Communication Using Computers

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Organizations are using computer-mediated communication (CMC) for an increasing range of communication activities, including marketing and consumer research. Asynchronous CMC applications—such as email and web forms—offer benefits of speed, low cost, and accuracy that appeal to organizational managers ([Chittenden and Rettie, 2003] and [Kent and Lee, 1999]). Yet results have been mixed where CMC has been applied toward organizational marketing and market research, especially where messages are intended to establish initial communication with receivers. In such circumstances, CMC often results in low response rates ([Kent and Lee, 1999], [Ranchod and Zhou, 2001] and [Tse, 1998]) and produces poor results in acquiring customers, creating brand awareness, and generating leads (Chittenden & Rettie, 2003). Gaining individuals’ compliance to respond to surveys, sign up for information, or purchase products requires persuasion, i.e., the shaping, reinforcing, or changing of message receivers’ responses (Miller, 1980). In CMC contexts, it is not always clear which features or actions will actually prove to be persuasive ([Citera, 1998], [Moon, 1999], [Tanis and Postmes, 2003], [Wilson, 2003] and [Wilson, 2005]). For this reason, people typically find it more difficult to initiate persuasive communication via CMC than in face-to-face settings (Wilson, 2002). Although a substantial persuasion literature has emerged, complete with predictive models and theories, this literature has been developed largely using communication modes which differ from CMC in two key ways that obstruct the applicability of many findings. First, many factors which are known to be persuasive in traditional (i.e., not computer-mediated) communication are not available in CMC. These include visual cues, such as facial expressions, and many non-verbal cues, such as vocal tone and intensity. Other persuasive cues may be substantially modified or subverted in CMC, such as interpreting how attractive a...