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Although email continues to deliver the greatest ROI of any marketing channel, more than one-fourth (27%) of marketing professionals think social media has had the most influence on the customer experience in past 12 months (27%), and nearly half? (48%) think it will? have the most effect in the coming year (48%), according to a survey by Alterian.

Because of this sentiment, social media is expected to receive the greatest increase in investment from marketers the coming 12 months, the survey found.? Email remains the second-most-popular channel.

The research – which was conducted in an attempt to define a more effective customer engagement model that better integrates online, offline and measurement – found that social media will likely continue to get top billing because marketers see it as a means to redefining what is perceived as a stale and outdated customer experience.? Six in 10 (60%)? organizations surveyed think personal one-to-one engagement with consumers requires a radically new way of creating content and on-demand services, while 60% say that that the existing techniques for understanding consumers’ needs requires significant improvement.

“The engagement of so many individuals across social networks, blogs and other online channels means that organizations need to increasingly treat consumers as individuals – both in order to recruit new customers and to retain existing ones,” said Mike Fisher, the Americas’ SVP of sales and Marketing for Alterian.

“Conversations can now spread across the web in seconds that can have both a dramatically positive or negative impact on a brand dependent on their content,” Fisher added. “Businesses need to evolve their monitoring and marketing techniques to offer one-on-one engagement with the customer and act on these conversations in real-time.”
Other study findings:

  • 46% of respondents say strategy is the most important factor in defining a new customer engagement model.
  • 25% say the top obstacle to overcome in online marketing is the integration of online with database marketing and offline channels.
  • The lack of ability to assess or manage internal infrastructure and culture challenges (25%) and the integration of all the technology to power the cycle (20%) are the biggest factors in implementing a new model for the customer engagement cycle.

About the study: The research study took place among over 200 marketing professionals at Alterian’s Engaging Times Summit in August, 2009.

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