Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Crossing the communications divide

There is a mismatch between the communications and the channels that retailers and brands use to connect with their customers. Understanding the problem is halfway to fixing it, says Jason Smith, VP at MoEngage.

Covid has taught us many things about customer behaviour. Two key lessons are speed and relevance. Speed – whereby already impatient customers became even more so and now demand fast, friction free shopping experiences. And relevance, they also became more frustrated with the various breaks and delays in their shopping journeys, as their digital appetite had grown and channel mix has evolved.

And the latest insight from our new report shows just how fast these behaviours are evolving. During the Pandemic, mobile overtook email as customers’ preferred communications channel. 1,000 shoppers in the latest Personalisation Pulse Check Report showed that pre-pandemic, 32% of customers ranked email as their preferred way to communicate with retailers and brands. As the pandemic eased, 20% now cite email communications as their preferred engagement method, compared to 22% who said mobile was their top choice, rising 9% higher compared to pre-covid levels.

These findings support the immediacy case, which is then further underpinned by figures that show that demand for brand engagement via social platforms from shoppers also increased by +5 percentage points compared to pre-pandemic levels, rising to 19% of customers who said social media was their preferred medium to communicate with brands.

Immediacy is further supported by three other findings; smartphone sales, which have been growing steadily for many years, during 2021, rose 11% according to Gartner. As a result, the company also predicted that mobile commerce sales would reach in excess of £92.17 billion in 2022. And thirdly, commerce on social channels, which are the very essence of immediacy, is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional commerce by 2025, according to Accenture.

The demand for immediacy has changed where and when customers want to interact with their brands, and they want to receive communications via the same channels through which they purchase.

However, far from being the end of email, relevance means it remains an integral part of omnichannel customer engagement strategies, especially as shopping journeys become even more blended, across a greater mix of multiple-channel touchpoints.

This growing mix of channels is key to success for retailers that need to find ways to bring communications, content and channels closer together to deliver perfect shopping journeys, ones where customers stay engaged. However, retailers still struggle to join the dots between shopper interactions across touchpoints. 27% of European shoppers in our research said their biggest frustration when it came to brand engagement was inconsistent messages across channels, while a further 28% said poorly personalised, irrelevant communications was their top bugbear.

Shoppers want the right message, delivered to them at the right time, and on the right channel.  And while that premise may seem straightforward enough in principle, it’s nigh on impossible in practice without a true single customer view.  Only by joining the dots through real-time, data-led insights can retailers build this 360-degree view of the shopper, which is key to delivering and scaling engagement to grow customer retention, lifetime value and loyalty.

Achieving this depends on having a single platform that multi-departmental and disciplinary teams can work from. A customer engagement platform consolidates all the information about the customer in a single place. This enables the sales and customer service teams to understand customer behaviour, improve segmentation, and send relevant content to boost conversions. It also provides the team with valuable insights into why drop-offs happen and improves engagement accordingly. It enables the teams to improve their efficiency across acquisition, retention, and up-sell/cross-sell.

Most importantly, as the customer engagement platform automates the repetitive tasks and streamlines the workflows, the teams can optimise customer engagement. It can help improve the team’s efficiency and boost customer engagement metrics.

The process starts with culture. Everyone – from the management to employees in a customer-first environment is committed to delivering an exceptional experience. Simply put, they are customer-obsessed, which drives them to align their functions, stay agile, and promote innovation. To achieve this, we have created 11 steps to follow.

With the right platform and culture, retailers and brands are able to keep pace with a customer that is clearly undergoing a conversion to convergence, where the channels, the communications and the content are coming together to give them the best possible experience online