We define Internet marketing as the process of creating awareness and brand recognition
for a company's goods and services over the Web. This process, conducted efficiently, will
generate a) Either sales leads which (handled effectively) will eventually lead to sales;
or b) Will lead to actual sales of products and services based on the quality of the
information provided over the Web site. To that extent, Internet marketing in the broadest
term also encompasses e-commerce, which I define as the process of conducting business
over the Internet. Inbound call centers, otherwise known as customer interaction centers,
will still be the focal point for your clients and as such, they will still be on the
front line, answering customer inquiries, processing orders and generating outbound calls
E-commerce today is enjoying the fastest growth rate of any business sector because,
among other things, it is fast, convenient and cost-effective! Consider just a couple of
examples I heard a consultant from Arthur D. Little present recently on CNBC:
- A typical banking transaction, which costs one dollar, will only cost one cent when
conducted over the Internet!
- A typical broker's transaction, which costs $150, will only cost $6 when conducted over
Do you wonder why e-commerce, which is a direct result of Internet marketing, is
experiencing explosive growth?
To place this extremely vital part of every global business in perspective, I have
asked several members of the Technology Marketing Corporation staff to share their
thoughts with you. I think you will find their comments thoughtful and extremely
A member of our Web team contributed the following:
The question is not if Internet marketing will replace traditional direct marketing, but
when! Such a shift will come however, as an evolutionary process rather than a
revolutionary one. As more of the population goes online, the new mass-marketing vehicle
is propelled to new heights at the expense of traditional direct marketing. But in order
to understand the magnitude and the significance of such a shift, we must consider the
factors that are the integral part of the online revolution. These are:
- According to some studies, over 60 percent of American households still do not own
personal computers and, of those who do, half are still off-line. While at first glance
this data suggests that the online population is a minority, it helps to consider that the
World Wide Web has been around for only four years and is still in its infancy. We have
yet to witness a true explosion of the online presence.
- The Internet is evolving as the medium of choice for many to conduct personal business.
An increasing number of people (especially the younger generation) use the Web for
shopping, banking, investing, making payments and communicating. This means that they are
relying less on the traditional postal mail and more on the Internet.
- As mentioned above, the Internet is indeed in its infancy. Issues such as security,
bandwidth, reliability and general availability are being resolved by many companies and
organizations around the world. This will help accelerate the acceptance of the Internet
as the predominant global communication tool - the
signs of which are already evident.
- Online marketing is also on a revolutionary path of its own, delivering dynamic,
accurate and targeted information to the captive audience. This is done by improving the
process of intelligent and efficient data collection to reduce the waste and the
inevitable backlash against so-called "junk mail."
- Online marketing has been shown to be more environmentally friendly, more cost effective
and more manageable than the traditional direct marketing. It lends itself to faster and
more accurate data gathering on its effectiveness, allowing the marketer to quickly adjust
and improvise based on the feedback.
- Online marketing can be easily supplemented and integrated with additional supporting
features such as voice and video, allowing the marketer to effectively reinforce and
enrich the marketing message, which makes it more appealing to its target audience.
The following thoughts were contributed by one of our editors:
Direct mail has already peaked, as evidenced by the advice commonly dispensed by direct
mail gurus. Basically, all of these people advise the ever-more-refined use of existing
techniques, the better to outdo everyone else who (no surprise) is also using these very
same techniques. The best a direct marketer can hope for is an incremental (and
all-too-fleeting) improvement. Actually, that's overstated. A direct marketer would have
to be incredibly creative just to maintain his current performance - or even to avoid
seeing it slide too much.
Given direct mail's ever-diminishing returns, it cannot be central to any company's
overall marketing plan. It is, at best, one of many techniques. That said, it remains to
be discussed exactly where direct marketing would fit into the overall scheme of things.
And that discussion can't even begin unless we are familiar with other marketing
Foremost among these techniques is, of course, telemarketing. But even telemarketing
may eventually share or even cede center stage to Web marketing. E-mail, for example, in
the outbound case, can be seen as being analogous to outbound telemarketing. Another
manifestation of Web marketing is the Web page, which is relatively passive, and hence can
be seen as being analogous to inbound telemarketing.
We have to be careful about overworking the analogy, however. New techniques are
sometimes underappreciated. Sometimes, they are seen as being merely a better version of
an existing technique. We risk doing that to Web marketing if we see it as merely a glitzy
form of telemarketing. Web marketing will evolve its own distinct ways of communicating a
Another of our editors contributed the following "Pros" and
With the advent of new technologies, companies seeking to acquire and retain customers
need to recognize the broadening scope of the competition for people's attention.
Direct Mail Pros
- Everybody you might possibly want to do business with has a mailing address;
- Doesn't require any special software or hardware;
- Printed medium is a tangible that people at least hold in their hands before discarding
- your message has a chance of being absorbed before being consigned to the garbage.
Direct Mail Cons
- Tends to be expensive for a very low return rate;
- Consumers are over-saturated with direct mail, most of it goes directly into the trash;
- To be effective, direct mail must be highly targeted and followed up with a
- Wasting natural resources.
Internet Marketing Pros
- Mostly inbound, although a few new technologies (see August 1998 issue,
"Techno-Talk") allow companies to initiate real-time, outbound text chat contact
with Web site visitors;
- Inbound is a less intrusive communication medium and you know that those visiting your
site, or those who have sent an e-mail are genuinely interested in your company/product or
- It's very fast and, currently, inexpensive - you can communicate the same information
for less money on a Web site/outbound e-mail than you can in a direct mail piece - and
it's already going to someone who's interested in the product and doesn't need to be
swayed/convinced into reading your message;
- Web sites are more dynamic than a simple direct mail piece, no matter how well designed.
The key is to make sure your Web site is easily navigated and browsers can find what
they're looking for - if not, you need to provide them immediate access to assistance
(live or automated), otherwise their next mouse click may take them to a competitor's Web
Internet Marketing Cons
- The Web is far from ubiquitous, only a small percentage of the population has Internet
access, and while your business' offerings may be targeted on those in that segment, if
your potential customers aren't in that segment, you're just wasting money on a Web
presence that could be better spent elsewhere (like on a direct mail campaign);
- It's just as easy for prospective customers to find/visit your competitor's Web site;
- Outbound, unsolicited e-mails are generally considered spam and intrusive;
- E-mail can be very easily filtered and/or deleted on a keyword basis - prospective
customers may never even see your marketing message. If you put all your eggs in one
marketing basket you may find yourself out of business;
- With all due respect to Amazon, Dell Computer and many other companies that are
currently selling millions of dollars of products and services over the Internet, the
Internet medium is uncharted territory. We are currently interpreting its uses by what
we've done in the past - it may evolve into an entirely different form or it may fall into
disuse, the market will determine its viability as a communications/business medium - the
key is to remain flexible and to maximize opportunity as it comes;
- It takes highly-trained agents and a well-structured organization to handle the flood of
e-mails that many predict will inundate corporations as we get closer to the new
millennium - taking too long to respond to customer inquiries is far more damaging than
annoying them with an unsolicited e-mail or direct mail. You should focus on providing
one-day turnaround time - if that's not feasible, then tread lightly.
To sum up, the Internet is poised to become the marketing medium of the next
millennium. It is already changing the landscape of marketing, providing a more efficient,
cost-effective means to communicate the benefits of your product or service. There is
still a need for direct mail, but it should be employed wisely and innovatively through
extremely targeted mailings. As always, I welcome your comments.
Executive Group Publisher
|CTI EXPO FALL
'98 And The Quest For Perfection
If the largest of the large
financial institutions still have a long way to go before their call centers provide
adequate customer service and they have billions of dollars in assets, what about the rest
of us? Every call center needs to provide exceptional service. We've all heard the figures
relating the cost of customer retention to acquisition being about a ten-to-one ratio -
corporations waste money when they annoy their customers. We must all strive for
perfection while realizing the quest for perfection is a never-ending task.
The fact that call centers are still in the early phases of automation and have a long
way to go before reaching maximum efficiency is one of the reasons that our last CTI
EXPO attracted over 8,000 attendees when we expected 3,000-5,000. Preliminary numbers show
that our next show in San Jose will attract more than 15,000 attendees, making us the
fastest-growing call center related show in history.
It is no wonder that we have such an amazing growth rate when you consider the
phenomenal interest CTI has in the call center. Also fueling this growth rate is the
interest in the new Web callback buttons that drastically increase sales and service
levels of Web sites, and the fact that Internet telephony is being used by call centers to
provide an inexpensive mechanism to connect multiple call centers together to allow remote
agents to be seamlessly connected to the call center regardless of their physical
Over 400 exhibitors will be on hand to demo their latest call center products and the
Learning Centers will be extremely beneficial to all our readers. As a reminder, our
Learning Centers are free areas set aside for objective education on the following topics:
Internet Telephony, PC-PBXs, S.100 Client/Server CTI, Web-based Callback and Remote Access
We have also hand-picked vendors to be part of our Demo Theater, which will be open
during the majority of the exhibit hall hours. TMC has been running call center trade
shows since 1986 and we could not have chosen a better facility than San Jose to host a
show in. I truly love the pillarless exhibit hall and the easy access to the nearby San
Jose airport, local attractions and hotels. CTI EXPO Spring has been the talk of the
industry and it was so successful that we outgrew the city of Baltimore. Most every hotel
room in the city was booked weeks prior to the show. We expect to outgrow San Jose as well
with this inaugural Fall Show and hope you will be there to take part in this first ever CTI
EXPO Fall 1998, December 1-4.