy to access – similarly ensure to make the process of handing over their money once we’ve decided to buy quick and easy.
With an uncountable number of websites in existence a potential customer can be lost very easily if they can’t find what they’re looking for or find any part of the process difficult – they will simply go elsewhere. Economy Finding the right price for a product or service can still be as tricky today as it’s always been with one exception – information on competitors and target markets is readily available. Even in a niche market there are likely to be several competitors operating at varying scales of price and quality.
The goal is not serially to undercut everybody and become the cheapest but to find the right balance of cost and quality – most people are happy to pay a little bit more for a higher quality product as long as they can justify that it will be worth the investment. Similarly there are many people who will buy the cheapest option available regardless of quality. Establishing a target market and researching purchasing habits can give a company a good idea of where to price themselves to be competitive and profitable. An expensive product can still be considered economical if its benefits are proportionate to its cost.
In the end, any model is only as good as the implementation. Knowing the concepts behind a good marketing strategy isn’t the same as having the skills to plan, implement and maintain them. Internet marketing campaigns take time. It takes time to gain enough followers on social media to start fully engaging with a target market; it takes time to create a catalogue of high quality strategic content and it takes time to build up consumer trust. Internet marketing isn’t as simple as making a Backbone page and uploading the company logo – the internet is an interactive medium.
It’s not a billboard, it’s more a large ongoing focus group. Internet Marketing Tools One of the biggest advantages internet marketing has over traditional marketing is the fact the effectiveness of a campaign can be more accurately measured and analyses. Television adverts are measured in terms of how many people have viewed it; beyond that it’s mostly guesswork; it’s very difficult to measure how many people saw a television advert and then went on to perform the desired action (such as go to a store and buy a product, or make a phone call to enquire about a service).
With internet marketing everything that happens as the result of a campaign can be tracked every step of the way. An email marketing campaign for example can be tracked to see how many people opened the email, how many then visited the website (known as the click through rate) – from there it can also track what the visitor did while they were on the website. How much time they spent there, which pages they visited, whether or not they purchased something – or if they abandoned their cart in the process of trying to make a purchase.
Other details such as which device the customer was using, their location, age and previous browsing habits may also be tracked. Making use of tools such as Google Analytics can show at a glance the raw data elated to any aspect of a visitors habits. There are many other tools on the market but Google Analytics is the most widely used and it integrates well with SEE – Google have built up a giant network of partners and billions of websites have tracking codes.