E-Commerce and Internet Marketing

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This is an introductory look at the science of Internet marketing. I will discuss a) Internet marketing frameworks for topics such as online consumer buying behavior, establishing and maintaining customer relationships, integrating the Internet into a marketing program and coordinating online and offline marketing practice, and b) issues in Internet marketing, such as community, privacy and auctions. I will also investigate aspects of website design, consumer behavior and satisfaction, and the Internet marketing mix -- pricing, product, distribution, communication and community. In e-commerce sites the crucial design parameters are efficient navigation and search, along with speed to the final "place order" button. During the "dot-com" market bubble many new e-commerce sites spent fortunes of their investors' money on elaborate Macromedia Flash or digital video presentations and quickly failed — some went bankrupt before the site was launched. Meanwhile, the Web's most successful commerce sites kept things technically simple and basic. Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, and other successful Web commerce sites use remarkably spare page design schemes and simple text- or tab-based navigation systems. Another area where e-commerce sites often fail is in providing search engines that are smart enough to "degrade gracefully" when there is no exact match to a request. If a shopper types in "PDA" and the inventory fails to turn up any products by that exact name, the search engine should default to a list of "personal digital assistants" made by various manufacturers. Amazon has experimented with various tab systems as the site has grown, but the choice of tabs as a navigation system was wise — tabs are one of the few real-world graphic navigation metaphors to have translated to the screen. Tabs work with only about eight or fewer choices, however. As tabs multiply, their sheer number creates confusion. Amazon's order processing screens are also a model of navigation...
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