The 3 Pillars of Chat Marketing

The average person receives 88 emails a day. But that same person only sends an average of 34. If your inbox looks anything like ours, there’s probably a steady stream of newsletters, discounts, and PR outreach emails that go unanswered. And with all that clutter, it’s hard to discern who actually wants to have a meaningful conversation with you, and who just intends to spam you. Instead of talking with you, most companies and individuals talk at you. That has to change.

Chat Marketing might be the solution to that problem. It provides brands with a chance to listen to and communicate with their customers one-on-one through chat channels. Personalizing the conversation for each and every customer ultimately drives conversions, sales, and long-term loyalty.

But pulling this off is not as simple as just building a chatbot and programming it to message anyone you want. Successful Chat Marketing comes down to three key actions: grow, message, and optimize.

Grow

Email is simple. Once you have the correct address, you can contact anyone you want. But email is also more intrusive, which partially explains why so much of it goes to waste.

Think of Chat Marketing as the counter to that. It requires a bit more work upfront, but the payoff is worth it. Chat Marketing calls for consumers to opt in before a chat dialogue can start, so to thrive, brands proactively connect with people using paid ads and organic content.

Marketers have a number of options at their disposal to start a conversation. They can answer comments on Facebook and other social platforms, create custom buttons on their profile pages, and offer QR codes. Once the conversation starts, it’s so much easier to keep it going. According to Mediakix, 30% of chat users regularly converse with brands. And that number is set to increase as chat becomes more popular, because more than half of millennials who communicate with a chatbot leave with a positive impression of the brand behind it.

Message

Once the customer opts in, it’s time to start messaging. Brands should strive to add value right away. After all, a follow isn’t worth much if people stop listening once you reach out to them.

Once the customer opts in, it’s time to start messaging. Brands should strive to add value right away.

The best brands add that value through personalization. It certainly beats the alternative of making a customer visit your corporate website, find the contact form (if one exists), and wait days for a response. That’s why companies like Bank of America and TD Bank were early chat adopters. They realized customers had questions and needed immediate alerts or updates specific to their accounts.

It also helps to remember that this type of marketing is meant to facilitate long-term conversations. So be strategic. Don’t overwhelm users with too many messages. Treat each person with a custom approach. For example, if a customer gets the information they’re looking for, wait a few days to follow up. But if a customers starts a chat and doesn’t complete a transaction, it’s okay to nudge them to buy.

As long as you treat people with respect and give them a worthwhile experience, you separate your company from the brands that just spam inboxes with one-size-fits-all promotional emails.

Optimize

While personalization is extremely important, it’s just as important to segment your audience based on their behavior. One of the benefits of Chat Marketing is that your entire chat history is located in one place, and you can use artificial intelligence to gather first-party data on your customers to find key insights that will guide your strategy.

Data is always going to be a marketer’s best friend, so aim to test as much as you can: introductory text, carousel images, button copy, etc. Additionally, brands can run virtual focus groups and conduct surveys to find out how they can improve the messaging experience. Technology company Kapow found that 68% of customers leave because they perceive your brand as indifferent to them. So it’s up to brands to customize their approach for each and every person they interact with.

More than 3 billion people are active on messaging channels around the world. Chat Marketing is the future of communication between brands and customers, and it’s time to start talking.

A version of this post initially appeared on HuffPost

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