SMS is one of the strongest channels for business messaging, boasting impressive 98% open rates and an adoption across wide ranges of demographics. For alerts, reminders and notifications that require no rich media such as images, this channel is king. But you can also take advantage of its click-through potential by including links. With the SMS acting as the envelope to your website or rich content such as a newsletter, coupon or even video in the form of a link, both marketers and logistics companies have found creative ways to use this channel with great success, especially when they consider 2-way messaging, allowing customers to reply to messages and instantly communicate with brands.
Building on the momentum of their popular social media platform, Facebook separated Messenger as a standalone app in 2011. Since then, it has amassed over 1.3 billion users, with over 2 billion messages sent each month between businesses and consumers. Facebook Messenger is a rich, 2-way channel, with many advanced features. Many brands are taking advantage of Messenger’s wide adoption by using it the same way they would use their apps to send push notifications, without any of the development and upkeep that goes with having an app. Facebook does not support the sending of marketing communications directly via the app, but used in conjunction with Facebook Ad campaigns that encourage conversations, Messenger gives companies the opportunity to make their marketing interactive with an agent on-hand to answer any queries a customer may have.
Twitter was revolutionary in the realms of customer service and customer complaints. Consumers seemingly overnight had a highly-visible, and highly-powerful platform to talk about brands on. Companies who chose to engage soon learnt that complaints could easily be converted into opportunities to delight customers, and Twitter Direct Message became a key part of this journey, enabling businesses to both take complaints out of a public sphere and also keep customer information confidential. Today, Twitter DM is an essential tool for any business, or they risk alienating their consumer base and earning a poor reputation for customer service.
Email quickly became the go-to channel for business and while the association of formality still lingers, marketers today use email in innovative, personalised ways that use the benefit of a rich format to create engaging campaigns. Because it is not real-time, 2-way conversations can prove challenging using email compared to instant messaging such as web chat, and it suffers from low open rates due to bloated inboxes overused by spammers. However, for sending important documents or beautiful newsletters that are customised for the recipient, this channel isn’t going anywhere.
We all recognise that web sites are an essential tool for the modern business, but not having web chat is akin to having a shop without staff. Allow your customers to instantly get in contact, whether it’s a sale of customer service enquiry, and have your agents inform, engage and convert consumers, with either text or rich content such as images, files, videos and even GIFs. We’ll explore the ROI you can expect to see with web chat later in the series, but suffice to say, the results will shock you if this is not a channel your business is already using.
Push notifications an in-app chat
Your app users are already some of your most loyal customers, with a both higher lifetime value and a higher average spend per transaction. But a user’s loyalty is limited. Most people only use a handful of apps daily, and those that they don’t use are destined for the uninstall bin. Push notifications are vital to getting users back to your app, time and time again, and also make your users up to ten times more likely to spend with your brand. Meanwhile, in-app chat is essential to both retain and re-engage them, building the use of your app into their routine. Allowing them to communicate with you directly without leaving the app if they have questions or are experiencing an issue is an expectation most consumers already have making it a crucial providing, whilst marketing campaigns inside your app will see a great engagement from customers who are already passionate about your brand.
It’s always important to be able to offer the latest consumer conversational channel for your business too, or you risk alienating your customer base and pushing them to a competitor who do offer it. By using a well-connected CPaaS provider, you will be able to offer these channels to your consumers as soon as they become commercially available. On the horizon of business communications sit Apple Business Chat, Rich Business Messaging (RBM), and WhatsApp for business. Apple Business Chat is the long-awaited business arm of Apple users that will enable businesses to respond to the inbound messages from their customers (but not outbound just yet) in a rich format. RBM is the business arm of Rich Communication Services, Android’s answer to both OTT apps and SMS’ inability to offer a rich service. Many businesses are excited about RBM, dubbing it the next evolution of messaging, because it will replace the default messaging app on Android user’s phones and it will also be a marketing friendly channel. WhatsApp are also starting to offer their channel for business services, but there are limitations. Whilst WhastApp will be useful to many for operational messages including alerts, reminders and notifications, there is no ability to send rich outbound messages (although responses to inbounds can contain rich content) and much like their parent company Facebook Messenger, outbound marketing will not be permitted on the channel.
Omnichannel with CPaaS
Of course, accessing any of these channels and using them as part of your marketing, operational or customer service strategy is not something that is limited to CPaaS. But managing all of them, from one place, empowering agents with a holistic view of a customer that comes from an inbound message, keeping up with the newest channels and the latest features, and setting up fallback channels in problems with deliverability – these are all of the things you gain with the right CPaaS provider.