Internet Marketing - a Practical Approach

The website of the third edition of the book can be found at
Digital Marketing: a Practical Approach


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A founding principle of my teaching - and so this book - is that Internet marketing is about marketing, not computers or IT. In the same way that staff in 'advertising' do not need to know how a TV or radio works, so online marketers need to know what Internet technology can do for them, but not how to do it. As Seth Godin says in his book Meatball Sundae:
  "New [online] Marketing isn't about technology any more than fast food (and the drive-through window) is about cars. Technology, most especially the Internet, has enabled the New Marketing, but you don't have to understand it to use it."
A more holistic view is taken by business guru Peter Drucker. His way of suggesting that we spend more time on what technoogy can do rather than the technology itself comes in this quote from the end of the 20th Century:
  "We have spent the last fifty years focusing on the 'T' in IT ... we should spend the next fifty focusing on the 'I'.".


Visualising the internet is a good series of graphics which show the basics of how the web works.

go online *pg 5* Internet history Hobbes' Internet Timeline,

At the end of this section I mention that there are fears that the Internet might become over-loaded, this article - As traffic demands grow, PCs and laptops may start operating at much slower speeds - suggests the subject is still an issue.

Read what the web's creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee had to say in July 2009 at an event to mark its 20th anniversary.


go online *pg 6* Social networks and regime change How social networks contribute to regime change - this is an excellent article on the role the Internet played in the worldwide reporting of demonstrations against their government by Burmese monks in October 2007.

mini case *pg 125* It can be hard to keep secrets ...: the example in the books leads to a divorce - in this case the result is the opposite, with singer Katy Perry discovering on Google that her boyfriend Russell Brand was going to propose to her. See I Googled Myself & I Liked It.

This blog article - The Digital Future Through The Looking Glass - introduces some interesting stats, but note how some of the responses question its validity. Follow the link on the page to the actual research findings.

An interesting article that considers the way the Internet has changed the way we learn - Is the internet making us stupid?

These two articles are two sides of a coin. The first - Advertise to workers at work to influence purchase - is good advice to vendors. The second, however, raises the issue that the Internet can be a costly distraction to workers - Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast.

An assortment of research into how we use the web: [note that I update this occasionally - but leave in some 'dated' content just so you can see how things are changing]

That online participation seems to top-out at around 70% of the population is confirmed by this research - Two-thirds of Americans without broadband don't want it.

Some more Internet usage stats from the Pew Internet & American Life Project - Generations Online in 2009, this one from Nielsen has a European focus - French Online More than Other Europeans and The Gap Widens in Online Population focuses on the rise in usage in Asia.

Mini-stats - when users seek medical information, what are they looking for? See Medical Patients Consult the Internet.

The Internet users stats graphs and chart featured in the text are from this website - Internet World Stats. It is worth visiting on a regular basis as it is frequently updated.

China, the world's largest online population has some interesting numbers about Internet usage in China.

From the BBC is this interactive map which tracks the rise of the Internet around the world.

Some more usage stats, this time from Europe - European Digital Stats: 56% of Population Uses Internet.

research snapshot *pg 11* Not only is Sunderland the UK's digital capital, but according to Aleks Krotoski on the excellent BBC series the Virtual Revolution my home city is also the Facebook capital of the UK [nothing to do with me, I rarely access my Facebook page].

In the text I mention the digital divide - referring to the gap between those with Internet access and those without. This article - The Other Digital Divide - suggests the divide might be between those who have fast broadband access and those who haven't.

This article - Global Digital Divide Unchanged Since 2002 - actually has much more information about Internet usage than the title suggests.

Read my comments on research into Americans' views of the first decade of the century, and the impact the Internet [might] have had on those opinions.

This section's 'you decide' raises the issue of governments being obliged to provide Internet access for all, this article - Web access is 'a basic human right' - widens the debate.

Here's a great quote to round off this section - it is worth giving it some thought. It comes from online marketing guru Gord Hotchkiss, who - on many and various occasions - has said that 'technology doesn't cause our behaviors to change, it enables our behaviors to change'.


I start this section by making the point that 'online' is not for every business. This article - Seven Questions Local Businesses Should Answer Before Investing in SEO - is, on the face of it, about whether a small business should optimize its site for the search engines ... but I think you can ask the same questions to decide if you should even have a website in the first place. However, I do add the caveat [#2] that we may get to the stage where [potential] customers use the web as their primary source of information about products or services they want to buy locally then perhaps businesses should consider getting a basic web presence. Perhaps research like this - 'Great Divide' Separates Small Biz, Online Consumers - suggests that time might be getting close. A couple of stats that draw the eye in this article are that 'only 44% of small businesses have a website' and that '39% [of customers] report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business'. Perhaps the answer lies not in having a website, but online profiles as described in this article - Get Started in Local Search Without a Web Site. That said - in my seminars I try to get the message across that a lot of small businesses actually do very little 'formal' marketing, with recommendations and networking being their main source of new customers. Although this is based predominently on my own personal experience, research like Are Small Businesses Apathetic About Social Media? supports my point of view. Take note of the following:
When asked to identify which marketing channel they couldn't do without:

  • 50% of small business owners cite word-of-mouth recommendations
  • 39% of small business owners say WOM recommendations are their only source of business leads
  • 14% cite their website (18% of companies with 50-249 employees cite websites)
  • 8% cite working with key partners
  • 6% cite advertising
  • 4% cite social media/blogging
  • 4% cite viral marketing
  • 3% cite search marketing
As I said in the first line of the section, maybe 'online is not for every business'. That said, all things 'e' move forward continuously. Harnessing The Power Of Online Customer Reviews For Local Business Growth would suggest that consumers seek local businesses online. A couple of comments on this research. First, the methodology isn't shown, but also it was conducted in America [where it is often the norm to drive everywhere] so 'local' needs to be defined. For example, I might consider the greengrocer round the corner to be 'local', but with a niche product - say a Greek restaurant - I might consider one in the same city as me also to be 'local'. A final point for students is that this research is presented by an organization which sells the service you will need if you believe the research - and so you must always consider a bias in either the methodology or presentation of the findings.

If we consider the role the Internet plays in the contemporary business environment in a wider context [ie beyond marketing] its impact becomes even more dramatic. This paper is from no less a source than the Boston Consulting Group [BCG] and it is well worth the time it will take you to read it, see : The Connected Kingdom [note that this is a large pdf file that will open in a new browser window]. One thing it suggests is that if the 'Internet economy' were were a separate business sector, it would be the UK's fifth largest - and that is using stats from 2009. As the 'Internet economy' is still growing, that can only get bigger. Continuing on the theme of the impact of the Internet on the economy, take a look at the stats in Internet Economy Reported Contributing to 4.7% of US 2010 GDP.

go online *pg 15* The Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards are no longer available - I don't know why. However, this interactive graphic from the BBC shows which are the biggest sites on the internet.

In the text I state that marketing has moved from 'helping the seller to sell' to 'helping the buyer to buy' - and I am not the only one who supports this notion. Web content development expert Gerry McGovern says 'old-school marketing is about getting customers to do things. Web marketing is about helping customers do things'. [source: Manage your customers' time]. Different words - same ethos?

An example of the power of the Internet comes in this story. On Monday September 8, a story about a UAL bankruptcy began circulating on the web (UAL is the parent company of United Airlines). Within hours of the story being released, UAL's shares dropped by 76%. The thing is that the story was 6 years old! For some reason, the story had been added to the 'Most Viewed' link section on the home page of a Florida newspaper. From there, Google News picked it up, and the rest - as they say - is hysteria. For more on the story see what the BBC had to say - United Airlines dives on old news.

go online *pg 17* e-What? To read my musings on the subject, take a look at e-commerce, e-business, e-marketing, Internet marketing - what are they?

I started working in Higher Education at the same time as the Internet started to gain popularity [remember, academia embraced the web long before business] so it is impossible for me to compare being a lecturer with the Internet with doing the job without it - though the advantages of email for communication and the web for research make the Internet indispensable now. The same goes for other jobs, it seems, if this research from America is anything to go by.


research snapshot *pg 18* Not for the people ... sorry ... this article no longer exists

Here's a paper that looks at how the UK government uses the web - House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts. Government on the Internet .


Note: many of the links I have added to 1.3 [above] could just as easily have been in this section - there is a close relationship between society and its buying behaviour.

In this section - on online buyer behaviour - I mention the buying cycle, AIDA and the sales funnel, all of which are standard marketing concepts. Also straight from the sales and marketing environment is this list of What Makes People Buy? 20 Reasons Why. Most are fairly obvious [and should not be new to marketing students or retailers] but the reason I have included this article is so that you can consider how people would make these purchases online - and more importantly, how the online marketer meets their expectations in making those purchases.

The sales funnel has been around for some time - and it can be a useful tool. But does it stand up to the test for contemporary customers? The Death Of The Purchase Funnel is the last of a series of articles on the subject, so make sure you click on the links to read the earlier stuff. If you check out the comments at the end of the article you will see that the author - Gordon Hotchkiss - says: "The problem I have with models, AIDA included, is that while they may be correct, they also over-simplify reality, causing marketers to over simplify their strategies. This is particularly dangerous in a market in transition, as is the current case." This could well become my mantra for all marketing models and concepts.

Other research into the ways in which 'moms' use the Internet demonstrates that online marketers must be wary - as they are offline - of being too broad in any online segmentation. Research conducted by NewMediaMetrics and published in Parenting Magazine (July/August 2008) found that not all 'moms' visit the web for different reasons. Generation Y moms are much more interested in connecting with other moms (eg online communities and blogs), while generation X moms are more likely to use the web for task-oriented activities like shopping. Online advertisers take note. Source: Parenting Magazine (2008) Mom Matters. July/August 2008 Issue #31.

Don't be mislead by the title of Consumers Want Short SocNet Updates & Emails from Brands - it is really about online consumer behaviour.

Some folk are often confused by the results of research such as that from ChannelAdvisor* which found that 'best price and free shipping are the most influencial factors in consumer purchasing decisions.' Note that I have no problem at all with ChannelAdvisor's findings - there is some good stuff in the whitepaper concerned. However [and I haven't seen their methodology] their research seems to study the online buyer behaviour of shoppers after they have decided to buy something online ie convenience is still the over-riding factor for making the purchase from a website - with price/shipping being the differentiator for which site they buy from. And just to show that you can come up with statistics to prove anything - this research - says that it is reputation that counts for more than price with online shoppers.
*ChannelAdvisor (2009) Savvy Consumers Using a Wider Set of Online Destinations to Find the Best Deals

Maybe most men would assume women go online to shop, and - apparently - they would be right, see What Are UK Women Doing Online?, whilst this article - Online Seniors Rival Younger Generations in Web Use - goes against popular opinion about the web being for young folk.

Mini-stats - Why do buyers go online for information? See online research.

mini case *pg 27* at four pounds an hour, it's a bargain - here's another personal example convenience, not price. Although Older shoppers power online spending: research covers other subjects, it does include findings that 60.5% of the 1,000 people who took part in the study said that convenience was their main driver for shopping online.

Don't forget there are also buyer behaviour sections on my own website in tips, hints and advice and interesting articles.

Apparently consumers are becoming more trustful of online retailers - see this research from ChannelAdvisor - perhaps suggesting society's increasing acceptance of the Internet.


This article - Online Marketing Effectiveness - could go in nearly any chapter, but I put it here because it suggests which aspect of Internet marketing is best to meet the objectives of lead generation and branding.

Distracting Users From Buying is not overtly about objectives, but if you read it carefully you will see it addresses the issue of the problem with not concentrating on one thing causing problems in other aspects.

I could have put Help people do things, don't keep them on webpages on the web page of several chapters [e-metrics or website content, for example] but I have included it here because its author [one of the best in the business by the way] uses the phrase: Support is the new marketing! It is in the context in which he uses the term that I mean my 'service' objective. While students and organizations tend to concentrate on 'branding' and 'income generation' - perhaps because it isn't as 'sexy' as the other two [web designers would hate it] - service is a perfectly acceptable online objective in its own right.

latest update My students sometimes have problems getting to grips with what I mean by 'service'. Here's an example - check out the 'e-visits' section at the end Four Technologies That Are Transforming Customer Experiences. My students might also note the reference to solving customers' problems - it's what I say marketing is all about.

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