The internet has led to a drastic transformation of the domain of marketing and has been associated with a substantial increment in the use of the web by billions of people all over the world.
As per Armstrong et al (2015), the conventional implications of mass media in marketing and advertisement have been reformed with the use of the Internet by companies to acquire opportunities for reaching customers directly (Armstrong et al., 2015). The following paper intends to critically evaluate the role of social media in developing an online competitive advantage alongside a targeted marketing strategy (Aimiuwu, 2012).
The particular indications towards the learning outcomes such as the relevance and application of the key marketing concepts such as consumer behaviour, customer relationship management and marketing mix in the domain of digital marketing can be highlighted to understand the impact of social media on the management of marketing functions as well as societal perceptions (Popescu & ALECSA, 2015). The paper would also aim to recognize the impact of ICT systems and social media on customer relationships as well as the methods of influence.
According to Chaffey (2106), marketing preferences could be observed explicitly in the strategic orientation of every business organization. The illustration of the impact of social media on the changes in societal perceptions could be discussed effectively only through an understanding of the concepts of marketing (Chaffey, 2016). The origins of marketing could be identified in the post second world war period which was noted for the progress of the USA in terms of the development of factories and new infrastructure during the war.
The notable highlights that were identified in the USA after the war included references towards the population, financial resources, needs, infrastructure and factories required for promoting consumerism. The characteristics of markets after the war were associated with agility, fragmentation and increased competitiveness (Hollensen, Kotler & Opresnik, 2017). Before the discussion on the reforms introduced by social media in marketing, it is essential to clarify the basic marketing concepts among which marketing mix and consumer behaviour are considered significant elements (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2012).
Marketing has been defined from varying perspectives albeit with the validity of considering it as an organizational function. According to Hays, Page & Buhalis (2103), the notable entities involved in marketing as an organizational function include the set of processes required for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers as well as managing customer relationships for obtaining productive outcomes for the organization and the relevant stakeholders. The functions of marketing could be categorized specifically by anticipating the concept of the marketing mix and its application in the digital age (Hays, Page & Buhalis, 2013).
The definition of marketing mix suggests that it is a collective set of marketing tools that can be controlled by the organization and are characteristically applied in the context of tactical marketing decisions (Mäki, 2016). The key components of the marketing mix have been identified as 4Ps which reflect on the element of product, price, place and promotion. The product aspect in the marketing mix could be identified in the aspects such as variety, design, features, packaging, services and quality (Chan & Yazdanifard, 2014).
The price aspect in the marketing mix could be identified in the form of discounts, credit items, payment periods and allowances. The place aspects could be addressed through coverage, transportation, logistics, channels and locations. The promotion element in the marketing mix could be addressed through personal sales, direct marketing, public relation and sales promotion (Moilanen & Rainisto, 2009). The decisions involved in the product category in the marketing mix involve the variables of the product and the service and are dependent on the company’s strategy for reforming the quality, materials, packaging and outlook of the product.
The product aspect is also reflective of the activities involved in the development of a product or service (Perdue, 2010). The price considerations could be associated with the company’s costs and are also responsible for developing an image of the product itself. The variable of price in the marketing mix is tailored according to the segment of the audience for which the product is intended. The place dimension in the marketing mix could be associated with distribution factors dictating the location and approach followed by an organization for selling its products (El-Gohary, 2013).
The aspect of the place in the marketing mix is also responsible for communicating the value and image of the product. As per Paquette (2103), the final component of the marketing mix of an organization is identified in the form of promotion which includes public relations management, advertising, event marketing and sales promotion (Paquette, 2013). This aspect is considered crucial with the introduction of digital marketing and social media marketing that validates the relevance and application of key marketing concepts in the digital age.
The marketing plan for an organization is associated with the research and analysis of the existing situation of the company, markets, and customers, identification of marketing objectives, programmes and strategies. The other aspects involved in the marketing planning process involve the implementation, evaluation and control over the marketing activities for accomplishing specific objectives (Tribby, 2011).
The marketing planning process is executed regularly every year for an organization which helps them in recognizing the opportunities, marketing objectives, strategies, control, resources and implementation precedents. Feedback is a credible entity in the resolution of the objectives of marketing planning as it enables the company for inducing modifications in the marketing process as it is framed and implemented (Tuten & Solomon, 2017). The marketing planning process includes references towards four distinct steps that include analysis, planning, implementation and control. The analysis is related to the review of the marketing environment, competitor analysis and the industry as well as markets accessible to the organization (El-Gohary, 2013).
The planning dimensions are also reflective of the indications towards the formulation of strategies and different marketing programmes alongside the identification of timing and resources required for the same. The implementation process is the third step in marketing planning wherein the plan is executed (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014). The control dimension in the marketing planning process involves reflection on the elements of control mechanisms, monitoring of outcomes and metrics for performance measurement.
The reflection on the basic concepts of marketing reveals that marketing is an umbrella function that is related to various business functions. Digital marketing also reflects comprehensively on the resolution of marketing objectives through the use of digital technologies. As per Walker (2014), Digital marketing is also associated with the management of different forms of the online presence of an organization that include references towards social media pages of the company or the website of the company as well as other online communication techniques for the organization (Walker, 2014).
Digital marketing is associated comprehensively with the requirements for organizations to increase proximity with customers and influence their behaviour through understanding the needs, beliefs and requirements for two-way discussion with customers (Tribby, 2011). Digital marketing approaches are intended to deviate from the conventional norms of the marketing process which are also associated with introducing opportunities for two-way conversation between the company and customers through utilizing the internet as an interactive marketing medium (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014).
The real-time conversation between the company and the customer is responsible for the identification of consumer behaviour trends as compared to the case of mass media which does not have an appropriate reflection on the nature of recipients in terms of social status, location and age. The different channels that are involved in a digital marketing strategy could be considered innovative approaches in marketing which have reformed societal perceptions by considering the value of engagement of the audience (Pereira & García, 2014).
Furthermore, the applications of digital marketing are associated with a profound reflection on the active involvement of customers in seeking content that is provided by marketers (Hays, Page & Buhalis, 2013). The digital marketing strategy of an organization could comprise distinct elements such as online public relations, search engine marketing, display advertising, social media marketing, online partnership and opt-in e-mail marketing.
To understand the impact of social media and the emerging ICT systems on the precedents it is essential to understand the definition of social media. Definitions of social media are subject to ambiguities since the concept of social media is relatively new. However, the generic definitions of social media include references towards practices, behaviours and activities noted in different communities on online platforms where individuals can share information, opinions and knowledge through the use of conversational media (Hollensen, Kotler & Opresnik, 2017).
The consideration of social media as a subcategory of digital marketing is also reflective of the inclusion of web-based services for promoting opportunities for sharing content and creating different connections. Social media marketing is also related to the outcomes of creating brand visibility and improvement of traffic.
The collection of Web 2.0 services is responsible for providing appropriate opportunities for the interaction of web users with different sites to develop content generated by the users alongside promoting behaviour for community and social network participation. As per Perdue (2010), Social media cannot be considered a mere web standard but as a cumulative outcome derived from the evolution of communication approaches and technologies through the interactive use of the web (Perdue, 2010).
The primary objective of Web 1.0 in the initial stages was to connect individuals to exchange data. However, the lack of interactivity could be considered as a reason for anticipating it as similar to mass media. On the contrary, social media can modify the perceptions of customers and relevant consumer behaviours. The most significant highlight in social media marketing is associated with the opportunities facilitated to individuals for receiving information alongside creating, editing and sharing content.
Social media marketing is related to the use of social media channels for the promotion of companies and their products. Social media is also associated explicitly with the implications of word-of-mouth marketing that leads to viral marketing through communication within identical communities (Tuten & Solomon, 2017).
The aspects of consumers’ sentiment towards marketing are considered a major element used by researchers to identify consumer perception regarding social media’s application in marketing. The perception and general feelings of customers for marketplace and marketing could be considered essential highlights in anticipating the impact of social media on consumer behaviour (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014).
Consumer behaviour is influenced highly by the individual perception of a person regarding the marketplace which ultimately decides whether the customer would be making a purchase or not. The implications for consumer technology readiness are also considered crucial highlights for measuring the feasibility of a social media marketing campaign. The capabilities of consumers to accept new technologies to accomplish certain goals in domestic as well as professional ventures could be accounted as notable influences on the use of social media for marketing (Tuten & Solomon, 2017).
The capabilities of using social media are also impactful on the awareness of consumers to recognize the facilities for using social media for marketing.
As per Hays, Page & Buhalis (2013), The developments involved with technology are associated with examples such as online social networks, powerful search engines, advanced mobile devices and peer-to-peer communication vehicles that have increased the prospects for marketers’ ability for reaching customers through novel touch points. Shopper marketing could be considered a novel approach followed in marketing with the involvement of social media as a marketing tool (Hays, Page & Buhalis, 2013). Shopper marketing can be considered a feasible contributor to the execution of marketing activities that are associated with potential indications towards influencing the customer throughout the distinct stages of motivation, purchase, consumption, repeat purchase and recommendation.
The frequent and diverse use of social media for shopping services has also presented viable indications towards the role of customers in promoting the brand and its products to the relevant customers. Therefore the target markets could be effectively reached through the use of social media alongside implying indications towards the possible contributions that can be drawn in favour of consumer behaviour (West, Ford & Ibrahim, 2015).
Digital marketing could be assumed as a viable force for improving the collaboration of customers with the company to improve the products and develop clear messages alongside identifying promoters which could be considered a feasible indicator of the significance of social media in the marketing initiatives of an organization (Hollensen, Kotler & Opresnik, 2017).
To understand the impact of digital technologies on the nature, implementation, outcomes, measurement and management of marketing functions and consumer communications, it is essential to anticipate the nature of technologies. One of the foremost technological advancements that have been obtained through the implementation of digital technologies is the formation of online virtual communities among which virtual brand communities are reflective of feasible opportunities to anticipate the efficacy of marketing functions. The brand community can be defined as a group of specific people that are characterized by an interest in similar products and services as well as brands. Virtual brand communities can be considered sites for creating complex brand meaning as well as consumption efforts (Hays, Page & Buhalis, 2013).
The involvement of customers in these communities could be considered as a credible opportunity for improving the participation of customers thereby increasing the loyalty of customers to the specific brand. The implications for security and trust as influential factors on the motivation of a consumer for a specific brand could be considered significant entities in the modification of consumer behaviour.
The impact of virtual communities has also been noted in the proliferation of novel forms of social interaction observed in the electronic consumer-to-consumer interaction that indicates communication between consumers of e-services. The opportunities for consumers to interact with other people can be assumed as integral aspects of consumer experience which indicates the efficiency of managing consumer communications and the marketing functions of an organization. Electronic consumer communications are also responsible for tailoring the role of consumers in influencing consumption decisions and relevant behaviour (Hollensen, Kotler & Opresnik, 2017).
On the other hand, the efficiency of electronic consumer communication could be improved through quick, friendly and correct responses towards the opinions shared by other users on the platforms. Retailers should be aptly considerate of the factors of convenience and the quality of social media presence that could lead to substantial improvement in the outcomes of social media marketing (Tuten & Solomon, 2017). The measurement of marketing function outcomes and consumer communications could also be possible through the services of web analytics that provide a clear impression of page visits, web traffic and user interaction.
The documented metrics about the performance of an organization on social media platforms for marketing could be considered as one of the impacts of digital technology on the realization of marketing outcomes.
The primary objective of marketing by an organization is vested in addressing the requirements of target customers alongside stakeholders. The objective refers to the fact that the marketing initiatives of an organization should be aligned with the nature of customers and their requirements. The prominence of information and communication technologies as well as increased consumer participation in marketing activities imply the potential opportunities that can be garnered in terms of managing customer and stakeholder relationships (Paquette, 2013).
Customer relationships in the age of digital marketing are largely influenced by the level of involvement of customers with brands on online platforms. The most notable outcome of ICT systems in marketing functions could be identified in the form of generating social currency through the content generated by users. The user-generated content implications refer towards the collective entity of approaches used by individuals for using social media alongside implying notable references towards the various forms of media content that can be accessed and created by end users (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014).
Customer relationships are influenced comprehensively through the use of ICT systems as the social capital of an individual is dependent on the network of connection of users that could lead to the notable benefits for developing brands as an essential aspect of social interactions of customers through the approach of social networking. Consumer-generated advertising can also be accounted for as another example of the impact of ICT systems on the management of stakeholder relationships and consumer communications.
Customer relationships are influenced largely due to consumer generate advertising as it indicates the voluntary involvement of consumers in creating the brand and developing messages that would fulfil the objectives of information, persuasion and reminding other individuals about the products of a company. The unpaid marketing and advertising efforts could be facilitated effectively through the use of ICT systems by users as well as companies. Stakeholder requirements are also perceived as formidable entities in the context of marketing functions and the major concern of stakeholders is vested in measuring and identifying the reasons for the success and failure of particular marketing campaigns (Tuten & Solomon, 2017). The use of ICT systems can be helpful in terms of web analytics that facilitates prospects for tracking customer behaviour alongside measuring the distinct factors that influence the same.
The different measurements that could be identified from the outcomes of web analytics include quality measures, volume measures, return on investment, acquisition cost measures, media cost measures, lifetime value-based ROI measures and brand measures. The quality measures such as conversion rate could be identified as an appropriate indication of the visitors that convert to marketing outcomes such as sales, subscriptions or leads.
The acquisition cost measures are meant for informing stakeholders about the cost invested in the utilization of various digital media channels to acquire visitors for a site and convert them into transactions. The estimation of ROI is also considered as another impact of ICT systems on the management of stakeholder requirements.
The paper reflected on a critical discussion of conventional concepts of marketing and their tailored application to the functions of marketing in the digital age. The references towards understanding the impact of digital technologies and ICT systems on the management of customer relationships and improving marketing outcomes have also been highlighted in the report.
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