What can online marketing do?
The term online marketing suggests that it is a specific marketing discipline. Online marketing is marketing, just on the Internet. This is how executives of companies, HR managers and graduates of schools in the online marketing industry understand it.
But is that really true? Whether online marketing managers understand something about “real” marketing and companies correctly assess the connection between online marketing and general marketing, this article should clarify.
Marketing and online marketing in comparison
To create some substance, let’s first take a look at the past of marketing, internet, and online marketing. The origin and content of marketing and online marketing could not be more different.
Emergence of marketing
The term marketing was first used at U.S. universities in the early 1900s . Marketing can best be translated into German with the term “sales economy”. In over 100 years, marketing has continued to develop as a complex science in the field of business administration.
Content of marketing
Marketing is particularly concerned with marketing instruments. This refers to contract policy (price policy), product policy, distribution policy (place) and information policy (promotion). Furthermore, the instruments of service marketing, the personnel policy (People), the equipment (Physical Proof) and the processes are included.
Each marketing tool is complex and interacts with all other marketing tools:
- A high price may be appropriate with the right product policy, but must be communicated differently and also affects the utilization of the distribution channels.
- Poorly equipped staff and inefficient processes will ruin a service company, no matter how good the product or price is.
The marketing mix – i.e. the cooperation of the marketing instruments – must be well coordinated.
But the marketing tools are not everything. Marketing also deals with disciplines such as market research and statistics, calculation and budgets, controlling and leadership. It thus connects the worlds of production, trade and economy with the world of people, needs and consumption.
Now, to make a comparison, let’s get to the history and content of online marketing…
Online marketing as an advertising channel of the 21st century
Historically, online marketing can be classified in marketing in recent times. The term “online” stands for the World Wide Web. When Tim Berners-Lee invented the markup language HTML, the Internet became a mass medium and thus gained relevance for the advertising industry and for the distribution of products and services. Before this historic event in the early 1990s, the Internet was reserved for geeks and nerds and played no role in marketing.
Online marketing only developed real relevance with the development of the Internet in the 2000s. With the rise of the search engine Google and the expansion of the Internet to higher bandwidths, it became possible to present brands and products to a broad public online. Pictures and videos could finally be transmitted without delay. Almost every household was now online.
Thanks to the WWW, the Internet developed in only about 15 years from a tool for scientists and hobbyists to a mass advertising medium. It was only at the end of this phase that a higher education system developed around this topic in order to meet the needs of companies for qualified graduates, so it is even younger.
Contents of online marketing
Online marketing is not aimed at market-driven business management. It sees itself as a collection of different forms of advertising (cf. disciplines of online marketing), by means of which individual online channels are used as advertising medium. And it includes technologies that enable their optimization and exploitation.
The disciplines of online marketing are not marketing instruments because they only deal with an advertising medium, a content form, analysis or the target group, but only look beyond the horizon to a limited extent. Online marketing is therefore an integral part of market research, communication policy, distribution or product-related services.
So it’s fair to say that the term “online marketing” is misleading – it’s online advertising or online technology. It is not an online image of marketing.
Conclusion: Online Marketing ≠ Marketing
Online marketing is often equated with marketing in the Internet age. This is a mix-up that can cause problems for small businesses in particular. Because online marketing alone is not able to create market success. It only offers tools that are helpful in market research, communication and distribution of products.
Online marketing as a saviour
Nevertheless, today scores of online marketing managers are hired by companies who are supposed to compensate for non-existent strategies, backward products and unattractive assortments with Internet magic. The fluctuation in the job market for online professionals is enormous! But the golden Internet age of “low hanging fruits” (as fast yet highly effective measures are called in the scene) is over. There are no tricks that a reputable company can use to cure real failures in marketing and business management with online ads or some search engine optimization.
Marketing truism: Planning before implementation
Online marketing does not give answers to general questions of marketing. Thus, the positioning of products, product development, the market situation of the company, the distribution strategy and much more play no role in online marketing.
Above all, online marketing cannot provide an answer to which channels and disciplines contribute to the goals and success of the company. Not every company benefits from being present on Facebook. Not every assortment can tolerate high Google Ads budgets. Not every company can still compete in organic search results today. It is important to choose the right measures.
Costs and benefits regularly get into trouble when online marketing managers take action too early. The overall marketing strategy and marketing planning of each business unit must therefore be carefully prepared before taking online action. The marketing plan results in advertising plans that show which online media are effective in the advertising mix. For this purpose, measures are implemented that contribute to the company’s goals in symbiosis with production, marketing and sales.
The disciplines of online marketing take a close look at complex online channels with flying colours and map overarching marketing goals to them. They shine through high measurability and good controllability. They reach target groups precisely and sustainably. That’s why online marketing is very important for the marketing mix, but it does not replace qualified, classic marketing.