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FinovateSpring 2017: Bringing Financial Services Out of the Stone Age

Bringing Financial Services Out of the Stone Age

The financial services industry is one of the most heavily affected by digital transformation. With such strict regulatory and security standards to adhere to, it’s no surprise that going digital has been a challenge.

But just because digital transformation is difficult doesn’t mean banks and other financial institutions can sit idly.

Since 2007, Finovate has been hosting its series of events to keep financial services firms on top of the latest technology. This year, we’re joining the effort with our own presentation about how the finance industry can create mobile, personalized, interactive, and at-the-moment customer experiences.

If you couldn’t make it to FinovateSpring this year, you can still learn about getting ahead of digital transformation demands with a messaging experience built to delight customers.

A Fork in the Road for Financial Services

Maintaining the status quo might seem like the safe approach for any incumbent bank or financial services firm—but even the most established brands must resist this urge.

If there’s one thing to take away from FinovateSpring, it’s that new technology like person-to-person lending, blockchain, mobile, and more aren’t fads—they’re becoming the new norm.

Research from McKinsey & Company found that the next 3 to 5 years will represent a fork in the road for incumbent financial services companies looking at digital transformation.

Taking the “wait and see” approach to digital customer experiences will open incumbents up to see 35% of their net profits erode. Whether these profits are lost to competitor innovation, margin compression, or increased operational risk, it’s unlikely anyone would see this as the ideal path.

Banks and financial services firms that embrace can boost inflow revenue by 45%. Three major opportunities when digitizing include:

  • Increasing revenue with new offers and business models native to mobile and other digital channels
  • Offering new products and creating distinct digital sales processes that use data to cross-sell
  • Leveraging automation and transaction migration to lower operational costs and increase margins

One reason incumbent banks have been hesitant with digital technology is this perception that only millennials are resisting traditional channels. However, more than 50% of Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers prefer digital channels for multiple phases of the loan process.

FinovateSpring 2017: Bringing Financial Services Out of the Stone Age

When you root your digital transformation efforts in mobile messaging, you can take advantage of these digital transformation opportunities and drive loyalty with valuable customer conversations.

Messaging—The New Digital Focal Point for Financial Communication

Consumer communication has evolved far beyond how conversations work in traditional financial services. Face-to-face communication is great—but it’s like living in the Stone Age at this point.

Phone calls and emails have their place as well, but messaging is the preferred channel for modern communication (even with businesses).

With a branded messaging experience, you can have frictionless conversations with customers (and prospects) throughout the entire buying process:

  • Digital loan and account application with a mix of chatbots and human interaction when necessary.
  • Allow customers to make policy modifications and claims reports without dealing with the traditional headaches.
  • Provide push notifications and immediate messages regarding fraud detection so customers are always informed.

Building a digital customer experience that drives business requires differentiation, personalization, and a mobile-first mentality. Building your own messaging is the best way to accomplish all three.

Branded Messaging Is More Accessible Than You Think

Time is of the essence when it comes to digital transformation. Every month that passes is a new opportunity for your competitors and emerging digital natives to claim more market share.

It’s one thing to talk about releasing a core messaging experience and quite another to actually build one—but that’s why we presented at FinovateSpring this year.


         

With the Layer customer conversation platform, you can cut out the months of infrastructure development that seem so daunting when starting down the digital transformation path. Build your user interface on top of a platform tailored for the financial services industry (and all of its compliance challenges) and start taking advantage of digital customer conversations in days.

If you want to learn more about how a branded messaging experience can help you succeed with digital transformation, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer platform.

Have an EyeforTravel? How Messaging Creates an Edge in the Travel Industry

How Messaging Creates an Edge in the Travel Industry

The travel industry is poised for booming gains in the coming years as the millennial market continues to mature. Millennials already make up about 20% of all international travel. Moving forward, this new experience generation will prove to be an ever-growing cash cow for airlines and hotel chains.

But there’s a catch. Owning the revenue potential of the growing market will require more than just travel experiences—a mobile-native customer experience is now table stakes in the industry.

Traditional airlines and hotels might feel like they’re at a natural disadvantage against emerging (and established) online travel agencies, but they don’t have to be.

The 9th annual EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit will give industry leaders an opportunity to see how they can gain a competitive edge in the digital travel world—and we’ll be competing in the Start-Up Awards with an explanation about how mobile messaging can help you own the revenue potential of the experience generation.

It’s Not Too Late to Transform the Travel Industry

Online travel agencies are disrupting your business, leaving you with two choices. You can either watch as these companies leverage mobile technology to take more of the travel market, or you can close the tech gap and create a differentiated customer experience that makes you the premier option for consumers.

It may seem as if OTAs have already mastered the art of generating revenue through ancillary services, but there’s still time for traditional airlines and hotel chains to step in and regain control. Terry Jones, former CIO of American Airlines, CEO of Travelocity, and CEO of Wayblazer, once said:

“Kayak has 50 million users of our travel app, but most don’t use it during the trip. TripIt and TripCase have millions of users who get itineraries, use them during the trip, but don’t have much utility beyond the itinerary. Yelp and TripAdvisor are used during the trip, and at least TripAdvisor will get you to buy a few things along the way. Expedia is pushing hard on tours. But I would posit that no one yet really owns the travel edge.”

It may seem to transform into a travel company that can own the customer in the face of modularization by OTAs. However, a solid mobile strategy with messaging at the core can give you a direct line of frictionless communication for booking, support, and loyalty that will help you thrive against digital disruptors.

4 Ways Messaging Can Help You Own the Digital Travel Customer

It’s not enough to just dip your toes in the digital waters with something like a chatbot. You have to dive headfirst into the mobile deep end if you want to capitalize on the revenue potential of the experience generation.

When you implement a mobile-native messaging strategy, you can:

  • Cater to Millennials with Personalization: Consumers are coming to an expect an Uber-like experience in all aspects of digital. With a centralized messaging experience, you can offer booking and service experiences personalized to specific customers because you can engage in 1:1 conversations with them. Chatbots will help you scale—but the real differentiation lies in human interaction.
  • Overcome Challenges of the Sharing Economy: The rise of sharing-economy companies like Airbnb doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Getting to market quickly with a branded messaging experience can help you bridge the tech gap so you can offer customer experiences that can compete in the sharing economy.
  • Create Upsell Opportunities: Expanding RevPAR and RASM are top priorities for hotels and airlines, respectively. How can you start making money by selling things other than flights and rooms? Engaging in 1:1 conversations with customers gives you upsell opportunities in a way that isn’t disruptive. OTAs are selling ancillary services and you can, too.
  • Drive Loyalty with Mobile Booking: Owning 100% of customer conversation data means you can create seamless experiences for repeat customers. If you provide a differentiated experience that caters to specific customer needs, they won’t have any reason to leave for OTAs.

These are just a few of the benefits of messaging that we’ll be talking about at this year’s EyeforTravel Start-Up Awards at the San Francisco Summit.

Mobile is already changing consumer behavior and messaging gives you a way to facilitate new business models that will help you improve your footing in the evolving travel market. If you want to learn more about how you can create a branded messaging experience that competes against OTAs, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform.

Concierge Commerce: Rebirth of a Salesman

The Rise and Fall of Mass Marketing

Conversations have been the native interface for business since the dawn of commerce, and it has only been in the past 50 years or so of mass production and mass marketing that these conversations have been distorted or killed altogether.

Even before the concept of sales, there was the bazaar. People would go to the marketplace, see a shopkeeper, meet the craftsman responsible for the wares they were interested in, and hear about all of the benefits first hand. As The Cluetrain Manifesto famously declared, “markets are conversations.”

Fast forwarding to the turn of the 20th century, we meet the salesperson. The salesperson would peddle consumer products (often door-to-door)—anything from vacuums to cash registers and from paint to soap. In most industries, they saw their peak sometime in the 1950s, just as something more efficient came along.

Things changed with the Mad Men era of mass marketing. Advertising and branding gave salespeople air cover to boost their odds of success. This air cover was fused with the advent of new “technology” like the supermarket and big box retailers, which offered more efficient ways to mass produce and distribute goods. While salespeople never went away, far more effective ways to reach customers began to make them less important.

But mass production and marketing ultimately succeeded to the detriment of customer experience. The most expensive retail stores would offer personal shoppers and the white-glove treatment—but commerce for the rest of us largely became sterile and impersonal.

Mobile Brings Back the Salesperson

With the dawn of e-commerce, the sands began to shift beneath the feet of the incumbents.

Driven principally by Amazon, customer expectations around price, convenience and selection were dramatically raised. Amazon “listened” to customers—explicitly via feedback and implicitly via data—and created a model where Amazon’s supply chain could “respond” to the requests and needs of its growing customer base. We began to move to a world of “supplier push” to one of “consumer pull.”

With Prime, Amazon has been able to create a differentiated customer relationship—a “conversation” between it and its customers—that is the envy of the commerce world. Not everyone has been so lucky. The dominant e-commerce player of the desktop web era has, like Facebook, been able to parlay that success into an even more dominant position on mobile. But that doesn’t mean it’s invincible, nor does it mean that its grasp on the economy will become absolute.

Mobile has proliferated to the point that everyone has a supercomputer in their pockets—and our primary use case for these supercomputers is to talk to our friends and family. Like Steve Jobs said in the original iPhone introduction, smartphones are our internet communicators.

Until this point, we’ve mostly used smartphones to talk amongst ourselves and extend into other forms of communication like dating apps and social communities. But messaging in particular is giving us an opportunity to apply mobile communication to much more.

Commerce has always been about conversation in one form or another. We may have distorted the buyer/seller conversation in the mass-marketing era, but it never died. It’s just been laying dormant until now.

Mobile has sparked the return of a “salesperson” approach to commerce in the consumer markets (ironically, just in time for people to finally declare traditional B2B sales dead).

Concierge Commerce Poised to Thrive on Mobile

One of the major early shots across the bow for concierge commerce was the introduction of Operator. The goal of Operator is to give consumers expert personal service over messaging as if they were being guided by a personal shopper in a brick-and-mortar store.

Despite some early struggles to find footing in the United States, Operator is by all accounts seeing strong growth internationally. They’ve been a trailblazer for a new way of selling to customers—and the idea of mobile concierge commerce has stuck.

Concierge commerce doesn’t just serve the need for convenience. It helps you decide what to buy. Companies like Trunk Club are already proving that this model can revive the personal sales approach.

Founded in 2009, Trunk Club has shown retailers that personal stylists can be fused with salespeople to provide white-glove fashion advice on a 1:1 level at scale. By putting messaging at the core of the business, Trunk Club has achieved:

  • 54% increase in conversions
  • 200% jump in shopper/styling connection rates versus phone & email
  • 3x as many shoppers purchasing trunks after receiving personalized fashion advice

Rather than manning a phone center or relying purely on email conversations, Trunk Club was able to take the conversation back to the glory days of the salesperson. Representatives could talk to customers in the context that makes the most sense to them today—messaging.

The concierge commerce model is bringing back the best aspects of the old-school sales person. But the concierge model isn’t limited to commerce use cases.

Messaging Can Power Every Customer Conversation

The concierge experience is already starting to branch out into other industries. For example, Accolade has already started offering personalized health advisors over messaging. We’re seeing financial services adopt the messaging model to provide real-time, personalized advice. And the classic hotel front desk is already transforming into a mobile concierge experience.

But be careful. Many companies are already making the mindset mistake that led to the death of salespeople years ago—they’re thinking scale before personalization. Chatbots might seem like a great way to scale a concierge messaging experience, but they’re only a component of a larger strategy.

When customers need help deciding what to buy or try to make a big financial decision, you can’t just rely on chatbots. You need to offer real human services that can live up to their individual expectations. Scale is important for the concierge business model to work—but you can blend chatbots with human interaction to get there.

Rebirth of a Salesman

History has a funny way of repeating itself. The personalized future predicted so lucidly by Martha Rogers and Don Pepper nearly 25 years ago in The One to One Future has finally arrived. At a time when communication is so often criticized for lacking a personal touch, the salesperson is officially back.

From what makeup to choose to which car loan to accept to who your doctor should be to how to decorate a home—computers can’t answer these questions yet, but a personalized concierge experience gives consumers access to millions of people who can.

Because of mobile and the messaging UX that dominates it, we finally have an effective way to create 1:1 connections with customers.

Check out how some companies are already making the leap into concierge commerce.

How Web Summit Went from 0 to 60 (Thousand) in 7 Years

Web Summit Went from 0 to 60 (Thousand)

If you frequently attend industry conferences, you know they aren’t all created equal.

After a few different events, you start to notice the little things—the nuances of scheduling, networking, the speaker lineup, and “after hours” events. For the conference organizers, it’s all about delivering the best experience possible to keep you coming back for more year after year.

This is why Paddy Cosgrave took a different approach when he started Web Summit back in 2010. While others were hiring event planners to organize conferences, Cosgrave and team hired engineers and data scientists to optimize the Web Summit experience.

But all data and engineering goes to waste if the attendee-facing experience falls flat.

In just 7 years, Web Summit has become the world’s largest and most important technology conference. With messaging at the core, the conference has gone from just 400 attendees in 2010 to over 60,000 expected in 2017.

What Makes the Web Summit Experience So Special?

What do you look for when you attend a conference? Everyone’s preferences are a bit different, but the keys to a great conference experience often come down to 3 key components:

Education: If you’re in the tech space, who better to learn from than people like Elon Musk, Reed Hastings, Jack Dorsey, Michael Dell and others like them? Web Summit makes a point of bringing in the very best speakers to teach attendees about the latest trends in the tech ecosystem.

Entertainment: Web Summit does more than just bring tech leaders together. The conference has positioned itself as a must-attend event from an entertainment standpoint. Guests like Bono, Tony Hawk, Eva Longoria, will.i.am, and more make Web Summit what it is—both during and after conference hours.

Networking: With over 60,000 attendees—68% of which are senior management—it’s hard to argue with the networking power of Web Summit. Whether you’re a startup or and established company, Web Summit can serve as more than a conference—it’s quickly becoming a universal tech marketplace.

The biggest problem at Web Summit might be the fact that you can’t possibly do (or see) it all. You can’t listen to all 650+ speakers and you can’t meet with more than 60,000 attendees—and trying to find which talks and networking opportunities suit you best might seem overwhelming.

This is why Web Summit’s greatest focus is on surfacing seldom-heard speakers, personalizing session recommendations, and offering insight into which attendees should set meetings with one another. With a Layer-powered messaging experience driving the conference, Web Summit has minimized friction and maximized attendee (and speaker) satisfaction.

Messaging—The Foundation for a Frictionless Conference Experience

Understanding that messaging has become the universal communication experience, Paddy Cosgrave and the Web Summit team started working with Layer in 2015 to take the conference experience to the next level. Web Summit was already creating lanyards, registration software, recommendation systems and more—and building a messaging experience from scratch just wasn’t possible.

Web Summit case study from Ivy Montgomery on Vimeo.

Combining Cosgrave’s focus on graph theory, engineering and data science with a customer-facing messaging interface has led to 98% attendee satisfaction. Some keys to this success are:

  • Frictionless group discussions among attendees
  • Seamless mix of asynchronous and synchronous communication for meetings
  • Real-time location data to make meeting in person quick and easy
  • The ability to share memories of the Web Summit experience

Web Summit is the first software company to create events and Cosgrave has proven that there’s science to this conference planning process. But as Web Summit introduces even more events around the world, the partnership with Layer to combine a powerful backend with a frictionless frontend will be critical for delivering valuable experiences.

If you want to learn more about how Layer has helped Web Summit delight conference attendees around the world, contact us today for a free demo of the customer conversation platform.

Persistence of Messaging: How Chat Has Become the Universal Experience

How Chat Has Become the Universal Experience

Have you ever been surprised to hear your mobile phone ring? It seems like every time our phones ring now, we expect there to either be an emergency or some sort of spam. For the most part, people just don’t like phone calls anymore—but this isn’t exactly a new trend.

We’re approaching the 10-year anniversary of a major phone call trend. Q4 2007 marked the first time that Americans sent more text messages than made phone calls. And it’s no coincidence that the original iPhone—our first modern smartphone—was released just 6 months earlier.

As mobile phone usage continues to bury traditional landlines, messaging will prove to be the universal communication experience. But if we look back a few years, the idea of a messaging revolution starts to seem more familiar.

The Ebb and Flow of Messaging and Social Media

Messaging was eating into traditional communication before we ever thought about mobile or social media.

There were many iterations of popular group chat services, but none enjoyed the popularity of AOL Instant Messenger after its 1997 release. Yahoo! and MSN Messenger also fought for attention, but one thing was clear—people enjoyed the ease and convenience of online messaging.

Until these messaging apps hit a wall in 2007.

As phone calls gave way to text messaging, desktop instant messaging apps started giving way to the social media networks that thrived on mobile. The features that people loved about AIM were replaced by social media — Facebook let you make detailed, personal profiles, Twitter let you make real-time status updates, and (at the time) apps like Gchat let you keep in touch with friends.

And yet, messaging has remained persistent and is now enjoying a renaissance.

Mobile has solidified itself as the preferred consumer platform and direct messaging apps have returned to the forefront to replace social media engagement. Powered by booming usage of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, messaging apps have reached nearly 3 billion active users, surpassing social networking apps for the first time in late 2015.

There’s no doubt that we’re in the midst of a messaging revolution—and for companies looking to improve engagement with customers, it’s time to look beyond social media.

Break the Messaging Rules—Don’t Make the Same Old Mistakes

The persistence of messaging may not be surprising from a consumer perspective, but it’s certainly a new frontier for most businesses.

As the messaging revolution comes to form, you’re at a monetization crossroads—you can go with what you know or you can forge a new path.

Now that messaging has proven more engaging than social media, it’s only a matter of time before companies start monetizing their chat experiences. If you play by the rules, you’ll be sucked into a race to the bottom with competitors as you fight with advertising on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Facebook Messenger and other platforms will let you jump into the messaging revolution with chatbots. You might be able to share messages, GIFs, videos and offer simple services through these platforms, but you’ll sacrifice branding, flexibility and API freedom—not to mention the restrictions on customer data if you don’t own the experience.

Digital advertising has become a race to the bottom, but if you get started on the right path with messaging, you can avoid making similar mistakes. Own your messaging experience and start engaging with customers in their preferred channel.

If you want to learn how you can created a branded messaging experience that drives business results, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform—get on board with the messaging revolution.

Why Chatbots Aren’t Enough for Your Messaging Strategy

Chatbots and Messaging Strategy

It’s been just about a year since Facebook announced its support of chatbots in Messenger. This one announcement sparked “the year of the chatbot,” making automated messaging available to companies of all sizes.

As messaging continues to solidify itself as the universal communication channel, chatbots will become integral parts of our lives.

But if you’re using messaging to improve customer experience and boost engagement, you can’t have chatbot tunnel vision.

As great as chatbots are, you need a more holistic, owned messaging experience to get the most out of your customer conversations.

How Chatbots Are Improving Customer Experiences

Chatbot skeptics are concerned that we’re just moving one step closer to eliminating human interaction. However, the business benefits of chatbots are almost undeniable.

There are certain use cases where chatbots can impact the customer experience in ways that human interaction can’t scale to compete with. A few examples include:

“Just in Time” Customer Support: After Facebook Messenger announced chatbot support, other platforms followed suit—Twitter and Kik most notably. Having chatbots on these major platforms means you can be where your customers are at all times. Rather than directing customers to download an app or visit your website, you can initiate support and address their problems immediately with a chatbot.

User Acquisition: When you look at a platform like Facebook Messenger, its chatbot support gives you a one-stop-shop for user acquisition. Target users with Facebook ads through Messenger, spark initial engagement, and then direct them toward your owned experience.

Personalized Messaging at Scale: Our websites and mobile apps are built to address fictional personas that represent ideal users. If we could personalize the experience for each individual, we would. But human interaction can’t scale that way. However, chatbots give you an opportunity to personalize messaging at scale before moving users down the funnel toward human interaction.

These three use cases are driving adoption of third-party chatbots. And for small businesses that can’t afford to build features like these in house, they can be powerful assets for driving revenue.

However, large enterprises can’t fall into the “rented land” trap that has already proven costly in the past.

Why Chatbots Aren’t Enough for Big Brands

Whether you’re a retailer, financial services firm, a major hotel/airline, or anything in between, big brands can’t afford to build their customer experience houses on rented land—didn’t we learn our lesson before?

For years, Facebook called for businesses to build their audiences through their platform. Create a page and you can reach your audience for free—without having to maintain a separate website. Millions of companies jumped on board and enjoyed unprecedented organic reach. Until Facebook changed the rules.

After ramping up the Facebook ad program, companies saw sharp declines in organic reach and found that accessing their audiences now had a fee attached to it. Losing organic reach so quickly can have a significant impact on your bottom line—and the same thing is happening with chatbots.

Building your messaging experience through chatbots on rented land means giving up your branding freedom. It also means losing access to some key customer data that could help improve your customer experience and boost sales conversions. The benefits may outweigh these sacrifices for small businesses, but the Fortune 1000 can’t afford to trust the rented land approach again.

Instead of relying solely on a third-party chatbot to drive your messaging experience, you can seamlessly mix human and bot interaction on your own branded experience.

Chatbots and Humans Are Better Together

Chatbots shouldn’t be the foundation of your messaging experience. Instead, you should build a branded messaging experience that uses chatbots to achieve the benefits we discussed above.

Mixing chatbot and human interaction helps you eliminate friction from the customer experience and help ensure you’re always staying engaged.

However, many companies are attracted to rented land messaging options because they aren’t sure how to create an experience of their own. If you want to learn how you can build a branded messaging experience on top of a pre-made customer conversation platform, contact us today for a free demo of Layer.

Messaging 101 Series: Choosing Between Single and Multi-Thread Conversations

The basic conversation list is a fundamental UI component for any messaging experience. After all, you can’t have conversations with users if they can’t locate the messages.

Regardless of your specific use case, the way you present the conversation list to users matters. Any friction in the experience could be the difference between creating a lasting connection with a customer and losing her to your competitor.

There are two main ways you can design a conversation list—single and multi-thread conversations. Here are some guidelines you can follow to choose the right option for your users.

When Single Conversations Make Sense for Your Messaging

If you’re just starting out with messaging, you might not be familiar with the full range of use cases. Your only thought might be a standard text messaging app on your phone.

Messaging scenarios with single conversations are not the same as your test messaging apps. Rather than giving users access to speak with many different users, a single conversation contains customers and prospects to a siloed experience.

There are many use cases that can benefit from single conversation lists, but two prime examples are conversational commerce and concierge apps in the hotel industry:

• Messaging in Conversational Commerce: 55% of consumers choose text notifications as the top service to accompany appointment scheduling—your users want to engage in conversational commerce. But this doesn’t mean they want a constant barrage of sales pitches being delivered through your messaging experience. For your conversational commerce messaging, users will engage more with a single, personalized attendant. Even if there are multiple attendants or bots, it’s easiest to keep retail to single conversations for seamless purchases and inquiries.

• Concierge Experiences in the Hotel Business: Millennials are going to be spending more on experiences than “stuff” in the coming years. Part of the travel experience is making sure you experience all the local culture has to offer—which is where the traditional hotel concierge always came in. But now, you can achieve better engagement with your customers with messaging-based concierge. Whether you’re offering local travel information, event listings, or recommending restaurants in the area, you only need a single conversation with users. Trying to break out into multi-thread conversation lists would just overwhelm users and introduce friction in the experience.

In both of these use cases, your agent side likely won’t match the customer side’s single conversations. For the agent side (and other use cases) multi-thread conversations are best.

When to Choose a Multi-Thread Conversation List

Even if you don’t think about the term “multi-thread conversation” all the time, you use them every day—multi-thread messaging is a landmark feature of email.

Your real-time messaging experience is more powerful than email, but that doesn’t mean it can’t share some features. When your customers are engaging with different people about different subjects, splitting conversations into their own threads is often the best user interface.

One use case for this type of conversation list is for marketplaces. When you’re establishing your messaging experience as a channel for users to interact with one another to sell products and services. Forcing all of these separate interactions into one conversation just wouldn’t make sense.

Build a Branded Messaging Experience for Your Unique Needs

Choosing between single and multi-thread conversations is just one consideration when building your branded messaging experience. But taking the steps to follow messaging best practices is the only way to create an experience that can drive your business.

If you want more insight into what goes into a powerful messaging experience, check out our full Messaging Best Practices Guide.

Trunk Club Conversions Jump 54% With Layer

It’s an age-old question in the e-commerce space: how do you create a high-touch online experience that mimics the personal attention customers receive in a store? Trunk Club, a Nordstrom-owned company where personal stylists handpick boxes of clothing for customers, figured out the secret after some trial and error—eventually increasing conversions by 54% using Layer.

Making Rich Messaging Work for E-Commerce

Layer makes it easy for companies to connect with users. With seven physical locations, 1500 employees and millions of users, Trunk Club coordinates thousands of conversations and transactions at any given moment. On a mission to give consumers confidence in their clothing and make the process as easy as possible, VP of Product Justin Hughes knew that user experience was everything. Yet the team’s initial attempts at building personal relationships failed.

“We went through a dark time,” he said. Users shied away from sales calls, so the team redesigned the website. Customers complained that the experience wasn’t personal enough, and the team tried building messaging themselves, with mixed results. Layer came along, and Trunk Club saw dramatic results: an 87 percent increase in connection rates with customers, and a 54 percent increase in conversions.

In the full 22-minute presentation , Hughes explains how Trunk Club did it. He goes through what worked, what didn’t work and what every e-tailer can learn from the team’s experience. View the entire presentation here.

Announcing webhooks early access

At Layer, we are on a mission to make communications better in all the products people love and use daily. The platform we offer enables developers to create compelling user-to-user and application-to-user rich messaging experiences.

Our philosophy is to launch new products gradually, in tight collaboration with the active community of Layer developers. This lets us build scalable, secure, reliable infrastructure, while incorporating direct feedback from the community. Our iOS and Android SDKs, UI Kits, Platform API, and Client API (get early access) have all benefitted this approach.

Following this process, we are now opening the Layer webhook service for early access.

What are webhooks?

While the Layer Platform API is used to input data into conversations, webhooks serve as an output. As a developer, you define which events you want to be notified of and Layer will trigger a request to a URL you define, along with a JSON payload containing additional event information.

What can webhooks be used for?

Webhooks can be used to monitor events in conversations, process them, and act accordingly.

Example use cases:

  • interoperability with legacy messaging systems
  • interoperability with external systems like SMS or e-mail
  • monitoring messages for keywords and commands (e.g. /help)
  • monitoring of messages for specific content filtering (e.g. profanity)
  • monitoring activity (such as new participant added), to trigger alerts or automated messages (e.g. “Welcome to the conversation Jane…”)
  • integration with machine learning and text processing services

When combined with the Layer Platform API, integrations like external services and AI bots become possible. This enables:

  • conversational onboarding (a bot that gets to know you)
  • automated responses from in-app customer support
  • hyperlink expansion and embedded content cards with images and metadata
  • text-based reminders of upcoming calendar appointments
  • hailing a car service from an in-app message

Apply for early access

If you’d like to start developing with Layer webhooks, or if you want to offer a service to Layer developers, please fill out this short form. We expect to release webhooks in general availability later this fall.