Whether for small or medium companies or global corporations, internet marketing has emerged as an essential component of every successful business plan. Let’s face it: Just as a company representative wouldn’t dream of showing up to a trade or industry gathering without a business card, no company in its right mind would enter today’s marketplace without some sort of online presence.
On a commercial level, this point was recently underscored when the respected web measurement firm comScore Inc. reported that U.S. online retail sales increased 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 — an encouraging trend in an otherwise listless economy. Thanks in part to this fourth-quarter boost, full-year online retail sales for 2010 rose a total of 9.8 percent over 2009 levels, proving again that a viable internet strategy is an essential factor in business growth today.
Of course, the concept of Internet marketing embraces more than retail sales. It encompasses branding, advertising, affiliate programs, e-commerce, e-mail promotions, customer satisfaction and retention and a host of other marketing communications initiatives. But with such a bewildering array of Internet tools at an organization’s disposal, what strategies offer the best return on investment?
Answers vary from business to business. But American Sentinel University professor Alex Lazo, Ph.D., suggests three emerging trends that every organization should clue into:
1. Socialization: According to Lazo, the power of social networking sites is now a given. “Any organization that doesn’t have a significant and positive presence on Facebook is relegated to being perceived as not keeping up with the times,” he observes. On the other hand, organizations within even the most technologically “lagging” industries can appear innovative and relevant simply by developing an active social networking presence.
2. Personalization: Discovering that tailored missives go much further than massive blasts, truly intelligent businesses are abandoning large-scale SPAM campaigns in favor of more modest, personalized and targeted messaging programs. Dr. Lazo notes that “with so many pieces of junk mail that make their way to the average inbox on a daily basis, consumers are much more apt to give their attention to a relevant message.”
3. Privacy: Internet consumers are increasingly factoring a sense of privacy into their purchasing decisions. “Organizations that wish to market on the Internet need to ensure consumers that any transmitted information does not violate those consumers’ privacy concerns,” asserts Dr. Lazo.
“Traditional marketing and Internet marketing possess many of the same characteristics, but the latter is certainly unique in its required approach,” summarizes Dr. Lazo. “Internet marketing can be customized much more based on sites visited, keyword searches and the like. In addition, cookie information can be used to obtain at least some basic information on a user. It’s up to the savvy Internet marketer to utilize these advantages in his or her efforts in tailoring a powerful Internet marketing campaign.”
For the business professional considering an online degree program to deepen his or her understanding of Internet marketing, finding an institution that stays abreast of the latest trends might seem a conundrum. However, Dr. Lazo believes degree candidates will find exactly what they seek and more at American Sentinel University.
“We offer a practical business administration degree program with a curriculum that is in line with current industry expectations,” he concludes. “The success of our curriculum isn’t measured solely by completion rates, but by learning outcomes that are tied directly to industry expectations.”