Sales and marketing is a very competitive business. The internet has become a very important platform for sales and marketing and it is a very competitive marketplace. The internet has created an entirely new way for companies to conduct marketing and sales. Along with this comes the process of using marketing to influence the customers online experience so that the end result is a sale. The internet has changed the sales and marketing process from small businesses to large enterprises. Online sales can not only increase sales for a business it is also very appealing for consumers.
According to an article in Time Magazine online “rising financial anxiety and tight credit availability are making holiday shopping this year an exercise in self-restraint, and the web offers a quick, clean shot at purchasing 24 hours a day. Bargain hunting for the best value is a convenient mouse click away. That’s an easier proposition for many than slogging to the mall and fighting traffic, crowds and parking problems. Comparison shopping online dwarfs what you can do in the real world. You just open up six browsers. (Time Magazine) This convenience is one reason that the holiday season for 2008 is expected to produce higher growth of online sales than that of brick and mortar stores. In fact “the internet should outdo the sidewalk in delivering sales growth: holiday forecasts predict zero to 2. 2% overall sales gains for November and December, according to respective estimates by Bain & Co. and the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association. By comparison, online retail sales are expected to grow 12%, to $44 billion, according to Forrester Research. (Time Magazine) Businesses that have user friendly, easy to navigate web sites seem to do the best overall. Another way to attract consumers to purchase online is to offer free shipping. This can really be beneficial to the business that is offering it as some consumers may refrain from shopping on the internet due to the fact that they will have to pay shipping costs. Still for some it is worth it since they save a lot of time and hassle by not having to go to brick and mortar stores, wait in line and fight traffic. The ease of shopping from home can be very appealing.
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Along with sales the way marketing is being conducted has also changed due to the internet. According to research by Efthymios Constantinides “online marketers can influence the decision making process of the virtual customers by engaging traditional, physical marketing tools but mainly by creating and delivering the proper online experience, the web experience: a combination of online functionality, information, emotions, cues, stimuli and products/ services, in other words a complex mix of elements going beyond traditional marketing.
The prime medium of delivering the web experience is the corporate web site, the interfacing platform between the firm and its online clients”. (Constantinides) There is a certain marketing mix that has proven to be effective in marketing online. According to researchers “the marketing mix’s 4Ps including fulfillment are essential contributors to the web experience. The elements are as follows: Communication. The literature references on this aspect refer to the quality of information provided about the firm’s products, the clarity of selling conditions and the delivering terms.
Information can to a certain degree compensate the lack of physical contact with the product, reducing the online consumer’s uncertainties. Fulfillment. With the exception of digitized products (music, software, e-books, etc. ) easily delivered online, for all other types of products offered online the order fulfillment and product delivery do not coincide with the placing the online order. The way online vendors follow up orders and deliver products has an immediate impact on the willingness of customers to order and more importantly, to return to the Web site for business in the future.
Alternative payment methods, fast delivery, flexible delivery options and order tracking are frequently mentioned elements of the fulfillment process. Product elements affecting the Web experience are the online brands and product assortment, product features and product presentation. Online vendors can in some cases improve the customer experience by enhancing their product presentation by means of 3D or other high-tech methods. Price. The number of literature references of the price as an input influencing the online consumer’s behavior is limited.
Next to that, research on the role and importance of the online price contradicts the predominant belief that price is the main motivator for consumers when choosing a particular Web site. And while most online consumers would insist that low price is their major motive to buy online products, facts do not seem to confirm this. Research based on click-through analysis indicates that only 8 per cent of Web users in North America are aggressive price hunters and only 30 per cent of purchasing managers identify lower prices as the key benefit of buying online (The McKinsey Quarterly, 2001).
Factors found in the literature associated with the price as part of the Web Experience are the price level, the online promotional actions or discounts and the price transparency. Promotion. This element is also rarely found to be one of the essential ingredients of the Web experience, the number of relevant literature references is rather limited. Specific promotional elements mentioned in the literature as enhancing the Web experience are free extra services, sales promotions and incentives”. (Constantinides) Online marketing is used in an effort to increase sales.
Many businesses are adding internet marketing to their marketing strategy. Internet “marketing is using the internet to do one or more of the following: Communicate a company’s message about itself, its products, or its services online. Conduct research as to the nature (demographics, preferences, and needs) of existing and potential customers. Sell goods, services, or advertising space over the internet”. (About. com) There are many way that a business can use the strategy of internet marketing to their benefit.
They include: Setting up a website , consisting of text, images and possibly audio and video elements used to convey the company’s message online, to inform existing and potential customers of the features and benefits of the company’s products and/or services. The website may or may not include the ability to capture leads from potential customers or directly sell a product or service online. Websites can be the Internet equivalents of offline brochures or mail order catalogs and they are a great way to establish your business identity.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which is marketing a website online via search engines, either by improving the site’s natural (organic) ranking through search engine optimization (SEO), buying pay-per-click (PPC) ads or purchasing pay-for-inclusion (PFI) listings in website directories, which are similar to offline yellow page listings. Email marketing, which is a method of distributing information about a product or service or for soliciting feedback from customers about a product or service through Email. Email addresses of customers and prospective customers may be collected or purchased.
Various methods are used, such as the regular distribution of newsletters or mass mailing of offers related to the company’s product or services. Email marketing is essentially the online equivalent of direct mail marketing. Banner advertising, which is the placement of ads on a website for a fee. The offline equivalent of this form of online marketing would be traditional ads in newspapers or magazines. Online press releases, which involve placing a newsworthy story about a company, its website, its people, and/or its products/services with on online wire service.
Blog marketing, which is the act of posting comments, expressing opinions or making announcements in a discussion forum and can be accomplished either by hosting your own blog or by posting comments and/or URLs in other blogs related to your product or service online. Article marketing, which involves writing articles related to your business and having them published online on syndicated article sites. These articles then have a tendency to spread around the Internet since the article services permit re-publication provided that all of the links in the article are maintained.
Article marketing can result in a traffic boost for your website, and the distribution of syndicated articles can promote your brand to a wide audience. “(About. com) A downfall of internet sales is that many consumers have concerns about purchasing online. Their concerns are about internet trust and security. This is a whole new element for corporations to consider when they choose to market their product and sell it online. Many consumers worry about the safety of making purchases online. This can be prove to be a very important concern for companies that are marketing and selling online.
In fact “online trust is one of the issues researchers, as well as practitioners, frequently associate with the success or failure of online ventures. According to Harris Interactive (2001) around 70 per cent of the US Web users are seriously concerned about the safety of their personal information, transaction security and misuse of private consumer data. Subjects like hacking, fraud, spam and online scams frequently make headlines, raising security concerns as well as skepticism and mistrust.
The physical distance, lack of personal contact and the anonymity of the Internet are also factors further increasing the consumers’ anxiety and risk perceptions. Online firms, especially those lacking strong brand recognition and physical presence, should not underestimate the importance of trust as a Web experience element. “(Constantinides) There are many different ways in which a company can address security issues. According to an article in Payments News “a layered approach to solving security problems is the most effective.
Companies should implement back-end fraud detection, stronger user authentication (beyond single factor passwords), transaction verification for high-risk transactions, and data masking/truncation of sensitive data that is shown on web-based screens. “(Payments News) Overall, even though consumers have concerns about security it does not always deter them from purchasing online. In fact, online shopping seems to be continually on the rise. In conclusion, the internet has changed how many businesses conduct their marketing efforts and sales.
There may be issues that have to be dealt with such as security concerns but overall the internet has opened up a wealth of choices and opportunities for businesses to not only increase their sales but to know their customers better by being able to obtain valuable demographics. Therefore, the internet has been a powerful and effective tool to be used in sales and marketing. Works Cited Dell, K. Will Online Sales Brighten a Bleak Holiday Season? Time. com Retrieved December 5, 2008 from http://www. time. com/time/business/article/0,8599,1858082,00. html? nn=yes Duermyer, R. Internet Marketing 101 About. com Retrieved December 2, 2008 from http://homebusiness. about. com/od/marketingadvertising/a/IMarketing101. htm Ecommerce Sales Lost Due to Security Concerns of U. S. Adults Payment News. com Retrieved December 10, 2008 from http://www. paymentsnews. com/2006/11/ecommerce_sales. html Efthymios Constantinides (2004). Influencing the online consumer’s behavior: the Web experience. Internet Research, 14(2), 111-126. Retrieved November 9, 2008, from Sciences Module database. (Document ID: 638720011).