This article is the introduction of a multi-part series on Internet marketing that and gives you the necessary background. The series will give you leading edge information and easy, how-to steps to make the Internet and eMarketing work for your business. The first article in the series,“News Flash: The Internet Tells You What Your Customers Want”, will get you started.
Quite simply, the Internet is the greatest marketing vehicle ever developed. It is spreading throughout the economy generating savings and profits, and it is quickly and quietly coming into its own for customer acquisition and building brand equity for those who use and understand it correctly. The Net enables 1-to-1 relational marketing and sales - including knowing what your customers want to buy and how they will decide to buy it – and bringing them in at mass-market rates and closing sales or getting leads, with very low or easily calculated incremental costs.
What the Net is NOT is a techie tool. Sales and marketing managers have to lead Internet initiatives while the IT departments have to be the creative servants. Technologists do not understand and deliver value to customers, merchandise, sell, or retain relationships – marketing, sales and business people do.
Properly used, the Internet (now we are also going to start calling it ‘eMarketing’) will:
- increase sales by attracting prospects who are actively looking for what you have NOW
- acquire customers (The Internet is particularly good at building repeat customers and retained efficiencies. Retaining 15% of your customers can increase your profits 30% to 85% depending on your industry.)
- shrink costs in all areas, particularly marketing & distribution, with the savings going right to profits.
As with any business revolution, those that don’t integrate the Internet throughout their business, and enable profitability at lower prices / higher customer values, will find it increasingly hard to survive. Moreover, in the 21st century e-economy balance sheet assets from brand equity and opt-in permission-based lists will have significant impact on company valuations. These are not hard or expensive to build, but they take time and care
Before we go on, it’s useful to gain perspective by taking a step back. Generally, leading sales and marketing professionals share two feelings about the Internet. First, it should have huge promise. Second, their company’s web sites should be adding more to the bottom line. As a professional eMarketer, I am continually dismayed by the low level of expectations organizations have for their web sites – you should be getting much more from your Internet initiatives.
Perception vs. reality about the Internet has been split into different areas giving different impressions: “The Bubble”, “We’re Covered”, “The Quiet Success” & and “eMarketing”.
“The Bubble” was a stock market phenomenon and had little to do with the actual Internet, the value it delivers or how it works. What “The Bubble” did do was fund the temporary overbuilding of infrastructures.
“We’re Covered” web sites are those that companies built without business planning and now lie neglected or in a “Catch 22” never-never world of “we’ll put money into it when it shows some results”. The search engines are littered with these websites. The result is that many organizations that are out of the markets, profits, customer acquisition and planning they need, by thinking that they’re ‘Covered’ because they have a web site. If your organization is one of these, continue to read this column every month and consider implement the recommended steps ASAP.
“The Quiet Success” organizations are those who are paying their dues. These are both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) web sites that have continually been in touch with their customers and used eMarketing to improve their marketing efforts and build brand loyalty. These are market leaders who are exploring new products and services, integrate their sales with their customers’ lives and operations, and save on infrastructure and media. It sounds like a lot, but it is simple; the trick is to base your planning on your customers’ voice and to keep at it in ‘measure & improve’ cycles. Most of the success stories are pre-Internet companies who are getting daily profits from making eMarketing a growing part of their customer operations.
Marketing on a Two-Way Street
“eMarketing” is a new, often abused term that is starting to define a new viewpoint and profession. eMarketing understands that the Internet is a two-way street, a way to learn about and relate to each customer on his or her own terms very affordably and productively. eMarketing is NOT just emailing. It includes using websites, email, CRM (customer relations management) and databases for sales and lead generation, market research and to strengthen other media. For example, search engines can now be used ‘in reverse’ to determine exactly what products and services to feature (see our next article), and web sites can be used to supply targeted information and harvest leads from ads, and to print out coupons for in-store redemption.
We will be covering eMarketing in four major steps over this series of articles, with a lot of overlaps and always from a sales, marketing and business / results-oriented viewpoint. These articles will be archived on www.nyreport.com/emarketing. The four steps are:
Tony Grass is President of e-Market Intelligence, an internet sales generation consultancy and service. Previously, he built a traditional 65-person sales and marketing communications company in Chicago. Contact is welcome through firstname.lastname@example.org.