Before trying to define the term of eMarketing (or electronic marketing, so to speak), we should first take a look at the premises of its apparition and development.
The theories concerning eMarketing have not been unified yet, due to a large diversity in specialists’ opinions. Still, one of the aspects that is established and has ceased being discussed in contradictory, is the fact that electronic marketing first appeared under the form of various techniques used by companies distributing their products through online channels (Internet – based). That happened back in the pioneering age before 1995. These companies that opened the road were called “e-tailers”, as opposed to the traditional retailers (also known as “brick-and-mortar” retailers). During their limited life, these electronic retailers began to develop and frenetically introduced new marketing techniques based on the support offered by the internet.
The online technologies mentioned above developed in the context created by the e-tailers, they are widely used these days by B2C and B2B organizations. In other words, they evolved towards what we call now eMarketing (you can also spell it e-Marketing if you wish, the “e-” stands in both cases for “electronic”).
You might find as extremely useful and suggestive the perspective offered by the eMarketing Association (eMA). You heard a lot, especially over the past 2 years, about the decline of online businesses (or the decline of dotcoms), but this temporary difficulty can be viewed as a similarity to the impasse of Columbus during his expedition that made him famous more than half millennium ago. The initial “business plan” with which Columbus started this trip (that of bringing the Asian resources in his country and getting fabulously rich) was a complete disaster: catastrophic estimations, not enough resources allocated, total lack of information upon the environment he will develop his “business” in, but… he discovered America instead and changed the world for ever. In a similar manner, we can say that the dotcoms, despite their terrible strategies (if any), “discovered” by mistake the world of eMarketing.
As we already noticed, defining eMarketing is still highly problematic. Still, what do we mean when we use this term? As many other English words, the term was born by adding the prefix “e-” to a term already known and used, in this case “marketing”. The prefix “e-” is actually the extreme contraction of the word “electronic” and is quite omnipresent in today’s language of many people: “e-marketing”, “e-business”, “e-mail”, “e-learning”, “e-commerce”, “e-“, “e-“, “e-“…
The simplest definition of eMarketing could be that suggested by Mark Sceats: the eMarketing that uses internet as manifestation channel.
A more comprehensive, practical definition is the one formulated by specialists of CISCO company: eMarketing is a generic term utilized for a wide range of activities – advertising, customer communications, branding, fidelity programs etc. – using the internet. More than the simple development of a website, the eMarketing focuses on online communications, direct dialog with consumers who thus participate to the creation of new products, finding efficient methods to win customer’s fidelity and ease their business-making process. eMarketing is the sum of activities a company makes with the purpose of finding, attracting, winning and retaining customers.
At last, for those of you interested in a more scientific approach, we could say that eMarketing allows relational exchanges in digital, networked and interactive environments (acronym: DNI environments). Earlier in the history of eMarketing, it was conceptualized as being focused upon the exchanges, but today’s theoreticians suggest the exchange paradigm is a limited modality to define eMarketing.
Whichever definition you will choose to use, will depend on where exactly you need to use it and for what purpose. You can probably formulate a definition yourself, according to your own knowledge, experience and view upon what is eMarketing.
However, one conclusion needs to be drawn in connection with eMarketing: it has developed over the past few years into a standalone discipline, with its own conceptual apparatus, tools and laws, but with a still-to-be systematized knowledge.