The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







E-marketing can be simply defined as "Achieving marketing objectives through use of electronic communications technology."

This electronic communications technology includes: Internet, e-mail, Ebooks, database, and mobile phone

More recently Dave Chaffey has published a more detailed definition. He says:

Customer-centric e-marketing is:

Applying Digital technologies which form online channels? (Web, e-mail, databases, plus mobile/wireless & digital TV)

to Contribute to marketing activities aimed at achieving profitable acquisition and retention of customers (within a multi-channel buying process and customer lifecycle)

through Improving our customer knowledge (of their profiles, behaviour, value and loyalty drivers), then delivering integrated targeted communications and online services that match their individual needs.

Source: [] with permission of the author.

The first part of the definition illustrates the range of access platforms such as web, e-mail, mobile phones and interactive digital TV that comprise the online channels which e-marketers use to build and develop relationships with customers.

The second part of the definition shows that it should not be the technology that drives e-marketing, but the business returns from gaining new customers and maintaining relationships with existing customers. It also emphasises how e-marketing does not occur in isolation, but is most effective when it is integrated with other communications channels such as phone, direct-mail or face-to-face. Online channels should also be used to support the whole buying process from pre-sale to sale to post-sale and further development of customer relationships.

The final part of the definition summarises approaches to customer-centric e-marketing. It shows how it should be based on knowledge of customer needs developed by researching their characteristics, behaviour, what they value, what keeps them loyal and then delivering tailored web and e-mail communications.

As with many terms with the 'e' prefix, it is useful to return to an original definition of the topic to more fully understand what e-marketing involves. The definition of marketing by the Chartered Institute of Marketing ( is:

"Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably."

This definition emphasises the focus of marketing on the customer, while at the same time implying a need to link to other business operations to achieve this profitability. Smith and Chaffey (2001) note that Internet technology can be used to support these aims as follows:

  • Identifying - the Internet be used for marketing research to find out customers' needs and wants;
  • Anticipating - the Internet provides an additional channel by which customers can access information and make purchases - understanding this demand is key to governing resource allocation to e-marketing. For example, low-cost airline easyJet ( has an online revenue contribution of over 90% since demand for a standardised product online is so high.
  • Satisfying - a key success factor in e-marketing is achieving customer satisfaction through the electronic channel, this raises issues such as is the site easy to use, does it perform adequately, what is the standard of associated customer service and how are physical products dispatched?

Smith and Chaffey (2001) also provide 'the 5Ss' a useful mnemonic for how the Internet can be applied by all organisations or for different e-marketing tactics. For example, for an e-newsletter, the 5Ss are:

  • Sell - Grow sales (the e-newsletter often acts as both a customer acquisition tool and a retention tool - the e-newsletter has this dual role)
  • Serve - Add value (give customers extra benefits online such as an online exclusive offer or more in-depth information about your products or the industry sector)
  • Speak - Get closer to customers by creating a dialogue, asking questions through online research surveys and learning about customers' preferences through tracking - which content are people most interested in.
  • Save - Save costs (of print and post if you have a traditional offline e-newsletter can you reduce print runs or extend it to those customers you can't afford to communicate with)
  • Sizzle - Extend the brand online. A newsletter keeps the brand 'front-of-mind' and helps reinforce brand values. Added value can also be delivered by the e-newsletter by informing and entertaining customers.

E-marketing tools used to drive visitors to a web site for customer acquisition or retention include:


  • Smith, P.R. and Chaffey, D. (2001) eMarketing eXcellence: at the heart of eBusiness. Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, UK.

External links

Last updated: 10-17-2005 02:41:29
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