Two years ago, options were limited for lecturers looking to recommend texts for newly launched courses in internet marketing and electronic commerce. Today, a search on amazon.co.uk shows 342 books relating to internet marketing. The problem is which to recommend to students.
These books, although sharing the same title and both billed as textbooks, take quite different learning approaches. The most striking feature about Internet Marketing by Charles Hofacker is its brevity. This style, developed for its primary audience, the US college market, has much to recommend it in terms of price and student accessibility. Hofacker's text offers 19 chapters in its 165 pages. Each has one or two clearly stated learning objectives that are efficiently covered.
The book is divided into five parts that cover a range of issues related to web marketing communications. The emphasis is on practical internet marketing, covering the principles of web marketing communications and how to develop HTML webpages. This is a good mixture for teaching undergraduates practical skills that they can immediately deploy on placement or in their first job.
Chapters on site development are interspersed with ones on web marketing techniques, which unfortunately spoils the flow. There is much useful, practical content that is not emphasised in other texts, including chapters on human information processing, strategies for providing content and web log data.
This is the third edition of the book, but unfortunately most of the extensive references are from 1995 to 1998. Despite this, the book is essential reading for those delivering internet marketing modules.
Internet Marketing by Jagdish Sheth, Abdolreza Eshghi and Balaji Krishnan, although referred to as a text in the blurb, is in fact a collection of 25 previously published papers. Its greatest strength is the range of different perspectives produced by authors with industrial and academic backgrounds. The collection is also notable for its inclusion of landmark papers in internet marketing, such as those by John Quelch and Lisa Klein on the internet and international marketing; Donna Hoffman and Thomas Novak on a new marketing paradigm for electronic commerce; and John Hagel and Jeffrey Rayport on the new infomediaries.
While it is convenient to have the papers collected in one place, many are freely available on the web, for example at www.mckinseyquarterly.com , www.wired.com or Hoffman and Novak's www.elab.com , and the the majority date from 1995 to 1998, which is a major problem for those topics that age rapidly, such as pricing and advertising.
A further problem is the absence of some key internet marketing topics, namely strategy, customer relationship management, personalisation, email marketing, buyer behaviour and marketing research. Given these deficiencies, it is difficult to recommend this work, although some of the less well- known papers provide new insights.
As both of these books share a fixation with web-based internet marketing, it is disappointing that coverage of email marketing, interactive digital TV and wireless or mobile access is so limited. But of the two, Hofacker's is superior, with its brief learning objectives and summaries and extensive (although dated) references.
Dave Chaffey is senior lecturer in e-commerce, University of Derby.
Internet Marketing. Third edition
Author - Charles Hofacker
ISBN - 0 471 39051 8
Publisher - Wiley
Price - £24.95
Pages - 165