When customers receive brand communications via their preferred channels, they’re more likely to remain loyal. Arion Research confirmed this with 82% of positive responses in a study that asked 1,200 consumers about the channels they use and trust the most to interact with businesses. The findings further reveal that 69% of consumers would buy more if a company contacted them via their preferred channel, while 66% would become an advocate.
The implications for brands failing to meet these expectations are grim, especially considering the growing communication fatigue. 34% of digital consumers stated they received more unwanted company communications over the past 12 months. As a result, 25% of them switched a brand or ended a subscription after receiving too many emails, while 24% ended the relationship due to too many SMS.
These findings shed new light on consumer communication preferences, helping brands understand how they should tailor their engagement strategies to emerging needs. This article answers top questions on channels and strategies consumers expect brands to use.
1: What communication channels do consumers prefer?
Digital consumers have greater expectations from brand communications than ever before. 62% of LivePerson survey respondents said they are more critical of how brands engage them than a year ago. 75% are more likely to purchase if they can message rather than a call, while 74% prefer to browse products and get answers over messaging.
Evidently, brands need to ensure relevant information is available to consumers via all their public-facing media channels. And in the era of mobile messaging, this includes more than a mobile-friendly website. Brands should consider using channels such as Viber, WhatsApp, social media, and AI chatbots to increase availability and deliver immediate responses. According to a 2022 Statista survey, the most popular channels to interact with brands are email, text, and social media.
These findings correlate with the ones from the MobileSquared State of CPaaS Report, where Email, SMS, and WhatsApp were found to be the top three brand communication channels with 77%, 66%, and 53% of responses, respectively.
2: What frustrates customers in brand communications?
By using the right channel to send the right message at the right time, brands can increase engagement and improve overall customer experiences. Moreover, this can be vital for ensuring positive brand perceptions and avoiding common customer frustrations, which were found to include:
- Lack of timely customer service or order updates (19.26%)
- Receiving generalised product offers and promotions (14.21%)
- Inconsistent messaging across channels (8.22%)
The availability of two-way customer communication channels makes consumers feel valued and cared for. Paired with personalised, data-driven messaging, this helps deliver memorable experiences and build long-lasting relationships.
3: When do customers engage with brands?
For brands looking to deliver efficient communication experiences, it is important to understand when and how customers are likely to engage. Gartner found out that 44% of customers seek an organisation’s assistance as soon as they land on its website. They might be looking for product recommendations, order and return policy details, support or sales contact. Websites that are offering complex navigation or are lacking a chat option may be losing traffic because they’re not optimised to provide relevant information in a timely manner.
Furthermore, the State of Connected Customer report reveals that 78% of customers have used multiple channels to start and complete a transaction. They might order a product using an app or a website form but are likely to switch to SMS or a messaging app for order updates and support.
The State of SMS Marketing in 2023 by Validity reveals that 52% of consumers prefer to receive relevant updates from brands via email and 19% by Messaging, SMS or text. When asked why they subscribe to brand SMS, the consumers said they’d like to receive:
- 41% shipping notifications
- 38% special offers and promotions
- 33% subscriber’s discount
- 31% birthday gifts/discounts
- 30% rewards as part of a loyalty program
- 23% product or company updates
While being one of the most trusted channels for brand communications, SMS can also drive people to unsubscribe or stop doing business if misused. That’s why brands need to ensure the messages sent to the audience are personalised, relevant, and timely.
4: How often should businesses send customer communications?
The State of SMS Marketing in 2023 by Validity reveals that 19% of SMS subscribers would like to receive brand messages on a weekly basis. 17% only expect SMS when a company has an important announcement, while 16% want to receive it 2-3 times per week.
In a related report focusing on Europe, MoEngage Personalisation Pulse Check 2023 reveals that 30% of Europeans want brands to send relevant communication multiple times per week.
Mobilesquared report projects that brands will have more opportunities to interact with users via engagement platforms. The number of such opportunities was once every 2.57 days in 2020 and once per day in 2022. The analysts expect this to grow to 3.6 times per day on average by 2026.
5: Are customers ready to engage AI chatbots?
As the fastest-growing brand communication channel, AI chatbots are becoming more widely used in customer support, marketing, sales, and HR. LivePerson’s global report reveals that a positive sentiment about automation is higher than ever, with 65% of consumers finding chatbots convenient.
Zendesk CX Trends 2023 report also suggests that 77% of customers say AI/bots are helpful for simple issues, while 71% believe they help get responses faster.
Their immediacy and 24/7 availability help brands accept, process, and respond to a large number of customer queries without overburdening their live agents. AI chatbots can also be used for promotional and even lead qualification purposes, helping boost conversion rates and customer satisfaction.
6: What trends are shaping customer buying experiences?
While there is a subtle psychology behind consumer buying behaviour, there are also numerous situational and economic factors defining how people engage and communicate with brands. Below are some of the most important ones for 2024.
The emerging approaches to customer interactions focus on personalisation, cross-channel enablement, two-way communications, and the use of AI. Conversational commerce blends these approaches to engage consumers in one-on-one dialogues and deliver relevant updates via their preferred channels.
The growing convergence of digital and physical shopping will continue to influence marketing communication strategies. Most consumers today research a product online before buying it in store, and they expect consistent experiences across digital and physical channels. Brands need to use robust engagement platforms in order to properly track and deliver on customers’ expectations across touchpoints.
The global economic crisis and high inflation have influenced consumers’ purchasing power and behaviour. This has greatly affected retail and ecommerce businesses but is a trend relevant to many other industries, including Travel and Hospitality and Finance.
Company values and causes
Sustainability and charity work are increasingly important to consumers, especially Gen Z. Deloitte survey showed that they increasingly consider whether businesses commit to climate change and sustainability when choosing their brands.
While product reviews still weigh a lot in the purchase decision process, influencer marketing is a growingly powerful strategy to boost product sales. 72% of Gen Z and Millenials follow influencers on social media, and 33% of Gen Zers have purchased a product based on an influencer’s recommendation. Marketers too agree that this is a powerful strategy to attract, engage and retain consumers.
The dynamics of the digital communication ecosystem may make it challenging for brands to understand and adapt to the changing customers’ habits. However, two-way conversations are increasingly important to capturing consumers’ attention and, more importantly, building long-lasting relationships.