Online customer engagement top priority for UK firms

More than 50% of companies are using or plan to use social networks as part of their customer engagement strategy, according to a survey.

The survey, by E-consultancy, found that around 90% of UK companies now consider online to be 'essential' to their business, with community and social media near the top of their list of priorities.

More than three quarters (77%) of those businesses surveyed said the importance of online engagement had increased during the last 12 months.

Companies are using a range of methods to interact with customers, including widgets, social networking and video-sharing sites, according to the second annual Online Customer Engagement Report.

Around a fifth of companies (18%) said they were already using web-based widgets, while a further 39% plan to use them in the future.

Just under a third of organisations (32%) were planning to use social networks such as Facebook, with a further 19% already using them.

Video-sharing sites are being used by 21% of companies while a further 29% say their organisations are planning to use them in the future, according to the report.

The research also found that 86% of companies are realising that they need an integrated approach, which embraces all channels used by customers, online and offline.

Linus Gregoriadis, head of research at E-consultancy, said: "The days of a top-down, 'broadcast' approach to marketing are over. It is no longer about who is shouting the loudest.

"Those who are engaging effectively are reaping the benefits of improved customer loyalty and increased revenue."

"Companies are recognising that they have to engage with customers in new ways to get their attention in different environments, whether that is via widgets, video-sharing sites or on social networks."

The report, which was sponsored by integrated consultancy cScape, is based on the findings of a survey of more than 1,000 online marketers, including 456 company or 'client-side' respondents and 438 agency participants.

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