Relationship Marketing in the Digital Age  book cover
1st Edition

Relationship Marketing in the Digital Age

ISBN 9781138310025
Published January 2, 2019 by Routledge
244 Pages

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Book Description

The concept of relationship marketing has been discussed among marketing academics and managers since the early 1980s. But instead of reaching its maturity stage, relationship marketing is nowadays encountering its next upsurge. Due to a confluence of trends driving the global business world—including the transition to service-based economies, faster product commoditization, intensified competition worldwide, growth among emerging markets, aging populations, advertising saturation, and (above all) the digital age—strong customer relationships are more than ever vital to company strategy and performance.

Relationship Marketing in the Digital Age provides a comprehensive overview of the state-of-the-art of relationship marketing, offering fruitful insights to marketing scholars and practitioners. In seven chapters, divided into two main sections on understanding (Part I) and effectively applying (Part II) relationship marketing, an introductory and a concluding chapter, readers learn how to successfully manage customer–seller relationships.

Table of Contents

Introductory Chapter

Chapter 1: Relationship Marketing and the Digital Age

Learning Objectives


Relationship Marketing as a Source of Sustainable Competitive Advantage

A Brief Overview of Relationship Marketing

Definition of Relationship Marketing

Distinguishing Relationship Marketing from Other Marketing Domains

Evolution of Relationship Marketing Terminology

Key Trends Increasing the Importance of Relationship Marketing

Transition to Service-Based Economies

Faster Product Commoditization

Global Competition

Emerging Markets

Aging Populations

Advertising Saturation

The Digital Age: The Mega-Trend Increasing the Importance of Relationship Marketing

Evolution of the Digital Age

Web 1.0

Web 2.0

Web 3.0

Web 4.0

Characteristics of Customer–Seller Relationships in the Digital Age

Using Relationship Marketing to Succeed in the Digital Age





Part I: Understanding Relationship Marketing

Chapter 2: Relationship Marketing Theory

Learning Objectives


Overview of the Evolution of Relationship Marketing Theory

1950s to 1970s

1980s to 1990s



Twin Pillars of Relationship Marketing: The Evolutionary Psychology of Gratitude and Unfairness

Understanding Gratitude and Reciprocity

Understanding Unfairness and Punishment

A Typology of Marketing Relationships

Interpersonal Relationships

Customer Commitment and Trust

Customer Gratitude and Reciprocity Norms

Interfirm Relationships

Relationship Quality

Relationship Breadth

Relationship Composition

Implications of Multilevel Interfirm Relationships

Online Relationships


Media Richness

Parasocial Interaction

An Integrative Theoretical Framework of Relationship Marketing





Chapter 3: Relationship Marketing Framework

Learning Objectives


Seller Relationship Marketing Investments

Financial Relationship Marketing Investments

Social Relationship Marketing Investments

Structural Relationship Marketing Investments

Customer Relational Mechanisms

Emotional Relational Mechanisms

Cognitive Relational Mechanisms

Conative Relational Mechanisms

Behavioral Relational Mechanisms

Seller Relationship Marketing Performance Outcomes

Financial Relationship Marketing Performance Outcomes

Nonfinancial Relationship Marketing Performance Outcomes





Part II: Applying Relationship Marketing

Chapter 4: Relationship Marketing Dynamics

Learning Objectives


Approaches to Managing Relationship Marketing Dynamics

Incremental Relationship Change

Relationship Lifecycle Stages

Relationship Velocity

Relationship States and Migration Mechanisms

Disruptive Relationship Change

Guidelines for Managing Relationship Marketing Dynamics

Diagnosing Relationship Change through Market Research Techniques

Diagnosing Relationship Change through CRM Database Analyses

Diagnosing Relationship Change through Big Data Analytics





Chapter 5: Relationship Marketing Strategies

Learning Objectives


Approaches for Managing Relationship Marketing Strategies

Relationship Marketing Strategies for Building Relationships

Understanding Relationship Drivers

Stimulating Gratitude and Reciprocity Norms

Forming Relationships Online

Relationship Marketing Strategies for Maintaining Relationships

Avoiding Unfairness

Ensuring Data Privacy

Institutionalized Relationship Marketing Programs

Installing Customer-Centric Structures

Implementing Loyalty Programs

Guidelines for Managing Relationship Marketing Strategies

Established Best Practices

Emerging Practices

Enhancing Communication Strategies

Enhancing Personalization Strategies

Enhancing Experiential Benefits Strategies





Chapter 6: Relationship Marketing Targeting

Learning Objectives


Managing Relationship Marketing Targeting

The Concept of Customer Relationship Orientation

Customer-Specific Drivers of Customer Relationship Orientation

Market-Specific Drivers of Customer Relationship Orientation

Culture-Specific Drivers of Customer Relationship Orientation

Guidelines for Managing Relationship Marketing Targeting

Using Field Experiments to Improve Targeting

Targeting Groups of Customers





Concluding Chapter

Chapter 7: Research and Managerial Guidelines for Relationship Marketing in the Digital Age

Learning Objectives


Enhancing Relationship Marketing Understanding

Relationship Marketing Theory

Research State

Research Avenues

Relationship Marketing Framework

Research State

Research Avenues

Enhancing Relationship Marketing Applications

Relationship Marketing Dynamics

Research State

Research Avenues

Relationship Marketing Strategies

Research State

Research Avenues

Relationship Marketing Targeting

Research State

Research Avenues




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Robert W. Palmatier is Professor of Marketing and John C. Narver Chair of Business Administration at the Foster School at the University of Washington. He founded and serves as the global research director of the Sales & Marketing Strategy Institute, a global organization focused on linking business and academics for knowledge.

Lena Steinhoff is Assistant Professor of Service Management at the Institute for Marketing and Service Research at the University of Rostock in Germany. She is also an affiliated faculty of the Center for Sales and Marketing Strategy at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.


"This book should be on the reading list of any researcher, marketer, or student interested in understanding and developing online relationship strategies. It is a step beyond the typical book in that it based on relational psychology and is well grounded in academic research." -Scott Weaven,Professor, Department Head Griffith University, Australia

"The authors, leading researchers in this domain, provide a well researched and very practical book that investigates the psychological underpinnings of relationship marketing, as well as identifying relationship building and maintenance strategies for both offline and online contexts." - Mark Houston, Professor, Eunice and James L. West Chair in Marketing, Texas Christian University

"Relationship Marketing in the Digital Age" is THE up-to-date reference for understanding how relationship marketing works and why it creates value for customers and firms. Clear, concise, and to the point – a must read for marketing students, scholars, and practitioners." -Andreas Eggert, Professor of Marketing, University of Paderborn, Germany

"This is, without question, the most important research-based book on the topic of online relationship marketing. It’s presented in a way that makes rigorous research easily digestible and practical and, as such, is a must-read for managers, academics, and students alike."- Mike Brady, The Bob Sasser Professor and Chair, Florida State University