The COVID-19 pandemic plus the war in Ukraine created a perfect storm for inflation, and now the prices of goods and services are dominating the minds of consumers everywhere. Annual inflation rose by 8.3 percent in April, close to a 40-year high, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Everything from food and gas to travel and housing is more expensive, which has many consumers watching their wallets and shopping around for the best prices.
With many concerned about rising inflation, we can expect once-loyal customers to switch brands if it means cheaper prices. The stakes have never been higher: in addition to inflation challenges, 87 percent of consumers across all generations avoid buying from brands they don’t trust (especially boomers).
Now more than ever, you need to understand what your customers are facing and ensure they both trust your brand and feel supported. Since people are increasingly using their mobile devices to shop, this means your brand must be present where your customers are, regardless of time, location or channel (e.g., SMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, etc.).
The Secret to Communicating With Customers: Have Open Dialogs
As consumers keep a close eye on prices, ensuring they're able to converse with your brand is key. Now is not the time to be using high-pressure, high-frequency one-way campaigns focused on driving conversions. Remember, since they're ready, and willing, to experiment with new brands, your communications strategy with your customers needs to focus on inviting a relationship as means to build loyalty.
Implementing a conversational marketing strategy not only allows you to have two-way dialogues with your customers, but it creates a welcoming path to share information such as new promotions or loyalty programs — all of which are great retention boosters. Ensuring that your customers know their options for discounts or redeeming financial rewards can go a long way when they're actively shopping around for the best price on a product.
Optimizing Interactions Through Conversational Marketing
Through two-way conversation, you have the power to engage with customers and answer their questions. Conversational marketing also lets you seamlessly bring a live agent into the conversation, rather than having to say, “I can’t handle your question, you’ll need to contact XYZ …”
You may be wondering: How do I engage with all of my customers if they're present in multiple channels? Thanks to natural language understanding (NLU) and conversational API technologies, you can reach customers in their preferred channel and customize messages tailored to their unique needs. For example, if a consumer recently purchased an item, you can send a personalized message to them offering a discount on their next purchase or early access to an upcoming sale. You could even pivot the conversation if the customer, for example, wants to explore similar products or learn about your loyalty program if they aren’t part of it yet.
Enabling two-way conversations shows that you appreciate and value both new and existing customers. During a time when cost is top of mind for many, ensure your interactions with customers provides them with a personalized experience that encourages them to choose your brand again and again.
Matt Ramerman is the president of Sinch for Marketing, a mobile messaging platform to transform your brand experience.