Introduction Internet users around the world are now numbering to more than 300 million. Internet has become so popular because of its user-friendliness and easy accessibility. Students rely to the powers of the Internet to help them with their research. Mothers search for cooking tips and recipes they wish to share with their loved ones without leaving their homes. Even kids these days rely to the Internet to entertain them using popular role-playing games (RPGs). The Internet is such a very popular medium that businessmen have gone online to sell their products via the Internet.
In 2005 alone, Internet sales will probably exceed USD $133 billion worldwide. Since Internet is such an accessible medium, consumers need not leave their homes to purchase household items. Consumers do not have to personally go to the banks to check their accounts. These practices may be done with the click of the mouse. Internet Marketing Internet marketing is the use of the Internet to promote and market goods and services. The process involves pay per click advertising, banner ads, e-mail marketing, search engine marketing, blog marketing, and article marketing.
This online marketing is an element of electronic trade which includes information management, public relations, customer service and sales. Internet marketing has become so popular since Internet access is getting more extensively obtainable and utilized. In his study of the benefits of Internet marketing, John Simms (May 2006) reported that that more than one third of customers who have Internet access in their homes make use of the Internet to buy goods and services. Historically, Internet marketing started in the early 1990s as plain, text-based websites that provided product information.
Soon after, it developed into advertisements complete with graphics. Recent developments in the Internet marketing is the establishment of complete online trades that practice the Internet to publicize and sell their services and goods. This marketing strategy using the Internet is seen in different formats. One format is the name-your-price where customers can communicate what price range they intend to give and will then choose from among the items within that price range.
There is also the find-the-best-price format where Internet users can look for the cheapest prices on certain items that they wish to buy. There is also another Internet marketing strategy where buyers can bid online on items listed on the website. What are the benefits of Internet marketing to consumers? Has this online marketing strategy affected the consumers one way or another? Simms (May 2006) in his study illustrated some of the significant benefits related with Internet marketing. The foremost benefit is the availability of information.
Consumers can browse the Internet and find out about products and buy them anytime. Companies that utilize Internet marketing save money since there will be less requirement for a sales force. They do not have to hire more sales people. generally, Internet marketing can improve the development from a local market to global market. eFuturecentre of Canada (2006) revealed that 69% of the so-called online population has at least bought one commodity in the last 90 days at the time of the study. Experts say that online sales reached $3. 2 trillion by the end of 2004.
It is also said that the average income of an Internet user is $59,000, making this a very appealing demographic target. The Internet is also the largest and the biggest medium of communication attainable to small businesses. It can be a great help in leveling the playing field for small businesses that are on a limited budget that attempt to vie in large markets. eFuture (2006) further claims that no other communications channels allows you to manage a business from your home, while having a small business the look of a larger, more grounded operation.
However, there are also limitations or setbacks of Internet marketing. One is slow Internet connection which can result to troubles on the part of the consumer. When companies load so much information on their websites, Internet users will have to contend to load the web page. Probably the biggest setback of Internet marketing is the absence of a personal touch which consumers may find important especially in today’s times. Internet marketing does not allow consumers to try the items before buying them.
Meanwhile, Internet marketing also threatens security which is an important concern among consumers. Consumers are sometimes afraid to purchase items through the Internet because they do not want their personal information to be shared. In fact, some companies doing business via the Internet were found sharing or even selling information about their customers to other sources. Companies that purchase customer information provide the option for individuals to have their information taken out from the database.
Many customers are not aware that their profile or information is being disbursed and are not able to control the delivery of their information among companies. This dilemma is now being studied thus companies have devised means to secure the information of their consumers. one of the methods they are looking into is encryption which converts data into a form called a cipher. This will not be easily read unless an individual is given an authority by the company which made the encryption. Conclusion Internet marketing has affected the consumers’ choice and purchasing power.
Generally, it has made purchasing easier since the customers need not leave his home to buy something that he needs. But like other services, there are also conflicts that go with Internet marketing. Internet marketing has had a extensive influence on several businesses such as music, banking and the flea markets. In the music industry in particular, consumers have started buying and downloading MP3s over the Internet instead of simply buying CDs from the music stores. In the banking industry, meanwhile, banks have started offering the ability to perform banking transactions online.
Online banking has become so popular to customers since it is a lot more practical than visiting bank branches personally. Presently, there are more than 50 million U. S. adults who bank online. It has become the fastest-growing Internet activity the reason being the speed of Internet connections. Consumers need not line up in banks to transact their banking needs. All they have to do is log on to the Internet with the account and passwords and voila! they get connected easily and ask for their account balances or pay their bills online.
The flea markets are also affected by Internet marketing in such as way that items that were only found at flea markets are being sold online. online auctions have affected the prices since buyers and sellers often check prices first on the Internet before visiting flea markets. What happens normally is that the prices on the Internet becomes the price for the item sold in flea markets. Today, flea market sellers are advertising their items online for sale and running their business right at the comforts of their homes. Questions on sales tax have also lately become contended.
The present laws demand that buyers of online products remunerate to their state all due taxes on these goods at the end of each year together with their other state taxes. Nonetheless, most consumers are not actually making there payments. Recently, 13 states in the United States as reported by Esther Grassian (2006) have now begun asking Internet businesses to get sales tax on every sale. These states are currently not pressuring the companies to collect the tax but it seems that if companies do not begin gathering the sales tax on their own, states will begin asking the companies to do so.
The states are saying that every year they are losing at least $15 billion in unpaid sales taxes in connection with online purchases. Internet marketing permits even the smallest companies to do business 24 hours a day with its product or message with low cost. Selling products or services via the Internet provides chances for expanded communication with the target market through methods like interactive websites, email newsletters, online surveys and forms, blogs, and discussion groups. The Internet gives the opportunity to receive feedbacks from clients or consumers immediately.
The real essence of Internet marketing is to put together groups of individuals under one imaginary roof and make them choose products and services right away. It’s faster and easier and cuts on cost brought by going to the supplier personally. It is such a convenient way of shopping since you do not have to proceed to malls to purchase your favorite blouse or jeans. However, it has missed out on the one important ingredient which is the personal touch. Internet marketing will not answer every problem a consumer faces. It is still necessary to be where the real action is.
Customers who do online banking will still need to visit their branch. there will be questions he need to ask which only persons from the banks itself can answer. On the other hand, Internet marketing has indeed made things a lot easier for the consumers. It made a lot of things convenient and practical generally. Sources John Simms.
12 Benefits of Internet Marketing. SmartAds Internet Marketing News and Search Engine Marketing Tips. May 10, 2006 eFutureCentre. Manitoba E-Future Centre prepared by the eBusiness Connection. Esther Grassian. Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources. UCLA College Library.