NEW YORK: Allowing consumers to control how they receive marketing messages and contribute to innovation is more effective at building loyalty than social media, a multi-market study has found.

Pitney Bowes, the services firm, polled 5,000 adults in France, Germany, the UK and US to discover the practices that encouraged them to maintain or increase their spending with a brand owner.

Overall, 61% of the panel stated larger businesses providing home delivery fulfilled such a role, a total reaching 52% when considering their smaller counterparts.

Elsewhere, 58% of participants argued being able to contact a major corporation via a variety of methods was appealing, falling to 53% for smaller companies.

Another 54% of interviewees thought controlling the channels and frequency of communications would enhance their relationship with top brand owners, a figure hitting 46% for SMEs.

For 51% of the sample, "having a say" in the range of goods and services made available by big organisations was highly attractive, standing at 46% when discussing less sizeable enterprises.

Many of the least effective techniques for reinforcing loyalty related to the innovative digital approaches currently being tested by numerous companies.

For example, only 20% of respondents agreed the ability to create personalised web pages was desirable when dealing with large firms, three percentage points ahead of small businesses.

These ratings stood at 29% and 24% in turn when it came to joining branded "customer communities" on the web, which typically enable members to upload product feedback and make suggestions.

Similarly, just 18% of the individuals questioned took the view that interacting with a major advertiser on social media would deepen their attachment to the company concerned, as did 15% for SMEs.

"The customer data that brands have collected can now be dynamically applied to customer interactions on the web, in call centres, with live chat, on bank statements, direct mail, and even in stores," said Murray Martin, CEO of Pitney Bowes.

"We have the technology. Marketers can now provide the personalized two-way dialogue that consumers are craving."

Data sourced from Pitney Bowes; additional content by Warc staff