With the continued use of internet, the future of e-marketing no doubt looks like a bright one. Over the years, this prediction has sparked a series of debates about the prospects of e-marketing in the future. Some future happenings are pretty easy to predict. Such include the use of search engines and the consequent search engine optimization techniques.
Others however are not as straightforward; For example, with reduced marketing efficiency of email marketing and banner advertisement, just what else will the e-marketers do in order to market their products and services efficiently to their target markets? Other marketing strategies like pay-per-click advertising may be in wide use today, but the future of such is not clear especially considering the possibility of click fraud.
Though no one can correctly predict what the future really holds, this study seeks to identify the most prominent marketing strategies that will most likely form the future of e-marketing. Specifically, the study will look at search engine optimization, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and content articles as the three prominent platforms that will most likely characterize e-marketing in future.
This is a literature review based study. The researcher will collect qualitative data from different published sources. Mostly, the study will use statistics and evidence published in reliable internet sources as well as scholarly journals. From the evidence gathered during the research, an analysis will be made on the most probable future characteristics of e-marketing.
Since the future can be anything from now to eternity, this research paper recognizes that making predictions for such a length of time would be futile. As such, the term ‘future’ in this study is used to refer to 10 years from now.
The researcher acknowledges that 10 years in the electronic age is still too much of a time to make predictions especially in view of the ever changing use of technology. However, the researcher also acknowledges that for any new e-marketing to take effect in the current market, it would have to take quite sometime for all marketers to adopt it like most have done search engine optimization or PPC advertisements.
Search engine optimization
In 2003, iProspect’s CEO Fredrick Marckini said that the future of marketing lay on Search engine optimization (Thurow 3). Eight years down the line, it is clear that his predictions were right. Not only is search engine the most revered tool by e-marketers, but also the single most e-marketing tool with the highest percentage of conversions.
Did this mean that the prediction could well extend to several more years? All indications suggest that search engine optimization will remain an important tool in e-marketing’s future. However, Thurow suggests that the future will involve marketers researching more on how consumers search for specific items on the e-market (5). By finding out how clients search for items, the marketers will then know the intent of queries used by the clients.
The future of search engine optimization could also lay more emphasis on conversion rates rather than keywords as is the case today (Thurow 5). Through additional of the rate of switch of a website, individuals are capable of improving the outcomes that may come from other related marketing sources that may comprise; direct email, banner ads and search engines.
The problem of search optimization is identified by Thurow as the lack of ‘search verticalization’ (6). However in recent years, the consolidation of online search space has remedied this problem and prominent search engines have improved search ranking to factor in relevancy. This means that consumers are now able to obtain specific results when they conduct specific searches on the mass-market place presented by the World Wide Web.
Challenges in e-marketing by SEO still arise. For example, SEO designs reports that 30 percent of queries used on search engines are unique and hence even the search engines encounter them the first time when a web user types them. This challenge is however countered by the fact that most e-customers know the specific thing they are looking for and hence they make sure to include at least the name of the product in the search keywords.
What therefore is the future of search engine optimization, and are we likely to see a replacement of the same any time soon? Well, according to evidence gathered in the course of this study, search engine will and must change in order to meet the increased e-marketing needs and challenges.
However, this study also holds the opinion that search engine optimization will remain as part of e-marketing in the foreseeable future. For it to stand the test of time it must remain relevant and the information provided by search engine queries must meet the consumer’s expectations on quality.
The above argument is supported by information provided by web users in a 2004 conference on e-marketing, where it was established that “users want information to be accessible in large quantities. The information must be relevant and fast” (Turcotte 2).
Pay per click
Pay per click is an e-marketing strategy, where marketers buy sponsored advertisements placed on Search Engine Result Pages. The adverts are usually placed on the right hand corner of the SERPs pages or above the normal webpage listings in order to maximize the viewership by web visitors.
In this form of marketing, the product owner pays for the ad space according to the amount of times that people click on the advertisement. Notably, this process requires close monitoring and management in order to ensure that maximum conversions are attained. The use of keywords is also an ideal strategy that e-marketers use in order to make the clicks more targeted (quirk e-marketing101 2)
This study expects to establish that e-marketing will provide a platform where marketers can engage in cutthroat competition and this is especially so because the most effective e-marketing tools will be used by all marketers. This may bring forth creativity, where innovation especially in underhanded marketing strategies may be used in order to beat off competition.
This study also anticipates that underhanded marketing strategies may raise the need for government involvement in e-marketing. This could especially happen in terms of policy formulation whereby the government will pass laws that require e-marketers to uphold specific ethical standards for purposes of reducing fraudulent e-marketing practices. Already, signs of this happening can be observed through the increased calls urging governments to enhance their oversight role in order to curb electronic fraud.
E-marketers will also concentrate on building trusting relationships with the consumer in order to use brands as the competition tools as opposed to prices. This paper predicts that e-marketers and brand owners will strive to build trust for their brands through increasing brand exposure. Signs that this will happen sooner than later are already evident as affiliate programs continue increasing. More to this, prominent websites host links to other ‘less popular’ websites as a strategy to refer users to the specific websites.
Unlike what happens in traditional marketing however, this will involve brand owners creating relationships and marketing alliances with online institutions which have already established reputable brands and institutions to the electronic targeted audience. Although the ‘smaller’ websites would no doubt benefit from associating with the ‘big players’, the benefits for the bigger websites would have to be on mutually agreed terms.
This study also expects that basic marketing principles will be valuable in e-marketing just as was and is still the case with traditional media marketing. This means that the e-marketers will need to formulate quality sale pitches for presentation to their target audience. Just like pitching for the traditional media audience, the e-market sales pitch will need to be: surprising and new; essential or useful; or touching on the audience’s emotions.
Based on the study’s identification of search engine optimization and pay per click as the most promising tools for use for e-marketing in the foreseeable future, it is evident that e-marketers will need to work hard in order to maintain prominent marketing lists based on relevance to queries posed by users and their ability to pay for the traffic generated by PPC.
Between search engine optimization and PPC, it seems that the former will dominate e-marketing, and if Google’s Craig Silverstein is anything to go by, “search engines will be more like yeast based search pets that understand our emotions and inferences”. (Cited by Turcotte 6).
Silverstein’s predicted that this would happen in 300 years. Going by recent trends where search engines can return customized results to a query (e.g. pizza query returns results about pizza outlets within a person’s locality); his prediction does not look like a wild dream at all.
In fact, it may come as a surprise if such a prediction becomes true in less than 50 years. This may raise privacy concerns, but most users will appreciate the convenience and timeliness of such searches. On the other hand, the search engines can do what Yahoo does currently; extending the search to include the web user’s intent, while giving them more control on the results that are returned by the search engine (Turcotte 7).
Overall, this study has established that the future of e-marketing very much depends on the demands placed to the e-marketers by the consumer. This largely occurs because web users are not just complacent with good results.
Every time a new development in e-marketing occurs, the users want an improvement of the same. Today’s search results will not appeal to most consumers in future; they want more direct way of engaging in e-commerce. This often prompts a swift reaction from e-marketers who are driven by the sole need of improving their online presence.
In a bid to gain as much online presence, it is also likely that underhand marketing strategies will develop in equal measure. As noted elsewhere in this proposal however, the study expects to identify more policy development from respective governments in an attempt to streamline e-marketing and protect consumers from e-marketing fraudsters.
Quirk e-Marketing 101. The arrows in the E-marketer’s quiver. n.d. 12 April 2010. http://www.quirk.biz/resources/89/The-Arrows-in-the-eMarketers-quiver
Thurow, Shari. The future of Search Engine Marketing. Search Engine Watch. June 2003. 12 April 2010. http://searchenginewatch.com/2213981
Turcotte, Stephen. What is the future of Search? Backbone media. n.d. 12 April 2010. http://www.backbonemedia.com/news-futureofsearch.aspx