This paper is based on the topic of marketing. It seeks to explore how the internet is a useful tool for companies to market their products and services. The paper is centred on the argument that having the means to reach a big number of targeted customers in a cost effective manner makes the internet one of the most desired advertising mediums. The reason is that there has been advancement in information and communication technology in recent times. The new media in particular has grown in popularity especially among the youth and the middle aged population. It majorly constitutes digital communication which enables people to exchange information in an interactive manner and in real-time. Examples of new media include the internet, websites, and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Social Media Marketing
In the field of business, marketing refers to the process of linking sellers with customers. Through it, sellers are able to inform their customers about the available products and services. There are mainly two types of marketing namely traditional and relationship marketing. The choice of marketing for an organization depends on various factors such as the size of the business, the financial ability of the organization, and the type of business done by the organization. Social media marketing refers to the use of various social media platforms by sellers to reach buyers (Silvia, 2013).
According to available statistics on social media usage, Facebook commands a huge following especially because it is older compared to twitter and google+ (Bodnar & Cohen, 2012). Many companies create their Facebook pages and post information about what they do, the kind of services and products they deal with, their uniqueness, and how customers may get those products or services.
When companies create their Facebook pages, Facebook has a function which allows people to ‘like’ the pages by clicking on the ‘like’ button. When people ‘like’ the pages, they are able to access the companies’ business information, including services offered, physical addresses, companies’ mission and vision among other information (Bodnar & Cohen, 2012).
On the Facebook page, companies invite those who ‘like’ their pages to give their views regarding the companies’ operations. In other words, the companies provide an online suggestion box, which they use to improve their services. Facebook is therefore not only used as an advertisement and marketing tool but also as a platform to improve quality of services and products offered by different companies. As such, Facebook is capable of adding value to companies which embrace information and communication technology.
Even though it was invented later than Facebook, twitter has gained popularity and is actually threatening to outpace Facebook in terms of number of users. It is viewed as progressive because it is considered as more formal than Facebook.
Twitter’s advertisement strategies resemble those of Facebook to a great extent. Instead of having a page like in the case of Facebook, twitter has an handle, where those who want to know more about particular companies are requested to ‘follow’ the companies’ twitter handles. Once they ‘follow’, they are able to access the companies’ information (Kilonzo, 2014).
Just like Facebook, twitter is of great value to many companies which embrace information and communication technology. The reason is that it is used by many companies to advertise and market their businesses. They also use it to update customers on new products and services. In other words, companies use twitter to acquire new customers and retain them. As a result, customers are able to remain loyal to particular companies due to constant communication between them and the companies.
It is a product of the giant search engine company called Google. Google + is among the latest forms of social media and has improved features as compared to twitter and Facebook. The google+ application can be downloaded into mobile phones and personal computers. Many people who use it prefer it due to its many features such as live videos, music, data storage functions, You Tube, google maps, and google play among other features. Just like Facebook and twitter, for people to join google+, they are required to register by creating their profiles. Companies may as well create their google+ profiles and invite customers to be part of the events on their google+ profiles.
Using Google + events feature for marketing
As mentioned above, google+ may be used for marketing of companies’ products and services. One of the interesting features of google+ is You Tube, which enables companies to store videos and pictures of various products. Due to its ability to store huge files, google+ enables companies to share as mush information as possible with their customers, a feature which is missing in Facebook and twitter. As a result, it becomes easy and convenient for companies to reach many customers with comprehensive information on what they do (Harman, 2014).
As explained above, Google+ has a high value when it comes to advertisement and marketing. It also has the value of having a huge data storage capacity, which ensures that companies do not lose their confidential information due to various reasons such as natural disasters, vandalism, or sabotage by business rivals.
Amazon is a multinational electronic commerce company based in the United States with headquarters in Seattle. It is the largest online retailer in the world with its total assets valued at $ 32 billion. It was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 under the name Cadabra. When founding the company, Bezos was trying to minimize his regrets for not expanding soon to take advantage of the internet business boom of the mid 1990s.
Using Amazon.com to build a brand
Due to its good reputation in online marketing, Amazon.com is the leading online retail company in the globe. It is preferred by many companies which want to increase their coverage and number of customers. Many companies believe that advertising on Amazon.com not only makes them known, but it also makes them appear fashionable. Due to its huge popularity, Amazon.com is capable of building brands for different products by different companies.
How Amazon.com marketing can strengthen brand identity
When a brand is advertised on Amazon.com, it is accessed by millions of people across the globe and as a result, Amazon.com is capable of strengthening brand identity. However, there is need for consistency when marketing products on Amazon.com. The reason is that there are many products which resemble each other and therefore, it is easy for customers to shift loyalty from one product to another. As a result, companies need to keep on marketing their products on Amazon.com for the products to be properly known by customers (Lunden, 2012).
Creating a favorable brand image on Amazon.com
For any brand to be popular among customers, it does not only need to be marketed on popular sites like Amazon.com but it also needs the development of excellent brand image. The brand image has both physical and psychological aspects. The physical aspect of brand image has to do with how products appear. It also has to do with the choice of colors for the products and how the products are packaged. The psychological aspect has to do with mental interpretation of various products by customers in terms of what the products mean to them (Damsch, 2010).
Since brand image is crucial in marketing, it is important to create a favorable brand image when advertising on Amazon.com. The reason is that the site is visited and used by many people to market and buy various products. It is therefore reasonable for companies to have talented image designers to design their brands before they are marketed on Amazon.com.
Advertising on Amazon.com
As mentioned earlier, Amazon.com is the leading online marketing company across the globe. Its success for many years has enabled it to create a market niche for itself and it has become hard for other competitors to effectively compete with the giant company. It generates some of its revenues through advertising, where it offers companies a platform to advertise their businesses.
Creating and using an Amazon page
Just like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, Amazon.com has Amazon pages which are used for advertisement purposes. The company has launched the advertisement pages for sale to individuals, companies, or institutions. After companies purchase the pages, Amazon.com provides them with an internet link which enables them to link their social media platforms to their Amazon.com pages. Consequently, the companies are able to increase the number of people who view their content across the globe.
The other method used to advertise on Amazon.com is the cost-per-click. This method is usually preferred by companies which want to advertise for a short period of time. What happens is that a company writes to Amazon.com requesting for an advertisement platform. Afterwards, Amazon.com requests the company to send a brief description of the products, including the link to the company’s website and the targeted customers. Amazon.com then develops suitable adverts for the products and posts them on its website.
When shoppers seeking similar products visit Amazon.com’s website, they are able to see them. Once they click on a product, they are directed to the company’s website where they view the product details and purchase directly from the company if they are interested. The company pays Amazon.com depending on the number of people who click on its products. The method is considered as convenient to both Amazon.com and the companies which advertise on its website because it the method no hidden charges.
The electronic mail, popularly known as the e-mail is one of the oldest methods of communication via the internet. It is mostly used for confidential communication between people, and especially for official purposes. However, the recent days have experienced an increased use of the e-mail, especially after companies started using it for marketing their products and services. The companies do so by creating a function in their websites, where those who visit the companeies’ websites are able to subscribe using their e-mail addresses and start receiving messages about different products and promotions in their inbox.
Even though it may seem out of fashion when compared to social media, the e-mail remains a preferred option of many companies. The reason is that it has high levels of confidentiality as opposed to social media where everything which is posted is seen by everybody. As a result, many people are likely to pay more attention to what is in their e-mail inbox than what is on their Facebook pages (Loomer, 2013).
Company built e-mail list vs. bought or rented e-mail lists
Companies may create their own e-mail lists by requesting people to subscribe to their websites or they may rent the lists from other companies which specialize in creating e-mails lists for marketing and advertisement purposes. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
Pros and cons of building a list
When a company builds an e-mail list, the advantage is that it is able to track the levels of interaction between it and the customers. By so doing, it is able to know which customers are loyal to its products and services. Building the list also enables the company to have confidence in the customers because they subscribe at their will, and only after adequate explanation is provided to them regarding why they should subscribe. Such a list is therefore treated as the part of the company’s assets.
The disadvantage of building a list is that it takes a lot of time and therefore, it may not be effective for companies which want to market their products within a short period of time. It also takes time before the customers get to know the company well, which may lower the company’s competitiveness, especially if it only relies on the e-mail list to market its products and services.
Pros and cons of paying for a list
As mentioned earlier, there are companies which specialize in building e-mail lists for sale to other companies for advertisement purposes. The people in the lists are always made aware that they may be linked with various companies dealing with various products and services and for this reason; they always expect e-mail messages from different companies. Once they subscribe, they are free to choose which products and services appeal to them. Paying for a list has the advantage of enabling companies to get an opportuntiy to market their products within a short time. By paying for the list, companies are also able to avoid the tedious process of creating it. The disadvantage of paying for the list is that it is not always available, and if it is, it is usually very expensive to pay for it.
Using e-mail data to create a customized audience on social media sites
Many companies which use the e-mail for advertisement purposes are now able to increase their audience in the social media. The reason is that over 85% of people who have an e-mail account are also on social media.
Facebook’s Custom Audience feature
Facebook has a feature for customizing audience using the e-mail. Once Facebook users ‘like’ a Facebook page for a certain company, the feature directly connects Facebook to the users’ e-mail accounts. Once that happens, the users are able to receive updates on various products and services in their e-mail inbox.
Twitter’s tailored audience feature
Just like Facebook, majority of people who are on twitter also have e-mail addresses. The reason is that many people use their e-mail addresses to register with twitter and Facebook. In an effort to increase audience for various advertisements, twitter has a tailored audience feature which enables those with e-mail addresses to get updates from twitter via their e-mail addresses.
Marketing in Virtual Worlds
Second life (virtual) marketing
It refers to the use of various online platforms to inform people what is happening around the world. It is referred to as second life because it is void of physical contact. However, there is a very thin line between physical and virtual interaction. The reason is that with the two, the bottom line is the passage of information from one source to another. If a group of people are able to organize a conference and discuss some issues, there is no big difference if they do that through video conferencing because the result would be the same only that in the first case, there would be physical contact (Greenberg, 2008).
Associated costs and strategies
Marketing in the virtual world is considered as relatively cheaper than other forms of marketing. The reason is that it reaches many people within a short time. The only cost which is significant is the purchase of internet or advertisement space on popular online websites such as Amazon.com. Companies may also use the strategy of creating their own websites and link them with their social media sites as explained earlier.
The overall value of virtual marketing is the ability to reach many people in different parts of the globe. Doing so enables companies to expand their customer base and profit margins. In some cases, virtual marketing is used as a strategy to enter foreign markets. The reason is that it creates awareness about companies and their products and services (Sparrow, 2010).
Results of virtual world marketing
Even though the virtual world plays many roles in the social and economic spheres of life, research shows that it is companies and their products which benefit the most from it. The reason is that companies use the virtual world purely for business purposes. Through the virtual world, companies are able to create a virtual community of customers who purchase their products online. Companies also reap the benefit of efficient use of their human resources because virtual world marketing does not require many employees to attend to customers, but just a few technologically savvy individuals to manage the web based marketing (Jones & Silverstein, 2009).
The advancement in information and communication technology has revolutionized the way people do business across the globe. It has also brought a new dimension in marketing. With the new market economy, marketing means having a strong presence in the World Wide Web. Whether it is through social media, online retailing, e-mail, virtual world, or a combination of one or more of these mediums, any form of online marketing should be a component of companies’ marketing strategies. Those companies which do not embrace technology have no business being in the market due to stiff competition. The reason is that many customers have gone digital and as a result, companies are left with no option other than to look for shoppers online.
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