Developing Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) in online communities: a conceptual perspective from search, experience and credence segmentation

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Consumers and marketers can jointly build online communities. Several properties of such communities are challenging the accumulated wisdom on how to produce Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) and manage trust. This paper contributes to the development of IMC strategies in online communities from a Search, Experience and Credence (SEC) segmentation framework. Communication types in an online community are divided along three dimensions: individualisation (Personal/Impersonal), interactivity (Interactive/Non-interactive) and partiality (Impartial/Partial). This paper proposes that impersonal and non-interactive communications (partial or impartial) will work best in search segments; impersonal and interactive communications through the use of frequent retail promotion like free or inexpensive trials will work best in experience segments; heavy reliance on personal and interactive communications will work best in credence segments; and strong efforts to facilitate impartial sources such as educating consumers and developing a reputation reporting system and professional rating system will work best also in credence segments. This paper concludes by discussing the implications for the managers and users of current and future online communities and identifies some important open issues for future research.




This article is the authors' final published version in International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, Volume 6, Issue 1, December 2019, Pages 22-40.

The published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1504/IJIMA.2010.030431. Copyright © Inderscience Enterprises Ltd