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80 Seiten, Note: A
Chapter 1 - Introduction
1.1. Research Background
1.2. Research Problem
1.3. Aims of the Research Study
1.4. Objectives of the Project
1.5. Research Questions
1.7. Dissertation Structure
Chapter 2 - Literature Review
2.1. Introduction to Online Marketing
2.2. Most Used Online Marketing Techniques in Today’s Environment
2.3. Centralized and decentralized online marketing activities
2.4. Interdependence between various online marketing tools
2.5. Effective implementation of online marketing campaign
2.6. Factors that affect Online Marketing Campaigns
2.7. Critical success factors of online advertisement campaigns
Chapter 3 - Research Methodology
3.1. Research Approach
3.2. Research Methods
3.3. Data Collection Methods
3.4. Sampling Techniques
3.5. Research Techniques
3.6. Questionnaire Design
3.7. Advantages and Disadvantages of Questionnaire
3.8. Personal Interviews Design
3.9. Ethical Issues
3.10. Limitations of the Research Study
3.11. Closing Remarks
Chapter 4 - Data Analysis
4.1. General Response
4.2. Hypothesis Testing
4.3. Analysis of Data Collected Through Personal Interviews
Chapter 5 - Discussion
5.1. Validity and Reliability
Chapter 6 - Conclusion and Recommendations
Marketing has always been one of the most crucial and critical functions in organizations for last several decades. Since several years, organizations have been depending on various marketing methods to promote products, services and brands. As time passes, the types of marketing strategies that are considered for have changed. Techniques that were used in 1950s shall not be helpful for organizations that operate in today’s environment. In the same way, techniques that are currently used in today’s environment shall not be useful after 50 to 60 years (Kotler and Keller, 2012). Unless marketing activities are planned based on present market conditions, it is not possible for organizations to reach wide-range of customers that spread across the world. As there are no boundaries in the target markets of most of the organizations, organizations have to use the combination of both traditional and online marketing methods. While traditional marketing methods such as print, radio or television marketing primarily restricted to tap domestic customers, it is online marketing strategy that helps organizations to reach customers, who spread across the world, with minimum marketing budget.
Online marketing is the process of sending marketing communications and advertising messages to customers through various methods that used over internet. Internet marketing forms a wide-range of techniques such as search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing, blog marketing, and buzz marketing etc. As per the recent report revealed by Internet Advertising Bureau in 2009, the revenues of online ad sellers have increased to $21 Billion. The global online advertising spending in 2001 was around $82 Billion and it is expected to grow 12-14% every year to reach $132 Billion by 2015 (Miller and Washington, 2012).Organizations use numerous of techniques that fall under online marketing techniques to market products and to reach potential customers. Moreover, in today’s environment, organizations are focusing on techniques that help in reducing the cost in every aspect.
On the arrival of latest technologies, the way organizations operate has been completely changed. Using innovative techniques has become an important aspect in promotion of products and services. Be it promoting products or sharing information to customers, organizations have been looking to employ innovative and unique techniques or technologies to stay ahead of the competition. Gone are those days, where organizations used to depend completely on traditional marketing media, which demands the top management of the organizations to allocate huge pie of funds (Kotler and Keller, 2012). Now, organizations are operating in an age where there are numerous of promotional techniques available to promote products or services at much cheaper cost.
Today, it is apparent that organizations have started tending towards using online marketing techniques. Some of the sectors that use online marketing techniques effectively are retail, telecom, financial services, automotive, consumer goods and travel sector. Some of the countries that are known for spending huge sum of money on online advertising are the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France etc. The trend is very clear that even developing countries like India, Brazil and China have also started spending huge amount of money on online advertising. North America has been contributing approximately 47% of the total online advertisement spending followed by Western Europe with 28%, Asia Pacific with 24% and Eastern Europe with 2.7%. As the global online advertisement spending has been increasing at approximately 12% year after year since 1999, it has become imperative for organizations to look at various online advertising techniques to reach customers (Collett, 2000).
With the arrival of social media marketing strategies, the mindset of marketing managers who take care of online marketing campaigns have completely changed. They started recognizing social media marketing channels as new communication models that help organization to reach wider-range of customers with minimum efforts. Moreover, social networking sites, with its viral nature, are served as best communication channels that spread positive word of mouth regarding products or services or brands (Sernovitz, 2006). On the arrival of social media marketing, organizations have successfully started integrating Facebook marketing, Twitter marketing or MySpace marketing with other online marketing methods to get best results in short span of time. The interdependence of various online marketing methods has also increased in late 2000s.
Though most of the organizations have been using online marketing techniques to promote products and services, several of them don’t know how to use these techniques to get best results out. In simple terms, organizations are unable to understand critical success factors that contribute to the success of online marketing campaign; this is the reason why some of the companies are not successful in attracting more customers by using online marketing campaign. Unless organizations comprehend critical success factors that provide information about how to use online marketing strategies successfully, getting desired results would be a big question mark. Thus, it is imperative for every organization, big or small, that uses online marketing technique to understand various factors that contribute to the success of the online promotional methods.
The research problem for this dissertation is very straightforward. The problem is that organizations, in today’s online market have been using wide-range of online marketing techniques for last several years without having knowledge on critical success factors of online promotional campaigns that enhance the success rate. When more numbers of customers are getting influenced with online marketing media, there is no other choice for companies but to find best ways to use online marketing techniques effectively to outperform competition.
As there are numerous of online marketing strategies available, organizations are unable to understand right implementation methods. Implementation of online marketing campaign definitely needs a perfect marketing plan and communication plan that takes the entire marketing activity in right direction. An impeccable implementation plan will also be considered as a major success factor for online marketing campaign. Numerous of studies, which provide information on right implementation methods of online marketing campaign, are available on internet but marketing teams are unable to get benefits from them because most of these studies are really vague.
Moreover, limited information on research topic is also considered as one of the major problems in this aspect. If organizations have access to right kinds of research studies that help in implementing online marketing strategies in a better way, the situation would be definitely different. Yes, though there are numerous of market research studies available on benefits of online promotional strategies, the literature that is available on evaluating critical success factors of online marketing strategies is very limited over internet. Of course there are paid resources that elaborate on the research topic but most of them are not reliable enough. Thus, research study shall be focused on identifying various factors, which are crucial for every online campaign. This research paper shall focus on below research objectives and research questions and shall also test hypothesis statements by using data collected from primary sources.
The major aim of this research study is ‘to identify various critical factors that contribute to the success of the online marketing campaign’. The online marketing campaign consists of various online marketing techniques such as search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing, blog marketing and buzz marketing etc.
Objectives of the research study shall drive the researcher in the right direction towards achieving the aim of the research study. Generally, there are two kinds of research objectives. They are primary research objective and secondary research objective. While carrying out the research study, by having properly designed objectives in hand, the researcher would be able to comeback after every step in the research process to ensure that the research study is going in the right direction or not.
The primary research objective of this research study is
- To create a framework for organizations to successfully execute online marketing campaign.
In order to achieve the above primary research objective, the following secondary research objectives should be achieved. The secondary research objectives of this research paper are provided below.
1. To identify various marketing techniques involved in online marketing campaign
2. To analyze centralized and decentralized online marketing activities
3. To evaluate the interdependence between various online marketing tools such as social media marketing and blog marketing etc
4. To analyze various best ways to effectively implement online marketing strategies
5. To analyze factors affecting the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns
6. To analyze critical success factors of online advertisement campaigns.
The following are research questions that help us to achieve the research objectives.
1. What are the most used online marketing techniques in today’s environment?
2. What is the universal set of critical factors, which are crucial for every online campaign?
3. How these critical factors are changing with development of online market?
4. What are the trends in online advertising?
5. Does critical success factors change based on market environment?
6. What factors should be considered for evaluation of marketing techniques in future?
A hypothesis is said to be proposed elaboration to a phenomenon or a happening. Hypothesis shall be derived from previous observations, research reports and scientific studies that have explained about the same phenomenon. The proposed hypothesis shall be tested with the help of the data which is collected from primary sources. The following are the hypotheses statements derived for this research study.
H1: Compelling and unique content on websites and blogs shall play a major role in attracting customers because search engines index pages based on quality of content. Thus, quality content is one of the key success factors of search engine optimization and blog marketing.
H2: Effective video marketing will also increase the probability of getting more traffic to the targeted websites. People rather love to watch videos than read content. Video marketing will become one of the most preferable choices of online marketing tools in future.
H3: Email marketing with an opt-in email list will enhance the ability of the marketer in reaching potential customers. Create an Opt-in Email list by using website, blog and social networking pages because opt-in email list will play a key role in success of online marketing.
H4: Social Media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have become best channels for customers to share views. With a right product or service, organizations can easily create positive word of mouth by using Social Media Marketing. Thus, effective use of social media by sharing useful information in regular intervals will add value to online marketing campaign.
H5: All online marketing techniques are interdependent on one-another. Simultaneous use of search engine, social media, email and affiliate marketing will make the online marketing campaign very powerful.
This thesis has been logically structured. The following chapters, literature review, research methodology, data analysis, discussions and conclusion will make the dissertation a complete logical research study. The literature review shall be focused on reviewing wide-range of existing research papers and literatures. The research methodology will explain the types of research methods, sampling methods, research tools used in this research paper. Data analysis shall be completely dedicated to analyzing the primary data by using chosen research methods and tools. Discussions and Results shall be focused on compare the results with similar work done by other investigators. And, the final chapter, conclusion will summarize and provide implications of the research study.
Though the process of selling goods and services had been there since ages, the concept of marketing was said have been discovered in 19th century only. According to Kotler and Keller (2012), basic concepts of marketing were elaborated in early 1990s. Conceptualization of the concept, integration of basic principles of marketing and development of specialization were happened in 1920s and 1930s. In early 1950, with the increase in competition between organizations, marketing gurus have started recognizing that the key factor in successful marketing is to understand the needs of customers perfectly. It was only in late 1950s organizations have started developing marketing campaigns based on customer’s requirements. In 1950s, organizations just thought that marketing is synonym for making customers to purchase products (Mohammed, Fisher, Jaworski, and Paddison, 2002). In later stages, organizations have started realizing that marketing is not only about getting customers to stores but also developing relationships. Organizations have realized in 1960s that the key objective of marketing is to develop satisfying relationships with customers so that the relationship will be helpful for both organizations and customers (Harris, 2002).
The marketing orientation era was started in 1960s when the markets have become saturated. The competition has become very intense between organizations that provide same services and products (Kotler and Keller, 2012). This was the time when the marketing managers have started involving in strategic decision making teams to help the top managements of organizations on how to market goods, how to price them and how to communicate with customers etc. In early 1960s, modern marketing managers have asked the top managements of organizations to take steps to let all employees of the organization understand the activities of marketing. This was the time when organizations have started promoting brands also. With the advanced technologies, organizations have started using wide-range of marketing techniques to promote products and services. In 1980s and 1990s, organizations had completely depended on print, radio and television to ensure that products and services reach potential customers (Kotler and Keller, 2012). The usage of electronic media has changed the way organizations promote their products and services.
The traditional marketing media is known for influencing customers and taking products to all corners of the domestic region. Though, the cost of the traditional marketing media is very high, organizations never take a back seat to promote products on newspapers and televisions because the impact these promotional mediums generate is very huge and noticeable (Croll and Sean, 2009). The impact created by both newspapers and television on mindset of customers is very high when compared to any other marketing methods. This is the reason why, though advanced marketing methods such as online marketing methods and innovative customized promotional strategies prevalent in the market, organizations will definitely make use of traditional marketing methods to promote products in domestic markets.
The major problem with print, radio and television is that they will not be able to penetrate into international markets. Moreover, for small companies, which are just entered into the market, it is very difficult to make use of traditional marketing methods majorly because of budget limitations. When organizations have to operate with these kinds of limitations, they don’t have any other choice but to come up with innovative marketing methods that help them to reach global audience at an affordable rate. With the globalized environment, organizations need to serve customers who spread across the world. To serve customers, who spread across the world, it is important to have marketing techniques that help organizations to reach worldwide (Patterson, 2008). This is where the concept of online marketing has conceptualized based on the existing technology called internet. Thus, online marketing is also called as internet marketing and online advertising.
Online marketing has become primary marketing strategy for most of the small and medium scale organizations. Now, almost all organizations have been using online marketing some way or other. In late 1990s and early 2000s, organizations have recognized the opportunity of marketing products through online promotional methods (Lenskold, 2003). If the current market trends are compared with the online marketing industry, which was in nascent stage in mid 1990s, a $300 Million market is really insignificant. In 2007-08, the same online industry has reached $200 Billion as per the records of Forrester Research; in which apparel industry contributed around $26 Billion, computer industry has contributed around $23 Billion and Automotive Industry has contributed around $17 Billion (Croll and Sean, 2009). Today, it is very hard to find an organization, which does not have footsteps in online promotional activities. Thanks to prevalent internet and advanced technologies that contribute successful promotion of products and services over online.
Of course, in 1990s, most of the organizations have started creating websites but they never knew best methods to bring traffic to websites (Lenskold, 2003). They just used to depend on referrals and email signatures to let customers know about the website. But, now, the situation is completely different and organizations have wide-range of choices to let customers know about website, services and products over online. The starting point of the online promotions is said to be arrival of an online marketing technique called search engine optimization (SEO), which is still one of the popular online marketing methods in the world. With Google, one of the dominant search engines, leads the search engine market, the popularity of search engine optimization has multiplied in mid 2000s. Though the roots of search engine optimization found in late 1990s, the effective usage of SEO technique has started only in early 2000s (Lenskold, 2003).
In the meantime, blogs were born. Blogs have become one of the most important communication channels that influence search engine results. Organizations too have started using blogs and blog networks to effectively market their products and services through website. Blogging is said to be the most revolutionized method that has increased the revenues of online marketing into many folds. Browsers have become intelligent with advanced algorithms used by search engine organizations (David, 2005). With the arrival of web 2.0, the online environment has become more competitive in nature. Methods such as social bookmarking, blog creation and social networking have also made organizations to effectively use internet for promotional purposes (Patterson, 2008). Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter have made the online marketing space more revolutionized (Weber, 2007). Arrival of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace for information sharing and YouTube and Vimeo for video sharing was another big milestone on the way for organizations to start focusing on promoting services on internet (Patterson, 2008).
Organizations use wide-range of online marketing techniques to promote services, products or brands for that matter. The most commonly used online marketing technique is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While implementing SEO technique, marketing managers will try to optimize the website for popular keywords to increase the traffic to a website or a blog. SEO technique is known for bringing the website into first page of various search engines for desired keywords (Thurow, 2008). When a customer searches particular services on search engine, the website, which is optimized for popular keywords, will be visible in the first page of the search engine. This is considered as one of the most innovative ways to attract potential customers, who don’t know about the website or services.
Search engine optimization will make use of techniques such as bookmarking, forum posting, blog commenting and article posting to bring traffic to the website. Quality content is said to be the key factor, which plays a major role in attracting customers because it is not possible to engage customers without compelling and unique content. In the process of SEO, marketers will create wide-range of articles and distribute them to numerous of article posting websites and blogs. The SEO industry has been growing leaps and bounds; approximately, 9.1 million internet users have been showing interest to use SEO services or to learn SEO techniques; nearly 2.4 million American people search for SEO every month (Buono-Daly, 2012). Most of the Asian nations such as India, Pakistan and Philippines have been providing wide-range of SEO services to organizations that spread across the world. In accordance with changing algorithms, organizations have also been changing the way they implement SEO strategies (Thurow, 2008; David, 2005). Most of the SEO service providers have significantly reduced activities such as social bookmarking, forum posting and blog commenting to make use of changing algorithms.
With the introduction of web 2.0, blog marketing and buzz marketing have become extremely famous for promoting services. Though the blogging has started in the early 2000s, it was only in mid 2000s organizations started using it for promotional purposes. In today’s environment, every organization that focuses on tapping customers over online has a blog or multiple blogs (Moran and Hunt, 2006). By using blogs, organizations are not only promoting services or products but also providing much needed information to customers about services. Organizations treat blog as a feedback tool to hear what the customers are saying about the services.
With huge number of e-commerce websites, the market of online sales has been growing at rapid pace. It has become a major problem for customers to find genuine and authenticated organizations that provide good services over online. This is where blog networks help customers to find out best companies to associate with. Blogs are known for platforms that create word of mouth (Sernovitz, 2006). If an organization provides best services and products, blog networks will definitely help the organization to create positive word of mouth in this big online space. The success mantra is very simple here; maintain a blog, share information and create positive word of mouth in the market (Moran and Hunt, 2006).
Social networking websites are also considered as best platforms to share information with potential customers. Popular social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Hi5 have really shown the potential of social networking space to promote services and products. Out of all, Facebook is said to be one of the powerful and viral networks over internet (Weber, 2007).
What organizations need to do is to create organization’s page on Facebook or other social networking platforms and provide important information that can help potential customers in decision making process of purchasing a product or service (MacFarquahar, 2008). Organizations have been using Twitter also very effectively to provide updates to customers. While most organizations use social websites such as Facebook and Twitter, some of them have also started focusing on promoting products with the help of video promotion websites such as YouTube and Vimeo (Walther, 2010).
According to the study of Razmerita, Kirchner and Sudzina (2009), Facebook has nearly 68 million of unique users; MySpace has nearly 58 million users; LinkedIn has nearly 11 million users in 2009. Razmerita, Kirchner and Sudzina (2009) have also mentioned that the number of unique visitors on every social media websites is poised to grow at a healthy rate in forthcoming years. According to Business Week (2012), Facebook has reached the milestone of having 1 billion active users in 2012. However this is an exceptional example the way social marketing sites have grown in last few years. According to Gartner survey in 2009, nearly 20 percent of business owners’ use social networking sites in the place of email services for interpersonal communications (Walther, 2010). Some of the other predictions of Gartner’s survey are: Nearly 25 percent of enterprises use social networking sites to analyze markets and performance improvement metrics and productivity by 2015; nearly every organization use social media network for brand and reputation monitoring by 2015 (Walther, 2010).
Social media is growing faster than most of the other online marketing strategies today. It is apparent that most of the organizations have been using social media marketing campaigns to create brand awareness in the market (Li and Bernoff, 2008). Li and Bernoff, ( 2008) has also emphasized that most of the consumers that use social networking sites feel happy whenever they notice an attractive marketing campaign, which is completely different from regular marketing campaigns. As social media fosters a fun environment, organizations can easily make use it to create brand awareness among audiences by coming up with different marketing campaigns (Li and Bernoff, 2008). In today’ environment, the social media marketing environment seems to be omnipresent both for organizations that offer services and consumers, who love to receive information on existing offers in the market as well. Though social media is not a new marketing channel, it will definitely act as a best communication channel among all available communication channels exist in the market (Harte, 2009). It is very important for organization to also consider social media as a communication medium rather than marketing medium because it helps organizations to create brand awareness and spread positive word of mouth (Sernovitz, A., 2006).
Video marketing has become highly popular in 2011 and has been growing at healthy growth rate since then. As less number of people showing interest on reading blog posts and articles on internet, organizations have started promoting services and products by making videos. The advertisements, which are given in traditional electronic media, can be seen while watching videos on YouTube and Vimeo. Video marketing is still in the nascent stage and every organization that is promoting services or products through online marketing techniques would suppose to enter into video marketing also.
Affiliate marketing is another technique most of the organizations use in hospitality, travel, consumer goods and retail sectors. In the process of affiliate marketing, organizations simply create various affiliate networks and share revenues with people who bring new customers (Hoffman and Thomas, 2000). Affiliate programs operated with the help of wide-range of associates would certainly help organizations in bringing new customers. In addition to affiliate marketing, organizations can use pay-par-click advertisement also. Pay per click advertising is considered as one of the most used online marketing strategies that are known for building leads quickly (Hill, 2004). Though the pay per click advertising is costlier when compared to other online marketing campaigns, it will definitely help new companies to build valid leads.
Email Marketing is a popular tool that helps organization to send a commercial message to a group of people through email. Organizations have started making use of prevalent internet to send mails to potential customers who reside in all the corners of the world. Though email service has become popular in 1996, when Hotmail.com started its services by introducing first web based email service, it has become popular only in early 2000s (Hill, 2004). As email has become communication tool for academic and business purposes, organizations have started using email service for marketing purposes.
With the arrival of smartphones, people have got the opportunity to see emails wherever they want. To tap the customers with the help of email marketing services, organizations have started creating opt-in email lists, which consists of only potential customer’s email ids. There are two types of opt-in email lists. They are confirmed and unconfirmed opt-in email lists. A confirmed opt-in list is a list consisting of emails of the persons who confirmed that they would like to receive communication. Unconfirmed consists of emails of persons who never have been asked whether they want it or not. If the owner of an email address does not want to subscribe or doesn´t want any emails, his or her email address should be removed from the email list as per the ethical methods.
Paid search marketing is said to be another type of online marketing strategy that helps organizations to promote products and services. Paid search marketing has become a big boom in late 1997 when it was invented by Goto.com. Paid search is nothing but a process wherein organizations posts some advertisements in the form of text or banner and when a customer clicks on that banner, the organization has to pay for every click that the banner receives (Hill, 2004). In late 1990s and early 2000s, organizations had used directories, contextual ads, paid placement and shopping search as paid search marketing tools to promote products and services.
Now, nearly most search advertisements are sold on pay-per-click or cost-per-click basis. The major benefit of paid search marketing is that it will give quick results unlike search engine optimization marketing (Hill, 2004). When a potential customer searches for desired services or products using certain keywords, relevant advertisements of paid search marketing will be shown on search engines. Google is the biggest service provider of paid search marketing.
Depending on the type of the organization and number of branches it operates, marketing managers will try to use either centralized or decentralized marketing activities. While for some organizations, centralized marketing activities help in growing as per the plan, decentralized marketing organizations will help several other organizations. The major benefit of centralized online marketing activities is that organizations can easily avoid duplication. In the same way, with the help of decentralized online marketing activities, organizations will be able to tap the local market very effectively. While executing the marketing plans with the help of centralized marketing system, organizations will not have any kinds of strategic management teams at subsidiaries; all marketing activities will be taken care at the central level only. The major problem with the centralized marketing activities is that branch offices will be less sensitive to local markets and thus lose flexibility to react the needs of customers (Smith and Chaffey, 2005).
As mentioned, decentralized marketing activities will help organizations in exploiting local opportunities in a better way. While using decentralized marketing activities, most of the central marketing services such as marketing research activities and public relationship activities will be done at the branch offices of the organization also (Mack and Ratcliffe, 2007). All strategic management decisions related to marketing will be done at the branch level. The major problem with the decentralized marketing activities is that, some-times, both branch offices as well as central offices will promote products to same customers and thus leads to duplication. Unless the marketing teams of the organization at branch level and central level co-ordinate each other, it is very difficult to execute decentralized online marketing activities perfectly. Thus, using centralized or decentralized marketing activities will depend on the environment, in which the organization operates or the type of strategic plans that an organization has in place. If the organization has multiple websites separately for different geographies, it can use different online marketing teams to implement search engine marketing or social media marketing to target domestic customers (Mack and Ratcliffe, 2007).
Organizations should carefully select suitable online marketing techniques based on the environment, target market and product or service it offers. Most of the online marketing tools are always interdependent (Kim, Han and Schultz, 2004). For instance, to effectively implement online marketing campaign, marketing teams make use of blogs, paid search marketing, social media marketing and email marketing. Though, numerous of other activities are involved in search engine optimization, without integrating the above mentioned online marketing methods closely with search engine optimization, getting desired results is a complex task (Charlesworth, 2009). As the target audience for all marketing tools used within a marketing strategy is the same, it is important to integrate all tools, so that the audience would get a solid picture of what is being communicated, thus creating a major impact on mind-set of the potential customer. Thus, a marketing campaign, which is developed by integrating all existing marketing strategies, would be very much effective in giving better results within the short span of time (Charlesworth, 2009).
Marketing managers should not only think about factors that contribute to the success of online marketing strategies but also about various ways that help organizations to effectively implement marketing strategies. Marketing plan plays a major role in the implementation of the online marketing strategy (Croll and Sean, 2009). It does not matter if you are using search engine optimization, social media optimization or affiliate marketing to promote website, having an impeccable marketing plan is inevitable (Hoffman and Thomas, 2000).
Online marketing plan can be derived into five simple steps. The first step is to define the purpose of the marketing plan. The purpose of the marketing plan will be able to help marketing managers to understand what organizations expect people to do after the completion of the marketing campaign. The purpose of the marketing campaign can be; influencing people to call organizations and inquire about products; influencing people to inquire through email about products or services; influencing people to tell others about products or services (Croll and Sean, 2009). Depending on the purpose of the online marketing campaign, organizations will have to choose online marketing strategies.
The second step in the online marketing plan is to determine the competitive advantage of the organization or product or service or brand to emphasize more on it (Lenskold, 2003). The market is very competitive in nature with huge number of organizations selling similar kinds of products and services. Unless organizations draw a clear line on identifying or showcasing competitive advantage in terms of pricing or features, it will be a difficult task to convince customers irrespective of online marketing methods used to promote services. The competitive advantage which is identified by marketing managers will answer the question ‘why will customers either call or mail to inquire about products?’ Customers will call or mail mainly because they are influenced by competitive advantage that is showcased in the promotional campaigns or they feel that the competitive advantage as a solution to the problem that they have.
The third step in the online marketing plan is to determine the target audience. The marketing campaign will not be effective unless the organization segments the markets based on geography or demography especially while planning to reach audience through online marketing methods such as Social Media Marketing (Mack and Ratcliffe, 2007). Social media sites such as Facebook will have numerous of options that help organizations to target potential customers based on parameters such as demography and geography. This step will help the organizations to identify which group is most willing to accept the product or service. Moreover, segmenting the market will also help organizations effectively target only potential customers, who definitely purchase products or services, rather than random customers in the market.
The fourth step in the marketing plan is to select most suitable marketing mix. Depending on the target market and type of the products or services, organizations can go ahead with multiple online marketing methods (Rowley, 2001). Some of the most used marketing methods these days are paid search marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and video marketing. Organizations should also analyze if in-house team has strengths of promoting products or service by using above mentioned online marketing techniques or not. If the in-house team does not have capabilities to promote products, it is very important to hire a third party marketing firm for assistance.
The final step in the marketing plan is to determine the online marketing budget. Yes, most of the organizations rightly identify target markets, niche markets and online marketing methods but fail to take the entire process forward mainly because of lack of funds (Charlesworth, 2009). This is where allocating a fixed marketing budget would play a major role. Online marketing process is a long term process where organizations have to keep on evaluating market trends and customer’s need to change strategies. Without proper allocation of budget, it will be very difficult for organizations to hire third party agencies and to do market research that helps in understanding market trends (Brynjolfsson et al, 2006). In simple, to implement online marketing campaign, organizations need to follow above five methods.
Another important aspect in the effective implementation of marketing plan is internal communication plan within sales and marketing departments. It does not matter that the organization is planning for traditional marketing strategy or online marketing strategy, the communication plan plays a major role in implementation of the same (Charlesworth, 2009). The communication plan will help organizations to let everybody in both sales and marketing teams understand marketing-related goals of the organization. Moreover, it is very important that every employee in the organization understands about organization’s target markets, process involved in buying and selling; effective communication plays a major role in employee involvement also. Especially, when organizations follow decentralized marketing processes, communication plan plays a major role.
The internal marketing communication plan plays an important role when the organization operates with multiple branches. It helps organizations to avoid duplication of promotional activities to same customers. In the same way, organizations that use affiliate marketing can also make use of internal marketing communication plan to effectively promote products and services. Thus, in additional to following all six steps, marketing managers should also take care of internal marketing communication to effectively execute online marketing strategies.
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