What is Online Marketing?
Online Marketing is the process by which customer relationship is maintained by facilitating exchange of information and ideas about the products and services. It is a medium which helps satisfy the goals of buyers and sellers.
Types of Online channels
There are two types of online channels, commercial online channels and internet.
1. Commercial Online channels
The online information and marketing services setup by companies can be accessed by those who have subscribed for the service on monthly subscription basis. These online channels offer information, entertainment, shopping, dialogue and e-mail services to their customers.
2. The internet
Internet is a global web of computer networks. It has made instant communication possible from any corner of the world. Users can send e-mail, exchange views, shop for products and access news and business information.
Customers can order products 24 hours a day from wherever they are. They can find vast information about other companies, products and competitors, without leaving their home or office. Customers do not have to face salespersons persuading them to buy.
Marketers on the other hand, need not run a physical store and do not have to pay rent, etc. They can produce digital catalogues at lesser costs. Companies can quickly add products to their range and change prices and description. Marketers can know how many people visited their online site. They can interact with consumers and learn much from them.
Characteristics of Online Marketing
1. Online Marketing is a process consisting of inter-related steps: Setting corporate and business unit strategy, framing the market opportunity, formulating the marketing strategy, designing the customer’s expectations, developing the marketing programme and evaluating the results of the same.
2. Online marketing makes use of the web and related digital technologies. These technologies consist of the internet media and digital media such as wireless, cable, satellite.
3. The global online marketing aims at maintaining an everlasting relationships with customers.
4. Exchange concept is the core of online marketing. The effectiveness of online marketing programme depends upon the overall impact of exchange. Marketing firms must be sensitive to the cross channel effects of online and offline marketing programmes.
5. Online marketing aims at securing the goals of both the seller and the buyer. Only when the interests of both the parties are well served, exchange becomes complete.
Advantages of Online Marketing
1. Anytime marketing: Online marketing allows a consumer to make enquries, comparisons, etc., anytime of the day and throughout the year. Thus, it saves the customer’s time and money which he/she would have otherwise spent, shopping physically.
2. Wider choice: Consumer can virtually see the complete range of products they wish to buy products in electronic form. They can visit as many websites as possible to have a wider choice. In fact, this is one of the chief advantages of online marketing.
3. Enhances consumer satisfaction:A consumer gets vast information about a product, its features, service net work. competitor’s offer, etc., by the click of a button. So, a customer is well informed of the availability of various products online. Hence, his decisions are quicker and far better.
4. Global access: Online marketing has exposed a customer to the markets all over the world through internet. So, a customer can buy the best product available in the world at a competitive price from his home or office.
Challenges to the online buying
1. The online channel offers a great platform for retailers to demonstrate leadership and capitalize on them. Retailers still have reservations about posting negative customer reviews for the products on the website.
2. Customers still use use ‘Word of mouth publicity‘ as primary vehicle while buying.
3. Shop. org /BCG study has identified some major hurdles that retailers should overcome. These include limitations, scaling international operations, engineering comprehensive convenience, developing low cost distribution and resolving perceived channel conflicts.
4. Product physicality and the influence of others are some important considerations. Fashion related products which are connected with boosting the self image concept necessitate the possibility of trying the product and observing the reactions of others.
5. The elements of atmospherics also pose a challenge. Potential customers might omit certain goods. They may not recognize the want for them unless they are influenced by certain stimuli like odour, lighting, colour, music etc.
6. The most important hurdle is the efficient management of logistics. Here, the role of courier service is very important. For example, jaldi.com has tied up with Gatti to take care of their delivery logistics.
Marketing programme for online consumers
There is no proven strategy to get consumers to buy products online. But there are certain aspects that successful B2C sites should take care.
1. Strong customers service focus: A highly predictable and reliable delivery system would create more customers’ confidence.
2. Information dissemination: Online buying sites should furnish the maximum possible product information to customers. It should also give an alternative search if the item desired is not available for sale.
3. Double channel strategy: An online presence should coexist with a strong off line channel strategy.
4. Payment mechanism: Generally. some consumers are still apprehensive about paying online. So, alternative modes of payments like cash on delivery and e-cash should be adopted.
5. Offline assistance: The site users should be given an access to a telephone number (toll free) and a live chat for assistance.
6. Online retailers should concentrate on deep understanding of customer needs, exploiting the versatility of internet to create ‘distinctive retail experience, developing attractive business models, leveraging customer relationships, branding the total experience, shortening the marketing learning curve, converting browsers into buyers etc.
Online marketing channels:
1. Creating an electronic storefront: Several companies have set up a home page on the internet. These home pages serve as electronic storefronts. They offer a wide variety of information to users about the company and its products or services.
2. Forums, Newsgroups and bulletin hoards: A company may participate in forums. Forums are the discussion groups located on commercial online services. They may operate a conference room for real-time chatting or a library. A forum’s home page will show icons for conference rooms, libraries, news flashes etc. Internet users can participate in news groups without subscribing to them. Bulletin board systems are specialized online services that focus a specific topic or group
3. Advertisements online: Companies can place advertisements on commercial online service.
4. Using e-mail: Prospects and customers may be encouraged to send queries, suggestions and complaints through its e-mail address. The company may collect the names of prospects and customers and send information to their e-mail address.
Guidelines for Customers for safe online transaction
The following guidelines will be useful to make online transactions safe and secure.
- Protect your password
- Keep your PC updated
- Log in carefully
- Be vigilant and patient.
- Do a proper logoff
- Check accounts regularly
- report suspicious mail.