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Online marketing plan


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                Online marketing plan
An analysis of the website Muziekinstrumenten.com

                                         Bien Borjal
November 26, 2010            ONLINE MARKETING PLAN

Management summary
This marketing action plan is meant to give the readers insight on how the website of
Muziekinstrumenten.com could be optimized. Numerous academic literature and methods will
be utilized to evaluate different aspects of the website and a number of recommendations will be
proposed based on these analyses.
The paper is structured as followed: First, a brief introduction will be given on the background
information of the chosen website. Furthermore the most important elements being measured
will also be introduced in this section. Second, every element will be defined and examined
followed by several recommendations based on the conducted analyses. Lastly a conclusion will
be provided about the results and on where the website could improve the most.
Using several analysis tools, expert reviews and an online survey a general overview about how
far the website should be adjusted is presented below.

Elements                                         Degree of modification
Accessibility                                    Major revisions
Availability                                     Minor to no revisions
Usability                                        Minor revisions
Functionality                                    Moderate revisions
Stylability                                      Minor revisions
Table 1: General recommendations overview

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Management summary .................................................................................................................... 1
Index ............................................................................................................................................... 2
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 3
Access ............................................................................................................................................. 4
   Analysis: ...................................................................................................................................... 4

   Recommendations: ...................................................................................................................... 8

Availability ..................................................................................................................................... 9
   Analysis: ...................................................................................................................................... 9

   Recommendations: .................................................................................................................... 11

Usability ........................................................................................................................................ 12
   Analysis: .................................................................................................................................... 12

   Recommendations: .................................................................................................................... 15

Functionality ................................................................................................................................. 15
   Analysis: .................................................................................................................................... 15

   Recommendations: .................................................................................................................... 17

Stylability ...................................................................................................................................... 18
   Analysis ..................................................................................................................................... 18

   Recommendations: .................................................................................................................... 20

Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 21
References: .................................................................................................................................... 22
Appendices .................................................................................................................................... 25

November 26, 2010             ONLINE MARKETING PLAN

Muziekinstrumenten.com is an online music store that sells diverse instruments and accessories.
They offer a wide array of products for musicians ranging from guitars to sound effects pedals. A
physical location of the store is situated in Nijmegen to test and ask for consultation on products
that are offered.
The objective of this paper is to analyze the different aspects of their website and eventually
propose recommendations on how to improve them. The analysis will be based on the concept of
Customer Decision Support System (CDSS) which is introduced by Robert O’keefe and Tim
McEachem (1998). According to their research a website is a system that utilizes diverse
contents to assist people through their online purchase decision making. In other words,
utilization of the proper content in the right way will make online consumers feel more supported
to make the right purchase decisions. The CDSS is comprised of five elements where the
analysis of the website will be based on namely: accessibility, availability, usability,
functionality and stylability.
The first element which is accessibility refers to how easy a consumer can find or make contact
with a website. Different channels such as search engines, social media, blogs and wikis are
examples of mediums that can be used by organizations to put their site out there. Availability is
the second aspect of CDSS and proposes that a website should be available for consumers 24/7.
Downtime, page errors and long loading time should be avoided as much as possible. The third
element is usability and refers to the easiness of use of a website. Organizations should make
their website in such a way that a user can achieve his goal effectively, efficiently and
satisfactory. Websites should be easily navigable and consistent on every page. Whenever a
website has these basic and most important aspects under control, functionality will be analyzed
next. These are the functions, features and products offered in the website. Lastly, the stylability
will be evaluated which entails what subjective impressions the website of the organization
brings to its visitors.

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As briefly mentioned in the introduction, access can be defined as how easy a consumer can find
and make contact with a website. To analyze Muziekinstrumenten.com’s accessibility, different
strategies will be applied. There are diverse search engine optimization (SEO) tools available to
measure this aspect and my experience as a webdeveloper supported with scientific articles will
be utilized as well. Top competitors will also be benchmarked to see how they are doing in this
aspect and this shall be compared with that of Muziekinstrumenten.com’s accessibility. Lastly,
the website will be evaluated for its use of social media or lack thereof.
As a consumer searches the web for a type of product, specific search terms will be utilized as
keywords. According to research done by Croll and Power(2009), keywords range from very
general to very specific. For example, in the case of this website a very general keyword could
be “music instruments” and a very specific one is a type of guitar such as “Gibson Les Paul”.
This paper will meet these two in the middle and use keywords to analyze the site’s accessibility
that are specific but not overly so. A consumer planning to purchase an instrument such as a
guitar for example, will most likely use search terms such as “online guitar store”, “buy cheap
guitar”, or “cheap guitars online”. Using the SEO tool MajesticSEO and a couple of the
aforementioned keywords, I will now show the results

Using the Google search engine and search terms listed below, muziekinstrumenten.com’s
availability in the organic search results will be shown. The website’s profits come mostly from
selling guitars and small accessories. Guitars are one of the most popular instruments used by
musicians (Waksman 2001) and small accessories such as strings or guitar pedals are mostly
bought in online stores for its easy transferability. This paper shall then use keywords for this
specific instrument. Being a dutch online retailer, the search terms shall also be translated in
Specific search terms:

      Online gitaarwinkel (online guitar store)

      Goedkoop gitaar kopen (buy cheap guitars)

      Goedkope gitaarwinkel (cheap guitar store)

Utilizing these specific search terms resulted in a dire accessibility of the website.
Muziekinstrumenten.com did not show up in the first 5 page results in Google and according to
research done by Hochstotter and Lewandowski (2009) it’s all about the first results screen in
search engines. Figure 1 shows the websites that do score high in this and a couple of these sites
will be used as a benchmark to compare Muziekinstrumten.com with.

November 26, 2010              ONLINE MARKETING PLAN

Figure 1 Google Search results

Only when a variation of the name of the website itself is typed in the search engine does the site
of Muziekinstrumenten.com show in the organic results. These are the results that are not
sponsored by Google but scores high because of how the website is made and/or marketed.
MainMusic and Feedback are the main competitors and will be used as benchmarks for this
analysis throughout this paper.
An overview of the elements being analyzed and the tools/methods used can be found in the
table below.

Access elements                                   Tools used
Backlinks                                         MajesticSEO
Frames                                            SEOtoolSet.com
Images                                            SEOtoolSet.com
Meta tags                                         SEOtoolSet.com
Table 2: Access elements and tools used

Research from Ingwersen (1998) conceptualized the notion of Web Impact Factor (WIF) which
measures the overall online impact of domain or a website. His study show that links to a website

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is equivalent to the web pages that have at least one link to the given website. These are defined
as link-pages. A link-page though does not necessarily contain only one link to a particular site,
hence the number of link-pages is not equal to the number of links (Qiu et al. 2004). Backlinks
are links leading to a particular website and in this case Muziekinstrumenten.com. These links
bring in visitors and also help search engines measure the quality and authority of a certain page.
Consequently it plays a key role in determining which pages are served on the results pages of a
search engine and is considered very important by SEO marketers in this regard. Utilizing the
MajesticSEO tool, the backlinks of Muziekinstrumenten.nl is analyzed and compared with the
two abovementioned competitors. The results are seen as followed.

Figure 2 Number of backlinks (MajesticSEO tool)

Figure 3 Backlinks cumulative view (MajesticSEO tool)

As seen in the results, Muziekinstrumenten.com does have a number of backlinks but in contrast
with the other two websites the amount is miniscule in scale. The cumulative view also shows
that in prior years, Feedback.nl continuously works on adding more links leading to their website
and MainMusic.nl has also been busy the past few months while Muziekinstrumenten.com does
not put any effort in creating links.
Frames were in the early internet years very popular for one could construct a webpage using
multiple html-pages (Sadon 2008). Most websites that uses frames are divided into two or three
parts in which there is a header(top), navigation(left) and a content page(right) . Utilization of

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frames makes a website easily navigable for only the content part changes whenever a link is
clicked on. Maintenance is also less problematic for web designers for whenever a new content
page needs to be added only adding an extra link on the navigation part is sufficient.
Muziekinstrumenten.com makes use of frames in their website mainly because of the
abovementioned reasons. However, if not properly applied, this could be detrimental to their
accessibility. This is a typical example of a site that values usability more than access. According
to a book by Sadon (2008) on modern lessons in search engine optimization, a number of search
engine spiders such as Google are not able to read frames the way we want them to. Google can
only read and index single unique pages. In the case of Muziekinstrumenten.com, the main page
consists of three html-pages which are independently indexed and not as a whole. Most SEO
gurus and web designers advice against the use of frames for the following reasons.
   1. Contents of a framed site except for the main page are impossible to bookmark for the
      URL stays the same in every page. This is detrimental for accessing a specific content if a
      consumer wants to revisit that saved page in a browser.
   2. It has been said that even though a framed page is properly optimized, competitors that
      do not use frames score higher in rankings in certain keywords.
   3. Because a framed page consists of multiple html pages, the navigation and header part of
      the website can also be indexed. This means that someone can also find these loose pages
      on the search engine, while the frame structure is missing.
Muziekinstrumenten.com uses images as links instead of text (see appendix A). Whenever a
mouse hovers on the said image it changes color and this shows that the web designer rates
stylability more important than access. Webcrawlers are unable to read images if there is nothing
written on the alt-text in the html code. This tag also provides an alternate text whenever an
image is not loaded (Frankel et al. 1996). Hence the use of alternate text for images does not only
give information for spiders to read but also a brief definition of the content of an image. In the
case of this website all navigation links are made out of images that do not utilize alt-text and the
same goes for normal images applied in all pages.
Meta tags
A common definition of meta-tags according to Ahronheim (1998) is data that describe data.
These are information that resides in the html coding of the website which provides information
to the web crawlers about the content of that specific site. There are numerous types of meta-tags
but the most commonly used and most important for getting a website indexed are “keywords”
and “description”. According to Ahronheim (1998), not all robots examine meta-tags and some
search engines do not even use them in indexing the site, but whenever these tags are used, the
“description” part provides a brief abstract of the websites content and the “keywords” tag
identifies the words to be used in indexing the site (Nicholson, 1997). Using SEOtoolset.com, the
meta-tags are analyzed in Muziekinstrumenten.com. However as shown in Appendix B, they did
not apply this in their website.

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A great number of recommendations can be made to make this website more accessible to
consumers but due to limited space only the factors that are perceived to be most important will
be mentioned. After analyzing Muziekinstrumenten.com for its accessibility the following points
of improvement prioritized from most important to least are mentioned below. The technical and
the marketing aspects are also divided for convenience.
Marketing aspects
   1. The organization should focus more on building links to relevant websites that leads back
      to their own site (backlinks). This will increase the number of incoming visitors and is
      important for determining a website’s search engine ranking, popularity and importance.
      The SEO marketer should be aware though that placing a lot of inbound links in a short
      period of time could also be detrimental to their website. It could get a website’s ranking
      penalized or even de-indexed in extreme cases. Some links also have higher value than
      others (Page et al. 1999). Links from authoritative sites on a given topic are highly
      valuable according to their study.
   2. Use social media to market the website. Social media enables everyone to have the
      opportunity to reach people and engage them in new and diverse ways (Sterne 2010).
      Application of these tools can earn attention by creating interesting things about a
      product and publishing it online without any costs. According to an interview with
      General Motors CEO Frits Henderson “Social media democratizes providing word of
      mouth to a much broader audience (Scott 2009)”. I propose that
      Muziekinstrumenten.com focus on utilizing one particular social media such as Twitter
      and update it regularly. A focus on one specific media will make it easier to update than
      utilizing numerous channels. Consumers can be informed regularly this way about new
      products or discounts provided by the site. Applying social media though is not the vocal
      point of this action plan because I think that the website has to improve on its other
      aspects first. The use of social media can enhance the accessibility of the website but
      Muziekinstrumenten.com has problems with accessibility that are far more drastic and
      needs more attention. Only when the problems that are enumerated above are fixed
      should the site then concentrate on the usage of social media.
Technical aspects
   1. As mentioned in the analysis, frames can be harmful to accessibility if not properly
      applied. A number of solutions are proposed to rectify this. The simplest remedy for the
      short term is the usage of the <noframes> tag inside the html code where the content lies.
      This will enable spiders to read the content of the website (Sadon 2008). A more drastic
      and time consuming solution is to completely remodel the site using tables or divs instead
      of frames. This way, a page is not dependent on other pages such as frames and search
      engines will not have any problems indexing the site. Problems such as loose navigation
      pages getting indexed without the main content would be avoided and the bookmarking
      predicament will be none existent.

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    2. Instead of images, plain text should be used in their navigation links. This will enable the
       webcrawlers to read the designated link. The same hover effect could also be achieved
       with plain text by simple use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
    3. Apply meta-tags in the head part of the html. This will provide extra information to
       webcrawlers about what the content of the website is.

Availability refers to the real-time provision of website functions. Its contents need to be
available 24/7. According to research done by Creemers(1998), a bad availability could lead to a
decrease in the number of completed transactions and findings from Selvidge (2002) backs this
up by showing an empirical study that proposes that websites with short delay times improve the
completion of the tasks. For this CDSS element, a number of tools will be brought into play to
check the website’s response time, downtime and dead links.

An overview of the elements being analyzed and the tools/methods used can be found in the
table below.

Availability Elements                             Tools used
Response time                                     Webpagetest.org, Pingdom.com
Downtime                                          Pingdom.com
Dead links                                        WebHelpje.nl
Table 3: Availability elements and tools used

Response time
Research done by Sellier & Chattopadhyay(2009) shows that a website must have an average
loading time shorter than 10 seconds. A number of other studies, enumerated below, also
illustrate what the effects of different waiting times are.

       6 seconds - performance, attitudes, and behavioral intentions seem to “bottom out”
        (Galletta et al. 2004).
       8 seconds - users suffer psychological and performance consequences (Kuhmann, 1989).
       10 seconds - users lose interest (Ramsay et al. 1998).

Using the following tools, the response time of the website will be evaluated. The tests shown
below are evaluated in Internet Explorer but a couple of other browsers will be utilized as well to
see if a difference exists. For a broader view of the results, check appendix C and D.

Figure 4 Response time day 1 (Webpagetest.org)

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Figure 5 Response time day 2 (Webpagetest.org)

The results from this tool are taken from 2 different timeslots in 2 days. As shown above,
response time is inside the accepted scale of lower than 10 seconds.

Figure 6 Response time (Pingdom)

Another tool is used to check the validity of the response time’s speed and the results show that
in 7 days time, an average response time of 488 milliseconds is recorded which is also
significantly below the accepted waiting time.

Downtime is unacceptable to websites, especially ones that offer information or products
worldwide because this information could be accessed at different time zones 24/7. This is a type
of “hard error” which entails that the information is completely unavailable to users (Croll and
Power 2009). A number of obvious hard errors are the popular 404 message, abruptly
terminated connection or a sudden period of network congestion. Using Pingdom, the downtime
of muziekinstrumenten.com will be analyzed in a period of 10 days. The results are shown

Figure 7 Downtime measured in 10 days (Pingdom)

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Dead links
Often times, whenever a website is updated and some pages are deleted, certain links that lead to
those deleted pages are not removed. These links found in the website that leads to a page that
does not exist anymore are called dead links. Using another availability tool, links from the
homepage of Muziekinstrumenten.com will be analyzed. Due to the fact that the site is made out
of 3 frames that represent 3 different html pages, each one of these pages will be individually
checked. Note that only the first page of this site has been analyzed for it will take an enormous
amount of time to check every single page of the website for a dead link. Utilizing the tool to
check the dead links for the homepage resulted in 0 search results meaning all links are leading
to a page that still exist. A short overview of the outcomes from the content page (main.html) is
shown below.

Figure 8 Deadlinks (WebHelpje.nl)

After measuring the site using 3 different dimensions of availability which are response time,
downtime and existence of dead links, it can be concluded that Muziekinstrumenten.com does
not have to change anything drastic in their website. Minor revisions though could still be
applied to optimize the speed of the page’s loading time. Using WebPageTest.org, numerous
recommendations were generated to enhance the website’s loading speed. These revisions
though are rather technical and should be addressed to the webdesigner.
Marketing Aspects
   1. As mentioned earlier the availability element is a more technical dimension and in this
      case there could be no recommendation made in the marketing aspect. Utilizing the tools
      mentioned above, the marketers could address the results to the IT department and
      propose the suggestions generated by the tools to optimize the website’s availability.

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Technical Aspects
   1. Leverage browser caching – A number of cacheable resources have a short freshness
      lifetime. An expiration should be specified to these resources at least one week in the
   2. Combine images into CSS sprites – The site comprises of certain images that can be
      combined into as few images as possible using CSS sprites. Every image is a separate
      http-request and by combining multiple images into one, loading them will be a bit faster.
   3. Parallelize downloads across hostnames – The page makes 65 parallelizable request to
      www.muziekinstrumenten.com. By distributing these requests across multiple hostnames,
      download parallelization is increased.
   4. Enable compression – A couple of resources could be compressed using gzip to reduce
      their transfer size. According to the speed optimizer tool this could result in 75%
      reduction of transfer size.
   5. Minify CSS and HTML – The CSS and HTML codes could still be optimized and that
      could result in 13% and 16% reduction size respectively.

Several definitions are given for usability in the academic literature. Shackel (2009)
characterizes it as the ease of use and effectiveness of human performance. Study done by
Lawrence & Tavakol (2007) proposes that a good usability is when an individual uses something
almost or completely without noticing that he is using an interface to do the thing he wants to do.
We can generalize these descriptions and define usability as the ease of use of the website’s
interface where it doesn’t make the user think. This element is vital for a website based on a
couple of reasons. Research from Took (1990) shows that user interaction with sites that display
a higher than normal usability has been associated with an enhanced performance. According to
another research done by Buschke (1997), poor interface design has been a key element in a
number of high profile site failures.
Two methods will be used to measure Muziekinstrumenten.com’s usability. An expert review
will be utilized first and then a survey shall also be created and distributed to a number of people
to analyze what they think about the site.

An overview of the elements being analyzed and the tools/methods used can be found in the
table below.
Usability Elements                                 Methods
Homepage and Layout                                Expert review, Online survey
Navigation                                         Expert review, Online survey
Search engines                                     Expert review, Online survey
Forms                                              Expert review, Online survey
Table 4: usability elements and methods used

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The elements mentioned in the table above are based on the usability standards proposed by
academic literatures done by Nielsen(2000), Becker et al. (2002), Krug (2006) and Nielsen&
Loranger (2006). There are many more elements that are proposed in different studies (Appendix
E) but due to limited space, only the ones perceived to be most important will be taken into
account in this report. The questions for the online survey can be located in Appendix G.

The scores will be measured as followed:

Expert review: No= 0 points , Yes = 1 point
Online survey: 5 point likert-scale measured by 33 participants

Homepage and Layout

A number of dimensions will be evaluated to see how the site scores in this particular element.
First, the structure and design of the homepage should be consistent with the rest of the pages.
Second, the logo or site name has to be visible at all times and clickable on all pages that leads
back to the homepage. Third, there has to be a consistent link to the homepage in every page and
lastly, the objective of the website should be obvious for first time users. The results for these
measures are presented below.

Dimensions                          Yes/No                            Points
Layout is consistent               Yes                                1
Logo and site name is visible in Yes                                  1
everyis clickable
Logo page                          No                                 0
There is a homepage link in every Yes                                 1
Purpose of the site is obvious     Yes                                1
Home page & layout percentage      80%                                4/5
Table 5: Homepage and layout dimensions and score

According to study done by Bachiochi et al.(1997), navigation is the process of determining a
path to be traveled through the chosen environment. The navigation bar of the site has to be
located at the top of the page and also has to be consistent on every page. It is also important for
a user to know which page he currently is on and which steps he has taken to get there.
Furthermore, the site has to follow the 2-3 click rule for the user to get where he is going and
avoid abandonment of task. Below are the results taken from this aspect of usability.

Dimensions                           Yes/No                           Points
Navigation bar on top                Yes                              1
Shows current location               No                               0
Shows steps taken                    No                               0
2-3 click rule                       Yes                              1
Navigation percentage                50%                              2/4
Table 6: Navigation dimensions and score

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Search engine
According to study done by Nielsen and Loranger (2006), 33% of the time, internal search
engines for specific websites succeed in giving the user the correct page options. This is very
important to look for site-specific information. A number of measures from their study will be
used to see how Muziekinstrumenten.com scores in this element.
Dimensions                          Yes/No                            Points
Interface located on top left/right Yes                               1
of page search only secondary Yes
Advance                                                               1
option function available on each Yes
Search                                                                1
page search term
Display                             No                                0
Search results is sorted based on Yes                                 1
relevancy results omitted
Meaningless                         No                                0
Works correctly                     Yes                               1
Search engine percentage            71.43 %                           5/7
Table 7: Search engine dimensions and score

Nielsen’s (2000) book on usability provides a guideline on which form element should be used
in a given situation. The form should utilize radio buttons, checkboxes and selection box
appropriately. According to Nielsen (2000) radio buttons are used when there is a list of two or
more options that are mutually exclusive and the user must select exactly one choice, while
checkboxes are used when there are lists of options and the user may select any number of
choices. For fields in which a single selection is required and there are a large number of possible
options then a drop-down select box is recommended to save screen space. The form should also
be as simple and concise as possible and do not use fields for information that are not valuable.
A checklist for the results is shown below.
Dimensions                            Yes/No                          Points
Use appropriate fields                Yes                             1
Are mandatory fields clearly stated   Yes                             1
Is the form simple                    Yes                             1
Are all the fields necessary          Yes                             1
Forms percentage                      100%                            4/4
Table 8: Forms dimensions and score

Usability Elements                    Percentage expert review         Percentage online survey
Homepage and layout                   80%                              68.6%
Navigation                            50%                              76%
Search engines                        71.43%                           66%
Forms                                 100%                             71.4%
Total percentage usability            75.36%                           70.5%
Table 9: Usability elements total score

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Based on the conducted expert review and survey, recommendations can now be given on this
website’s usability. The overall conclusion after measuring 4 aspects of usability is that
Muziekinstrumenten.com only needs minor adjustments for their website. Enumerated below
prioritized from most important to least are the proposed revisions for this CDSS element.
Marketing aspects
   1. Show where the users are at all times. According to Bariochi et al. (1997) it is important
      to know which page a user is on and which path has been taken to get there.
   2. The internal search engine can still be optimized. Based on the expert review, results that
      are not related to the search terms are still presented. The marketers should make an
      agreement with the IT department on which search results should be offered in the engine
      and not show every meaningless results that are in a small way related to the search
Technical aspects
   1. There are two options for the IT department to fix the problem of not showing the users
      where they currently are and which path had been taken. The first and simpler solution is
      to create a “breadcrumb”. A breadcrumb is usually located at the top of a webpage and
      shows the current location of a user and the path he has taken. A more drastic and time
      consuming option is remodeling the website without frames (as suggested in the access
      part of this paper). By utilizing frames, as mentioned above, the current location of a user
      cannot be established. The URL does not change and shows only the location of the
      homepage even though a user goes deeper into the site.

Functionality of a website refers to the functions, features and services offered by the
organization (Huizing 2000). These are the “what” of the website content. Study by Verhagen
(2003) defines functionality as observable online store properties that replace the tangible store
attributes of the physical outlets. These functionalities are the key success factors of a website in
positioning themselves against their competitors. An expert review and online survey shall also
be utilized to measure certain dimensions under this element.

Using the landscape model presented by Verhagen (2010, 2004, & 2003) a content analysis of
the website will be conducted. Only dimensions of the landscape model that are perceived to
have importance in the site of Muziekinstrumenten.com will be analyzed. A complete list of the
landscape dimensions is presented in Appendix F. The top two competitors of
Muziekinstrumenten.com shall also be analyzed on how they score in this category. The
elements and method used are listed below.
Functionality elements                             Methods
Information                                        Expert review, survey
Selection                                          Expert review, survey

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Promotions                                         Expert review, survey
Interaction                                        Expert review, survey
Comparison                                         Expert review, survey
Facilities                                         Expert review, survey
Advice                                             Expert review, survey
Sensory stimulation                                Expert review, survey
Security                                           Expert review, survey
Size and unique assortment                         Expert review, survey
Settlement                                         Expert review, survey
Table 10: Availability elements and methods used

The selection on the item measurements above are based on the following arguments:
   1. Information – Purchase decisions are built upon information that is found in the website
      (Bettman 1979). According to Hoffman et al.(1995), access to greater amounts of
      information to support decision making is an important benefit in marketing on the web.
   2. Selection – One of the incentives for a consumer to shop online is the broad selection an
      online store offers (Jarvenpaa and Todd, 1996). Due to the almost limitless space the
      internet provides, online stores has the ability to provide a much larger selection and
      space than what a physical offline store can provide.
   3. Promotions – this dimension creates purchase incentives, increases a company’s image
      and enhances the benefits of the products offered (Coupey, 2001). According to academic
      literatures, it has been associated with the first stage of the consumer decision making
      process (Liang and Lai 2002; Simons and Bouwman, 2003).
   4. Interaction – According to Palmer’s (2002) research, offering interaction content such as
      helpdesks, email, forms or call me back buttons can be relatively successful in helping
      customers meet their needs and make a purchase decision.
   5. Comparison – By enabling a comparison of products, like a sorting module or an
      electronic shopping agent, consumers can evaluate the performance or attributes of other
      products before making a decision (Maes, Guttman and Moukas, 1999).
   6. Facilities – these type of contents such as online shopping carts or calculators to compute
      different prices assist the consumer while going through a decision making process (Lang
      and Whinston, 1999).
   7. Advice – this facilitates the consumer decision making process by helping them to find
      out which product fits best to their personal needs (Simons and Bouwman, 2003).
   8. Sensory stimulation – lack of tangible physical representation of a product in an online
      setting is one of the disadvantages of online stores but providing visual representations of
      the product can rectify this and also enhance user experience in browsing (Page and
      Lepkowska-White, 2002).
   9. Security – these are contents that offer assurance to buyers that lead to trust and
      confidence (Parasuman, Zeithaml and Berry, 1988). Presence of privacy and security

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       measures were perceived to have a poisitive impact to consumer decision making
       according to research done by Doney and Cannon (1997).
   10. Size and unique assortment – this offers a reduction of uncertainty by providing the
       number of assortment available (Chernev, 2006). Being able to find hard-to-get products
       limit the screening criteria to subjective elements as well(Alba et al., 1997).
   11. Settlement – According to Swaminathan, Lepkowska-White and Rao (1999), a clear order
       process with various options is associated with the reduction of consumer decision
       making abandonment and contributes to many completed transactions.
These elements will be used to test how Muziekinstrumenten.com scores in the functionality part
while comparing it to Feedback.nl and MainMusic.nl. In the expert review, the elements will be
measured for their availability. The questions for the online survey can be located in Appendix
The scores will be measured as followed:
Expert review: No= 0 points, Moderate = 1, Yes =2
Online survey: 5 point likert-scale measured by 33 participants

Functionality                    Muziekinstrumenten.com      Feedback.nl   MainMusic.nl   Survey
Information                      1                           1             1              72%
Selection                        2                           2             2              72.6%
Promotions                       1                           2             2              68%
Interaction                      1                           2             1              72.6%
Comparison                       0                           0             0              61.2%
Facilities                       2                           2             2              64 %
Advice                           1                           1             1              61.2%
Sensory stimulation              1                           1             1              62%
Security                         2                           2             2              68%
Size and unique assortment       1                           1             2              58%
Settlement                       2                           2             2              70.6%
Total                            14/22                       16/22         16/22
Functionality percentage         63.6%                       72.7 %        72.7 %         66.4 %
total 11: Functionality total score

After an in-depth analysis using an expert-review combined with an online survey given to a
number of participants, proper recommendations can now be given. To give the points of
improvement a number of websites shall be utilized for best practice.
Marketing aspects
   1. Product comparisons with different suppliers could be provided so that consumers can
      have the option to evaluate diverse possibilities before making a decision. An example of
      a site that does this is Vergelijk.nl. Muziekinstrumenten.nl could have a competitive
      advantage in this dimension for none of their top competitors utilize this in their website.

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   2. Numerous suggestions can be given to give advice about a product. A functionality to
      have consumer review and rate a product should be added. Comments from experts
      should also be provided per product offered.
   3. Information is not consistent in every product. Give a more precise description on what
      the product is and a brief list of the product’s specifications. A combination of Feedback
      and MainMusic’s style of giving description should be applied.
   4. Promotions should be presented more prominently in the website. Preferably on the
      homepage. Both Feedback and MainMusic apply this to their website.
   5. Use more channels for interaction. Muziekinstrumenten.com only uses a contact form in
      their website. Chat modules and a helpdesk could help answer customer needs and give
      them advice.
   6. Product availability should be offered to avoid uncertainty in buying a product. Provide
      information whether the product is in stock or not and how many days it will take to get
      delivered. Amazon.com is an example of a website that uses this.
Technical aspects
   1. A more detailed visual representation of a product, for example a guitar, could be given.
      There are a couple of solutions to do this. The first is to offer the possibility to enlarge the
      picture of the product. The second option is to offer different views of the product (front
      view, side view, back view (check adidas.com for example)). The last and most time
      consuming solution is to give a 3dimensional representation using flash. This will
      increase the product’s details and make it more attractive to customers. This could be a
      very expensive solution though and only highly invested sites contain this feature.
      Aarkid.com offers this 3d solution for ecommerce.

The last CDSS element is referred to be the most subjective dimension among all 5 elements.
According to Pandir and Knight (2006), the significance of subjective factors in influencing
customer preferences is increasing. Moreover, the stylability of a website is defined to be the
impressions the website of the organization brings to its visitors. Impressions of users being
subjective is thus of importance for evaluation in order to improve a website’s stylability.
Research done by Hassanein and Head (2007) proposes that perceived social presence in the
website can positively influence the perceived usefulness, trust and enjoyment with the website
leading to increased purchase. An online survey will be used to measure certain dimensions of
this element.

For this element literature from Bridges and Florsheim (2007) was used to identify which kind of
customers Muziekinstrumenten.com attracts. According to their paper there are two types of
motives that influence online purchase namely utilitarian and hedonic. Utilitarian motive is more
task-related and defined to be a result from some type of conscious pursuit of intended
consequence (Babin et al, 1994). Hedonic motive though is defined to be more personal than its

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utilitarian counterpart and results more from fun and playfulness rather than task completion.
Muziekinstrumenten.com is perceived to have customers with utilitarian motives for they are
more goal-focused into purchasing certain products with intentions of usage as a consequence.
Wolfinbarger and Gilly (2001), proposed that utilitarian value is obtained when consumers are
goal-focused, receive convenience, accessibility, selection, availability of information and no
requirement for commitment. Customers are likely to purchase products in
Muziekinstrumenten.com’s site that are planned and well thought of rather than compulsive,
unplanned and emotional decisions. After deciding what type of customer
Muziekinstrumenten.com attracts, a selection of stylability elements can now be chosen.
Research from D’Astous and Levesque (2003) proposes 5 categories of website personality.
These are enumerated below with a brief definition per type.
Enthusiasm – consumers perceive that the website displays a friendly, lively, and welcoming
atmosphere (Poddar, Donthu and Wei, 2009).
Sophistication- the layout and color scheme can portray the web personality as sophisticated
(Poddar, Donthu and Wei, 2009).
Unpleasantness – a website with an unpleasant personality comprises of annoying or irritating
behavior (Poddar, Donthu and Wei, 2009).
Genuineness – a website must offer a reliable interface (Poddar, Donthu and Wei, 2009).
Solidity – a website should conduct its business in a professional manner (D’Astous and
Levesque, 2003).

Based on the kind of customer motives, which is utilitarian, only two elements will be taken into
account for analysis and will be measured in a 5 point likert-scale using an online survey with 33
participants. See Appendix G.

Stylability elements                              Method
Genuineness                                       Online survey
Solidity                                          Online survey
Table 12: Stylability elements and method used

Genuineness is measured in 4 survey questions and the results of those 2 measures are seen

       Figure 9: Results of first measure               Figure 10: Results of second measure

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Solidity is also measured in 4 survey questions and the results of 2 measures are seen below.

      Figure 11: Results of first measure                   Figure 12: Results of second measure

Stylability elements                              Score
Genuineness                                       67%
Solidity                                          71.2%
Percentage total                                  69.3%
Table 7: Stylability total score


Based on the analysis done with an online survey it can be concluded that
Muziekinstrumenten.com’s stylability scores above average. There could still be suggestions
given to improve the site on this element and they are specified below.
Marketing aspects
    1. Actions should be taken using the results that are generated by the online survey. These
       actions should be designed to develop the match between the utilitarian perception of the
       customers and online store personality.
    2. Secure marks are given to show the website’s genuineness in dealing transactions. Logos
       from different banks are provided to show which are being used in the site. The only
       recommendation that could be given here is to update the logo of ING because the old
       one is still being used.
Technical aspects
    1. There can be no technical suggestions that could be given for this CDSS element.

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The purpose of this paper was to analyze the website of Muziekinstrumenten.com and give
recommendations on how the site can be further enhanced in different dimensions. After an in
depth evaluation of all the elements that are perceived to be of importance, a conclusion can now
be given.
It can be concluded that the website’s biggest weakness is its accessibility. Due to a poor
technical framework, the site is barely visible in the organic search results. Furthermore the
marketing department does an insufficient job in letting the website be known to the public.
Having the site almost invisible in the search engines, the marketing department should be more
proactive in advertising the site. Following the aforementioned recommendations will greatly
enhance the website’s accessibility and consequently the incoming visitors to their site.
The rest of the four CDSS elements have all scored above average but still needs minor
revisions. Availability of the site is as good as perfect for there are little to no problems that can
be mentioned in this aspect. The recommendations given above to optimize the site in this
dimension are pretty mundane and small. Not applying the suggestions made for this element
would have no radical ramifications for the site. The site’s usability is also a dimension that does
not need major adjustments. Based on the results of the expert review, 75% of the site’s usability
is being properly applied and the people who did an online survey gave an average rating of 70%
to this dimension.
Functionality is perceived to be the dimension that could give Muziekinstrumenten.com a
competitive advantage in their market. Although the site scores above average in this element,
numerous actions could still be applied to leverage the site’s position among the competitors.
Certain functionalities such as price comparisons, customer recommendations on products, and
chat modules will give the website uniqueness to it in contrast to other online retailers in this
specific market.
 The last element that was analyzed was the most subjective one namely stylability. The results
generated by the online survey should be used as a guideline to develop a match between the
utilitarian perception of the customers and the online personality of the store. Only one concrete
recommendation could be given in this element and that is to update the logos that are used to
give the site a more genuine and trustworthy image.
Application of all recommendations given in this action plan will certainly help
Muziekinstrumenten.com reach its full potential. Although not all elements could be covered in
this paper due to limited space, the factors that are perceived to be most important are provided.
Following the suggestions made will be a good first step to enhance the website in countless

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Appendix A: Images as navigation links

Appendix B: No meta tags used

Appendix C: Response time Mozilla Firefox

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Appendix D: Response time Google Chrome

Appendix E: Overview of all usability elements

Elements derived from      Elements recognized by     Elements Derived from     Elements I will analyze
Homepage                   Suzanne Langlus            Croll an Power            Homepage
Search Engine              Internal Search                                      Search Engine
Layout                                                                          Layout
Navigation                 Navigation                                           Navigation
People with disabilities                                                        Forms
Forms                      Forms
                           Calls to action
                           Interaction                Help Desk
                                                      Mouse Click behavior

Appendix F: Overview of all functionality elements
Verhagen(2002)      Verhagen(2003)      Verhagen(2010)        Lecture(2010)                 FactorsUsed
Information         Information         Company Information   Information                   Information
Network             Word of Mouth       Advice Content        Customer reviews
Personalization     Personalization     Personalization       Personalization
Comparison          Comparison          Content
                                        Comparison Content    Service experience and        Comparison
Promotion           Promotion           Promotion Content     comparison
                                                              Promotion                     Promotion
Bargaining          Bargaining                                Bargaining
Assurance           Assurance           Security content                                    Assurance
Facilities          Facilities          Help content                                        Facilities
Assortment          Assortment          Size & unique                                       Assortment
Settlement          Settlement          assortment content
                                        Settlement                                          Settlement
Selection           Selection                                                               Selection
Sensory             Sensory                                                                 Sensory
Advice              stimulation
                    Advice                                                                  Advice
Interaction         Interaction                                                             Interaction
Aggregation         Aggregation

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Appendix G: Online Questionnaire (Number of participants = 30)
Task: You are an aspiring musician and want to buy your first guitar. You have little knowledge about
 what could be qualified as a good guitar for beginners and have a budget of 300 euro’s. Browse the
                site of Muziekintrumenten.com and answer the following questions.
       1 Strongly Disagree     2 Disagree      3 Neutral       4 Agree        5 Strongly Agree

   1. The layout and homepage is clear and well organized.

   2. Navigating the website is easy.

   3. I can easily find what I was looking for with the search engine.

   4. The forms used are clear and simple.

   5. Information about the products is clearly specified.

   6. There is an abundance of different products to select.

   7. I intend to buy products on the site that are being promoted or have discounts.

   8. I could contact the people behind the website easily if I have questions.

   9. I can compare different prices in the website.

   10. I have the feeling that I am properly assisted while selecting a product.

   11. Recommendations are given on the website about different products.

   12. The pictures of the products are clearly portrayed.

   13. I feel assured and confident in buying products here.

   14. The lack of stock information in the website makes me uncertain to buy products here.

   15. There is a clear order process and various payment options in the website.

   16. The website is perceived to have a good reputation.

   17. The website is reliable.

   18. The website is trustworthy.

   19. The website is honest in its information.

   20. The website is very well organized.

   21. The website conducts its activities professionally.

   22. The website is competent in dealing with transactions.

   23. The website is well-thought of.

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