E-commerce has gone experienced three major paradigm shifts in the last two decades. First, there was the rise of social media—Facebook and Twitter paving the way for a new kind of online platform. Then, there was the mobile revolution. Google now believes that more than 50% of all web traffic is from smartphones and tablets. Today, we're witnessing a new shift: the rise of messaging apps.
As of April 2019, WhatsApp currently has 1.6 billion monthly global users. Facebook and WeChat trailed with 1.3 billion and 1.09 billion, respectively.
What's more, is that these messaging apps are being used for a variety of reasons. Messages and push notifications are among the most effective tactics for retaining users. We'll explore the ways that businesses use messaging apps to serve customers better.
You ordered a pizza or some take out, and it's been almost an hour. The only notification you received was that the order confirmation. All that time waiting, and you grow more and more impatient. But if you only had a few updates, your mind would be at peace.
With a messaging app, businesses can notify customers along the way—from order confirmation to delivery, to the actual arrival. Not only will it result in fewer calls to the restaurant, but it also keeps customer expectations in check.
This also applies to product deliveries as well. That's why big brands like Amazon or Walmart offer text message support. You can notify customers of a shipped product or when it's out for delivery. Plus, transparency makes for a more pleasant experience.
2. Real-time feedback
Got a customer leasing a product, or trying out a service trial? Try checking in on them with a messaging app. You can ask them how they're enjoying that particular offering, and ask for ways to improve.
For example, a fitness trainer may use the app to check on their customer's exercise regimen. The customer can send updates on their diet, routines, and fitness challenges. While calls and emails work as well, messages offer intimacy and flexibility around schedules.
But be warned: you can cross a line by sending far too many messages. This tactic works best when it's done intermittently, once or twice a week. Any more and you may risk alienating the customer.
Ever noticed that companies tend to send email newsletters with your first name? Sometimes they'll even make the subject line seem like a personal email sent from a friend. That's because personalization is key to engagement. If you want your customers to interact with you, you have to act as if you're another person, not a company.
The same also goes for messaging apps. When you tailor messages to your customers, they are more likely to engage with the brand. Here's an idea: why not message your customers on their birthday with a special coupon? They'll appreciate the unique message, and repay you with their loyalty.
Take this a step further and introduce geofencing into the mix. By setting up a GPS fence around a specific area, you can send messages when users enter a location. Starbucks uses this to entice local customers with coupons. Your business can do the same with a similar special offer.
Devices, software, and everyday products break all the time. But wouldn't it be great if you could be there to provide guidance? Messaging apps let you do that.
Instead of a back-and-forth email chain, messages are quick and instant feedback. They allow customers to give more minute details and cut down on the chances of them asking for a refund.
Troubleshooting has a two-fold benefit. First of all, and most obvious is that they offer support to the customer. They show that your brand care and respects their patronage. Furthermore, troubleshooting has a ripple effect. Other customers may learn about these customer support stories, passing the right word on. The rule of thumb: twice as many people spread a bad experience than a good one.
5. Exclusive offers
Brands will use messages to offer more private or exclusive deals. Some brands create ads to direct customers to text a particular word to a short number. In return, they'll learn about deals and discounts unavailable to the public.
This is exactly what the popular pet store PetSmart does. Usually, this is in done in partnership with some adoption agencies. Customers text a keyword and can receive access to deals in store. These include pet food, toys, and other supplies.
Use messages to create your own exclusive offer. Choose a branded keyword in line with your industry. Offer deals not available anywhere else. Customers will also feel like they're in a secret club.
If you remember nothing else: messaging apps are great ads. When you send a message to a customer, you're reminding them you exist. Send enough messages, and you may just motivate them to purchase or subscribe.
Brands do it in a multitude of ways. E-commerce websites will sometimes message you of an abandoned cart item. Services may message you to renew an expiring subscription. And some will also notify you of an upcoming event. Your business and niche will have its own unique opportunities to highlight.
It's not enough to just send texts with an enticing copy. You need to be explicit. Call out the company name or the competition name. Customers get dozens of messages and notifications a day. Make yours stand out.
Messaging apps will continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future. Why? Because they create an environment, unlike any other channel. They're far more personal and immediate than a text message. But they're also less demanding than a phone call. They're the ultimate tool for communication and promotion. And they're still the most favored channel of the largest living generation.
But in the end, messaging apps are still only tools. Brands need to be creative in their messaging approach. Without a solid digital foundation and brand strategy, the chance is squandered.
Don't make that mistake. We hope this is the start of a more engaging customer relationship tool.