With many of us using apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on a daily basis, these have been, up until now, social apps that are used solely for communicating with friends and family.
But things are changing.
Here we take a look at how messenger apps are providing a new golden opportunity for businesses through a direct communication line to the consumer, making marketing much more personal, and tailored to the individual customer.
Let’s start with the most recent development – the launch of WhatsApp Business. Now, we could have predicted this change was coming, as the active user base of WhatsApp is over 1.2 billion people worldwide.
This new app (currently only available on Android) is designed with small businesses in mind, allowing them to communicate easily with their customers. Businesses can build their profiles, with a shop address, website and a description.
Capabilities include smart messaging tools, such as greetings that introduce your business, away messages and quick replies. You can also view metrics and analytics of which messages perform best.
For now, WhatsApp business doesn’t offer a chatbot option – the replies need to come from the business owner manually.
Flipping it around and looking at the new changes from a customer’s point of view, it will be handy to be able to message your local gift shop to check if they are open, or directly ask your local electrician if he has availability today.
Another area of growth in chat marketing is the use of chatbots.
If you haven’t heard of these before, they are artificial intelligence. They can converse with a user, understand requests with personalised responses.
Let’s look at ManyChat as an example here, an add-on to your Facebook Business page. The very fact that Facebook messenger has an 80% open rate, a staggering increase in an average open rate we are used to seeing in email marketing, surely means we should make the most of the opportunity?
The ManyChat bot will send out messages and respond automatically to users. All you need to get it started is a Facebook Page. There is no need for coding either, making it easy for small businesses to use.
You can’t start messaging anyone though – you need permission via response, whether that means a user clicking a banner on your website or replying to a Facebook post that explains you’ll be able to talk via Messenger.
If you want to get a feel for chatbots, ManyChat is fast, free and easy to set up – it is a good place to start.
There is, of course, a negative side to chat marketing. Some might see these changes an invasion of our messaging platforms.
We’ve seen the younger generation steer away from Facebook as it became more oversaturated with ads and sponsored posts. Will this push users away from more platforms in a bid to avoid contact with brands?
Those jumping on the wrong side of the bandwagon might also use them as opportunity to push intrusive ‘sales’ messages out at all hours of the day and night.
However we think today’s customer is a little more savvy and users can opt to block businesses, turn off notifications and simply unfollow businesses, so they are not to be abused.
We all know that trustworthy conversations are key in encouraging the user to choose to do business with you and these chat marketing techniques can provide businesses with a way of communicating with customers in a personalised, effective and non-intrusive manner.
Have you tried chat marketing? If so let us know how you get on? If not, do get in touch for a free consultation about whether this could add value to your marketing.