Messaging best practices

Email and text reign supreme: Research uncovers consumers’ frustrations when communicating with brands and reveals channel, frequency and customization preferences

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    Kayleigh Karutis
  • Nov 20, 2019

Why email and text are most consumers' communication channels of choice. 

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Email and text: that’s how customers want brands and businesses to communicate with them, despite the massive explosion of new channels and social media platforms in recent years, according to a new Twilio study.

The study surveyed 2,500 consumers across a variety of backgrounds, all over the world, to better understand how, when, and where consumers want to be reached, and how the content and urgency of those messages influence their preferred medium.

Download the full report here.

Survey respondents vastly preferred email as the main mode of communication between them and a business—83% said so, in fact—but texts are more than twice as popular as email when receiving urgent communications from businesses.

As for homegrown corporate apps specific to your business? Only 12% of consumers prefer a company’s mobile app for receiving communications from that business. While 7 out of 10 consumers curate their home screens, less than half of consumers say they put corporate mobile apps on their home screen.

The report highlights the nuanced ways in which consumers prefer to communicate with businesses, and the potential for harm should businesses not follow their preferences. More key findings:

  • 75% of consumers have rewarded businesses that communicate in the way they prefer (i.e. visiting the website, making a purchase, having a positive impression).
  • 7 in 10 consumers have penalized a business when the communication experience wasn’t what they wanted (i.e. unsubscribed from notifications, stopped doing business). 
  • More than one-third of all consumers surveyed have made a purchase from a business if the business communicated with them in their preferred way (34%).
  • The most common reward for good communication is visiting a company’s website (42%).

Personalization is required, especially for young people

Understanding communication preferences among key demographics and generations is important for fostering meaningful and authentic connections between brands and their customers.

More insight into how age relates to expectations:

  • More Gen Z and Millennials want content personalization and a choice of the time of day that messages are received vs. older generations.
  • Millennials prefer to receive promotions/sales messages more frequently than Baby Boomers.
  • Gen Z and Millennial consumers are more likely to reward businesses for meeting their preferences and also more likely to penalize companies for poor communication experiences.

When it comes to communicating, time and place matter

The study found businesses earn consumer trust and loyalty by delivering relevant content via consumers’ preferred channels at the right time. The potential for damaging that trust, then, is vast.

  • 94% of consumers reported that they are annoyed by the current communications they receive from businesses.
  • Annoyances include: Content is not relevant (56%); Don’t remember opting in (41%); Being contacted in the wrong communication channel (33%).
  • Afternoons are the preferred contact time for consumers and only 13% of consumers prefer to be contacted in the evening.

So, what now?

With channels and preferences shifting constantly, it can be difficult to keep up. Some key best practices hold true no matter what, though:

Treat customers as individuals. Generations have preferences, yes, but even within generations, there are personal, nuanced preferences that must be honored. Let customers identify the communications they want and how they want it.

Evaluate channels on their own merits, and embrace them for specific purposes. Consumers use different channels for different needs, and businesses need to adapt and mold to those preferences.

Keep context and timing in mind always. Don’t abuse urgent-only channels by sending promotional or nonurgent messages through them. 

Embrace the omnichannel engagement revolution. When you reach customers on the right channel, at the right time, with the right message, magic happens. Lean into it by prioritizing a deep and thorough understanding of your audience.

Dive into the report here.

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Kayleigh Karutis