The internet is such a vast and confusing medium that a plethora of roles and job titles that were created to make sense of it all. Gurus, evangelists, optimizers, specialists and demand generators have all stepped up to the plate to take over the world of new media, emerging media, ebusiness, online marketing and ecommerce. But just because the terms are used regularly does not mean that the roles are clearly defined.
Having been an eCommerce Director for a hotel group, I can't tell you how many people have asked me: "What does that mean, are you like a webmaster?", or "You do online marketing, right?" So the oversimplified explanation is:
eCommerce is to online marketing as sales is to marketing in the traditional off-line business world.
Roles in online marketing:
- Formulate marketing campaigns in line with branding strategy
- Plan media buying for banner ads and rich-media ads as well as search
- Look for new marketing opportunities in the medium like blogging, social networks, mobile web, etc.
- Manage marketing budget to get the best reach and effectiveness
Roles in eCommerce:
- Oversee the online store and its offerings
- Determine online channels that will deliver the most revenue
- Responsible for online platform and connectivity with third-parties like payment gateway, shopping cart providers, and inventory management
- Maximize profit on products and product categories by online channels i.e. search campaigns, ad networks,
The reality is not as clearly defined as above. In this fast-paced and quickly evolving environment, most of us wind up doing a bit of everything. Unlike traditional sales and marketing in which there is little overlap, the online world blurs this line. Where does marketing stop and sales begin? Wikipedia's definition of "marketing" also alludes to this overlap:
"Marketing is an ongoing process of planning and executing the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion often referred to as the 4 Ps) for products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organizations."
Depending on the industry or company you are in, it might be more of one and less of the other, but the ultimate goal is the "exchange". Traditional FMCG companies that focus on using the internet medium for brand marketing will focus more on online marketing effort to drive offline sales. Online retailers are obviously going to be more direct revenue driven and hence eCommerce focused. Then there are industries like travel, which needs both.
While both online marketing and eCommerce have budgets to work against, online marketing budgets are primarily used on media spend, while eCommerce budget is more geared towards platforms and enabling technologies. However, eCommerce has an additional resource to work with: margins on sales. Since eCommerce is sales and revenue driven, should media spend be tied to budgets or should it just be considered a cost of the sale? So if the cost of the sales is lower, then should the retailer not spend more money on this channel?
So if you are one of these individuals that have a bit of everything, how do you know whether you are online marketing or eCommerce? The answer goes back to understanding your company and your department and on how you are measured in your job. If your budget is supposed to drive brand engagement, you can pursue conversion events like path of user, depth of content viewed, and best CPM channel; you are in online marketing. But if there is a component with a revenue or lead generation event, you are in eCommerce; all else given, what management ultimate wants is "where is the money?".
Joe Nguyen is the regional manager of South East Asia for Omniture.