Smart messaging for your e-commerce site – It’s all about the continuity in the journey

It is no secret that the vast majority of visits to your e-commerce site are happening on a mobile device. And given that these devices are always on, always within reach, and filled with an expansive list of channels for consumers to interact on, brands are undoubtedly seeing a much greater number of interactions from consumers than before. The depth of those interactions however is a very different story – each “visit” is of a much shorter duration and consumers are constantly hopping from one distraction to another on their device. It’s true, the human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. Talk about a challenge for marketers to keep their audience engaged. What can they possibly do in response? Ask any “expert”, and a strategy revolving around Push Notifications is the proverbial silver bullet, of course! Open up any article on improving mobile engagement and you will almost always see a solid reference to using notifications to accomplish that objective. From an app developer’s perspective, notifications are often treated as the panacea for everything that ails your mobile experience. Flip things around and look at it from the consumer’s perspective however, and it’ll quickly become obvious that’s rarely ever the case. When was the last time any of us received a push notification and were simply delighted by the fact that the app we hadn’t touched in more than a month chose to interrupt what we were doing with a supposedly timely, relevant message that was useful and actually added value to our experience? Yeah, didn’t think so.

That is not to say that notifications aren’t useful – they can be extremely useful when used appropriately. In fact, they are arguably the most effective weapon in your arsenal to engage with interested shoppers that haven’t interacted with you in a while, when used appropriately. It is a delicate balance between delivering value, and at the same time, ensuring that you don’t annoy the user with an intrusion that’s perceived as needless. And when you throw in the fact that consumers are increasingly interacting with you on a small-screen device with shrinking attention spans, it becomes painfully obvious that the balance needs to be very carefully managed – for if you don’t, you are unlikely to get a second chance to make it up to them.

At Swym, our mission is all about making shopping journeys for consumers simpler and intuitive – across channels. The notion of continuity in the experience from that shopper’s perspective, no matter what device/channel they are on, is central to delivering on that promise. Capturing user context as it happens is a necessary part of being able to make sense of that journey, but smart notifications serve as the threads that help stitch those otherwise disconnected activities together into one coherent story. And the ability to understand the context in real-time and deliver relevant cues that help users in completing their task is really what its all about. As we negotiate that balance between value and disruption, we focus on three key WHY questions that we believe the user is asking when they see a notification during their interaction:

Swym Relay - Smart Notifications

  1. Why THIS message?
  2. Why ME?
  3. Why NOW?

If the platform is able to deliver satisfactory answers to those three questions, we believe it is safe to assume that the notification has done a good job of negotiating that balance. While the new Smart Messaging feature that we power via Swym Relay is only one of many capabilities that our platform offers, it is one of the most important ones because it keeps the rest of the capabilities in play from the user’s perspective; it is what makes engagement happen. As a result, we put a fair bit of thought into architecting this feature right – and we thought it would be beneficial to share some of the key design considerations that went into building this capability so you could derive optimal value from identifying specific use cases in your respective environments that might benefit from this. Note however that our implementation of the feature is a little different from the traditional definition of “Push Notifications”. Some key differences that are worth highlighting:

  • We support both web and app scenarios via our platform, and so, our Smart Messaging feature was designed to cater to both of those channels.
  • Unlike the traditional “mobile” Push Notifications, the current implementation of our Smart Messaging will only surface alerts when the user is already on the site or the app, or via a personalized email message if they’ve signed up to hear from you. Simply put, its a 1:1 communication channel with the shopper that’s medium agnostic.
  • From the user’s perspective, channels don’t matter – they prefer hearing from you on their terms, and with content that is personalized, has relevance at its core and delivers them value. Being able to preserve the continuity in their experience regardless of what the medium of delivery is therefore a key design objective

As we extend the capabilities of the underlying Swym Relay platform over time, we fully expect that the scope of our notifications library will expand as well. Our goal in sharing our learning is in the hope that you’ll derive some value from that – we’ll talk at length about our approach, the overall design, the data and metrics we collect and how we use that data to ensure a quality user experience. We hope you’ll enjoy reading these posts as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Stay tuned!

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