III. Methodology

The concept of the developed research is based on leading abstractions from the review of the existing literature together with specific information issues from the Web. Research results are processed and molded into proposals about strategic advise in regard to effective marketing development through the web, by use of the available previous resources.

The sample selection was based upon the following method. 100 web marketers that match the top of the list in the product category distribution of the Yahoo directory were chosen with the exception of web consultants and web service providers, who were excluded from the sample. These were excluded so that the sample could be an integral representation of the marketing concept rather than a description of the marketing structure of the companies specializing on Web services. The approach of this paper examines the marketing developed through the Web sites and not the marketing of the companies which technically support these sites. Target areas included online shopping sites, real estate, computer retail, airline, automobile, financial services, news information and corporation’s sites. Out of 100 selected commercial Web sites the excluded entities came up to 10 percent (%) of the 100 Web sites bringing down the number of the sample sites to 90. Not-for-profit organizations, companies whose presence was only a descriptive paragraph or a minimal listing in a directory, and companies that contained no appropriate contact information at their site, were also excluded from the sample. In this was another 30 percent (%) of the total 100 companies was excluded. The 60 remaining Web marketers were contacted by email. Of those, 20 (33%) replied. In order to have an adequate sample for the survey, the 66% percent (40) of the non responding companies was contacted by phone. With this tactic 50% (20) of the phone participants responded to the same questionnaire with the email survey. The total number of the sample was 40 Web site respondents. 10 out of the 40 responses gave incomplete answers with missing data. This method developed the sample for the first part of the survey. The same Web site sample was used in the second part of the survey.

Somebody may ask why this survey was not conducted by a web questionnaire. The reason is that a lot of the companies represented on the Web do not even have their own webmaster. Since a representative sample was needed both techno-savvy and techno-illiterate companies (those without in-house webmasters) were included. The way the survey was conducted (by phone and email) gave a higher participation rate from the one anticipated. The first part of the survey included a questionnaire used to ask questions showing profitability levels of the Web companies. This was the following business information: Company size, profitability (i.e. sales volume), dependence upon the Web for revenues, percentage of Web to non-Web sales, and typical transaction levels per day; these are factors that vary with profitability level.

The second part of the survey examines what marketing strategies the sampled sites use. Issues like marketing content, graphic layout and interactive are also examined. This review is basically set on general observation standards which relate with the impression somebody gets when browsing the site. The comments used for this marketing strategy evaluation are common descriptive adjectives used to express impression. The evaluation of the impression results is directly documented from the comments showing the general impression. The impression the visitor gets when browsing the site is completed by the two stages analyzed in literature review section, the “intake” and “overview” stage. The marketing stimuli of the browsing experience is completed when the visitor of the site has participated in both stages, which are constituted by the 3 components of content, graphic layout and interactive. The marketing strategy of each commercial site is identified by the evaluation of these 3 components.

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