Social networks exploded, in large part, because they empowered individuals to interact with large groups of people at once. Recently, however, more and more users are harnessing social platforms for one-on-one conversations – especially with brands.
It may be hard to believe, but the top four messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber) have surpassed social networks in global popularity.
The shift has massive implications for how brands communicate with their customers. Business Insider calculated that “chatbots have the ability to replace 36% of sales representatives in the United States alone” and Adweek reported that “there are 1.3 billion people and 60 million businesses using Messenger today.”
Pair those stats with a recent Facebook study that found that “over 50% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a business they can message” and it’s clear just how important chat is becoming.
In 2019, the most innovative brands will use chat – especially automated chat – in order to meet the ever-evolving needs of their customers. Let’s look at how they might do it.
Conversation Starters: Keep Your Customers Engaged
It’s time to think beyond the boundaries of website-based chat functions, email, and the dreaded customer service phone number. Notifications and alerts via messaging channels are the new frontier in ecommerce marketing (consider that people are engaging with Facebook Messenger 619% more than email).
Brands that properly leverage messaging apps can drive more engagement, higher open rates, and better CTR. Providing personalized responses through human (or human-like) discussions is a surefire way to improve a customer’s experience with a brand.
Doing so is a matter of optimizing your virtual assistant to speak your audience’s language and deliver customized content.
Nike’s Jordan brand, for example, developed a “Breakfast Club” conversation platform to enhance its communications with elite athletes, positioning the brand as a trustworthy source of training and performance advice. At 6:23 am, each user gets a personalized message from their Breakfast Club trainer that prompts them to begin their customized daily training program.
The content is exclusive to this platform and was produced and optimized for mobile viewing within a Conversational UI. The bot ultimately generated open rates of 87%, far outpacing the typical 15-20% the brand drove through email campaigns.
Commerce on the Run
In today’s fast paced world, the shopping experience often takes place on the go. 63% of millennials shop online with their mobile devices. This dynamic reflects the importance of a virtual assistant that can quickly and accurately connect shoppers with brands via their preferred messaging apps.
Take Live Nation, which seeks to be available everywhere their customers are, and was eager to test new messaging channels as a means to drive sales. The global entertainment company provided a “notify me” option that triggers automatic messaging alerts to customers their favorite artists release tour dates or other news. The strategy drove a nearly 400% increase in users via this channel, and saw 17% of subscribers make a purchase related to the alerts.
Conversation marketing can also be instrumental in minimizing the abandoned shopping cart phenomenon. Baymard Institute reports that nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned. Many companies attempt to re-engage with these users via email to continue their purchase. This approach, however, is quickly becoming antiquated as inboxes are flooded with brand messaging on a daily basis.
Virtual assistants within Facebook Messenger help companies reach consumers who may have been considering a purchase. Fashion powerhouse Michael Kors, for example, automatically re-engages with a user when there is a drop-off from the Messenger conversation by sending a message to seamlessly continue the user’s journey.
Some of the world’s most iconic brands are incorporating this technology to extend the reach of their marketing campaigns. Tiffany & Co. just launched an automated, interactive holiday gift guide within Facebook Messenger as part of its “The Holidays Made by Tiffany” marketing campaign. The retailer incorporated smart solutions into its Facebook Messenger, prompting users to take a quiz designed to suggest perfect gift based on its intended recipient.
Once an item is selected, the “drop a hint” function takes customer service to the next level, allowing visitors to seamlessly hint to a gift they would like for themselves. In this case, virtual assistants not only streamline customer service processes, but create a fun and interactive shopping experience during the busiest time of year.
High Customer Service Made Automatic
Automation has emerged as a crucial tool for brands to provide fast, relevant customer service. Optimized conversation automation synchronizes seamlessly with any company’s care team to help ease the burden of an abundance of requests.
When Simon Property Group was looking to scale concierge service across 216 properties across the U.S., it sought to find new, efficient ways to engage a vast breadth of users. As the largest retail real investment trust in the country, the brand knew it couldn’t handle the volume of inbound traffic with human agents alone. It needed an automated solution. Simon launched a virtual assistant for each retail center on Facebook Messenger and Amazon Alexa, all powered from a single platform to efficiently handle the influx of requests, enabling the company to instantly connect an unlimited number of customers to any of its locations.
Any strong customer service team, however, understands that automation cannot handle every care request. To achieve just the right balance between technology and human interaction, brands can easily manage the handoff from a virtual assistant to a live agent when necessary. A personalized commerce experience adeptly leverages the latest messaging technologies with a strong human customer service team to drive revenue, while reducing customer care costs.
Consumers shopping trends are changing. We’re living in an instant generation. Their habits incorporate a mix of live shopping with on-the-go mobile purchases. In either setting, they expect a high level of customer service. To thrive in this high tech, fast moving environment, brands have to be prepared to provide an exciting, engaging experience in every setting and communications channel 24/7. Through the integration of conversational platforms, this balance can be achieved.
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