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MIP
28,3 B2B e-marketplace:
an e-marketing framework
for B2B commerce
310
Woon Kian Chong, Mathew Shafaghi,
Received January 2009
Christopher Woollaston and Vincent Lui
Revised May 2009 Bolton Business School, The University of Bolton, Bolton, UK
Accepted June 2009

Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a clear understanding of the performance of
business-to-business (B2B) e-marketplace in conducting e-marketing in the global business
environment. The proposed framework is intended to be used as a guide for B2B firms especially
small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who wish to adopt a proactive approach in the use of
information and communication technology for business efficiency and competitive advantage, and
those who wish to explore the internet technologies for marketing activities.
Design/methodology/approach – Literature from the B2B e-marketplaces and operations of
e-marketing fields were analysed, and the findings were synthesised to develop a preliminary
conceptual model of e-marketing. The conceptual model was tested empirically through an online
survey from various industries in China, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Findings – With significant online and offline publications from both academia and industry, there is
a growing awareness of the contribution of the e-marketing in the global environment. This new
marketing paradigm is reported to reshape the business relationships between both consumer
marketers and consumers, improving business processes and enhancing the business exposure in the
new markets.
Research limitations/implications – The major limitation of this paper is associated with the
sample selection. Although the literature findings were international, the empirical study was
restricted to China, Malaysia, and Singapore. Therefore, the generalizability of the results may not be
applicable for other countries. Furthermore, the majority of the respondents participated were SMEs.
Hence, the applicability of findings to large-scale organisations may be limited.
Practical implications – The framework allows B2B firms to capitalise and understand the
e-marketing opportunities provided by B2B e-marketplace. The framework also offers guidance to
marketing managers a most appropriate approach to adopt B2B e-marketplace to perform their
e-marketing activities.
Originality/value – Based on the need for a framework for e-marketing, this study is significance to:
SMEs, marketers, information technology practitioners, and all other stakeholders that adopted the
internet and other electronic means for marketing purposes.
Keywords Small to medium-sized enterprises, Business-to-business marketing, Marketing, Internet,
Communication technologies, Competitive advantage
Paper type Research paper

Background
Marketing Intelligence & Planning The development of the internet and the world wide web (www) in the 1990s as a tool
Vol. 28 No. 3, 2010
pp. 310-329 for the global sharing of information has opened up new opportunities in marketing
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited practices. “The rapid growth of internet users has made the internet an increasingly
0263-4503
DOI 10.1108/02634501011041444 important and attractive platform for business transactions” (Liang et al., 2004, p. 538).
According to the Internet World Stats (2007), by March 2008, the internet user B2B
population reached 1.40 billions world wide, an increase of 290 percent in the period e-marketplace
from 2000 to 2008 (Figure 1). Many academics and practitioners have emphasized that
the internet is a major platform for e-marketing to deal with marketing mixes, which
include global accessibility (Laudon and Laudon, 2002), convenience in updating
(Sandeep and Singh, 2005), real-time information services (Harridge-March, 2004),
interactive communications features (Chaffey, 2004), and unique customisation and 311
personalised capabilities (Teo and Tan, 2002). Additionally, e-marketing also refers to
the use of electronic methods or media to build upon and maintain customer relationship
through electronic platforms (e.g. business-to-business (B2B) e-marketplaces) that
facilitates the exchange of ideas, products, and services to satisfy both buyers and
sellers (Ngai, 2003). Strauss and Frost (2001) support the above statement and suggested
that, sales, public relations, direct marketing, and advertising are marketing
communication that comprises the crucial components of e-marketing strategy.
B2B e-marketplace, as one of the major trading platforms brought by the internet
technology has made a significant contribution to the e-marketers. The larger
organisations are taking advantages from the vast array of suppliers/buyers via the
B2B e-marketplace (Stockdale and Standing, 2004). However, small and medium sized
enterprises (SMEs) are also eager to compete in the electronic environment remain
concerns as how their businesses can gain benefits from B2B e-marketplace. With
significant online and offline publications from both academia and industry (Strauss
and Frost, 2001; Chaffey, 2004; Sandeep and Singh, 2005; Brady et al., 2008), there is a
growing awareness of the contribution of the e-marketing in the global environment.
Nonetheless, there is limitation on how to explore the opportunities for SMEs in
benefiting from the emergent e-marketing practices, derive from the B2B e-marketplace.
This paper is intended to provide a clear understanding of the performance of
e-marketplace in conducting e-marketing in the global business environment. The
proposed framework is intended to be used as a guide for B2B firms especially SMEs
who wish to adopt a proactive approach in the use of information and communication
technology (ICT) for business efficiency and competitive advantage, and those who
wish to explore the internet technologies for marketing activities.

500 437

Asia
400 322 Europe
North America
300 233
Millions

Latin America
Africa
200
110 Middle East
Australia/Oceania
100 34
20 19
Figure 1.
0 World region internet
usage 2008
Source: Internet World Stats (2008)
MIP The paper has three main sections. First, the study outlines the motivation and
28,3 objectives for the proposed e-marketing framework. Second, the relevant literature
focuses on reviewing three recognised e-marketing frameworks and the performances
of e-marketing in B2B e-marketplace, and finally, the key findings are presented and
discussed.

312 Literature review


Review of e-marketing frameworks
With the advent of the internet technology, the traditional marketing frameworks are
redesigned and supported by electronic technologies to create innovative marketing
models (Chaffey, 2004; Logrosen, 2005). Some of the widely recognized e-marketing
frameworks proposed by Chaffey (2004), Gloor (2000), and Kierzkowski et al. (1996) are
described.
Chaffey (2004) – the e-marketing strategy. Chaffey (2004) suggests that e-marketing
plan should be linked to other corporate plans in order to support the marketing
activities. Referring to Figure 2, the e-marketing plan in an organisation should
integrate with other corporate or functional strategies to inform specific market plans
for different products or geographical markets. This framework is also integrated with
information system (IS)/information technology (IT) and e-business strategy to fulfill
the traditional marketing practices of creating, communicating, and delivering value to
customers. In addition, e-marketing will include other technologies such as the internet
to enable customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management, and
enterprise resources planning to help to define the organisation’s marketing objectives
(Chaffey, 2004; Strauss and Frost, 2001). However, many organisations are still not fully
aware of the benefits and opportunities provided by e-marketing. The main concern is
the presence of financial constrains and technological expertise especially for SMEs

Corporate
(Business) strategy

Marketing strategy

Plans for different


markets and brands

Marketing
communications

Figure 2.
E-business strategy E-marketing plan IS/IT strategy
The e-marketing strategy
in the context of other plan
Source: Chaffey (2004)
who have limited resources. Gilmore et al. (2007) identified several drivers to motivate B2B
SMEs in the adoption of e-marketing including; lower operating and marketing costs, e-marketplace
enriched overall marketing communications mix, and gaining competitive
disadvantages in peripheral areas. Furthermore, SMEs have been experiencing
difficulties in implementing e-marketing due to the lack of specialist in e-marketing,
resulting difficulties in responding to competitive threats.
Gloor (2000) – roadmap to e-marketing. Gloor (2000) emphasizes that business and 313
technology are fundamental factors to complete the e-marketing vision, and the
transformation to electronic businesses has to consider various aspects including the
potential of e-marketing technology (Figure 3). The business vision need to be clearly
defined, and the decision makers including functional managers should work together
to complete the transformation plan. Based on the roadmap proposed by Gloor (2000),
there is a need for high level ICT expertise, and the business experts play a crucial role
to ensure the development of flexible, scalable and extensible marketing architecture to
support current needs and future business requirements. The framework in Figure 3
indicates the interactive nature of the e-marketing process, which is never completed
but rather is an on-going activity. Furthermore, marketers are now looking at the
extended marketing strategy that comprises diagnostic assessment and future vision
of the organisations that provide additional business efficiencies and business leverage
to maintain their competitive positions. This attention needs to be directed towards the
objectives of choosing the right e-marketing resources (including tools, people,
techniques and technologies as indicated in Gloor’s framework). The right e-marketing
resources should be a vehicle for marketing firms to learn and enhance the knowledge

Diagnostic Strategy
Future vision Implementation Evaluation
assessment programming

Strategy

Business
process

Technology

People

Implementation
Figure 3.
Roadmap to e-marketing
Source: Adapted from Gloor (2000)
MIP and understanding of the e-marketing strategies to complete the reinvention of
28,3 organisation’s business models.
Kierzkowski et al. (1996) – Digital marketing cycle. Kierzkowski et al. (1996)
proposed an e-marketing cycle that applies to the internet and consists of the following
five activities:
(1) attract visitors;
314 (2) engage them;
(3) retain them;
(4) learn from them; and
(5) relate to them.

Kierzkowski et al. (1996) illustrated their framework on a circular pattern (Figure 4).
The relationship of each of the elements is contributed to marketing activities and
aimed at achieving profitable acquisitions and retention of customers. The application
of technology to achieve CRM is a key element of e-marketing (Kierzkowski et al., 1996;
Laudon and Laudon, 2002). Building long-term relationships with customers is
essential for any sustainable business. Hence, this cycle is strongly linked to CRM in
terms of making profit, gaining, and retaining customer knowledge such as their
behavior, value added, and loyalty drivers. In order to survive in the global competitive
market, many consumer marketers depend on their capacity to create value, and this
value is defined by consumers. The arguments above is supported by Strauss and
Frost (2001), who suggest that e-marketing comprises electronic data and applications
for planning and executing marketing activities and marketers can distribute ideas,
goods, and services to fulfil the consumer’s needs.
Whilst the above authors have made a significant contribution to knowledge in the
area, a clear and comprehensive picture of e-marketing adoption would be instrumental
in priding a road map for the same. Many practitioners and academics (Laudon and
Laudon, 2002; Stockdale and Standing, 2004; Gilmore et al., 2007) have suggested
that most organisations especially SMEs are uncertain about whether they have
sufficient resources/expertises/experiences to use the internet and e-marketing as their
marketing tool. The e-marketer needs to be aware of the current issues and trends
including; the effectiveness of current marketing strategies/policies adoption

Attract

Relate Engage

CRM

Learn Retain
Figure 4.
Digital marketing cycle
Source: Adapted from Kierzkowski et al. (1996)
(Michel et al., 2003; Gebauer et al., 2007), main reasons of e-marketing adoption B2B
(Stockdale and Standing, 2004), the major components of e-marketing strategies (Gloor,
2000) and its benefits and challenges (Sculley and Woods, 2001). Furthermore, it also
e-marketplace
important to respond positively to the current and ongoing technological innovations
and changes in marketing practice. One of the most heralded e-marketing developments
in recent years is B2B e-marketplace, and this virtual technology-enabled trading
platform has made a significant contribution to the e-marketers. 315
Review of e-marketing performances in B2B e-marketplace
The internet is the foundation for B2B commerce that provides the technology and
platform to enable this business relationships work effectively. B2B transactions over
public and private sectors uses the internet as a delivery vehicle for transactions
including; financial transfer, on-line exchanges, auctions, delivery of products, and
services (O’Reily and Finnegan, 2007). Many practitioners are predicting B2B
commerce is expected to have a massive growth and majority of the organisations will
have to give consideration to involve with B2B commerce. Referring to Figure 5, B2B
consists of three main elements and the e-marketplace performs the main tasks such as
sourcing, automated purchasing, processing to facilitate the sellers and buyers to do
business transactions.
Laudon and Laudon (2000) stated that B2B e-marketplace refers to the exchange of
information, products, services, and payment via the internet between buyers and
sellers. B2B e-marketplaces are typically defined as inter-organisational IS through
which multiple buyers and sellers interact electronically to identify potential trading
partners, select them and execute transactions (Rohm et al., 2004). Murtaza et al. (2004)
argued that, B2B e-marketplace is able to remove some of the inefficiency of traditional
business functionality and allows partners to streamline their marketing activities by
sharing information instantaneously.
In recent years, B2B e-marketplace have improved/enhanced the extent of
e-marketing activities; providing to all marketers especially to SMEs. Recent studies
(Narayanasamy et al., 2008; Pavaloia, 2009) are indicative of the fact that SMEs have
started to respond positively to the changes brought about by the internet technologies.
While the main concerns of SMEs are related to the generic SMEs characteristics of

Buyer 1
Seller 1

B2B
Seller 2 e-Marketplace Buyer 2
e-Catalogues
e-Transaction
Sourcing
Automated purchasing
Seller 3 Buyer 3
Search engine optimisation
Figure 5.
B2B marketplace
Source: Adapted from Laudon and Laudon (2002)
MIP limited time/resources and expertise, B2B e-marketplace provide a favorable
28,3 environment for SMEs to; lower operating and marketing cost, better opportunity to
promote their products/services, and enrich their overall marketing communications
mix. Overall, the benefits of B2B e-marketplace as reported by many academics and
practitioners include:
.
reducing search costs by facilitating comparison of price, products, and services
316 (Kandampully, 2003; Bakos, 1998; Kaplan and Sawhney, 2000);
.
improving production and supply capability (Barua et al., 1997; Albrecht et al.,
2005);
.
improving personalization and customization of product offerings (Bakos, 1998);
.
enhancing customers relationships (Kierzkowski et al., 1996);
.
reducing marketing costs compare to traditional marketing media (Sculley and
Woods, 2001);
.
reducing numbers of marketing staff (Gloor, 2000);
.
operating 24/7 and round the clock in 365 days (Ngai, 2003);
. facilitating global presence (Laudon and Laudon, 2002);
.
exploring to new market segments (Murtaza et al., 2004); and
.
interactive more effectively in terms of services marketing communication
(Petersen et al., 2007).

Most of the B2B e-marketplace studies utilise a business perspective to explore; their
development (Albrecht et al., 2005), role and classification (Bakos, 1998; Angeles, 2001;
Kandampully, 2003), their operation (Murtaza et al., 2004), benefits and barriers
(Stockdale and Standing, 2004), their key success factors (Yu, 2007), and so on.
However, the current literatures do not fully explore the issues relating to the
performances of B2B e-marketplace from an e-marketing perspective. In addition,
much of the research is focused on particular research areas of interest often ignoring
the links to others dimensions in particular e-marketing services. Hence, there are
concerns that the despite the efforts to promote adoption of B2B e-marketplace from an
e-marketing perspective, SMEs are not fully aware of the opportunities and benefits
(Stockdale and Standing, 2004).
The literature provides insights into the current level of internet-enabler marketing
technologies from B2B e-marketplace to the marketers. The online and offline
publications from both academics and practitioners indicated that, e-marketing via B2B
e-marketplace is a modern marketing practice for buying and selling goods/services,
exchange information/ideas via the internet associated with communication and
promotional purposes. The frameworks suggested by various authors including
Chaffey (2004), Gloor (2000), Kierzkowski et al. (1996) makes a significant contribution
to knowledge in the areas of e-marketing that has the potential to create competitive
advantage and enhance customer value. However, it appears that there is limited
exploitation of such frameworks by industry professional. In order to develop a better
understanding of the topic under study, this paper will adapt a multidisciplinary
approach by integrating; traditional SMEs marketing, e-marketing, IS/IT, and B2B
e-marketplace to develop an e-marketing framework that will offer a greater value for
SMEs.
Methodology B2B
An online questionnaire was used to reach the sampled companies operating in the far e-marketplace
east market (China, Malaysia, and Singapore). The rational for choosing the theses
countries is motivated by the advanced and well-developed B2B e-marketplaces and
their SMEs databases. The questionnaire was aimed at general managers, managing
directors, IT managers, sales managers and other professionals in selected
organisations that participated in B2B e-marketplace. Participates’ details including 317
their name, full address, e-mail, position hold, and contact number were drawn from
the chosen B2B e-marketplaces.
The sample frame contained 315 B2B companies, who were active members (based
on their transaction volume), and after screening the database for redundancies and
misplacements, resulted in a total population of 258. Accompanied by a covering letter,
all 258 companies were contacted by e-mail during the first week of data collection, and
this was then followed by the “follow-ups” e-mails to foster participation.
A total of 151 questionnaires were returned, and after filtering process, 64 were
found “half finished” or contained significant missing data, providing 87 valid
questionnaires, resulting in an overall response rate of 34 percent. Compared with other
similar survey response’s rates, such as 16.5 percent in Shang and Marlow (2005),
13.5 percent in Yu (2007), and 28.2 percent in Matook and Vessey (2008), the response
rate is reasonable.

Survey results and data analysis


Answers to questions one, two, and three have been withheld due to privacy. The
survey results are divided into four sections. The first section examines the individual
company’s characteristics and background. The second section identifies company’s
current marketing strategies/policies, the third and fourth section explores the
marketing strategies and how e-marketing initiatives have been implemented in the
B2B companies.

Characteristics of sample
The characteristics of sample are indicated in Table I. In terms of business domain in
this survey, 25.3 percent of the companies who participated in this survey are in
IT sector, 33.3 percent from the manufacturer, finance/banking sector (10.3 percent),
construction (12.6 percent), communication (6.9 percent), travel-based sector
(3.4 percent) and 8.0 percent were other sectors such as engineering firms.
In addition, the maximum number of employees from the organisation is within
100-200 and this considered medium size firms which is 41.4 percent. A total of
51-100 employees accounted for 26.4 percent, 21-50 and five to 20 employees were both
accounted for 16.1 percent.

Marketing strategies/policies
The primary aim of this section is to analyse the company’s current marketing
situation. Based on the survey results, there are five key thematic areas are considered:
(1) internet advertising;
(2) outsourcing marketing;
(3) public relations/publicity;
MIP
Frequency % Cumulative percent
28,3
Business natures
IT 22 25.3 25.3
Manufacturer 29 33.3 58.6
Construction 11 12.6 71.3
318 Finance/banking 9 10.3 81.6
Communication 6 6.9 88.5
Travel/tourism/leisure 3 3.4 92.0
Others 7 8.0 100.0
Total 87 100.0
Number of employees
5-20 14 16.1 16.1
21-50 14 16.1 32.2
51-100 23 26.4 58.6
Table I. 101-200 36 41.4 100.0
Characteristics of sample Total 87 100.0

(4) sales promotion; and


(5) trade shows.

Out of 87 respondents, 24.1 percent of the companies responded positively that internet
advertising and public relation/publicity is their main marketing function. 23.0 percent
of the respondents indicated sales promotion as their marketing function, 17.2 percent
outsourced their marketing activities, 10.3 percent emphasized on trade shows and
finally others marketing function indicated 1.3 percent.
Reliability is a necessary contributor for data accuracy and consistency (Cooper and
Schindler, 2006). It is commonly believed that the Cronbach’s a value is the standard
reliability measurement for data collection. Nunnally (1978) suggested that, the
Cronbach’s a value should . 0.7 for high reliability standard. Table II reports the
result of Cronbach’s a ¼ 0.965, indicates the existence of internal consistency or
homogeneity among the variables for this study.
In addition, the contributions of marketing functions have been ranked using Likert
scale with “1 ¼ highly not effective, 2 ¼ not effective, 3 ¼ neutral, 4 ¼ effective and
5 ¼ highly effective.” Based on the results shown in Table II, it can be suggested that,
all the variables are practiced by the marketing professionals. Outsourcing marketing
(mean ¼ 4.29, SD ¼ 1.02) ranks the first position followed by internet advertising

Marketing functions/likert scale 1 2 3 4 5 Mean SD Rank

Internet advertising 4 3 9 20 51 4.2759 1.0863 2


Outsourcing marketing 4 2 6 28 47 4.2874 1.0198 1
Public relations/publicity 1 2 9 47 28 4.1379 0.7810 3
Sales promotion 0 1 15 46 25 4.0919 0.7071 4
Table II. Trade shows 1 7 15 45 19 3.8506 0.8944 5
Rating scale of marketing
functions Note: Cronbach’s a value ¼ 0.965
(mean ¼ 4.28, SD ¼ 1.09), public relations/publicity (mean ¼ 4.14, SD ¼ 0.78), sales B2B
promotion (mean ¼ 4.09, SD ¼ 0.71) and trade shows (mean ¼ 3.84, SD ¼ 0.89). e-marketplace
Internet advertising, one of the main elements in e-marketing, ranked number two in
terms of its marketing effectiveness. In addition, over 24 percent of the respondents
indicated that internet advertising is their main marketing function. The result
provides a clear indication that, SMEs are aware of the internet marketing activities.
However, marketers are still challenged by the emerging “e” possibilities, as the 319
strategies to transform the marketing technology were compounded by uncertainty to
determine the appropriate technology (Brady et al., 2008). Hence, it is beneficial both
academics and practitioners to further explore and to get a better understand of the
underlying obstacles and the main reasons for success in e-marketing adoption.

The reasons of e-marketing adoption


The development of strategies for internet marketing is reported to be challenging for
SMEs, as transformation requires an understanding of the rationale for e-marketing
adoption. As shown in Table III, the top priority of e-marketing adoption for SMEs is
“competition in the marketplace” as suggested by 30.0 percent of the respondents.
Followed closely by “e-marketing is a part of their company’s marketing strategies”
(20.7 percent), “globalisation” (19.5 percent), “following the industry trend” (9.2 percent),

% Frequency

Reasons for using Competition in the marketplace 29.9 26


e-marketing It is part of my marketing strategies 20.7 18
Globalisation 19.5 17
Follow the industry trend 9.2 8
Demanded/instructed/advised by senior management 8.0 7
Customer satisfaction 9.2 8
Others 3.4 3
Group total 100.0 87
Mean ¼ 2.86
SD ¼ 1.793
Problems of e-marketing Security 25.3 22
Implementation 24.1 21
Expertise 20.7 18
Lack of resources 13.8 12
Lack of senior management support 9.2 8
Lack of time 6.9 6
Group total 100.0 87
Mean ¼ 2.78
SD ¼ 1.536
Benefits of e-marketing Better relationships with customers 24.1 21
Improved sales 21.8 19
Increased web traffic 20.7 18
Reduced marketing costs 19.5 17
Competitive advantages 10.3 9
Improved products/services quality 3.4 3
Group total 100.0 87 Table III.
Mean ¼ 2.80 Descriptive statistics
SD ¼ 1.445 from the survey results
MIP “demanded/instructed/advised by senior management” (8.0 percent), “customer
28,3 satisfaction” (9.2 percent), “other reasons” (3.4 percent) were reported to be the
rationale for e-marketing adoption.
The performance of e-marketing is another important that was explored with the
respondents. Over 61 percent indicated that e-marketing was “good” for their
marketing activities, 19.5 percent “had no idea about it,”12.6 percent reported it was
320 “not efficient at all,” and only 6.9 percent stated that e-marketing was “significantly
beneficial” to their businesses.
According to Eid et al. (2006), the contribution of the internet to marketing strategy is
often regarded as a vehicle for competitive advantages and the respondents reported
that the internet technology is a vital contributor to their marketing efficiency.
Furthermore, e-marketing has been considered an important propriety asset to compete
in the global marketplace. The results also indicated that majority of the respondents
believed e-marketing performed well in their businesses. In summary, the need for
marketing for gaining a competitive edge in global markets is the main reasons for
marketers to participate in e-marketing. Despite the potential of e-marketing, it would
be beneficial to review the benefits and challenges to the marketers.

E-marketing benefits and challenges


The section is used to identify the e-marketing benefits and problems face by the
B2B marketing firms. As shown in Table III, over 25 percent of respondents stated that
the security was the main problems in e-marketing. This was followed by
implementation (24.1 percent), expertise (20.7), lack of resources (13.8 percent), lack
of senior management support (9.2 percent) and lack of time (6.9 percent). Regarding to
the benefits of using e-marketing, 24.1 percent said e-marketing facilitates better
understanding with customers, improves sales (21.8 percent), increases web traffic
(20.7 percent), reduces marketing costs (19.5 percent), competitive advantages
(10.3 percent), and improves products/services quality (3.4 percent).
Initially, the survey results seem to show that there are effective controls for dealing
with the problems in these particular firms. However, the difficulties in analyzing these
data become obvious when a more detailed disaggregated pattern is sought. The main
problems in e-marketing are the security, implementation, and expertise. Although
many SMEs are struggling with e-marketing adoption, however the understanding of
the technology is important. Generally, many firms invest heavily in e-marketing
mainly because of the competitive pressure and for establishing better relationship
with their customer. Overall, the range of benefits that can be achieved from
participation in e-marketing is extensive, although not all will apply to every company.
The benefits of e-marketing are not normally realised in a short space of time and as
such companies should be realistic about short-term benefits. A longer, slower
approach may be a more reliable way to achieve sustainable advantages from
e-marketing participation. Nevertheless, recognition of the advantages to be gained
from e-marketing is desirable from an early point of developing marketing activities to
enable business strategies for selection of suitable technology to be put in place.

E-marketing framework
The reason of the development of this framework is to assist SMEs on all aspects of
marketing from strategy and planning through to marketing mix and communication.
The main purpose of this framework is to provide an e-marketing implementation for B2B
SMEs. Initially, it is crucial to identify the components of e-marketing strategies that e-marketplace
may help SMEs in the use of the internet-based marketing techniques to compete in
international context.

Critical components of e-marketing strategies


Based on the survey results, respondents have identified three major components that 321
are likely to be examined in the success of e-marketing implementation. The mean
scores for each marketing components were calculated using their respective
constructs from the data shown in Table IV. The scale used for the measurement was
“1 ¼ highly not critical, 2 ¼ not critical, 3 ¼ neutral, 4 ¼ critical and 5 ¼ highly
critical.” As shown in Table IV, the overall Cronbach’s a value ¼ 0.967 and the results
. mean ¼ 4.0 suggesting; people, information/resources and technology are
considered crucial and contributing factors to the participant company’s marketing
strategies/policies:
.
People (mean ¼ 4.52, SD ¼ 0.82): consists of all the stakeholders of the
organisation especially the expertise and the customers. The human capability of
the marketing firms makes it possible to share data/information/resources to
access potential customers in the global context.
.
Information/resources (mean ¼ 4.48, SD ¼ 0.68): lack of information/resources is
the main concern for SMEs. Information resources and information capabilities
of the organisation can create value for itself and for its customers. SMEs need a
system that can create, acquire, organise, distribute, and use the information to
implement e-marketing strategies. Therefore, effective adoption of the
e-marketing resources is critically important for SMEs to extend credit for the
success in the internet-based marketing activities.
.
Technology (mean ¼ 4.45, SD ¼ 0.82): technological innovation has been the key
element to implement e-marketing framework. Technologies offer direct link to
the customers/suppliers/distributors and it will facilitate electronic transactions,
information sharing, and provides opportunities to develop new
products/services for existing and new customers (Kandampully, 2003; Barua
et al., 1997; Albrecht et al., 2005).

SWOT analysis
Strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis has been a popular
marketing analysis approach to enable marketers validates and confirms which

Components/likert scale 1 2 3 4 5 Mean SD Rank

People 1 1 9 16 60 4.5287 0.8185 1


Technology 1 1 13 24 50 4.4598 0.8717 3
Information/resources 0 2 3 33 49 4.4828 0.6782 2
Time 10 8 13 40 15 3.4483 1.2166 6
Cost 2 2 18 43 22 3.9310 0.9899 4
Environment 4 7 28 37 11 3.5054 0.9750 5 Table IV.
Rating scale of
Note: Cronbach’s a value ¼ 0.967 e-marketing components
MIP aspects truly need to be given priority (Lin et al., 2004). In the past decade, many
28,3 academics and practitioners including; Lee et al. (2000), Li et al. (2002), and Lin et al.
(2004) have used SWOT analysis for their marketing strategy development process.
The adoption of SWOT analysis for this study is primarily to combine the analysis
from the survey results and the literature review. In terms of monitoring the issues
which are currently engaging businesses and educators, a structured analysis using
322 SWOT techniques that consist of the external opportunities and threats are conducted.
In addition, this analysis is also considering the strengths and weaknesses in the
electronic environment which summarises the results through SWOT analysis as
shown in Table V.
The threats and weaknesses are common to all marketers and they are strongly
dependent on the capacity of the company’s top management members to response to
them. Technical problems are the main threat for marketers in implementing
e-marketing strategies. The data from the survey identified an apparent opportunities
in e-marketing with exposure to new market segments, cost reduction, global presence,
and customer feedback concerning e-marketing and related issues. The data in Table III
regarding e-marketing benefits were concerned about the strengths of e-marketing in
the global business environment.
In conclusion, e-marketing adoption suggests that an early stage in any electronic
process is the use of the internet facility to access more general contextual information
(i.e. corporate intelligence) to assist decision making. This study sought to examine this
dimension of internet usage by addressing the provision and usage of information for
e-marketing activities. This is contrary to the result, given the commitment of the
SMEs to support the information society through the provision of information and the
associated publicity generated to encourage businesses to exposure to the world
marketplace. Through the effectiveness of usage of the B2B e-marketplace by
businesses in e-marketing and the nature and quality of the technology opportunities,
SMEs will likely understand the real needs of their customers by implementing
e-marketing.

Roadmap to e-marketing framework


The implementation of e-marketing is relatively inexpensive when compared to the
ratio of cost against the benefit of reaching global target audience. Companies can
reach a wide audience for a small fraction of traditional advertising budgets and the
nature of the B2B e-marketplace allows consumers to research and purchase products

Opportunities Strengths
Exposure to new market segments Better relationships with customers
Cost reductions Improved in sales
More customer feedback Reduced marketing costs
Make a global presence Increased web traffic
Competitive advantages
Threats Weaknesses
Table V. Problems in implementation Limited resources (SMEs)
SWOT analysis for Lack of expertise Lack of expertise
e-marketing strategies Security technology Lack of senior management support
and services at their own convenience (Laudon and Laudon, 2004; O’Reily and B2B
Finnegan, 2007). Therefore, businesses have the advantage of appealing to consumers e-marketplace
in a medium that can bring results quickly.
The fundamental idea of the e-marketing framework is similar to the concept of
Gloor (2000) model which also emphasizes the integration of the internet technology
and businesses for e-marketing implementation. Once the company has decided to
embark on the e-marketing strategy, a roadmap for deployment needs to be prepared. 323
Referring to Figure 6, this framework deploys sequential steps to guide the
implementation of e-marketing strategies:
.
the marketers must have a clear idea and clarify about their contextual factors;
.
select the best B2B e-marketplace that suit their firm’s needs and wants; and
.
go through the e-marketing components (people, information/resources, and the
technology). These are crucial for firms gaining optimum benefits which will
contribute to the return of their investment.

The survey results have been evaluated in order to identify trends that could lead to a
greater understanding of the components of e-marketing. The evidence available
suggests that contextual factors (Sharma, 2004) of the businesses are at an early stage

Contextual factors
• Firm Size e.g. SMEs
• Type of e-business
model e.g. B2B
• Type of market
e.g. Global

Choose the right


B2B
e-marketplace

E-marketing components

Information/
People Technology
Resources

Figure 6.
Implementation Roadmap to e-marketing
framework
MIP in the adoption of e-marketing in B2B environment. The literature initiatives provide
28,3 supporting evidence on the positive impact of participation in the B2B e-marketplace.
However, further attention needs to be directed towards the objectives of choosing
the right B2B e-marketplace. The right B2B e-marketplace should be a vehicle for
B2B marketing firms to learn, enhancing the knowledge and understanding of
participators and encouraging them to engage more fully and revisit more frequently
324 to ensure they choose the suitable B2B marketplace (Stockdale and Standing, 2004) for
their businesses.

E-marketing framework for B2B firms


One of the most vivid implications of B2B e-marketplace for SMEs is the potential for
external communication and information gathering for market and product research
(O’Reily and Finnegan, 2007). Although the breadth of activities pursued in
e-marketing field is limited at present, the continued growth of e-marketing will enable
SMEs to engage in currently under utilised applications. SMEs need to perceive that
benefits of B2B e-marketing will outweigh the costs of marketing. The framework
(Figure 7) therefore provides various incentives to help SMEs engage in e-marketing
with minimal investment and costs. In order to reap the advantages of
B2B e-marketplace, SMEs must fully embrace it by releasing the potentials of the

Company’s
website

Participate in B2B e-marketplace

E-marketing tools in e-marketplace


Search engine positioning
Banner ad.
E-catalogue
Etc.

• Customer
relationships
• Improved sales
• Increased web
traffic
• Competitive
advantage
• Reduced
marketing costs

Figure 7.
E-marketing framework
for B2B firms Exposure to global market
internet (Sharma and Seth, 2005). This survey result confirmed the view that the B2B
internet can reduce the barriers faced by SMEs by lowering the costs of extending their e-marketplace
geographic reach, enhanced customer relationships, improved sales, increased web
traffic, competitive advantage, and efficiency gains. The managers of SMEs should,
then, ensure that they are able to acquire the enabling and enlightening technical and
management skills related to B2B e-marketplace usage.
As shown in Figure 7, the B2B e-marketplace works as a platform for distributors, 325
wholesalers, exporters and importers to communicate and the company’s web site
playing a important role in the success for the operation of B2B e-marketplace. The
e-marketing tools in e-marketplace enable the businesses position strategically in
international context and obtained enormous benefits in cost savings, stimulated
competition, and productivity increased (Sculley and Woods, 2001). In addition, the
understanding of the B2B e-marketplace environment by the SMEs is important.
Recognition of both advantages and barriers will extend their businesses beyond
conventional marketing boundaries, and more effectively plan the participation into
the e-environment.

Conclusions/recommendations
Current studies indicate that marketers are still investigating the decision of whether or
not they should implement e-marketing. Considering the results for this study, it seems
that the e-marketing implementation can be applied by the marketers to good effect if:
.
contextual factors are identified;
.
right B2B e-marketplace is chosen;
.
ICT infrastructure investment is allocated;
.
company’s marketing strategies/policies are integrated;
.
e-marketing components are identified;
.
e-marketing tools in B2B e-marketplace are identified; and
.
e-marketing problems are highlighted.

Facing competition often requires drastic measures. e-Marketing can be no less than a
revolution in the company leading to, at least, reduced cycle times and in many cases
reductions in cost, and increased sales and better relationships with the customers
(Kandampully, 2003; Bakos, 1998; Kaplan and Sawhney, 2000; Jensen, 2008). The
understanding gained from the framework presented in this study provides a strong
foundation for identify the likely benefits from the marketing perspective as follow:
.
increased customers relationships;
.
reduce marketing costs compare to traditional marketing media;
.
easy to implement;
.
reduce marketing staff;
. can be operate round the clocks;
.
make company a global presence;
.
exposure to new market segments; and
.
more interactive in terms of marketing communication.
MIP The development of the e-marketing framework empirically from the survey is
28,3 considered beneficial from a marketing perspective for SMEs. The framework was
initially developed conceptually and validated following by the survey results. As the
respondents were from different industries, this framework is not specific to a
particular industry, but potentially it is a generic roadmap for facilitating
B2B e-marketing. e-Marketing via the B2B e-marketplace not only offers a cheaper,
326 more cost-effective way to transact business, but also brings a more efficient marketing
mechanism, because it is not constrained by geographical distance or time. Further
more, B2B e-marketplace may allow to the creation of new markets that did not exits or
were not possible previously.

Limitation of the research


The major limitation of this study is associated with the sample selection. Although the
literature findings were international, the empirical study was restricted to China,
Malaysia, and Singapore. Therefore, the generalizability of the results may not be
applicable for other countries. Furthermore, the majority of the respondents participated
were SMEs. Hence, the applicability of findings to large-scale organisations may be
limited.

Future research
An interesting extension of the above work is to further explore the dimensions of
e-marketing services from the B2B e-marketplace. Subsequent research may include:
.
contribution of e-marketing services of B2B e-marketplace to business
performance;
.
critical success factors associated with B2B e-marketplace service performance;
and
.
a similar study with a bigger sample, or different countries.

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About the authors


Woon Kian Chong is a PhD Researcher at the Bolton Business School, The University of Bolton,
UK. His primary area of research is in the B2B e-marketplaces and e-marketing for SMEs.
Woon Kian Chong is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: WC1LIS@bolton.ac.uk
Mathew Shafaghi received an MSc in Management Studies from the University of Salford in
1990 and a PhD in problems and implementation issues of tool management and control systems
from Sheffield Hallam University in 1994. Having worked as a strategic ICT consultant on a wide
range of projects, he joined the University of Bolton in 2002 as a senior lecturer. He is the
programme leader for the professional doctoral programme and programme leader for off
campus postgraduate programmes at Bolton Business School. He is currently supervising a
number of PhD students in the areas of e-business, e-marketing, e-tourism, online shopping
behaviour, and e-business strategies for SMEs.
Christopher Woollaston is a Senior Lecturer at the Bolton Business School, The University of
Bolton, UK. His primary area of research is in the field of B2B marketing.
Vincent Lui is a PhD Researcher at the University of Bolton Business School, UK. His primary
area of research is the online consumer behaviour.

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