The power of choice: How businesses can prioritize channels to build relationships with consumers
November 27, 2018
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This post is sponsored by Facebook.

Today's shoppers live in a truly omnichannel world, and merchants have to be ready to meet customer expectations across multiple channels at any given time. But that can be easier said than done, especially for businesses that are strapped for cash and -- more importantly -- time. How should these businesses approach sifting through a seemingly endless number of channels in order to reach their customers and build meaningful relationships?

Facebook Marketplace Product Marketing Director Michelle Bonner Techel sat down to discuss the challenges of doing business in an omnichannel world, how to deliver the engagement and experiences today's consumers are looking for and how Marketplace can help businesses keep up:

What are some challenges that come with meeting the diverse expectations of today's consumers, and how can retailers overcome them?


Techel

We talk a lot about choice and information overload for consumers, but the same is true for merchants. Choosing what information to share about your products and services -- and how to provide it -- can be overwhelming. It’s important to cut through the expectations and deliver the most relevant information at the right time and place.

You’ve probably been hearing for a few years now how important it is for advertisers to be mobile-first, and that remains true. Consumers browse on their devices before deciding to browse at your store. They even browse on mobile in your store! On Facebook, nearly two in three people visit the Page of a local business or event at least once a week. This burgeoning online community helps people and brands establish and maintain connections, linking them with their surrounding communities. Mobile devices make these connections possible anywhere, at any time.

To meet the demands of consumers, first begin by understanding the actions your customers are taking on mobile. Ask yourself, “How does mobile change my customers’ or potential customers’ behaviors? How do I adapt to those new expectations?” Think of mobile as an opportunity to pull ahead of the competition. With less than half of local businesses optimizing their marketing for mobile, businesses have a unique opportunity to help bridge the gap and reach more people. You can learn more about the ways that mobile has changed the customer experience here.

How can small businesses with limited budgets -- and even more limited time -- build and foster better relationships with consumers?

As any small business knows, relationships are everything. Every relationship starts with a conversation. For time- and budget-starved companies, people and businesses are increasingly connecting through a powerful, personal new medium on mobile: messaging.

People’s expectations for communicating with each other via mobile -- and in general -- are fundamentally transforming the way they expect to communicate with businesses. Use of mobile messaging apps is on a meteoric rise. By the end of 2018, 78% of the world’s smartphone users will message every month, according to eMarketer. And while the apps people use and the frequency with which they message businesses varies by region, the global momentum is undeniable.

What is the most important part of the purchase cycle to invest in -- discovery, purchase or post-purchase?

Trick question! Consumers, especially on mobile, want to reduce their burden throughout the purchasing journey. From the advent of the one-click buy button to streaming on-demand content, consider that consumers are comparing your purchase journey to the same journey they take when buying or streaming a song.

With that in mind, your most important investment should be finding ways to reduce friction at every stage. In discovery, friction occurs when people have to make an effort to discover your brand or offerings. Fifty-one percent of consumers expect you to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions, according to a Greenberg Inc. study. Once they've committed to a purchase, every step or delay in your purchase process that gets in the way is friction. From then on, consumers are looking for fewer steps to fulfillment, support and -- ideally -- repurchase. You can learn more about ways to reduce friction here.

What is one step businesses can take today to reduce friction for their customers and stay on top of these trends? What Facebook tools or platforms can help?

Facebook Marketplace is an example of a product that combines mobile with messaging to reduce friction. It's a place where people and businesses can discover, buy and sell items listed on Facebook within their local community or beyond. We already talked about the importance of being mobile-first. Businesses can reach mobile buyers on Marketplace, where they're already browsing products. They can also provide useful information like price and product descriptions, and engage buyers as they shop on the go with mobile-friendly listings. Facebook Messenger also enables real-time messaging for faster customer responses. You can learn more about how to meet your customers on mobile and via messaging in Facebook Marketplace here.

Michelle Bonner Techel is head of business product marketing for Marketplace and Payments at Facebook. The product portfolio she supports covers more than 70 markets and is used by hundreds of millions people monthly. Michelle has more than 15 years of experience as a leader in financial services and technology, including an extensive background in strategy, product management and marketing. Prior to joining Facebook, she worked at Wells Fargo, McKinsey & Co, the US Treasury and the White House.