The coronavirus pandemic has pushed brands to better engage with their consumers, who are coping to the new environment that includes more online shopping, additional deliveries and adjusted family budgets. If you’ve been trying to figure out how to reach customers now that their habits have changed, we’ve got some news for you.
While customers are accustomed to digital communications, many brands did not have the right tools, channels or connectivity to meet their requirements. According to the CMO Council’s new study, “Critical Channels of Choice: How COVID Has Changed the Channels of Engagement
,” consumers are interested in hearing your message via email. That’s the word from the survey, which polled over 2,000 consumers across six countries in October.
Check out this list of the respondents’ preferred contact modes:
- Email: 91%
- Websites: 61%)
- Telephone: 59%
- In-person: 49%
- Text: 43%
- Social media: 35%
- Mobile app: 34%
- Printed mail: 33%
- Web chat/chatbot: 29%
- Video: 18%
- Physical events/conferences: 18%
- Webinars/virtual events:16%
- Other: 1%
In critical situations, 55 percent of consumers prefer email over the telephone, making it “the channel of choice” – the one they couldn’t live without. Telephone slipped to the second spot (compared to last year) as it’s seen that responsiveness in critical situations is about immediacy, and consumers don’t want to get stuck in an automated telephone information system.
Digital Fails to Meet Expectations
About 65 percent of consumers stated that digital engagements during the global pandemic didn’t exceed their expectations, the report noted. Conversely, 35 percent of consumers said it did, which was in the form of telehealth, Facebook Messenger, mobile apps with new features and capabilities, email, intelligent chatbots and personalized and interactive videos published by brands.
In addition, 50 percent of the respondents also mentioned that the human connection – “the ability to escalate to a live person who can help them when needed,” is the most important brand communication trait.
It’s crucial for a brand to offer a seamless experience, and facilitate an easy and quick engagement with a live person, during this new normal.
Most Consumers Expect Emails from Brands
For consumers, email is convenient, traceable, reliable and fast, and they can see it on their mobile devices. Even if the response isn’t immediate, there’s a trust quotient or a social contract that the brand will respond in short time, even if it’s an auto-generated one. Here, ubiquity is the greatest asset. The survey highlighted the fact that more than 90 percent of online adults use email (majority on a daily basis).
The most valued traits of email communication are:
- Convenient — 29%
- Trackable — 22%
- Reliable — 18%
- Fast — 11%
- Trusted — 8%
- Personal — 7%
Last year, according to Statista, there were over 3.9 billion email users worldwide sending and receiving 293.6 billion emails each day. Email may be the preferred channel, but it also brings up many challenges to brands. Consumers sometimes complain of their inbox being “flooded with non-relevant marketing messages resulting in low open rates.”
Brands need to cut the clutter through personalized emails with engaging content for the consumer. With the right tools and platforms, they can deliver a personalized experience and track open rates to increase customer engagement.
In this report, 87 percent of respondents find it frustrating “when they have to engage in multiple channels,” and 73 percent agree that this has made them “question whether they should do business with that brand.” The youngest generation, Gen Z, is the least irritated of all the generations. Interestingly, only 21 percent of consumers chose digital as their ideal communication preference during the pandemic, which is up from 10 percent last year.
To create the study, the CMO Council, in partnership with Precisely, surveyed more than 2,000 consumers spanning five generations (Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Silent Generation) and six countries (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand).
To read CMO Council Survey, visit the CMO Council’s website