Unlocking the Potential of Messaging as a Marketing Channel: Advertising Week

By Zachary Freeman, Manager, Strategic Innovation, Life+, Mindshare NA

From texting, video chatting, and phone calls to DMing and Snapchatting, today people constantly message with each other one way or another. The question for marketers becomes: how do brands communicate with people in the conversational format that they’re accustomed to? Messaging platforms and chatbots provide a way for businesses to do just that.

According to Facebook, there are 10 billion messages exchanged between people and businesses each month on Facebook Messenger. Brands need to be where consumers are – and as history has shown with rise of TV, radio and even the Internet, marketers will inevitably follow suit in using messaging as a media channel.

In yesterday’s session, one of the key points was that when developing chatbots, brands specifically need to provide a utility and value to the consumer at its core. For many businesses, especially start-ups, messaging platforms are becoming the center of their brand experience. When done right, the benefits run the gamut.

  • Time Efficiency. Six out of ten people surveyed by Facebook say that messaging offers faster response times. There are no business hours with Messenger; consumers have access to chatbots 24/7. And with the introduction of augmented reality in Messenger, consumers can try on products or see how furniture looks in their home before purchasing, ultimately giving them time back to their day and hopefully reducing return rates for businesses.
  • Personable. Interactions are 1-to-1 and are completely unique to the consumer. Unlike mass marketing, 1-to-1 messaging gives people what they want vs. assuming what they want. Businesses can develop a tone and personality for their bot, making the experience feel less automated or robotic. When developing the tone, brands should keep it simple at first; with Natural Language Processing, the bot will develop a stronger personality over time.
  • Intelligent. We’ve all had bad experiences with customer service hotlines, right? Early adapter brands are most often using various messaging platforms as a new channel to provide customer support. In this case, consumers benefit from the messaging experience the most as the bots are able to remember consumer inputs and pick up conversations from where they last left off. Call drops? No need to reauthenticate. Gone are the days of frustration stemming tiresome transfers and screaming your social security number in public multiple times. Need to connect on the phone? APIs within the bots can pass back data to businesses to resume and complete the conversations – instead of starting you from square one. Positive messenger interactions will lead to positive brand affinity.

Success looks different for every chat bot and for every brand. While bounce rate is standard form of measurement, conversion can have different meanings – be it lead generation, customer support success, or sales. While it’s important a brand doesn’t try to do too much within a messaging environment, testing different experiences can help identify the best use of a chatbot. And then consumers’ preferences will drive the results.

I’ll leave you with this. Say you get a notification from a brand in an email and messenger: which are you more likely to check? Brands are seeing 85% open rates in Messenger (Facebook) – brands need to start thinking about messenger as a function of their business now otherwise they are subject to falling behind the competition.