In order to successfully communicate with their customers, multinational businesses must meet consumers where they are, using a messaging strategy that matches the customer’s preferred communications channel. This is as true today as it was 20 or even 30 years ago. Of course, channels like email, SMS, and over-the-top (OTT) chat apps that complement VoIP, mobile, or landline phone calls weren’t on the map 30 years ago. Today, businesses must attend to these channels, while still providing efficient face-to-face, in-person communications.
But for a multinational messaging strategy to have a real impact, the business must not only meet the customer through their preferred channel, they must also reach the customer in the moments that matter. In short, a strong messaging strategy delivers the right message in the right channel at the right time.
The Right SMS Messaging Strategy
Even though SMS (short message service) celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017, the communications protocol’s preeminence in the state of SMS messaging remains unassailed with high open and response rates, especially compared to other forms of communication like email with lower open rates and lagging response rates.
But even as responsive as customers are to SMS and as engaging as this form of communication is, it can come at a steep price, with SMS messages being especially expensive in developing nations.
Despite sometimes steep costs and regional disparities, mobile use continues to rise. Customers spend a large amount of time communicating with friends and businesses through SMS, and they spend a significant amount of this mobile time searching specifically for businesses and products. When they find something that interests them, they usually want it right then or shortly afterward. Businesses can meet the needs of their customers in the moment by implementing a feature like “click to text” to send SMS messages instantly from their website, search ads, or a mobile app. This is a key consideration for businesses that need to stand out in a crowded marketplace and establish a nurturing relationship with their customers. It also helps convert mobile viewers into leads by making communication quick and efficient and allowing the business to access customer contact information in the future.
The Contextual Connection
While SMS messaging is available to virtually every customer who has a mobile phone, allowing businesses to reach them nearly anytime, almost anywhere, SMS typically does not reveal where customers are located. This can be a quandary for businesses focused on marketing to the customer in context. On the other hand, if a customer downloads and uses a business’ mobile app with in-app messaging, they can be found through an IP-linked GPS, which lets the business know when the customer is within a predefined service area.
Location-based marketing can enable a business to meet the contextual demands of any given customer, providing messages that match with their location and sending notifications when a customer enters or exits a geofenced location. For example, a music streaming app could recognize when a customer’s most played artist is coming to play a concert in their city and invite them to buy a ticket through the app. This helps the business connect directly with customers, build brand loyalty, and streamline personalized communications.
Mitigating Mobile Coverage Concerns
When businesses choose to use an OTT chat app as their main message strategy for reaching customers in the moments that matter, they’re making an assumption that mobile phone coverage will be ubiquitous between outside cell towers and indoor hotspots. This is a pretty good assumption to make in the age of 4G LTE, where most shopping or dining establishments offer free Wi-Fi, but for many nations, off-the-beaten-path rural areas, or urban places with obstructed dead spots, these businesses need a backup messaging strategy.
For example, if the business chooses WhatsApp as their mobile messaging app, they can enable optional failover to SMS, ensuring that if WhatsApp fails, the SMS, which only requires intermittent connectivity to deliver a text of up to 160 characters in length, will come through. This helps ensure that businesses are getting their messages to the customer at the right time.
Businesses can implement SMS failover into WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, and other mobile OTT chat workflows using a single, abstracted messages API that provides access to SMS and multiple social chat applications. This can make expanding a messaging strategy more simple and communicating with customers through the channels they prefer—and in the moments that matter—more effective.