Let’s start off with a bit of honesty.
With practically all kinds of information available to just a click away, seldom do we sit down and rack our brains to understand something. As soon as we see something that we are not able to get our heads around, in comes Google like a Guardian Angel, swooping down like a messiah to put an end to our troubles. And therefore I’ll confess- the moment I decided my topic, I rushed to Google for help without sitting down for a minute and thinking about it and here’s what it provided me with when I searched “Online Marketing”:
“Online Marketing is a set of tools and methodologies used for promoting products and services through the Internet.”
So I tried to break the standard routine and what I came up with is:
“Online Marketing is a platform providing the perfect set of tools for the branding and advertising of your product/services in the modern world”.
Let us explore this concept in detail by bifurcating it in the classic example of 2 sides of a coin namely:
As compared to the traditional manner of handling and promoting your business, online marketing caters to this by supplying a much wider range of marketing elements due to the extra channels and marketing mechanisms made available on the internet in order to influence your target audience in a much more effective manner. With the advent of the Internet and it being made cheaper and available to almost every individual on the globe, almost all work has been modified to work over the net and so why not marketing? It brings together the best of creative and technical apparatus’ provided by the Internet at a single place, thus providing design, sales, promotion, interaction – all at a common place. Why won’t anyone consider switching to online marketing if it provides you with-
Why would you want to spend more manpower and money in order to do something that can be handled in a fraction of the cost incurred in comparison to employing people to do the same when the same manpower can be utilized to do more productive and enhanced stuff? The same budget now allows you to create much more interesting and intriguing advertisement ideas to lure more customers.
LARGER DEMOGRAPHIC COVERAGE:
The ground area that you can cover with online marketing jumps exponentially. The amount of land that a person can cover and the amount of business he can bring in a day is nothing compared to that done by the same online marketing scheme. Because, expenditure (if you can call it that) done on an online ad returns a colossal profit as compared to its investment as a single ad is broadcasted at once all over the internet for the entire world to see and make up their mind.
ENHANCED QUALITY AND QUANTIFIED OPTIONS:
Ever since companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra etc. have made it big in the online market, or the market to be precise, offline stores and markets have been in a bit of a dilemma, going helter-skelter and considering all options as to how to give a jumpstart to their businesses, how to claw away a piece of the market on which online retailers have a stronghold on due to making available all kinds of brands selling all kinds of products – from local and small retailers to major Fortune500 companies under a single roof. Net neutrality has made everything available to everyone as long as they are equipped.
Online marketing strategies have left traditional businesses with 2 options – either to up their game and provide at least the same level of products and services, if not better, or capitulate to them.
PROVISIONING OF EASE AND CONVENIENCE:
In the modern, fast moving world where people don’t have the time to actually think about themselves (or at least they say so), there is no questioning the fact that they would like to ease their lives at least when they want to buy stuff. No one in their right mind would actually want to go out and exhaust precious time and energy in order to make up their mind trying to buy or provision something if they are offered the opportunity to do the same while sitting comfortably on their couch or bed knowing that they will get whatever they want delivered to their doorstep.
Also, shopping online gives you the independence to research your product/service in your own time. You don’t have to make up time specifically and separately just because you wanted to buy a TV (say) today.
If it was just for the quality and choices while catering to the customers’ need, the competition would have been balanced to the extent. But what has made online marketing a success is- providing at-par services or customer care as we like to call it. It is not just about providing your customers with what they want, but it is actually following up on them and making sure they are completely satisfied with what they have received.
If we think practically for a minute, we will realize that this huge gap cannot be justified JUST because of the service provided. If that had been the scenario, offline markets would have taken care of that a long time ago.
What sets the two apart is the quality of service that they are able to provide.
Online markets provide round the clock 24-hour services and return or exchange a product even after 10-15 days of use without blinking an eye. That is definitely not the case with offline stores. If you find some defect in the product you purchased, they very simply say that it’s not possible that something from their store turned out defective. If you are able to provide a bill for the same, then they may do something. However, if you do not have a bill, then just forget it.
Of course, nothing in the vast universe resembles perfection. Online marketing is no different and can have some loopholes in it. Let’s identify them:
LACK OF MANIFESTATION:
Speaking according to the dictionary, manifestation is essentially something that is “clear and obvious to the eye or the mind”, which is definitely an area in which the online markets lag.
The inability of a person to actually try out the product before using it in person is a major setback for them. You cannot examine the product qualitatively. Purchasing is all done on instinct and hoping that what they receive will satisfy them completely. This is why companies provide generous return and exchange policies to circumvent this problem. Even still this could turn out to be a waste of precious time and we know “TIME IS MONEY”.
Even though the internet can be considered a lifeline to today’s world, there still are people who are very apprehensive to give the world of online marketing a try particularly the older generation. The reasons can be any- from fear of online fraud to not trusting the quality of the product that they will receive.
Although this is not a major cause of concern in many places, the primary people who are dubious of giving the platform of online marketing a go are the older generation who cannot adapt to such a form of lifestyle. Places where the ratio of the elderly is in favor are the places where online marketing is at a disadvantage such as China, Japan etc.
In my mind, whatever be the extent of the development of online marketing, it cannot completely overshadow the traditional offline retailing. Because no matter what, there always be a significant fraction of people who will have a sense of doubts in their minds always about online retailing and will always prefer to do their shopping at their own expense of going out to shops and malls.
However, with the advent of digitization of almost all fields, online marketing is the next hot thing. Not to say it’s not hot right now, but there definitely is a huge room left still in its development. No one can say what would be next that would take over this trend of online marketing or IF something could take over it. That’s a question for the far-fetched future. But the present and the next 10 years at least is definitely the age of online marketing and retailing and those who do not catch up with it are bound to be forgotten as time rusts away the best of things if you are not able to maintain your flow with it.