Want to Reach Your Customers? Strike up a Conversation

*Originally posted on MarTechAdvisor*

Christine Purcell, Director of Marketing, Facebook Messenger, talks about how conversational marketing can make business personal and drive results. In this article she shares her insights on messaging platforms as a marketing strategy.  

Conversation is at the heart of all relationships. From friends and family, to co-workers and casual acquaintances, a good and clear conversation can make all the difference in the world. The same holds true for businesses and their customers. Although the days of the owner of the local neighborhood shop knowing your name and a little bit about your life are fading in some regard, advances in technology have created new ways for businesses to bring personalization back to the shopping experience that can provide curated product information, answer customers’ questions and keep people coming back for a long time.

Messaging, one of the most prominent conversational technologies, is providing a new way for customers to reach the brands they love and receive a personalized touch while doing it. Consumers have quickly gravitated toward this approach to shopping online because it’s a familiar medium and one where they’re already spending time. In a recent report from Facebook IQ in partnership with Boston Consulting, 40% of people surveyed globally said chat was how they first started shopping online. And 64% of people across generations said they prefer messaging to a call or email, while 65% of the same people said they’d be more likely to shop with a business they can contact via chat.

 

It’s not hard to see why people might prefer this approach. Communication with a business through messaging is instant and it keeps a persistent record of the interaction that enables consumers to exit and return to the conversation at their convenience. And advances in AI and other technologies have given brands the power to immediately respond to more simple questions from customers, like inquiries about store hours, while also enabling their live support personnel to seamlessly step in at any time to solve more complicated problems and answer questions in real time.

 

Many large businesses have embraced conversational commerce strategies to improve things like lead generation or customer service and seen impressive results. For example, Canadian Airline WestJest created a custom experience for Messenger, including an automated assistant named Juliet to help personify its brand, which created a 24% lift in positive sentiment among travelers with 50% of customer inquiries handled by Messenger resulting in improved employee productivity. Digital life insurance agency Haven Life used Messenger to increase customer engagement and acquisitions, resulting in a 12% lift in completed quote forms at a 23% lower cost per lead. And global fashion icon Victoria Beckham created a full Messenger experience to drive awareness, traffic and sales in an innovative way, driving an 86% open rate for push messages and a 4X higher open rate compared to email.

Small businesses are also getting into the game. Blenders Eyewear, an emerging disruptive retail brand, relied on Messenger to sell more sunglasses at a more efficient cost by reaching an already-engaged audience with personal messaging and increasing their return on ad spending by 7.5X . And New York City burger restaurant 5 Napkin Burger ran ads that click to Messenger and sponsored messages, which brought in nearly 500 new customers to its stores for meals, and also increased the average sale value by 20%.

Messaging platforms achieve results like this because they’re enabling businesses to interact with their customers in the same way their customers are already interacting with their friends and family, through online conversation, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. 87% of the world’s smartphone population uses messaging apps to communicate and there are almost 1 billion more mobile connections than there are people in the world. And conversational technologies are free, widespread, accessible and seamlessly connect people anytime, anywhere.

Transacting with businesses on messaging platforms gives people all the convenience and personalization they crave without any of the friction of slow to respond to websites or worse, calling a customer service line on the phone. And this trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The Facebook IQ/Boston Consulting report found that 67% of respondents planned to maintain or increase their spending on messaging platforms.

Messaging platforms have enabled businesses to reach new customers and engage with them in a way that not only allows them to create unique and engaging experiences but express their brand identity in ways never before available. As businesses large and small consider their marketing strategies and ways to keep their current customers happy and bring new ones through the door, they should consider getting personal, by starting a conversation.

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