A report from Loyalty 360 found that 27 percent of businesses included in a recent poll said social media marketing is their best tool for customer retention.

More than 27 percent of businesses included in a recent poll said that social media marketing has been the most effective channel for customer retention, according to research from Loyalty 360.

Social media marketing was the most successful channel in terms of customer loyalty, the report found. More than 25 percent said customer analytics have the biggest impact on retention, while 24.5 percent reported reward programs are top for loyalty marketing.

Contributing to its success as a loyalty channel, social media marketing provides an opportunity for businesses to speak directly with their existing customers and reach new prospects. Responding to questions, concerns and other feedback will help boost businesses’ reputation.

Moreover, customers enjoy the accessibility of companies that use social media marketing as it can be used as a customer service channel. However, missing engagement opportunities on a regular basis will negate any positive benefits of social media marketing.

“Given the volumes of consumer-generated content and the greater emphasis customers are placing on reviews and recommendations inherent in this feedback, it’s not surprising that social media and customer analytics top this list,” Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty 360, said in a release.

Keeping customers engaged with social media marketing helps businesses retain customers, but it also attracts new ones. As such, businesses are using the channel as part of greater internet marketing campaigns aimed boosting their web presence. Brafton recently reported that 58 percent of businesses plan to increase social media marketing to improve their online visibility.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.