Consumers shun social media and apps in favor of emails and texts

In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of different channels that businesses use to keep in touch with their customers.

But a new study from cloud communications platform Twilio reveals that the newer channels aren't especially popular, with 83 percent of global consumers saying they prefer email when receiving communications from businesses.

However, SMS texts are more than twice as popular as email when receiving urgent communications. By contrast just 12 percent of consumers prefer a company's mobile app for receiving communications. And while seven out of 10 consumers curate their home screens, less than half say that corporate mobile apps make it on there.

The study of 2,500 people around the world also shows the overall volume of business communication may be having a negative effect, with 94 percent of consumers reporting that they are annoyed by the current communications they receive from businesses.

Pet peeves include communications being too frequent (61 percent); irrelevant content (56 percent); not remembering having opted in (41 percent); and being contacted via the wrong channel (33 percent). When they are contacted people prefer it to happen in the afternoon, with only 13 percent of consumers preferring to be contacted in the evening.

"Everyday at Twilio, we hear from brands who want to improve their customer experience yet are overwhelmed by the increasingly complex communications landscape," says Sara Varni, chief marketing officer at Twilio. "There is a lot to be done to improve the current state of how companies engage with their customers and it starts with knowing which channels consumers prefer and how to personalize the medium to align with the context of the interaction."

There are, as ever, generational differences. More Generation Z and Millennial consumers want content personalization and a choice of the time of day that messages are received. Millennials prefer to receive promotions/sales messages more frequently than Baby Boomers. Also Gen Z and Millennial consumers are more likely to reward businesses for meeting their preferences and more likely to penalize companies for poor communication experiences.

75 percent of consumers say they have rewarded businesses that communicate in the way they prefer, for example by visiting the website, making a purchase, or having a positive impression. While seven out of 10 consumers have penalized a business when the communication experience wasn't what they wanted, by unsubscribing from notifications or stopping doing business altogether.

The full report including best practices for engagement is available from the Twilio site.

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