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UK Companies could do much more to engage with web visitors

Recent research from the Online Measurement company (UKOM) finds that British web users are now spending 65% more time online than they were three years ago; and the lion's share of that time is spent on social networks or blogs, accounting for nearly a quarter of time online. But how good are the leading websites in the UK in providing their visitors with an engaging experience? We decided to find out and conducted a research study on 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 Engaged Web report reveals that 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. At the same time, we also found some brands who have an on-line presence that stands out in the crowd and we hope can inspire others.

Some key findings are that Sports and telecoms companies like to engage, but financial services and local government struggling to connect with web visitors. Only a third (34%) of the companies we investigated feature a community on their website, with telecoms brands coming out on top, followed by charities. When we drill down into how the companies with communities are actually using them, the results are more positive, with 44% initiating discussions with users and 70% actively engaging and contributing to discussions that are already in progress.

15% of the companies advertise their Twitter account directly on the homepage. Another recent study show that 26 % of 100 retailers in the UK have a twitter account, and if that is a representation of the market, then it is very low that 15 % of the companies that we surveyed actually show this on their homepage.

Furthermore, while blogs feature on 40% of sites, only 19% clearly promote it to site visitors. Just 39% update their blog on a regular basis, a finding that surprised me and definitely is a lost opportunity for the organization. Company blogs are great for a number of reasons, as outlined by E-Consultancy.

The Engaged Web report is also a guide for businesses who want to make their online presence more engaging, offering practical steps and real-world examples. If you have feedback on the report, please feel free to provide it here.

Jul 22, 2010

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