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A grounded theory of World Wide Web search behaviour

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The behaviours and underlying motivations of consumers and business people surfing the World Wide Web (WWW) are presently not well understood. Furthermore, until now no empirical studies have offered any scientifically sound guidance to marketing communication strategists as to using this interactive medium. Therefore, the authors have conducted an exploratory multiple-case study of this interactive behaviour and its underlying motivations. Consumers and business people were observed unobtrusively while navigating the WWW. During a retrospective in-depth interview, the underlying motivations were probed and the respondent was confronted with video images of his/her own navigation behaviour. The analysis and interpretation of these two sources of data resulted in the development of a grounded theory of search and surf behaviour on the WWW by linking the behaviour and motivations with the visited websites. The following five behavioural search scenarios were discovered from the data: exploratory surfing, window surfing, evolved surfing, bounded navigation and targeted navigation. Marketing guidelines are outlined allowing the marketing communication strategist to enhance the effectiveness of the company's website.
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Keywords: BANNER EFFECTIVENESS; GROUNDED THEORY; INTERNET MARKETING; SEARCH BEHAVIOUR; WEBSITE EFFECTIVENESS; WORLD WIDE WEB

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 1999

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