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The effect of content marketing in online retailing : a study on the effect of content consumption and its intensity on customer engagement

Brinkman, Lisanne (2018) The effect of content marketing in online retailing : a study on the effect of content consumption and its intensity on customer engagement.

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Abstract:Marketing is facing a new paradigm. The focus of marketing activities is shifting away from short term transactional marketing towards long-term relationship marketing in which sound customer relationships provide the opportunity to deal with challenging market developments (Hennig-Thurau, Gwinner & Grembler, 2002; Kumar, Bohling and Ladda, 2003; Berry, 1995). Within relationship marketing, customer engagement is an important element as the concept can create many benefits and it goes beyond other conventional marketing metrics (Vivek, Beatty & Morgan, 2012; Fernandes & Esteves, 2016). As a result, literature on customer engagement is increasing but only limited studies are focused on strategies or tools to create or enhance customer engagement (Van Doorn et al., 2010; Verhoef, Reinartz & Krafft, 2010; Brodie, Hollebeek, Juric and Illic, 2011; Hollebeek, Glynn & Brodie, 2014). In this regard, it is assumed that content marketing is a proper tool to enhance customer engagement as the degree of customer engagement is expected to increase when customers consume content created by content marketing (Bunpis & Haron, 2014). However, these assumptions are not based on empirical evidence which is in line with the limited empirical studies on engagement strategies as well as the limited empirical insights on role of content marketing. Therefore, this study is focused on empirically analysing the effect of content marketing with regard to customer engagement by use of the research problem: what is the effect of the intensity of content consumption on the degree of customer engagement for online retailers? The effect is examined by analysing content consumption as well as the intensity of the consumption which is indicated by consumption comprehensiveness and frequency. Also, the analysis is focused on the direct effects of content consumption on customer engagement and the more advanced moderator effects via the relationship of customer engagement with its antecedents: customer satisfaction and customer involvement. Hence, these analyses contribute to a comprehensive analysis of content consumption and the study adds knowledge to literature on customer engagement antecedents as well. Research on customer engagement antecedents is mainly based on social media, while this study is conducted outside a social media setting. More specifically, the study is applied to a real-life case study in which an European online retailer launched an online magazine as a new content marketing platform. The role of the magazine with regard to customer engagement is not specifically known by retailer yet, which corresponds to the lack of academic knowledge on this subject. The case study is examined by use of a quantitative study in which online surveys are distributed among the retailer’s customers. The data is based on 315 respondents and statistically analysed by multiple regression analysis, one-way ANOVA’s and t-test, after it is prepared for by factor analyses. By doing so, the results show that in line with literature, both customer involvement and in particular customer satisfaction have a positive effect on customer engagement even beyond a social media setting. With regard to content consumption, findings do not support literature as no direct effect of content consumption on customer engagement can be found. Though, when elaborating on the engagement dimensions, content consumption tends to have a significant effect on the behavioural dimension. Readers spend significantly more time on the retailer’s website relative to other retailers, compared to the non-readers. Additional analysis also shows that the magazine readers purchase significantly more frequent compared to the non-readers, which is in line with Schijns (2008) and Pulizzi & Barret (2009) who mention that content marketing including online magazines are effective for enhancing sales. With regard to the consumption intensity no convincing direct effects can be found. Consumption comprehensiveness is not likely to enhance engagement while there is weak evidence of a positive effect of consumption frequency. The higher the number of total visits, due to either the period of familiarity with the magazine or the frequency of comebacks, the higher the engagement scores. As a result, content consumption can be relevant, if people consume the content frequently. Also, with regard to the moderating effects of content consumption and its intensity, no convincing effects can be found. The relationships of customer satisfaction or customer involvement with customer engagement are not significantly different for readers or non-readers, nor for any of the different consumption intensity levels. As far as there are small 3 differences, the effects even diminish when customers are highly satisfied or involved. Hence, with respect to customer engagement the consumption of the magazine’s content tends to be less important compared to the role of customer satisfaction and customer involvement. Content marketing is likely to be important for online retailers but mainly in terms of sales rather than engagement. Online retailers that imply content marketing, can stimulate sales by enhancing its reach (i.e. the number of customers who consume the content) or subsequently optimise the quality of this reach (i.e. frequency by which these customers consume the content) which might result in stimulating customer engagement which is known for its many benefits that can go beyond sales. Whether marketeers use the insights of this study for optimising content marketing strategies, customer engagement strategies, for support during sales pitches on content marketing or in other situations, the particular directions of the relationships mentioned in this study should be taken into account. The relationship directions are specifically formulated based on literature, but it cannot be ruled out that other deviating directions might exist as well.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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