The fourth annual Customer Engagement Report reveals that social networking and Twitter activity have come to the forefront for driving customer engagement - but mobile remains on the backburner.
Social networking and Twitter activity are coming to the fore as part of organisations' customer engagement strategies, according to the fourth annual Customer Engagement Report.
The latest cScape/eConsultancy survey, reveals that the number of respondents stating that they use social networks to improve online engagement has almost doubled (from 24-44%) in the last year. And while the percentage of respondents reporting that Twitter had tangibly improved customer engagement barely registered last year, with only 7%, the micro-blogging tool's rapid rise to prominence has seen this figure increase five-fold in 2009, to a whopping 35%.
Underlining this staggering shift of emphasis towards social channels, the majority of businesses (61%) state that they will increase investment in social networking and Twitter activity next year.
Despite this, however, only a quarter are making use of user feedback and ratings, and only a third (36%) are using social networks for product development and innovation, and even fewer (17%) feeding discussion forums into development processes.
Overall, email newsletters continue to be the tactic which respondents report as being most likely to result in a tangible improvement to an organisation's online customer engagement, with two-thirds of businesses (67%) indicating that they have a positive effect. This compares to 69% a year ago, so is fairly stable.
The main casualty of social networking's rise seems to be the mobile channel. The report suggests that a large proportion of companies (41%) have no plans to invest in the mobile channel at all next year, and a further 49% are planning only limited investment.
Linus Gregoriadis, eConsultancy’s research director, said: "Companies should be thinking hard about their strategies for mobile and for channelling online feedback from customers back into the product development process but the research suggests that this is not the case.
"Lack of resources, skills and experience are cited as obstacles, but today’s customers expect a seamless approach when they deal with companies, irrespective of whether they are calling them up for information, commenting on a blog or trying to buy something online while on the move."
Richard Sedley, director at cScape’s Customer Engagement Unit, added: "Despite the predictions that handheld devices will soon become the main interface for social networking marketers are still holding off using this valuable marketing channel. However, what is also clear from the 1,000 plus participants is that marketers need to focus on quality, simplicity and customer service if they hope to engage their customer over the next 12 months."
Surveying more than 1,000 respondents to its research request, the Customer Engagement Report 2010 demonstrates the increasing emphasis being placed on engagement of customers and the maturing of engagement strategies.
The proportion of companies that regard customer engagement as "essential" for their organisations has increased from 50% two years ago to 55%, while three-quarters of organisations (71%) now say that their customer engagement strategy has either been "very successful" or "quite successful". This compares to 28% of respondents who report their strategies were either "not very successful" or "unsuccessful".
Interest in creating customer engagement is most frequently motivated by a desire to increase long-term customer value (37%) and increase value delivered to the customer (35%), though this year's report also indicates that there has been a surge of interest in engagement strategies as a means to strengthen emotional investment in the brand, leaping from 25% of respondents in last year's survey to 31%.