Posted December 1, 2008 9:55 am by with 8 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

The third annual Online Customer Engagement Report–produced by online publisher E-consultancy and digital agency cScape–is now available, and examines the likely impact of a worsening economic environment on customer behavior and psychology.

The report is based on a survey of 1300 respondents and looks at how companies plan to adopt customer engagement campaigns during these tough economic times. I was asked to review the early findings and provide my observations on the data.

Here’s what jumped out at me:

Over the last 12 months, a lack of budget and time (45%) was cited as the biggest barrier to starting a customer engagement campaign. Ironically, as budgets have tightened further—ahead of tougher economic times—those same businesses are increasing their focus in this area, with 41% naming the worsening economy as the catalyst for spending more resources on customer engagement.

Noteworthy is exactly which channels businesses have the most faith in will help them to achieve their customer engagement goals. While 37% of respondents plan to invest in blogging, user-generated content, and social networks, it’s email newsletters that will receive the greatest investment (58%) over the coming year. Not that other channels aren’t valuable at building customer engagement, it’s simply a case that email marketing shows the highest ‘tangible improvement’ in customer engagement—with 69% of respondents able to measure a benefit from the use of email. Perhaps this is more of a statement about the effectiveness of measuring customer engagement using social media, than a statement about social media itself.

So what data points will businesses find most valuable in measuring the success of their customer engagement efforts? Not surprisingly, almost 47% of respondents favor ‘customer satisfaction’ as the most important metric to measure—easily beating the 37% who keep a close eye on the actual transactions that take place on their web site. Why the focus on customer satisfaction and not customer sales? As customer purse strings are tightened all around the world, few companies will have the luxury of reporting increases in customer sales. Instead, ensuring customers are satisfied with their experience is the most important metric to follow over the coming months. Those companies that can keep their customers happy during these difficult times will be well placed to enjoy tremendous growth, once our economy starts to recover.

  • Hopefully this can be one of the last pieces of evidence that I need to persuade one of my clients that they should be using email marketing. I’ve been suggesting it for 18 months now, and they still are resistant.

    It’s particularly annoying since they’re selling a big ticket item that lends itself well to relationship marketing … they’re losing sales every week because of this blind spot.

  • No doubt. High ROI and low cost for sure.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..ExactFactor: An SEO Tool Review

  • One has to seriously guard against perceived spam with email campaigns. It is a very delicate line to tread!

  • Great article! I have been using email marketing for quite awhile with much success so I know it works.

    Matt Helphrey’s last blog post..Follow My Footsteps – Day 121

  • I think the current trend is to get involved with customers and engage them in a positive way and business will come automatically.

    Saad Kamal’s last blog post..Microsoft to Pay $20 Billion for Yahoo Search

  • Red

    I agree, a fine line between email from companies and spam. You can include all of those surveys I get sent too. I enjoy giving a company feedback, but enough already.

    Red’s last blog post..Clean Red Widget Designs

  • What worries me is how effective will Email be as a medium.. I don’t know about anyone else here, but personally I’ve got a built-in “Perceived Spam Deleting mechanism”
    I think, as spam is the nemesis of anyone with an email account, the same could be said for a lot of people out there

  • And suddenly they are able to find the time? This is so typical of businesses. Once this becomes routine, something else will become the magic wand when things get tough again as they will.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Stylish Cookware