Written by Agunda Gagloeva
The basic functions of marketing have not changed over the last 50 years. Identifying consumer markets, targeting the right consumer, searching for reasonable segmentation, brainstorming about the product promotion and communication strategies, identifying trends, advertising, public relations, etc. have always been integral parts of what is called “marketing” in the economic world. And apparently they are very likely to be around for many years to come. However, over the last two decades marketers all over the world have found themselves facing a new reality – the era of the Internet.
The Internet revolutionized marketing and the way companies communicate with the consumers, brand new forms of interaction between them emerged. The distribution channels changed and the ways consumers learn about the companies and vice versa are different nowadays (Dreze, 2005). The fast popularization of the social media turned the environment companies operate in, into a more uncontrolled and unpredictable one which demands from them more creativity, innovativeness and improvisational skills. The Internet has become a stage on which brands are performing in front of the audience (Singh & Sonnenburg, 2012).
As a result we have a new kind of marketing - Internet age marketing, which is constantly getting more high tech, more innovative and more sophisticated.
Conventional versus Online Marketing
Internet marketing is different from marketing through any other type of media. Although traditional marketing strategies are still used in a quite active way they are becoming less effective compared to online marketing, both in terms of costs and targeted results.
Online marketing has rapidly become a very effective way of acquiring potential customers since it allows companies to target those who are interested in the product and ready to buy it, whereas in traditional marketing the message is sent to all (Angelides, 1997).
In the 21st century almost every aspect of the purchasing decision of the consumer is shaped by the Internet. Even the majority of the “real life - buyers” first go online and do some research prior to buying in the store – they try to learn about the product features in more detail, compare prices and so on. Thus, nowadays the process of buying very often starts from the potential customer’s typing the search term in the search engine. Herein lies one of the most essential differences between traditional and online-marketing. The first step of the seller in traditional marketing is to push the marketing message to the potential buyer. In internet marketing the idea is often reverse – the process begins from the buyers’ showing their interest in the product to potential sellers. In other words in the Internet age it has become more important to make it as simple as possible for customers to find you rather than find them by yourself. Moreover, simple presence on the Web is not enough. The Internet age business world demands a tailored, well-structured, and innovative multiplatform online marketing strategy (Taylor & Strutton, 2010).
Online marketing is not just telling the story but engaging the customers in the conversation. The customers become not just the audience to which the story is narrated but the co-creators of it (Singh & Sonnenburg, 2012). In online marketing customers are able to express their opinion in the way different from just purchasing or not purchasing the product. They can give any kind of feedback, from complaints to suggestions ( Muñiz & Schau, 2011).
The Internet can be considered a channel for both promotion and distribution of the product, and therefore is actively used by companies for advertising and selling.
Traditional mass media advertising VS online advertising
Firstly, advertising in the Internet is far cheaper and besides more information can be disseminated. This enables companies to get access to global markets avoiding high costs usually connected with traditional mass media advertising.
Secondly, Internet advertising presupposes that the customers are interested in the product and this is the reason for their visiting the company’s website, whereas the main principle of mass media advertising is to send the same message to as many people as possible (Lumpkin & Dess, 2004).
Thirdly, and probably the most essential difference between the discussed two types of advertising is that traditional advertising is all about one-way interaction, in other words broadcasting to the buyer the information, which the seller finds relevant. On the contrary, Internet advertising is all about the dialogue between the seller and the buyer. Through interactive forms on websites and other means available online a potential customer has the opportunity to ask more questions and get all the information about the product before buying it (Dreze, 2005).
Although it may seem that online advertising is explicitly more effective than advertising using the traditional mass media, there are also some details to be taken into consideration. First of all, the exposure on the Web cannot be always guaranteed. In other words on the Web there are 2 ways of the customers’ seeing your advertisement: they may be searching for your website or they may come across it accidentally, in the latter situation your advertisement can be easily ignored.
Moreover, creating a website, which has become mandatory nowadays for any self-respecting company, and the ongoing process of updating and redesigning it may come out considerably expensive. In addition, since a company’s webpage and all the online-activities make its image in the customers’ minds a robust online advertising strategy should be elaborated and backed up by advertising through alternative media.
Online VS offline selling
Just around 15 years ago the Internet used to be more important platform for selling in business-to-business world, than in business-to-consumer segment. However, today the success of such companies as Zappos, Amazon, E-bay and thousands of other huge internet-retailers show that the era of e-commerce has come. As Goldman Sachs reports global e-commerce sales are growing by 19% every year during the last 5 years and reached around 1 trillion dollars in 2013 (internetretailer.com, 2014). Online-shopping is cheaper and more convenient and is predicted to become a dominant type of purchasing in the next few decades. By now around 80% of the population of developed countries has purchased something online and approximately 50% has done it multiple times (statisticbrain.com, 2013). Despite the concerns about the security related to using credit cards to pay online, online selling is developing so fast that it has all the chances to catch up and even surpass offline sales figures.
Actually, all the facts enumerated above prove that we are today witnessing the slow and graduate extinction of traditional mass marketing as long as every next generation gets more tech- and Internet-savvy. Those born in the 1980s and later already cannot imagine their lives without Internet, and therefore companies will try to the greatest possible extent adapt to the new consumers’ behavior and will put more and more emphasis on the online marketing. In this way, search engine optimization has become “imperative for a sustainable and successful internet marketing strategy” (Taylor & Strutton, 2010, p. 955).
However, it should be taken into consideration that online consumers are not all the same. They use the Internet differently, have their own interests in the Web and this has an according bearing on their buying behavior. Generally, they can be divided in 3 categories:
· Online consumers who use the Internet mainly for communication via e-mail
· Online consumers who mainly use the Internet for social interaction, chatting, blogging, watching videos, downloading, etc.
· Online consumers who use the Web to navigate and are active online – shoppers (Aljukhadar & Senecal, 2010)
Consequently, the purpose of online marketing is to move as many people as possible from the first two categories to the third one, turn the passive Internet users into active online-shoppers.
Latest trends in online marketing.
So what do the marketers have to work with in the Internet age and how can they adapt to the new reality, social networking, the changes in consumer behavior etc.
First of all, content is what seems to matter today more than ever before. Consistency in creating valuable and meaningful content is the way to establish authority and gain trust and loyalty. The content usually includes relevant information that is useful or provides entertaining to the consumers. This will allow the company to preserve the rapport between the company and the consumers (Hosford, 2013). As the Content Marketing Institute reports the best content marketing strategies include permanent presence and activity in social media, writing articles the company’s website, eNewsletters, conducting case studies, creating videos.
Making use of these channels companies can build a good reputation within the industry. Mass marketing techniques like TV and radio advertising are getting less effective and therefore it is better to pay more attention to inbound marketing by designing a specific content to engage certain audience.
Secondly, today companies are unlimited with regard to their opportunities to use social media in their marketing campaigns. A few years ago only Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn we used actively. But today with the increasing popularity of Tumblr, Instagram and other media, companies dispose of a great number of new options for reaching out to the audience through more channels and producing an engaging content in diverse forms of social media. Moreover, consistent activity different kinds of social media helps to build brand equity because makes it makes the brand more recognizable for the consumers and creates more intimate relationships between companies and consumers (Vinerean et. al., 2013).
Thirdly, it is becoming more and more important that the content is easy to perceive and quick to digest. The majority of the social media put emphasis on visual content: images, short videos and this is not accidental. The success of Buzzfeed, 9GAG, Pinterest prove that today viral and image-based content is more powerful. Popular blog posts receiving the most shares in social media and infographics are another testament to the advantages of visualization of the marketing message. However this does not mean that traditional text is of no use when speaking about the online content. On the contrary it remains necessary but with the active use of images to back up the information expressed in it (sendible.com, 2014).
The general tendency to prefer simplicity in everything has become more obvious over the last years since the majority of the most innovative and successful marketing campaigns are carrying a simple message and are designed in a minimalistic style. Consumers obviously value clear, short and simple ideas more than those with philosophical undertone (Fox, 2013).
The other new modern trend is the active use and growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, which made it imperative for the companies to adapt the content in order to make it accessible for mobile users. According to Forbes, “87% of connected devices sales by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones”, therefore creating mobile-friendly design and content has become crucial for companies who want to stay onboard.
In the online-advertising ad retargeting is growing in effectiveness. This marketing strategy is based on reminding online-consumers about the products and services they viewed before. Even after they leave certain website the ad with the products they viewed will be shown to them again and again on other websites. This helps to keep the brand at the top of mind, due to the psychological effect of familiarization with the image you see. This triggers the process of building trust and push consumers to purchase. Probably not in the short run but I the long run this strategy is likely to pay off.
And the last thing I would like to mention is that SEO is becoming more intertwined with social signals (Scott, 2013). Since any search engine aims at providing the user with the most relevant and high-quality information it is quite logical that the popularity of the piece of information in the social media will have a bearing on its position in the search engine results (Frasco, 2014). A considerable number of shares of the blog post can be a sign of approval and the proof of its value. Therefore, it seems reasonable for companies to install plugins for social sharing and encourage the users to share the content of their websites.
Over the last couple of decades with the Internet’s coming in our everyday life the conventional marketing schemes and strategies are getting less effective. This requires from the marketers to reconsider the whole concept of modern marketing in the Internet age and come up with brand new innovative ideas for effective online-marketing. Although the final goal of marketing strategies remains the same the new tools should be used, such as the whole range of social media, new techniques of online-advertising (for example ad retargeting) Besides this, companies should concentrate more on effective SEO to make their websites more searchable for the users. Generally what the consumers today value most and what the marketers should make use of are consistent presence and activity in the field of their vision, meaningful but laconic and mobile-friendly content, simple and clear marketing message, minimalism and higher level of visualization in marketing as a whole.
Aljukhadar, M, & Senecal, S (2011). Segmenting the online consumer market, Marketing Intelligence & Planning. 29, 421-435.
Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1930917
Angelides, MC (1997), Implementing the Internet for business: A global marketing opportunity, International Journal Of Information Management, 17, 6, p. 405, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 4 February 2014. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0268401297000248
Brookes, S (2013), Building your brand online, Cabinet Maker, 5825, pp. 22-23, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 6 February 2014.
Drèze, X (2005), Lessons from the front line: two key ways in which the internet has changed marketing forever, Applied Stochastic Models In Business & Industry, 21, 4/5, pp. 443-448, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 February 2014. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asmb.588/abstract
Giachetti, TD (2013), Three Keys to a Strong Facebook Policy, Investment Advisor, 33, 3, p. 65, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 6 February 2014. Available at: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/85704552/three-keys-strong-facebook-policy
Hosford, C (2013), BtoB study: Content marketing goes mainstream, B To B, 98, 6, p. 5, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 4 February 2014.
Muñiz, A, & Schau, H (2011), How to inspire value-laden collaborative consumer-generated content, Business Horizons, 54, 3, p. 209-217, Scopus®, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 February 2014.
Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681311000036
Scarpi, D (2012). Work and Fun on the Internet: The Effects of Utilitarianism and Hedonism Online. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 26, 53-67. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094996811000648
Scott, J (2013),Helping your brand: using SEO and social media, Central Penn Business Journal, 29, 45, pp. 17-18, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 6 February 2014.
Seraj, M (2012), We create, we connect, we respect, therefore we are : intellectual, social , and cultural value in online communities, Journal Of Interactive Marketing : A Quarterly Publication From The Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, 26, 4, pp. 209-222, ECONIS, EBSCOhost, viewed 3 February 2014. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094996812000187
Singh, S, & Sonnenburg, S (2012), Brand Performances in Social Media, Journal Of Interactive Marketing, 26, 4, p. 189-197, Scopus®, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 February 2014. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094996812000217
Taylor, D, & Strutton, D (2010), Has e-marketing come of age? Modeling historical influences on post-adoption era Internet consumer behaviors, Journal Of Business Research, 63, 9-10, p. 950-956, Scopus®, EBSCOhost, viewed 7 February 2014. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296309002148
Vinerean, S, Cetina, I, Dumitrescu, L, & Tichindelean, M. ( 2013). The Effects of Social Media Marketing on Online Consumer Behavior, International Journal Of Business & Management, 8, 14, pp. 66-79, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 4 February 2014.
Available at: http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ijbm/article/view/25378/16991
Biznik. (2014). Traditional Marketing VS Internet Marketing (SEO) - Marketing & Sales. [online] Available at: http://biznik.com/articles/traditional-marketing-vs-internet-marketing-seo [Accessed: 6 Feb 2014].
Demers, J. (2013). The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2013/09/17/the-top-7-online-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2014/2/ [Accessed: 5 Feb 2014].
Examiner. (2014). Internet marketing vs traditional marketing - 3 key points for small businesses. [online] Available at: http://www.examiner.com/article/internet-marketing-vs-traditional-marketing-3-key-points-for-small-businesses [Accessed: 5 Feb 2014].
Fox, G. (2013). 10 Innovative Online Marketing Campaigns We Can All Learn From Available at: http://customerthink.com/10_innovative_online_marketing_campaigns_we_can_all_learn_from/ [Accessed: 6 Feb 2014].
Frasco, S. (2014). Social Media Is Critical To Your SEO | Social Media Today. [online] Available at: http://socialmediatoday.com/stephaniefrasco/1901891/6-reasons-social-media-critical-your-seo [Accessed: 7Feb 2014].
Internetretailer.com. (2014). Trends & Data - Internet Retailer. [online] Available at: http://www.internetretailer.com/trends/sales/ [Accessed: 5 Feb 2014].
Sendible insights. (2014). The Power of Images in Social Media Marketing - Sendible insights. [online] Available at: http://sendible.com/insights/the-power-of-images-in-social-media-marketing/ [Accessed: 5 Feb 2014].
Simone, S. (2013). The 7 Essential Elements of Effective Social Media Marketing. Available at: http://www.copyblogger.com/social-media-marketing-steps/. [Accessed: 6 Feb 2014].
Statisticbrain.com. (2014). E-Commerce / Online Sales Statistics | Statistic Brain. [online] Available at: http://www.statisticbrain.com/total-online-sales/ [Accessed: 5 Feb 2014].