Marketing is the process of planning executing the pricing, promotion, and distributions of goods, ideas, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals.
Effective marketing combined with consistent promotion are the keys to the success On-line.’ Ink the marketing phase, people are made aware of the Web presence and are attracted to access it. Marketing is the entire process from product conception to delivery. Most people use the words ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’ interchangeably. But in reality, advertising is only one part of the entire marketing process. The objective of the marketing phase is to get the right kind of people visit the Site in right quantity. In marketing, the goal is to entice customers to try the products and services offered, with the hope that their first experience will be a positive one and that they will return again and again while referring new customers. Marketing is about creating and sustaining trust based relationship with intended and current customers.
If it does not facilitate a “sale”, then it is not marketing. Two major aspects to marketing are the acquisition of new customers and the retention and expansion of relationships with existing customers. Selling products and services through On-line storefront differs from selling through bricks-and mortar storefront in the sense that in On-line storefront, the customer may view the offerings only for a few seconds. The following marketing strategies contribute to On-line success:
1. Product conception and definition:
The first step to marketing a product or service is deciding what the product is going to be. Product definition includes the following:
- What the product is basically?
- What will it do/provide?
- What are the features?
- What are the benefits?
2. Understanding the customer base:
On-line success also depends to a large extent to understanding the customer base. Next and most importantly, it needs to be decided “who will have a need for the products offered”. This group of people is called the target audience. They are the ones Who need to be advertised to, in an effort to selling products and services. The purpose of marketing phase is to get the right kind of people visit the Website in right quantity. It is worth noting that the profile of visitors is as important as their quantity. In a brick-and-mortar store, a customer is profiled the moment he walks in. Without exchanging a single word, an estimate can be made of person’s age, gender, economic status, the purpose of visit to the shop, and so on. On the Internet, profiling customers is extremely important as that is the only way of successfully serving them. Profiling customers on the Internet is quite intricate but not impossible. Profiling customers allows the e-business to meet the needs of customers in a better way.
3. Providing good site service:
Providing good site service is an important marketing strategy that contributes to On-line success. A Web should contain up-to-date and accurate information. Out dated information on the Web could result in loss of interest in the Web and the product. Web audiences tend to be specialized and tend to have peculiarity of behavior of suddenly twisting, and are quite ready to click their mouse to another Web in case they are not provided with good site service. The services and products provided by the Web must be consistent and competitive in price. Consistency of service may be the key to offering more service than a competitor’s Web.
No marketing plan is complete without proper thought being given to customer service. It is much easier and cheaper to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a brand new customer. Without excellent customer service, repeat sales will be reduced to non-existence. The following aspects must be duly considered while creating a plan for handling the customers properly and professionally:
- Frequent buyer programs.
- The actions to be taken when someone has a special situation that goes against normal company policy.
- The ways to let the customers know that their business is being appreciated.
- The ways to encourage repeat business.
Advertising is the process of reaching the customers using a broadcast or direct mail campaign structured to influence the purchasing behavior.
Web promotion is an exercise of “getting the word out” about the existence of the Web and then ensuring that the Web regularly comes to the attention of its target audience members. Web promotion is the process of handling all the public relations issues of a Web. These include making the existence of a Web known to On-line communities through publicity, as well as forming business or other information relationships with other webs. The web’s dynamic quality implies that promoting the Web is an on-going process. A new Web has to be announced and then periodically brought to the attention of its potential users. Key promotion practices are:
- Follow in-line community activities and get forms filled.
- Innovatively connect with users to meet their needs.
- Target publicity releases for general Web audiences, potential users, and current users.
Web Promotion & Marketing
A Web can be promoted in the following different ways:
1. Search engine and links in other sites:
Search engine and links in other sites, in that order, are clearly the most effective way to bring visitors to the site. But search engines are not expected to find the website by their own. Web position on the search engine is also important. It does not do much good if the Website is positioned near the bottom of the search engine list.
2. Embedded links to the site in other web pages:
Another good way to attract customers is to embed links to the site in other Web pages. Effort should be made to link to as many appropriate sites as possible, especially those with content that is likely to interest the customers. Offering such complementary sites is a service which potential customers always appreciate.
3. Creating awareness:
URL should be printed on everything that would be distributed to the public, such as business cards, letterheads, envelopes, brochures, and advertisements and promotional materials (pens, hats, t-shirts, cups, etc.). Such promotions are effective.
4. Communication to the target audience:
Marketing can also be classified by the way the marketing messages are communicated to the target audience. Direct marketing is a form of marketing that attempts to send its messages directly to consumers, using “addressable” media, such as mail. Direct marketing differs from regular advertising in the sense that the direct-marketing does not place its messages on a third party medium and instead, the marketing of the product or service is addressed to the end consumer directly. A related form of marketing is direct response marketing. In direct marketing, the marketer contacts the potential customer directly, but in direct response marketing, the customer responds to the marketer directly. Similarly, using a press release, or announcing the new Site in news groups may also prove to be productive. Web publicity has the following goals:
- To inform the general Web public as a whole of the existence of the Web and what it has to offer.
- To attract the interest of target audience members and let them know about how the Web meets their needs.
- To educate the current Web users of new developments on the Web.
5. Making the sale:
An important marketing strategy is that the Web must provide easy-to use purchasing function. An easy-to-use purchasing function helps in keeping buyers on track toward making a purchase. An easy-to-use purchasing function involves installation of a shopping cart and setting up automatic tax and freight calculation software. The first step in making the sale is the simplified ordering process. A simplified ordering process will enable customers to put their purchases into a shopping cart as fast as possible. If the Web provides the facility of recalling a customer’s past orders, it would help the customers to avoid reentering information. Moreover, with this facility, customers feel valuable and would provide them an incentive to return in the future.
6. Stock control:
Inventory control is an important aspect of On-line marketing strategy. At times, customers may not be able to find the products they want. In such a case, an alternative product may be offered. For that, the Web server should need to know how these products are related. If a customer places an item in a shopping cart, a simple stock check is not enough. Many a times, customers may put something in a shopping cart and may come to site after one day to order it. It should be ensured that the product should not go out of stock in the meantime. A good marketing strategy is to use a cookie or a user name and password to track the timing of placement of items in the shopping cart by customer. If the customer does not place the order for items put in the shopping cart for more than a few hours, it should be ensured that items are still available when he returns after sometime to place the order.
Packaging too plays a major role in the success or failure of e-businesses. Packaging should be done according to the appeal of the target audience, such as bright colours, dark colours, a hard plastic casing, or a card board box, etc. It should be ensured that packaging fits with the profile of the customers–not necessarily with the personal tastes of e-business entrepreneur.
For products, the distribution step involves things like inventory, shipping and returns. For services; it involves delivery time, follow-up and refunds. The matters such as:
- Whether a warehouse is required to be rented?
- Whether private trucks or freight carriers will be used?
- Whether services can be provided in a timely manner?
- The ways to handle returns and refunds.
9. Collecting the cash:
E-commerce sites should accept as many credit cards as possible. Some sites require off-line process to complete the sale (e.g. fax order, a call to a toll free number etc.). These off-line processes do not meet customer expectations of shopping Online. Many a times, business could be lost if the customer breaks the Web connection to write down the order and then pick up the phone to buy the product. Before accepting the payment made through credit cards, the On-line entrepreneur needs bank to handle the credit card processing. If credit card data is stored, it would help in making purchasing easier for e-commerce site and for the consumer.
It can be observed from the above discussion that each step is intertwined with all the others. Customer service issues relate back to sales and distribution. Sales questions relate to advertising. But the target audience plays a major part in all the areas of the plan.
This article is written by Manmeet Singh. He is the CEO and SEO Analyst of Yoginet Web Solutions. He is also an active blogger and loves to share his experience and knowledge of the professional website designing and internet marketing.