Which should be viewed more as a tool of marketing a product/service, the Internet or web site? I tend to mix up both – Cyril Mbakwe
One leads to the other. Just like what holds between a car seat and the car itself, always regard the web site as a ‘subset’ of the Internet. It can not exist without the Internet and is comprised of assemblage of associated web pages, reflective of file of information located on a server connected to the World Wide Web (WWW). Without delving into defining this subject extensively due to constraints of space, just note that a web site is a location connected to the Internet which maintains one or more pages on the World Wide Web; and provides for inclusion of text, photographs, illustrations, video, music, and even computer programs – Hence its relevance as a critical tool of marketing.
Internet on the other hand, is a computer-based global information system (which embodies the web site). An online dictionary has this about it: “The Internet is composed of many interconnected computer networks. Each network may link tens, hundreds, or even thousands of computers, enabling them to share information and processing power…It has made it possible for people all over the world to communicate with one another effectively and inexpensively…and does not have a centralized distribution system, unlike traditional broadcasting media, such as radio and television. Namesto, an individual who has Internet access can communicate directly with anyone else on the Internet, post information for general consumption, retrieve information, use distant applications and services, or buy and sell products.”
A mere ‘free reign’ surfing, browsing or visit to the Internet will yield all sorts of web sites (or sites) that convey almost countless displays of marketing offerings, which easily come the way of prospective customers just by ‘pointing the cursor and clicking’. My recent first ever encounter with www.domedeal.com.ng (an online shopping platform for buying and selling), being a market place for various offerings from a Nigerian perspective, clearly exemplifies opportunities which a typical site provides for marketing.
Without going into the technicalities of what comprise a typical web site (npr. typography, grammar, titles, copy or sales letter, web pages, layout, links, search engine optimisation or SEO, status of web content, etc), just bear in mind that I remain one of those who would not ‘mince words’ in referring to the web site as “one of the greatest things that happened to marketing in recent time”. The following justify this claim:-
- The site will create significant impact towards a marketer’s presence and visibility (more than 800 million people worldwide have access to the World Wide Web. A business, product, service no doubt will have so much exposure through this).
- Helps the marketer to network (through establishing favourable connections with others, 24 hours a day, inexpensively and simply).
- Provides important information (web site can comprise a source of knowing about any offering for the benefit of prospective consuming public).
- Assists in heightening public interest towards what is being projected (people anywhere can easily access the product or service. Indeed it helps save time in facilitating publicity input such as press enquiries).
- Makes for easy reach by the media. As the most wired profession these days, the media can get information more quickly, cheaply, and easily on-line.
- Affords pictures, sound and film files ( a picture is worth a thousand words – the site allows for addition of sound, pictures and short movie files on information for public consumption).
- Site facilitates answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and allows feedback, from prospects and consumers alike on what best suits one’s offerings, or otherwise.
- Helps to create 24 hours service, seven days a week, for a business concern (a business can be contacted anytime, even when offices are not open. It can customize information to match needs and collections of important information even before workers get to the office).
- Fosters easy projection of an entity (its product or service), on a continuous basis, to interested parties globally through attracting more visitors to it, whereby it constitutes a medium of advertisements (npr. classified, still or flash banner ads).
Aside marketing of a product, service, concept or idea, I am aware of a Nigerian government that utilises its site a great deal to achieve these: ‘Nudge’ government contractors and other interested parties (connected to this government,) to subscribe for advertisements on the site (source of fund raising); project the activities of the Governor and other top officials (npr. commissioning of projects) through postings on the web site; vacancies on jobs for the teaming unemployed youths and even contract opportunities; display of a directory of businesses and other organisations within the state; provision for payments and subscription services (npr. rates, taxes, fees); while a newsletter on the site serves as an online means of conveying government’s activities to the people; and a mailing list for aiding the generation of vital data.
Finally, considering the prevalent shift from traditional media (print, radio, television, outdoor and transportation displays) to new media platform (with the Internet and the mobile phone occupying centre stage, having components like blog, podcast, and social media which have bearing on a web site) as vehicles of effective marketing, the vital place of the web site as a modern tool of marketing becomes easily discernable.