Alterian Survey Reveals Brands Undervalue Customer Service Objectives with Social Media

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The Engaging Times Summit survey also indicates that 35 percent of marketers say it’s still ‘too early to tell’ about social media ROI.

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It’s surprising that brands are reporting that they don’t highly value deploying customer service in the social media channel

Alterian (LSE: ALN), the leader in customer engagement technology and solutions, today announced the results of its Engaging Times Summit survey on brand socialization, engagement strategy and social media ROI. Summit attendees comprised more than 400 senior-level marketing executives from major brands including Cisco, American Greetings Interactive, Dave and Busters, RAZOR and Western Union.

Results showed that when asked about the most important social media objectives, 24 percent reported that retaining existing customers is the central objective, 26 percent believe driving brand awareness is the most crucial aspect, and 30 percent are aiming for new customer acquisition. Less than one percent cited that the most important objective was to offer customer service.

“It’s surprising that brands are reporting that they don’t highly value deploying customer service in the social media channel,” said David Eldridge, CEO of Alterian. “Many are underutilizing this approach, as all brands need to be prepared to handle their customers’ complaints and act on them. While marketers may have different objectives than those working in the customer service department, it’s important to have a cross-channel strategy and integrate outreach to gain maximum exposure and positive chatter about your brand online.”

Despite a lack of emphasis on customer service objectives in social media, survey results showed that about 90 percent of marketers believe that cross-channel coordination is indeed vital in marketing campaigns. Similarly, a majority of 61 percent of marketers said their brand’s engagement with consumers occurs both online and offline, suggesting that engagement takes place on multiple platforms.

The State of Social Media Engagement

Based on survey results, marketers said they are increasingly viewing social media as a means for engagement as opposed to promotion. Three out of four respondents indicated their brand is either ‘somewhat’ or ‘extremely’ engaged in social media. Only 22 percent reported they are not very engaged, and three percent said they are not engaged at all.

Yet the survey showed that measuring ROI is still a challenge. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they are not able to measure ROI when it comes to the socialization of their brand, and 42 percent reported to be only somewhat able to measure ROI.

While some marketers might be on the fence about ROI, the majority (57 percent) said they believe investing in social media has been a worthwhile investment for their brand. Thirty-five percent claimed it’s still too early to tell, but not a single respondent reported that social media is not a worthwhile investment.

“There are tools available today that help marketers measure the influence of their social media investment, and consequently understand the ROI for their social media efforts,” said Connie Bensen, Alterian's Director of Community Strategy. “It’s just a matter of identifying what you want to measure and tracking progress in a way that is appropriate for your brand.”

One in five marketers who attended the Summit are indeed measuring ROI in terms of brand socialization, a promising figure for the future of social media marketing. For more information about best practices, visit the Alterian web site for Bensen’s Social Media ROI whitepaper series.

About the Engaging Times Americas Summit:

The annual event features thought leadership from some of the Americas' leading brands, giving attendees the opportunity to learn how major organizations are extending and expanding their brand’s social and emotional connections in a cross-channel way (e-mail, direct mail, social media, web). The Alterian Engaging Times Summit 2010 was held August 17 & 18 in Chicago and was attended by more than 400 marketers from around the country, including keynotes from Stan Rapp, co-founder of Rapp Collins and Don Peppers from Peppers & Rogers Group.

Other presenters included American Greetings Interactive, Walgreens, Edelman, Western Union, Razor, Mars, Acxiom, Bank of the West, Epsilon, Dave & Buster’s, Cisco, WOMMA, Harte-Hanks, Ogilvy, Peppers & Rogers, 1to1 Media, Covalent Marketing, and Forrester Research.

About Alterian:

Alterian (LSE: ALN) enables organizations to create relevant, effective and engaging experiences with their customers and prospects through social, digital, and traditional marketing channels. Alterian’s Customer Engagement solutions are focused in four main areas: Social Media, Web Content Management, Email, and Campaign Management & Analytics.

Alterian technology is utilized either to address a specific marketing challenge or as part of an integrated marketing platform, with analytics and customer engagement with the individual at the heart of everything. Working alongside a rich ecosystem of partners, Alterian delivers its software as a service or on premise. For more information about Alterian visit http://www.alterian.com or the Alterian blog at http://www.engagingtimes.com.

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Lauren Eichmann

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Michelle Taylor
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