Latest Research Shows How Consumers Want to Engage with Brands

July 31, 2017 - 6 minute read

Last week, we covered 5 Revealing New Insights to Help Brands Connect with Consumers with a focus on technology adoption and preferences.

This week, we’re going to look more at how you should communicate with your prospective customers, based on 1000 consumers aged 18-90 across the UK.

Consumers ♡ Email Support

We asked ‘Which channels do you prefer for customer support?’ and the majority of consumers prefer Email or Live Chat, with a large number also opting for phone support.

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The results clearly show that if you can only offer 3 lines of support for your customers, then they should be email, live chat and phone.

The good news is that with most consumers preferring email or live chat (both cheaper options than phone), it should reduce the number of people on call support to a financially manageable level, while still allowing you to offer grade A support.

(Remember, good customer service is vital, and a poor customer service experience is the number one reason people stop buying from brands.)

One word of caution though - people might like live chat, but they’re not keen on chatbots (despite how similar the interface may seem). So don’t replace real people with AI-driven answering machines just yet, or you may feel the wrath of your customers.

Airing dirty laundry

Speaking of dissatisfied customers, we also asked ‘Have you complained about (or to) a brand on social media in the last 6 months?’

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While the majority have not used such a public forum to voice their displeasure at brands, almost 1/3rd of the population have done. And remember that some 15% of consumer who see negative social media comments about brands will stop buying from them.

The % of people who’ve complained about - or to - brands on social media increased when you look at just 18-30 years olds, and even more so for those who live in London (regardless of age) where the number goes up to 42%.

The lesson here is that while customers are actually not looking at social media as their preferred source of customer service with brands, they will take to it as a channel for airing dirty laundry if they’re not satisfied with the resolution.

Therefore you still have to treat social channels as a public customer service arena, one that you can easily win and lose points in depending on how you handle the situation.

Social for brands

Looking at social media in a more a positive light, we were intrigued by which networks consumers were most keen to engage with brands on.

On which social channels do you prefer to hear from brands? 

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As you can see, Facebook is the clear winner here. No wonder it’s sharing some 85% of digital advertising spend along with Google.

YouTube was a somewhat surprising 2nd place, so these results would indicate video really is gaining traction as the ‘next big thing’ that brands should be investing in.

And while Twitter’s growth has stalled as of late, they took the 3rd spot as a favourite place for consumers to engage with brands - beating out hot new favourites like Whatsapp and Snapchat - which should be great news to their commercial team selling brands on the value of their ads.

It’s probably not a surprise that when we look at just the 18-30 year old demographics, Snapchat surges in popularity (with 27% saying they’d like to engage with brands).

Those aged 50 and over seem to adhere to the stereotype of being less digitally engaged, with 38% saying they don’t want to engage with brands on any social media (versus a national average of just 13%)

What’s in it for them?

Why do consumers follow brands on social media? That’s an important understanding to have if you want to really engage your followers and give them what they want.

Do you follow brands on social media and if so, why?

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Have you seen a lovelier looking chart than this all day? All week?

Consumers want you to sell them stuff on social media! That’s why they’re following you. Sure, they want a deal (who doesn’t?) but this is great news for brands.

Almost half of your followers are just begging you to make them customers with exclusive offers and discounts that will move them from window-shopper to purchase.

What’s surprising is how many are following simply because they want to know more about your products and brand, keen to be first in line for the latest updates and news.

Our data shows females are even hungrier for a bargain, with 54% following brands on social media primarily to get offers and discounts. This rises to 58% for those aged 18-30 (regardless of gender).

63% of those aged 50 and over say they don’t follow brands on social media.

Email still golden opportunity

Social media is a very popular channel for brands to reach their consumers, but if we look at other forms of communication, we asked ‘Which channels do you prefer to receive marketing and promotions on?’

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If marketing and promotion were an Olympic sport, and channels the competitors, then social media would only just make the podium with a bronze finish.

TV - which once reigned supreme when it came to brand communications - still retains a strong silver position; but it’s email, so often declared ‘dead’ by 'experts,' that is standing in gold position.

Consumers prefer to receive brand marketing and promotions direct to their inbox.

So unless you pull a Weatherspoons and delete your entire email database, this has to be good news too. Email is economical, reasonably easy to personalise and manage, and lets you provide immediately actionable calls to action (such as offers and discounts).

While often seen as an old technology, perhaps it’s worth rethinking the relative importance you’re placing on email?

Particularly when you consider how frequently consumers are happy to receive emails from brands they buy from, as you can see from this chart:

How often should a company email you about offers after you’ve purchased something from them?

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In conclusion

Consumers have strong preferences when it comes to communication with brands - and they might not be the same preferences that you have.

How confident are you that you’re talking to your target audience in the right way? And through the right channels?

For a beautifully tailored understanding of consumers in your market, get in touch with our expert team of insight directors today, and they’ll make sure you’re perfectly aligned from now on.

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