UK Companies Not Engaging Web Visitors

(Ping! Zine) – A benchmark study, The Engaged Web, published today reveals many online brands are not seizing the opportunity to engage with visitors to their website by not integrating with social media channels, running online communities, blogging or providing ‘sticky’ and personalised content. According to the study, published by EPiServer, only a third (34%) of the eighty leading companies investigated feature a community on their website and while blogs feature on 40% of sites, only 39% update their blog on a regular basis and only 19% clearly promote it to site visitors.
 
The Engaged Web report, available to download from http://www.episerver.com/en/Products/Engaged-Web-Report/, analysed 80 companies, ranked by Hitwise as being the most visited in the UK, spanning eight vertical sectors – Telecoms, Charity, Retail, Sport, Travel, Public Sector, Finance and Utilities – and scored them against a matrix of criteria for an in-depth assessment of their online engagement strategies. The criteria assessed a wide range of different components that make up an engaged website including communities, multimedia content, personalisation and social media.
 
The scores amongst the vertical sectors vary considerably. For example, every one of the ten sport sites feature a blog, and community and travel sites are close behind with 60% maintaining a blog to engage with their audience. Elsewhere however, the results are less impressive, with finance and telecoms failing to provide any ‘sticky’ content on their websites.
 
When it comes to the use of social media however, overall the scores plummet considerably, with brands seemingly failing to encourage online interaction with their visitors and customers or integrate and optimise their online presence. Only 15% of companies advertise their Twitter account directly on the homepage and only 19% draw attention to their Facebook fan page.
 
In terms of more traditional engagement methods, it was a relief to find the companies assessed performing better, although not exceptionally.  When looking at engagement channels being promoted on the website, a phone number was the most commonly advertised (79%), followed by a web form (55%) and an email address (43%). But a mere 5% of the brands offer a much more interactive experience through live chat.
 
“As the web continues to grow in importance, delivering engaging online experiences will become increasingly key for businesses that are looking to engender brand loyalty and improve their business online,” said Maria Wasing, VP of Marketing Europe at EPiServer. “The companies that topped the research demonstrated a unique ability to easily engage in a dialogue with visitors that is sure to deliver results. However, there’s no reason why the other brands we looked at can’t take steps to better engage with their website visitors and develop a sense of community. Companies can become more efficient by using an online platform to publish information quickly, introduce multimedia content and build and host online communities.” 
 
The EPiServer report, The Engaged Web, is a guide for businesses who want to make their online presence more engaging, offering practical steps and real-world examples. The full report can be downloaded at no charge at http://www.episerver.com/en/Products/Engaged-Web-Report/.

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