Volume 3 Number 2 - February 2003

eMarketing 101 - What Sales and Marketing Managers Need to Know
by Page Duffy

It seems as though it wasn't very long ago that Internet marketing was considered the brand new, cutting edge approach to innovative and creative marketing. Now well into its fourth generation, it is fueling a marketing transformation that Sales and Marketing managers need to know how to implement. The ones who do will surely enjoy a very real advantage over their competitors.

First generation Internet marketing saw the repurposing of marketing collateral into static web pages, sometimes referred to as "brochureware." It opened up a whole new world, allowing immediate access to what a company did and what it could offer. Its second generation saw interactivity added to the web, with many customer services becoming available to prospects and customers online. For the first time, people who were used to talking on the telephone or meeting face to face were accessing computer technology that had replaced human interactions.

The third generation brought transaction processing and the eCommerce boom. Whether it was ordering a book, or booking a flight, during this phase millions of people were introduced to the efficiencies and convenience of the Internet. And now the fourth generation is here. It is called eMarketing and it uses Internet technology to build personalized relationships that can acquire and retain customers.

eMarketing builds and manages personalized online marketing programs for both customer acquisition and retention. This is where the marketing truly crosses over into the sales realm. This is done by using specialized marketing automation applications that combine a web server, email server and a database. The use of marketing automation technology has transformed marketing from using the Internet for, essentially, online product brochure displays to the automatic and professional delivery of programs that are customized and tailored to the individual customer. This technology, for the first time, permits the sales or marketing manger to leverage the strengths of the Internet and in effect, meet one-to-one with the customer or prospect.

What does this transformation mean for Sales and Marketing Managers? It means that it is no longer enough to send out email blasts inviting people to visit a corporate web site and expect to generate leads or retain loyal customers. It means that they must find a way to connect with their prospects and customers on a one-to-one basis.

The good news is that the marketing automation technologies that can enable them do that is now economically available to small and medium sized businesses. Virtually no business has to exclude itself from the benefits of effective eMarketing anymore. eMarketing is no longer the exclusive preserve of major corporations or marketing departments with large business generation budgets. These new technology applications employ either web or client-side interfaces for building and delivering personalized eMarketing programs that will make and retain that connection.

But the technology alone will not be enough. A new kind of expertise is needed to employ these tools effectively. Fortunately much of this necessary expertise is founded on the well established principles of direct response marketing. The Internet has become a direct response medium, and many – but not all – of the rules that have proven effective for direct mail and catalog marketing can apply. The necessary skill set includes understanding the rules of “permission marketing” for effective emails, knowing how to use databases for personalization and customer profiling, being able to develop effective Internet marketing strategies to incorporate the web, and monitoring results with meaningful reporting systems. Direct marketers have a head start, but, with a little effort, most marketing professionals can develop the skills they will need to move into Internet marketing’s fourth generation.

But what will be the payoff from making such a move? Statistics show that it can take up to six contacts before a prospect makes a purchase decision. This being the case, the occasional email blast just won’t do the job. The effective eMarketer will establish regular communications, integrating both email and the web, to provide relevant information that will move each prospect through a sales cycle. Additionally, this approach will help retain a customer and build loyalty.

Note the use of the singular in the previous sentence. Each prospect or customer needs to be, moreover expects to be, communicated with individually with information specific to his or her needs. The task is just too great to be done efficiently without the use of technology. eMarketers are using marketing automation technology to pre-build programs that establish and maintain communications with their target markets and dynamically deliver relevant information to them throughout the process.

What about the return on investment, or ROI, for eMarketing? Marketing departments are being challenged more and more these days to justify the costs of their lead generation and customer retention marketing programs. By migrating their marketing programs online and automating them, eMarketers are achieving significant cost savings by replacing paper, telephone and human interactions. Plus, they are extending the reach and scope of their marketing efforts with a more responsive medium.

For cost savings, take the management of a marketing program such as a trade show or sales seminar series or other such event. The entire process can be moved online and automated. Personalized invitations can be sent by email and scheduled for automatic resending to non-registrants on prospect lists. Registrations, even for multiple-venue events, can be handled online. Answers to surveys and lead qualifying questions can be scored and contact information delivered by email to sales. Timely reminders can be emailed. Post-event collateral can be delivered by email or the web. All necessary interactions can be pre-built into an integrated program that replaces conventional media and human interactions and generates large cost savings. And reporting systems can be built that provide real time results of each element of the program.

This means that eMarketing is also what is often called "closed loop marketing." eMarketers can measure and analyze the specific responses to their marketing actions in real time. With tools in place to measure their programs’ effectiveness, they can immediately see what their prospects are doing and how they are responding to their messages. And the immediacy of the medium allows them to test and redesign their programs as necessary in a timely manner.

Savvy Sales and Marketing managers are learning about and adopting eMarketing to seize competitive advantages and deliver bottom line results even in these tough times. Their payoff is increased sales from more customers.

ACTION: Step up your eMarketing.

Page Duffy is President of JPD Associates, an Internet Marketing Consulting firm specializing in B2B eMarketing and development and implementation of effective Internet marketing strategies that deliver positive ROIs for client companies. Call 978-475-4589 or visit www.jpdassoc.com.

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