How to effectively use multi-channel messaging whilst adapting to emerging channels

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Nicola Pero, CTO, Brainstorm

Mobile engagement has changed. It is now more complex and fragmented, a trend that is set to continue with voice, video and SMS all playing a key role in the industry. We are now seeing different types of communications being chosen for different purposes. For example, if you want communication that is short and to the point, which gets read and acted upon quickly, the likely option is SMS. Many think that with the new forms of communication coming on board that the old ones will disappear, but that isn’t the case. It just means we have greater choice in how we communicate, and companies need to be prepared to use them all.

Marketers must take into consideration the context in which their consumers use the different communication channels. For instance, some may prefer to receive promotional vouchers through in-app push notifications and exclusive pre-launch invitations via SMS. And of course, each consumer could have different preferences, so marketers need to be able to use all the channels to communicate a consistent message in the most appropriate medium for their audience.

Technology can play a vital role in providing a consistent brand personality, but if the company doesn’t have an overarching integrated communications strategy and dedicated responsibility assigned, the organisational structure creates silos of activity, which keeps them and their communication channels fragmented. For example the customer service, finance and sales & marketing departments could all operate with different suppliers of different communication channels (email, SMS, call centres), leading to disparate engagement and ultimately customer frustration and poor customer experience. This is where a multi-channel communications approach should be taken, as it will reduce the cost and complexity of customer communications and reduce customers receiving inconsistent messages. Those organisations able to implement an integrated multi-channel communications strategy will have a competitive advantage over its rivals.

Mobile messaging is here to stay

Mobile messaging isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. It will continue as a valid form of communication because there are many situations where it is the most appropriate form, for example, a reminder for an appointment or a password for an app. SMS has many advantages, despite what many may think, its ubiquity means that anyone, anywhere can send and receive an SMS regardless of the phone or network they are connected to.

The key is in selecting the most appropriate channel for the type of communication, the audience you are trying to engage with and the device and location that the customer is in. For example, in a shop if there is a sign the customer will read it, so the use of Beacon technology to send a push message that replicates what already exists will have little value. Where this can be used to its advantage is when it adds a new dimension to customer engagement or combines data to provide new insights or information tailored to the customer’s precise needs and situation at the time.

The future of multi-channel communications

With the continued use of mobile messaging and the emergence of new technologies the need to invest in a multi-channel communications strategy and platform is more important than ever before.

With this in mind, organisations should look to future proof their communications platform by ensuring it can easily incorporate all emerging channels, has the in-built intelligence to manage multiple engagements over multiple channels, and can create contextual information relevant to an individual consumer.

Consolidating communications channels into one multi-channel platform will facilitate the ability for organisations to be able to initiate communications in a ‘waterfall’ effect, jumping from one channel to another (SMS to email to voice etc) according to many different factors including cost of message send, the context, message content, urgency of delivery or customer preference.

As the complexity of communicating with consumers grows, businesses will look to adopt a more integrated approach that will provide a greater experience for the consumer, and greater efficiencies for the company.

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