2.3.1 Marketing Communication Strategies
Ellis-Chadwick et al., (2002) wrote “It has been well documented how the web is used as a communications tool to interact with consumers”. However, (Haas, 2002) noted that a web site does require “the support of other media and offline activities to reach a wide audience online such as advertise with other sites, be promoted free of charge by linking with relevant sites, or traditional media can promote the site offline”, this increases the number of visitors viewing the website.
Doherty et al. (2003) identified that while the Internets' ability to facilitate communications strongly influenced an organization to commence an Internet project, its' importance gradually diminished after an active website was set up. It could be argued that retailers' have not fully realized the potential of Internet communication from a strategic perspective where creating and building relationships are increasingly important for the survival of an online business particularly in the B2C environment (Rowley, 2004).
More recent advances in online communication technologies such as blogging enable retailers and customers to communicate online via a blog created by the retailer.
Blogging is an opt-in communication channel which increases users' perception of credibility towards the site (Sun et al., 2006) and can encourage loyalty towards the website and the brand (Shang et al., 2006). Furthermore, it's easy to create, maintain, and improve its' content and aesthetics. The benefits of which can create targeted virtual viral marketing by link forwarding and opinion seeking (Sun et al., 2006), which encourages targeted traffic to the site (Lin and Haung, 2006) this in turn increases navigation and interactive responses towards the site (Demangeot and Broderick, 2006).
2.3.2 Potential Benefits of E-Marketing to SMEs
The e-Marketing benefits have become an important subject for governments and researchers because of the significance of this sector to their national economies (OECD, 2004). Senn (2004, p.387) explains the importance of e-marketing by individuals and firms, thus:Geographical reach, Speed, Productivity, Information sharing, New features, Lower costs and Competitive Advantage. It is opined that those companies that develop and implement an effective e-commerce strategy create a business advantages over others in their industry.
Martinsons, (2008) observes that the realization of benefits of e-marketing adoption has been seen in large corporations especially in developed nations.
Empirical research have found that the major beneficiaries of e-marketing adoption has been the large firms due to economies of scale at the expense of SMEs (Kartiwi & Macgregor, 2007; Thatcher, Foster & Zhu, 2006), “SMEs in developing countries lack significant resources and competencies and receive little or no support from their countries to boost e-commerce adoption” (OECD, 2004).
2.4.1 Level of adoption of ICT technologies by SMEs
Studies have established that small enterprises have been slow in their adoption of Information Communications Technologies including E-marketing. Those that have attempted to uptake the technology have been limited the applications like email, internet and computerized accounting
In a study by Daniel et al,(2002) which sought to understand how SMEs in the UK are adopting e-commerce, by exploring their level and sequence of adoption. Four distinct clusters of adoption were found
Table 2.: Level of adoption of ICT technologies by SMEs in united Kingdom
Source: Daniel et al,(2002)
cluster Level of adoption
developers Developing email communication with customers and suppliers (87%)
Providing information about the company's products and services (85%)
Using the web for advertising at 77%.
(Communicators Made extensive use of email in communication with customers and suppliers (90%)
Used the web to find business information (78%).
Used email frequently for communication between employees (57%)
Electronically exchanged documents and designs with customers and suppliers (56%).
Web Presence Used email to communicate with customers and suppliers (95%)
Used the web to find external information (81%), using email between employees (63%)
Electronically exchanged documents and designs (56%).
Had websites that provided information about their company (98%) and its products and services (89%).
The most common areas of development in cluster 3 companies were the taking of orders (31%) and receiving orders on-line (24%).
Transactors Took orders on-line (62%),
Provided after sales service or contact (62%)
Undertook recruitment on-line (44%).
Areas where development was being undertaken were receiving payment on-line (7%)
Ordering and payment of inventory purchasing (7%)
Delivery of digital goods on-line (6%). (Daniel et al, 2002)
Investigations by Harindranath, Dyerson and Barnes, (2008) on ICT Adoption and Use in UK from a survey of 378 SMEs, found that “most SMEs in the southeast of England are in general positively inclined towards adoption and use of ICT” However, this adoption and use of ICT was mainly focused on “operational matters with few extensions into potential strategic use of such technologies in their business environments”. SME owner/managers perceived ICT to be costly and complex.
It was also discovered that SMEs were not aware of policy instruments that did exist at the regional, national and European levels, designed to help them in their adoption and use of ICT.
In a study on E-Commerce stimulus and practices among the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia, Ainin and Noorismawati (2003)as cited in Muhammad Jehangir, Naseebullah and Alamgir, (2011) supported pragmatically that “most of the respondents in the study cited not many success stories of E-Commerce”.
Related studies by Mokaya and Njuguna on adoption and use of information and communication technology (ICT) by small enterprises in Thika town, Kenya indicated that “most SMEs use basic communication tools such as mobile (75%) and internet at 34.6%”The study concluded that adoption and use of ICT tools has not been well embraced by SMEs
In terms of extent of usage, “Malaysian manufacturing SMEs had adopted on a parallel basis e-commerce solutions while very many SMEs were using traditional methods of conducting business” (Sam and Leng, 2011)
An investigation by Macharia and Thuo in (000) revealed the adoption of e-CRM by SMEs has been “slow and uneven between regions to region”.
In a study on Factors Influencing the Adoption of Just- In- Time Management by Electronics Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Luthuli Avenue of Nairobi County in Kenya by Kamau and Muthoni (2015), revealed that an average of 57% of respondents indicated “capital inadequacy, insecurity as an influence on their decision to adopt JIT to a great extent”. These findings indicated that there was a less than average level of adoption of JIT technologies by the SMEs
Investigations on an assessment of internet usage on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nakuru town constituency by Kariuki found that “85% of SMEs in nakuru town constituency had not adopted internet. This was mainly due to lack of ICT infrastructure and low internet speeds/ signal levels. SMEs with internet access (15%) used internet to gather timely and accurate business information, among other purposes” SMEs with internet access benefited by having their business operating costs lowered, e-commerce, among other benefits. Smes with internet access saved costs mainly on marketing and communication
Simpson, Anthony and Docherty, (2004) investigated the reasons why SMEs move from traditional commerce to e‐commerce, the efficacy of the support services and the barriers encountered by SMEs adopting e‐commerce. It was found that “at least two “e‐commerce stars” used by the government to promote its support services had in fact not used those services”. The Cost was not seen as an inhibitor to adopting e‐commerce. Other unexpected outcomes were that e‐commerce had social benefits for SMEs' owners in reducing working hours yet still increased sales.
Awa et al, (2010) notes that the type of industry influences the speed of adoption of information technology. He asserts that business consultancy services and higher education institutions have been noted to adopt internet technologies much earlier. In addition, airlines and hotels sector, retail and financial sector has been also noted as early adopters of internet technology (Fillis, Johnson and Wagner, (2004)
A study by Maguire, Koh & Magrys, (2007) indicates that lower education and charity organizations are the lowest adopters of internet technology. Other studies by Sparkes and Thomas (2001) also revealed that the agricultural sector to be the slowest in E-marketing adoption.
According to Triandis (2004:90) “…there is no psychological or technological acceptance process that is not shaped to some extent by culture”. The organization culture has a great influence in the adoption levels of E-marketing technologies levels of SMEs (Saffu et al., 2008; Modimogale & Kroeze, 2011) National culture on technology acceptance also plays a major role on the adoption levels of E-marketing technologies by SMEs.
E-readiness has been found to be a significant prerequisite in the adoption of electronic marketing. SMEs should be ready both internally and externally. (Mutula & van Brakel, 2006) Internal readiness refers to the availability of human staff skills (Stansfield & Grant, 2003; Kohn & Husig, 2006), financial and technological resources (Lee & Cheung, 2004), top management's enthusiasm to champion the Internet marketing technology adoption process (Levy& Powell, 2002), compatibility of the firm's culture and values with the technology adoption process (Bruque & Moyano, 2007; Saffu et al., 2008).
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