Customers are using more channels than ever before to communicate with each other and with brands. As a result, over the last few years there’s been a steady increase in brands adopting a multi-channel approach to contacting customers.
Multi-channel messaging: what is it and why?
Multi-channel messaging is set to become increasingly important in the world of ecommerce as brands jostle for position to provide the best in customer service and experience.
The most common channels for multi-channel messaging are email, mobile push notifications, SMS, in-app messages, and messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – all of which can be segmented to a highly granular level to maxmise interaction and results.
A study by Braze found: ‘When customers received outreach in two or more channels, their levels of engagement were 166% higher than the single-channel rate and 642% higher than for customers who received no messages.’
What channels are brands using?
Still the ideal channel for feature-rich content, email allows businesses to include as much information as required, customise content per user, and segment contacts to ensure mailouts are targeted and relevant to each customer (easily done via applications such as dotdigital (formerly dotmailer) ). This type of individual experience helps to improve open & conversions rates, and avoids annoying customers, reducing the chances of an ‘Unsubscribe’. Stats on non-openers, lapsed customers, and most engaged customers are also readily available via most email marketing platforms, and help to improve targeting and personalisation.
App push notifications are a great way to keep customers up to date on things that are happening in real time – special offers just announced, parcels being delivered, asking for product reviews, etc. Apps do not need to be open for push notifications to appear, and each mobile platform supports them – iOS, Android, Fire OS, Windows. Unwanted messages can lead to apps being uninstalled or notifications disabled (the ultimate rejection…) meaning with most push notifications, relevancy is key. In general keeping the messages useful (‘Your package is arriving’) is regarded best practice.
SMS Text Messages
Difficult to ignore, SMS is a great way of capturing a customer’s attention. And unlike many of the other channels, can be received even if the user is off-line and without internet access. Useful for sending important messages only; one-off promotions unique per person, contact in the event of verification or password activity (eg banks will often use SMS to contact the customer in the event of unusual activity).
Less intrusive and only accessible when a user is already using an app, in-app messaging is often used to inform of new features & services, or ask for product reviews, etc. A handy way of getting across non-urgent information.
Facebook Messenger for business allows businesses to communicate with customers and prospective customers via the messaging app already used by 1.3 billion users. Of those surveyed that have already messaged businesses, 66% in the UK and 69% in the US say that the process helps them feel more confident about the brand. Messenger allows people to browse products and services, and purchase them directly in the conversation. The customer service element allows people to communicate with businesses on their terms (no more waiting on hold), and recent built-in NLP and AR facilities have been introduced.
Launched in 2018, WhatsApp Business API and tool set provides businesses with the ability to communicate and interact with their users via the popular messaging app. A user must first consent to receive messages by opting in via a third-party channel (website, app, email, SMS, retail location, etc). WhatsApp offers the impact of communication like SMS, but with added features such as media & attachments, and can be used for customer support, invoicing and online payments. Message templates are used for outbound alerts like delivery updates and reminders, and cannot be used for promotional purposes.
As brands seek to maximise the impact of their communication, multi-channel messaging plays an increasingly significant role in improving customer engagement via its ability to send more content that’s personalised and relevant per user. This year expect to see more businesses taking up the multi-messaging challenge.