The modern business landscape is marked by technological advancements. As economies and business tend to go to the cyber space, there is also a compelling need to transform the business practices and functional areas to synchronize with the marketplace trends. For instance, in the modern market place, almost all aspects of business transactions are not interfaced with the Information Technology or the Internet such as placing orders and making online payments among others. Millions of people access and utilize the internet for various purposes on a daily basis. They use the internet in writing and communication, searching, trading, socializing and accessing news. This internet presents businesses with a huge pool of business opportunities every minute. At present, any form of business, be it Business-to-Consumer or Business-to-Business oriented, cannot afford to ignore the power of online marketing. The physical markets have been replaced by the concept e-commerce, which is increasingly becoming inevitable for businesses. E-commerce has enabled entities to reach out virtual markets at the global scale. It is essential for marketing managers to understand the technical and ethical consideration of handling online marketing which is a bit different from the traditional marketing, distribution, selling and advertising strategies. Some of the aspects that should be learnt are the basics of the internet, web design, e-commerce mechanisms and the nature of e-commerce customers. There are several online promotional activities like Ad Banners, Internet newsgroups, Social Media Networking, Email broadcasts, sponsorship of online chats and Internet mailing list. A marketer can opt for paid advertising or free advertising online depending upon the choice of activity. The most popular Search Engines include Yahoo, Google and AOL. When customer types in the keywords for the searched information, the Search Engine uses the keyword to search through web pages, as well as databases and returns the relevant results as per the keyword.
Getting to understand the technicalities of e-commerce and how online business is transacted is very important for both students and professionals of business management. This begins with the understanding of the basic model of the internet and how customers search data. In addition, one will need to comprehend how Search Engines operate and how they gather information from thousands of web pages, filter content, and present relevant results in the shortest time possible (Stair & Reynolds, 2012). Besides these, there are the basics of building web-pages with Search Engine Optimized (SEO) content, as well as, other technical features that will enable traffic to be directed to your website which is the business identity on the internet. Other technical elements include website hosting and administration, data security and business intelligence. This knowledge is important so that business or marketing managers understand the relevant details of how e-commerce works so that they can in hand with developers and add value. Websites also need regular upgrades in terms of functionality and content due to changes in the technology, business structure and marketing strategy. The search engines mine information from various websites through indexing, crawling and ranking.
Online business ethics are approached from ethical perspectives of consequentialism, virtues, principles and ideals by which online marketers ought to act (Palmer, 2010). Online ethics is a contested landscape due to potential conflicts between business profitability and other concerns. The most common issues include marketing dangerous products/services, transparency about the online risks, financial risks, respect for online users’ privacy and autonomy, integrity and fairness in pricing (Brenkert & Beauchamp, 2010). For example, online Ad banners should be equally presented by the search engine. Links to other websites should never compromise the privacy of information about customers. The data mined by business analytic tools must ensure the integrity in the process involved. Buying Ad space, for example, through pay per click, must also be fair and financially safe.
Just like traditional advertising and sales promotion, there are ethics, standards and regulations that should be followed. Any online business and the content marketed should always be legitimate conforming to rules and regulations set within the jurisdiction of the set up. Search engines should also be geared so that relevant traffic is directed to the business website as easy as possible. Lastly, business managers or marketers should work in hand with developers to add more value to their online marketing strategies.
Brenkert, G. G., & Beauchamp, T. L. (2010). The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.
Palmer, D. E. (2010). Ethical issues in E-business : Models and frameworks. Hershey, PA: Business Science Reference.
Stair, R. M., & Reynolds, G. W. (2012). Principles of Information Systems. Australia ; United States: Course Technology Cengage Learning.