Friday, December 15, 2006

Limitations & Problems of E-Marketing in Bangladesh: How are we loosing business in the internet?

ইন্টানের্টকে আমরা এখনো প্রচার বা প্রসার মাধ্যম হিসেবে ব্যাপকভাবে ভাবতে শুরু করিনি। তাই আমরা প্রায়ই ব্যবসায়িক সুযোগ হারাচ্ছি । এই Blog-এ বাংলাদেশ কোন কোন ক্ষেত্রে সুযোগ হারাচ্ছে, তার আলোচনা রয়েছে।

The internet revolution is a recent phenomenon in Bangladesh. With the rise of this revolution, we are steadily getting used to the internet cultures. Almost every large scale companies, universities, news media, etc. have their respective sites. This revolution also stirred many Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh, especially those who are related to international business. Understanding the huge potentiality and having efficient workforce, the Bangladesh Government is now funding heavily on E-Governance to make lives easier for its Citizens.

Other than this, many E-Commerce sites are also fairly doing well in this heavily populated country, despite the scarcity of many E-Commerce technologies, low internet user ratio, and lack of E-Commerce facilities (like Credit Cards, E-currency Management System, and Security Systems). Software companies in Bangladesh are also adopting the internet challenge and manufacturing softwares that can maneuver the networking and internet technology.

Bangladesh is currently fully tuned with the Internet Revolution, if not it is steadily tuning its strings for the mainstream of E-revolution. But, in terms of E-Marketing, Bangladesh falls behind her neighbor India. Most of the companies, Government organizations, and private organizations in Bangladesh promote their site through traditional media. In most cases, they are not thinking about alternatives or is totally unaware what E-marketing can bring for them. Having very limited resources (not natural resources, I am talking about money), most of the time many of us think twice, if not thrice for making a change. And we eventually try a new strategy that is thriving and ignore the strategies that are rising. That makes us just another country in the crowd utilizing strategies that will become outdated sooner or later. One phenomenon supporting this statement, is the Tele-marketing. With the fall of call charge, this strategy is thriving in Bangladesh. But, in many advanced and developing countries, it has become outdated.

A Bitter Experience

A year back, I needed some information on Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) for the webpage of The Golden Fibre Trade Centre (GFTCL). As usual I have searched for it by name, but astonishingly – I could not find any page providing information about BJMC's website. Then I have searched for the term “BJMC Website”, in the hope that some site will use this term. I found that Google was Giggling at me; it showed many results for Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication (BJMC) – but not a single result on the Bangladeshi BJMC. When I started to search with all the terms “Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) website”, some promising results started to show. However, most of them mentioned that BJMC is either launching a website or have launched a website, but not a single reference to their site. After hard searching, I found the site ( at last in a news article in the web version of The Daily Star, a prominent English Daily in Bangladesh.

Most of the pages mentioned that, BJMC has built this site to promote Jute Products in the global market. If I can not find their site easily, then I doubt that the site will be of any use and its marketability remains out of question. As a Bangladeshi, I may eventually guess that it would be or or But how can a overseas buyer guess it. If the site does not have any marketability in the search engines (like – Google, Yahoo or MSN), then the creation of site is just a waste of money. Please pardon me, if I hurt its creators, but this is a fact that most of us would agree upon.

The Potentiality of E-Marketing

You may be the most efficient exporter of Jute & Jute Goods from Bangladesh. But, it's of no use when your target market don't know about you. Therefore, the need for marketing yourself is as valuable as your other business operations. If you are involved in international business, you have to choose the best media that can bring you international customers. Till now, E-Marketing has proven to be the best among the effective media for this purpose.

Traditionally, E-Marketing was limited to Email Marketing. But, this strategy has been termed as spamming, bulk mailing or mass-mailing, which is illegal and unethical in many countries. This strategy involves finding your customers and spamming their mail account. Recently, a new E-Marketing strategy has stirred the world. A strategy that brings your target audience to you. It's called Web Marketing and most of it is occupied by Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM involves Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Organic Listing in the Search Engines and Paid Advertisement or Paid Listing for important keywords. Science gives the tools or Input for it, Arts lie in its Processing phase, and the Output is Commerce. Therefore, this strategy is multi-disciplinary, which involves both Arts & Science to achieve commercial goals. And talking about it would take as same time as having your Bachelors Degree.

The future of E-marketing lies in the Mobile or Cellphone technology. However, some countries have already started SMS marketing. Since each SMS costs money, the marketing people are quite choosy about the recipients and undergoes extensive research. Google currently has integrated the cellphone technology feather in its hat, but everything is still in Beta stage. However, the future of E-marketing relies on the media that the people will be utilizing tomorrow.

Web Marketing Focus Areas

In recent times, the marketability of a website depends upon a lot of factors. But, the main objective of marketing a website is to bring more site visitors. The focus of bringing more visitors can be done through quantitative approach or qualitative approach. The more visitors you have, the stronger the marketability of a website again more quality visitors you have the more is your chance to convert these visitors into customers, i.e. your conversion rate will be high.

Visitors can come through several media, like:
  • Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN)
  • Partner websites
  • Advertising from popular websites
  • Traditional media, and
  • Through word of mouth.

Business lost over the Search Engines

Search Engines play a great role in bringing site visitors. It alone can bring more visitors than other traditional media. To increase the marketability of your site, it needs to be properly optimized for the Search Engines. The process to do that is popularly called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The astonishing fact is that, most websites of Bangladesh is not properly optimized for Search Engines. However, some sites follow keywords stuffing in Keywords & Description Meta Tags in the html codes of a webpage, that remains out of sight. But, Meta Tag Rewriting has become a museum item for Search Engine Optimization. To assess the potentiality of out-sourcing some SEO activities, I have contacted the most efficient web design & SEO firm in Bangladesh. But after a tele-conversation, I understood that they are still remaining in primitive stage of Search Engine Optimization. Because they were only talking about Meta Tags Rewriting and Search Engine Submissions. Moreover, they allured me for web design that they are pretty good at, but unfortunately I had no need for it.

Search Engine Submission is another fact that is misinterpreted now-a-days. It is all about getting your site listed in Google, Yahoo, MSN or other search engines. If your site is not listed in the major search engine, than your site will have no marketability at all from Search Engines. Some companies outside Bangladesh are promoting their services by saying that, they offer free Search Engine Submissions. That means, paid Search Engine Submissions are also available. I don't know if any company in Bangladesh is making money through search engine submissions. There is no need for any free service from third parties, when you can do it yourself very easily. Just submit your site-link or URL in pages that are already listed in the search engines. There are "Free for All (FFA) Pages" where you can submit your link instantly. But, make sure that the FFA page is also indexed in the search engines. Search for them by name and you will find a lot of them. Update: You can easily do it with XML sitemap now.

Both Google & Yahoo are constantly claiming to have the largest collection of 8 billion+ webpages (up to early 2006). If every website owners had to submit each site or page separately, then creating this amount of database could take more than a decade. To increase the database or depository of the search engines, now they follow The Tail Hunting Method, where the Search Engine Robots (webpage hunting system working for search engines) collect new webpages when it finds new link in already indexed pages. So, if your site is listed in the FFA page during the next scroll of the Search Engine Robots to the FFA page, then your site will be indexed automatically. After the inclusion of your site, the Search Engine Robots will periodically find all your pages in your site. So there is no need for paying someone for indexing your site in the Search Engines. However, when you make a site after spending a lot of money in web design, photo-sessions, template design or purchase, etc. you might as well think that Search Engine Submission is worth a lot of money. Therefore, anyone can take away some easy money from you. I hope this is not practiced in Bangladesh. Another way to get your site indexed is pinging your blog. Put your link in any one of your blogs and ping it through respective search engines. After pinging, your blog will be updated in the Search Engine depository and next time the Search Engine Robots go fishing, they'll catch your fresh site from your blog pond.

Search Engines have changed their Algorithm (calculation parameters for importance of a webpage) through ages to provide better searching experience. In primitive stage (1995) Google used to retrieve links in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) by looking into the Meta Tags containing description, keyword, title of the page, author, etc. When the spammers started to stuff their Meta Tags with keywords and manipulate Google results, the big search engine changed their strategy to go beyond the Meta Tags. They have concentrated on the body contents as well. Gradually, they invented several algorithms that can calculate how frequently the keywords are placed in the body contents, where the keywords are placed in the body, proximity of the keywords in the title & boy text, etc. This time the spammers found new ground for spamming. They started to stuff keywords in the body text & title of the page as well. Therefore, to assess which page is important, Google used reference from other indexed pages. The more a page is being referred by other pages through raw html link, the more it is important in the eye of Google. Through this algorithm, Google invented the Pagerank™ System. The more the referred link, the more the Pagerank of a page. Now the Pagerank method is thriving with more & more updates every 3-4 months. In most cases, it was observed that, most pages were randomly referred from unrelated pages. Therefore, Google updated its Pagerank system to Relative Pagerank system, where only the reference aka links from relative pages are granted and links from unrelated page are not included in the Google Algorithm. This way, to avoid Search Engine Spamming (popularly called Black Hat Technique) Google has made way for the White Hatters, who work hard to promote their site.

The reason we are loosing business, because we are not updated about these Search Engines changes. To stay top in this field, you must have clear understanding about the Search Engines, its algorithms, its functions, its searching criteria, etc. But, most of the Bangladeshi firms concentrate on sophisticated web-design through frames, java scripts, flash etc. which are quite harmful for the marketability of your website. Since, the Search Engine Marketing is a rising phenomenon (not thriving) in the west, most of the Bangladeshi firms don't even know what it is or what it will do for them. White Hat Technique involves large amount of copywriting, blogging, article writing, etc. For such tasks, a large amount of English literate and publication background people are required. Bangladesh falls behind her neighbor India in this respect. Moreover, low English literacy among the citizens of Bangladesh was chosen to be the strongest obstacle for Bangladesh to become a IT outsourcing offshore country. The audio-visual media for marketing in Bangladesh has developed quite a lot due to its demand to the local people. But, Search Engine Marketing has not found recognition, let alone being popular in Bangladesh. The extant of Search Engine Marketing is limited to Meta Tag Rewriting, which is a complementary service provided by the web designers. As the web designing industry thrives with immense development, I hope Search Engine Marketing will also get recognition. But, that will not happen in next 5-8 years.

Business Lost in Partner Websites

In most cases, I found that the Bangladeshi websites usually forget to identify their partners. Even if they do, the usually don't provide their partners with raw HTML link. Links from Partner Websites are valuable for increasing your web marketability. The more links or partners you have, the more your marketability. It is same as having many friends, which means you are more popular than a person having only 2 or 3 friends. Moreover, if your partner gather links, their site will get high page rank. Therefore, with your partners, you will also grow, because getting links from high Pagerank websites makes your Pagerank to rise as well.
I have seen the sense of partnership is quite strong in Chinese websites. They work together to build their unity stronger. That's why most of the Chinese sites are very tough to beat in the race of getting top results in the Search Engines. This sense is also growing among the Indians. Because, they have realized the power of unity. But, it will take time for the Bangladeshi website owners to realize this.

Business Lost in Website Advertisement

Few years back, when you searched for anything with the keywords Importer or Exporter, the advertisement of used show up quite often. Still today for some keywords, Alibaba advertisements are also seen quite frequently. Alibaba has been funding huge amount of money on Google advertisement. But, it may seem like a Chinese company giving away money to a American company and a great loss in the national interest of China. But, was it true? Alibaba didn't loose any money, rather they are now a great threat to Google and earning more money than any other Asian & European sites.

The reason Alibaba got to this position, was its future vision and wise advertising. In most cases, our limitation of money distracts us in making the decision for website advertising. Moreover, the decision for advertisement is done by the management that are not professional or experts in choosing the right advertisement media or option. In the west, consulting for advertisement to aid the management to take major promotional drive is a handsome service industry.

The web advertisement does not mean just advertising in Google or other search engines. The advertisement funding can also made to many popular or potential sites. But, the success of advertisement relies on choosing the right media in the right time and eventually choosing the media that involves your target audience. In that sense, it is unwise to advertise for shaving razor in a cook show or to advertise for diamond jewelry in a sports show. Therefore, the least popular website that attracts most of your target audience may be quite valuable for you, since it will give you higher conversion rate than any heavily popular sites that brings miscellaneous audiences.

In Bangladesh, most corporate or large companies don't have any Promotion Officer nor employ any promotion consultant to strategically aid the management. As the potential of web marketing still have not been recognized, the Bangladeshi firms will need more time to develop themselves.

Business Lost in Traditional Media

Traditional media not necessarily mean the popular audio-visual and billboard media. It can be any media that we have been traditionally using to promote anything. For instance, company transportation vehicles can play a great role to promote your company as well as your products and services as a moving billboard. Because they ply through the roads, probably through the population of your niche or target market. It may not be that good media for advertisement, but at least it can tell your target market that you exist. Websites are the reference for further information about you as well as your products or services. But, in most cases I found that many Bangladeshi companies don't highlight their site in the traditional media like: covered van/truck, on-location billboards, promotional souvenir items, etc. In most cases, in these traditional media, the website is the least highlighted component. This is also true for the audio-visual and billboard media.

Often great events can be utilized for promoting website. In a recent program in ATN Bangla (Bangla TV Channel), ATN Taroka (ATN Star) has promoted site to allure its audience to participate in many contests. Again, to trap the attention of Non-resident Bangladeshis and make them participate in voting for Closeup1 (Bangladeshi Idol), the organizers are referring the site This is a good step for Bangladesh. If this trend continues, then we may find a new trend where every TV shows and even commercial are referring their respective sites.

But, this is a flourishing phenomenon in India. Now a days, you can find a lot of ads like:,,,, etc. But, these are web based services or portal. Many companies products and services other than web based services, are also referring their site quite often in their TV Commercials. But, I believe that, the situation will change rapidly here in Bangladesh.

Business Lost in Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is the best way to become popular. This very ancient method still work fine today. Those who have no ides about the phrase "Word of mouth", it is a process by which words are spread from mouth to mouth. It can be promotion, statement of facts, opinion, sharing of perceptions, and also sharing of scandals. When talking about scandals, I heard a story that a blogger deliberately got sued for his blog. First he had only 1-2 readers per day for his blog. But after getting sued, he had 100-200 readers per day. That's another strategy gladly adopted by film celebrities to get popular. But, it is not expected as well as accepted. Now, a lot of media are influencing our word of mouth technique. Among them are: Newspapers, Magazines, TV, Radios, Internet, etc. that can easily spread "Talk of the Town". Word of mouth can be influenced but it is a natural process of using human as media for promotion.

One great way to spread the word is by Multi-Level Marketing (MLM). But now a days, MLM has become so artificial and vague that it has lost people's trust. But one method still has remained popular for spreading the word for promotion, i.e. the Affiliates Program, which involves non-employee promoting partner for your company working only for sales commission. For internet marketing, this is quite popular in West as well as East. However, this method is employed for local distribution in Bangladesh. I am not concerned if any company employs Affiliates Program for its Internet Marketing.

About the Blogger: Asif Anwar