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In recent two decades, with the rapid development and popularization of world internet and computer technology, internet has been an integral part of both human daily life and financial market. Based on the World Internet Stats (2010), the number of internet users around the world totaled 1.97 billion by June 2010, increased 444.8 percent over the last decade (Figure 1). Gilmore et al (2007) stated that adopting internet and e-marketing strategy within business provide small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to reduce cost, improve competiveness and expand businesses. With a growing number of SMEs are combining internet and web site with business, it has become the mainstream for SMEs in the world to adapt internet technologies to expand business and grow themselves. In simple terms, e-marketing refers to achieving business goals by using world wide web (WWW), instant messaging, emails, online payment and other forms of internet related technologies (Gilmore et al., 2007). An e-marketing strategy includes the actions taken in order to promote a brand via the internet and a good e-marketing strategy plays a most significant role in the success of a business (Rampur, 2010).
Figure1 Internet Users in the World by Geographic Region
Source: World Internet Stats (2010)
It is widely believed that large enterprises contribute a lot to the economy. However, SMEs also play an important role in both world and local economy. SMEs are not only an important revenue contributor, but also a great job opportunities provider. To be precise, SMEs account for 98.9 percent of total number of businesses, 77.3 percent of employed people, 65.6 percent of gross industrial output value, 63.3 percent of sales revenues and 54 percent of total profits in China (Singh and Garg, 2010).
With China's entry into World Trade Organization (WTO), China government has shown the ambitious to encourage both state-owned enterprises and SMEs to walk with world's pace. In 2002, SME Promotion Law of the People's Republic of China was carried out to support and encourage the development of SMEs in China. According to Hong (2010), Jiangsu province has strong competitiveness not only in per-capital GDP, but also in internet penetration. As a representative of China's SMEs, Jiangsu province also carried out policies to promote the development of SMEs and improve international competitiveness such as Promotion Rules of SMES in Jiangsu Province.
Though the development of SMEs is booming and some of the SMEs in Jiangsu are considering marketing strategies via Internet, a number of SMEs are still implementing marketing strategies in traditional ways. They prefer to focus on the products and services from the supplier perspective instead of customer perspective (Sheth and Sharma, 2005). The fact is that SMEs who are adopting new advanced technologies have enjoyed benefits of e-marketing and achieved advantageous position (Chong et al., 2009). For example, some SMEs are using email as an important medium to communicate with customers, to share products and services information with customers and enhance customer loyalty (Merisavo and Raulas, 2004). In the meanwhile, some SMEs are thinking highly of online platform such as the third-party website Alibaba.com. Suppliers and buyers prefer to transact through Alibaba.com for low requirement, reliable online payment and large market share (Zhao et al., 2008).It is the time for all SMEs to reconsider the traditional way of doing business and think more of e-related marketing strategies. Under this situation, it is a great opportunity for SMEs in Jiangsu to follow the world trend and do business with new e-marketing strategies.
With the popularization of the Internet and website, there appear a trend that more SMEs prefer to marketing their brands via Internet. A large quantity of researchers and authors has done researches on e-marketing strategy.
Drivers and barriers to e-marketing adoption amongst SMEs were stated by Gilmore et al. in 2007.
Chong et al. in 2009 carried out a questionnaire about the seasons, problems and benefits of e-marketing. The most frequency answer tends to be competition in the marketplace, security and better relationship with customers, respectively.
Singh et al. in 2010 concluded promotional policies for SMEs by the Chinese Government, which gave us a comprehensive understanding of the contribution that the government made for the sustained, steady and fast development of SMEs in China.
Stephen Rampur in 2010 pointed out several components of e-marketing strategy, which are search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing strategy, online advertising, online newsletters and media news rooms.
To conclude, a large quantity of previous researches and studies have been made to explore e-marketing and SMEs and e-marketplace, of which some studies may based on the Chinese economy. Nevertheless, merely a few studies focused on B2B e-marketing strategy for SMEs. As a consequence, this paper will provide a deeper study on the topic relating to B2B e-marketing strategy for SMEs especially in Jiangsu province.
What is the current situation of the development of the e-marketing technology in Jiangsu province?
What is the B2B e-marketing adoption amongst SMEs in Jiangsu province?
What are the components of B2B e-marketing strategy for SMEs in Jiangsu?
This paper has following objectives:
Provide an overall understanding of the development of e-marketing technology in China and Jiangsu province.
Understand the current situation of the B2B e-marketing adoption amongst SMEs in Jiangsu province.
Highlight the role that internet plays in B2B e-marketing strategy.
Find out the components of B2B e-marketing strategy for SMEs in Jiangsu province.
Both quantitative analysis techniques and qualitative analysis techniques will be applied in this research, which consist of several steps: questionnaire design, data collection and data analysis. Online questionnaire will be carried out to collect original data from 200 managers of SMEs in Jiangsu province. The current situation of e-marketing adoption amongst SMEs will be analyzed through these data. For example, for a question "Have you ever used Internet technology to develop your business?", if 60 managers answered "yes", one basic conclusion can be made that three tenth of the SMEs in Jiangsu have adopt e-marketing strategy. The reasons why online questionnaire method was used are that the cost is low, the result is more precise and the respondents have little hesitation (Saunders, et al., 2009). Moreover, interview with 20 information management and information system (IMS) students will collect data for open-ended questions.
Resources needed for this research include a book called <<Research methods for business students>> and other book resources borrowed from the Library of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). Eight months will be taken in the research from September 2010 to May 2011. Furthermore, a computer linked to the internet with Microsoft Project installed will be used. It should be emphasized that in order to obtain academic research papers and articles online, the computer should be used within the boundaries of the XJTLU campus.