e-marketing

Introduction

E-marketing is a migration from traditional marketing approaches such as print and audio media. It is a new function that shifts from offline to online approaches. The marketing function integrates the functionalities of the Internet and marketing. Therefore, e-marketing transforms marketing to a different platform that is different from newspapers, radio, television and billboards. Marketing promotes a product to build a strong product brand and in the end to influence sales. It is a tool for gaining competitive advantage in an industry. Further, e-marketing opens up markets naturally since the marketing tools can be accessed by anybody in any part of the world. Companies are, therefore, challenged to meet the obligations of their markets from a global perspective. The purpose of the current paper is to discuss the fundamentals, describe and define how e-marketing supports traditional marketing approaches. Finally, it discusses the possible ways of measuring the performance of e-marketing tools.

Demystifying E-marketing

E-marketing is defined as marketing online through websites, online advertisements; opt in emails, interactive kiosks and interactive TV or mobiles. E-marketing is the heart of e-commerce and gets closer to customers to understand them more and eventually add value to the products. It widens the distribution channels through the use of digital media channels such as search marketing, online advertising and affiliate marketing. E-marketing is also known as internet or digital marketing, and includes the use of the web to facilitate customer leads, sales and after sale services. According to Dann and Dann, marketing activities encompass customers, clients, partners and the society. Marketing is, therefore, a cyclic process that involves interactions within these parties. Further, the authors, quoting CIM give a definition of marketing as the process that focuses on the identification, anticipation and satisfaction of the profitability of customer requirements. Therefore, for any form of marketing, there is appreciation for commercial and managerial aspects. 

From one point of view, e-marketing is the process of where situation analysis, marketing planning and implementation are done online to facilitate electronic commerce. Put otherwise, it is the use of electronic facts and applications for planning, distribution, promotion and pricing of commodities to meet individual and organizational objectives. E-marketing shares the foundation of marketing. However, it also introduces the electronic component. There is no consensus amongst scholars and researchers on a precise definition on the electronic component for e-marketing. It often sways around computerized databases and interactive television technologies.

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from other point of vuew, e-marketing is facilitated by the Internet. In this case, the Internet provides lots of opportunities for consumers, suppliers and sellers of goods and services. The Internet is characterized by ubiquity, information richness, customization and personalization. Thus, it is an incentive for organization to expand their activities. The opportunity moved from traditional boundaries that could extend to the marketing function of an organization. Today, the Internet provides cost effective method for joining buyers and sellers compared to traditional marketing approaches.

How E-marketing Supports Traditional Marketing Approaches?

Success in the e-marketing environment is realized through noting the difference between traditional marketing and e-marketing. E-marketing redefines the marketing landscape by bringing new perspectives and interactions for customers. As a result, e-marketing offers different solutions to marketing products and services. In comparison to traditional marketing techniques, e-marketing offers no geographical constraints through online set up. Further, the marketing model is a subject to change depending on the level of technology. This is unlike traditional marketing that is relatively stable and defined. Therefore, e-marketing easily defines the market niche and is capable of realizing larger market volumes. Consequently, e-marketing has a customer pull relationship whereby the customer decides the time and place for business interaction.

According to Combe, e-marketing approaches build on the premise that product development is driven by marketing and information systems. As a result, marketing functions are integrated with business development and information technology where customers are treated as individuals and not customer groups. The customers have more knowledge on the producer and its commodities and exhibit new behavioural changes such as increased impulse buying.

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E-marketing often integrates traditional marketing approaches, offline marketing tools in its implementation. It is evidenced in superior marketing functions, which integrate offline and online approaches. However, such integration depends on the target. The traditional marketing strategies include direct sales, TV, radio and billboards. The approaches can influence people to access e-marketing platforms of a company. According to Shaw and Blanning, e-marketing integrates the user with interactive media unlike traditional marketing. The websites contain information that is present in traditional marketing approaches. Thus, the online platforms are very similar to offline marketing approaches but add other functionalities.

E-marketing builds on a two way traffic communication model between the organization and buyers. This is contrary to the one way communication model found in media like radio, print and broadcast in traditional marketing approaches. Thus, there is continuous engagement in e-marketing between customers and the companies. The customers can obtain more information about a product, rate the services and eventually buy the product. According to Shin, e-marketing provides more control to the customer over a marketing process. Customers are more receptive to information and, as a result, only purchase commodities that meet their needs. Thus, the marketing model is shaped into a customer centric model. As already been mentioned, e-marketing reorganizes traditional marketing technique from a group to an individual focus. Jones & Barry note that universal messages are irrelevant in market. Markets can be specialized or segmented.

According to Shin, e-marketing lowers the marketing costs in an organization. Particularly, e-marketing lowers transaction, production and distribution costs. By lowering the search costs in the Internet, it makes it easy for customers to make comparisons. E-marketing presents a collection of information for the customers to make decisions. For instance, websites like Prisescan.com provide the functionality of comparing prices and features for over 10,000 products through the Internet. In the process, e-marketing develops stiff competition that can be a strength or weakness for a firm.

Shin also notes that e-marketing is the fastest growing form of direct sales. This is because of the engagement of promotional mix that integrates marketing and advertising functions. The additional functionality to traditional approaches is the promotional instruments. The communication as an additional function promotes a site and influences traffic to the site. Thus, e-marketing is a complex function since it promotes a product through the Internet and maintains traffic to the site.

Main Aspects and Elements of E-Marketing Planning

SOSTAC is often used for e-marketing planning. They note that SOSTAC is an acronym for “Situation analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions and Control”. Situation analysis defines the standing point of the company. It answers the question where are we now? It is the consideration of the meaning of e-marketing to a firm, the anticipated overview of the growth of e-marketing and changes in the marketplace. The second stage in the planning of e-marketing is the objectives. The objectives answer the question where do we want to be? Thus, objectives show what the company expects to achieve with an online presence. This includes benefits of the online marketing. The strategy as a level in planning also outlines how the objectives identified above can be achieved. The strategy summarizes how the online media value propositions that should be created. It identifies the marketing and promotional mix to be used including the contact strategies that are the media to be used.

The tactics define the marketing mix through tools and details on how the marketing objective is achieved. Further, tactics include a selection of the communication model to be used. Actions are the implementation items from the tactics for achieving the desired marketing mix. It is the process of making the e-marketing plan tangible. Eventually, control is the final stage of e-marketing planning. It explains how the e-marketing plan will be monitored and evaluated against the objectives. Controls are attempts to investigate whether the e-marketing plan is working or not. The recommendations can be made on what to be improved or terminated in plan for e-marketing. The planning for e-marketing is never discreet at any given stage. There is an overlap in the stages. As a result, the planning is a to and fro motion. At this stage, the previous stages can be revisited and redefined to fit the needs of the organization.

Main Aspects and Elements of E-Marketing Situation Analysis

As already noted above, the situational analysis is the first stage in e-marketing planning. It involves trying to establish the relevance of e-marketing to an organization. It also involves a review of whether the goal is being met, the insight being gained by the customer, the SWOT analysis of the e-marketplace, how the brand is perceived in the market as well as internal resources and abilities. According to Combe, e-marketing planning should be integrated in the e-business strategy. E-business strategy is focused on helping achieve the company objective for profits. E-marketing includes market research and communication with customer or customer groups through the Internet. Customer insight and brand perception in e-marketing situation analysis influence the depth of the marketing plan. In other words, based on the two items, the e-marketing plan identifies the marketing objective and a possible way for achieving it. The anticipated e-marketing plan is pegged on the resources available to the organization. The resources define the budget limits of the plan.

According to Combe, the marketing plan requires an in-depth analysis of demand. The analysis entails the reviewing of the existing as well as projected demand. The projection can include the demand for the whole market or a specific market niche. Further, e-marketing situation analysis requires data on e-marketing on internet usage and future trends that are provided through research. Once the situation is identified, the level electronic marketing is adopted. According to Combe, there are four levels of digital marketing in organization, namely ad hoc activities that involve basic online presence and focusing the effort where few resources are pumped into e-marketing. The other two are formalization of e-marketing in which the organization focuses substantially on e-marketing and, finally, institutionalization, whereby capacity is built to include that of managers to ensure e-marketing activities link with the core functions of the business.

Measuring E-Marketing Performance

The performance of e-marketing models can be measured using Alexa, Hitwise, Netratings, Comscore, ABCE Databse, Forrester, Gartner and Search Key Phrase analysis tools. Alexa is a free service owned by Amazon. It provides traffic rankings for an individual site in comparisons to other sites. However, Alexa works best when analysing sites in top 100,000. The traffic shows how the e-marking plan is impacting the online community. Hitwise is an e-marketing performance tool that not only compares traffic but has additional functionality for audience characteristics and site usage. The tool works by keeping track of IP traffic of users for a site through the Internet Service Providers. Netratings, on the other hand, monitors several web pages to identify the most popular in several countries. The model presented by Netratings is similar to Comscore and ABCE Database.

The Search Key Phrase Analysis tool uses the Google Keyword Tool and Google Traffic Estimator to assess the popularity of a brand and its products. It provides the volume of searches in Google and other search engines. Unlike the other e-marketing performance tool discussed above, Forrester and Gartner monitor internet usage. Additionally, it provides best practice information on financial services, retail and e-mail marketing. The various e-marketing performance tools capture the demand from customers for online services. Marketers take cognizance of the demand that also includes how customers respond to their needs.

web analytics is the most prominent method for gauging e-marketing performance. However, other performance metrics can also be engaged such as customer satisfaction surveys, site visitor profiling and profits.

Conclusion

In conclusion, e-marketing is increasingly becoming popular due to the increased usage of the Internet. It provides a superior method for marketing products due to the availability of two way communication between the organization and buyers. It improves on the traditional approaches through increased communication between buyers and sellers and the volume of those customers the company is able to reach. Further, producers can improve the quality of products based on the responses of the e-marketing. Equally, people can access more information and are able to make informed decision. The impact of e-marketing can be measured using web analytics to monitor the traffic from the audience. The traffic shows how successful the e-marketing plan has become. E-marketing plan integrates the Internet and marketing. The planning for e-marketing is a five tier process that analyses the situation, defines the objectives. It also formulates the tactics and actions and eventually, the design of controls to measure the performance of the e-marketing plan. Finally, situational analysis can be done to trigger the scope for the implementation of marketing plan by defining the level for e-marketing to be engaged.

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