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Study: Online engagement on the up, but NZ businesses still hedging bets

Study: Online engagement on the up, but NZ businesses still hedging bets

Companies are focusing less on primary corporate websites and New Zealand’s news and media websites are the most engaging.

The second Engaged Web in New Zealand Report, which saw Intergen assess the five most visited New Zealand websites from 10 different sectors to measure their level of customer engagementhas just been released, with other highlights being that 90 percent of websites increased their level of engagement since last year, and shopping and classifieds and banking and finance sectors have made the biggest improvement. 

Intergen is New Zealand’s largest dedicated Microsoft solutions provider and web strategist Giles Brown says with the bar continually lifting for website owners, it is increasingly hard to stand out from the crowd.

“The emergence of so many devices to choose from means that organisations are often forced to stretch themselves thinly, hedging their bets across myriad channels,” he says. “The trick for organisations with limited resources will be to do fewer high value things, and to do them really well.”

The 15 differentcriteria identified levels of engagement based on factors including a website’s social media components, use of multimedia, blogs and user personalisation. And this year, to reflect the rapid adoption of smartphones, mobile-optimised versions of websites were also studied.

Of the websites assessed, 62 percent made some attempt to provide a mobile-friendly experience, although the degree of success varied. More forward-looking companies are developing specialised apps to make interacting with them via a mobile device a great experience.  The vast majority of applications are for iPhone and iPad, with fewer designed for Android or Windows Phone. Websites from companies in the news and media organisations, shopping and entertainment brands and – more recently – financial institutions, are leading the charge in mobile.

The study suggests that website owners have now answered the question of whether or not to use social media. Some 90 percent of the websites studied now feature a community, compared to 73 percent in 2011. Increasingly, organisations are allowing people to share content via social media (2012: 62 percent; 2011: 42 percent) although there remains some hesitation around allowing people to rate and tag content (2012: 24 percent; 2011: 12 percent).

Whereas recently organisations might have built their own standalone community solution, now they’re embracing existing social network platforms. Reinforcing this is an apparent decline in corporate blogging: within a 12-month period a 24 percent decline in blogging activity was noted across our most trafficked sites.

The study found that while the best websites are doing better, the less engaged are (for the most part) doing more. While government is the sector with the lowest overall level of engagement, it actually had the greatest growth in engagement, recording a 75 percent increase. Conversely the health and medicine sector was the only sector that showed a reduced level of engagement.

The Engaged Web in New Zealand Report used data from Experian Hitwise’s online tracker for the week commencing April 10, 2012. Popular websites from these sectors were analysed for the report: Automotive, Business and Finance, Education, Entertainment, Food and Beverage, Government, Health and Medical, Lifestyle, News and Media, and Shopping and Classifieds. The full report is available at www.intergen.co.nz.

This story originally appeared on StopPress.