How significant is Internet marketing to businesses? Today, the answer to this question varies dramatically according to who is answering. For companies such as electronics company Cisco, the answer is ‘very significant’ – Cisco sell $9 million worth of hardware using the Internet each day. For fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies such as Unilever the answer is ‘insignificant’ – the majority of their consumer sales will occur through traditional retail channels in response to promotional campaigns in traditional media. In 1998 advertising expenditure for Internet placed adverts was estimated at £8m, compared to £3 billion for TV and radio adverts.
Does, the relatively unimportance of the Internet to companies such as Unilever indicate that Internet marketing is of specialised interest only? We believe not, because the interesting question to ask is "how significant will Internet marketing be to businesses in the future; in 2, 5, or 10 years time?" This is the question many companies are asking themselves today, and is why it is important to understand this relatively new marketing phenomenon.
For example, Unilever is starting to use the Internet as part of brand building for its new products. In 1998 it launched its Mentadent toothpaste in the United States using traditional media campaigns and also offered samples in response to users clicking on an advert placed on health-related web sites. It received more than 40,000 requests for samples, far exceeding its expectations for this new medium. If businesses do not understand and start to apply the new marketing techniques and technology in this way, then they may not only miss an opportunity, but may even cease to exist.
The media portrayal of the Internet often suggests that it is merely an alternative for traditional advertising. In fact, the Internet can be readily applied to all aspects of marketing communications and can and will need to support the entire marketing process. As we move into the new millenium, organisations will use Internet technology in the form of intranets and extranets to support the operation of the internal and external value chains.
This book will cover all the different ways in which the Internet can be used to support the marketing process. Many organisations have begun this process with the development of web sites in the form of electronic brochures introducing their organisations’ products and services, but are now enhancing them to add value to the full range of marketing functions.