Home Tech Maximize open rates and conversions with this customer communication strategy

Maximize open rates and conversions with this customer communication strategy

Maximize open rates and conversions with this customer communication strategy

May 29, 2024 9:13 AM

Presented by Sendbird

Teams across the organization — from marketing through to operations and customer support — must communicate effectively with customers to nurture strong relationships. In this VB Spotlight, learn how in-app messaging bridges the gap by centralizing communication and enabling a unified experience based on user behavior to maximize delivery, open rates and conversions.

Watch free on demand here.

Today consumers are inundated with information from every direction, and companies have to work hard to stand out from the flood of communication and connect with their customers. What’s emerged as a top concern for users, says Carrie Sumlin, executive director of digital product and experience at Ally Financial, is a lack of ownership over the ways companies try to connect with them.

“Customers want to control what you’re talking to them about, how you’re talking to them,” she says, “and they really want to make sure that what you’re providing them is relevant and actionable.”

Along with that, customers have become accustomed to chatting with one another through private groups and large communities like Reddit, says Shailesh Nalawadi, head of product at Sendbird.

“They really want to be able to maintain that same experience when interacting with brands,” he explains. “So, they want to message and talk to brands using the brand’s applications, and at the same time, use some of the more traditional channels such as WhatsApp, iMessage, SMS and so on. It’s the ability to have that conversation on the channel that they’re really comfortable with.”

Ensuring consistent customer engagement across the org

Today customer communication spans marketing, transactional messages, contact center use cases and more. Consolidating company-wide customer communications into a seamless, consistent experience in which the user journey flows smoothly has become one of the greatest challenges for organizations today.

For Ally, for example, that might mean moving a customer through an offline experience at one of the company’s sponsored events into an acquisition flow, introducing them to products and services as a prospective client, then converting them into a customer – while remembering the user across each one of these touchpoints.

“Multiple organizations within Ally are part of that journey,” Sumlin says. “We have our marketing teams, digital teams, tech teams, our contact center teams. And all of those have to seamlessly connect those journeys so that everybody along the way is giving a consistent and similar message.”

It’s a vision that’s incredibly difficult to coordinate for many companies. Marketers have long had access to the best customer communication tools to enable acquisition and retention. Martech is designed to coordinate across channels, segment customer groups and identify the most effective approach. Unfortunately, however, support, transaction and operations teams either simply don’t have access to those tools, or the tools themselves are unable to integrate APIs for other kinds of communications.

“There is a gold standard, but it only it applies to one aspect of the journey,” Nalawadi says, referring to marketing. “How do you find a tool and a set of vendors that creates a consistent experience across all is some of the hard work being done by teams today.”

Developing a company-wide platform strategy

To tackle the challenge, Ally pivoted to a platform strategy that could be leveraged throughout the entire enterprise that could be leveraged for every kind of customer communication.

“By having a platform strategy, companies can use the same tools and techniques and that creates a lot more understanding and visibility across the entire organization,” Sumlin says. “As companies lay out their strategy, the more shared assets and shared systems they can create within their organizations, the easier it is.”

The core idea behind this design philosophy is to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. One of the most effective ways of doing that is centering communication on the mobile app experience, Nalawadi says.

“Over the last five to 10 years, companies and brands all across the U.S. spent a huge amount of time creating an amazing mobile experience, and messaging that brings people into the mobile app is actually highly advantageous because it brings them through the experience that is the front and center of your UX,” he says.

Many leading consumer brands are turning to in-app messaging as a central hub for their communications, according to Sendbird. This allows companies to use in-app messaging for marketing and customer acquisition, while also supporting customer support conversations, purchase and delivery confirmations and more all within the same platform.

“It’s about bringing it all together into an in-app messaging experience, but also recognizing that sometimes customers want to be able to message on external channels,” Nalawadi explains. “But starting with a focus on in-app has been one of those best practices that has worked for some of the top brands.”

The app also provides a platform for thoughtful, relevant messaging efforts, Sumlin adds.

For instance, Ally offers savings tools that are complemented by push notifications that offer encouragement to the customer in reaching their goals. The app can also provide personalized advice on how to save more by using other Ally tools.

“It’s finding the ability to offer new and more products to our solutions to a customer in a way that is contextual to helping them share their goal so that customer doesn’t feel like you’re marketing them at all the time,” Sumlin says. “And using in-app messaging to do that is highly effective.”

The in-house vs. vendors decision

Ally’s platform strategy is a mix of in-house, vendors and supporting partners. The decision always comes down to a balance of speed, cost and differentiation. Which products are commodities within the industry that benefit from third-party solutions and avoid bogging down internal tech teams. And what functionality or products do they need to build in-house to ensure they’re setting themselves apart from the rest of the market, while still remaining agile.

Meanwhile, budget is clearly a key factor in whether a company can invest long-term in a team that can build an entire tool or choose a SaaS or MAU vendor. For smaller companies, skill is also a particular concern, especially when it comes to building innovative generative AI tools. Gen AI experts are still scarce on the ground – but it’s also where investing internally can pay dividends.

“The more our employees understand and are able to upskill into that, the more scalable we’re going to be in the future,” Sumlin says. “So figuring out how to bring our employees along in this journey with generative AI and then creating differentiation from what they can deliver and develop is going to be key for Ally.”

For more on the ways thoughtful in-app communication impacts customer relationships, how generative AI is changing customer engagement and more, watch this VB Spotlight, free on demand.

Watch free on demand now!


Maximizing the delivery, open and conversion rates of your messages

Minimizing costs of messaging with channel sequencing

Empowering teams with a user-friendly message software

Monitoring and refining campaigns with user-level insights

Deciding between in-house and third-party tools (CpaaS vs. SaaS vs. hybrid)


Carrie Sumlin, Executive Director of Digital Product and Experience, Ally Financial

Shailesh Nalawadi, Head of Product, Sendbird

Chad Oda, Moderator, VentureBeat

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