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Mobile messaging trends: Shopping season goes omnichannel and conversational

This blog was co-authored by Goran Juršić, VP of Business Intelligence at Infobip.

Shopping season is the busiest time of the year for businesses and consumers. Until now, the only way to successfully sell and buy was through timely reminders, proactive messaging, and real-time updates.

But after some analysis, it’s become clear the businesses that see the most success with their messaging and manage to stand out are the ones that integrate multiple channels and message types throughout a single flow of communication.

This can look like using one channel to entice excitement around an event a few days beforehand, then using another one to send reminders closer to the event, and a third channel on the actual day of the event for timely communication.

In fact, when we look at industry standards, brands can achieve up to 39% conversion rates when they use multiple channels for marketing communication. This is often also attributed to messaging channels which have higher open rates such as SMS (98%) in addition to new channels of choice such as WhatsApp.

Holiday shopping trends through mobile messaging

To further explore these changes in B2C communication we see happening regionally and globally, we analyzed over 6 billion interactions that took place on high-converting messaging channels on our platform – on and around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Diwali, Singles’ Day, and Prime Day this year.

We found that:

  • Rich, conversational messaging through chat apps, such as WhatsApp, is becoming the norm
  • Brands still rely heavily on traditional channels, including SMS, email, and voice, to connect with customers
  • Different channels are used before, during, and after each shopping day, so an omnichannel approach is important

Read on to learn about the messaging trends that made this shopping season a success – and how you can build a winning communications strategy for next year.

Black Friday messaging grows globally

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have transformed into global shopping festivals from being predominantly an American shopping affair. With sales starting earlier this year, we witnessed an increase in interactions before the actual day.

Both traditional and rich messaging channels played key parts in Black Friday communication strategies – with WhatsApp being the go-to channel for pre-campaigns, mobile app messaging and email for on-day communication, and SMS and voice as reliable failover channels.

The total number of global Black Friday interactions on our platform totaled 2.36 billion – which is 48% more than an average Friday in November.

Mobile App Messaging took the lead in global Black Friday messaging this year with a 195% increase compared to 2021 – and a 167% increase compared to an average day in November. Retail and eCommerce brands specifically used mobile app messaging 588% more on Black Friday than on an average day in November – while transportation and logistics companies used it 583% more. In addition, 48% of all mobile app messaging interactions in November happened 10 days before Black Friday – making it the go-to channel for pre-campaigns.

Email also remains an important channel for on-day promotions and notifications, with a 129% increase in Retail and eCommerce interactions and a 59% increase in Transportation and Logistics interactions compared to an average day in November. Transactional emails and promotional ones, however, also started as much as 10 days prior, with 43% of all November email interactions taking place between the 15th and 25th.

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Global voice interactions also saw a 39% increase one day before Black Friday compared to last year – while SMS was used 39% more on Black Friday compared to an average Friday in November. This indicates that traditional channels still play a key role in brands’ communications strategies, alongside timely channels such as mobile app messaging.

Voice-based promotional alerts are a good example of how brands can share discount codes and announce promotions via automated calls.

North America

Over the years, Black Friday in North America has expanded into an entire week’s worth of deals and activities, which we now refer to as Cyber Week. We’ve also continued to grow our presence in the US – and such growth was only possible through understanding customer needs and enabling them to build meaningful connections on the most popular messaging channels. The interactions that took place on our platform were supported and coordinated by US operators who provided the capacity needed for timely delivery.

We saw 5.6 billion interactions take place within the region between November 22nd and 28th – which is 64% more than Cyber Week 2021!

On Black Friday itself, North America remains the most popular region with a 66% increase in interactions this year compared to 2021. Black Friday messaging also increased in Latin America with 41% more interactions than last year, followed by Asia-Pacific (12%).

In North America alone, we saw 119% more interactions on Black Friday compared to an average Friday in November. While in Europe we saw a 52% increase followed by a 34% increase in Latin America.

The top channels for Black Friday messaging in North America this year were:

  • MMS (106% increase from last year)
  • SMS (40% increase from last year)
  • Voice (39% increase from last year)

The substantial increase in MMS interactions tells us that rich, interactive messaging leads the shopping holiday. Brands are leveraging the media functionalities these channels have to offer to simplify their communication and increase engagement.

In addition, although not the channel of choice for on-day promotions, WhatsApp Business became the go-to channel for pre-cyber weekend messaging. When compared to an average day in November, WhatsApp was used:

  • 49% more on Monday November 21
  • 16% more on Tuesday November 22
  • 9% more on Wednesday November 23
  • 13% more on Thursday November 24

Retail and eCommerce brands continue to favor SMS and Voice for on-day communication, however a spike in Viber interactions shows us the chat app is gaining traction within the region:

  • SMS (1,561% increase from last year)
  • Voice (22% increase from last year)

Transportation and Logistics companies, on the other hand, choose WhatsApp as their chat app for customer communication – but continue to rely heavily on traditional channels:

  • SMS (1,808% increase from last year)
  • Voice (2,332% increase from last year)
  • WhatsApp (51% increase from last year)

Key takeaways

  • Traditional channels including SMS, email, and voice are all key parts of a successful Black Friday communication strategy that can be used for both transactional and promotional messaging
  • Rich, conversational messaging is picking up pace through MMS and WhatsApp
  • Email and mobile app messaging are key channels for pre-campaigns – brands should leverage these as much as 10 days prior for a successful buildup
  • WhatsApp is the best channel for pre-Black Friday messaging 5 days prior
  • Mobile push notifications, in-app messaging, and email are best for on-day reminders and last-minute promotions

Cyber Monday messaging follows closely behind

Global Cyber Monday interactions on our platform totaled 2.12 billion, which was 44% more compared to an average Monday in November.

Mobile App Messaging was also the go-to channel for Cyber Monday notifications this year with a 157% increase compared to last year, while Email saw a 30% increase. Retail and eCommerce brands had 131% more interactions through Mobile App Messaging in 2022 – and Transportation and Logistics companies had an astonishing 644% more.

SMS and MMS were also critical channels for Cyber Monday communication being used 31% and 120% more compared to an average Monday in November.

North America

Similar to Black Friday, Cyber Monday messaging remains prominent in North America with 65% more interactions taking place this year compared to last year within the region – followed by Latin America (31%) and Asia-Pacific (10%).

Compared to an average Monday in November, Cyber Monday saw:

  • 124% more interactions in North America
  • 31% more interactions in Europe
  • 21% more interactions in Latin America

The top channels for Cyber Monday messaging in North America this year were:

  • MMS (55% increase from last year)
  • SMS (40% increase from last year)
  • WhatsApp (16% increase from last year)
  • Voice (9% increase from last year)

Retail and eCommerce brands chose SMS as their go-to channel for Cyber Monday communication, however increases in Viber and WhatsApp interactions tell us that brands and consumers are moving towards rich, instant messaging experiences:

  • SMS (1,520% increase from last year)
  • WhatsApp (55% increase from last year)
  • Voice (22% increase from last year)

Transportation and Logistics companies, similar to Black Friday, had a solid increase in WhatsApp interactions but leveraged traditional channels most:

  • SMS (1,324% increase from last year)
  • Voice (3,600% increase from last year)
  • WhatsApp (212% increase from last year)

MMS, on the other hand, continued to better serve Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) from which we saw 342% more interactions on Cyber Monday compared to an average Monday in November – followed by Marketing and Advertising Service firms with 141% more interactions.

Key takeaways

  • Mobile app messaging is the go-to channel for on-day Cyber Monday communication
  • Rich messaging through chat apps is an important part of a retailer’s strategy
  • Traditional channels including SMS and voice are important for order deliveries

Diwali messaging leads the Indian festive season

India has been a hotspot for online shopping and digital payments. And the festive season leading up to Diwali has been a major high point for brands. Like Cyber Week, Diwali has expanded into a multi-day shopping event for those that celebrate.

This year we saw 17% more interactions take place within the India region on Diwali – equaling to more than 300 million interactions and 3% more than an average day in October.

WhatsApp was the most popular channel for Diwali interactions on our platform – with 40% more interactions taking place this year compared to last year. India WhatsApp interactions also made up 36% of the total interactions on our platform the day before Diwali – and 43% two days before.

In addition, there were 104% more Viber interactions on Diwali when compared to an average day in October.

Alongside this growth in chat app interactions, SMS remained a key traditional channel with 6% more interactions on Diwali compared to an average day in October. SMS interactions in India also made up 42% of the global interactions that took place on our platform one day before – and 39% two days before.

Key takeaways

  • Having a Diwali customer messaging strategy is becoming increasingly important
  • WhatsApp is the go-to channel for pre-Diwali campaigns
  • Viber is the go-to channel for on-day communication
  • SMS is the most popular traditional channel and should be added to communication strategies as a failover option due to its reach and deliverability

Singles’ Day messaging takes a rich turn

The Asia-Pacific region has their own shopping day, globally known as Singles’ Day. This year, over 70 million interactions took place on Singles’ Day on our platform – equaling a 21% increase compared to 2021 and 46% increase compared to an average day in November.

Viber was the channel of choice for Singles’ Day B2C messaging with 345% more interactions on our platform compared to last year – and 306% more interactions compared to an average day in November.

Retail and eCommerce brands had 399% more interactions on Viber on Singles’ Day compared to an average day in October – while Transportation and Logistics companies had 27% more.

WhatsApp, although used, was not as popular within the region but still saw steady growth with 29% more interactions taking place on Singles’ Day 2022 compared to 2021.

Unlike Diwali, however, Voice was the more popular traditional channel for Singles’ Day with 21% more interactions taking place this year. More specifically, Retail and eCommerce brands used Voice 57% more on Singles’ Day compared to an average day in October – while Transportation and Logistics companies used it 18% more.

Key takeaways

  • Viber is the most popular channel for on-day messaging
  • WhatsApp is becoming more popular in the region and can be used for pre-campaigns
  • Voice is the traditional channel of choice for this shopping day which tells us that Singles’ Day shoppers value human-to-human interactions alongside rich, chat experiences

Prime Day messaging joins the sales event calendar

2022 marks the first year that Prime Day was added to the shopping season calendar. Originally taking place in July, Amazon added two more days of sales on October 11th and 12th. The interactions on our platform on both days combined totaled over 600 million which is an 11% increase from the total interactions on both days last year.

The top channels for Prime Day messaging this year were:

October 11:

  • WhatsApp (104% increase from last year)
  • SMS (10% increase from last year)
  • MMS (3% increase from last year)

October 12:

  • WhatsApp (112% increase from last year)
  • Viber (24% increase from last year)
  • SMS (13% increase from last year)

The top channels for retail and eCommerce interactions on October 11th were:

  • MMS (54% more interactions vs an average day in November)
  • WhatsApp (32% more interactions vs an average day in November)
  • Voice (14% more interactions vs an average day in November)

While Voice (22%), WhatsApp (19%), and SMS (10%) were the top channels on October 12th when compared to an average day in November.

Key takeaways

  • Rich, conversational messaging is the go-to communication style for Prime Day through MMs, WhatsApp, and Viber
  • SMS should be used as a failover channel to rich messaging apps
  • Voice should be added to Prime Day communication strategies as a support channel

Holiday shopping messaging trends: Key takeaways

Despite the inflation we’re seeing today, brands and consumers remain eager to shop – and most importantly, connect.

The B2C interactions that took place across each shopping event this year showed us that omnichannel, conversational experiences are on the rise. Increases in WhatsApp, Viber, and MMS interactions tell us that rich, interactive experiences pave the way. While traditional channels remain key for a wide-set, reliable communications strategy.

Here are some key takeaways from this year’s shopping season to help you successfully build a communications strategy for next year:

  • Start early. Consumers are eager to connect with brands days before the actual shopping event. Get a head start by being present on their favorite channels and sending timely, personalized promotions and reminders.
  • Leverage mobile app messaging and WhatsApp for instant reminders.
  • Transportation and Logistics companies should leverage Voice as a channel to avoid wrong or missed deliveries and keep customer satisfaction high.
  • Retailers should include Email and WhatsApp in their shopping season communications strategy – the combination of chat and traditional channels will ensure you have all your bases covered.

What’s next?

Although these large events of 2022 have come to an end, the shopping season is still underway. With Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, there is plenty of time to readjust your customer communication and approach. And while it may seem like it, Valentine’s Day isn’t too far away either!

Want to dive into more messaging trends?

Download the Messaging Trends 2022/23 report