The 4Ps Marketing Mix framework is a sound tool for traditional / physical
marketing management, however applying that framework to virtual (internet)
marketing is a poor choice. Two main limitations of applying the traditional
4P's framework in online environments are:
The drastically diminished role of the 4Ps, and
The lack of any strategic elements in the 4Ps model.
The basis for successful E-Commerce is the full integration of the virtual
activities into the physical strategy of the company, its marketing plan and
its organizational processes.
What is the 4S Web Marketing Mix? Description
The 4S Web Marketing Mix method from Constantinides identifies the
following four critical managerial ingredients of E-Marketing:
SCOPE - defines the main strategic issues underpinning the online
presence; these are subject to continuous management review and appraisal.
Issues of scope include markets and competitors, customer profiles, effects
of the online operation on existing internal processes and identification
of the strategic role of the firm's online presence.
SITE - identifies the operational aspects of the online presence
reflecting the character, positioning and market focus of online firms.
The corporate web site, as the main interface between the firm and its customers,
must be designed in a way that facilitates contact with the target group(s).
The web site must express a virtual experience that encourages customer
interaction as well as customer retention.
SYNERGY - designates areas where integration between the online
presence and the organization or its networks is essential. Online firms
will maximize their market impact by capitalizing on synergies with existing
commercial and organizational processes. While they fully utilize their
commercial networks. This requires:
Integration with the Front Office: integration of the firm's virtual
activities in the total corporate marketing plan. This is necessary to
provide the online presence of the firm the initial support, needed in
order to develop as a significant component of the total marketing program.
Integration with the Back Office: Emphasizes the fact that a far-reaching
integration of virtual activities in the existing organizational processes
is a vital condition for meeting the service needs and expectations of
online customers. Integration of the online presence with existing organizational
processes might mean that some of the traditional operations or procedural
routines have to be upgraded or re-designed in order to deliver the proper
level of virtual customer service and value.
Integration with external parties and company networks: necessary
for promotional and logistical activities as well as outsourcing processes
that cannot be done internally in a cost efficient manner.
SYSTEM - provides an outline of technical factors underpinning
the secure, safe, cost-efficient and customer-friendly operation of the
corporate web site.
Origin of the 4S Web Marketing Mix. History
The method was developed as an educational tool in 1996/97 but has been
proved quite suitable as a process for designing a new web site or evaluating
and improving an existing one.
Usage of the 4S Web Marketing Mix. Applications
Designing of new web sites.
Evaluating / upgrading of existing web sites.
Especially useful for dealing with Clicks and Mortar (B2C) environments
The Steps in the 4S Web Marketing Mix Process
Scope: Strategy and Objectives.
Market Analysis: Competition basis, competitors, market potential, market
forecast, market trends.
Potential Customers: Profiles, motivation, behavior, needs and current way
of fulfilling them, priorities.
Internal Analysis: Internal resources, processes, values. Is the Web a sustaining
or disruptive technology?
Strategic Role of the Web Activities: Generic types: Informational, Educational,
Relational, Promotional, Transactional.
Site: Web Experience.
Customer oriented content. Important questions:
- What does the customer expect in the website? Domain name, content, design,
layout, atmosphere, aesthetics and website positioning and the classic 4
- Why the customer will make use of the website? Simplicity, functionality,
speed, findability, searchability, navigation, interactivity and customization
- What motivates customers to come back? Online service, customer feedback,
Relationship Management, Information quality and "freshness", Customer protection,
Front Office integration: Integration with the physical marketing strategy
and marketing activities
Back Office integration: Integration of the website with organizational
processes, legacy systems and databases
Third Party integration: Create networks of partners, which will assist
the commercial, logistic and other website activities.
System: Technology, technical requirements and website administration.
Software, hardware, communication protocols, content management, system
service, website administration, hosting decisions, payment systems, performance
Strengths of the 4S Web Marketing Mix. Benefits
Identifies the critical strategic, operational, organizational and technological
issues underpinning a successful online presentation.
As far as the low entry barriers and the fast technological change are
concerned, the method argues for an integrative approach on strategic and
operational management issues.
Well suited for Internet strategy and physical applications in sectors
where conditions are changing quickly.
Can highlight the role of marketing managers as strategists (and not
only as tacticians).
Limitations of the 4S Web Marketing Mix. Disadvantages
Developed for Business to Consumer (B2C) applications.
Requires a good knowledge of online consumer behavior in order to be
able to optimize the web experience elements. This knowledge may not always
Assumptions of the 4S Web Marketing Mix. Conditions
The classic 4Ps of the traditional Marketing Mix are not the critical
factors of online marketing.
Article: Efthymios Constantinides - The 4S Web-Marketing Mix
Model. E-Commerce Research and Applications, Elsevier Science, July 2002,
vol 1/1, pp 57-76
Special Interest Group
Web Marketing (B2C Strategy) Special Interest Group.
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