How to Automatically Identify a Customer’s Preferred Messaging Channel

Personalizing the messages you send to customers is a powerful way to increase engagement and conversion, as well as reduce unsubscribe rates. One aspect of personalization that’s often overlooked is the channel customers prefer: email, SMS, or in-app messages. Reaching out based on the channels people actually use puts your messages where customers are most likely to engage. 

Read on to learn how you can use Customer.io’s advanced segmentation engine to automatically detect your customers’ preferred messaging channels.  

Creating a segment

Say you want to group together all customers who likely prefer to receive SMS instead of email messages. A customer who falls into this group will meet both of the following criteria:

  • Has clicked on at least three SMS message links
  • Has either not opened at least three email messages or has marked an email as spam

With that in mind, create a segment with the following conditions:

Of course, you can get as granular as you like, and have as many conditions in your segment as needed, in order to accurately capture your customer groups. Here’s an example of another segment which aims to capture all the customers who have engaged with email a lot more than they have with SMS and in-app messages within the last 30 days.

Including/excluding customers from segments

By having your customers in these segments, you can choose to include or exclude them from campaigns, at both the trigger level (when deciding whether to add a customer to a campaign) as well as a message level (when deciding whether to send a message to a customer within a campaign workflow). Let’s see how this can be achieved.

Below is an example of a campaign which mostly contains email and in-app messages.

This is likely not the right campaign for a customer who has shown a preference for SMS messages.

Even if a customer who prefers SMS meets the trigger conditions of the campaign, we can exclude them by adding an additional segment filter condition. With the filter shown below, only customers who meet both the following conditions will enter the campaign:

  • Is part of the “Signed up” segment (what triggers the campaign) 
  • Is not part of the “Prefer SMS” segment 

Using branching conditions

A filter condition might not be a solution for all use cases, especially if you’re not planning to create multiple versions of a campaign for different messaging channels.

If you want a campaign that includes all customers that meet the primary trigger conditions (i.e. are part of a specific segment), you can use branching conditions to decide which campaign message they should receive based on their channel preference.

The idea is very simple. At any step of your campaign workflow where you’ll send a message, add a True/False Branch action. This action will check whether the customer has shown a preference for the primary messaging channel.

In the above example, the condition of the branch is that the customer is part of the “Prefer Email” segment. If they are, the branch condition will evaluate to True, and the customer will receive the email message. Otherwise, the branch condition will evaluate to False, and the customer will receive the SMS message instead.

You can take this idea to the next level by creating a version of the same message for all channels and decide which one a customer will receive, based on their preference, using segments and a Multi-Split Branch action.

The difference between a True/False Branch and a Multi-Split Branch is that you can have multiple condition/evaluation pairs that each lead to their own workflow path. In the above example, the first path is taken if the customer is part of the “Prefer Email” segment, the second path if they are part of the “Prefer SMS” segment, and the third if they are not part of either.

What makes your messages resonate is not just what you say, but where you say it. Targeting the preferred channel for each customer takes personalization to the next level, boosting engagement and conversion. And with powerful segmentation in Customer.io, it’s easy to achieve!

Dimitris is a Solutions Architect at Customer.io based in Dubai, UAE.