By Hrvoje Zorko, Product Sales Expert Africa at Infobip
Customer engagement largely dictates the extent of the relationship between a brand and its customers, with richer engagement typically translating into greater customer loyalty and better business outcomes.
While ubiquitous channels such as social media platforms and messaging chat apps are largely dominating business and customer communication, enterprises should not dismiss mature channels like SMS and email. They remain invaluable for delivering important notifications to customers, and businesses simply cannot afford to underestimate these platforms in their customer communication strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on how businesses operate and how customers interact with brands. Aside from the pandemic, constant regulatory changes and technology improvements are also driving businesses to change their approach to customer engagement.
A customer-centric approach to engagement is key, with consumers dictating how they want to communicate with brands. It is up to enterprises to ensure they provide customers with sufficient options and channels to communicate.
SMS and email remain invaluable
Research from MobileSquared, found that 90% of SMS messages are opened within three minutes of delivery. Even more staggering is the fact that 99% of SMS messages are opened within 20 minutes of delivery. These trends illustrate why SMS remains an important channel for delivering key notifications to customers. SMS messaging is also still widely used for sending one-time passwords, booking confirmations and other vital business communication.
The effective use of SMS messaging can enhance customer engagement, especially if these messages are relevant, personalised and delivered on time. For example, when a customer has made an appointment with a company and receives a reminder beforehand, this notification is expected, required at a specific time and enhances engagement if it is personalised.
Market research shows that email continues to be the main driver of customer retention and acquisition for small and medium businesses (SMBs). According to the data, 81% of SMBs still rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% for retention Many enterprises also rely on email to send transactional communication, such as monthly statements, special offers, confirmation of purchase and reminders of appointments.
The role of messaging gateways
As companies grow in size, so do their internal systems which aren’t always adequately synchronised. For example, huge banks that have millions of customers, spread across various databases, often have different departments and systems through which they engage with end users. This is one of the biggest pain points for enterprises as these disparate databases rely on different service providers to send messages to customers.
This is where messaging gateways are extremely useful, especially in terms of SMS communication. These are essentially applications that enable all siloed internal systems to be synchronised through one gateway, ensuring that all messages are sent on time, with no additional intervention required from the business.
A messaging gateway is the perfect example of how the digital transformation of a service or channel can help businesses leverage well-known platforms to deliver relevant information to any mobile device, anywhere in the world.
Even though SMS and email channels may be seen as more traditional channels, their usage for business communication is still growing and they should form an integral part of a company’s omnichannel strategy. Messaging gateways can ensure that channels such as SMS are optimally integrated into a customer engagement platform and should not be overlooked by enterprises that are ready to implement new technologies and invest in omnichannel experiences.
Integrated Marketing Specialist