This Issue
Latest News
Emarketing Insights
Search Engines
Creativity Works
Under Review
Buyers Guide
Site Map

E-Marketing Insights

The Top 10 E-marketing strategy issues of today and tomorrow?


How can E-marketing best support marketing activities? In this article we answer this question by looking at the top 10 strategic issues of E-marketing as I experience them from working with marketers from large and small organisations who are actively integrating online channels into their marketing activities. For each issue there is a short introduction followed by typical questions marketers are trying to resolve. In future editions of WNIM, we will explore each of these issues in more detail.

Before examining my top 10, we look at the growing impact that e-marketing is having in business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets. I also define the scope of E-marketing since, as with many terms with the ‘e’ prefix it means different things to different people. This article was first produced for discussion by UK marketing academics and practitioners who are part of the Academy of Marketing E-marketing Special Interest Group. It was presented at a meeting that was convened by the Institute of Direct Marketing and hosted by the Internet Advertising Bureau on 30th March 2004. The aim of the meeting was to review alternative directions for the research and teaching of E-marketing in Further and Higher Education.

E-marketing defined

Customer-centric e-marketing is:


Digital technologies which form online channels…
(Web, e-mail, databases, plus mobile/wireless & digital TV)


Contribute to marketing activities aimed at achieving
profitable acquisition and retention of customers
(within a multi-channel buying process and customer lifecycle)


Improving our customer knowledge (of their profiles, behaviour, value
and loyalty drivers), then delivering integrated targeted
communications and online services that match their individual needs.

The first part of the definition illustrates the range of access platforms such as web, e-mail, mobile phones and interactive digital TV that comprise the online channels which e-marketers use to build and develop relationships with customers.

The second part of the definition shows that it should not be the technology that drives e-marketing, but the business returns from gaining new customers and maintaining relationships with existing customers. It also emphasises how e-marketing does not occur in isolation, but is most effective when it is integrated with other communications channels such as phone, direct-mail or face-to-face. Online channels should also be used to support the whole buying process from pre-sale to sale to post-sale and further development of customer relationships.

The final part of the definition summarises approaches to customer-centric e-marketing. It shows how it should be based on knowledge of customer needs developed by researching their characteristics, behaviour, what they value, what keeps them loyal and then delivering tailored web and e-mail communications.

The increasing impact of e-marketing

Four years after the dot.com boom and bust there is now a resurgence in investment in E-marketing. This resurgence has been driven by a combination of changes in consumer behaviour and online services that have been refined to meet these consumer needs. For households with Internet access, the web is now the first port-of-call for finding information to select or buy the best deal. This is illustrated well by a survey from the European Interactive Advertising Association from November 2003. (http://www.eiaa.net/). This showed the following variation in popularity for browsing and purchasing products online:

  • 64% browse for holidays online and 28% buy online.
  • 58% browse for travel tickets and 37% buy online.
  • 55% browse for music online and 26% buy online.
  • 47% browse for books online and 31% buy online.
  • 36% browse for electrical goods online and 20% buy online.
  • 25% browse for clothes online and 16% buy online.
  • 24% browse for financial products online and 10% buy online.

These figures represent a dramatic growth in popularity of the Internet as a source for selection and purchase of products. Initially, music and books were the most popular online purchases. These purchases have become more common place, but have been overtaken by travel. A common pattern seems to be that as consumers become familiar with purchase of relatively low-cost, low-involvement, standardised products such as music and books, their confidence grows and they then diversify their range of online purchases. The data suggests there is still large potential for growth in online browsing and purchases for products such as electrical goods and financial services.

The Interactive Media in Retail trade body (http://www.imrg.org/) believes that Internet shopping will become mass market in 2004. Twenty million British shoppers will spend £17 billion online this year. This follows a 70% year-on-year increase in UK internet shopping over the Christmas period to £2.5 billion.

By 2009, they estimate that a quarter of all UK shopping will be conducted via the internet or mobile devices in a market worth £80 billion. A further 20% of purchases will be influenced by online research.

For business-to-business e-commerce too, there has been continued growth in the online channels. The seventh annual international benchmarking survey sponsored by the DTI has shown similar increases in popularity of online ordering and purchases (www.ukonlineforbusiness.gov.uk/benchmarking2003). For companies that order online, around 28% of orders are now placed online, with the average amount of sales occurring online accounting for 15 to 20% of turnover. These figures disguise significant differences within and between countries. Of the 3,000 businesses surveyed in the UK and 500 in 10 other other countries, there were significantly lower levels of adoption in small and medium companies, with declining levels of usage in some of these companies.

Top Ten Strategic E-marketing issues

Issue 1. The E-marketing planning process

What is it?

The integration of e-marketing-specific objectives, strategies and activities into the traditional annual marketing planning process.

Key questions:

  • Do we have a separate e-marketing plan?
  • What should the e-marketing plan contain?
  • Which objectives do we set to drive the contribution of e-marketing to the organization?
  • How do we align e-marketing activities with business strategies of market and product development?
  • How do we integrate e-marketing communications with traditional communications?
  • Which Internet-specific strategies should we review?
  • New channel structures - How do we partner / form alliances with online intermediaries, develop new intermediaries and manage channel conflicts?

Issue 2. Organising and resourcing for e-marketing

What is it?

As the importance of online channels increases, the structure of the marketing organisation and responsibilities may need to change to maximize the opportunities available through new media.

Key questions:

  • Do we change the structure of the marketing organisation?
  • Which new responsibilities do we identify for e-marketing?
  • How do we develop e-marketing specific skills within the marketing team?
  • Does the organization have the database marketing and analytical skills to support e-CRM and e-mail marketing?
  • Which e-marketing activities do we outsource?

Issue 3. Defining the Internet value proposition (IVP)

What is it?

To achieve increased customer usage of online channels (web, e-mail, wireless), a distinct, detailed proposition must be developed for these online channels and it must be clearly communicated online and offline.

Key questions:

  • How can we vary the elements of the marketing mix online?
  • How do we research the proposition?
  • How is the combination of e-mail (issue 6) and web-based personalization (issue 9) used to extend the proposition?
  • How powerful is the IVP (research)?
  • What are competitors offering as IVPs?
  • Are there cannibalisation issues?

Issue 4. E-brand value

What is it?

How does the Internet contribute to and influence brands?

Key questions:

  • How do we extend our brand online?
  • Should we use brand variants?
  • How effective is the emotional connection of an online brand?
  • How is the online brand experience perceived by customers?
  • How is online service delivery perceived by customers?
  • Reputation management (or PR) – how do we manage how third-party sites present the brand through proactive promotion of the brand and reactive limitation of negative PR?
  • Viral marketing – how do we use the efficiency of online networks to create involvement with a brand? (http://www.wnim.com/archive/issue2403/emarketing.htm).

Issue 5. Setting the e-communications mix

What is it?

Defining the proportion of online spend on different elements of the communications mix

Key issues:

  • Percent of communications budget allocated to e-communications
  • Online spend % on advertising, direct mail and PR
  • Demonstrating return on investment for e-marketing tools
  • Continuous vs campaign spend
  • Relative spend on different online tools, i.e. search, affiliates, online ads, rented e-mail lists, online sponsorship, etc
  • How do we partner / form alliances with online intermediaries or should we develop new intermediaries?

Issue 6. E-mail marketing integration (Touch strategy)

What is it?

Integrating different forms of marketing e-mail, i.e. rented list, house list e-blasts, service e-mails and e-newsletters with traditional communications, i.e. direct mail, advertising, etc to achieve maximum response

Key issues:

  • What is our touch or contact strategy defining minimum and maximum number of touches per customer in a period?
  • What communications preferences do we offer customers for media type, format, frequency and content?
  • How are e-mail newsletters used as strategic communications tools?
  • How do we maintain responsiveness of e-mail marketing given the increasing volume of e-mail reaching recipients in-boxes including SPAM (60% of global e-mail) and blocking/filtering of legitimate permission-based opt-in e-mail marketing ?

Issue 7. E-CRM

What is it?

Using online channels (web, e-mail, wireless messaging linked to customer databases) to build and deepen relationships with customers.

Key issues:

  • How do we use online channels to create dialogue and build relationships with web site visitors using a permission-based dialogue?
  • How can we selectively target customer segments with different characteristics and value?
  • What are the characteristics of customers who preferentially use the online channels?
  • How do we manage customer data? (See Issue 8)
  • How well does the web site/e-mail support cross-selling/upselling?
  • What methods do we use to target and personalize messages for online customers?
  • How do we manage change associated with CRM?
  • Which technologies do we select to support CRM?
  • What level of customer service do we provide online and how do we control the level of online versus offline enquiries?

Issue 8. Building and exploiting customer knowledge

What is it?

Customer knowledge is profiling information and research characterising customers including their characteristics, communications preferences, behaviours and perception of service.

Key questions:

  • How do we acquire and update customer details as part of e-permission marketing? (http://www.wnim.com/archive/issue2504/emarketing.htm).
  • Who is responsible for customer knowledge?
  • How do we assess and control the quality of customer knowledge?
  • Integrating separate databases to achieve a 360 degreee view of the customer.
  • How do we segment online audiences using customer information?
  • Which models do we use to assess customer value?
  • How do we motivate staff to improve knowledge quality?
  • How is this data exploited using targeted marketing communications?
  • What are the legal liabilities and constraints of managing customer data such as, in Europe, the Data Protection Act, and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Act and in the US, CAN-SPAM laws?

Issue 9. E-marketing automation

What is it?

Developing personalized marketing messages delivered by web and e-mail in response to customer events and behaviours.

Key questions:

  • How can we support the sales process and relationship-building through automated e-mail dialogue based on web-based triggers?
  • How do we build related-products personalisation into the web site?
  • How do we integrate personalisation technology into our existing infrastructure?

Issue 10. E-channel optimisation

What is it?

Developing a continuous improvement process to monitor the effectiveness of web and e-mail marketing.

Key issues:

  • Which web analytics tools do we use?
  • What metrics/dashboards to we use to review e-marketing effectiveness?
  • What testing programmes do we use to improve e-marketing?
  • How do we optimise different e-marketing activities – traffic building, web site design, e-mail marketing
  • What is the internal process for review and improvement?

Next months article

We will explore Issue 3. The Internet value proposition and Issue 4. e-brand value in more detail.

About the author

Dr Dave Chaffey is workshop leader for a range of one-day e-marketing training workshops from the CIM:

Go to http://www.cimtraining.com/ for course details and online booking.

Dave Chaffey, trainer and consultant for Marketing Insights Limited (http://www.marketing-insights.co.uk/) is a prolific e-business author with ‘Total E-mail Marketing’ and the second editions of ‘Internet marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice’ and E-business and E-commerce Management new in 2003. Dave is also an examiner of the CIM E-marketing Professional Development Award. A web site at http://www.marketing-online.co.uk/ supports the workshops and books with over 400 marketing related links.

Home | Latest News | Archive | Training | Events | Buyers Guide | Research | Contacts | Site Map

A MediaCo (uk) Production - Internet Marketing and Web Publishing