This informal CPD article on Delivering “Intelligent” Multichannel Customer Engagement via SMS and WhatsApp was provided by Terragon, a global marketing and data technology firm focused on driving intelligent connections to consumers in Africa.
Customer Engagement via SMS and WhatsApp, Africa’s Predominant Communication Channels
Customers are the lifeblood of every business and their expectations of how Businesses should engage them is to deliver an “experience” not just a “transaction” - as they expect Businesses to know them, be aware of their user journey, reach them via their preferred channels and even predict their wants through accurate recommendations. Yes, the skills required for every marketer now goes beyond just “selling” but include customer success, digital transformation expert, data analyst and much more.
Beyond gaining an understanding of consumers, being able to reach them via the most effective channels is critical, which is why having a multichannel solution is not just a “good to have” but a “must-have '' for Businesses. In Africa which is a “mobile-first” market, the 2 most effective and powerful channels for customer engagement consumers offline and online are SMS and WhatsApp respectively!
Africa currently has over 750 million mobile users, all of whom have the ability to receive SMS which is device, operating system and network provider agnostic and does not have the limitation of needing the internet or data - simply put, everyone who has a mobile device can text!
“Bulk SMS” is a solution that has been used by Brands since the inception of GSM in Africa for the promotion of Businesses and services via SMS to mobile subscribers at scale. However, this simple phenomenon has evolved with the availability of Martech platforms that leverage “data and insights” to enable more “intelligent” and “hyper-targeted” messaging to consumers as against the typical “spray and pray” approach. This means that a Brand can promote their new app to only consumers with smartphones rather than feature phones, or a newly opened retail store can send messages that will entice customers in that vicinity with discounts redeemable in-store - this sort of “intelligence” is what guarantees higher conversions, better returns on ad spend and lowers the cost of customer acquisitions.
For online customer engagement, WhatsApp is by far the most dominant channel for reaching consumers in Africa compared to other similar platforms and apps. With over 300 million online mobile subscribers (40% of mobile subscribers), projected to hit 475 million by 2025 (according to Statista), WhatsApp adoption is at 97% in Kenya, 96% in South Africa and 95% in Nigeria (according to the Global Web Index’s 2020 Social Media User Trends Report). Marketers and leading brands alike therefore cannot afford to ignore or downplay WhatsApp as an effective customer engagement channel when there are over 2 billion monthly global users on WhatsApp from 180 countries, sending 100million messages daily.
WhatsApp is not just a messaging app but has now become the dominant multimedia platform allowing features such as video/voice calls, sharing QR codes, weblinks, location pins, sharing photos, audio and videos and much more. Thus, ensuring effective customer engagement for Brands.
Due to the ubiquitous nature of the solution, the WhatsApp Business Solution can be deployed for various use cases by a spectrum of medium and large businesses across verticals. It can be used by Banks as a digital channel for customers to carry out transactions such as getting bank statements, making payments and transfers, obtaining loans etc. e-Commerce businesses can promote deals, discounts and offers such as Black Friday deals, allow customers to track deliveries, share videos detailing specific items or products etc.
Telcos can offer airtime and data packages, notify subscribers of new services and offers as well as allow them to sign up for automatic top-up. Airlines and Travel agencies can send tickets and boarding passes to passengers while FMCG Companies can reward loyal customers with discount coupons, send them location pins for events, run surveys, quizzes and lots more.
Other benefits of this solution are:
- Sending out templated and interactive messages at scale to thousands of opted-in subscribers.
- Connection to bots to cater to a wide range of automated communication with consumers
- Integration with back-end systems e.g., CRM, payment solution, marketing automation platforms etc., to cater to various business activities and needs.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Terragon, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.