SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

July 10, 2008 11:35 ET

Best-in-Class Companies Provide Online Outlets for Collaboration and Individuality

Top Companies Improve Customer Satisfaction and Marketing Effectiveness Through Social Media

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - July 10, 2008) - The popularity of online social media forums has not only changed the way peers interact with each other, it has also succeeded in creating a new breed of online customers. These customers have come to expect a certain level of accessibility and interaction with businesses, as well as the ability to engage with other consumers who share similar wants and needs. In order to meet the expectations of their online clientele, top companies are leveraging an assortment of Web 2.0 technologies to allow for increased interaction between the business and its customers. A recent study, "Customer 2.0: The Business Implications of Social Media" (http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=5195), conducted by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), revealed that Best-in-Class companies are over 17 times more likely to improve customer satisfaction than Laggards, 89% versus 5% respectively, through the use of social media.

While the need to increase market awareness was identified by all respondents as the top pressure causing organizations to focus resources on Web 2.0 technologies, an interesting discrepancy exists when it comes to the additional factors motivating companies to explore social media. Best-in-Class companies are naturally concerned with improving the online experience for their customers; however, these top performing companies recognize that the valuable information inherent to online conversations can directly impact revenue growth. As a result, Best-in-Class companies have establish organizational processes to utilize consumer-generated insights in product development inititatives and marketing campaigns. Top performing companies currently utilize company-hosted blogs (57%), wikis (43%), and customer rating and feedback solutions (37%) to create an online social media experience that simultaneously provides customers with opportunities for collaboration and individuality.

"Modern customers expect to interact with peers and businesses when they want, how they want, and in the channel of their choosing. Rather than turn a blind eye to the emergence of a new type of consumer base, savvy companies are providing an assortment of Web 2.0 touch points for consumers to provide feedback and interact with one another," explains Alex Jefferies, Senior Research Associate in Aberdeen's Customer Management Group. "As solutions like blogs, wikis, and social networking become commonplace online, businesses will succeed in creating a closed-loop process with their customers. One where the insights gleaned from consumer-generated conversations drive product development and marketing decisions," concludes Jefferies.

The report demonstrates the value of collectively leveraging organizational practices in process, performance measurement, knowledge management, and technology to provide a foundation for social media success. By combining processes for using consumer-generated insights across multiple business units and establishing the support of senior management, Best-in-Class companies are 8-times more likely than Laggards to be satisfied with their return on marketing investement (ROMI).

A complimentary copy of this report is made available due in part by the following underwriters: Awareness, Mzinga, and Small World Labs. Furthermore, this research is being disseminated to the market through the support of various media outlets, such as the ECT News network, the American Marketing Association, and ITO America. To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=5195.

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.com or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.com.

© 2008 Aberdeen Group, Inc., a Harte-Hanks Company
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