Marketing organisations are potentially exposed to much greater competition but they also have access to the entire global market. Additionally, not everyone has access to the internet, and some specific target markets in particular have low rates of access. Payment can also give rise to issues, with many consumers concerned about security and the possibility of online fraud or deception.
Profiling refers to the process of getting to know about potential customers before they make a purchase and to find out more about existing customers. The more the organisation knows about the customer and their needs and preferences, the better it can present a product that will offer value to the customer. Marketing organisations can gather information about their customers in the e-marketing environment through:
requiring registration to access a web site and providing information such as their name, age, occupation, and address.
competitions that require users to provide personal information in return for an entry.
Information is stored in a structured database or data warehouse. This data is analysed and used to ensure marketing offers to each customer offer the maximum possible value to that customer.
Interactivity: e-marketing offers great opportunity for interaction between the marketer and the customer. Interactivity can surpass even that offered by a one-on-one marketing experience and it is certainly a cheaper option that can reach far more people than one-on-one in-person contact.
Interactivity can occur in many ways, including:
a virtual customer service officer: web sites can respond to customers’ enquiries and comments with tailored answers.
a real customer service officer: An actual customer service officer responds to the web site visitor in real time to answer their queries and respond to their comments via online chat.
email newsletters and RSS feeds: Sending a newsletter or other information via email or RSS feed helps maintain brand awareness in a customer’s mind.
survey participation: Surveys help marketers find out more about their target market. Surveys can be emailed to customers or can appear as a pop-up on web sites.
online communities: Hosting an online community provides a virtual meeting place for customers and potential customers. The marketing organisation can observe their comments and their interests, can seed ideas in the community to gauge responses to proposed marketing or product campaigns. An active online community centred around a brand or organisation can help build very strong long-term relationships and brand associations.
Digitalisation is the ability to deliver a product as information or to present information about a product digitally, for example, an MP3 file downloaded from the iTunes. Some products can be completely digitalised. Music is one such example. Other products cannot be completely digitalised, but part of the service can. For example, various grocery retailers have experimented with offering online grocery stores in which consumers shop at an online store using a virtual shopping trolley and then pay a fee to have the full order delivered to their homes. The benefits to the consumer are convenience, traded off against the fee charged for delivery.