Firms get wise to widgets

There is growing evidence that the wider online business community is waking up to the benefits of using so-called ‘customer engagement’ tools to reach consumers on the web.

A survey of 1,000 online marketers by E-Consultancy and cScape found that 90% say new tools are either “essential” or “important” to their organisations, with more than three-quarters (77%) stating the importance has increased in the past 12 months.

Almost a fifth of companies, the survey found, are already developing their own widgets – third-party applications that can be coded on to a web page – and 39% plan to use them in the future.

But perhaps the most intriguing prospect for the coming month sees a third of all companies claiming they will use social networks such as a MySpace and Facebook in order to target customers.

Richard Sedley, customer engagement director at cScape, a interactive marketing agency, reckons the phrase and concept “engagement” is now a mainstream business concern.

“But this year’s survey,” he adds, “also shows that most companies still experience barriers to achieving effective online engagement, and that the gap between aspirations and realities is yet to be bridged.

“The good news is that there are some practical solutions out there already for implementing and streamlining engagement strategies.”

Linus Gregoriadis, head of research at E-Consultancy, said: “The days of a top-down, ‘broadcast’ approach to marketing are over.

“It is no longer about who is shouting the loudest. Those who are engaging effectively are reaping the benefits of improved customer loyalty and increased revenue.

“Companies are recognising that they have to engage with customers in new ways to get their attention in different environments, whether that is via widgets, video-sharing sites or on social networks.”

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