Identification of the expanded marketing mix for online marketing
The concept of the 4Ps marketing mix encompasses Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. The expanded marketing mix however includes other variables which include Producer, purchaser, profile, and profit (Shimuzu 2009, p. 66).
According to the expanded marketing mix model, the adopted strategy goes beyond the normal and usually adopted 4Ps framework to expound more and incorporate elements of the producer, the purchaser, and profits in marketing. Within the framework of a customer-oriented expanded marketing mix model, the product is essentially the commodity on sale while the purchaser is the buyer. It is important to consider the purchaser as an important element within the market and be in a position to fully satisfy the requirements of the purchaser (Alahli bank, 2010).
Discussion of key issues
While price becomes the cost of the commodity or service in question, the producer represents the offerer of the product or service. In this case, the producer needs to strategically position his product in the market and command the respect of competitors (reputation). Profits are also an important parameter in the expanded marketing mix strategy as they are an indicator of whether or not the producer breaks even or not.
Profits should however be reasonable and should not impact negatively on price hence the direct relationship between profits and price (Chaffey, et al 2009, p. 287). Looking at Bank Aljazira has effectively implemented the expanded marketing mix. The bank is a Saudi Financial company that prides itself in putting its customers at the center of its operations. It develops innovative products and services that are in full compliance with Islamic Sharia Laws. Sharia banking is a system of Islamic banking that among other things prohibits the issue or acceptance of “riba” (interest) in any monetary transactions and prohibits investments in business practices that are considered contrary to principles of fairness, justice, and equity or exploitation (“haraam”).
Varying the marketing mix for online marketing
Bank Aljazira serves both individual and corporate entities and fully utilizes its qualified human capital and personnel to deliver excellent customer services (Bechere & Halstead 2004, p. 68). The bank has worked to increase the number of acceptors of its VISA Maysara credit cards over time, among the reputable acceptors of the card issued b the bank are AVIS, CONCORDE Hotels & Resorts, the Dreamland Aqua Park, The Dubai Dolphinarium, and Dunhill of London. This card has found massive acceptance across Europe and the Middle East as a strategic brand issued by the bank thanks to its extensive online marketing efforts.
The bank officially launched the Visa Maysara cards; this was ostensibly done as a result of the increased demand by its clientele to provide Muslim solutions in its banking services. The cards are either Platinum Gold or Classic. These are highly simplified and user-friendly products publicized online that not only conform to the principles of Islamic banking but also explore new markets. Listed below are the main features of each of the Visa Maysara cards:
|Annual fee||1,000 SR||350 SR||200 SR|
|Supplementary card fee||free||free||free|
|Replacement card fee||free||100 SR||100 SR|
|Minimum payment||5% or (200 SR)||5% or (200 SR)||5% or (200 SR)|
|Validity period||2 years||2 years||2 years|
|Minimum Cash withdrawal||50%||50%||50%|
|Cash withdrawal fee||50 SR||50 SR||50 SR|
The official bank website does not only provide a range of products and services offered but also talks extensively about itself (Producer &Profile) in a way that distinguishes itself from other banks in the region. Included in its rich profile, are several awards and credits the bank has won in the industry including:
- Digital Excellence Award from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology for BAJ’s Tadawulcom Site “Local Share Trading Portal”, 2007.
- Internet International Union Award for BAJ’s Tadawulcom Site “Local Share Trading Portal” Design, 2005.
The bank has further established its e-marketing efficiencies by setting up a local share trading portal; this was established as early as 2005 and enhances the efficiency of trading in the shares of the company online. The portal has not only cut down the cost of online trading in shares but also reduced the amount of paperwork and intermediaries involved in the process (Chen 2002, p. 49)
Another variable that has been extensively utilized in the expanded marketing mix strategy is the Purchaser strategy. In its online application of marketing strategies, Bank Aljazira puts the customer (purchaser of its products) at the core of its business. The bank has introduced its particular electronic services like mobile and online banking to facilitate the communication process with its customers and the general public (Islamic Research Institute 1988, p. 85).
The fact that the bank’s official website is also available in both English and Arabic goes further to ensure that the demands of both English and non-English customers are well taken care of ( Aljazira Bank 2010, p. 96).
Mobily (2009: 215) Due to its strategy, it has been able to capture the largest market share of bank customers and beat completion from other leading banks in the region as shown by the following table: (Kotler and Keller 2009, p. 87).
|15 billion SR||15 billion SR||6 billion SR||3 billion SR||The capital|
|One nation, One family One bank||You can find us. almost anywhere||World-class banking||Innovative Islamic Banking||Slogan|
|Yes||Yes||No||Yes||ordering card online|
Online branding strategy
The bank has also invested on a number of key branding strategies through the use of the internet. The purpose of the branding strategy adopted by the entity is to improve the value of the products and services on offer to the general public. An improved branding strategy has the effect of an amplified brand franchise and equity. Using the principles of a good brand which include ease to remember, pronounce and attract attention, the bank has particularly enhanced its e-banking strategies by adopting brands that are easy and convenient for use such as ATM withdrawal and deposit services which allows customers to access their money in easy and convenient locations countrywide. The ATM network is extensive (Merwe & Bekker 2003: 369)
The following online branding strategies have been utilized by the bank in the marketing of its products:
Relevance- On the bank’s official website, the information presented to visitors is not only relevant but also engaging; information is clearly presented providing the viewers with a browsing experience that fully rewards the amount of time spent on that site. The site presents visitors with a unique business personality style associated with the bank.
Provision of a branded interactive value – From the bank’s website, visitors are informed of the ways in which the bank adds value to their personal and professional livelihoods. It also includes useful information on frequently asked questions, safe internet practices and links to professional affiliates.
Inclusion of brand relevant sponsored content is also a strategy adopted by the bank on its official site. Sponsored links and contents that enhance the brand products are available for visitors such as the aljazira online trade and the tadawulcom that enhance online transactions.
Since the market in which the bank is based comprises of Muslims and young people who make up 55 per cent of the population, the organization opted for this strategy as it would be very applicable to the technology savvy population. In addition 90 per cent of the population is computer literate; hence they would be in a position to interact with the marketing strategy very easily. Due to the type of community, the bank has emphasized on this strategy which is evidenced on its website and in the mode that it carries out is marketing in the country (Park & Lennon 2009, p. 475).
For international transactions and for the sake of clients in the Diaspora that are not necessarily Muslims and utilize the bank’s products such as credit cards, the website designed in English version is useful, this was developed to target clientele in the Diaspora but with business and transactional interest in Arabia that require them to use the bank’s services.
The bank also targets non business and basically personal banking clients through the introduction of such products as the Aljazira-cash-back 2.4% which allows discounts to all purchases at all worldwide outlets as well as the issuance of up to five free supplementary VISA maysara cards for family members above the age of 18 years
In order for the bank to know how effective its marketing strategy is and improve it, it should undertake an analysis on the following key issues: (Weiss 2008, p. 67)
- Who are the target audience of the marketing strategy
- What type of message is expected to be conveyed to the audience from the organization
- Type of technology available to support such marketing idea
- The banks website and its usability by the public
- The feedback expected by the bank from using such type of marketing.
In developing online marketing using the banks websites, the 4s strategy is used which consists of, scope, site, synergy and the system. The 4s is modeled towards utilizing the commerce value of online marketing (Al-Mudimigh 2007, p. 327).
The official feedback mechanism on the website is perhaps the best mode of evaluating customer satisfaction and analyzing their needs, this operates 24 hours for customer support with the dedicated lines being 800 244 0404 while outside KSA the line being 00966 2 6518070 EXT 1111.
Conclusion and Recommendations
According to Aljazira bank (2010, p. 15), use of online marketing by the bank is a very new concept in the banking industry and has not been in use in the market for a long time. Despite this the concept has gained popularity and has grown among the population making it a very successful online marketing strategy. Due to this the organization has been able to sell its bank products to new and ever growing Islamic customers. This has enabled the bank to surpass its targets and that of its competitors due to its usability and compatibility to the banks website as it passes new information to its users (Blech et al 2009, p. 76).
Furthermore, the bank’s emphasis on sharia compliant banking has given it an edge especially in the predominantly Muslim market. Indeed the introduction of credit cards that subscribe to this Islamic system that disallows among other things the levy or receipt of interest on every transaction has boosted its acceptance in the market.
The sales of this products have received wide approval ratings and acceptance across Europe and the middle east among customers that are practicing Muslims, the bank’s lending procedure is also designed in such a way that before the funding is disbursed, consideration has to be made on the purpose of the loan so as not to finance investments that are considered exploitative or against the Muslim faith. All these products are designed to fit within the general framework of the Muslim faith and should be encouraged considering the target market is largely Muslim. They have been effectively marketed online on the bank’s official website.
The bank has been able to cut down its marketing costs since online marketing is a cheap concept unlike other forms of marketing for example, media. The online concept is also very efficient to customers as they can obtain all vital information from the web pages without travelling to meet the banks representatives, it therefore offers a cheap and fast medium of communication between the bank and the target market. The main objective of the bank establishing the website was to be able to market is products such as the Islamic credit cards in a cheap and efficient manner which the online strategy has enabled this objective to be fulfilled.
The bank in using the online marketing strategy will efficiently comprehend the situation and get the answers for its analysis. More important is the fact that the online marketing should not conflict with the usability and user interaction with the websites design but complement each other in an attractive way to the target market. By so doing, it will capture the attention of the market and thus fulfill its objective in the end (Chaffey et al 2009, p. 93)
However, despite the fact that the bank has been able to market efficiently its products using the website there are still some recommendations that the bank should consider. There is a wide market to be captured hence there is a growth opportunity for the bank which it should exploit and grow. It should therefore grow its internet based marketing strategy and embrace new concepts and technology in order to capture the new markets and retain a relationship with its existing and new customers (Kottler & Keller 2009, p. 43)
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