The mission of marketing is to attract and retain customers. To accomplish this goal, a traditional bricks-and-mortar marketer uses a variety of marketing variables C including pricing, advertising, and channel choice C to satisfy current and new customers. In this context, the standard marketing-mix toolkit includes such mass-marketing levers as television advertising, direct mail, and public relations, as well as customer-specific marketing techniques such as the use of sales reps. With the emergence of the Internet and its associated technology C enabled, screen-to-face interfaces (e.g., mobile phone, interactive television), a new era of marketing has emerged. Well-respected academics and practitioners have called for new rules and urged debate about fundamental tenets of marketing, including segmentation, mass marketing, and regionalized programs (Wind & Vijay, 2001).
Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals . It is a particular method of doing an activity, generally involving a series of steps or operations. The classical marketing approach involving four broad steps: market analysis, market planning, implementation, and control .
The Internet is a worldwide network of thousands of linked computers compared to “a giant international plumbing system” (Berkeley, 1997). That the Internet is not just one gigantic computer with all of the information; rather there are many computer centers, and we are connected to this “plumbing system” somewhere along the line. It kind of looks like a spider’s web. The internet marketing is the process of building and maintaining customer relationships through online activities to facilitate the exchange of ideas, products, and services that satisfy the goals of both parties .
One of the early mistakes online marketers made was to not fully appreciate, or take advantage of, the unique characteristics of the Internet which make it such a powerful tool. As outlined in the evolution of Internet marketing, many organizations use their web pages simply as an alternative form of publication with nothing to distinguish them from the printed copy except for a reduction in certain costs.
Effective web-based marketing requires organizations to fully explore the following benefits of the Internet and incorporate these features as appropriate into their marketing strategies. Five unique areas of Internet benefits have emerged across time from a variety of authors :
- Interactivity, which is the degree to which the user can interact with the web site in a meaningful manner beyond following internal hyperlinks. The greatest advantage Internet-based marketing offers are its potential for interactivity. Interactivity is defined as the ability to address an individual, gather and receive a response, remember that response, and tailor the next response on the basis of the received information (Ghose & Dou, 1998). The greater the interaction between the consumer and the web site, the higher the level of involvement which in turn increases brand loyalty and likelihood of purchase.
- Variety and customization are the levels of change, interaction and customized content that can occur on a web site. Layering of information and pages within the web site provides the visitor with the opportunity of varying and customizing each experience with the organization. Depending on the users familiarity with the company, its products, and the design of its web site, visits may be directed immediately to a specific purpose, such as ordering an item, or may involve more extensive investigation for information gathering and product comparison purposes.
- Global access, which recognizes the international nature of the medium, and how local web sites have a global presence. By virtue of being on the Internet, web-based marketers can reach potential customers on a worldwide basis. More than ever before barriers to global commerce are being lowered with the result that small local businesses are able to access customers and markets which were inaccessible less than five years ago.
- Time independence is the ability of many features of the Internet to be accessed around the clock, seven days a week without the need for a physical or personal presence staffing the web site. Access to the Internet is time independent which means that, in theory at least, web-based organizations have no opening or closing hours. In reality most web-based businesses do conform to standard opening hours with many small businesses having erratic access and service standards. Venkatesh (1998) quoted a sign on the front page of a web site explaining the temporary closure of the site was forced by the human operators being down for servicing instead of the computers being offline.
- Interest driven, which is the extent to which the Internet is a pull medium where online experiences are based on the active seeking our of the items of interest rather than the passive acceptance of whatever push media delivers to the screen. Unlike offline mass communications, such as advertising, which are intrusive and impact upon the subconscious of the potential consumer, access to specific sites requires the consumer to make an effort. The nature of the Internet, in conjunction with it being interest driven, allows for the removal of many of the standard market barriers of time zones, geography and lack of access to remote services.
The emergence of Internet has changed the modern market. Firstly, it is the adaptation of the offline to the online. Despite some of the limitations of the current Internet in terms of bandwidth, diffusion and technological issues, many offline transactions are being replicated online quite successfully. This is a comprehensive, yet not fully exhaustive, list of possible offline user behaviours that have been adapted across to the Internet. The value of examining a list of dual platform behaviours is that it recognizes that the Internet can affect certain aspects of marketing behaviour through its unique features, both positively and negatively. For example, the retailing online can range from exotic goods through to the mundane weekly groceries. There are a number of online shopping options, from familiar offline institutions like shopping malls, through to small businesses and online catalogues. Online shopping conglomerates exist in the form of cybermalls, coalitions of related goods and services which band together to provide an online shopping environment similar to that of the offline shopping centers.
Secondly, the global digital showcase. The Web offers an unprecedented opportunity to showcase organizational promotions, histories, product details and information that is not feasible in traditional offline media. The ability of the Web to offer multimedia web sites which can give the most basic click to buy and in-depth corporate history and product detail from the same address gives marketers much greater promotional freedom than they have experienced in the offline world. In particular, using the Internet as a support medium also allows for mixed media promotion where interest is generated in offline advertising, and details are provided online.
Thirdly, the little piggy goes to the world wide market. The Internet has altered the market dynamics in that here is now less need to rely on complex distribution channels to get products to market. This is a dual edged sword though ¨C smaller businesses may become more independent in their distribution, but larger businesses have found that their reliance on intermediaries and distributions has increased. For example, Pepsi and Coke are two of the best know brands in the world, and yet you still cannot order a can of cola from their web sites. Their size, global position, and complex established distribution chains have limited the extent to which they can direct sell from their web site.
Fourthly, online entertainment is a progressively expanding market as people move towards virtual entertainment which is free from the traditional venue orientation of most offline leisure activities. While there are obvious restrictions as to what offline leisure activities can be replicated online, new functions such as multiplayer Internet games, ranging from bridge, scrabble and traditional board games through to complex 3D games are increasingly more accessible. The internet it self is also a source of pleasure C web surfing has been associated with hedonism, pleasure seeking and arousal seeking behaviours .
In this assignment we know that marketing is the set of activities whereby businesses and other organizations create transfers of value (exchanges) between themselves and their customers . And the Internet is a network of networks, linking computers to computers sharing the TCP/IP protocols. Each runs software to provide or “serve” information and/or to access and view information. The Internet is the transport vehicle for the information stored in files or documents on another computer . There are five unique features of Internet; they are interactivity, variety and customization, global access, time independence and interest driven. These features have changed the modern market.