Evolution of interactive marketing – From shopfront to relationship building

The diagram below from Toolbox demonstrates the evolution of interactive marketing – but whilst it demonstrates potential objectives and measurements for corporate websites, the reality is that many organisations are still grappling with how they make some of these goals a reality.

Evolution of Interactive Marketing

Evolution of Interactive Marketing

From shopfront…

In the dot.com era, the internet was seen as an opportunity for companies to create a shopfront for their business.  However, users do not treat the web as they would a retail store.  The term “surfing the net” illustrates this point, and it’s supported by the fact that the typical website has a conversion rate of 1% or less.  If you ran a retail store and 1% or less of your store footfall purchased an item, you wouldn’t stay in business for long!

… to relationship building

Instead we need to reconsider the purpose of our corporate websites and look at how we engage people so that we can develop a relationship with them.  The rise of social media and the idea that organisations should be transparent and engaged in dialogue with their customers and prospects supports this evolution.

Each of the stages above requires a step-change in your web strategy, and these strategic changes have an impact on your organisation’s culture.  It’s easy to create a website for your company that acts as a storefront with no eCommerce functionality.  It’s far more difficult to mobilise your workforce to engage with and interact with customers and prospects via online forums and communities which may or may not be hosted on your corporate website.

However, I believe the fact that each of these iterative stages advances the business benefits of the stage before makes the effort worthwhile.

What do you believe and what challenges do you face in advancing your web strategy?


2 thoughts on “Evolution of interactive marketing – From shopfront to relationship building

  1. Hi Wendy,

    I agree with the goals of your post and the direction companies need to take. I would add however that it will be a very difficult transition for many companies.

    Since web marketing really began to take hold, several things have happened. Many companies have moved away from business models which actually engage with customers like direct sales, business development, and engagement management to a model which is more like an advertising numbers game that you see in catalog type selling. Further, the “kool aid” some of these folks have been drinking has them believing that the internet has removed or greatly mitigated the “asymmetric information” problem that customers had prior so the need for actual sales and engagement is mitigated as well.

    I still find this amazing. It is one thing if you’re actually a catalog storefront but quite another when you’re engaged in a B2B model. These folks are really beginning to struggle.

    The other dynamic that occurs as companies grow is that at some point they become so focused on their own internal operations that engaging with customers becomes annoying and disruptive. They actually develop an adversarial relationship with their own customers. This is the beginning of the end for them

    I know it all sound surreal, but we’ve all seen it first hand.



  2. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for your comments. Working for a large organisation myself, I agree that changing a corporate website to engage in dialogue is difficult, particularly when the site has grown from a strategy of pushing product and service information.

    But I think the opportunities that can be gained in moving away from this model, and the push from customers for organisations to be more engaging and relevant, will drive significant and exciting changes.

    Otherwise, as per your point above, companies will risk alienating their target audience.

    Kind regards,

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