In digital marketing, taking the customer through the entire journey from awareness to conversion to advocacy is both science and art. People are less likely to stay engaged in one thing for too long these days (cue: the reminder about our current attention span of 8 seconds).
Inspiring them to move through every step of the journey towards conversion is not an easy task. To do so, brands must provide a few things: novelty, ease, convenience, and reward.
Current marketing elements like paid ads and promotional messages no longer satisfy the above needs – if they did, there would be no concerns about dropping engagement metrics.
Thankfully, technology keeps evolving. The next frontier in customer conversions and conversations is here, and it is called Inbox Commerce.
In this article, we talk about how Inbox Commerce (RCS, WhatsApp Business, and AMP for Email) can make user journeys riveting in entirely new ways and get more people to reach their destination and convert.
What is Inbox Commerce?
Fundamentally, Inbox Commerce refers to selling and buying via a user’s email or messaging app inbox. Brands can use a WhatsApp Business Account to display their entire product catalog and accept payments within WhatsApp. AMP emails that showcase products and let users choose and pay right within email would be another typical example.
Inbox Commerce comes with an immense advantage – low/no lead leakage. Users do not have to click links within their messaging app or email to exit to a website/app to shop. There are no redirects in the customer funnel of Inbox Commerce.
Everything occurs within the message or email in the inbox. Since there are no redirects, friction in the user journey is eliminated. Inbox Commerce also leads to lower bounce rates, higher engagement, and more purchases.
RCS (Rich Communication Services)
In its basic form, SMS only supports one-way communication, lacks visual elements, and restricts text to 160 characters. Rich Communication Services (RCS) changes this with an innovative messaging protocol. Simply put, it allows businesses to engage in two-way text-based and multimedia communication on mobile devices. They can use RCS to create rich, contextual, two-way marketing conversation via the humble SMS. It has been developed and supported by a consortium of mobile network operators, device manufacturers, and technology firms. In fact, Google has been pivotal in advancing and popularizing RCS as a next-generation messaging protocol.
RCS presents a plethora of features you don’t get in the regular SMS. This includes read receipts, typing indicators, group messaging, and the ability to easily share high-quality images, videos, and files within the messaging application. With RCS you get an interactive, feature-rich messaging experience directly with a user’s phone number.
RCS features are typically similar to those of the over-the-top (OTT) messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. It operates within the pre-installed messaging application on Android devices, which means users don’t need to download additional apps or create new accounts, unlike OTT applications.
Check out a brand that achieved unprecedented ROI by implementing Inbox Commerce
Fast-food brand Subway ran personalized, on-brand, and engaging campaigns to establish a deeper connection with customers. They stimulated both customer engagement and sales through RCS Business Messaging. The results they achieved through A/B testing during weekly campaigns were astounding. The RCS conversion rate was 140 percent higher than the SMS conversion for a two-sandwich deal and 51 percent higher for a $20 meal deal. As a result, Subway intends to leverage RCS further to enhance its business outcomes.
Here are a few ways in which RCS can improve the customer journey for brands:
Get more conversations and conversions with suggested actions
Is someone looking for customer support via SMS? Show them a suggested action – a deep link to your brand’s app, a ‘Contact Support’ button that automatically dials a certain number, a link that automatically opens a specific URL in the browser, etc.
Essentially, RCS reduces the steps customers have to take to get the results they want. The more you simplify the customer journey, the more customers are likely to complete it, and take the desirable action that profits the brand in the short or long run.
Assure them with an extra layer of security
RCS can be used to implement security, such as a two-step authentication, for users seeking to sign up or log into their accounts. It can also help establish user identity before making payments, especially through RCS.
Yes, this increases the number of steps in the customer journey, but given how modern customers are aware of the risk of having their data stolen, they will be more than open to this ‘inconvenience’. Most customers will appreciate a brand that takes extra trouble to safeguard their data.
Answer user questions immediately
Does a customer have a query when signing up? RCS chatbots to the rescue.
Once a customer requests support, you can send a chat via RCS, loaded with answers to frequently asked questions. Looking at SMSes is infinitely easier than visiting a site or even opening emails to find answers.
With RCS, you can answer customer questions almost as fast as they ask them.
Give them live updates
One of Netcore’s clients used RCS to help users stay updated about the latest games. They did so by enabling users to watch and subscribe to the latest game highlights.
RCS can also be used to deliver several other forms of real-time updates – dispatch/delivery confirmation, stock market updates, notifications about new additions to a product catalog, etc.
Use RCS to give users first dibs on any important information related to your brand or their preferences.
Increase visual appeal through dynamic elements
Gone are the days when all you could do was send basic images in a row when announcing new products or services. RCS makes it easy to send not just hi-res images; you can also emphasize specific parts of the products with interactive buttons.
Marketers can display multiple images that users can swipe through in a carousel format. RCS Carousels are the ideal design elements to save screen space without curtailing visual information.
Brands can use WhatsApp Business to create direct and personalized messages for their customer base. Promotional messages, updates, and offers via WhatsApp, build a more intimate and real-time connection with the audience.
Pay particular attention to the WhatsApp ‘Click to Chat’ feature. It lets businesses integrate a direct chat link on their websites or social media platforms, facilitating easy communication between customers and the brand. Basically, with one click, users can instantly start chatting/interacting with/buying from a brand’s WhatsApp channel.
This innovative approach is especially useful in delivering customer support and messages that drive marketing campaigns. The game-changer here are the interactive and immediate responses WhatsApp facilitates between the audience and the business.
Companies can also send messages to groups of recipients using WhatsApp broadcast lists. Needless to say, this is the perfect tool for publicizing/distributing marketing content, updates, and announcements.
Payment gateways can seamlessly integrate with WhatsApp, enabling customers to transact business securely. The official WhatsApp API lets you incorporate various payment gateways, including but not limited to PayPal, Stripe, and Razorpay.
Check out a brand that achieved unprecedented ROI by implementing Inbox Commerce
Paragon Technology and Innovation (PTI), a beauty brand, sought to enhance their online beauty consultation and assist customers in making informed product choices. They adopted WhatsApp Business to recreate an in-store-like experience in the digital realm.
PTI integrated WhatsApp Business into their website and social media platforms by including a ‘Click to WhatsApp’ link. They also added their WhatsApp contact information on product packaging. Customers initiated their personalized shopping experience by clicking the provided link or sending a WhatsApp message.
A virtual assistant collected customer information and directed users to the appropriate skincare expert to tailor packages for their specific needs. After the one-on-one conversation with customers, the skincare expert showcased the right products and closed the sale directly.
Here’s how WhatsApp Business can help make customer journeys more convenient and engaging:
Interact with customers on their chosen channel
If your target audience includes millennials, Gen Z or even Gen X, you need to be on WhatsApp. Customers won’t (and shouldn’t have to) voluntarily visit your website or app to take the desired action. You’ll have to bring your offerings to their chosen platforms.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, with close to a 98% open rate. This is where your customers are hanging out, and this is where they will more likely be open to your marketing communication.
Enhance the entire customer journey with a chatbot
Enrich your customer’s experience by deploying a chatbot that helps them easily navigate the purchasing journey. Incorporating a chatbot can lessen the burden on your support agents while offering prompt solutions to frequently asked questions, order status inquiries, and other concerns, reducing wait times significantly.
Given the increasing demand for immediate assistance, a WhatsApp chatbot can facilitate swift and efficient support and resolution for customers. Moreover, with Netcore, the process of creating and deploying a chatbot is remarkably straightforward.
Get them the documents they need immediately
Perhaps a customer needs a copy of their insurance policy document because they want to look over it before renewal. Instead of calling or writing in to agents of the insurance provider, they can just open WhatsApp.
It is quite common for banks and financial institutions using WhatsApp to facilitate immediate downloads of necessary documents. One of India’s largest banks does this quite effectively – a customer can simply type “Hi” on the bank’s WhatsApp channel and immediately get a set of relevant options, one of which is to download policy documents for all their active investments.
Tickle their curiosity
Unfortunately, it’s not easy getting people’s attention in this scattered-attention world. If you’re an educational channel (like PBS Space Time or Veritaserum), a great way to get your audience’s attention is to send new videos directly to their WhatsApp.
For example, let’s say you have a new video called “What If Space Is NOT Empty?” (an actual video by PBS Space Time; it’s excellent!). Now, you send it to users via WhatsApp. Who won’t get curious when they see a piece of content with that title on their phone?
For most users, this would be like getting a video from a friend or connection. So, brands can step into users’ day-to-day routine, and get them to engage without disrupting their regular flow of activity.
Simplify product search by avoiding redirect links
Till recently, users could only search for products/services through a brand’s app or website. Now, that’s a limitation of the past thanks to Inbox Commerce.
You can integrate a dynamic search bar within WhatsApp – a search bar with auto-suggestions that show up when the customer starts typing in the keyword. You can also go the distance and integrate an AI interface, which helps display highly relevant suggestions to users based on their browsing/shopping behavior on the web.
Facilitate effortless repeat purchases
Harness the power of WhatsApp list messages to streamline the reordering process for your customers. This feature proves invaluable for eCommerce businesses specializing in products that require regular replenishment, such as household and office essentials, health and beauty supplements, gardening and pet supplies, and more.
Customers can effortlessly select items from their previous orders and quickly initiate a repeat purchase, making their shopping experience simpler and more convenient.
Optimize the customer journey for maximum effectiveness
Audience segmentation: By categorizing users according to WhatsApp messages sent, delivered, read, and interacted with, businesses can craft focused campaigns that strongly connect with their specific target groups.
Journey reporting: Access to comprehensive journey reporting empowers businesses to track their customers’ progression through the sales funnel, enabling them to make informed, data-driven choices to refine their marketing strategies.
By leveraging WhatsApp journey reporting and segmentation, businesses can fine-tune their customer experiences across various touchpoints, ultimately boosting conversion rates.
AMP for email
Send welcome messages that catch the eye
Send new users interactive emails powered by the capabilities of Inbox Commerce. You can add a series of vibrant images, animated GIFs, stylized text that you can position strategically, and even a fun game or two.
Get users engaged immediately by sending them a welcome email that they enjoy, a quick gift code or 20% off their first three purchases. Or a chance to win access to exclusive deals. You are only limited by your imagination.
Collect data on user expectations and preferences
Inbox Commerce lets you send full-fledged forms (in multiple formats and variations) within emails. These forms include interactive surveys, polls, feedback/review requests, star ratings, and more. Your users do not have to leave their email to respond to any of them, which makes them more likely to complete the action. Zero redirects to website forms mean more engagement.
Such zero-party data is invaluable for creating personalized content, offers, and other targeted interactions with different customer segments.
Let users make informed decisions without the effort of research
A significant number of prospective buyers take their time to go through reviews and check ratings before they purchase anything. Brands can make this work in their favor by collating such research for customers and showcasing the latest, unbiased findings.
Inbox Commerce enables the placement of different items and their pros and cons side by side with each other. Be it PS vs. Xbox, D&D vs. Disco Elysium, or Deep Dish vs. Thin Crust, give folks objective data points and solid numbers. Help them make the buying decision and stand out as a trustworthy brand that cares about customer priorities.
Drive FOMO – help people realize what they are missing out on
FOMO is a ‘quick-win’ in getting customers excited about a product. If something is available for a limited time or quantity, it triggers much stronger interest. Remember what they say: you only value what you’ve lost or are about to lose.
Inbox Commerce enables emails to carry self-updating timers. So, you can send an email announcing an offer that says “50% off on everything for the next 5 days!!” but if the customer opens the email the next day, they will see it showing “4 days!!” instead of 5. Inbox Commerce emails dynamically update based on your site’s backend data.
Every time users open their email, they see the live countdown to the D-Day and hour. This keeps them on their toes, reminding them of the limited time left.
Reward the most loyal customers
Your Best Customers are the ones who have stayed loyal to your brand and account for a large chunk of your revenue. They should be rewarded for it, and Inbox Commerce helps you simplify the process.
Once customers make a certain number of purchases, show your appreciation by offering them discounts, free gifts, virtual credit, free invites to exclusive events, or instant memberships in loyalty programs. All of these can be made available to users to view and claim within the inbox.
Use Inbox Commerce to make the rewards more enticing with games as well. Customers can spin a virtual wheel, open a virtual door, or find their way out of a digital maze to claim their prize.
Whip up customer enthusiasm for referral programs
Nothing is more trustworthy than word-of-mouth recommendations. Who would you trust more – a brand or a buyer of the brand’s product? Customers who come through referrals are also more likely to stick around for repeat purchases.
Inbox Commerce encourages existing customers to make such referrals by making it quick and easy for them. They are able to choose their social connections (say, from a drop-down menu) and refer/recommend products from their inbox.
With Inbox Commerce, it is possible to fit the end-to-end promotion of your referral program right within the email.
Make customer journey enthralling with Inbox Commerce
Your customers are the reason your brand exists, and they expect their buying journey to be engaging and rewarding. Shouldn’t marketers give them a sense of excitement and fun in their interaction with a brand? It’s the most effective way to set yourself apart from the competition.
Inbox Commerce can help you come across as being different – with relatively low effort and a quick TAT. Our clients have achieved unprecedented ROI by implementing Inbox Commerce in their customer engagement… and we’re happy to show you the results.
Connect with us, and let’s talk about the specifics of how Inbox Commerce can transform your marketing outcomes.
Serving over 6,500 customers across 40 countries, Netcore delivers over 1 billion inbox experiences every day – including 500 million emails and 700 million push notifications. Netcore’s AI is trained on 25 billion interactions from 1,300+ eCommerce stores, making it an invaluable Inbox Commerce asset for global brands.