The purpose of this assignment is to understand the shortcomings of Alinta Group concerning their marketing strategies and focuses on the ways to use digital marketing techniques to their full potential to expand their business. It highlights the various tools used in digital marketing, how to integrate it with traditional marketing and the changes to be expected if these steps are followed properly.
The Alinta Group is an Australian energy infrastructure company. Its mission is to make the availability of energy more affordable for other customers, without compromising on quality. They emphasise on their ability to adapt to sustainable means. The operations of this organization are divided into – West Coast Integrated, East Coast Integrated and Contracted Assets. Their major competition includes AGL (Australian Gas Light) Energy, Origin Energy and Energy Australia. Together, they make the “Big 3” energy companies in Australia. Alinta is ranked 4th in Australia. While Alinta Energy boasts of cheap prices and its sole focus has been on providing cheap energy sources and the welfare of the people, there are reasons why it is 4th and not 1st. In terms of providing cheap electricity, customers have no complaints about the price as well as the quality that is being provided to them. However, upon comparing monthly bills and overall rates in the different states, it has been found that AGL Energy is cheaper than Alinta. Also, unlike Alinta, AGL has an app, making them more accessible. Alinta does have provisions for paying bills online but loses out on the edge that AGL has. AGL is also known for its smooth customer care services and popular loyalty programme, helping them retain customers. A loyalty programme is a marketing strategy which encourages customers to shop using a point system.
Some of the additional challenges that Alinta Energy has to face are concerning the integration of their operations and privacy. The organization has operations in the West Coast as well as the East Coast, which are not unified. An integrated and unified approach would help their operations go smoother. A recent issue faced by the organization was the hacking of their database, which lead to the leaking of online documents, containing sensitive information about their clients. This is a serious breach of cybersecurity. They must come up with more secure software to safeguard sensitive information.
Their current digital presence is satisfactory, However, in comparison to their competitors, there is scope for improvement. Though they have adopted an omnichannel marketing system, they require more digital involvement to make an impact and make their presence felt. They need to send clearer messages to the audience on why they should be preferred over their competitors as it will helps consumers gather information about the brand to make informed decisions (Zollo et al. 2020, p. 256-267). Their current products and services involve sustainable and affordable energy and gas. Their target demographics and audience are mass markets, commercial and industrial sectors, catering to both homes as well as business establishments. Since the two keywords involved in their mission are sustainability and affordable, the customer segment that they are looking at are the price-conscious group and the “green gang” or the environmentally conscious individuals or establishments. The additional value that they are offering for their products is environment-friendly and cost-effective means of energy without compromising on the quality. Thus, the branding or niche that they want to achieve which sets them apart is in terms of being sustainable and affordable. In other words, if a consumer thinks about affordable and sustainable means of energy, Alinta Energy should be the first name that should come to their mind.
An integrated marketing strategy involves the seamless interaction between the consumers and the enterprise. These strategies focus on the traditional marketing methods, such as advertisements through newspapers, magazines and the news, as well as the digital methods, such as making use of social media, blogs and websites (Desai 2019, p. 196-200). An integrated marketing approach is beneficial in many ways. Companies should not ignore traditional methods and try to blend them with digital marketing methods to achieve their goals (Todor 2016, p. 51). For starters, it is cost-effective, as assets are shared across mediums and platforms, saving both time and money. Consistent marketing of one’s brand helps foster a relationship based on trust with the audience. This is important as consumers are very sceptical nowadays and trusting brands takes time along with some help from effective marketing techniques. By merging the traditional and the digital marketing strategies, the objective of using clear and effective messages to promote their services would be achieved.
As explained previously, Alinta Energy wants to emerge as a pioneer in the field of energy and gas providers. They want to be the face of good quality sustainable and affordable energy. The main challenge faced by Alinta at present is that they are currently using omnichannel marketing strategies, which means the focus is more on customer experience, journey and the integration of communication channels between them and the enterprise. Also, there happen to be other giants, such as AGL energy and Origin Energy, in this field who are providing the same products as them but at a lower cost. This puts them at a disadvantage. To change this, they will have to reconsider the pricing of their products. Ideally, they should reduce the prices, establish their hold in the market, i.e. become the pioneers in this field and once they have built trust with their consumers, they can make gradual changes with the pricing. By then, they should have a loyal consumer base, who would not switch to another brand and would not mind slight changes in the price, as long as good quality is assured. Another step that they should consider implementing is identifying and targeting the demographic that their products will appeal to is of importance. This involves individuals who are conscious about their carbon footprint, understand and support sustainable sources of energy and are on the lookout for good quality power but at the same time, it should be easy on the pocket. To summarise, targeting their demographics and using effective product-pricing strategies would help them understand the kind of messages they want their brand to be known for. Additionally, it will also help them understand which marketing strategies would best suit their requirements.
The organization is currently using omnichannel marketing strategies which is not turning out to be advantageous for them. Instead, they should switch to an integrated marketing scheme. By switching, it will help them target potential leads, customers and opportunities to grow and expand. Some of the platforms Alinta can use to promote itself are – LinkedIn advertisements, Google advertisements, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social media marketing, content marketing and email marketing. Some of the traditional marketing strategies that they can employ are printing advertisements in magazines, hoardings, broadcasting on news channels and starting a loyalty program which benefits their customers and is better than their competitors.
Since Alinta caters to business organizations, using LinkedIn to promote their business is an effective way to get noticed. LinkedIn is said to be more effective than other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It is teeming with influential business professionals, with their needs expressed regularly, hence providing ample leads to grow and promote. If the platform is used correctly, it helps create awareness, build a reputation, generate traffic and gain valuable insights. It helps gain a better perspective on customers and social contacts.
Google Ads is another effective tool that is ideal for business promotions. It said to be the largest and most popular pay per click advertising platform. This means that it is a form of paid search where keywords are targeted and text-based advertisements are used. When a user clicks on the advertisement, the advertiser is charged a certain amount of money. It enables users to find new customers based on the keywords and search terms that are being entered into the search engine.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a popular and effective digital marketing strategy, which is extremely beneficial for marketing products (Iskandar and Komara 2018, p. 012011). It deals with making one’s business gain more visibility in search engines by increasing web traffic (Killoran 2010, p. 50-66) and is also effective for brand positioning (Dou et al. 2010, p. 261-279). Each webpage has been assigned a rank. This rank is based on the usage of keywords appearing on the page. More the appearance of the said keyword, the higher the rank given to the webpage. An increase in the rank boosts the chances of the webpage showing up on Google search. The algorithm ranks are provided based on how helpful they are concerning certain search queries, if the website is user-friendly or not and other factors. Search engine marketing is effective as it manages to get customers to the website, which is one of the major challenges that they can overcome. Hence, optimizing the website to rank well and keeping up with the search trends is required for the target audience to get to you before your competitors.
Another powerful way for businesses, irrespective of their size, to reach customers is through social media marketing. It involves creating and sharing content on various social media platforms to achieve marketing and branding goals. Activities such as posting images, status updates, videos and other engaging content that increases traffic and participation. Social media advertising is also an option for promotional purposes as it helps improve the interactivity of online brand communities while providing two-way sharing of different kinds of content between brands and consumers (Verhagen et al. 2015, p. 340-357). Social media marketing helps companies meet marketing goals by increasing their website traffic, creating awareness, generating conversations, creating positive brand identity, interacting with target audiences upon identification. It also helps consumers gather information about brands to make informed decisions regarding purchases (Zollo et al. 2020, p. 256-267).
Content marketing is an approach which is used to attract and generate interest in the products and services of a business. It is used to build customer relations by creating and sharing engaging content that adds value to their lives (Du Plessis 2017, p. 1-7). It is an economical way to gain good reach, increase sales and make a loyal customer base. Blogs and articles are the mediums used to generate content for businesses and other organizations and for creating brand awareness. This strategy helps build authority and credibility and helps establish the business as an expert in the industry.
Email marketing is a super cost-effective way to reach a global audience and deliver a targeted message. The primary objective of email marketing is to build loyalty, trust and brand awareness (Mogos and Acatrinei 2015, p. 15-30). Even though the conversion rate is less, it can be compensated by the wider scope of reach. Additionally, the audience is already engaged as most consumers ask to receive the emails to keep up with the updates regarding the product or service. A positive effect between email marketing and attitudinal loyalty towards brands has been observed (Zhang et al. 2017, p. 851-866). The role of personalization has also been highlighted in this strategy. By adding personalised information in the mail, it benefits the advertiser (Sahni, Wheeler and Chintagunta 2018, p. 236-258) as well as the consumer. Care should be taken to not send unsolicited messages to the consumers as it might damage the image of the brand.
For the above company, Alinta Group, the focus will be on the promotion of their brand, which offers sustainable and affordable sources of energy without compromises on the quality of the product. For them to succeed in this, they can use an integrated marketing strategy, which involves traditional as well as digital marketing tools. The traditional marketing tools, as mentioned above, involve using the print media (magazines and newspapers) and news channels. In addition to this, Alinta can also think of starting their loyalty program to help retain customers and benefit them as well. Their main challenge has been to digitise themselves. Hence, to change this, they need to expand into the virtual forum, by making use of various platforms such as social media, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing and Google Ads. Care should be taken that they do not restrict the use of these platforms to simply enhance their customer care service but use these tools to build on their business by promoting it and making sure it reaches the target audiences. It should be taken into account that the message that they promote are engaging, appealing, relevant and relatable to the audience they wish to attract. However, they should take into consideration that they convey the value proposition of the product clearly and in a crisp, concise manner, without being too vague about it. Explicitly communicating the value proposition increases the consumer’s clarity which influences their attitude towards the product and their purchasing intention (Werelds et al. 2017, p. 618-639). The value proposition offered to a customer is synonymous with the brand of the company (Lee, Hannah and McCarthy 2017, p. 199-208).
To achieve their objectives in a viable manner, they should prioritise more on LinkedIn advertisements, as they are targeting other business enterprises as well, Google Ads and Search Engine Optimization as it would help the target audience reach them before their competitors if they use appropriate keywords and content marketing to capture the interest of and maintain a loyal customer base. Additionally, they can recruit individuals who are tech-savvy and can help them make and maintain an active social media presence, as this can further help improve their reach. Email marketing can be given less priority. However, it should not be completely neglected as it can be both useful as well as cost effective.
Alinta Energy is an enterprise which caters to the mass market consumers, providing energy to businesses as well as for domestic purposes. They are currently ranked 4th in Australia, coming just after the Big 3 which happen to be its competitors – the biggest competitor being AGL Energy. To stand out against its competitors, there are certain marketing strategies that Alinta needs to employ so that it has an edge in the energy market. For this, it requires to explore integrated marketing strategies, involving both traditional and digital means. Among the traditional measures, it can employ advertising in print and television media. It can also launch an effective loyalty program which would benefit its customers. Coming to the digital marketing strategies, there are various avenues which can be tapped into, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, content marketing and using LinkedIn advertisements. These methods should not only be used as a means to enhance customer care but to engage with the customers, keep them informed about the happenings in the business, generating content that would be engaging for them. Care should also be taken concerning the content they are generating. They need to express their purpose and objectives clearly and frame messages without being ambiguous about it. It would also help them to identify and understand who their target audience is to better cater to their needs. If the above-mentioned considerations are worked upon, it is capable of producing ideal results and changing the face of the company, giving it the much-needed makeover, it needs to expand and grow. It would come to a point where, if someone mentions the word sustainable or affordable or good quality, they would think of Alinta energy, which is the ultimate aim.
Based on their problems, there are some recommendations that, if followed, would help in the promotion of the company. They should consider hiring a social media or digital marketing team of individuals who are experts in the field of technology and would know how to implement is effectively. This would help their brand image get a makeover and it will help audiences relate better to their organization. Apart from this, they should review their pricing strategies and make the necessary adjustments in order to compete in the market. Either they could opt for reducing their prices or offer additional benefits to their customers for choosing them over their competitors. Introducing a loyalty program would help Alinta in this regard. For every bill paid or product purchased, the customer could earn some reward points which could be redeemed for gifts from their program. Customers who pay their bills on time or never miss payments could also earn some additional points or benefits. This helps motivate the customers stay loyal to the brand. Alinta could even consider starting its own app with the same provisions mentioned previously. It would be easier to access a mobile application than the company website and would help them in the engagement process. By working on the given recommendations, Alinta Energy could emerge as a valued brand, giving tough competition to the Big 3 and effectively promote their enterprise.
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