Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the particularities of integrated marketing communication (IMC) in the online environment. Design/methodology/approach – Both secondary and primary data (face‐to‐face interviews with 29 marketing or communication managers of UK online consumer retail firms) are analysed in order to identify the various meanings of the integrated online marketing communication, the opportunities and challenges raised by online communication, and the structure of an efficient integrated online marketing communication system. Findings – The transparency, interactivity and memory of the internet force the organisation to adopt a proactive‐reactive attitude in online communication, and to combine consistency and continuity with flexibility and customisation. Research limitations/implications – The number of interviews used to collect primary data is relatively small; the use of the information collected is general and unstructured; and the findings are applicable only to online customer product retailers. Practical implications – The messages sent by the company to its online audiences have to be transformed/adapted in a three‐stage process. Originality/value – The paper identifies the specific opportunities and challenges raised by the internet for integrated marketing communication, and proposes an original model for the adaptation of online messages to core corporate values, communication strategy and tactics, and targeted audience/communication channels.
Journal of Communication Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 9, 2008
Keywords: Integrated marketing communications; Internet; United Kingdom; Online operations