By Harvey Hodd, Founder & CEO – Blueprint
Although the pandemic has caused consumers to spend more time staring at phone screens, it remains difficult for brands to build and monetise an online audience.
Existing channels like social media and email are highly saturated, and increasingly expensive. Since 2015, online CAC costs have jumped 60%, leaving brands little option but to take retention seriously.
Problem is, building a customer base that makes repeated purchases is tough, with many finding it difficult to know what specific actions they need to take to drive LTV.
One solution to this customer engagement rubix cube is for eCommerce stores to have more conversations with their audience – using channels like SMS, Whatsapp or social media DMs.
Research from conversational CRM Blueprint shows that brands who have a personalised, 2-way conversation with customers through SMS see up to a 26% increase in their customer’s lifetime value (LTV).
The study suggests that brands can use this dialogue to address many of the key problems facing eCommerce stores today. Namely high churn rates, difficulty moving buyers from first to second orders, and a lack of understanding around how customers are using their products.
What makes conversational commerce so powerful?
Customers are tired of seeing impersonal marketing messages that many stores peddle today. Instead, they want to develop a deeper connection with the brands they already know and like.
Conversational commerce is a strategy that lets you communicate directly with your customers, and add revenue-driving value at every stage of the buyer’s journey – from awareness to post-purchase.
Brands can use SMS marketing, messaging apps, and even A.I to make conversational commerce work for them.
Because of the one-to-one interaction these conversations offer, brands can also use the channel to build customer loyalty, which in turn improves retention and increases revenue.
How businesses can use conversational commerce
The use of conversations within eCommerce is in its infancy – 65% of stores do not have a formal SMS strategy in place for example. As such, most lack the understanding to leverage two-way chat to drive revenue.
Here are some ways top brands in the UK are using conversational commerce to improve their business today:
To keep yourself top of mind
Your customers see countless marketing messages and ads every day, making it very difficult to cut through. Over 80% of emails from consumer brands go unread, for example.
Using a conversational commerce channel like SMS lets you deliver personalized and relevant messages to your customer on their phones, right where they can see them.
Staying top of mind is even more critical after a customer makes a purchase. With a simple automated message flow, you can create personalized messages concerning order confirmations, dispatch notifications, and reorder prompts, building loyalty and retention in future.
Also, since you (as a brand) can text back and forth with customers, you can identify and solve CX issues, and as well as collecting feedback to iterate on.
Browsing through a ton of product pages on a website can be quite a chore for many customers — especially when a customer knows exactly what they want.
Using conversational SMS marketing, you can send a personalised messages at scale, with a link to the specific product(s) a customer wants to purchase.
Customers can then either purchase in-channel or be directed to a pre-filled Shopify checkout to pay in one-click, significantly increasing conversion rates.
Upselling and cross-selling
Upselling and cross-selling are some of the easiest ways to increase retention and revenue for a DTC brand.
Since conversational commerce is a personalized marketing strategy, you can use buyer feedback and historical purchasing data to determine which other products to recommend to your customers.
Misfit Health, a UK-based plant-powered supplement brand, generated an 11% conversion rate by upselling a VIP product to their most engaged SMS subscribers.
Getting started with conversational commerce
Set smart goals
No one sets out on a journey without a map or clear destination. For SMS marketing to work for your business, you need to know the results you’re trying to achieve.
Do you want to increase your LTV through improved customer engagements? More conversions from product drops? Or use it as a CX tool? Clearly define your desired outcomes before executing the strategy.
Choose an SMS marketing platform
After knowing what you want to achieve with a conversational strategy, you need to choose a software package or platform to help you get there.
Since all SMS marketing platforms are not the same, you’d need to research to help you find the right one based on your budget and business needs. While researching, check out for red flags like slow email support, checkout friction, and rigid subscription.
It’s also important to consider that some platforms do not offer the functionality for customers to text a brand back, enabling one-way communication only. So if that back and forth dialogue with your customer is important, consider choosing a platform that enables conversations.
Understand the legalities
Depending on where you’re operating your business or where your customers live, there are specific regulatory laws or rules to consider. Here are some of the key pieces of legislation governing SMS:
- United States: Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPR)
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) serves a similar purpose
- UK is governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
Designate resources for customer interaction
Text marketing deals on a more personal level than email marketing. As such, it’s crucial to treat customers as individuals.
Combining chatbots and human customer service reps goes a long way in ensuring you deliver the best customer experience, and ultimately drive revenue for your brand.
Conversational commerce, although early in its adoption, has huge potential to help brands improve customer engagement and retention without costing an arm and leg. It’s a scalable channel that allows brands to tackle many common eCommerce problems currently being faced, and gives customers a great experience that keeps them coming back for more.