How to Manage Messaging in eCommerce

Messaging platforms, like instant messaging on social media platforms and SMS, are universally popular forms of communication. Messages are less intrusive than phone calls but feel more urgent than emails. People are made aware of a new message via push notifications, and can often see the first few lines on the screen of a mobile phone without opening the message. However, the simplicity of messaging can become challenging when your business enters a new market outside your cultural norms.

Culture and Enterprise Communication

Many studies have shown that cultural differences have a significant impact on communication styles in marketing. While the Internet has made it possible for people to communicate with each other around the world easily, it has also highlighted the differences in understanding the context that people speaking the same language have based on cultural experiences. For instance, a Briton reading the text message get a free arugula salad with each purchase might not know that arugula is rocket. It’s a simple and small detail that can mean a big difference to lead response in international markets.

When trying to market your brand in a country where your language is not the native language, things can become even more complex. For example, if you send a message to your German-speaking audience that is amusing or funny, some people might leave the simple comment g. This is a reply that your German-speaking audience thinks your joke is funny, as g is used in place of the German word Grinsen, which means grinning, or the phrase ggg, which stands for Ganz großes Grinsen, or a very big grin.

Some languages, such as French, are complex when taking written form, so text language has taken on a slang form to improve efficiency. While as a business you are unlikely to use such slang to message leads, if you have a team working in customer service or responding online to instant messages and text, you need a team who can understand how the language has been modified to communicate online. There was a time that apps and text had character limits, so the abbreviation of language allowed people to communicate fast and use the fewest number of characters possible to maximize the message.

Today, there are no longer limits to most messaging platforms (Twitter is an exception) but the use of emojis and slang remains a common practice across all cultures in texting.

Intercultural Messaging

Social media communication tools like WhatsApp, SMS, WeChat, Twitter, and Telegram are casual forms of communication mostly used between friends. When businesses choose to market their brand using messaging tools, there are some things to consider to ensure that you use the tools the right way.

Use Formal and Neutral Language

Whether you are sending a blast or communicating directly with an individual customer, your tone should be neutral and professional at all times. While the use of acronyms and emojis is common in messaging but needs to be avoided by brands and businesses. Regionally, acronyms mean different things, so it is best to avoid confusion or breakdown in communication and simply keep it professional.

When Should You Text

For your B2B, developing personal relationships is still essential to business building, and using text to communicate is an easy way to keep in touch and do so at times that suit your clients. In some cultures, texting is viewed as a personal form of communication, unlike email. In Japan, Taiwan, or the Middle East, texting is a personal way of communicating, so having a relationship first is essential to being well received.

In the US, texting is more acceptable as a ‘cold call’, and for B2C businesses, you only need consent through the client saying ‘yes’ to cookies and data sharing to start getting messages from businesses trying to sell products and services. This is not an ideal approach as most people feel it is an invasion of their privacy. You can, however, send a text as part of a campaign strategy when you have the actual consent of your customer base. SMS messages about changes or upcoming offers can be useful to customers, and you should set your message sending for appropriate times, like between Monday and Friday and 9-5. Outside those hours you run the risk of annoying recipients.

Can You Use Emojis?

A recent study conducted by a Chatham University psychology professor revealed that neutral messages are perceived as more positive when an emoticon or emoji is used and they can lighten the mood of downbeat messages.

However, you must consider the degree of rapport you have with your message recipient, well as the context of the conversation before adding emojis. You should also use only a smiling face emoji and avoid using others as the message can easily be misunderstood.

Remember to Add Your Name

Your message recipient may not have your contact stored on their device, so it is best that you include your business name or brand logo with every message. This is professional and gives your clients a sense of who you are. If you always include your name at the beginning and close of a message conversion, you are also reinforcing your brand. Repetition makes you memorable when done correctly.