The phenomenon of marketing has been in existence since the inception of trade relationships due to the intrinsic desire to represent a product in a more advantageous light than those of competitors. The concept of marketing as the means of appealing to target demographics has not changed drastically since, yet innovative approaches have been introduced due to the changes in the socio-economic and socio-cultural landscape of trade. Specifically, the introduction of digital tools has shaped the subject matter, allowing the development of online marketing and the transfer of economic interactions into the digital realm.
However, the described accomplishment did not imply that marketing as the phenomenon exhausted itself; quite the contrary, innovative solutions to various marketing issues emerge regularly, spurring new opportunities for organizations and allowing meeting new challenges. Due to the necessity to address not only social and economic but also technological concerns in online marketing, the integration of several strategies into the general marketing framework of an organization is recommended, including content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and the affiliate marketing approach. It is also worth noting that the extent to which a company should explore a particular type of online marketing varies on the kind of product or service that it endeavors at promoting.
Online marketing provides organizations with an opportunity to reach out to a significantly larger demographic than they would otherwise with the set of traditional marketing tools. The observed improvement in the efficacy of promotion-related strategies can be explained by the effects that modern digital marketing techniques produce. The latter is not quite numerous, yet their long-lasting effect compensates for a comparatively low variety. Currently, digital marketing incorporates search engine optimization and marketing (SEO and SEM), pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, social media marketing (SMM), affiliate marketing, and email marketing approaches (Mankad 2018).
The application of email marketing can be regarded as rather basic, and it is believed to have a rather low impact on the sales levels due to the threat of being labeled as spam. Indeed, regular electronic messages that lack original content and personal appeal are likely to be ignored, at best, and dismissed as spam, at worst, by an average user (Chaffey & Chadwick 2019). Therefore, relying solely on the described strategy for promoting products or services should not be seen as the ultimate path to success. Instead, companies may consider shaping the initial text to make it more personal and, thus appeal to the designated audience at an emotional level. The resulting change in attitudes is expected to lead to possible development o commitment to a company and its products in the target population.
SEO and SEM, in turn, are also deemed as critical elements of digital marketing that have to be integrated into the overall strategy. Due to the necessity to maintain high visibility in the online setting, a company has to ensure that it is selected demographic can locate it when browsing for the relevant products online. Specifically, the application of SEO techniques allows changing the search engine ranking of a particular company (Sinha & Singh 2018). The latter is perfected using the tools such as keyword integration and modification, change in the length of texts, the inclusion of descriptions, and other factors that allow making a particular text easy to locate with the help of the search algorithm (Sinha & Singh 2018).
However, it should be noted that the current framework for managing SEO and SEM processes is far from being perfect due to the lack of accuracy and the presence of ever-changing external factors that may drop a company’s position in the search ranking several steps down due to an extraneous variable (Sinha & Singh 2018). Therefore, the incorporation of SEO and SEM techniques is essential, yet it should not be regarded as the only step that has to be made to improve a firm’s digital marketing strategy. Similarly, the pay-per-click advertising system does not seem to have aged well over the past decade. While still being an important element of the marketing framework, it has also become far too dependent on external factors that define the ranking of a site and its revenues.
The application of social networking, in turn, seems to have become a massive trend in the online marketing context. The importance of social connections and the ability to be recommended to a vast array of other users has increased exponentially, leading to a rapid rise in the level of publicity (Lamberton & Stephen 2016). Social marketing itself has grown to become a giant industry over the past decade, leading to the creation of numerous branches of online marketing studies (Killian & McManus 2015). For instance, a profound analysis of buyers’ behavior in the context of the online setting has been at the center of academic attention in the realm of online marketing research lately.
The described change has allowed marketers to understand how companies can appeal to new audiences and adjust their products and services to their culture-specific needs, at the same time leaving the crucial part of their brand intact. Thus, the premises for building the system for maintaining brand recognition have been created (Ashley & Tuten 2014). The observed change appears to be critical for organizations that have to compete in global and local markets with substantially more powerful corporate entities. Specifically, the application of online marketing tools helps firms to retain the recognisability of their brand, thus helping them to increase their competitiveness compared to their rivals.
Thus, online marketing should be seen as a tool for inviting a significantly larger number of people into the dialogue with a company and familiarising them with the services and products that it has to offer. Online marketing is quite compatible with traditional marketing tools and does not imply that a firm should abandon the idea of serving its customer in regular outlets. Instead, online marketing can be deemed as both a self-sufficient marketing approach and crucial addition to other marketing techniques deployed by an organization.
When considering the trends that have been dominating the area of online marketing recently, one should mention voice search. Being an evident innovation that has gained huge popularity over the past few years, voice search has been defining the evolution of marketing, inviting customers to become more active in the process of product search and selection. In addition, the introduction of voice search techniques into modern online marketing indicates that the role of communication between a buyer and a company has grown gigantically. Therefore, the promotion of visibility and transparency along with consistent communication can be seen as key trends in contemporary marketing.
Role of Ethics in Marketing
The significance of ethics in marketing cannot possibly be underestimated since the very notion is rather easy to misinterpret. At its most innocent, marketing is supposed to represent the system of actions that allow positioning a product that offers certain advantages to the target demographic so that people could start buying it and improving their life by using it. However, due to the need to maintain profit margins consistently, a range of organizations tend to view online marketing as a cheap ploy for tricking people into buying a product or service without noticing its disadvantages. As a result, customer dissatisfaction and general disappointment in the concept of marketing ensues (Thomas & Housden 2017). Herein lies the role of ethics in marketing; the former keeps marketers from utilizing dishonest practices and allows companies to maintain their reputations unblemished in the desired market (Thomas & Housden 2017). The idea of integrating ethical principles and using them to make any marketing-related decisions might seem naive, yet it will help to keep the relationships between organizations and their customers based on mutual trust and cooperation.
Similarly, in online marketing, adhering to ethics is crucial to the success of an organization. Without ethical standards as the primary guidelines on the way to establishing a rapport with customers, organizations are likely to create a false image of themselves, which will, in turn, cause a rapid and practically irreversible loss of clients and shrinkage of profit margins (Thomas & Housden 2017). Eventually, an organization that does not follow the principles of ethics in online marketing will have to face its demise.
Social Criticism of Marketing
As stressed above, marketing is often criticized for the excessive amount of pandering to its demographic, as well as for the propensity to target some of its most gullible segments. Furthermore, due to high rates of dishonesty in marketing, some of its practices have been viewed as downright deceptive by general audiences (Stoeckl & Luedicke 2015). The situation has not changed with the advent of online marketing strategies. Quite the contrary, the disdain for the approaches that involved manipulation with facts and especially visual information has increased, largely due to the emergence of tools used for correcting images (Waller 2015). Therefore, brand imagery used to represent the product promoted by a company is currently viewed with a significant amount of skepticism by most members of the general public for a good reason (Kashif et al. 2018). Herein lies the core of the social criticism of marketing.
The practices that are also generally reprimanded by the society in the marketing sphere include setting unreasonably high prices for products the demand for which has been raised artificially through social pandering. In addition, people tend to look with a copious amount of scorn at the firms that use online tools to trick people into buying products of low quality, as well as those that pose a threat to their well-being, either due to the flaws in design or the inclusion of potentially hazardous materials and items (Stoeckl & Luedicke 2015). Although most organizations tend to avoid the practices of marketing mentioned above, the few that select these strategies to make a quick profit create a rather unflattering image of online marketing as a tool for promoting products. Therefore, organizations must focus on the enhancement of socially responsible attitudes in their decision-making, especially in the area related to marketing.
Due to the necessity to seize as many opportunities as possible and appeal to the target demographic on a global scale, most likely including representatives of different cultures, companies need to embrace all types of online marketing, including SEO, social networking, content marketing, and affiliate marketing. The suggested decision will lead to targeting as many customers as possible and building their trust by creating a rapport with them. While there are certain limitations to online marketing, it has become significantly more interactive over the past decade, which means that organizations nowadays have much more chances to position themselves as customer-friendly and responsive. Consequently, an in-depth analysis of the options that each online marketing tool provides and determining the extent to which it needs to be integrated into the corporate marketing strategy are critical for making a firm’s performance lucrative.
At the same time, a company has to bear in mind that there are certain criticisms of online marketing in the contemporary media, which implies that the use of media in marketing should be monitored carefully to prevent social stereotypes, harmful messages, or any source of potential misunderstanding from emerging in it. Therefore, embracing online marketing should be deemed as a critical stage of corporate development and an essential step toward entering the global market. Nonetheless, it is imperative for a firm to bear in mind the limitations of online marketing tools and the function that it performs, namely, the method of maintaining the conversation with customers. With the described ideas as the basis of the corporate promotion program, an organization is likely to apply online marketing strategies successfully.
Ashley, C & Tuten, T 2014, ‘Creative strategies in social media marketing: an exploratory study of branded social content and consumer engagement’, Psychology & Marketing, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 15-27.
Chaffey & Chadwick 2019, Digital marketing, Pearson UK, London, UK, 2019.
Kashif, M, Fernando, P, Altaf, U & Walsh, J 2018, ‘Re-imagining marketing as societing’, Management Research Review, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 359-378.
Killian, G & McManus, K 2015, ‘A marketing communications approach for the digital era: managerial guidelines for social media integration’, Business Horizons, vol. 58, no. 5, pp. 539-549.
Lamberton, C & Stephen, A 2016, ‘A thematic exploration of digital, social media, and mobile marketing: research evolution from 2000 to 2015 and an agenda for future inquiry’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 80, no. 6, pp. 146-172.
Mankad, D 2018, Understanding digital marketing – strategies for online success, BPB Publications, New York, NY.
Sinha, S & Singh, T 2018, ‘Travel from traditional marketing to digital marketing’, International Journal of Emerging Research in Management and Technology, vol. 6, no. 11, p. 173.
Stoeckl, V & Luedicke, M 2015, ‘Doing well while doing good? An integrative review of marketing criticism and response’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 68, no. 12, pp. 2452-2463.
Thomas, B & Housden, M 2017, Direct and digital marketing in practice, Bloomsbury Publishing, Indianapolis, IN.
Waller, D 2015, ‘Photoshop and deceptive advertising: an analysis of blog comments’, Studies in Media and Communication, vol. 3, no. 1, 1-12.