In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving digital landscape, it is no longer a question of whether businesses should go digital, but rather how quickly they can make the transition. In fact, all new-age startups and businesses are digital first. Classic examples here are D2C (direct-to-consumer) brands that leverage amazing tools like Shopify and Amazon to make businesses worth millions without having any physical outlets.

What truly powers businesses to start and remain digital is the newer and modern communication touch points where businesses can reach consumers. Conventional offline businesses could have survived with decade-old communication channels like emails and telephone. But digital businesses are by nature built on top of the digital communication platforms that make emails and phone calls look ancient.

Digital communication channels and the increasing availability of connected devices have led to a new era of customer expectations and behaviours. Customers today expect instant and convenient access to information, products, and services, and they want to be able to engage with businesses through multiple channels and at any time of day.

In a fast-paced digital landscape, having the right communication channels can give digital businesses a significant advantage over their offline counterparts. If you are building a new business or are digitally transforming your existing business, here are the channels you shouldn’t miss!

1. New age rich messaging channels:

New age messaging channels includes rich messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, and RCS. They are becoming increasingly popular for customer communication, as they allow real-time, convenient, personal and rich interaction with customers. For digital businesses, this provides a quick and easy way to respond to customer inquiries, resolve issues, and provide support. These platforms also allow business to fetch responses from customers and design messaging bots. New age platforms have opened up and new market altogether. For example, there are 100s of startups working towards building an orchestration layer on top of WhatsApp. While these channels are expensive (as compared to the traditional channels like SMS and Emails), they often offer higher deliverability and open rates.

2. SMS:

SMS is traditional, yet widely used. They are table stakes for any organisation when they start communicating with customers. From authentication, verification, to alerts, SMSs are widely used for transactional comms. There was an inflection point for usage of SMSs in the previous decade due to advancement in e-commerce technology and internet adoption of users across the world. SMS continues to remain cost effective for transactional updates as against the new age messaging platforms like WhatsApp. However, there are multiple limitations that SMS bring along.  Example: SMS is highly regulated and these differ from one country to another. SMS also doesn't offer richness in the content unlike new platforms like WhatsApp, where you can use emojis and media in the content.

3. Social Networks:

Social network platforms like Twitter and Instagram are popular among businesses looking to engage with their customers and build a strong online presence. For digital businesses, social network platforms provide a unique opportunity to reach a large and diverse audience and interact with customers when they are actively consuming content. By monitoring and responding to customer inquiries and feedback through social networks, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and improve their overall reputation and brand recall.

4. Notifications:

Push, in-app, and web app notifications are an important part of any digital business's customer communication strategy, as they allow businesses to reach customers where they are, even when they are not actively using the app. Notifications can be used to alert customers of new content, promotions, or updates, and can be tailored to each individual user to provide a more personalised experience. By integrating notifications into their customer communication strategy, businesses can improve engagement, drive conversions, and increase customer loyalty. Notifications are literally free and drives amazing conversion metrics. But it is important to ensure that you are not bombarding users with 100s of notifications (which is a prevalent practice by most consumer start-ups today). That can deliver an extremely negative experience to users. It is important that marketers couple notification strategy with some intelligence so that they can use notifications better.

5. Emails:

Email support is a traditional support channel that is still widely used by digital businesses to respond to customer inquiries and provide assistance. Email allows businesses to provide detailed and in-depth responses to customer inquiries, and to handle complex issues that may require more time and attention. By offering email support, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and provide a more comprehensive support experience.

6. Live Chat:

Live chat allows digital businesses to provide real-time support to customers through their website or mobile app. Live chat provides customers with a convenient and efficient way to receive assistance and resolve issues. It can be integrated with other support channels to provide a more comprehensive support experience. Most business build bots on top of live chat interface to ensure the most common queries are automatically addressed without involving a live agent.

7. Community Forums:

Community forums provide digital businesses with a platform to engage with their customers and build a strong online community. Community forums allow customers to connect with each other, share ideas and feedback, and receive support from the business. By integrating community forums into their customer communication strategy, businesses can improve engagement, build customer loyalty, and foster a sense of community among their customers.

8. Phone:

Phone support allows digital businesses to provide in-depth support and assistance to customers through voice calls. Phone support can be used to handle complex issues and provide personal and detailed assistance to customers. By offering phone support, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and provide a more comprehensive support experience.

9. Business messaging platforms:

Internal business comms have been disrupted by amazing tools like Slack, Teams, Discord and Google chat. These platforms have made collaboration so much more easier. Their powerful integrations with workspace tools like Notion, Click-up, Asana, Jira has made taken collaboration and speed to new heights.  For any SaaS tools, it is almost a deal breaker if they do not integrate with the messaging platform that the customer uses. Communication, collaboration, async huddles and file sharing has never been easier.

To sum it up:

By integrating a diverse range of communication channels into their customer communication strategy, digital businesses can provide customers with a more comprehensive and holistic experience, improve engagement, and drive brand recall. But not all channels are relevant to all types of businesses. Example: It may not be relevant for B2B businesses to use social network platforms like Instagram. Instead, they will prioritise and put more effort in perfecting channels like Emails and Community Forums. On the other hand, for a D2C brand, it would be very important to perfect their presence over channels like WhatsApp, Instagram and SMS.

The key is to choose the right channels for your business based on where your users / customers are and what you are selling to them.  Talk to us if you want to have a deeper conversation on this.