Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Previous research on lead generation has ignored the perceived benefits that buyers receive when exchanging information for firm-generated content. This research contends that digital content offered in a content marketing strategy contains specific benefits that drive the customer to participate in information exchange with the firm. Drawing on the social exchange theory (SET), this work examines how business-to-business (B2B) buyers’ perceived benefits of information exchange affect customer social networking site (SNS) engagement, consequently fostering lead generation. The author argues that content appeal (rational versus emotional) and content focus (buyer versus firm) are critical conditions that influence the relationship between buyers’ perceived benefits of information exchange on their engagement levels. The results of the present study support these statements by uncovering that potential buyers rely on more subjective evaluations (such as perceived benefits as source’s credibility, emotional appeals, and content focus). These subjective evaluations thus spur their behaviors (SNS engagement behaviors and disclosure of information) that ultimately impacts firm performance (sales lead generation). This research has important implications for theory, including the use of source credibility, as a construct for the particularism dimension, to analyze how specific benefits of digital content drive customers to participate in information exchange, and engage with the content. Also, results suggest that potential buyers will be more willing to interact and engage with emotional appeals and buyer focused content. This is relevant because it provides insight on how potential buyers, engaged with B2B content marketing, are willing to disclose information in return for digital firm-generated content. This research also has strong implications for managers. The author offers practical guidance to help marketers implement appropriate combinations of content material that increases the customers’ perceived benefits of the information exchange as a way of fostering customer engagement that leads to information disclosure and successful lead generation.
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