Text messaging is the single most effective communication channel for brands seeking to contact consumers in real-time with time-sensitive information, such as order status alerts, according to a survey conducted by eDigitalResearch for enterprise mobile engagement firm OpenMarket. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The findings suggest that retailers need to implement a comprehensive communications strategy that includes multiple channels, in order to engage with consumers across the entire lifecycle.

The research highlights that SMS is well-suited for the delivery of time-sensitive, priority information, with 53% of respondents citing SMS as the preferred method of communication when 'on the go'.

At the same time, 85% of respondents would prioritise unopened text messages over emails and push notifications from apps, making SMS an ideal solution for retailers operating 'Click & Collect' services. Similarly, mobile messaging was the preferred channel for receiving delivery updates, with more than 50% of those surveyed choosing this option for 'on the day' notifications.

"Retail is a very personal experience with unique consumer and purchase journeys," said Steve Brockway, Director of Research (UK) at eDigitalResearch. "The report underscores how preferences regarding brand interactions differ for every shopper. This means that retailers must consider these preferences when choosing how they engage with each one of their customers. A 'one size fits all' solution doesn't exist, and retailers should evaluate each communication channel to ensure a smooth customer journey whenever possible."

The study also revealed that 59% of respondents preferred to receive promotional information via email, making it an effective channel for marketing materials. Of those surveyed, 54% indicated they always or mostly always opened offers received via email. Email also had the highest open rate for marketing information, closely followed by text messages.

While SMS is preferred by consumers at certain stages during their journey, trust remains a clear barrier to retailers utilising the technology. Just 43% of respondents said they would be willing to share their phone number with retailers, citing the concern they would be overwhelmed with irrelevant communications. As such, retailers should not only reassure consumers that they will respect their personal data, but they should also carefully assess which channel to use when communicating information at different stages of the customer journey.

"The continued shift to online shopping and growth of services such as 'Click & Collect' mean that it's critical to provide timely delivery and collection information. Only SMS can offer the ubiquity, familiarity and effectiveness when it comes to these types of interactions," concluded Paul Murphy, Head of Commercial Development for OpenMarket.