The Impact of Online Technology on Marketing
This article originally appeared in the May 2005 edition of The Business Monthly
Many companies may find that they are not able to market their business or offering as efficiently as they once were. Their present marketing efforts may not be generating a high volume response. If this is the case then it is probably time to revamp marketing materials with the use of technology.
What constitutes marketing?
Marketing includes all communications and how your company is viewed. These are just a few tools already marketing your company, for better or worse:
- Location - This includes geographical location, surrounding environment, accessibility, visibility, property upkeep, and anything else generating an emotional or intellectual response in regards to where you are and how people find you. The value of location has driven the Internet to become an invaluable tool. Where do people congregate and interact most? Where is the most valuable location, where a business wants to be? If a poll was taken of the Business Monthly audience, or of retired persons, or of teenagers, the result would be the same. American society and the international markets are fulfilling their buying needs online. From electronics and music, to churches and restaurants, you can find the largest selection and the most convenient and appealing options online. For some services and commodities, physical location is still important; however, there is a new component. For most, if you are not found online and accessible through search engines, most people won't know you exist.
- Employees - The skills, knowledge, presentation, decorum, work ethic, ethical behavior, customer service and any other value adding employee attribute counts. Share best e-mail communication practices around the office. If you fall short in understanding proper e-mail etiquette, or knowing what is sure to be filtered or not when sending documents to prospects and clients, ask for a consultation.
- Clientele - This includes who they are, how their need was met, the market niche, impact of the offering on their business, how long they have been a client, and anything else easily researched. Are you tailoring communications and reaching out through properly acquired opt-in or customer-only email? Is your website answering the right questions for your client and prospect profiles? What additional electronic security requirements must be met in your clients' industry? Is only U.S. CAN SPAM law important, or do EU and Canadian laws also apply?
- Products/Services - Quality, cost, availability, personalization, uniqueness, ease of purchase, urgency of need, and even the life cycle of the product, influence the purchasing decision. Did you know that the freshness and professionalism of website content not only influences your buyers' behavior, but also your search engine rankings? Improper presentation of products and services can drive away both the search engines and your prospects.
Why use technology to generate marketing efforts?
There are many more options with the use of technology. Using online technologies can help companies better assess the market conditions and response. The use of technology will insure a faster turn around time, as well as higher quality. In addition, any changes that are needed can be made quickly and easily, saving time and money.
More people (i.e. more customers) are dependent upon technology to help them make their purchasing decisions. More people are surfing and shopping online. According to the Kelsey Group and Constat, "70% of US adults use the Internet as an information source when shopping locally for products and services". Since people are moving with technology, marketing efforts must also move with technology.
What online technology is available for marketing?
There are innumerable choices that use technology to reach markets. Just to list a few:
- E-mail Marketing - This includes your own personal email, e-mail newsletters, which have the ability to market the sender as an expert in their field, e-mail coupons and other e-mail tools that reach the target market.
- Website - A company's website should best present the company and offerings, could give visitors a first impression of the company, should provide relevant, current, and correct information, should have a nice, clean layout that is easy to navigate, as well as utilizing other elements that make websites successful.
- Search Engine Marketing - Companies must comply with search engine standards in order gain higher rankings. Many online surfers use search engines to locate information about a product or service and where they can purchase.
- Sponsorship Opportunities - Although this may not refer to online, by sponsoring an event for a company or organization that uses online tools, the sponsor will most likely appear on the website or other online media providing information about the event.
There are many other online technologies that can market a company. When choosing online technology based marketing materials, companies need to be as selective in their choices as they have been with traditional marketing. As with traditional marketing approaches, there are online marketing opportunities that do not necessarily send the correct message to the correct audience. It is important to utilize the online tools that best fit the company's marketing strategy.
by Connie Mazur
CEO, CyberVillage Networkers, Inc.