E-marketing: Is it the future of marketing?

Evolution of E-Marketing
Marketing has been Omni-present ever since humans started trading. The methods of marketing have changed and improved, and our efficiency has increased multi-fold at telling our stories and getting our marketing messages out there. E-Marketing is a product of the meeting between modern communication technologies and the age-old marketing principles that humans have always applied. Whether you’re a “bricks and mortar” business or a concern operating purely online, Internet is a force that cannot be brushed aside. It’s at the forefront of a redefinition of way businesses interact with their customers.
 
E-marketing embraces the management of digital customer data and electronic customer relationship management (ECRM) and several other business management functions. As with traditional marketing techniques, e-marketing is creating a strategy that helps businesses deliver the right messages and product/services to the right audience.
 
Until 1990s, direct and telephone calls were the primary means of marketing promotion. They were very costly and require longer acquisition time. The e-mail marketing era started during 1990s with innovators trying out e-mails as a novelty for customers. But seeing the huge returns, more and more companies jumped into the fray and then started the e-marketing bubble which has been growing ever since. Now inboxes are cluttered with unsolicited mailings and rules began to be put in place to protect consumers from ‘spam’.
 
Facts
There are currently 3.3 billion email accounts in the world. (Source: Mashable)
Email is the customer preference. In a recent survey, a staggering 77% of consumers reported that they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email – and email was the number source for all age groups including 15-24! (Source: Waldow Social)
Email generates nearly a 2X return compared to other channels. For every dollar spent on email marketing in 2011, there was a $40.56 return. (Source: Direct Marketing Association and Smart Data Collective)
64% of companies indicated their organizations’ investment in e-marketing was expected to increase in 2013. (Source: Marketing Sherpa 2013 Benchmark Report)
These figures clearly show the potential and the thrust being shifted to e-marketing.
 
Types of e-Marketing
Some forms of electronic marketing include Display advertising, Wed banner advertising, Pop-ups, Search Engine Optimization (SEM), Sponsored Search, Social Media Marketing, Mobile advertising, email Advertising, Affiliate marketing etc.
 
The most popular and fastest growth has been in social media marketing segment, wherein the traditional word-of-mouth advertising has taken a new outlook. Social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter etc. have seen tremendous growth in user base and consequently ubiquitous spreading of a desired message- be it positive or negative.
 
Viral marketing is also a recent trend in marketing which creates tremendous buzz and increase in brand awareness. We have seen examples of ‘Kolaveri’ and “Google’s Ad of Reunion’.
 
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Benefits of e-marketing
A higher Return On Investment as compared to the traditional marketing methods along with the luxury of tracking the exact ROI, also known as Closed Loop Marketing (which requires the analysis and measurement of marketing initiatives).
 
Now the businesses have a truly Global Reach with no limitations whatsoever especially for smaller businesses with a limited marketing budget. It allows the marketer to reach consumers in a wide range of ways and enables them to offer a wide range of products and services and the scope can only continue to grow with new technologies being developed every day. For examples, Unilever’s ‘Dove Real Beauty’ campaign had a worldwide reach.
 
E-Marketing facilitates conversations between companies and consumers. With a two-way communication channel, companies can easily get feedbacks from the customers, and hence make their products more dynamic and adaptive. Example, ‘Zomato’, ‘Make My Trip’ are a few service providers who value customer comments and reviews. ‘Airtel’ also resolves customer complaints through online interaction.
 
It also has the potential to garner immediate response from the customers. By closing the gap between providing information and eliciting a consumer reaction, the consumer’s buying cycle (Customers have access to products 24*7) is speeded up and advertising spend can go much further in creating immediate leads. Amazon provides advertisements and reviews of a wide variety of products to customers and also an easy mode of buying the product.
 
Internet users tend to align themselves with people of similar characteristics. It is a powerful tool to be used by the marketers which saves them the cost and time of segmenting the customers based on demographics. They have direct access to target as well as niche customer segments and now they can focus their energy on building attractive communications alone. Micromax popularized its ‘Hugh Jackman’ Ad by repeated advertising in Youtube which caters its customer segment.
 
Maximum marketing efficiency from E-Marketing creates new opportunities to seize strategic competitive advantages. The combination of all these factors results in an improved ROI and ultimately, more customers, satisfied customers and an improved bottom line for the company.
 
Challenges
Like a positive Ad going viral on the internet, there is an equal probability for negative news reaching millions of people within the blink of an eye. Any defect in product or dissatisfaction of customers from a service can easily spread through the internet and once the reaction starts it is too hard to correct the mistakes. Hence every step taken by the company should be extremely careful and have a strategic direction.  Other issues include security and privacy problems, dependability on technology, higher transparency of pricing and increased price competition.
 
E-marketing is truly the present and future of marketing. All the companies should be equipped to make the most of this. With increased competition and shift of all the companies in this domain, one should use creativity and innovation to keep their communication unique and to capture the eyes and hearts of millions of customers. An effective mix of traditional and e-marketing should be used in order to emerge as the leader in the industry. 
 
[The article has been written by Preethi S. She has completed her  PGP from IIM Indore.]
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E-marketing: Is it the future of marketing?

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