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Companies Leverage Social Media to Drive Marketing Improvement

New Aberdeen Report Investigates How Companies Improve Return on Marketing Investment, Make Smarter Marketing Decisions, and Benefit in Multiple Other Ways by Deploying Technology Solutions to Harness the Power of Word of Mouth

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 08/06/08 -- With the rise of social media, the speed and reach of word of mouth with respect to consumer products and services is increasing by orders of magnitude. At the same time, a growing number of companies are deploying technology solutions to harness the power of word of mouth to raise brand awareness, drive marketing improvement and, ultimately, increase shareholder value.

Between June and July 2008, Aberdeen, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), examined the use, the experiences, and the intentions of more than 300 diverse enterprises to create a roadmap for companies that aim to leverage social media to drive marketing improvement. The new benchmark report, entitled "Social Media Marketing: The Latest Buzz on Word of Mouth," places particular emphasis on how Best-in-Class companies launch successful viral campaigns, form and participate in niche communities, and spur brand advocacy through various other approaches to social media marketing, all the while gleaning valuable customer insights from consumer-generated content to inform future marketing actions.

The report reveals striking performance disparities between Best-in-Class organizations and Industry Average and Laggard companies. For example, Best-in-Class organizations are nearly 18 times more likely than Laggards to gain visibility into consumer-generated content, resulting in greater breadth and depth of customer insights. They are also 19 times more likely than Laggards to increase marketing effectiveness and 80 times more likely than Laggards to increase return on marketing investment (ROMI). Given the declining effectiveness of traditional marketing programs due to channel proliferation, audience fragmentation, advertising fatigue, and a host of other factors, any opportunity to drive incremental improvement in ROMI is cause for celebration in the corporate boardroom.

"Companies are enamored with the possibilities of social media marketing as the foundation for consumer-driven referrals and brand advocacy," said Jeff Zabin, Research Fellow at Aberdeen Group. "The challenge lies in identifying key influencers, engaging them as brand evangelists, and then tracking the impact of their words and actions over time. Social media marketing can also mean extending the reach of a brand through viral videos or by joining the conversation. To that end, companies need to understand peoples' motivations for having a conversation and then contextually engage with that audience. Making marketing programs conversational and contextualized to niche audiences that naturally gravitate around a specific theme or shared passion is the essence of social media marketing, and perhaps the future of marketing itself."

A complimentary copy of this report is made available due, in part, to the support of the following underwriters: BuzzParadise, RelevantMind and Visible Technologies. This report is also co-sponsored by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. To access a copy, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=5133

To access all of Aberdeen's complimentary research, please visit http://research.aberdeen.com.

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
451 D Street, Suite 710
Boston, Massachusetts  02210-1928
Telephone: (617) 854-5200
Fax: (617) 723-7897
www.aberdeen.com

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