Build connection

Connect when and where your audience needs: Unlocking the right channels at SIGNAL 2021

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    Riley Leight
  • Oct 13, 2021

Connection is what consumers today want, and you can build a platform that delivers it at the right time and on the right channels. Here’s what our experts saw at SIGNAL 2021 when it comes to innovation across channels like messaging, voice, video, and live streaming.

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The COVID-19 pandemic changed how organizations connect with people—but what comes next?

Organizations across industries rapidly transformed to succeed in today’s digital era. The number of channels organizations use to communicate with customers, in particular, exploded.

These new solutions are undoubtedly powerful—but once you’ve built the right ways to engage, it’s time to pause and refocus: Are you getting the most out of every channel you’re using? Is there something your customers are searching for that you haven’t provided yet? What can your engagement strategy accomplish that you haven’t discovered?

Questions like these are essential, because connecting with people is about more than just making contact—it’s about what you do with the time, attention, and interest of your audience while you have it.

That’s why, at this year’s SIGNAL conference, we took time not just to spotlight the many ways organizations can and do reach out to people at incredible scale, but the powerful impact they’re able to have with each interaction. We saw how they’re building trust with customers and what the future of authentic connection looks like.

How brands build trust with communication

Attendees heard from WELL Health, and how they found SMS to be the ideal channel to support the need for trust, agility, and scale in patient communications during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having rapid iteration mechanisms in place let them continually tailor engagement with consumers from the early stages of the pandemic through the dynamic evolution of the vaccination and booster campaigns. 

Retailers like Marks & Spencer now support more complex and conversational interactions in their contact centers. Chris McGrath, IT program manager at Marks & Spencer, spoke at SIGNAL about the importance of understanding customer intent—and how this was underscored by a shifting variety of customer calls following repeated changes to local health restrictions:  “There’s a lot of work involved in [understanding] who a customer is, what the interaction is, routing that proactively and predictively to the right place, and then servicing that in the right manner,” McGrath said.

Delivery service DoorDash spoke about how they handled a tripling of SMS volume during COVID-19 for multiple use cases, including marketing, alerts, verifications, and conversations. Software engineer Akhila Polisetty explained how DoorDash used data to improve experiences as they scaled to handle millions of mission-critical delivery notices each day. 

From Stylepit, one of Denmark’s leading e-commerce fashion retailers, Data Scientist and Digital Project Manager Martin Brummerstedt talked about the importance of investing in and managing a customer data platform: “If you’re not using data, you’re not providing personalized experiences,” he said. He explained how leveraging website behavior data allowed the company to personalize emails, quadrupling their earnings per email.

Read on for a conversation with Twilio experts Dave Esber and Tom Emilio on what excited them most at SIGNAL 2021.

Meet our experts, Dave Esber and Tom Emilio

Dave Esber is a longtime Twilio Messaging expert, who helps inspire organizations to build better, more innovative connections with their customers with Twilio solutions. Tom Emilio supports Twilio SendGrid, is a seasoned SendGrid and email expert on behalf of our GTM team, and helps customers maximize the features and services we offer.

What excited you most at this year’s SIGNAL when it comes to building connections across channels? 

Esber: This year, we put connection front and center. I think all of us walked away feeling inspired to build creative solutions across the channels that are important to customers. I particularly enjoyed hearing organizations like Panera and The Home Depot share how they use SMS to support their business since that’s my own area of focus—but I was also excited to learn more about our newer tools like interactive live streaming

Emilio: I was most excited we got to continue the conversation around omnichannel experiences. They’re the key to the ultimate customer experience and journey. Enabling those experiences is truly exciting, especially when you consider how Twilio Segment and the power of data can further optimize the journey customers are on and how you connect with them.

What sessions did you enjoy that spoke to best practices or lessons across channels like voice, SMS, and video? 

Esber: I was fascinated to hear how the Norwegian Refugee Council is using Twilio Flex to help deliver aid. It was also great to hear the announcements on new offerings like Twilio AI and Video Insights.

Emilio: Is it selfish for me to say I most enjoyed my own session? Kidding! I was particularly interested in the SMS authentication session, since authentication is super important across channels. I also had several fellow SendGrid coworkers speaking, so I really enjoyed their sessions on the power of email. Lastly, the Superclass: Build a custom CDP solution with Twilio Segment was really interesting. Segment is the future!

What are some engagement channel trends we’ll see across industries in 2022?

Esber: You can only have meaningful connections with users if they trust your organization and the channels you’re using to engage with them. Considering recent shakeups like the A2P 10DLC changes, I think an emphasis on building trusted and compliant experiences is something we’re going to see more of.

Emilio: We’ll definitely continue to see DMARC adoption rates increase, which is a great thing for both the sender and the industry. That said, the slick new email authentication system, BIMI, is going to quickly become a standard that all senders will want to adopt.

Learn more in our Future of Engagement edition

Every year, SIGNAL showcases what Twilio and our customers are building and inspires attendees around the world to do the same. Your organization can create meaningful connections and experiences for customers across every channel, and we’re excited to share how.

Want to learn more about how you can enhance your customer engagement strategy for 2022 and beyond? Get started with the rest of our latest edition of The Current.

Read the full edition.

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  • Communication for good | Spring 2021
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Riley Leight

Riley is a full-time writer based in Annapolis, Maryland.