8,000 Global Consumers Told Us What Keeps Them Coming Back

2023 State of Conversational Commerce Report
Published on
Mar 27, 2023
Written by
Kasey Hickey
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They express loyalty in many ways. But when they engage with SMS in particular, it’s a key indicator they’ll make their first (and future) purchases. 

Last year, we launched the first State of Conversational Commerce Report. We surveyed 5,000 US consumers to understand how they transitioned to the world of hybrid shopping and how brands could engage them on and offline. We learned that consumers were prioritizing convenience—and that SMS was a key channel for brands to deliver on their expectations. 

This year, we took our research global, surveying 8,000 consumers across the US, UK, Canada, and Australia to better understand how they define loyalty, what value looks like to them, and what kind of data they’re willing to share with brands. Our 2023 Global State of Conversational Commerce Report offers insights into what consumers want from brands, and how you can connect the dots between their needs and yours. 

One clear theme emerged: “Value” is in the eye of the beholder. When brands can deliver value to consumers (however they define it), they’re willing to share personal data in return. And so long as consumers feel that brands are meeting their needs, they’ll engage across channels, often. 

It's also worth noting that globally, consumers aren’t so different from each other. Regardless of where they’re from, shoppers are looking for value-driven incentives and opportunities to connect 1:1 with brands. 

Keep reading for ‌a few highlights from our research. To dive into all our learnings, visit the 2023 Global State of Conversational Commerce Consumer Survey Report, SMS Marketing Benchmarks, and take our personalized content finder quiz

There are many paths to loyalty, so connecting the dots early is key 

One of the biggest takeaways from our consumer survey was that loyalty often starts before a consumer has even made their first purchase from a brand. 38% of global consumers said they would join a loyalty program before they’ve bought something from a brand. Whether it’s following a brand on social media, subscribing to email and SMS channels, or interacting with a brand’s app, consumers are doing their research ahead of time. 

How often do you engage with brands on the following digital channels?

Marketers should take note of how—and when—consumers are engaging with their brand to speed up the path to purchase. 87% of US shoppers who are subscribed to a brand’s SMS program are likely to make a purchase, making it a strong predictor of intent. But of course, SMS isn’t the only channel where consumers are connecting with brands—31% of consumers are engaging with brands’ emails 2-5 times per week, and 31% with branded apps. 

Because subscribers sign up for SMS before they've made their first purchase, use it to build relationships and encourage conversions. Email will help you nurture them post-purchase with longer styling recommendations, requests for reviews, and more. And once they've made ‌a few purchases, you can use your branded app to share what's new.

One thing is clear: Creating a seamless experience for consumers, driving conversions, and encouraging repeat purchases (not to mention, higher AOV), means connecting the dots between channels early and often. 

SMS is an amplifier for all of your other marketing channels

We know that brands can use SMS to gather valuable first- and zero-party data from consumers to deliver more personalized experiences. And consumers are sharing more than just their basic contact information in exchange for various incentives (more on that in the full report). 

As a result, phone numbers are becoming the key identity markers for brands. They’re acting as the single source of truth for consumer preferences, positioning SMS as the common thread across the customer journey. 

For brands you subscribe to via SMS, do you also subscribe to their emails?

While some marketers fear cannibalizing their marketing channels, our survey results show that value-focused consumers will connect with brands on a variety of channels. 85% of shoppers say that when they subscribe to a brand’s SMS program, they also sign up for their email

For consumers, it's not a choice of either/or, it's a yes/and. They see the benefits of each channel, and use them to achieve different ends. For example: A timely channel like SMS is great for helping consumers unlock early access to a sale, while email offers more room to go behind-the-scenes of a company's mission. (PS: Be sure to bookmark this post on the best times to send SMS and email.)

Whether it’s through orchestration or integration, marketers who are prioritizing loyalty and retention should be thinking about how they can build trust and show that they’re delivering value. The days of batch and blast are truly behind us. Consumers are expecting brands to know them and SMS has become a sophisticated tool in leading brands’ marketing tech stacks.

And when brands connect their SMS platform with their loyalty and email programs, they’re able to give consumers more of what they want: Tailored VIP perks, early access to new product launches, customized recommendations, geo-targeted offers, and more. 

Consumers would rather text with your brand than talk with you on the phone (or in person) 

Year-over-year, more consumers than ever are opting into brands’ SMS channels. This year, we found that 93% of US shoppers (91% globally) are interested in or opted in to texts from a brand. In 2022, that number was 81%. But consumers aren’t just opting in—they’re actively engaging with brands on SMS, too. Globally, 63% of consumers engage with brands’ SMS programs at least twice a week

Would you sign up to receive text messages from brands?

Consumers are totally comfortable engaging with brands with SMS based on years of experience texting with friends and family. And they’ve discovered how much faster and more convenient it is to communicate with brands via SMS, too. In fact, respondents told us they'd rather text with a brand than exercise or do laundry. And at the very bottom of the list? Talking to a brand on the phone. For consumers, SMS is a great way to get their questions answered, whether it’s about a product they’re interested in or an issue at checkout. 

Two-way channels like SMS give consumers exactly what they want in 2023: The ability to engage on their own terms, share their preferences and ask for recommendations, and get help when it’s most convenient for them. It’s a win-win for brands, too. They can close the loop on interactions (and sales) that might otherwise fall through the cracks, and open the door to driving more revenue by offering a variety of incentives. 

Best of all? By collecting all that zero- and first-party data along the way, brands can keep delivering the most personalized experiences for their customers—ensuring that shoppers will keep coming back for more (and tell their friends). 

Learn more about The Global State of Conversational Commerce 

To learn more about how consumer behavior has shifted—and get insights like how much they’re spending on items marketed to them via SMS, why you should (still) be paying attention to millennials, and more—check out our full Consumer Survey Report. And, if you’re looking to see how you stack up against other marketers’ SMS programs, explore our SMS Marketing Benchmarks Report

Finally, who doesn’t love ‌personalized content recommendations? Take our quiz to get inspired by what other brands are doing, and discover how to take your SMS program to the next level.

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