A Summary of Internet Marketing
An entrepreneur’s business plan should always consider the benefits of Internet marketing. Online selling can provide a cost-effective source of revenue that complements conventional retail methods.
Online Sales and PromotionThere are three ways of selling and promoting business products and services through Internet marketing. The first is an online shop where customers browse and buy. The second involves business email. The third uses advertisements that send customers to a business website.
The advantages of an online shop are the reasonable cost compared to the high street equivalent, and the short time it can take to be up and running. Although a sophisticated website is expensive, an entrepreneur can set up a modest site with standard shopping software far more cheaply than a business that requires physical premises. A good website developer can also establish an online shop in a few weeks or even days.
Email is a form of marketing that puts an entrepreneur’s sales message straight into the homes of targeted customers. Success depends on obtaining the email addresses of customers likely to buy an entrepreneur’s specific products and services. Agencies offer appropriate lists in a variety of customer categories.
Advertisements appear all over the Internet. An entrepreneur can opt for an ad with video and sound, or use much less expensive pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC places messages and links on the Internet pages prospective customers may browse. To help ensure success, the major Internet companies have PPC programmes that are straightforward for entrepreneurs to use.
RegulationsMarketing on the Internet must follow certain legislation. A business plan, and the consequent Internet marketing strategy, must take these legal issues fully into account.
The Data Protection Act applies to customers’ personal information held on computers. The Act requires entrepreneurs to be candid about their use of the information, and to abide by the data protection principles.
The Electronic Commerce Regulations cover a range of issues. The Regulations give details of the business information an online customer must have; the legalities of online promotion and advertising; the requirement for a business to ensure a customer can print a copy of the terms and conditions of an online contract; and the need to identify a business message to a customer as a commercial communication.
The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations explain the details an entrepreneur must give customers before and after they order a product or service. This information includes the name and address of an entrepreneur’s company, a product or service description, and an order confirmation. The Regulations also say that following an order, an entrepreneur must provide a cooling off period, during which a customer can withdraw from the sale.
The Companies Act obliges those limited companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) with websites to display the name, registered office address, and registered number of the company or LLP; the place of registration; the VAT number; details of professional or trade association membership; and notification, if necessary, that the company or LLP is closing down.