Internet Marketing and the Reinfusion of Humanity

Selling on the Internet has often removed a very crucial element from the buying experience – humanity. It is easy to log on, peruse an ecommerce site and escape unnoticed. That is, in fact, the appeal of most online stores. Consumers like the opportunity to look without buying or buy without the long speeches and quality assurances offered from slick haired salesmen.

That being said, the consumer still misses some kind of interaction especially when it comes to a product or service they are most interested in. They may still buy online, but they may feel that something is missing and never fully be able to explain what that missing element may be.

This brings me to social media. We gravitate toward those who share similar beliefs, similar interests or shared pasts. Every day people are finding connections with those they haven’t heard from or about in decades. Others are mobilizing for a cause or a leader in expressing their ideas and dreams.

Why not access the same technology to mobilize your customers and infuse some humanity into the buying process.

Consider some of the following ideas that may make your marketing strategy more human.

Blogs – These can allow you to provide direct input for consumers. They can read a well-defined post from you by visiting your site or using an RSS (Real Simple Syndication) reader. Your expertise adds a human face to your product.

Customer Feedback – This can allow customers to inform others about the service and value they receive from your company. Even if you have a negative comment from time to time it demonstrates the honest to goodness humanity of your business.

Forums – This allows consumers to have direct interaction with other consumers. Many will come to your forum because of genuine interest while others may come to cause trouble. Make sure you have moderators that can help keep the troublemakers to a minimum.

Ezines – This is a tool you can use to help lead your consumer base in a direction that will be mutually beneficial. This should be packed with information and resources that remains a valuable tool in human relations.

This may sound as if it is an endorsement for niche marketing. I suppose in a sense it is. You see, when it comes to an online business you can afford to fill a very specific niche. The reason this is true is there are many more potential consumers that are online as opposed to those only found in your immediate vicinity.

If you can come up with solutions and information for your niche audience you may find that your humanity and their motivation can make a more successful online business than a more general interest retail store located in a storefront on your local Main Street.

When you are viewed as a cutting edge niche marketer you may find that you gain the trust of those who have always wanted the kinship of others who share their passion for the product or service you sell.

Accept their trust in good faith and lead wisely.

eCommerce Development and Business Dynamics

The number of Internet users are burgeoning rapidly throughout the globe. While in the developed nations, it has already reach a saturation level, in growing economies like India, internet penetration is becoming stronger. Internet grew as an empowerment for common people and a massive business platform for enterprises. Among numerous trends that internet brought among people, eCommerce emerged as a massive disruption in business dynamics and in lifestyle of commoners. It brought the lavishness of shopping right at the clicks on the computer or taps on mobile devices, while, products as well as services reach the doorsteps.

eCommerce has become a proven profitable venture with considerably low investment and high profit. However, the profit part is dependent of several factors. It can become a complex business to handle, as it involves many critical operations right from accumulation of products, delivery, customer services to maintenance of technology, massive human resources, and warehouses. Only a seamless tandem in all these operations can lead to a running eCommerce business, that can bring good Return on Investment.

To venture into eCommerce, prospective business owners must first find a dependable firm to develop the central platform or the web portal. They can also hire technology experts for in-house development, but it brings along the cost of development and technology infrastructure. In the primary stages, many other operations, like collecting products from vendors and marketing are required. Hence, outsourcing the development of the platform becomes a profitable option. Businesses would only need to find a good eCommerce Development company.

Since, technology is a central aspect in eCommerce industry, adequate importance is given in web development for creating the web portal. This thrust in technology propelled a dynamic boost in IT sector. Especially, application development, web development and technologies like PHP has found their ways to massive popularity and importance in current business landscape. In fact, there is a competition among businesses to buy the best technology or to develop the best platform.

In eCommerce, the web portal, or the technology is at the center of all its operations. It is not only the interface of the business with consumers, but also the prime mechanism in which the business runs. The website serves multiple purposes all at the same time and it is that single touch point of all major interactions with consumers. Accessibility of services and abundance of features in the web portal is a secret mantra for success in eCommerce. Therefore, the imperatives of technology in this business is the central focus for enterprises and owners.

How to Use Web and Internet Video to Market and Communicate

IBM Uses “Do It Yourself” Video to Communicate and Market

“No more long, cumbersome marketing documents – no more boring presentations. Video is how companies and business should communicate,” says Mark Leaser, Worldwide Offerings Manager, IBM Software Services for Lotus. “You can do it yourself and save thousands of dollars.

IBM Software Services for Lotus is using video in a wide variety of ways – for internal education and communications as well as for external marketing and customer relations.

Internally, Mr. Leaser and his department are using video for sales training, communication where they want to propose a particular course of action, and to provide training of their technical solution architects and solution specialists. They also are doing internal case studies – talking head interviews and lots of screen capture using their own LotusLive web conference solution and mixing it with live video.

IBM is also using video externally to promote and market their assets and solutions worldwide. The video messages are designed to help customers select, purchase and use the appropriate business solutions.

To speed up the production process, and to ensure a consistent look and feel, Mr. Leaser has developed an effective standardized format to deliver these external messages. These external communication videos usually start with a short teaser – essentially a one to two minute video introduction to a business solution then followed by an action step that is designed to steer viewers to specific online IBM landing pages with much more detail.

Combining the best practices from successful eCommerce and eTailing sites, these landing pages use even more video to further educate and market products and services. A typical video landing page will include links to additional content including additional video and product information. The landing page can also include “infomercial” type videos, as well as videos on how the products work and where to go for more info.

IBM uses video as a means of attracting interest in something that they are doing. The video segments have to be more than a commercial – they have to offer content with value, information of how their solutions will help their customers’ business, and tips for using particular solutions.

IBM Saves Money by Producing In House

Currently IBM uses outside production services as well as internal teams to create their videos. The customer case studies and/or reference videos are usually produced by an external company but increasingly, a larger percentage of the videos are being produced internally. Many of the videos are shot at tradeshows and events where IBM’s various technical and product experts are in attendance. Rather than hiring an outsider who charges $10K to $15K to produce a video, IBM found that they can do it ourselves, single camera, for a small fraction of the price, and it is just as effective. Over a year, they save hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Some case study videos are shot multi-camera but 90% of all productions are single camera. Most of the videos are captured using standard HD prosumer camcorders (recording onto 16 gigabyte SD cards) with flat lighting from a single large lightbox. For capturing audio, Mark uses professional Sony lavaliere microphones and Audio Technica shotgun microphones. Mark says, “Simple works. One of the most important technical details is to make sure we have clean audio.”

To improve the efficiency of the video editing and production process, the video is captured in a native Quicktime format and then inputted into Mac computers running Final Cut Studio. Mark has settled on h.264 and DVKitchen for compression and distribution over the company’s intranet as well as over the Internet. Mark usually compresses at the standard Apple TV settings (h.264 at 1280×720 with a 4800 kbps data rate) but DV Kitchen makes it simple to provide a variety of compression templates for various viewing and distribution options.

In many ways, their video production process is just like producing a document using Microsoft word. They use standardized formats and templates, and standardized technical specifications that allow a “producer” to easily cut and assemble a video without having to know a lot of technical details.

Once the video is done, the IBM team can share it in a variety of ways. For internal videos, they often use their own internal media servers or YouTube where the videos can be viewed using the standard YouTube video player.

However, for their external marketing videos, they were not satisfied with embedding YouTube in their public facing pages because there was too much clutter and not enough brand control. To give them more control and present a more professional look, they use outside video hosting companies and video platforms that can be customized.

Authoring video in house works for IBM because their current generation of IT decision makers understand the video language and often don’t have the patience to wade through a white paper or technical presentation. To properly reach them, information needs to be presented in a lively, colorful and high-energy mode that can only be conveyed via video.

SIDEBAR

Three reasons your business should use video to communicate

1. Use video – it works. The impact is phenomenal. Following the lead of the direct marketing industry which claims a 4x improvement in response in video versus text, Mark says that short videos with links is the most effective way for establishing powerful outward bound communications and building brand equity. Your audience expects video and you need to give it to them. An effective business presents information in a manner that is most receptive by their target audience.

2. Learn how to do it yourself. Modern video technology and solutions are easy to learn and very affordable. In many ways similar to cut and paste word processing, DIY video production has become the baseline for business communications and marketing. It is similar to the past evolution to word processing from executives relying on secretaries. The stratified and inefficient business architecture of the “Mad Men” TV show is long gone. Similarly, a new business communication paradigm is occurring now with video. Word processing is being supplanted by video. Long documents and boring powerpoint presentations are being replaced by video. Because DIY video is so efficient as a communications tool, it should be an integral part of your business.

3. Video is easier than people think. It is no longer some mystical technology. Yes, 20 years ago, video was complicated, expensive and required an advanced degree. However, with the advent of simple to use video nonlinear “cut and paste” editing programs and affordable high definition digital camcorders, high quality production is now attainable by almost anyone. You can hire someone out of high school who has all the skills. Remember – for business, simple works best. It is all about communicating ideas and information, not fancy effects or 3D explosions.

Ecommerce Marketing Plan

Concept of Service

The current work deals with marketing offer of e-commerce service. It highlights the essential steps of marketing of a brand-new firm offering services of website construction, design, programming, development, and promotion. The service should be provided exclusively online via the site of the company. Online business operations include ordering, agreement on requirements, elaboration of design, and providing constant customer support.

The service implementation process should include the following stages:

– Defining goals of the site. This may include either physical meeting or discussion of the product in question via Internet.

– Developing the website structure. This stage is aimed at flashing out technical aspects of the site. It should include definition of necessary technology, type and specifications of site navigation.

– Website design and built. Developing layout and graphics of the site. This may include elaborating the company’s genuine creative approach in developing the graphic looks of the order, or complying with the requirements presented by the customer as to general look of the project.

– Website programming and built. This stage depends on details of each specific project and definite requirements posed as to the quality and level of the site. Also, this process varies according to the kind of customer and destination of the site contemplated. All features of the site are subject to examination and test by both company’s specialist and customer.

– Technical release of the site. Once technical aspects of the project finished, the customer should be provided with free consultation along with further site marketing and promotion services, techniques, and practical advice.

– Ongoing site maintenance. This is the stage when the job of creating the customer’s site is finished. But the company guarantees keeping all its sites current in terms of graphics, technology, navigation and usability. After release of the site, the company continues working with the customer as to establishing a schedule for the website regular review and maintenance to meet clients’ requests, accommodate users’ feedbacks, incorporating new system updates and new technologies.

It is a fact that the idea of the internet-commerce of this type is not brand-new, and for a new company to enter the market and receive profit out of its business, it is necessary to invent some novel elements in the service offered. The innovative elements that this project contains compared to large variety of competitors functioning on IT e-commerce market are based on combination of cost leadership and differentiation generic strategies (according to M. Porter, [1]). Therefore, the project is launched in B2C format, though there can be differentiation of customers and hence differentiation of the level and variety of services offered to each individual customer, and the project is for-profit, small business case.

This new business is intended to compete with both large business providers of site development services and small business representatives dealing with this issue.

Another unique feature of the project is wide variety of services included in one business offer. This includes: web-design, redesign of existing site, possibility of working with many programming languages, site management, allocation in search engines, animation, free hosting offer, email registration, web mail and POP3 access, ftp access, tools for web statistics, domain name registration, other services like full life website consulting, flash animation creation, elaboration of graphic and logo design, e-commerce and shopping carts, site management, administering and maintenance, banner ads, marketing, engine position enhancing and promotions, search engine optimization, software testing and even online training.

Industry Overview

The industry of e-commerce is one of the fastest and most dynamically developing industries worldwide. Today it is quite difficult to accurately define the impact of the Internet on commerce in exact figures, but according to the estimates by 2000 there were about 260 million Internet users worldwide and by mid 2003 their number has grown more than twice and reached 580 millions. By 2005, their number is estimated to reach more than 770 million.

These figures show that the Internet has become very important and significant business medium through which buyers and sellers not only conduct transactions that were earlier conducted live, but carry out online-specific business buy-and-sell operations. Only three years ago, in the first three quarters of 2002, according to the figures of Department of Commerce [3], e-commerce transactions amounted to more than 20 billion dollars. It should be taken into account that those numbers are significantly lower than the amount of actual real transactions.

Today, e-commerce is booming. Market size of e-commerce has reached immense volumes. Moreover, this growth tends to accelerate. While in 2002 total volume of retail American e-commerce sales was fixed at $44 billion, one year later it increased to 56 billion. Then, in 2003, online sales made only 1.6 of total sales, providing the ground to suggest that there is very large growth potential. Online sales are predicted to rise to 2.9% by the year of 2007. Thus, Internet economy force became more integral part of the entire US economy than it has ever been. Research conducted by the Cisco Systems (available at [2]) shows that the Web is transforming the way people work and the revenue from Internet transactions annually grows by more than 50 percent.

Jupiter Research [4] reports that American B2B Internet commerce rates increased noticeably over the past 5 years and amount from $336 billion in 2000 to $ 6.3 trillion in 2005. Jupiter mentions five industries that have more than half of all buying and selling operations online. These are: aerospace and defense, chemicals, electronics, motor vehicle and parts, and computer and communications equipment and software. Among these industries, computer and communications equipment and software is leading with estimated number of online sales in this 2005 year reaching to $1 trillion.

That is very important for the current study since the project in question is to be launched in computer and communications industry. Therefore, proceeding from the trends mentioned in the industry of electronic commerce, one can assume that the direction of one’s business connected to online service and e-commerce, notwithstanding powerful competition, has all the chances to further develop and gain success since this market sector is subject to enhancement, development and transformation.

Since the number of Internet users is growing and the number of companies willing to be represented on the Web is increasing along with the number of companies launching online business, there is very high and further increasing demand in providing programming, design, site development and marketing services. Therefore, a new firm in the industry theoretically has solid opportunities to enter the market, whatever saturated it may be, and successfully develop. On the basis of abovementioned, the outline of relevant business target market gets clearly seen.

Target Market

The target market of the project is very vast one. It varies from individuals with the minimum requirements as to functionality, appearance and program possibilities of the site, to large companies with more solid and expensive orders. Since there are very different kinds of customers with various interests and needs, each requiring different approach and professional level of performance, they should be segmented into distinct groups. By segmenting the customers, the company increases its chances on success.

The customers were divided according to the level of the desired product complexity. After such criterion, three levels can be distinguished: those requiring basic site development; intermediate level, and sophisticated one. Basic level implies comparatively low cost of services and is fine for individual customers, non-professional companies specializing, for example, in online selling of a small range of products. According to its name, this solution anticipates limited functionality, simple design, and quick implementation of the order.

Second group of customers comprises those with intermediate level orders. Such sites should include…

Full version of Ecommerce International Marketing Plan is available here [http://www.personal-writer.com/ecommerce-marketing-plan]