Majority of Marketers Face Challenge of Scaling Human Engagement, Report Finds

Press Release from ON24

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- With Gartner reporting that CMOs will spend nearly 12% of revenue on technology in 2018, it's time for marketers to take a step back and evaluate the long-term impact of their digital investments on current and future customer relationships. Today, "Scaling Human Interaction in Customer Experiences," a study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and sponsored by ON24, uncovers new insights on the trade-offs between automated marketing tactics and human-driven marketing engagement. The results are clear: a majority of marketers agree that taking a more personalized approach gives their business a competitive edge, but most digital technologies today only allow for generic, superficial interactions.

"As digital marketing gets more automated, impersonal and potentially artificial, marketers need to ensure that their current and future customers are being treated as more than just names in a database," says Joe Hyland, CMO, ON24. "This report gives every marketer a business imperative for 2019: find the balance between human engagement and your ability to scale. Then, invest in those digital experiences that offer a unique balance, giving just as much focus on high-quality interactions as high-quantity results."

The study, which featured nearly 300 respondents representing a range of industries, found that:

  • Personalization matters:80% of marketers agreed that the human element in a customer experience gives their organization a distinct competitive edge.
  • But it's hard to scale:Nearly 60% of marketers say it's difficult to replicate face-to-face experiences with customers by using digital technologies.
  • Email and social media are popular, but where's the ROI? In the past two years, 72% say they have used email marketing, and 86% have used social media outreach -- but 70% of respondents say their organizations are not using these tools effectively.
  • Engagement pays off: Nearly 50% of the organizations with the highest levels of customer loyalty say they are trying to maintain the same high level of customer experience across live and automated channels.

The survey examines the different channels marketers are investing in and which deliver the highest ROI on their bottom line.

"It's ironic," says Laura Ramos, Vice President and Senior Analyst, Forrester Research. "Our marketing technologies target people. But people often play a small role in designing what the systems deliver. Many executives believe they can just plug in the technology and it will magically improve business performance and customer engagement."

One opportunity for marketers to scale the impact of human-to-human interactions is through webinars. According to the marketing technology analyst firm SiriusDecisions, webinars are the highest-rated human touchpoint for buyers. This has led to a rise in webinar marketing with nearly 60% of marketers planning to increase investments in webinars.

"At ON24, we believe marketers need to totally rethink engagement and make the audience experience - not getting a form filled - their number one priority," says Hyland. "Interrupting prospective customers with unwanted spam and measuring results simply by clicks and views just creates more noise. Through interactive data-rich webinars and content, we believe marketers don't have to choose between what their audience wants and what their business needs. Creating online experiences that do both is how marketers will win."

The report is just the latest way ON24 helps marketers gain insights into how they can elevate their campaigns and strategy. For more perspectives on today's challenges and opportunities in digital marketing, tune into the company's ongoing podcast series, CMO Confessions.

About ON24, Inc.

ON24 is on a mission to redefine how organizations engage with their audiences, powering interactive, data-rich webinars and content experiences that help people connect on a more human level and make smarter business decisions. Through the ON24 Engagement Platform, marketers can create Live, On Demand and Personalized Engagement, turn it into actionable intelligence and integrate it across their operations. Informed by more than a billion engagement minutes -- including 12 million polls, 1.3 million surveys, 1.5 million conversations, and conversion of over 17 million resources -- marketers drive more revenue from ON24 Engagement than any other marketing channel. Headquartered in San Francisco, ON24 has a wide global footprint with eight offices in key regions, including London, Munich, Singapore, Stockholm and Sydney. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Keith Chapman,


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