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E-marketing back online

WITH the dot.com boom a fast-receding memory, electronic marketing is starting to become top of mind again as companies that invested heavily in second and third generation Internet technology try to recoup a return on that investment.

One of the key complaints about the Internet was that it failed to deliver on what was promised.

Marketers starting to turn back to the electronic medium are saying that the lack of delivery was due to its mistreatment.

Pretzel Logic e-marketing consultant Carlo Bertozzi said too many marketers had attempted to use the Internet as an extension of traditional media.

“In reality the Internet does have the capability to allow a marketer to enter into a one-on-one conversation with individual customers,” he said.

“However, to do that they need to find out more about those customers.

“If you go to a magazine or newspaper their sales department will be able to give you a whole raft of statistics on market segments and demographics. The Internet hasn’t really been able to do that.

“However, as paid content starts to kick in, e-marketers will be able to do that better.

“There are also a number of ways Internet marketers can track post-click results.

“We have the technology to follow where a customer went after they clicked on an email containing an offer.

“You can answer questions such as did they stay long? How quickly did they respond? Did they buy?”

Mr Bertozzi, who was excite.com’s European sales director, said smart Internet mar-keters were starting to move in that direction.

“The Internet is a dynamic medium. If you understand who you are talking to you can enter into a one-on-one conversation with individual customers that can be very powerful,” he said.

“However, you have to realise that permission doesn’t last for ever. Just because a customer expressed interest in something your company was doing a couple of weeks ago does not mean they are still interested.

“You have to follow up on those sort of things quickly.”

BC&Y managing director David Owen said he believed the real value of the Internet lay in improving client databases.

“Email marketing is a magnificently cheap way to keep in touch with your database,” he said.

“However, as with all media, communication through email comes down to the effect of the offer.

“The sheer volume of email means that it is not an especially effective way of reaching new clients, but it is good for reaching existing customers.

“Websites were expected to be good for online purchasing but the online buy level is much lower than people expected. However, they can be a great support channel.”

Change Corporation managing director Stephen Langford said ineffective websites could damage companies’ online moves.

“We’ve been requested to do a lot of useability reviews of websites,” he said.

“One of the web’s great strengths comes at the point when a company is introducing its business services.

“The user is doing all of the work and inputting information about themselves to you.

“The website is less about advertising and more about capturing the value of advertising. You need to make sure that the Internet is integrated into all of your company’s marketing campaigns.”

Mr Owen said the Internet had proved very successful as a means to sell low-involvement products such as books and CDs.

“However, the Internet can be such a terrific way of communicating information about a product. That can play a huge part in helping to sell a high-involvement product such as cars.

“Unfortunately, for some outlets, it can also be a great tool for price comparison shopping.”

Mr Bertozzi said the Internet had a number of marketing tools available.

“However, it is important to assess their use and make sure that they will not damage your brand,” he said.

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