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The Role of the Web in the Marketing Communication Mix

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The role of the Web in the marketing communication mix
Note: Resource documents that contain diagrams featured in this Module can be downloaded from the Module Resource section.

The Module Resource section can be found in the table of contents page of this course.

The role of the Web in the marketing communication mix
Personal selling is usually the largest single item in the industrial marketing communications mix. On the other hand, broadcast advertising is typically the dominant way used to reach consumers by marketers.

Where do Websites fit?
The Website is something of a mix between direct selling and advertising.

It can play a cost-effective role in the communication mix, in the early stages of the process but can also be useful as the buying process progresses toward evaluation and selection.

Finally, the site is also cost-effective in providing feedback on product/service performance. Websites might typically be viewed as complementary to the direct selling activity by industrial marketers, and as supplementary to advertising by consumer marketers.

The role of the Web in the marketing communication mix
For example, Web sites can be used to:

Example 1
Gain access to previously unknown or inaccessible buying influences.

Some Airlines uses a Websites to interview frequent international airline flyers, and determine their preferences with regard to airline, destination, airport, and even aircraft.

Example 2
Project a favorable corporate image. Guinness allows users to download from its Website its latest television commercial, which can then be used as a screen saver.

While the advertiser has not made the objectives of this strategy public, conceivably the approach builds affinity with the corporate brand as fun involvement, while the screen saver provides a constant reminder of the advertising message.

Example 3

Provide product information. Many business schools are now using their Websites to provide information
on MBA and executive programs, there is now even an award to the business school judged to have the most effective Website in North America.

Similarly, Honda uses its Website to give very detailed information about its latest models. Not only can the users download video footage and sound about the latest Honda cars, but by clicking the mouse on directional arrows, can get different visual perspectives of the vehicles, both from outside and inside the car.

Example 4

Generate qualified leads for salespeople. The South African life assurance company SANLAM uses its Website to identify customer queries, and if needed, can direct sales advisers to these.

Example 5

Handle customer complaints, queries, and suggestions. Software developers are using their Websites as a venue for customers to voice complaints and offer suggestions about the product.

While this allows customers a facility to let off steam,
it also allows the marketer to appear open to communication, and perhaps more importantly, to identify and rectify commonly occurring problems speedily.

Example 6

Allows customers access to its system through its Website. FedEx's surprisingly popular site allows customers to track their shipments traveling through the system by typing in the package receipt number.

"The Web is one of the best customer relationship tools ever," according to a FedEx manager.

Example 7

Serve as an electronic couponing device. A company targets college students, because they possess two important characteristics. They are generally very computer literate and also need to save money.

The site features lists of participating campus merchants, including music stores, coffee houses, andpharmacies.

Students click on shop names to get a printable picture of a coupon on their computer screen,
which they can take to shops for discounts or free samples in return, they fill out a demographic profile and answer questions about product use.


The role of the Web in the marketing communication mix
Different organizations may have different advertising and marketing objectives for establishing and maintaining a Web presence. One organization might wish to use the Web as a means of introducing itself and its new products to a potentially wide, international audience.

Its objectives could be to create corporate and product awareness and inform the market. In this instance, the Website can be used to expedite the buyer's progress down phases 1 and 2 in Buying and selling and Web marketing communication.pdf.

On the other hand, if the user knows the firm and its products, then the net dialogue can be used to propel this customer down to the lower phases in the buying progression.

The role of the Web in the marketing communication mix
Another firm may be advertising and marketing well known existing products, and its Website objectives could be to solicit feedback from current customers as well as inform new customers.

Thus, Websites can be used to move
customers and prospects through
successive phases of the buying process.

They do this by first attracting users,
making contact with interested users
(among those attracted), qualifying/converting a portion of the interested contacts into interactive customers, and keeping these interactive customers interactive.

Different tactical variables, both directly related to the Web site as well as to other elements of the marketing communication mix, will have a particular impact at different phases of this conversion process.

Image feedback.jpg

The role of the Web in the marketing communication mix
For example, hot links (electronic links which connect a particular site to other relevant and related sites) may be critical in attracting users. However, once attracted, it may be the level of interactivity on the site that will be critical to making these users interactive.

This kind of flow process is analogous to that for the adoption of new packaged goods (market share of a brand = proportion aware x proportion of new buyers given awareness x repeat purchasing rate given awareness and trial) and in organizational buying (the probability of choice is conditional on variables such as awareness, meeting specifications, and preference).


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