Using Web Technology as a Means to Strengthen Competitive Advantage
Many firms underestimate the value of using their websites to gain substantial competitive advantage in their given markets. Most businesses only utilize their website as a way of displaying their corporate profile, list of products in addition to things like their contact information and email address.
It's fairly safe to say that managers should always view web technology in light of the entire marketing mix rather than just as an extension of the current advertising efforts. I've seen this happen over and over and therefore feel it's my duty to tried to highlight some of the ways that a site can positively impact all these marketing mix components:
Ways to improve your distribution networks may consist of using the web portal to improve logistics, create new marketing channels (by way of instance affiliate stations ) or provide better or faster product access for customers. Be careful however when creating new e-commerce websites since it's important to perform a thorough online market analysis of your product to make certain that you're also competitive as much as other Web based competitors are involved. Internet retailers like Amazon are increasing in size and dominance and must be taken into consideration when planning any online strategy. Affiliate marketing channels might also be something to check to in terms of gaining more visitors to your website. New incoming marketing and data channels are easily established by making an affiliate program that entails other companies listing your website URL in their pages which then can equate to more visitors for your website. Look at your current business referrers; can you improve or strengthen these stations through the use of powerful and relevant links?
The development of the Internet's accessibility is inevitable and companies are well advised to begin the web advertising function when possible. The cause of this is that"staying power" is overriding with an increasing number of people beginning to use the net. Firms which have been around the longest and that have high levels of interconnectivity will always keep a fairly big competitive advantage over newer entrants. After a company's web page has created a good standing and is featured on other relevant websites, the ability for companies to use this policy to reach out to new national and worldwide markets can be very powerful. The success of large online advertising campaigns is well recorded. For me the last US election was a true eye-opener as Internet advertising played a dominant role in key advertising campaigns with staggering amounts of advertising messages being delivered through the Internet to target audiences.
Email marketing lists are also a wonderful way to remain in contact with your clients and their effective use can provide a valuable marketing and information channel. The advantages are two fold together with the ability for marketers to use them to enhance brand awareness whilst strengthening customer relationships. Newsletters and other marketing may be used to let customers know about new products or services in addition to provide segment relevant information to them designed to provide value and a"good read". A word of warning though, be certain that you clearly outline your privacy and anti-spam policy in order to not breach any anti-spam laws. You'll have to get your client's consent first and provide an unsubscribe link so that they might choose whether they would like to receive your communications.
Whilst observing the product component of the marketing mix, an online portal can substantially strengthens you are firm's current product offering. Ways that a website can improve your product offering are many, ranging from offering new internet related goods through to establishing outgoing affiliate programs. Giving clients better services that reinforce the appeal of the core product is a excellent way to effectively relate products to client requirements. This usually includes the introduction of secondary or ancillary products which may either be sold or supplied at no cost. These additional offerings can help generate greater, sometimes passive, earnings in addition to increase a business's potential differentiation. Ways in which your company can do so include:
* Establishing a knowledge base your clients can gain access to this includes a FAQ or query function allowing your customers to question you for information. This permits them to use the service better or more economically.
* With a feedback form where customers can provide their input as to their needs and product ideas can help you to determine valuable information about your client's needs
* If you've got a product that's not easy to operate, providing free or subsidized training can help your clients to overcome difficulties.
Many companies actually charge their customers for the support component you'll need to refer to the present competition situation to find out whether this is something you can implement. Either way product improvements could include increasing the availability of goods and services by placing order forms and encourage forms on your site.
The automation of a number of the company's functions using internet technology usually equates to a substantial saving of operational costs -- that is if you're doing it right of course! For example having an effective inbound marketing form can reduce sales staffing expenses. Because ordering online does not need a sales representative to take the telephone and effectively turn it about this costs the company a certain amount per enquiry in staff time. Encourage clients to use the web form rather than other procedures of product ordering could be an effective way of reducing these costs. Ways that a company may want to do it is to reflect the low staffing price in the cost by providing a"better deal" to Internet customers. Additionally, this can help establish a pattern of online behaviour on your clients that can sometimes be interpreted to other internet firm functions like support pages.
These are simply a couple of the ways that a successful online strategy can turn your little web site to a virtual price saver and income-generating machine. I challenge you to get the most out of what's available and bear in mind that continuous revision of new internet technology is obviously beneficial if you determine that it might or might not be for you. Naturally, not all internet technology is acceptable for every firm and it's important that you're conscious that continuing development can be expensive both in terms of time and other infrastructure and development expenditure. Effective development research in addition to price, change and market evaluation is paramount to make sure that the benefits of any change out means any given realistic investment price.