The Impact of Online Marketing and Sales Businesses
Online sales and marketing is a concept that is increasingly being embraced by businesses both locally and internationally. While each organization has unique circumstances that may make their approach to online sales and marketing successful or otherwise, it is important to note that there are standard concepts that apply to almost each organization such as the expectations of online shoppers and the requirements for a successful online marketing campaign. This report provides some research findings on the impact of online marketing and sales in the organization. The first finding with respect to the customers’ expectations indicates that the organization should be informative and interactive with their communication as well as accurate and timely in their deliveries. As for the advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet as a marketing platform, the benefits outweigh the costs and, thus, online marketing is the most advantageous option inn as far as marketing is concerned. The research also establishes that as far as successful marketing campaign on the Internet is concerned, the organization must be interesting accessible, interactive and relevant to their target market. This is aside from other principles of marketing communication like consistency and convenience. The report also provides recommendations on embracing the online sales and marketing including creating an extensive online presence in the social networking sites, having an interactive online store and embedding social media marketing into the daily operations of the organization for consistency efficiency, effectiveness and the creation of sustainable customer loyalty through personal business relationships with customers.
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Initially, the Internet was used for communication across geographical regions and for finding information that could otherwise be hard to access. However, it has for the past few years evolved into a platform for businesses to do more than just send emails and connect with international partners. As a phenomenon, the Internet is now a business hub in which organizations can conduct business with customers and partners alike without having to meet in person. It has become clear that having an online platform in business is just as compulsory as having a marketing team in place. The Internet, however, is not just for product marketing given that businesses are continuously exploiting the platform for e-commerce. E-commerce is where buyers and sellers interact online and conduct business transactions without having to meet in person. It is considered as not only convenient but also very effective and efficient if implemented in the right way.
For a company that is already established in the United States, online sales and marketing would be a great move with respect to fostering customer loyalty and ensuring that more customers are attracted given the convenience of online shopping. This report is based on a research about the impact of online sales and marketing to organization with particular interest in potential elements that must be considered such as the advantages and disadvantages of marketing online, the impact of online sales to the company, the requirements for a successful online marketing campaign and the expectations of customers with respect to online sales and marketing. The idea is to ensure that the organization implements a relevant online sales and marketing technique that will not only translate to more sales but also impact the company’s overall market performance.
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When it comes to venturing into online sales and marketing, companies need to consider and implement a number of issues. These include issues like website design, level of interaction on the online platforms, availability of delivery mechanisms for the online sales, and the issue of customer relationship management in terms of communication. The idea is to be able to interact with and serve consumers as best as possible without compromising on the organization’s set goals and objectives with regards to sustainable profitability. As such, three factors were found to be of paramount importance and these included the expectations of the customers with respect to online sales and marketing, the advantages and disadvantages of marketing online and the requirements for a successful online marketing campaign.
An Efficient, Informative and Interactive Platform is Necessary for Customers
In his analysis, Qualman (2011) noted that the main reason for visiting an online store is to get whatever it is that the customer wants. This means that the online platform used by an organization should be as informative as possible. Customers want to be able to get as much information about the products that interest them without having to go somewhere else in search of the same. As such, an organization must be able to avail all the relevant information for their customers (Qualman, 2011). As for interaction, purchasing items online is often a tough task especially for those doing it for the first time. There are a lot of trust issues involved in online shopping and, thus, the customer would need consistent reassurance from the organization. These customers would often ask questions or raise concerns that need to be addressed before they can commit themselves to purchasing the products in question. Also with respect to interaction, customers expect an efficient organization to respond to their issues promptly and accurately to assure them of the quality, availability and reliability of the services.
Another expectation from the customers when it comes to online sales is the issue of timely and accurate deliveries. When the consumers post an order to the organization they often expect it to be delivered within the shortest time possible. In this case, the shortest time is relative depending on the customer’s location’s proximity to the store’s warehouses. They also expect the company to get the right order as opposed to sending the wrong products.
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Expectations of Customers With Respect To Online Sales and Marketing
With the increasingly prevalent trend of time efficiency and attraction to convenience, consumers are more attracted to shopping options that do not require them to go out of their way (Evans
& Mckee, 2010). This implies being able to do things within their normal routines such as speaking to/chatting with a service provider while seated in their office, or even buying clothes from the convenience of their smartphones. These opportunities are very much valued by customers to the point that online shopping has been considered the next big things for retailers, wholesalers and customers. The ability to get what they want without having to get through traffic or queues is actually as attractive as one would expect especially at a time when people are more time conscious than before.
Having established the importance of an online platform for selling to the customer, it follows that it is important to establish what they expect from the business organization in question. The research findings indicated that they expect an organization to be informative, interactive and accurate as well as timely (Evans & Mckee, 2010).
Information is important when trying to sell to the online consumers. They are unable to visit the store in person due to time or convenience constraints and, thus, the organization must be able to provide them with as complete and experience as possible. The only way to do this is for the organization to be detailed as in their product descriptions to ensure that customers are fed with all the necessary details associated with that product. In addition, when it comes to providing information, customers would need a way of finding out more about the organization. The online platforms are, thus, expected to be fully equipped with the details of the organization and the products on offer as well as things like how they would be delivered, how they can be paid for and whether or not they have a warranty among other things.
When it comes to interaction, customers always have questions aside from what they learn from an online platform. They like a customized experience that can only be obtained from direct interactions with the organization in question. When shopping in a physical location, a customer would often seek the opinion or advice of the store attendant when picking out a product (Harrington, 2014). They would expect the same indulgence while shopping online considering the convenience does not come with a requirement for a compromised shopping experience. Thus, it follows that they expect the organization to be able to respond to their questions and concerns promptly to ensure that they are interested and confident about shopping online. When the online platform is interactive, the customers are more willing to shop given that they are able to consult and, thus, trust in their choices. The interactive aspect of online sales and marketing is also critical on the public relations aspect of the business given that it allows the consumer to have a one on one experience with a representative of the company. Hence, they are enabled to develop an image of the entire organization based on their interaction with whoever is manning the online shopping platform and, thus, they must be good at customer relations management.
The idea behind online shopping is prompted by the need to save time. This means that time is of great concern to the shopper. They need to save the time spent in traffic while going to the store, as well as the time spent in a queue while checking out and paying for the purchases. It follows that when they shop online, they expect it to take much less time. In this way, customers do not appreciate an online platform that would have a much longer procedure than the actual shopping (Harrington, 2014). They need a short and precise operation which would allow them to live their busy lives to the fullest. Moreover, when it comes to making deliveries, they expect their products to reach them within the shortest time possible such that they do not have to wait too long. The customers, however, have realistic expectations and the organizations should stick to the delivery deadlines that have been agreed upon to avoid disappointing their customers.
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When these customers go to shop in person, they usually get the exact products that they want. This means that they also expect the delivery mechanisms used by the online store to be accurate in terms of delivering the right products. In the event of a wrong delivery there would be too much disappointment and the customers would even be discouraged from making another online purchase. Considering that the online shopping and delivery may be used to deliver gifts, accuracy is of paramount importance as it heavily affects how the customer would rate the company in question.
Marketing Online Is Advantageous To the Organization
The Internet is undoubtedly a great platform on which to interact with a large number of people. According to Siu (2014), over 40% of the general population has a frequent presence on the worldwide web whereas in North America about 80% of the population has access to the internet. This means that organizations are best placed creating mass awareness from an online platform. The concept of online marketing is thus fully advantageous to the business organization. The only considerable disadvantage of using the online platform to extensively market the business is that some people may be left out of the wave given their inability to access the internet. In the US, however, this is only a 20% possibility and can thus be considered much smaller than the 80% that can be accessed online (Evans, 2010).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Marketing Online
Marketing is all about getting an organization out to the public and creating awareness on the products and services on offer. Considering the overwhelming presence of people on the Internet, online marketing can be considered to be the most effective and efficient platform for any organization (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). This would mean that there are more advantages than disadvantages of marketing online for any given organization. At this point, it would be important to note that the basic principle behind marketing is providing the potential customers with information about a product or a brand and letting them understand it so that they can be influenced to purchase it.
The advantages of online marketing include the wide audience of up to 80% in the US, where any other platform would require too much indulgence to reach the entire 80% population while online marketing only requires extensive use of the online advertising channels and social media marketing tools (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). In addition, online marketing would be much cheaper than print or broadcast media if it is to be as effective and reach as many people. Another significant advantage is about how online marketing works. It is engaging and allows the organization to interact with the customers, telling them more about the product and allowing them to have a virtual experience through the various online platforms like Instagram and YouTube for sharing photos and videos among others. The only major disadvantage here would be the limitation of coverage where the 20% that has no direct and consistent access to the internet may be left out. The business is not however exclusively internet based and thus they can be found through the traditional marketing channels.
How to Stage A Successful Online Marketing Campaign
In his research, Kim (2013) established that in order to stage a successful online marketing campaign, an organization needs to have an online platform that is easy to access, interesting enough to capture the attention of the potential consumer and interactive enough to keep them engaged and interested for a while as they get informed on whatever it is that they need to know in order to buy the products being sold. These necessary traits would get customers interested in whatever the organization has to say. In addition, the organization must be able to communicate effectively with customers implying the need for an online response team working around the clock to answer the questions and concerns of the customers, thus, assuring them of the organization’s capacity to meet their needs and expectations.
Requirements for a Successful Online Marketing Campaign
When venturing into an online marketing campaign, there are things that an organization must be able to understand and these include the importance of the Internet as a marketing tool. Online marketing is similar to the ordinary or rather traditional marketing except that the online version is more virtual and possibly more viral than a conventional one would be (Kim, 2013). The Internet is known for spreading information across boundaries with so much ease. As such, an organization should be able to standardize the messages being passed across through the internet for consistency and relevance across the various boundaries.
As found in the research, accessibility is a great factor when marketing online. The messages being sent out must be easily accessible through adverts and links on the popular sites like the social networking sites among others. The customers would need to hear or read about the organization somewhere or at least find a link to the advert on one of their trusted sites (Evans, 2010). About interesting content, organizations are able to capture their customers from the way their website is designed and the content on it. The organization must have an online presence that is not just informative, but also interesting depending on their target market. This implies ensuring relevance in web design, without compromising on the richness of content as the major purpose is to inform the masses.
The most innovative aspect of online marketing in comparison with the traditional marketing tools in the opportunity for interaction. While using online marketing the organization should be able to interact with the customers, answering their questions, receiving their feedback and countering their concerns to ensure that they are satisfied with the services and products on offer.
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The organization should create an online presence that is informative, interactive and easily accessible (Lamb, Hair & McDaniel, 2014). This implies having accounts on the social networks like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube among others. The idea is to be where the customers are in order to make it easy for them to access the information being provided by the company. The social media has over the past few years grown exponentially as a marketing tool and must as such be capitalized on. In addition, it is a relatively cheap tool to implement and maintain considering the company has been using far more expensive options like the print and broadcast media. The social media is a place where the whole world interacts and it will provide an opportunity for the organization to initiate consumer-to-consumer marketing by bringing their customers together on one platform.
For the online sales aspect, the organization would need a very interactive online store that has a high product assortment, an effective delivery mechanism and a way to interact with the store attendants in real times. Customers need to be able to ask the store attendants for advice every now and then, as well as to enquire about the availability of their chosen products along with confirmation of orders among other things. In order to make the shopping experience convenient enough to foster customer loyalty, the organization needs to make communication convenient like allowing the customers to chat with the store attendants in real time and getting prompt responses (Lamb, Hair & McDaniel, 2014). This will ensure that their online shopping experience is just as satisfying as the traditional shopping would be, without the hustle of traffic and queues. In addition, the organization must be able to attract the attention of new customers by having their links and adverts in social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube among others. This will ensure that more internet users get a peek into the organization’s operations and thus get to know about the products and services on offer.
My third recommendation is for the organization to have social media marketing integrated into the organizational processes such that each of the retail points is engaged actively in the social media. The research indicated how important trust is to an online shopper and, thus, there is a need for the organization to create personal business relationships with the consumers where they feel safe and valued by the organization. Such a relationship would encourage loyalty and, thus, allow the organization to have long-term business interactions with their customers. As opposed to having an online marketing and sales response center, the organization should consider having an online marketing component in all the physical retail locations such that the customers are sure that whomever they interact with online would be responsible for giving them the exact products that they want. The business will be based on trust and thus a personal interaction between the customers and the store attendants would do great for the business.
From the research findings it was established that customers expect organizations that conduct online sales and marketing to be informative and interactive in their communication as well as timely and accurate in their deliveries. This is in line with the aspect of convenience and trust as emphasized in e-commerce. Another finding is that the Internet as a platform for marketing is by far the most effective and relatively cheapest as well. In addition, when launching an online marketing campaign the organization would require being interesting, interactive and accessible. Based on these findings, my recommendations are that the organization should create an online presence that is as required, interesting, interactive and accessible while also being as informative as possible. The organization also needs to embed social media marketing into the organizational business operations to ensure that the customers are given the real shopping experience in that the information provided is accurate and the online store attendants are actually real store attendants with experience in customer interaction.
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Harrington, K. (2014). 5 real ways to leverage social media: ‘Likes’ are not profit. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinharrington/2014/05/07/5-real-ways-to-leverage- social-media-likes-are-not-profit/
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53, 59-68.
Kim, L. (2013). Guide to using social media for marketing. Retrieved from http://www.wordstream.com/social-media-marketing
Lamb, C .W, Hair, J. F., & McDaniel, C. (2014). Marketing, (7th ed). New York: South-Western College Publishing.
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Siu, E. (2014). Hook new customers with an online ‘hopeful greeting.’ Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235372