Internet Marketing and Its Impact on Online Communities | Digital Marketing | Consumer Behaviour

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The paper explores the role of internet marketing and its potential impact on online community groups especially on women and children. Internet as independent variable affects online users in different ways that are dependant variables. However, recent academic investigations have highlighted various negative impacts of internet on children and women. The research helps to understand the concept of online marketing and how it has transformed social life structure. Methodology: Secondary research sources have been used to support analysis concerning with online marketing and its potential negative or positive impact on online community groups. However, two questionnaires have been used to collect primary information. A larger portion of primary data has been extracted from hypotheses results that have been tested and checked against hypotheses models. Findings: The overall result confirms three hypotheses and identifies that there is strong relationship between independent and dependant variables and internet as independent variable significantly contributes to business growth. However, internet as independent variable leaves negative impact on online communities especially children and women. Originality/Value: The research in this paper relays on questionnaires that have been designed to contact online users to get their view point. The concept of this paper is original and explores the impact of independent variable on dependent variables in analytical and critical styles.
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   International Journal of Business and Social Science Vol. 6, No. 10; October 2015 176   Internet Marketing and Its Impact on Online Communities Mohammed Nuseir School of Management The World Islamic Science & Education University Jordan Abstract  Purpose: The paper explores the role of internet marketing and its potential impact on online community groups especially on women and children. Internet as independent variable affects online users in different ways that are dependant variables. However, recent academic investigations have highlighted various negative impacts of internet on children and women. The research helps to understand the concept of online marketing and how it has transformed social life structure.  Methodology: Secondary research sources have been used to support analysis concerning with online marketing and its potential negative or positive impact on online community groups.  However, two questionnaires have been used to collect primary information. A larger portion of primary data has been extracted from hypotheses results that have been tested and checked against hypotheses models.  Findings: The overall result confirms three hypotheses and identifies that there is strong relationship between independent and dependant variables and internet as independent variable significantly contributes to business growth.  However, internet as independent variable leaves negative impact on online communities especially children and women. Originality/Value: The research in this paper relays on questionnaires that have been designed to contact online users to get their view point. The concept of this paper is srcinal and explores the impact of independent variable on dependent variables in analytical and critical styles. Keywords: Internet marketing, online marketing, online communities, Social media, Community groups, Gender differences  Paper type: (Critical review)   1.    Introduction  New trends of doing business online to attract customers to surf online to evaluate the services or products of an organisation has lead organisations to use online marketing tools to deliver their messages to customers. The trend to market products online with a blend of online and off line strategies has produced success to companies that are using online marketing strategies to execute their business in virtual business environment that has no boundaries. However, the concept of internet marketing merely does not full of advantages but some negatives appear alongside the advantages of internet marketing. A careful debate on the topic of internet marketing indicates as defined by Burrett (2008, p. 44) that virtual marketing is a strategic process that enable organisations to “carefully targeting users and getting them to interact with you while they are engaged with the most personal, intimate medium ever invented.”  Internet has given more power to control and decide on the basis of information available online (Belch and Belch, 2009). The concept of ease and convenience as highlighted by Haver (2008, p. 2) “today’s younger, more ‘green’ shoppers aren’t going to waste precious money and gas going from store to store looking for just the right item. They shop online whenever they can, narrowing their choices to one or two items then go to the store to touch,  feel, bounce and check out the actual product to see if it looks the way it was represented online.”  These concepts of ease in shopping have lead organisations to launch their own websites to attract customers to explore their  products in details and to evaluate the reliability and quality of their products. Burnett (2008) argues that the  purpose behind launching a website does not merely to provide information about organisational products to customers but to attract and convince customers to buy products by knowing product specification, characteristics and benefits. It is a paramount aspect of internet marketing to increase customers’ strength. Internet marketing enables organisations to do business in a market that has no geographical boundaries.   ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) © Center for Promoting Ideas, USA www.ijbssnet.com  177   Despite having countless benefits and advantages of online marketing, organisation cannot ignore its disadvantages. One of the major disadvantages is lack of measureable metrics and it worries to marketers. However, some other negative aspects such as application of convincing management strategies and online security threats refrain companies to invest in online marketing and these companies rather prefer to perform their  business with full physical presence in the supermarket (McMains, 2007). Time factor is another element that creates annoyance among customers. Downloading certain files and access of information concerning with  product quality sometimes annoy a customer who abhor navigation difficulties. Carroll (2002) denotes that human nature is slow to accept change and with the involvement of technology it rather takes time to accept technological changes. 1.1 Research Problems A thorough review of the literate concerned with internet marketing and its impact on communities reveals that there is strong relationship between different types of variables that include online marketing as independent variable while online communities emerge as dependent variables. The literature sheds light on the need of empirical investigation to explore positive and negative impact of internet marketing on different online communities that involve women and children and children’s use of internet in isolation. This research paper explores and answers the following questions to produce a better platform to a reader to understand the impact of internet marketing and its relationship with online communities.    Is there a relationship between online marketing and online community?    Does internet marketing shares any role in business growth?    The negative impact of internet marketing downside practices on online communities.    Is there positive end result because of efficient internet marketing practices? 1.2 Research objectives    To identify the impact of independent variables on online users    To investigate the relationship between internet marketing and internet communities    To address the negative and positive outcomes of dependent and independent variables  2 Literature review 2.1 Internet marketing its relationship with communities and its overall impact on users The detailed study of literature concerning with internet marketing reveals strong relationship between online communities and an organisation. Internet marketing strategies have strong influence and impact on online communities who can be divided into different groups such as men, women and children. Internet marketing, no doubt is a sheer source of connection between individuals and the organisation providing consumers convenience of accessibility and ease to explore products using online forums. A rapid growth has been experienced in different types of online communities such as business-to-business (B-to-B), business-to-customer (B-to-C) and consumer to consumer (C-to-C) (Pitta and Fowler, 2005). Internet being a useful and popular source of information provides opportunities to online communities to share their knowledge and access information on the product of their choice. Knowledge sharing influences marketers as well because of the availability of online information as it helps marketers to know customers’ choice and market trends (Wind, 1976). 2.2 The use of internet by various online communities The availability of internet at schools, homes and in offices has increased the ratio of its users. The internet usage  by girls and boys is relatively equal at middle school level. However, the case with men and women usage varies  because of the nature of users’ interests (Bessiere, et al.  2008). A detailed research conducted by Bessiere et al. (2008) highlights the impact of internet use by different communities as change in social behaviour and depression. Results of this study highlights that entertainment and information are primary reasons behind internet use. However, 20% respondents of this research see internet a source to build new contacts based on mutual interests. This use of online forums helps to reduce users’ depression and change their overall behaviour. A similar study carried by Rajani and Chandio (2004) shows differences & effects of information technology use on different types of online communities. It appears that internet has taken the place of other technologies as it is a faster medium of communication and source of accessing information.   International Journal of Business and Social Science Vol. 6, No. 10; October 2015 178   Kraut et al. (1998) argues that various empirical studies conducted on the issues of effects of internet use indicate that most of the use of internet is associated with isolation as a user intends to establish new contacts using internet. However, internet does not isolate people from other community members but it leads people to form new contacts and friends who have online presence. Internet marketing has significantly positive effects on online users; providing online users ease of access of information, opportunities to compare the price of products and convenience of searching from home. The growth in internet marketing reveals that it is the result of users’ trust as they largely depend on internet marketing in present times. Internet has produced more freedom to explore different aspects of products and opportunities to compare and to contrast the attributes of a product. The concept of price is not similar to olden times as internet facilitates customers to check price of the product using online facility. 2.3 Online advertising Online marketing is also known as online advertising & internet advertising. Organisations contact customers to deliver promotional messages by using internet marketing. The use of various online forms such as advertising  banners, pop-ups, online newspapers, magazines and social networks enable organisations to introduce their  products to online users across the globe. Atkins (2003) believes that online surfers require more satisfaction  before they decide to make purchase. It is because they have more opportunities to evaluate online business  performance. The use of e-commerce technology tools enable organisations to satisfy their customers by knowing their liking and disliking and if they are convinced with online marketing initiatives? Many organisations as highlighted by Voight (2007) try to launch certain interactive platforms that can not only serve customers’ needs, introduce them with company initiatives but also facilitate customers to stay in contact with organisation by communicating online. One of the primary aspects of using interactive online marketing techniques is to create loyalty among customers towards certain brands of the company and such interaction “can lead to new products and inspire new positioning and inform marketing programs (Voight, 2007, p. 15).” However, marketers can  better exploit market opportunities by innovating online marketing initiatives and by making interactive social forums more feasible and reliable for customers to trust on company initiatives. 2.4 Impact on purchasing decisions The impact of online marketing is two ways process that not only affects customers but customers’ response affects the organisation as well. This process is known as pre-purchase and post-purchase response of customers. Riegner (2007) notes that the online marketing of products has received back strong impact in the form of customers’ response. There is good deal of change in social behaviour because of internet marketing and because of the availability of social networks. Heinrichs et al. (2011) writes that internet marketing plays a role of communication platform between customers and business organisation and effective online marketing changes customer behaviour. According to Kempe, Kleinberg and Tardos (2003), the key role of internet marketing is to convey a meaningful message to customers that effectively attracts customers to buy company products. 2.5 Online marketing and customer behaviour change Understanding consumer's intentions and choice is vital to be successful in business filed. Customer behaviour as defined by Solomon, et al. (2010, p.6) is “the study of processes involved when individuals or groups select,  purchase, use or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and desires.” Market segmentation appears as one of the primary characteristics of customer behaviour (Lantos, 2011), as this involves, age, gender and various community groups (Solomon, et al. 2010). The successful online marketing helps customers to decide and to change their behaviour towards company products (Hawkins and Mothersbaugh, 2010). The decision process involves different critical steps as a consumer evaluates the information and advertising content if it convinces him/her. Kardes, Cronley and Cline (2011) highlight five preliminary steps that help a consumer to make purchasing decision. (Kardes, Cronley and Cline, 2011)   Problem RecognitionInformation SearchEvaluation of alternativesPurchase decisionPost-purchase evaluation   ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) © Center for Promoting Ideas, USA www.ijbssnet.com  179   2.5.1 Online marketing and problem recognition The first element behind successful online marketing is problem recognition. The desire to buy a unique product with maximum characteristics is sought by a customer and this sense of a customer needs to be satisfied by strong and powerful marketing initiatives. However, sometimes certain problems such as poor marketing initiatives and  paying less consideration to cultural, environmental and social factors become the reason of not attracting a customer (Hawkins and Mothersbaugh, 2010). 2.5.2 Online information search and evaluation Successful online marketing provides all types of product related information to customers. A customer after sorting problem search for detailed information and uses different online forums such as social networks, organisation website and reads reviews online. This helps the customers to evaluate the information (Kardes, Cronley and Cline, 2011). The evaluation of information and product as Blythe (2008) argues provides chances to customers to get better and cheapest product that is available online. 2.5.3 Online marketing and consumer purchasing decision Customer judgement is based on four evaluation processes that lead him/her to purchase a product. This includes  problem solving Information, evaluation of information & product and availability of alternative. By all means internet marketing is an effective medium to attract customers (Hawkins and Mothersbaugh, 2010). 2.5.4 Privacy issue and online financial transaction threats Privacy of information is a major concern for online users. Individuals as well as groups show concerns about their personal information if it shared with third parties. Several surveys indicate that a good number of internet users are concerned about the sharing and displaying of their personal information to other people. 2.6 Types of online communities and online marketing strategy The presence of online users on online forums indicate two types active communities namely communities of interest and communities of practice. Communities of interest include all online groups who have similar interests to each other and share common values. This type of communities share their knowledge, information and interests to other online participants. These interests also include political, specific cultural, religious or geographical interests. These communities keep their presence on social network forums, internet blogs and hence are a good target for business organisations to introduce them with products or business services. Communities of interest, by internet marketing view point are useful to get views on products, brands and to know the perception of potential future customers. The collected information using communities of interest forums supports strategic decisions of the organisation and assists to improve online marketing strategies (Pitta and Fowler, 2005). Online communities of practice work in groups; the community members share their ideas and take collective decision related to certain topic or issue. This approach of practice communities is different from communities of interest. Online blogs, social networks are popular place for communities of practice to exchange their ideas and information (Wenger, 1998). Joy (2006) notes that organisations focus on three diverse aspects of marketing that include, visual, verbal and touch. However, visual aspect of online marketing is one of the dominant aspects as customers are attracted by video messages. Verbal marketing takes place in response to online queries or by engaging with customers using  particular online forum. Radio and telephone calls are useful medium of verbal marketing. In contrast to visual and verbal marketing ‘touch and feel’ type of marketing is another aspect of traditional marketing that requires the  physical presence of customers. 2.7 Online marketing and gender differences within online communities Communities of interest and communities of practice involve three types of groups that are men, women and children. According to Heermann (2010), organisations adopt different marketing initiatives for men and women as the gender difference plays significant role to alter disliking and liking of a product. “According to a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin, women notice and recall 70% more details in their environments than do men.”  This shows as highlighted by Kraft and Weber (2012) that women are more brand conscious than men hence online marketing initiatives adopted by organisations focus the gender differences as well. The purchasing decision of men and women is different from each other due to gender differences. Kraft and Weber (2012) believes that men are short sighted and want immediate satisfaction while in comparison to this attitude women make purchasing decisions for long term benefits.
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