Internet-based media offer a range of opportunities for marketing products and services across the purchase cycle. Organizations can use online communications such as their websites, third-party websites and email marketing as means of: •An advertising medium. For example, BP plc and its subsidiary companies, such as Castrol Limited, uses large-format display or interactive ads on media sites to create awareness of brands and products such as fuels and lubricants. •A direct-response medium. For example, easyJet uses sponsored links when a user is researching a flight using a search engine to prompt them to directly visit the easyJet site by clicking through to it.
Similarly the easyJet e-mail newsletter sent to customers can encourage them to click through to a web site to generate sales. •A platform for sales transactions.
For example, easyJet sells flights online to both consumers and business travellers. •A lead-generation method. For example, when BP offers content to business car managers about selecting the best fuel for company cars in order to identify interest from a car fleet manager.
•A distribution channel. For example, for distributing digital products. This is often specific to companies with digital products to sell such as online music resellers such as Napster (www.napster.com) and Apple iTunes (www.itunes.com) or publishers of written or video content.
•A customer service mechanism. For example, customers serve themselves on easyJet.com by reviewing frequently asked questions. •A relationship-building medium where a company can interact with its customers to better understand their needs and offer them relevant products and offers.
For example, easyJet uses its e-mail newsletter and tailored alerts about special deals to help keep its customers and engage them in a dialogue to understand their needs through completing surveys and polls.