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Web Marketing Communication: A Conceptual Framework

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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.

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
Based on the previous Unit, we model the flow of users activity on a Website as a six-stage process, which is shown in:

Exhibit 30. Exhibit 31.

(Please download the Module 2: Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework document from the Resource Section)

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
All users on the Web may not be the relevant target audience for a given firm. Users can be in one of two groups:

those potentially interested in the organization (η 0),
those not interested (1- η 0).

The attractiveness of having a Website for the organization depends on Q0η0, the number of potentially interested surfers on the Web (where Q0 is the net size measured in terms of users). The first stage of the model represents the flow of users on the net to land on the firm's Website, and it is acknowledged that only a fraction of the aware users (Q0η0) visits a firm's Website. This describes the awareness efficiency (η0) of the Website.

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
The awareness efficiency measures how effectively the organization is able to make users aware of its Website. Advertisers and marketers can employ reasonably common and well-known awareness generating techniques to affect this, such as including the Website address in all advertising and publicity, on product packaging and other corporate communication materials, such as letterheads, business cards, and brochures.

The awareness efficiency index is:

Image - index.png

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
The second stage of the model concerns attempts to get aware users to find the Website. We distinguish between active and passive information seekers. Active seekers (Q1a) are those who intentionally seek to hit the Website, whereas passive seekers (Q1b) are those aware users whose primary purpose in visiting was not necessarily to hit the Website. Only a fraction of the aware users visit the firm's Website.

The second stage of the model thus represents the locatability/attractability efficiency (η1) of the Website. This measures how effectively the organization is able to convert aware users into Website hits, either by facilitating active seeking behavior (users who actively look for the Website), or by attracting passive seekers (not actively looking for the Website, but not against finding it).

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
Enabling active seekers to hit the Website easily can be achieved by maximizing the locatability of the site such as using multiple sites (e.g., Web servers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia), names for the site that can be easily guessed (e.g., www.apple.com), and enhancing server speed and bandwidth (the number of visits which can be handled concurrently).

Tools to attract passive seekers include using a large number of relevant hot links. Embedding hot links in sponsored Websites and banner ads on search engines.

We summarize the locatability/attractability index as:

Image - Index2.png

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
At this stage, it should be apparent that there is a
difference between a hit and a visit. Merely hitting
or landing on a site does not mean that the user
did anything with the information to be found
there the user might simply hit and move on.

A visit, as compared to a hit, implies greater interaction
between the user and the Web page.

It may mean spending appreciable time (i.e., > x minutes)
reading the page. Alternatively, it could be completing a
form or querying a database.

Although the operational definition of a visit is to some extent dependent on the content and detail on the page, the overriding distinctive feature of a visit is some interaction between the user and the Web page.

Image - Monitor.jpg

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
The next phase of the model concerns the efficiency and ability of the Website in converting the hit to a visit. The third stage of our model represents the contact efficiency ( η 2 ) of the Website. This measures how effectively the organization transforms Web site hits into visits. The efforts of the advertiser at this stage should be focused on turning a hit into a worthwhile visit.

Thus, the hit should be interesting, hold the visitor's attention, and persuade them to stay awhile to browse. The material should be readable. The concept of readability is a well-established principle in advertising communication. Visual effects should be appealing, sound and video can hold interest as well as inform. The possibility of gaining something, such as winning a prize in a competition, may be effective. The interface should be easy and intuitive.

We summarize the contact efficiency index as:

Image - index3.png

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
Once the visitor is engaged in real time in a visit at the Website, he or she should be able to do one or both of the following:

Example 1 –
Establish a dialogue (at the simplest level, this may be signing an electronic visitors' book; at higher levels,
this may entail e-mail requests for information).

The visitors' book at the Robert Mondavi Wineries' Website not only allows visitors to complete a questionnaire and thus receive very attractive promotional material, including a recipe brochure, it also allows the more inquisitive visitor to ask specific questions by e-mail.

It is important to note that it is feasible to establish the dialogue in a way that elicits quite detailed information from the visitor for example, by offering the visitor the opportunity to participate in a competition in exchange for information in the form of an electronic survey, or by promising a reward for interaction (the recipe booklet in the preceding example).

Example 2 –

Place an order. This may be facilitated by ensuring simplicity of the ordering process, providing a secure
means of payment, as well as options on mode of payment (e.g., credit card, check, electronic transfer of

Alternative ordering methods might also be provided (e.g., telephone, e-mail, or a postal order form that can be downloaded and printed).

For example, Amazon now offers a huge variety of CDs. It provides visitors with thousands of reviews from the well respected All Music Guide as well as thousands of artists' biographies.

A powerful program built into the site allows a search for recordings by artist, title, and key words. It also tells about an artist's musical influences and lists other performers in the same genre. Each name is hot linked so that a mouse click connects the visitor to even more information.

Amazon seemingly endless layers of sub-directories makes it easy and fun to get lost in a world of information, education, and entertainment precisely the ingredients for inducing flow through the model. More importantly, from a measurability perspective, the site converts some of its many visitors to buyers.

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
This capability to turn visitors into purchasers, we term conversion efficiency, and summarize it in the form of an index as follows:

Image - index4.png

The final stage in the process entails converting purchases into re-purchases. The firm should consider the proficiency of the Website not only to create purchases, but to turn these buyers into loyal customers who revisit the site and purchase on an ongoing basis.

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
This can take a number of forms:

Button 1
Regular updating and refreshing of the Website. It is more likely that customers will revisit a Website that is regularly revised and kept current.
Button 2
Soliciting purchase satisfaction and feedback to improve the product specifically, and interaction generally.
Button 3
Regular updating and exploiting of the transaction database. Once captured, customer data becomes a strategic asset, which can be used to further refine and
re-target electronic marketing efforts.

This can take a number of forms: customers can be reminded electronically to repurchase (e.g., an e-mail to a customer to have a car serviced); customers can be invited to collaborate with the marketer (e.g., loyal customers can be rewarded for referrals by supplying the e-mail addresses of friends or colleagues who may be leads).

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
This capability to turn purchasers into re-purchasers, we term retention efficiency, and summarize as follows:

Image - index5.png

Finally, we define a sixth, or overall average Website efficiency index ( ηAv ), which can be thought of as a summary of the process outlined in Buying and selling and Web marketing communication.pdf.

Image - index6.png

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
This index can be an effective way to establish the extent to which Website advertising and marketing objective shave been met. The measure is particularly relevant for a Web direct mail order operation where the main objective is to generate purchases and repeat purchases. However, a simple average may in other cases be misleading, and a more refined and appropriate measure might be a weighted average. A weighted average index is defined below:

Image - index7.png

Where μi is the weighting accorded to each of the five efficiency indices in the model. So, for example, some advertisers might regard visits to the Web site as a very important criterion of its success (objective), without wishing or expecting these visits to necessarily result directly in sales.

Web marketing communication: a conceptual framework
Other advertisers and marketers might want the visit to result in dialogue, which could result in sales, but only indirectly mailing or faxing further information, accepting a free product sample, or requesting a sales call. Another group of Web advertisers might wish to emphasize retention efficiency.

They would want to use the Web as a medium for establishing dialogue with existing customers and facilitating routine reordering. It would therefore be useful for advertisers and marketers wishing to establish overall Web efficiency to be able to weight Web objectives in terms of their relative importance.

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