The world currently is at a point where information technology has become a requirement in people’s daily lives. There is a need for people to learn from where they are, and equip themselves suitably to the changing environments. There is no completion in the process of learning particularly for the general academicians and business professionals. Learning which is supported by information, technology, and communication is the new path the population desire to obtain (Chiu et al. 2014). The aim of this proposal is to provide the client with a full insight of the market landscape, in order to accomplish the desired goals and maximize the return on investment. It was taken into considerations that since the website aims to attract customers globally, its name should fit diversely and corresponds with the idea of being available and accessible. Therefore, Universal Online Academy is the name that we believe is bearing the connotations behind this idea. Furthermore, the website will outline a better user understanding and enable users to experience instructional design model through e-learning methods, offering education services about Big Data & Analytics. The online services that the platform offers will not be just limited to digital literacy but encompass multiple formats that include a hybrid technology methodology, in particular the use of software, the overall internet and devices as well as interactive media on the company’s website.
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According to the respected magazine Forbes, ‘in order for a marketing strategy to be successful, it must be multi-faced, realistic and implemented consistently over time’. (Forbs,2013) Therefore, a clear set of marketing objectives must be identified and implied respectively. Borrowing the existing audit, some of the components of the SMART objectives methodology are going to be analysed, which corresponds to the specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound aspects of a marketing strategy and apply those of them that are compatible with our business proposal. Starting with the specific objectives, the key milestones are:
- Build brand awareness among the target group
- Provide useful content
We have defined specific target group, represented by professionals, such as system administrators, database specialists and/or business intelligence experts, who seek to expand their knowledge and expertise in the Big Data and Data Analytics field. Through the completion of the courses offered from our clients’ online training platform, the participants will not only improve their technical skills, but also receive a certification as a proof of their achievements. In order to fulfil this objective and enhance the brand awareness, while increasing participants’ level of engagement, it is believed that the proposed website should include relevant and accurate information on how the skills acquired over the training period will upgrade the organisations’ competitiveness in the digital environment.
The appearance of respected researchers who will provide content for the recorded online courses, together with the ongoing Webinar, which aim is to encourage further discussions on relevant for the participants’ topics, will result beneficially on the brand awareness and reputation. Moreover, and as known, a high level of flexibility is a key requirement for the business’ success; in regards, participants in the online courses could be either independent individuals or organisations’ employees. In order to demonstrate the level of flexibility and attract more users to subscribe for the online courses our client is offering discounts for multiple course enrolments, and mobile version of the website, in an attempt to address the customers’ needs and provide them with convenience. Following on that, providing high quality of services on a competitive price is what the client should aim for in order to establish the newly launched website and online services on the existing digital market landscape. Further details on the pricing strategy will be discussed later on in this proposal.
In terms of measurable objectives, which refers to the quantitative data acquired that enables the business owner to track the business’ performance, an implementation of a search engine marketing strategy is going to be proposed. This strategy is achievable in two ways: first, is the search engine optimisation (SEO) approach and second is the paid search marketing (PSM) approach. The main advantages of these two approaches are the ability to specify the target audience and reduce the costs involved in the promotion activities. A good implementation of those two practices leads to achieving the highest ranking in the natural listing. It is due to its capability to increase the brand awareness and measure the traffic towards the website, which is critical for the business success, what makes the SEM strategy the most commonly used in the digital marketing world
Implementing a search engine optimisation will allow the owner to keep track of the contribution to the website and identify from where does the traffic comes from. Moreover, keywords, Meta tags, backlinks and product images are also playing significant role throughout the optimisation, due to the vast number of websites that exist in the Internet environment. Since the main purpose of the search engine optimisation is to increase the website visibility and deliver traffic to the site, the implementation of a search engine strategy which will result in more attention from the targeted audience.
When it comes to the achievable objectives, the visual aspects of the proposed website are going to be discussed. As the modern online user is native with the digital environment and have been exposed to thousands of different websites and online promotions, it is believed that the graphic user interface (GUI) of the website should be user-friendly. Users should be able to navigate throughout the website easily, almost intuitively. This could be achieved through a simple web design, which will allow users to explore the website, without feeling lost in it and overload with unnecessary information. The website should be designed in a smart way and offer users to continue their learning process from where they have left it, just by clicking on one button. In order to illustrate the idea of the website structure a sitemap is going to be created, which could be found in the appendix section of this business proposal.
At the Universal Online Academy, many activities will be offered online at a competitive price. The company plans to enter into online training that offers educational services for business professionals. The fields of study include Big Data and Analytics (Smith, 2016). The main activities that cover Big Data and analytics at the Universal Company include pre-recorded training courses provided by well-respected and qualified instructors in which they will cover various areas in Big Data platforms. There will also be online programs that introduce online users to the world of Data Science, master data management systems, text analytics and data quality among other relevant fields of study.
The company aims at providing high-quality online programs that help academicians learn the relevant skills required in achieving their goals through offering them different levels. Participants are entitled to decide on which level they want to encounter themselves based on their knowledge, which respectively are (beginners, intermediate, advanced). The courses at the website will be provided through tutorials. Universal Online Academy offers webinars, which will be organized on a monthly basis and participants can register for. The average duration of a webinar is 1.5 hours where topics could be e.g. Social Networks for Fraud Detection, Predictive Analytics using Decision Trees, Hadoop, etc.Â Universal Online Academy also offers academicians the ability to earn their certificates while documenting their contact hours as well as their course completion on the website. All the courses offered on the website will be self-paced. This means that the academicians will not need to be online at specific date or time. They will study at their own convenient time, which will be suitable for their schedule.
Research conducted by Fowler, Godin & Geddy (2016), show that Extensible Markup Language or simply XML will be employed as the main database storing information for the Universal Online Academy. XML is a standard format within information exchange and general integration within the website. Extensive research on XML technology has led to the overall development in the e-learning industry. With the effective combination of XML as well as other related databases for portable Internet data exchange, storage and management remain the main platform for Universal Online Academy (Schulte, 2013). XML is the main database that is used to support eLearning, which makes it paramount for the application in developing the methodologies for eLearning. The learning institution will make good use of content managers who will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring materials online are either stored within the local content databases or even as links that provide good quality video for the participants (Rijmenam, 2014). Video recordings in most teachings will only be accessible by the teachers, students as well as mentors of the content storage databases (Ivan, 2014).
The company will also use the cloud-based data synchronization which offers a promising solution in the management of heterogeneous learning materials such as texts, web pages’ excerpts, images, videos and links (Trifu & Mircea, 2016). Such delivery of computing and storage service utility is essential in the database storing for the instructors, the participants, the sessions that follow and even in providing feedback (Pelet, 2013). According to (Marshall & Taylor, 2015) the cloud storage, in particular, will provide participants and instructors with effective data storage and computing services, data processing ability within the sessions and an adaptive content delivery to a different computer and PDA devices.
The ultimate goal of every marketing strategy is to build-up and/or reinforce the brand awareness among its targeted audience in order to increase the return of investment.Â Philip Kotler, who is one of the most established authors in the marketing field has highlighted that the purpose of a marketing strategy is to ‘define, measure and quantify the size of the identified market and the profit potential’. (Kotler, et.al. Grant, 2014) Following on that, this business proposal aims to address and provide a detailed plan on how the client can maximize the company’s profits by implementing the appropriate promotional marketing activities launching a website.
Consequently, first, the characteristics of the potential customers will be examined afterwards a focus on the industry landscape is needed, which in turn will provide a better understanding of the needs emerging in the particular sector. That will furthermore, allow to match the clients’ offerings with the consumer demand and help measure the level of satisfaction in the post-promotional stage of the marketing campaign. Secondly, in order to differentiate the client services from the rest of the online training companies, the competitors’ performance are going to be discussed in the market landscape, through which the aim is to collect insights regarding the customers’ acceptance of the offerings in terms of pricing and preferred content delivery methods. Having gained such insights, then an appropriate website design will be suggested, that will match with the overall goals of the clients’ company and thereafter, extend the promotional activities with an adequate social media campaign.
After implementing the proposed strategy, the client will be able to spot the advantages of understanding the marketing landscape, which in turn will allow him to address the market demand, measure the business performance and take appropriate marketing actions to achieve the objectives of the project. Having that in mind, it is going to be analysed the following business proposal in a reasonable manner, which will illustrate every phase of the marketing strategy, considering all aspects from budgeting to web design, promotion strategy and social media activities.
- SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING STRATEGY
In eLearning, it is important to craft a search engine result page that is unique, eye-catching and well shareable through discussion boards. When it comes to Search Engines, the company will use Google as the main search engine to attract different prospects. This means the company will simply create a course content titled “eLearning courses for universal online Academy” then go ahead to creating a comprehensive content that lists and gives details of the courses being provided and materials to be used (Moran & Hunt, 2014). The use of Google will ensure there is no crowding in the result page being presented and the differentiation of results will be made easy for learners to find. The company will ensure the search engine developed can rank for the targeted keywords specified for the courses being offered and the instructors names since they are well known professionals (Jones, 2016). Google search engine optimization has widely been used since it can rank for the specified targeted keyword variations to give users a good online experience.
Some of the keywords that can be used to increase the visibility of the website are big data platforms, data analytics, online learning, data science, predictive analytics, text analytics, master data management & data quality.
7. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGY
Involvement in social media can be beneficial for companies; as a starting point, company has to set goals and objectives, in order to increase brand awareness and/or drive traffic to a website. Businesses need to decide on what aims to be achieved by the social media team. Furthermore, social media enables two-way communication between organizations and customers. As for social media marketing, it is more about creating awareness about the organization, promoting their goods and services through different social media channels.
According to Saravanakumar and SuganthaLakshmi (2012), social media is associated with consumers’ communication.Â Social media allows customers to communicate not just with the company but with others as well. As a result, companies need to provide customers with a platform where they can build a network for interaction.
Universal Online Academy is expected to establish an active presence on social media platforms with particular emphasis on LinkedIn, Twitter as well as Facebook.
This will ensure a powerful connection between the company and the learning community to give the stakeholders the ability to accomplish the company’s mission (Geho & Dangelo, 2012). The best way to position the company’s commitment is through providing learners with the best information about the online courses offered and provide answers for the users’ inquiries in a professional and efficient manner.
When it comes to the selection amongst social media platforms LinkedIn is the preferred medium for targeting business professionals. Only in the UK nearly 60% of the students and professionals are using LinkedIn to widen their connections, future working prospects, and business opportunities. By establishing extensive connections on the platform, the organizational value of the company can be penetrated to the online users. Unlike other social media platform, LinkedIn allows B2B and B2C networking efficiently and effectively. One of the unique features that LinkedIn offers is categorizing individuals depending on their occupation, previous education, work experiences, and skills. In order for this social media marketing strategy to be successful the LinkedIn account of the website will include each instructor professional account, so that it enables users to check the instructors’ profile so they can have a glimpse of what each instructor could provide them with regarding their field of interest.
As for Twitter being the second most used social media platform, it will be used as an instrument to attract attention and to increase brand awareness in the online environment. Since, opening a Twitter account is free, cost-effectiveness is one of the key player especially for business owners. Once a company has established a large number of audience and followers, they will create a hashtag for everyone to use and share through tweets, for instance, Universal Online Academy can produce hashtags (e.g. #UOA, #BigData, #Best-ecoursesâ€¦). By increasing the amount of hashtags shared on Twitter, the popularity of their page will be leveraged which is a desirable goal a business should aim to achieve through the implementation of a social media marketing strategy.
Facebook is most commonly used across social media platforms globally, A great number of people will be exposed to different kind of pages and public accounts since Facebook has more than one billion active users. By creating a Facebook page Universal Online Academy can reach a great amount of potential subscribers, which in turns, it makes the platform effective for the client. When it comes to promoting through Facebook, introductory videos about the services provided by the website itself can be posted on the page so users can comment, like, and share the videos. With the use of Facebook, companies are able to recognize their audience, and by doing that, Universal Online Academy can post relevant information towards its followers to attract them. Therefore, Universal Online Academy can emphasize on its Facebook presence where it can promote their main website including the services that they provide. The beneficial part of using Facebook regarding any online business is creating and boosting up the brand image and companies’ position in the market since it is an easy platform that it does not require the users to obtain a high level of digital literacy.
Nowadays technology plays an important role in education. More and more people are willing to expand their knowledge in various aspects of their interest. There are multiple online sites that offer courses/seminars online and provide a certificate. Universities and companies around the world offer online programs to everyone since more than 6 million students in 2012 attended online courses (McConnell, 2012).
The advantages of attending online courses are many. Since many citizens do not have the time to attend offline lectures they choose to register in an online course.
The most well-known competitor is Lynda.com since it has various categories for online seminars. The history of this online education server goes back to 1995. All registered members can have access to watch multiple educational videos. The online courses are taught in English, German, Spanish and French. The first 10 days the member can watch free his/her educational preferable programs to make his/her familiar with the program and see whether he/she likes it or not. After the 10 days, free trial there are various subscriptions types. The monthly membership subscription costs 25$/month. The monthly premium subscription costs 37.50$, the annual subscription costs 250$ and the annual premium subscription costs 375$/year. It is highlighted that many can pay Lynda.com, since the cost is low. In 2015 the registered members of Lynda.com reached 4 million users (Robbins, 2015).
Future Learn was founded in 2012 by the Open University. It is the first UK massive open online course (MOOC) educational online server, and in 2017 109 universities were included in their platform. Future Learn was propelled with the 12 UK high ranked universities. This makes Future Learn unique, that it cooperates with the most well-known universities in the UK. The main languages of Future Learn are English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Chinese. The courses are free to attend but in the end of the online module the participant must pay between 39$ – 59$ in order to receive the certificate. Future Learn in 2015 had 3.8 million registered online students from 200 different countries. (Harvegal, 2016). The Chief Executive of Future Learn Simon Nelson argued that the cost of the certificate is moderate because Future Learn wants a founding ethos online platform that everyone can have access no matter the cost. This is the reason why; people pay at the end of the module so everyone can be educated.
Another competitor is Udacity. Udacity is a for-profit online educational company founded in 2011. It is well known for its computer science classes through the Stanford University. It has 1.6 million active users in 12 full online lectures. Udacity is well known for their pioneering technology courses of nanotechnology and nanoengineering.Â Â Since these programs are very for profit, they price begin from 200$/month.
It is vivid that there are thousands of online educational platforms. Technology in education is emerging. As for Universal Online Academy, many aspects should be taken into consideration, due to the fact that there are many competitors in this industry and a unique competitive advantage must be accomplished in order for the website to prosper. One of the main competitive advantage that Universal Online Academy has is the presence of a well-known and experienced instructors; who are going to deliver the best contact in the domain of Big Data and analytics.
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Pricing strategies will be designed to suit the diverse needs of customers from all the regions around the world. Utilizing an effective online pricing strategy will require both a test and learn strategy paired with an intuitive feel for how the institution would like the brand and the online package being offered will be perceived (Leong, 2013). In utilizing the best, online pricing strategy will lead to an effective Omni channel selling success that will be used by anybody anywhere in the world. The pricing strategy for the pre-recorded training sessions, the webinars as well as one-to-one online tutoring session will be expanded based on four very important e-learning pricing strategies. This includes the Value-based pricing and cost-plus pricing. Competitive pricing, target return pricing and the lead generation model will be the second option for the company (Tidd & Bessant, 2013).
For the case of the value-based pricing, Universal Online Academy will employ a pricing strategy that entails pricing the courses to appeal to the customers over an alternative competing for e-learning price. This will consider the deep value of education the customer needs (Wu, Wann-Yih, & Hsieh-Chih, 2016). This means the materials being presented online will determine the prices largely depending on the perceived value of the public. Cost-plus pricing will be implemented to ensure that the company is maintaining an ample margin of profit at any given time. Another possible option for the company as stated is the Competitive pricing strategy (Kutsch, McDermott & Finch, 2013). which will also be used only basing on what the competitions charge for teaching the same packages.
Universal online Academy will invest a lot of efforts and preparations into developing and providing an ultimate eLearning courses online. These include perfecting the eLearning courses to choosing an ideal online payment platform (Aaronson, Brave, and Cole, 2016). The process will involve various steps, which will require the full attention of the company. It is of utmost importance that universal online academy prepares a comprehensive courses payment gateway. This means the company has a responsibility to ensure the learners are provided with the safest channels of making payments (Nawi, Mamun & Raston, 2015). The channels of payments will be secured to ensure the learners have confidence when they insert their details. Universal Online Academy will employ the services of PayPal which uses an advanced data-encryption and anti-fraud technology to keep its online users’ data secured.
In the course of the webinar, the company will offer a variety of instructional roles developed to provide effective teaching as well as a good learning experience for the students (Kohl, 2012). The webinars will last for the duration of one and half hours which are custom to the normal classroom lessons. The students will have some qualified instructors in order to address their various needs. The interaction will be the best for online delivery for the inexperienced presenters (Bates, Phalen, & Moran, 2016). The webinar will be used in offering both administrative and technical support in assisting users with other aspects of attendance like their inability to log into the systems, requests for password reminders among other services. The platform would provide a chart box for complete interaction as well as the use of a webcam and a microphone for one on one communications. This will be customized to be the same as the traditional face-to-face classroom experience at the comfort of the students’ homes.
Research has shown that eLearning was first introduced to China ten years ago. With that, only a small population of the Chinese community has access to the eLearning platform especially in the topics covering the big data Platforms. The online platform in China will target the business-to-business market. This is because most of the Chinese companies have the need to reduce staff training expenses but at the same time provide the flexibility of time and space to facilitate an easy learning process for employees (Ellis & Kuznia, 2014). Universal online Academy will pursue its expansion to China through targeting the corporations and business segments, which enjoy a bigger proportion of the market shares.
The company expects that with the introduction of eLearning to China, online education will grow and various expectations are highlighted with the growth of the Chinese online education system. There will be a more open communication system that will be opened for other students (Delisle, Goldstein, & Yang, 2016). The Chinese students will be able to pursue foreign online education degrees in the field of Big Data Platforms such as Hadoop and Mongo DB among others. The students will be able to earn their degrees often without the need of visiting UK. Universal online Academy will ensure there is more rural reachability of the Chinese students to ensure they join the online courses to benefit from the general education system (Alman, Tomer, & Lincoln, 2012). The Blackboard will also become a popular platform in China giving the website the ability to explore opportunities in giving them a better online learning experience. Not to forget that Chinese people prefer using mobile apps rather than PCs and laptops so the overall structure of the website should be compatible and suitable for different type of devices
This proposal has effectively presented the best platform for an eLearning experience for business professionals around the world. The website requirements have been shown from the strategies that are going to be developed to give learners the best online learning experience that is well customized in order to meet their needs. It has also offered a solution in the various web design aspects that are provided for the users. Pricing strategies are also effective in giving Universal Online Academy a heads-up. To make sure that the website is efficient and it provides an exclusive content, the company will design a portal login for the users allowing them to access their paid courses or any additional material for example webinars, one-to-one tutoring, and by the end of the courses being able to pay securely for the certificate. This will ensure that the subscribers have reach a satisfactory level with their online learning experience which will eventually lead to a positive word of mouth and brand reputation.
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