Small firms failing the social test

Australian businesses are failing to fully engage customers by utilising online forums and blogs, according to a new report.


EPiServer’s study, called the Engaged Web, found that only 18% of 80 companies investigated feature a community on their website, and just 20% contain regularly updated blogs.


Alarmingly, the retail and utility sectors were the worst performers, failing to effectively integrate content, community, commerce and communication to engage visitors and potential customers.


Andreas Stjernström, EPi country manager for Australia and New Zealand, believes these sectors are “too comfortable” when it comes to engaging website visitors.


“They haven’t realised that they need to engage their visitors to actually generate more revenue,” Stjernström says.


“The good news is that steps can be taken to better engage with website visitors and develop a sense of community.”


Stjernström says businesses should keep websites simple, update content regularly, and readily refer to other relevant websites.


“One option if you’re a start-up is that you can actually redirect [users]. If you’re selling a product, try to link to other services that compare products or services,” he says.


“Show what other people are doing – things like the most sold product, etc. They’re the things I want to see when I shop online. Otherwise it’s just the company pushing information towards me.”


According to Stjernström, the most valuable aspect of interactive forums, such as communities, is the ongoing opportunity to actively respond to customers’ needs and therefore build a loyal customer base.


“It’s a really good opportunity to learn from your customers, or potential customers, about what they do, what they think, what they feel, what they look at,” he says.


The Engaged Web shows only 18% of companies feature a community on their website.


The Nielsen Company recently released its third quarter ranking of the top 10 online companies.


Not surprisingly, Google topped the chart followed by Microsoft, Facebook, Telstra and Yahoo!


Stjernström says these companies are heavily reliant on the internet, and therefore seek to engage with online audiences as much – and as often – as possible.


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