Call, Chat, Text, or Email? How to Use Consumers’ Preferred Communication Methods to Increase Sales

Samir Sampat

Call, chat, text, or email? How to use consumers’ preferred communication methods to increase sales

Modern technology gives us dozens—if not hundreds—of ways to communicate and connect. So why is it that a potential customer completes your web form or reaches out but never interacts with your business again?

It all comes down to understanding their preferred forms of communication and what they want from the communication. You also need to ensure that you’re there for them when they need you. Choosing the right communication channel and tailoring your interactions to fit their needs, motivations, and habits is key.

How do you go about this? Your company must learn from and adapt to the needs of your current customers. Get to know more about your target audience if you want to turn them into loyal followers of your brand.

Why do communication channels matter to your business?

Businesses must learn to reach their customers where they are. This is true for sole proprietors, small mom-and-pop shops, and multinational corporations. Some people will prefer social media, some will want text messaging or web chats, and others like more traditional communication such as emails or telephone calls.

Many companies have a broad customer base, which may mean they need to use many communications channels to build relationships and increase sales. Customer relationships drive today’s modern marketplace. Interactions with the brand are crucial to the personal connection the future buyer develops with the company’s products and services.

Understanding this, companies can invest a lot of time and resources on mass-marketing emails and other communications campaigns to reach new customers. Still, they inevitably have dismal open rates and poor return on investment. They may even drive some consumers to unsubscribe.

What forms of communication could I use to connect with my audience?

Some popular communication channels your company may consider include:

● Facebook and other social media platforms

● Emails

● Telephone calls

● Face-to-face meetings

● WhatsApp

● Chatbots or web chats

Unfortunately, we cannot tell you which ones to use. You will need to determine where your current customers are and their preferences. Your potential customers may communicate in similar ways. Knowing the preferred options for your most dedicated customer base allows you to know where to focus your energy and budget.

What causes potential customers to reach out, then go radio silent?

In many cases, a person has reached out to connect with the company in the past. They are on your list because:

● They submitted a web form

● Sent an email

● Otherwise connected with your company on their own accord

So why do they refuse to respond to your attempts to connect? Why do they not open your emails? What happened before you closed the sale? Here are a few possible reasons why consumers reached out to your company and then ghosted you:

Their inbox is full and they cannot receive any more emails

If email is your company’s primary communication channel, you may be doing yourself a great disservice. How many unread emails are in your inbox? Take a quick survey of those around you, and you will learn that the infamous “Inbox Zero” is as elusive as it is desirable.

Most people today have hundreds if not thousands of emails sitting unread in their inbox. Many email providers sort incoming messages into separate inboxes to stiffen the competition for their attention even more.

These companies rarely prioritize mail from businesses. This is more likely to go into a “promotions” folder where it is less likely to be seen than in the general inbox..

You do not understand their motives and send them information they don’t want

All too often, businesses fail to consider their content carefully and whether it matches what their customer base wants to see and needs to know. Effective sales and marketing today avoid putting pressure on the consumer.

Instead, it considers their needs and preferences, offering:

● Key information

● Frequently asked questions and answers

● Advice on related topics

● Recommendations for how to use the product or service

● How to get good deals on the product or service, such as a free trial

Your communications with consumers should show that your business cares about meeting their needs. Think of marketing campaigns and other customer communication as conversations. You’re building a relationship rather than making a sale, and you are more likely to convert customers by remembering this.

You responded too late to their needs after they first reached out

Timeliness is key. If you wait too long, potential customers will move on without the information they wanted from you. This could mean investing in another product or service if they easily found the information they needed somewhere else.

In many cases, consumers will not reach out until they are ready to make a decision about buying. Getting an email back from your company a few days later is likely too late. Stretch that to a week, and they may not even remember why they contacted your company at all.

According to a study discussed in Marketing Dive, modern consumers expect a quick turnaround from businesses. The study found that 40 percent expected businesses to respond to their social media questions or concerns within an hour, and almost 80 percent expected a response within 24 hours.

You make it difficult for them to connect on their preferred channel

When you identify the communication channels your customer and target audience prefer, it is paramount that you keep this in mind. Give all of those channels your attention. All too often, channels or accounts that do not have a strong following (or are more difficult to use) quickly fall by the wayside.

Ignoring a channel or account may make it easier on your marketing team or your social media manager (or you, if you are all of the above), but it only hurts your bottom line. When you abandon a communication channel your audience prefers, you make it more difficult for them to:

● Connect with your brand

● Get information

● Ultimately make a purchase

In some cases, you could miss out on millions of potential customers just because Facebook or SMS messaging does not integrate neatly with your current marketing campaign.

Understanding the impact age has on preferred communication methods

While every person who buys your products or services is an individual with their own needs, motivations, and preferences, many have a lot in common. Age plays a significant role in this. Based on their age, geographical location, and other factors, customers may have the following in common:

● Attitudes

● Beliefs

● Communication preferences

Some companies target only one generation with their services or products. It is unlikely that teenagers are buying products often used by the geriatric population. Similarly, senior citizens generally do not purchase skincare products marketed for tweens. However, targeting just one age demographic is relatively rare.

Who is spending money in our communities right now?

There are currently four generations contributing a significant amount to the U.S. economy every year. Most businesses need to know how to market to more than one group.

The Brookings Institute

The four primary generations that rule today’s modern marketplace are:

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are the post-war generation. They came to computers and digital technology later in life, but many have embraced it. Still, traditional communication methods and media are common for these consumers.

Generation X: This generation was born between 1965 and 1980 and learned to use computers as teens and adults. They are tech savvy, but may prefer more traditional options like email or Facebook over newer apps or networks.

Millennials: This generation was between 1981 and 1996 and they grew up alongside the digital age. The oldest remember life before home computers, but they likely signed onto America Online via dial-up as teens. The youngest have always had home internet, but probably remember life before smartphones.

Generation Z: Born between 1997 and 2010, these consumers were born into the digital age and have likely never been without internet access at home. Some cannot remember a time before iPhones. They are the leading consumers of much of today’s modern media, including many social media platforms, like Instagram, TikTok, and more.

Generalizations and statistics will not capture all potential customers of a certain generation. Also, there may be a wide range of preferred communication methods within an age group. There are some things you can learn by studying these consumers’ habits, though. Take a closer look at each of these generations and consider their history and modern relationship with certain types of communications.

Baby Boomers use the internet and social media, plus traditional methods

Many assume that Baby Boomers, born after World War II, prefer conventional media. While advertising on the radio, television, and in newspapers may reach them, they are also aware of—and active in—digital media.

Many worked with computers throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and the youngest are still in the workforce today. According to a survey from marketing agency V12, most Baby Boomers shop online, use a smartphone or tablet, and have email. As many as 85 percent say they research products and services online before purchase. Many also use social media, primarily Facebook, followed by Instagram.

However, remember to keep things simple for those who may not be as advanced with technology. Alienating your target audience will only lead to more frustration for them and your marketing team.

Generation X values research and reviews

Generation X, or Gen X, is the smallest of the four generations but contributes significantly to the economy with its vast purchasing power. Gen Xers tend to feel a little overlooked by advertisers and may have a bit of a “middle sibling” attitude about it. They know how to use technology. They are also more likely to dig deep and try to learn as much as possible about a purchase before diving in.

Review sites such as Yelp, search engines, and individual websites are crucial for reaching Gen X. However, they are most likely to respond to social media, texting, or email campaigns. According to Pew Research Center data, more than three-fourths of Gen X use Facebook regularly. The great majority also use email daily. However, they are more likely to ignore phone calls from unknown numbers than the older generation.

Pew Research Center

Millennials use many methods of communication seamlessly

Generation Y, otherwise known as Millennials, were born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. While many people think of them as teenagers, the youngest are now beyond the traditional college age.

Millennials learned to use the internet at a young age, and only the oldest remember a time before smartphones. They spend a lot of time online, and many produce digital video and other content for the internet.

Your company may have a hard time standing out among these consumers. While Millennials have email, their inboxes are often stuffed with marketing and promotional mail. They may prefer texting and web chats to telephone calls, and many use various social networks.

Generation Z looks for a quick response

Generation Z began in the mid-1990s. The oldest are out of school and into the workforce and the youngest are teenagers. This group has had internet access in their pockets for much of their lives and consumes hours of online media each week. TikTok, YouTube, and other channels are full of the content they create.

Still, you may be surprised by some of their communication habits. According to Business Wire, one study found that 60 percent of Gen Z would likely hang up if no one picked up a call after 45 seconds. They expect prompt, responsive answers to their questions, especially if they are considering investing in your products or services.

However, they are also most likely of any age group surveyed to use click-to-call on their cell phone from your website. This means that having someone to answer the phone and address their questions 24/7 could easily convert many of these contacts into increased sales.

Younger consumers expect flexibility in communication channels

It is important to note one way in which many of the younger generations are similar. They want to be able to choose their preferred communication channel and switch between them at will. They know how to do this, they know the technology exists, and they may get frustrated if your team does not have the capability.

For example, if a potential customer has a question in a web chat but struggles to get their point across, they may want to move to a phone call or text a picture. Doing this seamlessly should be a goal for all businesses whose customers are Gen X, Millennial, or younger.

Integrating multiple communications options and using them interchangeably on the same “call” will only become more and more expected as technology advances. If you have the opportunity to put this type of system in place, do it sooner rather than later.

How do we know the consumer’s preferred communication method?

If you know your audience, it should help you make general assumptions about communication channels. However, being able to note an individual’s preferred methods is even better. There are a few ways you can find out.

Ask them directly how you should reach out to them

The easiest way to learn how an individual wants to communicate with you is to ask them what they prefer. This seems obvious, but many business owners and marketing executives overlook the importance of it. If possible, ask how to contact them on your online contact form or anywhere else an individual might submit inquiries.

If you did not do this in the past, it is not too late. Add the checkboxes to your web form and develop a short survey to send to your contact list. If these are relevant to your audience, offer multiple ways to complete the survey, including email, social media ads, and text messaging.

Surveys are a great way to gauge interest in new products, learn about your customers’ changing needs, and more. People like feeling that they have a voice, and it lets you learn a lot about both your customer base and the individual consumer.

Give them options and make a note of their choices

Sometimes, you may take a multi-pronged approach and see which is most effective. Create multiple ways for the consumer to re-engage with your team or to connect with your brand.

When they open an email, read a message, or communicate with you again, make a note about which communication channel they responded to first. This may even allow you to rank two or more options.

Learn as much about them as possible

When possible, get to know the customer or lead. Sort your customer base into segments and then build a campaign specifically for that segment. For example, a company that sells subscription boxes for outdoor adventure seekers sorts their subscribers and others on their email list into:

● Those who enjoy land activities

● Those who participate in water sports

This allows the company to send articles about kayaking to only those who are likely to want to read the information. With this approach, everyone receives only relevant communication.

Getting to know your target audience allows you to predict what they will want to read and how they want to read it.

How did they find your services?

When possible, use the data you already have about a lead. This is the ideal way to determine their preferences if they did not tell you outright. What brought them to your website in the first place? Did they click a social media link?

HubSpot Blog

When your business offers a phone number, web form, email address, and social media account, the consumer makes a purposeful decision about which one they use. Trust that this decision is one of their preferred communication channels until they tell you otherwise.

Solutions to manage your customer’s preferred communication channels

In many cases, you may find that your customer base prefers many different communication channels, and there is little consensus about which one is the best or most effective. This can be a problem, especially for small businesses or companies who simply do not have enough marketing and communications staff as it is.

For most marketing departments or growing companies, managing two or maybe three communication channels is difficult. Your voicemail box could always be full, and you might be a week behind on answering emails. Adding several social media accounts is only going to make you more overwhelmed.

To this end, many companies opt for what is seen as a more traditional approach to marketing communication today, including:

● Email

● Telephone

● Facebook

Adding more options encourages different user populations to reach out

Keep in mind that restricting your communications to email, phone, and Facebook ignores the preferred communication methods of a great majority of many of your customers and potential customers.

One valuable method of communication is a web chat feature. This simple feature allows the user to stay on your site and seek the answers they need:

Offering SMS, additional social networks, web chats, and more could provide you with a way to communicate effectively with audiences you are currently missing out on.

Social media can provide an innovative way to gain more customers

Most business owners and marketing executives understand that they need to engage with their customers on social media platforms, especially Facebook. Your company may use social media advertising and respond to comments. However, businesses often treat social media as more of a community-building tool than a sales tool.

Meeting and engaging with your target audience on Facebook is important because of the way they likely use the platform already. They are:

● Discussing their purchases

● Reviewing products

● Asking their friends for recommendations

● Voicing concerns

Turning to another company to handle your communications is an option

You can meet the demands of consumers without hiring an entire staff for communications. Investing in help does not mean you need a full rehaul of your marketing budget. There are options out there that can make this process easier and much more manageable. You can build your own solutions by paying for the individual tools you need, such as:

● A scalable SMS service for businesses

● A customer relationship management (CRM) system

● And more

This will take research, time, and work on your part, but it will be worth it when you can use your customers’ preferred forms of communication to increase sales.

Let Smith.ai help with your communication solutions

Alternatively, Smith.ai can provide many of the services you need and help you manage all your communication channels. You will not have to worry about whether the consumer will answer your call. This is because the consumer will get prompt and informed answers when they call.

Whether you focus on Baby Boomers or Gen Z, you can find solutions for your communications needs. With help from Smith.ai, you can manage many channels simultaneously and around the clock. It is possible to:

● Have someone available 24/7 who can professionally answer your calls

● Have web chats respond to texts and social messages

Telephone service is a staple but does not fit all consumers’ needs

For many consumers of all ages, making a phone call is the easiest and quickest way to get the information they need and to connect with a brand. However, the following represents a typical situation where phone service may fail the consumer.

The potential customer is ready to purchase your product. It is 7 p.m. on a Friday. They are missing one crucial bit of information and search your website, but do not find the answer. They click to call on your phone number. The phone rings, and one of three things happen:

● The phone continues to ring until they hang up.

● The call goes to a full voicemail box.

● The customer leaves a voicemail and receives a return call on Monday after they already opted to purchase a competitor’s product. They are likely to ignore this call.

Our team offers a 24/7 phone answering service—and more

What is the ideal situation here? You cannot count on customers to call during business hours, and you cannot be by the telephone around the clock. However, it seems best to ensure the phone gets answered when the call comes in. Then, there is no need for a return call.

Smith.ai offers a 24/7 answering service with experienced and trained virtual receptionists who know your brand and can answer questions specifically about your company, products, and services. Alternatively, we can screen your calls and allow for appointment scheduling. This way, a qualified lead can discuss their concerns with one of your team members in detail.

Web chat communications can allow for round-the-clock conversion

A web chat is a good option for those who do not like to talk on the telephone but need quick answers. However, having someone on call from your team around the clock to man a chat rarely makes sense. Smith.ai provides a virtual assistant for your 24/7 website chat. Our skilled team members can:

● Answer questions

● Address basic concerns

● Provide information on purchasing

● Take care of specific tasks unique to your business

Meeting your customer’s needs is of the utmost importance, and a bilingual website chat offers fast and helpful information.

Many companies have computerized chatbots on their website, but these rarely provide people's answers. Let us help you today.

Take advantage of our live-staffed website chat service

Our team members learn about your company and products. We provide them with the information you would pass along to a potential customer if you were the one coordinating the chat. If the customer needs additional information, we can schedule an appointment with your team.

Text messaging reaches the youngest consumers

Text messaging is a communication method many companies do not consider or rule out because they do not know how to manage it effectively. However, this is a mistake.

Almost half—46 percent—of consumers say they prefer texting a business over sending an email or making a phone call. This is likely especially true for Gen Z and Millennials, who tend to avoid phone conversations more than Baby Boomers or Gen X.

Our SMS service can put you in touch with your text-ready consumers

Texting provides the quick response of a phone call and the ease of using email without the drawbacks of either. Still, how can your team handle answering texts throughout the workday without monitoring the line around the clock?

Smith.ai provides a quick text response service, live SMS text answering. We will assign you a unique texting number for this service, respond immediately to each text to that number, answer basic questions, and convert your incoming leads to sales 24/7.

Email responses are fairly necessary in today’s advertising climate

While email marketing is a favorite of business owners, marketing managers, and even some customers, it is rarely the most effective marketing tactic. Still, when someone reaches out to your company via email, they expect a timely response.

Our email blasts and related services are helpful for many business owners

At Smith.ai, we can help your team find solutions to monitoring your incoming inquiries, managing the submitted web forms, and responding as requested as soon as possible. This could include a customer service management (CSM) tool, help from a virtual receptionist, or other options.

Facebook messaging is a dynamic way to connect to your base

Actively engaging with consumers on Facebook in a friendly and supportive way can only strengthen your connection and increase your brand identity. You may even score some public relations points by handling complaints quickly and providing a positive solution for the customer.

However, as your company grows, you cannot expect your social media manager to monitor Facebook messages for inquiries and questions 24/7. This is an impossible task, especially when creating a social media campaign, handling other networks, and responding to comments.

Count on Smith.ai to handle your Facebook inquiries

Our Smith.ai receptionists can manage your company’s Facebook messaging, replying promptly 24/7. This Facebook message answering service is even more important since the social network ranks business responsiveness based on how quickly they answer private messages.

Smith.ai can help you find solutions for your business

Whether you need help managing the communication channels or are considering exploring new ones to reach new customers, Smith.ai can help. We provide a free 30-minute consultation to those who want to learn more about our services. We also offer a 14-day, money-back guarantee.

You can learn more about our pricing and services by dialing (650) 727-6484 or emailing us now at hello@smith.ai. You can also chat with us live, 24/7, right here on the site. Let us explain how our unified solutions will allow your company to answer every inquiry and immediately build a relationship with every lead.

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

Try Smith.ai now

Accelerate growth with live receptionists and AI. Get started risk-free for 14 days!

Accelerate growth with live chat agents and AI. Get started risk-free for 14 days!

GEt Started NOWGEt Started NOW

Contact our sales team today at (650) 727-6484 or schedule a call.

sign up for our newsletter

Thank you!
Your submission has been received.
Yikes! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Categories