IMC, WWW and Web 2.0
Social media and other technologies have revolutionized the communication world in the last decade. Organizations are making use of these tools to communicate with their target market customers. Research the growing use of the WWW and Web 2.0 tools as an Integrated Marketing Communications medium. Present two positives and two negatives of this medium from your research in journal and periodical sources.
Organizations should communicate the value and benefits of that they are offering to the markets. The consistency of this communication will improve the result and be more efficient the expenditure and assignation of resources. Integrated marketing communication (IMC)integrated marketing communications (IMC)Approach designed to deliver one consistent message to buyers across an organization’s promotions. provides an approach designed to deliver one consistent message to buyers in the markets. The tools are diverse as well as the different types of available medias to communicate and deliver the desired message. Many strategies are available according to the product or service, the target segment, marketing strategy, mix, promotion mix, etc.
New hardware development and programming languages, graphics, object, database, interactive, and network protocols oriented have facilitated the emersion and permanency of what is call Web 2.0 applications such as social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video-sharing, video channels, etc. Figure 1 shows specific tools and their use.
Figure 1. Business media linkages to communication objectives (Lichtenthal & Eliaz, 2003).
Over the last years, the use of Web 2.0 tools have strongly increases and the trends shows that they will continue increasing and becoming more sophisticate. These characteristics are very know to everyone, and together with the sophistication of the market, consumers, required efficiency, etc. provide a relatively new and evolutionary tool to communicate specific targets. The high spectrum of possibilities in the IMC options, and the increased popularity of the World Wide Web, companies are rushing to have a presence on the Web. However, many companies do not know whether the Web will be effective for them, or what they can do to increase its effectiveness. Few empirical studies have been done on what companies can do to increase the adoption and effectiveness of the Web in marketing (Lynn, Lipp, Akgün, & Cortez, 2002). The authors have studied the practices of 110 marketers, and they found that the adoption and effectiveness of the Web can be positively influenced if a company 1) provides formal training to its marketing organization, 2) encourages an effective relationship between the marketing and Information Systems/Management of Information Systems (IS/MIS) organization, 3) demonstrates the usefulness of the Web to the marketing organization, and 4) uses younger marketing personnel. Companies have two fundamental options to integrate the company to the Web, a corporate web sites that provides information about the company, and a marketing web site that allows companies to promote products and services. Finally, the authors found that there are many factors influencing effectiveness of the web in marketing such as training, usefulness, technical sophistication of products and services, sophistication of users and customers, relationship between marketing and IS/MIS organization, age, education. The company must take into consideration the target market and how it matches with all this variables before to conduct the IMC.
Bodkin and Perry (2004) investigated the relationship between retailer profitability and web site marketing strategies, relationship between industrial affiliation and web site marketing strategies. More profitable retailers used their web page as an information source for company and shareholder information as well as to enhance consumer relationships through technology. Specifically more profitable retailers were more likely to provide customer services and web specific elements such as email, and database searches. These elements have in common the ability to foster a positive relationship with consumers. Figure 2 shows how companies are using the different resources.
Figure 2. Percentage of companies using the web site component (Bodkin & Perry, 2004)
The study concludes that more profitable companies would be more motivated and able to use web resources in their IMC strategies. In addition, the study found a partial support to the idea that it exists a relationship between the company profitability and the use of web site technologies.
But the problem is not simple, (Lichtenthal and Eliaz (2003) provide a discussion and research about the commoditization of goods and services to be offered, promoted or commoditized in web sites. Besides pricing and differentiation issues, companies should realize that there are a large number of products that simply cannot be commoditized at all. Some of these products are simply too unique or engineering complicated to be handled by these sites. Struck with the possibility that they would have to compete mainly on price and product specifications, some manufacturing companies are trying to devise strategies that will help them deal with the imminent threat of eroding profits that may be the result of these exchanges, mainly in the business to business market.
Nevertheless, the advance in the web technology has encourage efforts to overtake some limitations and new technologies (Web 3.0) will help to develop a more integrated business. Again, the development of an adaptive IMC will favor those companies that they still find limitations with the Web 2.0 technologies.
A report from eMarketer shows that the US market will continue to shift their spending into online advertising. The report shows the trend of the expenditure increases in dollar and percentage over the years as well as their trends. Despite the strong growth during the period 2004-2006, the US online ad spending growth will be lower in the current years. Figures 3 and 4 show these trends.
Figure 3. US Online Advertising Spending Growth, 2002-2011 (% increase/decrease vs. prior year) (Kris Oser, 2007).
Figure 4. US Advertising Spending, 2002-2011 (Billions) (Kris Oser, 2007).
There are some concerns about the internet economy, its regulation and moderation. Some people see it as perhaps the greatest paradox and cruelest of ironies of the Internet economy, where the ‘‘great leveler’’ has the potential to disenfranchise the most. Antitrust experts have three main concerns:
1) The exclusion of some companies: some companies have not the amount of resources to jump to the web with the quality and presence of their competitors due to many factors from economic factors to social and regulations factors. Figure 5 shows the complex of the web site design (Lichtenthal & Eliaz, 2003);
2) Thus limiting competition; requiring companies to use one exchange exclusively, thus creating a dominant one that will have too much power (Lichtenthal & Eliaz, 2003);
3) Buyers or sellers would collude on pricing and set prices in unison. It is believed that the increasingly rapid exchange of information may mean that companies would be able to signal one another without having the need to coordinate the prices formally, and without having the government pick up on that activity (Lichtenthal & Eliaz, 2003).
4) Privacy and security issues are also of great importance, especially for the small companies.
5) Regulations: due to universality of the trades, trade agreements, etc, there are many concerns about the regulations to be applied in different cases (e.g.: disputes, trades, etc).
Figure 5. Discriminant validity of measures used in measurement and structural model. The Averages are on the diagonal, and the shared variance are below the diagonal (Poddar, Donthu, & Wei, 2009).
We have also many advantages:
a. Reverse marketing: the Internet changes the focus of marketing from a ‘‘supplier perspective’’ to a ‘‘customer perspective,’’ that is, reverse marketing. Those companies that will have a faster adaptation will have more opportunities (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
b. Customer-centric marketing: Recent developments in technology and the web have allowed firms and marketers to cater to the needs of individual customers. Cisco and Dell are example of customer-centric marketing (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
2) Effective efficiency: for many points of view (productivity, lower expenditures, focalized efforts, etc.), web tools help to develop a more efficient marketing and production processes (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
3) Adaptation, Standardizing Personalization: In the web-based marketing era, the trend is expected to change in terms of more personalization. With increased flexible design and manufacturing technology, and given the personalization potential of the web, increased personalization will emerge. The web makes personalization of products easier and more transparent to the user (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
4) Customer satisfaction: The Internet is able to provide customers with more realistic expectations. The interactive and audio-visual nature of the Internet can be used to demonstrate the actual performance of a firm. We already see clubs and restaurants that broadcast scenes from their locations through webcams (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
5) Marketing processes: it allows developing the IMC in an integrated way between all the company departments (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
6) Costs: reduction of transactional and operational costs (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
7) Universal ability: worldwide opportunities (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
8) Change in customer behaviour: customer could co-create products (e.g.: Dell, automakers), have flexible time, self access to information, closed pricing (Sharma & Sheth, 2004).
Bodkin, C., & Perry, M. (2004). Goods retailers and service providers: comparative analysis of web site marketing communications. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 11, 19–29.
Kris Oser. (2007, February 28). Online Ad Spending to Total $19.5 Billion in 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2010, from eMarketer: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1004635
Lichtenthal, D., & Eliaz, S. (2003). Internet integration in business marketing tactics. Industrial Marketing Management 32, 3– 13.
Lynn, G., Lipp, S., Akgün, A., & Cortez, A. (2002). Factors Impacting the Adoption and Effectiveness of the World Wide Web in Marketing. Industrial Marketing Management 31, 35–49.
Poddar, A., Donthu, N., & Wei, Y. (2009). Web site customer orientations, Web site quality, and purchase intentions: The role of Web site personality. Journal of Business Research 62, 441–450.