Let me start the second article of this series, by thanking all of you who contacted me through email and Twitter after reading my first article. Your feedback and suggestions are warmly welcomed and I appreciate the encouragement you extended to me.
In the last issue we discussed the importance of having a basic understanding about principles of marketing, before someone endeavor with any sort of eMarketing initiative. We defined the concept of marketing, and went into describing the value creation process of marketing. Then we discussed that eMarketing is essentially a tactical element in a broader strategic level marketing plan for a company or a small business. Today we will narrow down our discussion into the topic of eMarketing and its scope.
eMarketing; a shorten use of “electronic marketing” can simply be defined as the electronic version of marketing. Dave Chaffey defines eMarketing (or digital marketing) as “Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies” (Book: Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice). Why I like this definition the most is, it’s focus on “achieving marketing objectives”. If your strategic marketing objectives are not achieved at the end of the day after spending millions on digital technologies; you are merely engaged in technology management, but not eMarketing management. This re-emphasize the point I made in my last article that, eMarketing essentially is a business concept; not a technology concept.
Different Channels of eMarketing
What do actually eMarketers do? When performing a job in eMarketing, you will have to be thorough on some of these eMarketing channels. You can either become a specialist in an identified channel (SEO specialist, Adwords guru) or become a jack of all trades. Even if you decide to focus your expertise in a selected area, you will still need to have an understanding on the other areas.
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In the next few issues of Digit Magazine, I will take each of these channels and discuss in depth with tips on practical application of each channel.
eMarketing as a Process
The process of eMarketing contains three sequential steps and a one underpinning step
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At the stage of acquisition, eMarketers are responsible of attracting new customers to the business through various eMarketing activities. This is where the eMarketing channels we discussed above become important. Using these channels, an eMarketer can promote a product/service or a business to a potential customer base. By targeting these customers, the eMarketer first builds and awareness about product, and then creating a willingness among these customers to visit a website for more information on your deal. For example an eMarketer working for a tourist hotel in Colombo can place a PPC ad on Google for the keyword “hotels in Colombo” and get the attention of people who are actively searching for hotels. After getting the attention, the customer will click on the ad and land on the official website of the hotel to read more information. This completes a successful “customer acquisition” or “sales lead generation” for the tourist hotel. Among the three main steps, this is the easiest part. Most eMarketing agencies and experts will help you performing this step only and charge you a huge bill. But always keep in mind that the challenging part is to convert these leads into actual customers.
During the conversion stage the eMarketer is responsible of generating revenue from the acquired traffic. Some people argue that this is not the job of an eMarketer. I tend to disagree with this argument. Because; as soon as you remove “conversion” from the responsibility of eMarketers you will start to get truckloads of unqualified traffic to your website wasting all your marketing dollars. If the eMarketer is held responsible of conversion of the traffic, he or she will focus more on the quality of the traffic in order to improve the conversion rates. On the other hand, having first hand experience in the link between traffic sourcing and sales converting will compliment each other well; creating synergistic value in the entire eMarketing efforts.
Retention stage of the process is the most important part. It is widely known that cost of acquiring a new customer is as high as five time the cost of retaining and existing customers. Therefore companies are now increasingly paying attention on retaining their online customers with customer relationship management (CRM) tools and online loyalty programs.
Different Levels of Getting Onboard with eMarketing at Your Company
A question bothering most marketing professionals is “how deep should be integrate our marketing efforts with eMarketing?”. The levels of getting onboard with eMarketing can range from simply listing your business in an online directory (yellow pages or similar) to setting up a fully pledged eCommerce website to carry out complex business activities online.
1. Listing in Online Directories
The most elementary level at which a company can have a web presence is a listing in one or more online business directories or portals. Think of this as an online business card or a web-based Yellow Pages entry. This is fast and inexpensive to do and does not require a website or even an email address. The directory simply lists your company name, specialization, physical address and contact details.
2. The online brochure
When most businesses, even large corporations, put together their first website, it is nothing more than a basic brochure. Small businesses are product-centric, and ‘our website’ is nearly always ‘all about us’. Large corporations follow the same focus; their first sites are often no more than an abbreviated annual report. None of this is remotely interesting to online consumers, whose primary interest lies in solving their own problems. If someone is looking for a little black dress for the company cocktail party, do they really care about your share price or who your chairman is? If they want to find the
best plasma television for their budget, how useful is a list of the brands you stock in stores with no model numbers, technical specifications, prices or reviews?
3. The lead generator
Instead of being ‘all about us’, the site is modified to encourage visitors to provide their contact details, to contact the company, or to enquire about its products or services. In some instances, visitors may even be encouraged to make a purchase, although there is no ecommerce payment processing system in place. It is at this stage that many companies start to run into trouble. Usually, the site uses a simple web form that the visitor fills in and submits, its content going into a database or spreadsheet, or to an email.
4. The ecommerce site
Ecommerce lets your site visitors transact in real time, instead of having to undertake the turn based communication of stage-three sites. You simply need to provide secure ecommerce transaction abilities if you wish to take payments online. If you cannot take payments online, you can never be competitive as an online seller.
No matter at which stage of these levels your company is in, you need to engage in online promotions to attract customers to your company. In my opinion, most Sri Lankan companies are stuck at the stage 2. Most Sri Lankan business managers believes that having a website will do magic for their business, and stops at the point of creating a website. Web development companies abuse this thinking, and they charge huge bill just to create a static website which no one is benefited. To see how true my argument; simply browse some of the websites fro Sri Lankan blue-chip companies. Try to contact them through the emails listed under “contact us” section and you will hardly get a reply. To improve the effectiveness of their eMarketing efforts, the Sri Lankan companies need to quickly move up this ladder to at least generating leads and following up with them.
In the Next Article
In the next article of this series, I will discuss on the initial steps of developing a strategy for your eMarketing activities. The article will cover areas of identifying your business goals and selecting the best eMarketing tactics and channels to achieve them.
Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice by Dave Chaffey
Doing Business Digitally by Godfrey Parkin,