A Relationship Marketing Model for Brand Advertising Websites: An Analysis of Consumers' Perceptions

Article excerpt

Brand Advertising web sites remain the only integrated Internet advertising format that enables under circumstances complete fulfilment of the marketing communication model. Companies communicate advertising content while consumers communicate feedback. It is vital that this conversation falls under specific relationship marketing strategy. At present, most corporate and product-based advertising web sites incorporate multiple feature s and functions to enable company-to-consumer interaction and enhance relationship building by providing entertainment or advanced customer support services. In this setting, important questions concerning the establishment and performance of brand advertising web sites are raised: How do online consumers perceive specific factors and dimensions related to relationship marketing? Do relationship marketing components contribute to intermediate advertising effects such as "attitude toward the site "?A conceptual framework based on a relationship marketing approach is introduced and empirically applied to specific sites stimuli. The proposed framework focuses on three core relationship marketing factors: communication, feedback and customer support. An analysis of data based on primary research investigates consumers' behaviour and requirements towards the qualitative factors in question. Multivariate Correspondence Analysis is used to identify factor s 'impact on specific advertising effects. Results provide insights on consumers 'use and intended use with regards to specific functions that most sites integrate. Also, it is evident that brand corporate or product-based advertising web sites when fulfilling consumers' needs, could operate as integrated relationship marketing mediums.

Introduction

The unique characteristics of the Internet led to a new marketing e-communication model with companies using their websites in order to contact, interact and relate with their customers (Rowley, 2001). In this new two-way interactive marketing paradigm (Hoffman & Novak, 1996), corpo rations and companies seek new ways to gain competitive advantage by broadening the marketing and promotional applications of their virtual presence. Especially, for companies that do not commercialise in the electronic market, their web presence has become their main mean to perform internet marketing and advertising strategy. According to Simeon (200 1), the branding potential of web site advertising lies in its informing, positioning and delivering strategies.

In this setting, brand corporate or product-based advertising web sites have evolved from plain advertising content carriers to integrated marketing tools. They have become the key medium of an organisation to inform consumers, provide sendees, interact with various stakeholders, and increase purchase intention (Hwang, McMillan & Lee, 2003; Watson, Zinkhan and Pitt, 2000). Therefore, web site advertising is more than building images; it is about building relationships (Geissler, 2001; Lace, 2004).

Increasing consumers ' involvement within the virtual environment is essential to co-create customer value, build and manage relationships (Nambisan & Baron, 2007). Andersen (2005) and Kent & Taylor (2008) suggest, that the quality of the "dialogue" established between the company and the consumers within the website is they key element in building relationships on the World Wide Web. While enabling "dialogue" through communication facilities is important, companies should go one step forward in order to enhance consumers' overall online experience. Gathering and managing feedback from consumers through communication functions (Berthon et al, 1996) and satisfying either utilitarian (through information and customer support services) or hedonic consumers' needs (through entertaining activities) could contribute to the establishment of online relationships (Hwang et al, 2003; Zhou & Bao, 2002).

Though relationship marketing has been widely examined with regards to online shopping environments in current literature (Feinberg & Kadam, 2002; Page & Lepkowska- White, 2002; Wang, Haed & Archer, 2000), limited research was undertaken to investigate its significance with respect to corporate and product based advertising web sites. …