The How-To Playbook on Chat Marketing

The way brands interact with customers is undergoing a monumental shift. In the past, social media, email, and cookie retargeting were some of the cornerstones of brand marketing. But both email and social have become increasingly oversaturated with noise, and their platforms have become defter at segmenting personal messages from branded ones, at a detriment to brands and businesses. And cookie retargeting is low conversion and tough to measure; in fact, it takes an estimated seven times for people to even notice an ad at all.

In the face of these changes, brands have struggled to capture people’s attention, keep their attention, and convert that attention into sign ups, sales, and long-term customer loyalty.

At the same time, what customers want and expect has evolved. They’re smarter and more informed, they feel empowered by their many options, and their loyalty is more difficult to earn. They expect a top-notch customer experience, one that is transparent, personalized, and puts the customer first. They want to know a brand is always on, 24/7, and they want to feel heard and helped now — not tomorrow, not in an hour.

That’s why Chat Marketing is the future of communications between brands and customers. Chat Marketing is not only the new frontier of marketing but also of customer experience, branding, customer service, and sales. In this playbook, we will explore how you can use Chat Marketing to connect with your customers in deeper, more meaningful ways to radically enhance your marketing and customer experience efforts.

What is Chat Marketing?

Chat Marketing is a hyper-personalized, dialogue-driven approach to creating and nurturing long-term customer relationships, as well as collecting data and increasing sales. Through branded chatbots, businesses can involve existing and future customers in dynamic, ongoing conversations over direct messaging channels like Facebook Messenger.

These messaging platforms vastly outperform the former stalwarts of digital marketing, like email and display ads. With mobile ad blocking increasing 90% each year, and 25% of emails that people have opted into still going to spam, it’s evident that brands need a new digital marketing channel–one that is full-funnel, built for ecommerce, and an ideal fit for digital-native brands.

Connecting Over Messenger

Conversational Marketing enables brands to talk with their customers, instead of talking at them. Unlike traditional digital marketing, it’s a dialogue instead of a lecture.

The right message at the right time — an abandoned cart reminder, for example — is infinitely more impactful when it comes in a friendly, personalized chat conversation, instead of a static digital message. But it’s important to remember, when designing a chat conversation, that it’s crucial your customers can discern between conversations with a real human and conversations with your bot. Bots are years away from being fully autonomous, and people aren’t easily fooled. Considering that 73% of people say they won’t interact with a bot again after one negative experience, posing your bot as a human could seriously harm your bottom line.

How Messaging Works

There are three steps to connecting through chat:
(1) The brand messages the customer, who opts into an ongoing conversation with the brand.
(2) The brand interacts with the customer throughout their purchasing journey. The brand sends customized product recommendations, promotions, shipping updates, how-to guides, and other individualized content as the customer moves down the funnel.
(3) The customer can message the brand at any time regarding issues, product questions, and more, and can be connected to a human agent whenever they need. The brand appears in the customer’s buddy list, like a real-life friend.

Chat Marketing is powered by AI, or artificial intelligence, which makes branded chatbots more targeted and more effective. AI uses the first-person data that only a direct conversation can provide to learn more about each customer and deliver as personalized an experience as possible. Your brand also owns your data, which means your most crucial customer insights are yours to track, understand and segment.

How to Grow Your Audience

An audience is a list of customers who have opted in to being message at any time. Open rates on Messenger are around 80%, which is significantly higher than open rates on email or newsletters. You can grow your audience and get customers to opt in through what we call “Conversation Starters.” Conversation Starters are ads, QR codes, links, and widgets you can place on your website, apps, and products that, when you interact with them, initiative conversations with customers, who then join your audience. Your audience is a key ingredient in cultivating long-term customer loyalty.

Messaging Throughout the Customer Journey

Chat Marketing makes your sales funnel easier, quicker, and more seamless than ever. In fact, since it’s so fluid, the medium has the unique power to collapse two or more stages of the funnel into one. Going from consideration to purchase, for example, becomes as easy as a single click out of a chat window. Here are some ways you can message customers and keep them engaged throughout their customer journey:

Awareness Stage: Leverage first-person customer data with a targeted product recommendation.
Consideration Stage: Two-way dialogue enables you to ask customers what their major pain points are — and to offer real help and targeted content like videos and blog posts.
Purchase Stage: Retarget the 95% of customers who abandon their carts with a well-timed promotion.
Post-Purchase Stage: Continue engaging with customers after a sale with shipping information, training videos, and upsell/cross-sell opportunities from your catalogue.

Conclusion

Chat Marketing is clearly the future of communications between brands and customers. But it’s important to ensure you don’t just deploy a chatbot without considering how it fits into your larger Chat Marketing strategy. Your bot partner should work with you to define, strategize, and roll out a fully integrated Chat Marketing strategy that ties into all of your larger marketing, customer experience, and sales goals.

A version of this piece originally appeared on Opus Research’s blog.

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