The internet is considered as a channel partner. Hence online marketing is to be considered as a channel marketing strategy. An Organization needs to define specific objective from internet marketing and building communications as well as scheme around it.
Internet marketing is one form customer touch point where companies directly interact with existing as well as potential customers.
The biggest challenge for the companies is to integrate internet marketing strategy with overall marketing strategy. The prime reason for this challenge is the thought process that has considered internet as an independent entity. Many organizations have not made an effort to make internet as any function of the organization.
The internet is a new channel partner for many organizations. Therefore, it is essential that companies create separate the internet marketing plan. As companies begin to understand the full potential of internet marketing, a separate internet marketing plan may not be required. The overall marketing plan now will be developed considering the strategic advantage of internet marketing.
Every company needs to develop a logical framework for its operations as to meet its business objectives. The overall business objectives need to be broken to milestones, the company has to achieve within a certain time frame. To achieve these milestones, companies need to develop strategies around the key activities.
One of the key activities is in strategy development is marketing. The strategy developed to achieve business objectives through marketing is called as a marketing plan.
An internet marketing strategy building begins with understanding the current market scenario. After analyzing market scenario, companies develop marketing plan and specific internet related objectives. To achieve internet channel objectives, companies develop the internet marketing plan. After developing and defining internet marketing plan, the next step is to analyze the online presence of the company. The company can start working towards implementation of marketing strategy, if it already has an online presence.
A strategy would be considered incomplete, if there is no continuous monitoring of the same. A strategy modified and re-worked based on positive or negative feedback.
An organization functions in a dynamic environment. It needs to ascertain whether the current marketing strategies are effective or they require some modification. This internal marketing audit looks to resolve following key activities:
- A complete review of the internal capabilities of the company, process and resources.
- A complete review of the present market and the competition, including the micro and the macro environment.
- A complete review of current internet contribution in the marketing plan.
Another aspect of the strategic review is to assess the current contribution of internet marketing plan with other marketing activities. This can be done by understanding the current internet marketing capability. The first step is to check whether company has its own website. The next step is to check whether the website is registered with any online business directory. The next step is to create the website with a basic company and product information. The next step is making the site interactive where a potential customer is able to place further enquires. The next step is to develop the website which is capable of e-commerce activities as well as customer service desk. The final step is to develop a full functional website which can help the company in marketing as well as relationship building.
Any marketing strategy or plan should be constructed to support the overall business objective of the company. Companies have a general tendency of developing the internet marketing plan away from the overall marketing plan. Companies have resorted to experimentation in internet marketing plan rather than a focused approach.
This lack of clarity in the internet marketing plan has led to many failures with companies suffering from financial loss.
Integration of the internet can be done through scenario based analysis. In the scenario based analysis various market simulations are created to explore different possibilities. The internet marketing role in all scenarios needs to be explored to take the full advantage.
The financial benefits of internet marketing would be through increased sales and better topline growth. The internet marketing would also help in customer service, by development easy self-help guides, thus reducing overhead cost.
The intangible benefits of internet marketing would be a better corporate image, enhanced visibility, customer relationships, better customer service etc.
The internet is considered as a channel partner for the company and therefore it should be part channel marketing strategy. It is important for the internet marketing strategy considers the following:
- The strategy developed should outline objectives which generate leads and sales from this channel.
- The strategy should target the customers which are users of the internet.
- The strategy supports the customer in making the buying decision as well as delivering the product.
- The strategy should highlight differentiation from competition.
- The strategy should encourage consumers to use the internet along with channels.
- The strategy should help in customer acquisition as well as retention.
The company needs to ascertain various pros and cons of internet marketing strategies before implementation of one particular strategy. With finite resources companies look for solutions which are implementable.
To implement an online marketing strategy, companies have various marketing applications. Companies need to maintain portfolio of these applications and make a careful selection depending upon risk and reward.
Post implementation it is important to maintain tracker of the strategy. These trackers are frequently centered on, visitor tracking, lead generation, online sales and finally customer retention.
Development of internet marketing strategy should follow the same path as that of any marketing strategy, without forgetting uniqueness that the internet brings to the company.
- Display Advertising: The use of banner ads and other graphical advertisements to market products online.
- Search Engine Marketing: Using search engines to help connect users with the products and services they are most interested in. Companies can pay to receive preferential ranking in a list of search results.
- Search Engine Optimization: A free and organic way for companies to improve their visibility on search engines.
- Social Media Marketing: Using sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with customers.
- Email Marketing: Communicating with customers through the use of carefully designed emails.
- Referral Marketing: Using internet channels to encourage consumers to recommend products to their friends and families.
- Affiliate Marketing: Working with other businesses to make it easier for consumers to shop for products online.
- Inbound Marketing: Boosting the value of a company’s web presence by adding unique content like blogs, games, and tutorial videos.
- Video Marketing: Using web videos for promotional purposes.