When it comes to competing in today’s challenging business environment, it’s not unusual for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to think of themselves as underdogs. That instinct is understandable—after all, they’re often competing with deep-pocketed enterprise brands that can throw money at problems or new strategies, something that’s not always possible for smaller companies. But SMBs remain the backbone of US business, representing nearly 44% of economic activity, and we’ve seen 82% of SMBs taking steps to modernize their processes and the technology they have on hand, making it easier for them to compete effectively with even the biggest competitors.
That’s especially true when it comes to customer engagement. With so much of today’s business driven by digital- and mobile-first consumer activity, it’s essential for brands to embrace cross-channel, personalized experiences that leverage data, technology, and teamwork to effectively speak to and encourage action from their customers. And in this key battlefield, SMBs may well have a strategic advance over larger competitors. Let’s take a look at why that is and how SMBs can position themselves for success.
Enterprise brands and other large, complex businesses have an enduring challenge that they have to confront. To continue the success that’s allowed them to grow to their current size, they need to be able to continue providing great experiences—and clear value—to their customers. In a world defined by digital transformation, achieving that goal requires efficient technology systems, the flexibility to change strategy swiftly, and the ability to use data to optimize customer experiences in the moment.
That’s a tall order, especially for organizations where different departments and collections of data have traditionally existed in the partial isolation that results from endemic organizational silos. Making great customer experiences happen now requires constant crossover between departments and their individual systems, processes, data sets, and a whole lot more—and if you can’t navigate that successfully, you can end up with a clogged well of communications, decision-making, and idea-generation.
Size can have a big impact on these outcomes. A big enterprise may have deep pockets, but often these organizations aren’t able to be as adaptable or flexible as SMBs that operate without the same layers of bureaucracy and calcified process. That means that when two organizations—one big and one small—attempt to implement the technologies and strategies that make up the foundation of personalized, cross-channel customer engagement, the smaller, more nimble company often finds itself with a key strategic advantage.
It can feel sometimes like every day brings with it a new channel for communicating with your customers. And between email, the channels brought into existence by the rise of mobile—think push notifications, in-app messages, and Content Cards—and emerging channels like web push and connected TV notifications, the number of messages that it’s possible to send each customer has kept rising, too.
It makes sense: In today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world, there’s no single marketing channel that can communicate effectively with every one of your customers. But while that makes using multiple channels essential, it doesn’t mean that every approach is created equally. Big enterprise brands are more likely to have separate, siloed teams owning different messaging channels—and less likely to have clear lines of communication between those teams. SMBs that have all their customer communications under the purview of a single team (or which are small enough to have strong relationships and alignment between different teams) are generally better positioned to ensure cohesive, cross-channel experiences and the customer engagement benefits that come with them.
With a thoughtful cross-channel approach, your customers’ user journey happens across all relevant channels in a complementary, cohesive way that takes into consideration each one’s strengths—and drives exceptional outcomes. Research conducted by Braze has found that communicating with customers through a single channel increases engagement rates by 179% compared to a control group that received no messages. Better yet? When users receive cross-channel messaging, those engagement rates jump up to 844%. But if you don’t have alignment across teams around what messages should be sent and the strategy for sending them, these kinds of coordinated strategies can prove out of reach.
When it comes to effective messaging, batch-and-blast outreach just won’t cut it anymore. 90% of today’s consumers are annoyed by irrelevant marketing—and brands that want to hold onto their audiences need to ensure that your mobile messaging strategy is built on a foundation of personalized experiences.
To get there, you need to make sure you have your data house in order. Effective personalization is built on data, but not all data is created equally. You need to be confident that the information you’re collecting is accurate, up to date, and capable of having a meaningful impact on your customer engagement efforts. Otherwise, you run the risk of customizing messages based on inaccurate or outdated information, leading to broken, frustrating experiences.
That means that allowing data silos to flourish can undercut your brand’s ability to use personalization to speak effectively to customers. And while data silos can occur at organizations of any size, large enterprise brands need to be especially careful to avoid them, as the large scale and complexity of these organizations can increase the odds that some of the data that’s being collected ends up walled off from systems supporting personalization and engagement efforts. If your SMB has clarity around where the data at your disposal lives and clear lines of communications between the different teams that manage it, you have a strategic advantage when it comes to making use of personalization to see stronger business outcomes.
Personalization can have a major impact. Research by Braze has found that leveraging dynamic content personalization to automatically add in content like individual product recommendations to messages in real time can boost unique email click rates by up to 1.7x, driving significantly more engagement with the messages you send.
To see the full value of cross-channel personalization, brands need to eliminate silos, whether they’re organizational or data-related. That essential task can give SMBs a leg up compared to their enterprise competition, and that’s an advantage that they’d be smart to capitalize on: According to McKinsey’s Julien Boudet, “Personalization initiatives can deliver significant value, including on average 10-30% revenue uplift and higher customer acquisition rates and engagement.”
Interested in diving deeper into personalizing messages across channels and seeing stronger marketing results. Get started with our in-depth personalization guide.
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