Who's getting the message?
We’ve considered the methods that businesses and customers have said they’d prefer to communicate by, but does this match up when it comes to the effectiveness of these services for communicating with consumers? And has the success of these options shifted since the pandemic began?
What consumers want from communications
Before we consider the effectiveness of specific tools and approaches, it’s worth noting that from our research with consumers, their main priority when being approached by businesses was that the information is correct, with 37% of respondents noting this as a high importance. This was followed by professionalism, (31%), being informative (31%) and that it was easy to reply (31%).
And the outlook was very similar for marketing materials such as news around products, sales, discounts and special offers too; the main priority was that the communications be informative (37%), followed by the information being correct (33%), professional (23%) and easy to reply to (20%).
The appropriateness of the specific channel used for these communications was of relatively low importance in comparison, with just 14% prioritising the method used. This suggests that as long as the information provided is correct, polite and useful, the format it’s received through is less important in comparison.
The most effective communication channels
So, when working to promote and communicate with these consumers, SMEs noted that the most effective tool was the use of a public Facebook page for their business. The top five also included text messaging, email newsletters, Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, showing a particularly interesting spread of outgoing methods and messaging apps. Meanwhile, the least effective channels were TikTok (both public accounts and paid ads), WeChat and Chatbots, all relative newcomers as marketing and communications methods for businesses. While it lacked popularity with SMEs, they agreed that the success of these channels had still increased since Covid-19, albeit by just 1% or 2%. So, while they’re not as reliably effective now, they are starting to become more useful to businesses.
Direct mail remained a fairly popular and effective option, which is no surprise given the fact that this is a well-established marketing tactic that appeals to a wide age range. However, SMEs felt it was less effective since the start of the pandemic, showing a success rate drop of 6%. This really showcases the surge in digital focus that, while having been evident over the course of the last decade, has been given an intense boost by the pandemic.
The best tools for every objective
To drill down further, we were keen to uncover which tools were best for specific businesses and their marketing objectives. Here are the most effective marketing tools for five key marketing goals, along with the percentage of SMEs who have found a benefit from these during the pandemic:
Uplift % in enquiries
Uplift % in sales
Uplift % in repeat business
Increased % website traffic
Increased % customer satisfaction
The least effective tool for all of these objectives was TikTok, with an effectiveness rating of between 7% and 11%.
For consumers, it’s the message itself that is the priority over the method specifically used. However this doesn’t mean that the type of channel for each objective isn’t worthy of careful consideration. From the experience of SMEs, it’s clear that a varied digital strategy covering a range of channels seems to be the best approach for successfully reaching and maintaining business with your customers. For example, your approach could be to showcase your products and services on your social pages, reach new customers through targeted ads, deal with and communicate with your customers on a variety of messaging apps, and retarget and promote to them with email newsletters.
While newer apps like TikTok or WeChat aren’t as comparably effective for many businesses at the moment, 30% of SMEs have still seen overall success from using these mediums, so they’re definitely one to watch over the next year.
"Yell is actively enabling conversations between businesses and consumers across multiple platforms such as Apple via Yell messaging. We know having the ability to facilitate timely and conversational communication between them, as these findings highlight, is crucial to SMEs to succeed now and post the pandemic."
Claire Miles, CEO of Yell
1,006 SME owners and 2,009 consumers surveyed in September 2020 by Censuswide on behalf of Yell Business.