We’re all friends here. When we say automation, what’s the first thing that crosses your mind? The perfect subject line? Segmentation best practice? The cleverest abandoned cart email you’ve ever seen? But it is email that you think of, right? It shouldn’t be. Well, it shouldn’t just be anyway.
There’s no escaping the power of emails. All you have to do is look at the estimated ROI for email campaigns to see it’s a no-brainer. Especially when combined with the ability to create innovative rich content that is beautifully on-brand. But it is just a single channel. And when you consider how hard we are working to personalise our automation journeys for customers, shouldn’t we be personalising the channels we are sending from too? Without a single doubt – yes.
It was nearly four years ago now when Neil Mohan, Google’s VP of Display Advertising informed us all that 90% of consumers start a task on one device but end up ultimately finishing it on another. Our customers have become more dynamic in their browsing and shopping habits than ever. But marketers are still lagging behind in our ability to be pervasive in this journey.
To successfully rule your automation strategy, you must be able to gently buffer your customer down the line to a conversion. Pillows of personalised sweeteners should act as bumpers from every angle to get them to the goal. If you are using email email, all you are doing is flexing a single pinball lever, despairingly flailing and hoping for them to come your way. And if they do, then great! But if they don’t, what else are you doing? To be omnipresent, we must adopt an omnichannel approach.
Here’s eight reasons why:
Email is great at what it does. But so is SMS. So are push notifications. So is web chat, or Facebook Messenger or Twitter… the list goes on. Each have their own unique advantages that you aren’t utilising. For instance, an SMS is almost certainly going to be opened (98% are after all). And it will most likely be opened within a few minutes of delivery. Because of the 160 character restriction for a segment, your customer will be able to read and take in your message with a simple glance. There’s no lofty ambition of holding their attention for an entire article. There isn’t even a required expectation of getting their lazy thumb to scroll a smidge. A single click and your message is immediately being digested. Consider this when you’re planning your next automation programme.
This concept of micro content also applies to push notifications. They also come with the added advantage of 1) being cheaper than SMS and email, and 2) communicating to customers on a channel which has already proven their engagement with your brand. If they already have the app, they are already emotionally invested in your products or services. They have opened a channel to you that is in their pocket or eyeline 24/7. Think of your automation journey. Your customer might start their journey browsing on their work computer. But you want to catch them on their phone or tablet, just after they have had their tea at home, when they are in prime buying state. A push notification can work wonders here, especially if it comes with a something to sweeten the deal for them.
Maybe your customer has a question? Submitting a contact form into the ether doesn’t fill them with confidence they are going to get a reply any time soon. But with more immediate communications like web chat, Facebook Messenger or Twitter DM, the lingering ghost of the three-dot chat bubble will pacify their patience enough to keep them engaged with their buying process. Long enough to hopefully convert them, or at least nudge them further down the path.
2. Stand out from the crowd
In a post-GDPR world, this may well have slowed down. But the lingering perception of some inboxes is one of white noise. It can be hard to pick out any distinguished message from the din of businesses flooding an inbox. Customers may be less receptive to an email than they would from a channel they wouldn’t expect you to communicate on, such as Facebook Messenger. Messenger is a bit of a new frontier for businesses. But it will fast become one of the strongest adopted channels for B2C, and the capabilities of functionality already in the app means you can get seriously creative. Hop on this channel as soon as possible, whilst you still have the edge on your competitors.
3. Think about the purpose of your message
Not all communications are created equally. Some may be in the best interest to disappear once read informing the customer just once, whilst others the customer may want to keep for their records. A receipt is probably best sent via email. But a notification about a sale or an event or an update on a delivery is best sent via push where it will self-delete. Likewise, the best place for an exclusive voucher is via text where the user can get to it quickly without relying on internet connection. By thinking about the needs and experiences of your customer, you can customise the channel they receive their comms on. This will improve their interactions with you and perception of your brand as one that anticipates and cares.
4. The bottom line
We can talk about customer experience some more. But before we do, it’s worth noting that an omnichannel approach will see your profit margins improve in the short term as well. By using a service that offers automated back-ups for channel preferences such as Comapi’s Branch, you can save huge amounts by slashing your SMS or email costs. Set your default send to Facebook Messenger or push and Branch will deliver your message to everyone who has opted-in to these channels. As for anyone who hasn’t? Not to worry. It will send the same message to your back up of SMS or email or whichever channel you prefer. Everyone gets the message, but at a fraction of the spend it cost you last week.
5. Informality breeds receptiveness
Consider this when planning your next automation or campaign. People are social beasts. In the age of social media, people’s relationship with brands is becoming much more, well social. While email is more official in nature having always had a business function and retaining formalities such as signatures and subject lines, businesses have moved into mobile-native app communications that are much more chatty and informal since the primary function was to converse with friends and family. But here’s the thing about this kind of informal communication – when people use it, their guard is down. They will be much more emotionally receptive to your message. By immersing them in an experience of mobile communications across their social apps, you are much more likely to permeate any buying objections.
You only have to look at the increasing gradient on the speed at which people are adopting new technologies to figure out that the next big channel your customers will be using in a couple of years probably isn’t even in development yet. But with an omnichannel platform provider that keeps their finger on the pulse about these things (like Comapi), you can outsource that worry safe in the knowledge you are prepared for whatever the future brings in consumer behaviours. Whether it is the use of chat bots and AI, or the rapid adoption of RCS, it will be important to keep up so your competitors don’t see a gap you haven’t plugged yet.
7. How many opportunities have been missed by only looking at email?
Let’s examine the recent cyclone of GDPR briefly. So many companies missed a valuable opportunity here. We all got the emails. Hundreds of them, mostly from brands we didn’t remember interacting with in the first place. But if that brand had taken a more creative and agile approach in their GDPR automation strategy by contacting us on a channel other than email, would we have opted in? Would we have read the message and become a re-engaged customer? What will be the next opportunity you let slip by?
8. Gain a deeper understanding of your customer base
It’s not all about getting your message out there. Your customers are telling you a great deal about their consumer habits by letting you know about their communication preferences. The possibilities of segmentation based on the typical buying habits of a consumer that likes to use Twitter DM are enormous. A customer that reacts to a Facebook Messenger communication with a GIF is giving you valuable insight. A user who doesn’t open an email in days but does click on a push notification straightaway clearly does have their phone nearby at all times.
The possibilities for a more personalised strategy in your automation are endless with an omnichannel approach. Of course, it goes without saying that more channels may mean more problems and resource for your business. But only if you are trying to juggle it all in-house and aren’t using a nifty platform solution like Comapi to manage it all for you. With our SaaS tool Contact, agents can capture every single disparate silo of communication in order to get a comprehensive view of a customer all in one place. Find out more by chatting with us today.