Presented by Mitto
The COVID-19 outbreak quickly and radically changed consumer behavior, and brands have had to adapt their communications approaches in tandem to meet consumers where they are: on their phones. This requires a shift to mobile-first strategies that support the new contactless reality that consumers want.
COVID-19 is intensifying the need for digital communications in many industries
Many across the U.S. are not comfortable going to stores in person, and in many parts of the country, businesses are still closed. To adapt, many brands are shifting to a contactless approach, and it appears that contactless is here to stay. A recent study from Medallia found that 77% of consumers report that the amount of in-person interaction required at a business will factor into their decision of whether to visit it in the future.
Across the board, consumers are turning to their phones to interact with brands more and vice versa. Mitto has seen this through the global application-to-person (A2P) traffic we manage which was up 70% in H1 2020 when compared with the same period in 2019. Companies leveraging SMS as part of their omnichannel marketing strategy are better able to build relationships with customers and prospects, and ultimately earn more sales.
New use cases emerging for SMS
When the virus broke out, many brands used SMS as an approach to check in with their customers, and were forced to find a delicate balance around the volume, tone, and channel of messages sent to consumers.
In May, Mitto conducted a survey to gauge consumer attitudes and preferences towards brands’ communication with them. Most consumers surveyed (53%) said they were hearing from brands more in the first six weeks of the pandemic, and the majority (73%) agreed that the increase in contact was appropriate. This spike in SMS communications was a key trend in the spring, as brands assessed how they could appropriately engage with their customers — and many seemed to have gotten it right.
In recent months, we’ve seen an unprecedented rise in demand for two-factor authentication (2FA) requirements, driven primarily by a growth in online purchasing and usage likely due to stay-at-home orders. Over $200 billion was spent online with U.S. retailers in Q2, up 44% year-over-year, which means that $1 in every $5 spent came from orders placed online during the April-June period.
As we navigate this pandemic, brands will continue to leverage omnichannel communications, and traffic will increase. A recent McKinsey study found 77% of American consumers have tried a new shopping behavior since COVID-19 began, and many companies are turning to SMS for customer support. SMS will soon be playing the role of fall-back for chat app messages in customer support scenarios. Businesses will need to get more creative with how they can reach and engage with their customers, and many will consider reaching customers on the chat apps they’re already using, like Viber and WhatsApp.
Intelligently managing more traffic becomes critical
As myriad industries turn to mobile across a wider range of brand-customer interactions and mobile traffic increases, there’s a greater chance for network congestion and delays if the routing infrastructure isn’t sufficiently set up. Being able to intelligently manage that traffic so that it never interrupts the customer experience is critical in this new contactless world. Brands should consider how they can ensure that quality and reliable omnichannel communications are delivered every time.
When considering an A2P communications partner, look for these key elements of a routing system that can support contactless comms needs: The use of artificial intelligence can seamlessly navigate the complex global carrier world to deliver fast, reliable, and secure customer communications that satisfy customer expectations. The ability to automatically route traffic based on real-time feedback (including completion rates/successful OTP verification) from test nodes on the routes is key to high-quality and cost-effective traffic delivery.
Imagine if you request a one-time password for your bank account, but you don’t retrieve it. Not only are you left frustrated, but you’ll likely wonder if the security of your account is compromised. It’s critical that brands uncover network issues before they ever interrupt customer engagement — and potentially a customer’s trust. This type of high-quality communication requires this intelligent routing for fast, reliable, and optimal delivery, particularly for security-centric communications.
As time goes on, restrictions and people’s discomfort with physical proximity from one another will likely dissipate, but consumers will have adjusted to this mobile-first contactless society — and the integral role of SMS in the customer/brand relationship will continue to grow. Brands must reimagine customer journeys and accelerate the shift to digital channels if they have not already, as this shift to adopting digital and contactless services is likely here to stay. SMS provides flexibility for brands with the ability to offer a localized approach and, despite a rise in traffic, intelligent infrastructure exists to route for fast, reliable delivery.
Ilja Gorelik is COO at Mitto.
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