chat marketing strategiesDigital marketing is an ever-evolving business. If you’re not iterating year-to-year, month-to-month, and even week-to-week, you’re falling behind. Marketers must figure out what new trends and fads are worth pursuing and which are better to be ignored. From social media influencer marketing to automated chat and messenger streams, technology often drives marketing innovation forward. Chatbots are not necessarily new, but in this new decade, they are becoming key pillars in inbound marketing efforts.

To get a better sense of the current automated chat marketing landscape, I consulted with an expert in the space, Virginia Nussey, director of marketing at MobileMonkey. The company touts itself as the World’s Best Messenger Marketing Platform, and Nussey was happy to spend a little time with me discussing a number of commonly asked questions related to chat marketing. So, let’s just dive into it.

What is chat marketing and who can you reach? 

I asked Nussey first about why she started in chat marketing, and her response mirrored my own thoughts–so I’ll let her start us off: “Digital marketing is a great space because it changes all the time, with the different platforms our audiences use and the niches and voices that rise out of how technology is evolving,” said Nussey. “Chatbots are more of a recent digital marketing channel. Chat marketing uses real-time texting channels, layered with automation on top of it to scale our reach to audiences where they’re already doing most of their communicating.”

I couldn’t agree more with the final point she made: Reach your audience where they already spend time. That’s the biggest value in chat marketing! Quick, take a second and think about how many active monthly users Facebook Messenger boasts. The answer might surprise you.

It’s 1.3 billion. That’s right, billion with a B.

Are you reaching those users where they spend their time communicating? Why not? The value of this audience is simple – chat marketing gives you another channel to reach your targets, and Nussey agreed. “A lot of marketing is a volume play,” she said. “So a lot of chat marketing success comes in just showing up every day.” 

With a well-designed chat marketing campaign, your brand can show up every day without actually iterating on your previous work. The automated platform does the bulk of the work for you. 

Nussey went on to describe inbound chat marketing campaigns, including this fun Avengers-themed campaign that she shared with me. This campaign is interactive, it’s fun and engaging, and MobileMonkey is able to glean valuable information from marketers when they complete the basic quiz series. 

Before I go on, take a minute to think of what your business might be able to learn from your target audience with a simple chat strategy like the Avengers campaign. 

How does Chat Marketing help move Prospects through the Sales Funnel? 

According to Nussey, “this is the money question.” She mentions that most people are on multiple devices while watching TV, then asked, “how many channels are people connecting to your brand? One, three, more?”  

Chatbot marketing adds one of those really important channels. Per Nussey, “chatbots and chat marketing are about connecting to consumers in their really personal channels, in the phone in their pocket. Chat campaigns and SMS marketing have open rates of 90% in the first 3 minutes of sending. In ads, chatbot landing pages increase conversions 75% compared to ads that send traffic to static web pages.”

Who couldn’t be impressed with those marketing metrics? Basically, your audience is more willing to respond if they’re not taken out of their own stream of work or play. And that’s the beauty of chat marketing – it’s completed entirely in the messenger apps. No moving folks to a landing page to claim their information. Better for your prospects and customers… and better for you. 

How to set-up a chat marketing campaign? 

Planning your chat marketing strategy will include a few key steps, though each campaign will have it’s own nuances. Nussey outlined several things to keep in mind when kicking off your chat marketing campaign. 

1. Start with your campaign objectives and identify the target audience. These often mirror the overarching goals and objectives set in your integrated marketing strategy.

2. Figure out the conversation flow you want to create. Basically, you need to map out the flowchart users will follow as they answer your questions. Nussey expands on this idea: “Most PPC campaigns simply send people to a website landing page. Marketers need to make assumptions about the person on that page,” she said. “With chatbots, the end goal is striking up a conversation. So, rather than making assumptions about your reader, you work to generate a menu of options to create the guided experience for users.”

3. Setting up your integrations is very important. A chatbot is the interactive interface for your leads/customers, but it’s only as valuable as it is connected. 

4. Setting up your ads (most commonly Facebook) is also vital. Along with all the other normal pieces like the creative, copy, messaging or offer, you also need to create the flow/element of learning about your audience. You need to know what you’re targeting via the Facebook ads at the top of the funnel, and iterating on your campaigns is the best way to optimize for success.  

5. Finalize your workflow, kick off your campaign, then aggressively track results to see where you can improve. 

A key question Nussey shared with me: “what else can you learn about this prospect to enrich and develop the relationship? Just ask them.” Iteration is key in all marketing, and chat campaigns are no different. The best way to improve is with the data. 

What defines success in chat marketing?

Like all marketing channels, the key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial for success. You’ll work through Facebook measurements, like cost per result, CPM and relevance scores, but simply tracking those KPIs isn’t enough. How you continue to engage with leads until they become customers becomes more important. Chat messages are also a great way to reach more of your targeted audience, and in a smaller amount of time. As mentioned above, the open rate for your campaign is going to be a number you’ve never seen before with email and other channels. 

“What’s really been interesting in the past few weeks is seeing how many updates people are making in their text messaging apps that are actually useful to me because I get them quicker than email or phone communications,” said Nussey. “I read updates in that order – texts, emails, then voicemails.”

For Nussey, this is true for product ordering (like Amazon orders) and her personal life (like texts from her child’s school). She added, “we’ve been saying chat marketing is coming, but perhaps in this current climate, we’re finally living with a new customer communication channel that is chat.”

What is a chat marketing myth that needs to be debunked? 

Nussey really emphasized the fact that chatbots are not virtual assistants. Chatbots are designed to simplify the information process for your customers and prospects. Bots function as a middleman and help route calls, set up people with the right content and get them into your other marketing workflows.

“Chatbots are more effective as a lead generation tool at the top of the funnel to connect people to a business or create awareness about a brand,” she added. “It’s less so a ‘Siri’ who’s on call to answer every random question a customer or prospect might have.”

With your chat marketing strategy, you should be able to outline the right questions for incoming leads and customers, not all of them. A chatbot shouldn’t simply be an FAQ guide that can answer the questions that people might ask. 

According to Nussey, “it’s more important to set up guided menus and flows to get people to the right person in live chat than it is to set up an all-knowing virtual assistant.” Keep that in mind if you’re launching a chat campaign in the near future, as it may save you lots of unnecessary work. 

What chat marketing platforms are best?

It’s easy to see how MobileMonkey is making huge jumps in its capabilities, specifically the introduction of it’s multi-channel chat marketing platform. It’s a unique product on the market, and it will simplify the life of all chat marketers. In Nussey’s words: “with the introduction of MobileMonkey OmniChat, people can build coding-free bots with unlimited contacts with SMS, Facebook Messenger and web chat tools.”

Basically, your one workflow will help funnel all your customers through, rather than needing separate options for different channels. In layman’s terms, users don’t need to have a Facebook account to chat with you. There are content widgets that make creating an opt-in really easy and help you set up your text-messaging updates seamlessly. Ultimately, I can only agree with Nussey: “this omni-channel approach expands your marketing reach and engagement tremendously.”

Every business needs to think of themselves as a critical infrastructure. If you want to reach customers today, you must have a digital relationship with your audience. In the heat of the COVID-19 crisis, businesses with a bigger email and/or SMS list are much more likely to maintain business right now, as they’re still in touch with their customers. 

However, a well defined chat marketing strategy will allow you to streamline your marketing communications in the channels that your audience is already active. With the right strategy, your brand will see increases in your customer engagement and response rates, making chat marketing the game you simply can not continue to ignore. 

If you’d like to connect with author Steven Miller to talk about another marketing channel or be featured in the AMA Madison blog, please reach out to him directly with your topic and availability. 

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