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Introduction

The digital world has become a household term literary in all homes of the developed countries. Through the use of the internet the volume on transactions conducted online has increased so much. Among the transaction conducted online is marketing and shopping. These transactions like nay other transactions lead to the exposure of personal details to third parties. When such personal details land in the wrong hands they can easily be used for unintended purpose. This essay will critically examine the contribution made by digital and direct marketing on raising the standards of people in different parts of the world. In carrying out this examination, the essay will make a comprehensive use written literature on the topic. Being a current issue, the essay will exclusively make use of literature not more than five years old.  

The major threat to these marketing (identity theft) is analyzed in the light of its effects on the online shoppers, the online shops, the administrative bodies, and on the general community. The discussion of all these aspects will take into account the current real life incidences taking place in relation to the digital marketing and identity theft. The essay discusses the possible recommendations which can be put into action to help put the situation under control. The conclusion is then made recapping the main issues discussed in the essay. At this point the main terms to be used in the essay are introduced:

The key Terms

It is significant to have a clear meaning and understanding of the key terms that are related to this topic. These terms are three, direct marketing, digital marketing and identity theft. After the definition of the first two terms an attempt is made to show how they can coexist.

Direct Marketing

This is one of the methods used to increase the sales of a business firm. It involves the art of persuasion to win over the customer to buy the goods in question. In the words of Pollick (2010), direct marketing is considered controversial. This is because of the advertisers sell their goods and services without actually having the goods. Pollick (2010) lists the following as forms commonly used in direct marketing, “telephone sales, solicited or unsolicited emails, catalogs, leaflets, brochures and coupons” (1). On the success of direct, Pollick (2010) believes in, “compiling and maintaining a large database of personal information about potential customers and clients” (p. 1). 

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Digital marketing

Digital marketing also common as direct digital marketing is the same as direct marketing with the exception of the delivery channels used. In the case of digital direct marketing the channels used are, the web, email, and mobile phone. For digital direct marketing, the main concept is addressability: it fuels the success of digital marketing success. Deagan (2009) argues that addressability is achieved when the two primary audiences get in touch. To make this possible the customer should share the above three mentioned digital addresses with the marketers (Deagan 1).

Digital & Direct marketing

As much as it seems inevitable that direct marketing is likely to be phased out by direct digital marketing, a close cross examination of these two reveals that actually they depend on each other. According to Xtmotions (2009) these two means can actually complement each other. The use of direct mail has been very common in directing the flow to website. Xtmotions (2009) refers to this flow as “quality traffic” (p. 1). The term quality is used because the direct mails will be directed to specific potential people (Xtmotions 1).  

Having the knowledge of the operations of the digital and direct marketing it becomes very simple to show how identity theft takes place.

Identity Theft

Hayward (2004) defines identity theft as, “stealing another person’s personal identifying information, such as the Social Security number (SSN), date of birth, or mother’s maiden name, and using that information to fraudulently establish credit, run up debt, or take over existing financial accounts ” (vii). She argues that getting the actual statistics of this crime is quite challenging. According to her, the sources to get such personal information include, “consumer complaints and hotline allegations” (vii). Though not mentioned by Hayward (2004) as one of the sources of obtaining personal information, digital direct marketing is very good where personal information can be obtained and later used for identity theft.  

Literature Review

Campanelli (2007) reports of two surveys that were carried out back in 2007 showing that online shoppers were extremely getting worried about the rising identity theft rates. According to her, the first survey found out that the shoppers were changing their buying behavior especially after being notified so. The survey indicated that the shopper became more careful when sharing their credits card and debit cards. Forty five percent of the sample surveyed would not at any circumstance give their Social Security Number on a web site. The second survey, as reported by Campanelli (2007), showed that “identity theft and fraud” were the main personal financial concerns for most of the people who were surveyed (p. 3).

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According to Batallas (2009), the number of identity theft cases keeps on rising as the economy keeps on slowing down. The author reports that in 2008 an identity theft ring was smashed with about 20 people being charged with the theft of consumer data. According to Batallas (2009), this was a, “$7 million fraud” (p. 1). He further reports that, the identity thefts are not only directed towards the consumers but also to business firms. The author reports that parents should be careful when sending their children to colleges because of the many forms which are filled. There are likelihoods that additional forms can be unscrupulously added asking for parents’ personal information (Batallas p. 3).     

In a very recent survey carried out by Avivah, Douglas (2009) reports of very surprising statistics. The statistics showed that 7.5 percent of the adults in the U.S. lost some money due to some form of financial fraud. The survey also showed that the victims of electronic checking fraud were more likely (almost five times) to change their back accounts due to security concerns. According to the survey, the above frauds took place due to some kind of document breaching. This, as a survey found out, has resulted to significant changes in the financial transaction behaviors and patterns of the clients: “nearly twice as many people who lost money to fraud in 2008 changed their shopping, payment and e-commerce behavior” (Douglas 1).

More insight from the survey showed that, “fraud victims are also more cautious about which brick-and-mortar stores they shop at and how they pay for goods when they get there, demonstrating more awareness of the risk of data breaches(Douglas 1).

According to Gohring (2005) online shoppers have great fears for identity theft cases. She reports of a number of surveys which have been carried out showing that e-shoppers are have a liking for the convenience associated with the convenience of online shopping but at the same time are quite wary of online fraud. According to one survey, the online shoppers have been continuously forced to change their business transactions: “most online shoppers say they’ll take their business elsewhere if they find out their personal information was compromised” (Gohring 1). The survey stated that 67 percent of the interviewed people stated that they were likely to stop shopping online if they discovered that their personal information was compromised.

Similar sentiments were aired in a different survey carried out by the Business Software Alliance. According to this survey, the major concern still was their personal information being compromised. The survey showed that the customers feared that their, “their personal information will be sold to a third party followed by identity theft” (Gohring 1). Other issues which were of concern to the consumers were credit card fraud, spam, and computer viruses. At that time the survey showed that every forth consumer if grouped into fours would stop online shopping because of online purchases concerns.

Survey by Harris as reported by Gohring (2005) showed that an increased number of people have become aware of the identity theft cases and were more than willing to change their behavior it their personal information was threatened in the slightest way. According to this survey, consumers believed that identity theft was to take place during the holidays and as such most online shoppers were likely to reduce or stop their online purchase activities.

Results and Discussion

The threat of identity theft is real and can not be ignored. From the above review of recorded information it has been shown that identity theft changing the lives and patterns of online shopping to the disadvantage of both the shoppers and the online shops which engage in digital direct marketing. This section discusses comprehensively the effect these identity theft on direct marketing.

Digital marketing exposes consumers’ personal information

Online shopping due to its nature requires the use of personal information which is then likely to get exposed. This acts as a possible channel through which the fraudsters can access personal information and consequently engage in identity stealing. This is increasingly becoming a challenge for both the online shops and the online shoppers both of whom wish to continue engaging in the carrying out their businesses of selling and buying. It is true that anybody is aware that online shopping is likely to expose their personal information which result in identity theft later might hesitate to get involved in the purchase of online goods. This denies the online shops a chance to have more customers. What this implies to the digital direct marketing is a big blow because the means which is used to seal this trade is already being compromised.

Personal information has to be exchanged for goods to be delivered, it not no trade will take place. Theft identity has become a threat to both the online shoppers and shops by making the shoppers harbour some fears hence distance themselves from the online shops. If this continues then it will mean lots of money being lost by the online shops due to reduction in the numbers of online shoppers. Digital direct marketing from this perspective has no future.     

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Once fraud, online shoppers are likely to quite

It has been shown that the online shoppers are likely to quite shopping online if they are fraud. Many surveys have indicated that online shoppers are likely to change shopping patterns if they discover that their personal information has been compromised. The percentage represented by the customers who are likely to change their shopping patterns can not be ignored. Therefore as the fear of identity theft persists they are likelihoods that more and more online shoppers are likely to quite shopping. This pattern will be a blow to the digital marketing because more customers will be lost implying less volume of business being transacted and thus threatening the future existence of online shopping.

Change in shopping patterns over the holidays

It has been shown that the online shoppers specifically fear carrying out online shopping over the holidays because they have come to notice that theft identity is most likely to take place at this time. Holiday seasons are usually busy and in most cases both physical and online shops expect to make major sales. The fact that identity theft is likely to take place at these busy times has pushed a good number of online shoppers to avoid online shopping. This clearly denies the online shops a chance to increase the volume of their sales implying that they will only have to depend on the low seasons to make their sales. This is a unique situation for the digital marketing because with time it is likely that they will be forced to make fewer sales during the holidays contrary to the physical shops. This is yet another blow forwarded by the theft identity in reducing sales when actually they should increase.    

Recommendations

Making recommendations on how to avoid being fraud especially where technology is involved is quite technical. For one technology keeps on changing and advancing and so does the means used to make frauds. However, the basic caution which ought to be taken is to avoid exposure of personal means of identification to third parties. In case personal information has to be given make the person or body receiving the information is authorized to do so and has a record of integrity in handling private issues. Online shoppers should ensure that their online shops have taken due measure to avoid personal information being breached. Businesses which use digital marketing have a duty to ensure safety measures are taken to safeguard the interest of their customers and as a result win their confidence. Lastly people should take care to safely dump documents which bear personal information on them.    

Conclusion

Identity theft has been a thorny issue to both the online shoppers and the online shops which mainly depend on digital marketing. Theft identity due to the amount of funds which have lost through it, has led to modification of buying behaviors of the online shoppers. Online shopping is loosing its popularity despite its convenience factors. Online shoppers have even resorted to reduce their shopping activities online over the holidays because of the susceptibility of the seasons to identity theft. This has denied online shops a chance to increase their sales. Identity theft if note brought to control will scare away online shoppers and consequently limit digital marketing to purely marking without any online taking transaction taking place.  

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