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Entrepreneurial marketing in SMEs: the key capabilities of e‐CRM

Paul Harrigan (University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)
Elaine Ramsey (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)
Patrick Ibbotson (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)

Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1471-5201

Article publication date: 6 July 2012




Entrepreneurial marketing in small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) is very different to marketing prescribed theoretically for large organisations. The purpose of this paper is to present research evidence on the impact of internet‐based technologies (IBTs) on the customer relationship management (CRM) activities (i.e. e‐CRM) of SMEs in Ireland.


A mixed methods approach incorporating an online questionnaire, qualitative in‐depth interviews and projective techniques was adopted. Factor analysis was carried out on 286 respondents, which led to communication with customers and the management of customer information being distilled as key areas within e‐CRM in SMEs.


To varying extents, SMEs are adopting relatively simple IBTs to improve customer communication and information management capabilities and to create competitive advantage through e‐CRM. SMEs find the communication aspect of e‐CRM easier, but struggle to integrate customer information into their decision making. In all, e‐CRM tends to be ad hoc rather than strategic in SMEs.

Practical implications

SMEs must use technologies to compete with larger organisations in today's global marketplace. These technologies may be relatively simple, but the focus must always be on how they can impact on the relationship with the customer making it more efficient without losing effectiveness.


This study, by reporting how SMEs innovate in marketing, sheds light on an important theoretical and practical area. Theoretically, the paper breaks down e‐CRM into key capabilities that may apply to larger organisations as well.



Harrigan, P., Ramsey, E. and Ibbotson, P. (2012), "Entrepreneurial marketing in SMEs: the key capabilities of e‐CRM", Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 40-64.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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