This article was previously published on Customer Think on March 28, 2017.
Should a brand adopt Facebook Messenger as part of its marketing strategy? There are many advantages, use cases and benefits for businesses to deploy and use messaging apps. All a marketer needs to do is look at where the consumer is spending their time. Messaging apps have now surpassed social networks. A recent study found U.S. smartphone users spend an average of 23 minutes and 23 seconds daily on messaging apps, including Facebook Messenger. While these minutes may not seem like much for a 24-hour day, when you consider all consumers do in a day, it is remarkably significant.
Mobile phones have paved the way for the consumer culture to immediately communicate with each other in a variety of ways. Whether it’s social media, email, SMS texting, games or messaging apps, there is never a shortage of communication channels from which consumers can choose. Today, they are increasing their desire to immediately connect with companies via chat apps rather than slower, more time-consuming options like online, email or phone. Companies can’t afford to miss the opportunity to engage with customers and prospects within the channels they’re spending a significant amount of time on. Messaging apps provide the ideal platform to engage in more intimate, one-on-one conversations to deepen personal relationships and develop brand advocates.
Technology advancements in conversation management platforms enable companies to create positive customer experiences throughout the entire customer journey. Brands can go beyond customer service to real customer engagement. The more brands can connect on a personal level with its customers and prospective buyers, the greater the opportunity is to earn more transactions, build customer loyalty and secure valuable brand advocates.
The key for brands is to approach messaging apps not as a trend or just another channel to support and have a presence, but as a tool that can facilitate direct-to-consumer engagement with their customers. By making it easier for the consumer to connect with the brand directly in real-time and on-demand, companies can develop loyalty over time, and increase the average lifetime value of their customers.
Adapt to Consumer Expectations to Achieve Greater Results
Just as companies are getting comfortable with their social media strategy, a new channel has emerged. Forward-thinking marketers are recognizing that while social media has its role, it doesn’t provide the personal, direct and private dialogue consumers are desiring. Consumers are seeking these one-on-one conversations and have come to expect their favorite brands will have the infrastructure to support them.
Companies can adapt to this messaging app phenomenon easier than they might think. Facebook Messenger has made it relatively simple for brands to use their messaging app to directly communicate with consumers. Most companies opt to use a combination of live agents with chatbots. Chatbots enable the organization to quickly scale engagement and reduce costs of adding similar human teams to handle the 24/7, multilingual, incoming and outgoing communications.
Benefits for Brands Using Messenger
Both consumers and brands enjoy the private messaging apps over public social media. It provides them with the ideal channel for customer service and problem resolution. Companies can engage in direct dialogue with customers as they shop, providing virtual assistance while they are shopping in-store or online. The customer can get immediate help to find products, while brands can use the conversation to build relationships, upsell and cross-sell.
Hospitality and leisure brands are using Messenger to provide a similar service to their guests. By offering a 24/7 virtual concierge, guests can quickly arrange activities, order services, ask questions, and get information when it’s most convenient for the guest. Messenger can also be the ideal channel to present guests with special offers, promote events and reach the guest directly with timely information.
Any company who has a Messenger presence will be able to provide personalized suggestions, promotions, offers and conversations directly with consumers. They can better support e-commerce, advertising and marketing efforts, and offer customer support through this more direct channel.
Facebook Offers More Than Just Messenger
Facebook has led the surge towards messaging apps and is encouraging brands to jump on board. They are guiding brands towards Messenger and rewarding the ones who engage. They have de-prioritized the content and to some degree, the advertising that fills consumers’ newsfeeds. This is a powerful signal that the social media playbook from 2014 is no longer relevant in 2017.
Marketers are getting the message loud and clear. Brands are exploring how to use the Messenger channel to improve marketing and customer service, both through chatbots and human agents. Without a clear pathway or leader, progressive brands have the real opportunity to stand out with consumers. Conversely, brands employing a slow “wait and see” approach will undoubtedly make them vulnerable to disruption.
When done right, companies can use Messenger to improve customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty, while also reducing the costs required to attract, grow and retain customers. Marketers can embrace software and service advancements with technology, and experts can guide brands on how to get started and scale existing programs. Companies who use this combination of technology to integrate the human element with the chatbot capability can achieve both scale and quality in their customer interactions.
Engaging and growing direct-to-consumer conversational interactions is one of the most powerful and time-tested strategies to grow a business. Word of mouth isn’t revolutionary, but thanks to technology, it has become much faster, scalable and efficient to establish.