In the globalization era, the internet plays a significant role in all aspects of life and industries. The internet is a resourceful tool that helps people in accomplishing several tasks easily at their convenience. Some of the tasks that have been enabled by the internet include work that requires research, completion of various formalities before submitting, and most importantly, marketing. Internet marketing also known as online marketing is a task that involves the use of virtual spaces with a goal of promoting or selling goods and services. The businesses have taken full advantage of this platform to reach as many customers and potential clients as possible. In fact, with the rise of new technologies, there have been major changes in the economic sectors, including marketing. Therefore, to understand internet marketing, it is imperative to define and discuss its background, the different kinds of online marketing, as well as the advantages and disadvantages.
It is evident that marketing has gone through various modifications over the years where the internet has played the major role. The internet has linked people across the globe using network servers and wide area communication connections, which transfer information. The introduction of internet has restructured the performance of various sectors such health, travel, education and most importantly, marketing (Eshghi, Krishnan & Sheth, 2001). It has revolutionized the marketing rules, and the practitioners have no choice but to adapt to the changes. Information and communication technology has played a key role in changing the marketing elements since it allows the interaction between a business and its customers. The internet has brought a major turning point and a complete shift of business models, which has resulted to an unavoidable reconceptualization of the marketing nature. With the advent of the new technologies that are growing daily, it is imperative to understand the new dynamics that have been created in the marketing environment (Yannopoulos, 2011). Therefore, the creation and growth of the internet is the key to the growth of online marketing in the recent years. It is evident that the new marketing strategy has brought significant changes in the environment, thus forcing the players to adapt.
How Internet Marketing Works
The main goal of marketing is to reach as main potential clients as possible and remind the existing clients about a product or service. Therefore, like any other marketing platform, online marketing involves both the advertiser who provides the materials to be displayed and the publisher who integrates the online content. Other players who are involved include the advertising agencies that assist in generating the ads and the advertising affiliates who work for the advertiser by endorsing the advertisements. Therefore, through the internet, the advert is distributed through various channels and websites, thus reaching a large number of people who are on the internet (Thomas, 2011). The mode is preferred by most businesses as it can reach more people, especially with the growth of technology and it is cheaper compared to the traditional marketing.
Online Marketing Strategies
Online marketing or e-marketing main aim is to reach as many people as possible who are largely on the internet. Thus, there are various methods and techniques used namely:
It is the most common techniques used in internet marketing. The method uses virtual spaces by putting marketing messages on websites, thus attracting the internet users. Just like other marketing methods, the main objective of online marketing has been to create brand awareness. The method entails placement of attractive online messages on third party websites, directories, and on the search engines. Just like on the T.V, online advertising uses interruption element, but in a more creative manner. Different from the T.V adverts, the internet ads do not force the user to view the promotional piece. On the other hand, it tries to persuade the recipient since it is placed along with other web contents (Pomirleanu et.al, 2013). Internet marketing uses various ways to display marketing messages on the online platform, and with the advancement of technology, new ways of practicing the art of displaying are emerging.
The method involves sending emails to internet users who have email accounts, which is regarded as one of the most successful ways of online marketing. The technique has various advantages, including low costs and high response rate, making it one of the valuable marketing tools. However, the practice still encounters various shortcomings since the person may choose to ignore the promotional email or put it in the spam folder. Therefore, to overcome this disadvantage, the marketers should not solely depend on one marketing platform, but should invest in more marketing channels to increase the success rate (Ellsworth, 2015). Additionally, they should also use the permission marketing where the email recipients allow the messages to be sent to them.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In this age, it is hard to have a business that does not have a website. However, having a well-designed website does not necessarily result in a high number of visits; hence, to drive traffic to a website the SEO has to be adopted. The search engine marketing is one of the major ways of conducting internet marketing. SEO is the art of driving web traffic to certain websites. The importance of SEO is the fact that most people use the search engines to search for the given information. Thus, various marketing methods have been created to rank a given website in the search engines outcomes. The main purpose of this strategy is to place a website among the first after a search engine returns entries thus driving traffic to the site (Thomas, 2011). Therefore, to achieve the intended goal, the website must be relevant in the eyes of the user and the search engine.
The technique is one of the major components of Internet marketing. The method entails the online marketing or promotion of another company’s product and services; hence, earning a commission. Additionally, two or more websites can create relations with one another by promoting each other product or services, an approach that increases their financial gains (Eshghi, Krishnan, & Sheth, 2001). Indeed, in this type of marketing, the customer visits the affiliate website where he /she can click on a link that will take him/her to the website to view the services or product offered on the website.
Social Media Marketing
In this approach, it is the use of social media sites with the aim of driving traffic and creating brand awareness. The social media has one of the highest numbers of internet users, making it a valuable target for businesses. The social media involves creating unique and attractive content that encourages a viewer to share it with his or her social media contacts (Ellsworth, 2015). The method is one of the cheapest and it is gaining ground, especially due to the high number of social media users.
Advantages of Internet Marketing
Internet marketing has various advantages to both the businesses and consumers. Some of the benefits are highlighted below.
The online marketing has created an enabling environment for small businesses to compete for a market share with the big enterprises. The internet has created a situation where all the businesses have an equal chance of promoting their brands in large scales. The internet has created opportunities for small enterprises to engage in international marketing, which could have been expensive if they were using the previous marketing media. As such, the difference in size or resources does not factor in bringing revenues or success in the business while conducting online marketing (Yannopoulus, 2011). However, one has to use the correct and most effective marketing channels to generate the desired results.
Geographical Barriers Elimination
The use of internet in marketing has removed all the geographical limitations since the internet has the capability of reaching the global market at low costs. Marketing using the traditional media was costly to the multinational enterprises, but with the advent of the internet, even the smallest business can display their products in the global market (Yannopoulus, 2011). Thus, internet marketing has enabled the marketers to reach various customers across the world.
Comparing with the traditional methods of advertising, the Internet marketing is cheaper since it does not entail huge amounts of investments as what was needed by the previous marketing media (Yannopoulus, 2011). Therefore, it is clear that online marketing is cheaper as websites have the ability to generate traffic for free, hence, reaching more clients.
According to Yannopoulus (2011), all the internet marketing activities are done online, thus the business is not limited to the traditional audiences. The internet made the world a small village with the advent of online marketing. The businesses seem as if they are just a few blocks from their customers and the geographical differences are meaningless, thus allowing the businesses to reach a large number of customers, a situation that could not have been possible with the old marketing techniques.
The traditional marketing was limited since the customer could not interact with the product or service provider; however, with the rise of internet marketing, the customers can ask questions concerning a given product or service and get real-time responses (Pomirleanu, 2013). In essence, the interactions create a relationship between the provider and the customer, which in turn generates trust and confidence.
Disadvantages of Internet Marketing
With all the benefits brought by the internet marketing, the practice has faced several disadvantages, and some of them are discussed below.
In fact, an article used for internet marketing campaigns can be copied easily and used by competitors who are not aware of the legal implications. Company logos or trademarks may be used to defraud customers, thus taking a considerable market share of a given business. On the other hand, the fraudsters can take advantage of the company logos and trademarks to propagate erroneous and negative information about a given product, service, or brand (Thomas, 2011). Therefore, this practice may affect the customer’s trust and ruin the business reputation.
Too Much Online Clutter
Online businesses have both genuine and illegitimate entities such as spammers, scammers, and troll who flood the internet with unnecessary information. The situation makes it hard for online marketers to be noticed by the target audiences (Yannopoulus, 2011). Therefore, the questionable entities make the consumers ignore some of the advertisements in the online platform, thus losing valuable web traffic, a situation that leads to lower revenues.
Inappropriate for Some Products
Various brands, products, and services may not reach their target audience if the marketer chooses to use online marketing platform. The information on products or services meant for the elderly might not reach them since a survey has shown that there many old people do not even know how to get to the internet or they rarely us the platform (Yannopoulus, 2011). As such, it would be a waste of resources and money to market such products online as they will not reach the target market.
Lack of Trust
The disadvantage usually relates to insecurity and privacy related issues on the customer’s side. In this case, the customer might not be sure whether the site will deliver his or her product depending on the command depicted by the company. Additionally, people still mistrust the electronic payment methods since there have been cases of a person’s account being hacked and losing all their money (Federal Trade Commission, 2016). Hence, this makes it hard for online marketing and businesses to flourish; however, the shortcoming has led to interests in learning about online trust and design of sites that are friendly to the customers.
From the discussion, it is evident that the internet has revolutionized various aspects of life, including the economy and marketing. The internet introduced major online marketing techniques, and from the study, it is clear the opportunities and shortcomings brought about by online marketing. Through internet marketing, geographical barriers have been eliminated, target market reached, relationships have been established, and cost effective ways of advertising have been adopted. However, implementing the online marketing has faced various challenges such as copying, unnecessary information, and lack of trust in online business. Nevertheless, the internet will continue to evolve, and there will be new ways that will emerge and define how brands, services, and products will be marketed in the near future. Therefore, with the growth of technology, it is important for businesses to understand and take advantage of online marketing as it has more benefits and the ability to reach more customers.