ONLINE BUSINESS PROMOTION: BOON OR BANE?

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Can you imagine a world devoid of online business promotion today? Surprisingly, the idea was first conceptualized only in 1994, with HotWired’s paid banner ads on the internet; the next 20 years have witnessed the unfolding of umpteen avenues to promote your business online, enabling both small and large organizations to harness the power of the internet alike.

The Bright Side

The massive surge in the realm of online business promotion in recent times certainly goes on to show that it holds a distinct edge over any conventional strategy. Let us elucidate on its advantages:
1.    Low initial investment: Costs pertaining to inventory, maintenance and printing are eliminated. There is no need for paperwork, which adds to corporate social responsibility as well!
2.    Worldwide Reach: Gone are the days when you would set up your business, start promoting it at a local level and wait for years at end to promote it nationally and internationally. The extensive reach of online promotions enables your business at its very inception, to penetrate international markets.
3.    Instant Communication: This enables you to deliver fast, efficient responses to queries, and simultaneously enables you to remain in constant touch with your existing customers.
4.    Niche Marketing and Geo Targeting: Niche Marketing aims at framing a focused promotional tactic or message for specified target market segments. Also, with the aid of geo targeting, the promotional content can be altered to suit the profile of the end-user as per the geographical location.
5.    Networking Opportunities and Relationship Building: Here is a place to find a lot of like-minded individuals liaise with different online entities for a win-win situation and build effective relationships with clients to strengthen your promotional schemes.
6.    Real Time Statistics to measure success: A number of tools and applications yield real time statistics to enable you to gauge the efficiency of your online marketing campaign, be it in terms of click rates or impressions or traffic volumes and so on.

The Limitations

No strategy is devoid of pitfalls and so is the case with online promotional strategies. For those who take a plunge into the ocean of online promotion, on the lookout for “quick rich schemes”, these limitations will serve as an eye opener:
1.    Lack of a physical or tangible presence: Some market segments still cling on to the conventional norms of having a face to face conversation or tangible demonstration of the product before going ahead with the purchase.
2.    Massive Competition: Given the fact that the internet provides cost efficient and time saving solutions with a user base that exceeds 2.095 billion, almost everybody is clinging on to the online promotion bandwagon. So not only is there enormous competition, there is also a pool of sub-standard, incorrect and duplicate information that an end-user has to wade through.
3.    Requires sizeable efforts and adaptation to changing trends: There is no “fit-to-all” or evergreen formula that works here. Trends emerge, flourish and become obsolete with time
4.    Customers remain vary of scams and frauds: Owing to the plethora of fraudulent activities on the internet, customers are often skeptical about the accountability of what they see online. In fact, most customers choose not to click on banner ads at all today.

To sum up

Despite certain limitations, online business promotion is becoming increasingly popular with every passing day, owing to its clear cut advantages over traditional, erstwhile avenues of promoting your business. The only difference in online promotion yesterday and today, is that probably a decade earlier, one could have employed shortcuts to rope in customers, but it no longer works with the ample choices that a well-informed consumer has today; hence the key lies in having a vision-centric, innovative, flexible, unique and ethical approach towards online business promotion.

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