Online chat is exploding in popularity.
But it’s not just people talking to each other. It’s people talking to brands, too.
Consumers from all over the world are using online chat to start conversations with companies. It’s a huge opportunity for marketers to speak directly with more people than ever—and they’re grabbing it with both hands. Each month, two billion messages are sent between people and businesses on Facebook Messenger alone.
We’ve already looked at how Facebook Messenger has rolled out automatic translation to support user demand for in-language chat. And now, we want to take a wider look at how businesses can use Facebook Messenger as a tool for marketing.
Broadly, there are five ways you can use it to ramp up your marketing.
1. Use Facebook Messenger Ads
The most common way to use Facebook Messenger for marketing is with standard pay-per-click ads.
Since Facebook rolled out ads on Messenger, it’s been a useful avenue for businesses to get in touch with both current and potential customers.
There are three types of ads to choose from:
- Feed ads—ads that appear in the main Facebook newsfeed, directing users to start a conversation with the brand via Messenger.
- Messenger ads—ads within Facebook Messenger, found in the list of open conversations (but not in the conversations themselves).
- Sponsored messages—businesses can also send ads, or even just messages about certain topics, to users who have previously started a conversation with them.
Each of these offers an easy and familiar way for brands to start marketing to the more than one billion people on Facebook Messenger.
2. Turn chat into a one-stop shop
Not all customers will want to use chat. But for those who do, you should help them do everything they want there.
For instance, 37% of Americans are happy to make a purchase through chat. Are you letting them?
Sending those buyers elsewhere will only cause drop-off.
For starters, think about how you can integrate chat fully into your checkout process.
And it doesn’t have to be a choice between Facebook Messenger and your website. There are plugins that allow you to embed all that Messenger functionality directly into your site, so people can access chat there, too.
3. Share important details and updates
If you have something you need customers to see, Facebook Messenger could be the way to go.
HubSpot did an analysis of engagement and reported 242% higher open rates for Facebook Messenger vs. email, and 619% higher click rates.
Got an important file that your customers will need, like travel documents? Or an urgent update, like travel disruptions? Facebook Messenger is a great option to make sure it’s seen.
But a word of warning: use it sparingly. Chat—and the push notifications that come with it—can become intrusive when overused. Abuse it, and you risk turning the customer off completely.
4. Answer questions quicker—and convert better
When consumers have questions for your brand, they want answers fast.
They might send you an email, but that’s pretty slow and inefficient. In fact, 62% of companies don’t even respond to customer service emails, and those that do take an average of 12 hours and 10 minutes.
Does that response time matter? Well, research has shown that faster response times have a tangible impact on how much customers are willing to spend.
A response that takes longer than 67 minutes translates into an increased spend of $2.33. But a response within six minutes increased spend by nearly $20.
The average response time for live chat? A mere 45 seconds.
People want an answer immediately. And chat systems like Facebook Messenger help you deliver them. (There’s a reason it’s called instant messaging.)
5. Unleash chatbots
Chatbots are fast becoming the norm. By 2020, 80% of businesses plan to be using them.
They can do things that would be almost impossible for businesses to handle at scale with humans. Instant responses and 24-hour service might traditionally have been prohibitively expensive for many businesses, but with chatbots, both become relatively simple.
Brands are also using chatbots as a way to innovate customer experience. Take Whole Foods, who are letting users find recipes for a particular food just by sending an emoji of it.
But companies need to take their time and get it right. 73% of people said they would likely not use a company’s chatbot again after a bad experience, so those first impressions matter.
The future of chat
Chat functions like Facebook Messenger are changing the way businesses and customers talk.
They aren’t a cure-all—you still need to offer other options for those who don’t want to get in touch via chat. But for those happy to use it, chat offers a low-cost route to faster response times and higher engagement rates.
While chat seems here to stay, that doesn’t necessarily have to be via Facebook Messenger. In fact, 27% of people would be put off if they could only access a company’s chat via Facebook.
One thing’s for sure: instant messaging is the future—and Facebook is a leader here. Just how much of that future is with Facebook Messenger remains to be seen. For now, investigate how you can turn this new technology into your next tool of the trade.