Brands of all sizes are starting to bet big on instant messaging. It’s a marketing trend that’s grown in recent years and is only going to get bigger, particularly as Juniper Research predicts 160 trillion mobile and online messages will be sent each year by 2019.
As we move into 2017, therefore, it’s become essential for brands to put a platform in place that can communicate with customers in the way they want, when they want, and how they want both now and in the future, not least because their competitors will be looking to offer the same thing. It’s a change also being driven by the fact that today’s consumers demand access to everything immediately, and have come to expect a level of interaction and human touch on any platform they choose.
For marketers, this presents a big opportunity as it represents the next generation of consumer engagement. Omnichannel messaging has come to play a vital role in increasing business visibility, generating more routes for interaction with prospective and existing customers, and improving overall brand satisfaction. It’s also a way to deliver a customised user experience across each individual platform while simultaneously reaching consumers in a way that’s most effective for them. It’s evidently a positive change for brand marketing efforts.
Yet, despite this, the rollout of omnichannel messaging support across the business world hasn’t been smooth sailing, and the problem typically comes down to implementation.
The omnichannel reality
There’s a clear benefit to taking an omnichannel approach for business, and the potential it holds for more effective marketing communication is evident. However, it’s not straightforward to introduce. Many brands struggle with installing a functional omnichannel platform onto their existing IT infrastructure, while others find it difficult to add anything more than email and SMS support in a joined up fashion.
Part of the problem is that making omnichannel a reality depends on several factors, and platform separation is one of the biggest challenges brands encounter when first look to bring omnichannel messaging into their marketing mix. Stitching together disparate messaging platforms – whether it’s SMS, email, push notifications, OTT applications, or even voice – is neither efficient nor practical. It’s not cost effective either. On top of this, without a centralised approach, an omnichannel platform will not allow a brand to offer a fully joined up customer experience. They simply won’t be able to see the bigger picture.
A better approach
Fortunately, for brands looking to take advantage of the many benefits omnichannel offers, without falling foul of platform separation, a new approach now exists. It’s called the Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) model, and it’s designed to help brands unlock the true value of omnichannel. CPaaS removes the complexity associated with this technology by partnering with an established mobile messaging provider capable of offering a single solution that’s seamlessly combined, and offers support for all popular communications platforms.
When you consider how omnichannel is handled through a series of messaging APIs specific to each platform, it becomes clear how vital the role of a specialist messaging provider is in this equation. If nothing else, the challenge associated with trying to manage multiple different communications channels as a brand is you’ll need a lot of dedicated internal resources to make this a reality. If you use a single, established messaging provider, however, the omnichannel communication framework you need – that would require significant investment to create yourself – and the APIs required to tap into them already exist.
And when you take this into account, it’s no surprise omnichannel and CPaaS are joined at the hip. After all, to make omnichannel a success, you need a communications platform to run it on – and this depends on having the right partner in place. Not only do established messaging specialists have the necessary framework for implementation and the technology itself, along with decades of industry experience, they also have an extensive network of connections to ensure these messages can be delivered all over the world. This is vitally important for global brands looking to offer omnichannel benefits to all their users at once, rather than a small subset of their overall customer base.
Omnichannel in 2017 and beyond
Beyond these use cases, the potential for omnichannel will grow further in 2017 when you consider how chatbots and other technological developments are being introduced to the marketer’s toolbox. As this technology sees more development, and is integrated into popular messaging apps and other services in the next 12 months, brands will need a comprehensive messaging platform as a centralised hub for managing these additional services. For any chatbots brands introduce, it’s essential to give as much attention as any other customer communications channel when it comes to managing these services and integrating them into daily operations.
The preferences of today’s consumers are changing, and brand engagement is changing too. If omnichannel isn’t a part of your marketing mix already then it certainly needs to be. Yet it’s a balancing act. If the omnichannel platform in place is not up to scratch, it will likely cause more harm than good. The question, therefore, becomes how to best introduce an omnichannel platform for your brands marketing efforts and how to best handle what could amount to millions of instant messages being delivered on a daily basis.
The answer lies with CPaaS.