It may seem surprising but many companies, big and small, have yet to develop a rational Internet marketing strategy. Considering the Internet has now been used effectively by marketers since 1994, any organization without a strategy to utilize the Internet is not not fully aware of how important it has become. The Internet’s importance for marketing includes:
Go-To Place for Information
Possibly the most important reason why companies need to have an active Internet marketing strategy is because of the transformation that has occurred in how customers seek information. While customers still visit stores, talk to sales representatives, look through magazines, and talk to friends to gather product information, an ever-increasing number of customers turn to the Internet as their primary knowledge source. In particular, they use search engines as their principle portal of knowledge as search sites have become the leading destination sites for most Internet users. Marketers must recognize that the Internet is where customers are heading and, if the marketer wants to stay visible and viable, they must follow.
What Customers Expect
The Internet is not only becoming the resource of choice for finding information, in the next few years it is also likely to be the expected location where customers can learn about products and make purchases. This is especially the case for customers below the age of 25. In many countries, nearly all children and young adults have been raised knowing how to use the Internet. Once members of this group dominate home and business purchases they will clearly expect companies to have a strong Internet presence.
Captures a Wide Range of Customer Information
As a data collection tool the Internet is unmatched when it comes to providing information on customer activity. Each time a visitor accesses a website they leave an information trail that includes how they got to the site, how they navigated through the site, what they clicked on, what was purchased, and loads of other information. When matched to a method for customer identification, such as login information, the marketer has the ability to track a customer’s activity over repeated visits to the site. Knowing a customer’s behavior and preferences opens up tremendous opportunities to cater to customer’s needs and, if done correctly, the customer will respond with a long-lasting loyalty.