In 2022, conversational commerce was all about convenience, not only for consumers but also for marketers trying to engage them in a hybrid world. Today, conversational commerce has evolved (and so have consumers).
Around the world, shoppers are on the hunt for value—whether that's getting a great deal, saving time by getting the answers they need, or doing research to make sure they’re investing in the right product. Personal recommendations are carrying more weight, making influencers less influential. And despite what marketers might think (or fear), consumers are willing to offer up a range of personal information in exchange for curated experiences and cost savings. They’re also more comfortable connecting with brands across a variety of channels to get exactly what they’re looking for. In a nutshell: Consumers have continued to get savvier.
We surveyed 8,000 consumers from the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia to understand consumer trends around the globe—how they define loyalty, where they seek value from products and services, and what information they’re willing to share with brands in exchange for various incentives. We also discovered what factors influence them to spend more than they planned, when they’re most likely to be shopping on their phones, and where there are opportunities for brands to harness engagement and keep shoppers coming back.
There’s a give/get when it comes to gathering the data that matters. Consumers will share details about themselves and what they’re looking for if they see the benefits of it. They want to feel heard—for brands to react to the information they share and deliver the kinds of experiences they’re looking for on the right channel.
Let’s dig into the incentives and experiences that’ll motivate shoppers to share their information (and what types of data they’ll give you).
Personalization is a two-way street. The more relevant data consumers share, the more tailored the experiences and recommendations they’ll receive. This virtuous loop not only amplifies marketers’ efforts—it makes consumers feel heard (not watched).
When we asked US consumers how comfortable they were sharing personal information with brands, 49% said they’d share their phone number in exchange for a great discount, and more than 50% would give out their number for a complementary gift or free shipping.
Personalized recommendations are a strong draw for consumers, too. The majority of US shoppers would share personal information like their name, email, and gender to get them. And when you look at the global picture, over 40% of consumers would go a step further and share their age, birthday, and gender.
Notably, consumers are willing to share the data marketers are most interested in. Our benchmarks survey found that collecting location and product preferences are brands’ top data priorities. Marketers should take note that when asked what they’d want in return for sharing their product preferences: 51% of US consumers said they were interested in a free gift, 49% in personalized recommendations, and 40% in 1:1 support. It’s worth digging into regional differences, too. While US shoppers rank free gifts at the top of their wishlist, shoppers in the UK, Canada, and Australia would like to receive a personalized recommendation after sharing their product preferences.
More isn’t necessarily better when you’re collecting personal information from consumers. It’s easy to get bogged down in irrelevant attributes, but one or two targeted data points can go a long way. Because consumers are open to sharing all types of data, marketers have an opportunity to get strategic about what they’re asking (and what they're giving in return).
Marketers have a strong roster of incentives to pull from when it comes to encouraging shoppers to spend—and share—more.
66% of shoppers globally say a great discount would influence them to spend more than they had originally planned to. But speedy shipping is still a strong lever for brands to pull, with 50% saying it would encourage them to splurge.
Compare these numbers to 2022, when 83% of consumers said fast shipping was the most important factor in their purchase decision. 54% ranked discounts and early access to sales as top influencers.
This shakeup in priorities makes sense, especially given the current economic environment. Consumers are more aware of their spending habits, and are looking for more ways to save. It’s also a sign that they’ve settled into their e-commerce habits. Perks that were once considered incentives (like convenience) are now table stakes, or even built into online shopping experiences.
But discounts and free shipping aren’t the only tactics brands can use to increase average order values (AOVs). 43% of consumers globally said that earning and redeeming loyalty perks would encourage them to spend more. 36% said bundled products would be a strong incentive, too. These pay off in the long run because they’re not only useful for driving sales in the immediate term, they’re also key to building long-term loyalty.
Today, 91% of consumers globally have already signed up for an SMS program, or are interested in doing so.
Consumers haven’t only embraced the channel—they've evolved and expanded the ways they use it. Shoppers are using it to talk with brands, not just hear from them. And they’re not limiting their communications to a single touchpoint. Instead, consumers are engaging with brands throughout their customer journey, whether they’re just getting to know a brand or are already superfans.
SMS has emerged as a throughline in customers’ experiences with brands. But it hasn’t cannibalized other channels. On the contrary, SMS is an amplifier.
In just a few years, SMS marketing has gone mainstream. Currently, 93% of US shoppers are interested in or opted in to texts from a brand. Last year, that number was 81% (already a 26% jump from 2020). That’s an average increase of almost 13% year-over-year over the past three years.
The channel isn't just ubiquitous in the US. 88% of consumers in the UK, Australia, and Canada said they’re interested in or have already signed up for texts from brands.
The fact that consumer adoption of SMS has continued to grow highlights that the channel clearly meets their needs and expectations for convenience. And with the timely, two-way nature of SMS, it’s becoming the go-to for conversations about everything from product recommendations to shipping questions (more on that later).
Shoppers aren’t leaving brands on read. In fact, they’re actively engaging with brands—opening emails, liking social media posts, and clicking links in text messages.
A lot of that engagement is happening in shoppers’ SMS inboxes. Globally, 63% of consumers engage with brands’ SMS programs at least twice a week. 31% are engaging with brands’ emails, and 32% with branded apps, 2-5 times per week.
This level of engagement across channels doesn’t just show how much SMS can add to the conversation. It’s proof that consumers are engaging with brands across a variety of channels, for different reasons and goals. For marketers, it’s validation that these channels can amplify one another when matched with the right message.
SMS is a vital part of a holistic and integrated marketing strategy—alongside email, social media, and stellar customer service. In 2023, orchestration has to go beyond communicating a unified message across channels. It’ll come down to playing to the strengths of each channel (e.g., sending time-sensitive messages via SMS and telling visual stories via email) and understanding when consumers want to engage with each channel.
Shoppers don’t see email and SMS as an either/or choice—they see it as a “yes, and.” 85% of shoppers globally say that when they subscribe to a brand’s SMS program, they also sign up for their email. The verdict is in: SMS won’t cannibalize your email marketing program.
Consumers actively engaging with brands through both SMS and email is a testament to their comfort and familiarity. They see unique value in each channel, and they’ll interact with them in different ways (and at different times) depending on their needs. SMS is an excellent first touch—it's urgent, to-the-point, and hyper-personalized. Consumers trust they'll hear about exciting announcements and limited-time offers via SMS first, and are ready to click through and shop. Email, on the other hand, lets you tell a longer story. Whether you lean into visuals or go text-heavy, you can go deep to educate shoppers about products they're interested in or build loyalty with branded content.
It also speaks to an era of marketing defined by strategic orchestration. Because consumers are active on a variety of channels, marketers need to tailor their messaging and experiences to each channel's strengths and the expectations consumers have around them. They’ll also need to make sure their data flows between each channel to create thoughtfully personalized touchpoints, no matter where shoppers are engaging with them.
SMS marketing opens up a direct line of communication between brands and consumers. It gives consumers control over their experiences, letting them reach out to brands when they have questions, share more about what they’re interested in hearing, and get real-time support. Plus, it saves them the hassle of waiting on hold, refreshing their email for a reply, or making a trip to the store to get help.
That’s why shoppers around the globe are striking up conversations with brands over text messaging. Consumers said they’d rather talk to a brand via SMS than call them, talk to a sales associate in person, do laundry, or even exercise.
It’s no surprise that customer support questions are top-of-mind for consumers. They usually reach out if they have a question about where their package is, or if they’re having trouble checking out.
But the real surprise is that they’re just as likely to reach out to learn more about your offerings. 88% of global consumers would strike up a conversation to learn more about a product.
This highlights how the e-commerce shopping experience has shifted in the age of conversational commerce. Brands are recreating the in-store experience online, shifting consumers’ shopping journeys from reactive to proactive. Rather than waiting for brands to reach out, 70% of global consumers would start a conversation to get a product recommendation, and 80% would ask for a promotion or discount.
Shoppers are taking an active role in personalization, too. They’re comfortable letting brands know how often they’d like to receive messages, and what they want to hear about. In fact, 70% would even reach out to a brand to discover what sales and new products are coming up.
When you build the right personalization strategy, you'll drive higher conversions and AOV. The more data (and the right types of data) you have, the closer you are to hitting that bullseye.
Here's what our survey found about consumer shopping behaviors based on time of day and generation (and how to inform your strategy based on their spending patterns).
Understanding your customers’ mindsets (and when they’re in the mood to shop) is key to personalizing their experiences.
74% of consumers said they’re most likely to shop on their phone while watching TV at night. Shoppers are multitaskers—they’re unwinding from their day, scrolling through social media, and responding to texts. They’ll usually click “buy” after a post in their feed or a link in the group chat catches their eye.
The second most popular time to shop? Right after getting a text about a great sale from a brand. Consumers are on the hunt for value, so getting a direct heads up about opportunities to save is a strong incentive to hit “buy now.”
While shoppers of all ages are signing up for text messages from brands, there’s one generation that’s converting more than others. 35-44 year-olds (also known as millennials) are the most likely to make a purchase for the first time after subscribing to a brand’s SMS program.
They’re becoming life-long loyalists, too. 35-44 year-olds are the most likely to become repeat purchasers after signing up for text messages.
Marketers should create their segmentation strategies with this cohort’s aptitude for action in mind. Treating this segment like VIPs (or VIPs-to-be) with exclusive access to new products or offers will drive immediate revenue for your brand while you nurture other demographics.
Consumers aren’t limiting the amount they spend on products marketed to them via text. In fact, 68% of US consumers have spent over $50 on an item through text messaging, 22% of whom have splurged up to $500.
How much shoppers are comfortable spending via SMS is closely correlated to their purchasing power. 43% of 18-24 year olds in the US are comfortable spending between $50-$100. Meanwhile, 35-44 year-olds who have more disposable income (and may be shopping for their household) are the most likely to spend between $100-$500 on items marketed to them via SMS.
Getting to know your audience and intelligently segmenting your campaigns is key to sharing the right products at the right pricepoint with the right customers.
For consumers, loyalty can look like joining a VIP program, engaging with brands on social media, consistently using a brand’s apps, subscribing to email and SMS programs, or making repeat purchases.
Let’s take a look at the many roads to loyalty, and how to engage shoppers at each stage of the customer journey.
Consumers aren’t waiting until they’ve shopped with a brand to consider themselves loyalists. In fact, 38% of global consumers said they would join a loyalty program before they’ve even made a purchase.
With consumers placing an emphasis on brand mission, access to communities through social media, and opportunities to engage with brands on multiple channels, it’s no surprise they’re feeling more loyal early on. More cost-conscious consumers are likely to wait until they trust a brand to purchase from them (or, they’ll hold out for a great offer).
So, if you’re waiting until a shopper clicks “buy” to start building loyalty, you’re already behind. Creating multiple on-ramps to loyalty is key to capturing and maintaining shoppers’ attention. That early investment pays off in the long run, too. 60% of consumers would sign up for a brand’s loyalty program once they’ve made three or more purchases.
Building brand loyalty is no longer a linear journey.
For first-time purchasers, getting a recommendation from a friend and searching for product information online are tied as the strongest purchase indicators. Close behind are subscribing to a brand’s email program or looking up reviews.
When a shopper is ready to make a repeat purchase, the strongest indicators are recommending products to friends and searching for a product online. Close behind are signing up for a brand’s email and SMS programs.
Rewind back to 2021: consumers placed word-of-mouth recommendations at the bottom of the list. But today, getting a recommendation from an influencer they follow ranks last. In other words, influencers have become less influential and personal recommendations carry more weight.
Earning shoppers’ trust (and dollars) will come down to using owned channels like SMS and email to collect and share user-generated content (UGC) and reviews to help shoppers in their product discovery and evaluation processes.
And, while it’s not possible for marketers to share recommendations in shoppers’ group chats, they can encourage shoppers to refer their friends. Integrating their SMS and referral programs will be key to earning trust and driving conversions.
When a consumer is interacting with a brand for the first time, SMS is one of the strongest predictors of whether they’ll convert. 87% of US shoppers who are subscribed to a brand’s SMS program are likely to make a purchase.
Being an SMS subscriber is also a strong indicator in the UK, Australia, and Canada. 80%, 82%, and 78% of shoppers, respectively, said they’re likely to make a purchase if they’re signed up for text messages.
Our benchmarks report findings support this, too. For 53% of the marketers we surveyed, SMS is a top three revenue-driving channel. And, for 22% of those respondents, SMS is driving over 20% of their brand’s total revenue.
Two-way conversations are making it easier than ever for consumers to reach out to brands to get recommendations, ask questions, and get real-time support.
Let’s dig into the when and how brands should engage with consumers to maximize sales.
88% of global consumers would like to start a conversation with a brand when they have a specific product question, and 87% would to resolve an issue with their checkout experience. The takeaway: Consumers aren’t just reaching out after they’ve made a purchase. They want to talk to brands throughout the customer journey, giving brands the opportunity to make (and save) sales with conversations.
The conversations you have with customers after they click “buy” are just as impactful. 40% of global consumers said great customer service will influence them to spend more with a brand. Solutions like Attentive Concierge™ and integrating their SMS and CX platforms are helping brands deliver excellent support without eating up their team’s bandwidth—something that’s more critical than ever for teams trying to do more with less.
Brands need to think about how they can make their customer service more convenient (like by tapping into SMS) as part of their retention strategy. When brands can make it easy for consumers to not only get in touch, but get answers to their questions, they’ll recover otherwise lost revenue, and build longterm loyalty.
With two-way channels, brands can also gather insights about drop-off points throughout the buying process. Conversations not only help them save sales in the moment, but address painpoints to drive more conversions in the long run.
When you you take a closer look at how consumers are interacting with each channel and orchestrate your efforts, you're going to be able to give customers more of what they're looking for. Today, less than a quarter of marketers have integrated their SMS programs with their loyalty or reviews programs. That’s a big opportunity to connect the dots between shoppers' experiences.
You can then start building loyalty even before their first purchase. If you’re not already, prioritize collecting zero- and first-party data to ultimately reduce friction for consumers throughout their journey with your brand.
Investing in these priorities sooner rather than later will help you make the most of the touchpoints you already have, and use them to deliver even more exceptional experiences that keep shoppers coming back (and spreading the word).
Attentive’s Consumer Survey Report in 2023 was conducted December 20, 2022 through December 24, 2022. Based on answers from 5,000 US respondents and 3,000 respondents in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.