Good times don’t last, especially in marketing. The initiatives that drove conversions for ecommerce marketers – digital ads and promotional messages – have stopped giving the high numbers they once did. All channels are saturated, and shoppers are tired of marketing communication.
Shoppers now ignore conventional emails and SMSes, install ad blockers, and generally disregard anything that feels ‘salesy.’ We can blame it on the relentless bombarding of content on every screen they have. When too many ad messages keep coming their way, everything begins to look the same.
Ecommerce marketers need a breeze of fresh air to revive traditional communication channels and boost critical metrics like conversion, average order values, and repeat purchases. Optimization has forever been the name of the game, and a new concept is all set to become the future of marketing.
It’s called Inbox Commerce.
This article elaborates the concept and discusses how Inbox Commerce is already propelling key channels like RCS, WhatsApp, and email into a new era of increased shopper engagement and conversions.
What is Inbox Commerce?
Inbox Commerce is the practice of marketing products/services, conducting transactions, and engaging with shoppers right inside messaging channels like RCS, WhatsApp, and emails.
In simple terms, it’s all about taking your shop to the customer’s inbox.
This approach focuses on simplifying the shopping experience to make it convenient for users to connect with ecommerce stores. They can effortlessly buy products/services without redirects to websites and apps.
RCS, WhatsApp, and AMP for email are the pillars of Inbox Commerce that have become the most influential tech combo for unconventional marketing and conversion.
Inbox Commerce brings website and app-like features to your customers’ RCS messages, WhatsApp communications, and email inboxes. This tech allows people to do everything – searching for items, adding them to a cart, finishing a purchase, tracking deliveries, giving feedback, playing games, booking appointments, tickets, seats, and more – within an email or message. They no longer have to click CTAs and hop through multiple web pages to buy.
But first, let’s break down each element in your Inbox Commerce toolkit.
Rich Communication Services (RCS) is an advanced messaging protocol to enhance text messaging and multimedia communication on mobile devices. It is a telecommunications industry standard developed and promoted by a consortium of mobile network operators, device manufacturers, and technology companies like Google.
RCS livens up the regular old SMS and turns it into a vibrant and multi-potential marketing tool. You can convert it into a point of authentic two-way communication – meet the user exactly where they are.
Unlike traditional SMS, RCS offers features such as read receipts, typing indicators, group messaging, and the ability to share high-quality images, videos, and files within the messaging app. It aims to provide a more interactive and feature-rich messaging experience within the user’s phone, outside any downloaded app.
RCS operates within the pre-installed messaging app on Android devices. Notably, unlike OTT apps, RCS doesn’t need users to download or sign up. It works with something that every cell phone has by default – the SMS.
Several surveys and studies have shown that 70-80% of consumers prefer engaging with a brand through private messaging over traditional channels like promotional emails and banner ads. However, in its generic form, SMS only offers one-way communication, allows no visuals, and limits text to 160 characters.
With RCS, you can send rich, contextually relevant content straight to your shopper’s Messages app on Android devices.
WhatsApp in Inbox Commerce
WhatsApp Business lets brands communicate directly with their customers in several exciting ways. Much like RCS, the intent is to create direct and personalized lines of communication without disrupting users’ routines.
Brands can use WhatsApp to send promotional messages to share detailed product catalogs, add-to-cart reminders, the latest deals and discounts, back-in-store reminders, and more to create a more intimate and real-time connection with their audience.
In particular, WhatsApp’s ‘Click to Chat’ feature allows businesses to integrate a direct chat link on their ecommerce websites or social media platforms, facilitating easy communication between shoppers and the brand. Users can easily connect with the brand via WhatsApp with a click.
This innovative approach enhances customer support and makes marketing campaigns successful by fostering interactive and immediate interactions.
In addition to one-on-one communication, WhatsApp’s broadcast lists enable companies to send messages to a select group of recipients. Making it the perfect tool for sending marketing content, updates, and announcements to genuinely interested customers.
Payment gateways can also be seamlessly integrated, enabling shoppers to purchase anything and everything from within WhatsApp. The official WhatsApp API provides the capacity to incorporate various payment gateways, including but not limited to PayPal, Stripe, and Razorpay.
AMP for Email
AMP for email is a framework through which marketers can embed interactive and dynamic features within an email, like forms, image carousels, copy accordions, real-time data, quizzes, games, payment gateways, chatbots, etc. A shopper can open an AMP email and do anything they would on a website or an app.
Imagine a scenario where shoppers can scroll through products, order them, make payments, track delivery status, offer feedback, and do much more without leaving their email inbox. They never have to click through to a third-party site or app – an action often resulting in ‘lead leakage.’ Plug this one simple hole with Inbox Commerce, and you’ll find that conversion automatically increases.
The user can get everything they want and never have to leave their email inbox.
11 reasons to adopt Inbox Commerce
Marketing messages empowered with Inbox Commerce drive higher shopper engagement by delivering convenience, ease, and novelty within email, SMS, or messaging inboxes.
MissPompadour, an online paints retailer, used WhatsApp to send photos and videos that helped users make faster choices. They now receive over 500 WhatsApp requests daily and sell their products in 9 out of 10 chats.
Inbox Commerce is designed to elevate personalization with user-specific content. Inboxes can now contain dynamically customized product recommendations, delivery updates, curated discounts, and other compelling incentives for users to convert.
Ecommerce marketers can seamlessly collect vital data points about their potential customers – without being intrusive. They can further use this data to hyper-personalize their messaging across all three channels.
Enhanced customer experience
Inbox Commerce can make shopping experiences infinitely more exciting and rewarding. Customers can get instant support through chatbots to help them discover the right product. These chatbots can also help them resolve queries related to shipment tracking, returning products, and checking their reward points without having to visit websites or apps.
The Virgin Trains team partnered with Vodafone and OpenMarket to roll out, for the first time, an RCS communications program on a commercial basis. RCS messages were sent to customers’ smartphones 10 minutes before they arrived at London’s Euston Station.
The messages delivered the latest updates for underground train services, along with buttons to click on for more information. Passengers were extremely impressed, and every person who used this feature gave it 5 stars. No one opted out of the experience.
Zero friction in the customer journey
Since all shopper actions happen within the inbox, there is zero friction or lead leakage. A massive cause of in-transit bounce rate is the redirects from marketing messages that cause people to drop off without visiting the buying page.
Inbox Commerce brings the end-to-end process inside RCS, WhatsApp, and emails, making it convenient for users to complete their purchases quickly.
Innovative features at the fingertips
Brands can stretch their imagination to innovate and offer users never-before experiences with Inbox Commerce.
For example, Inbox Commerce-enabled emails from Pinterest let you save pins, and Booking.com allows customers to change booking dates – right inside emails. Shoppers can get detailed product displays, search, compare and purchase products, track deliveries in real-time, play games for rewards, and see information getting updated every time they open the same email.
Or, brands can send a review form via an SMS or a WhatsApp message. Customers can answer all questions without leaving their message inboxes.
Not only does this simplify and enhance the customer journey, it also creates ‘customer delight.’ The net effect is that users become more likely to see the purchase through and reach the ‘Place Order’ stage.
EcoWorld, a Malaysian property developer, found that ads that clicked to WhatsApp reached more prospective homebuyers and delivered more high-quality leads, yielding a 6.5X return on ad spending.
Improved data analytics and insights
RCS, WhatsApp, and emails powered by Inbox Commerce generate granular analytics and tracking data. Marketers can get direct insight into how users interact with their messages, which components they click on, and how long they spend on each section/category. Such behavioral data is crucial for optimizing the marketing efforts to yield maximum ROI from the campaigns.
Increased conversion rates
Inbox Commerce improves conversion rates by presenting users with a seamless and highly interactive experience.
For example, marketers can include multiple images (of one or more products) in RCS or email by displaying them in a carousel. Users can choose any item by clicking on the image, comparing it with other options, reading reviews by other buyers, adding it to the cart, making the payment, and completing the order – within the inbox.
iFood is a brand that showed this in real, live action. The Brazilian food delivery company started using WhatsApp to boost restaurant sign-ups, get more staff onboard, and improve sales and customer service. The WhatsApp campaign drove 38X more conversions than the same campaign running on other platforms.
Better deliverability and reputation
The engaging and interactive content in Inbox Commerce can make them less likely to be marked as Spam for messages or shuttered in the Promotions tab for emails. Improved deliverability means that the email provider will positively recognize your domain, and you’ll have a greater chance of ensuring that your marketing messages avoid the spam folder.
Powerful branding opportunities
The elements of Inbox Commerce-led RCS, WhatsApp, and emails can contribute a great deal to increasing brand recall. You can highlight the brand logo, value proposition, product features, differentiators, comparative benefits, etc., through visual and textual elements that stand out.
When you leverage Inbox Commerce to craft clever and compelling messages that build on your brand strengths, customers will stay loyal for longer.
Easy integration with other channels
Inbox Commerce enables integration across marketing channels – email, push notifications, social media, apps, etc. Ecommerce marketers can create interactive campaigns involving RCS, WhatsApp, and emails. When a user does a ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on a social post without leaving their messaging inbox, it’s a fine example of the omnichannel reach of Inbox Commerce.
Inbox Commerce is an emergent technology with massive potential. The marketing gurus are still figuring out the heights to which they can take it for better shopper experiences and brand profitability. Marketers can leverage Inbox Commerce to share innovative narratives and stories via RCS, WhatsApp, and emails that delight, inspire, and interest customers. The only limit here is imagination.
Mobile carrier Orange launched an RCS Business Messaging bot across the six participating countries of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The bot delivered updated scores, standing, team data, and more.
The RCS bot was such a hit that it doubled the number of active RCS users in Africa and tripled the same number in Senegal. It also delivered more than one million engaging messages.
The future is here, and it is Inbox Commerce
Major ecommerce brands have already tapped into the potential of Inbox Commerce in collaboration with Netcore to boost their conversions and profitability. Inbox Commerce via RCS, WhatsApp, and emails is proving wildly effective in pushing interactive, personalized, and engaging user experiences.
Let us take you through the new and highly profitable world of Inbox Commerce with real-life success stories. Reach out to us, and we’ll talk about the specifics of how this innovative concept can transform your ecommerce marketing efforts and skyrocket your ROI.
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 asset for global brands.