The debate over whether customer engagement really does have an impact on a company’s bottom-line has seen a new development which could cement the executive’s take on things.

Companies are now investing heavily in technology that allows them to track whether interactions on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as well as general forms of contact online do have an effect on earnings. 

On one side of the argument, some claim that engagement on digital platforms does not always translate to money earned, and that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ are not solid metrics for success. But a poll of 478 chief marketing officers and executives from around the world shows that 63% believe engagement is “manifested” in things that do impact revenue – such as customer retention and purchases.

The same report, from marketing software group Marketo, backs these same marketers to take better ownership of customer engagement through fresh investments in technology. 

Engagement gets relevant 

Notes from the study claim that engaged customers are far more likely to purchase with a brand that those who shy away from interaction. Adding weight to this belief, 78% of marketers are seeing engagement as being positioned in the middle or later stages of the purchase funnel, when the customer is just about to make a decision.

Samjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer at Marketo, sees engagement becoming more than just an afterthought for marketing departments as they look to shift their billing from cost centre to revenue driver. 

“The transformation taking place in marketing is profound as marketers race to adopt technology and add skills that will allow them to manage the entire relationship with the customer,” he commented. 

“Three out of every four marketers say that in three to five years, they will own the end-to-end customer engagement. That ownership puts marketing right at the centre of revenue generation and setting the company strategy.”

Thus, although just 15% of the group are seeing engagement in terms of the effect it has on revenue, there is plenty of room for change.

New skills

Before they can truly enhance their contribution to revenue, marketers are on the lookout for the right skills and personnel do it, the study claimed. 

Over a third of the group (39%) said that specialists in engagement, marketing operations and technology would be needed to take their firms to the next level. Professionals in strategy and planning (38%) are also in high demand as businesses look to future-proof their operations.

Earlier research has suggested that money is available for marketers to expand their teams in order to improve in certain areas. In Q4 of last year, the IPA Bellwether Report stated that 2014 saw marketing budgets grow at the fastest pace in 15 years, buoyed by an improvement in business confidence.