This is a question that I often notice in web marketing forums. Everyone is eager to find that “one best channel” through which they can communicate with their users effectively. Cannot complain about that because effective user communication is important for keeping your customers happy. Whenever there is something important that requires their attention, you should do whatever it takes to inform them.
But the answer to “Which is the best channel” is kinda tricky. Well, my answer is it depends. It depends on the type of customer segment, the type of your product and most importantly, the context.
One communication channel that works in a particular context may not be a good choice for another situation. For example, if you want to send a “New Comment” notification to a user who is currently online on your website, In-App notification is the most effective method. Email or Native browser push won’t work as both of them are out of context.
But for the same use-case, email becomes more relevant if the user is currently offline. Because there is no point in sending an In-App notification to a user who is not even connected to the internet. Right?
So, there is no “one single best channel” for communicating with your users. You need a cross-channel communication strategy to ensure that your messages are delivered to your users depending on where they are.
But there comes another issue. Too many channels and too many messages!
When your users want to read a message that you’ve sent, he is not sure where to look. He searches his email inbox with the product name and the inbox says “Sorry No search results”. He looks at his SMS inbox, one by one. And it’s not there. He again goes back to his email inbox and searches with a different keyword and there it is. Finally, he found the coupon code that you’ve sent him to renew his subscription.
Is there a better way to notify users?
Though too many communication channels are becoming an issue, it solves a pressing issue. They alert your users no matter where they are and brings them back to your web app or website. So you cannot abandon your omnichannel customer communication strategy. It’s important.
Once they reach back your web app, there starts another issue. What should I do now? What’s important? What’s pending?
In short, it’s about organizing your messages in a single place inside your app so that customers could read them anytime.
Let us consider this scenario. You emailed a customer (who is using your CRM App) that someone has sent a message to him through the online contact form on his website, which is connected to your CRM App. So, the reply has been recorded in your CRM App. And you notified your customer about this event via email.
Great, He checked his email and found an email with the subject – “Hey, Someone just contacted you through your website”. He opened the email, clicked the email and reached your CRM dashboard.
Now, he is confused. There are so many things happening! Where is the new contact request? Did anything else happen while I was away?
The best way to help your users at this point is to place an inbox inside your web app itself. That inbox is exclusively for listing your messages. Nothing else. No Spam. No Ads. No Filters!
All the messages that you’ve sent to him via multiple channels like Email, SMS, Push etc are right there, inside that inbox. And, he should be able to know the unread notifications. You could show him an unread notification count.
If you notice popular websites like Facebook, Quora, LinkedIn etc, the most engaging component of these websites is the notification center. Imagine these websites without a notification center. Recently, I read a blog article by Trello on how they adopted a better strategy to notify their users with a notification center. So, it’s effective!
Don’t you think this same component will help your users too? Especially if your web app contains too many information. And one of the great advantages of this component is that
You don’t have to educate your users about a notification center. They already know what’s the use and how to use!
So as a conclusion, my answer to the question – “Is there one best channel to notify my users” is No. You should be using all appropriate channels. And you should change the question as – “Is there a better way to notify my users?” 🙂
Let me know your thoughts in comments. How do you inform your users? Do you think they’re noticing it? How are you ensuring that they’re not missing important alerts?