RIGA - Web marketing just becomes more and more popular each day worldwide, and in Latvia. The explanation for this is simple: the Internet users’ numbers are growing rapidly, and the Internet is giving business new ways of interacting with customers, though it doesn’t ask for big investments.
If 5 years ago advertising and communication with customers on the Internet was a new and rare thing that companies were doing, now almost every business, in one way or another, uses Internet marketing. The most popular ways were social marketing and direct mail; however, as it was said at the Internet marketing iLive2011 conference, the Internet marketing market is some 5 years behind here than in other European countries. The explanation: a low knowledge level about the instruments Web marketing uses, the slow technology development among customers, and many others.
Even Estonia and Lithuania can claim better achievement in Internet marketing. For example, the most popular social platform used, also in business, Facebook, has around one million users in Lithuania but only 250,000 in Latvia. Therefore, communication using Facebook is also more effective in Lithuania than it is here in Latvia.
There are just a few agencies which specialize only in Internet marketing. Mostly these services in Latvia are done by ad and marketing agencies. In many cases companies prefer to have an Internet marketing specialist on their own staff.
“We have a big team of people who only work on Internet marketing projects for airBaltic; of them 5 people are just involved in social marketing, working shift hours with Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. So at any time of the day we have someone to communicate our messages to our fans and followers, when we have something to say. We try to find the best people for our marketing team. Sometimes we cooperate with agencies, sometimes our customers also give us good ideas for our Web marketing to implement. For us, the Internet is very important as half of our tickets are sold online,” said Vice President for Corporate Communications of airBaltic Janis Vanags to The Baltic Times. AirBaltic now is the leading company in social networks. On Facebook alone it has around 50,000 fans.
Internet marketing agencies have very different clients in their portfolio. “Currently among our clients are all sorts of companies, starting with small companies, which just want to promote their Web sites, and ending up with such huge clients as Lattelecom. Everyone wants to use Internet marketing, but the problem sometimes is the low level of knowledge in this field. Sometimes it takes longer to tell the client what is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC, CPA, than to work on a concrete task or project, says the marketing specialist of the Web marketing agency Infinitum, Egils Botmanis.
There is a lack of knowledge about Internet marketing, agrees the director of Internet marketing company KlientuFabrika.lv, Dmitrijs Krasnovskij. “Web marketing brings new, and more and more perfect opportunities, in online sales almost every day. Meanwhile, it doesn’t ask for big investments as platforms with a target audience don’t cost big money. For example, social networks are available for free. What is needed is correct presentation of the brand and its services. But, unfortunately, many Latvian businessmen still associate Web marketing with expensive banners and SPAM only,” say Krasnovskij.
But at the same time he remains optimistic, saying that competition on the Internet between companies is growing. “Also, local business is starting to invest more into Internet marketing. Today many of the methods of classic marketing can’t compete with Web marketing - not in terms of profitability nor in terms of speed in reaching the target audience, and in getting results,” says Krasnovskij.
But specialists say it’s too early to say that Web marketing is more effective than classic marketing. “If the company just starts its business and doesn’t have a big marketing budget, I would suggest starting with Internet marketing. It’s cheap and it has clear results which are easy to see. But if we are talking about a big company, I think the two forms of marketing should work together. Classic media helps to build a brand and create an image, where Web marketing aims to get customers to make a purchase, to fill in contact forms on the Web site... This is the final stage of communication which, if implemented correctly, results in sales,” says Botmanis.
Correct implementation is the key factor in the success of Internet marketing. “If we talk about Web sites, it can be a strong sales channel, but there are many rules in how it is created to increase sales. Also, SEO is a must have at every stage, because it gets you traffic to your Web site. We offer analysis of the effectiveness of Web sites for free for our potential clients because we believe that this is the only way we can educate our clients and show them the effectiveness of Internet marketing, which is easily measurable, with concrete numbers,” notes Krasnovskij.
Web marketing is also an export product for local specialists. “We did Web marketing services for several local companies which sell their products worldwide. We are also working on one project for an international company located in Europe. But since we have lots of work on the local market, we do not promote our services well enough abroad to get more customers. But of course, there is huge potential in this,” says Botmanis.