In 2015, my co-founder and I set out to change the way marketers build relationships with their customers. Why? The relationship between customers and digital media had fundamentally changed, but marketing hadn’t evolved with it.
I saw that there was a big signal-to-noise problem, and unless brands were being hyper-relevant, they couldn’t get their marketing signal strong enough to be heard over the static. I also saw that dark social was on the rise, where digital media and brands were suddenly seeing traffic-driving engagement, but couldn’t track the source of it.
What did surface above the static and grab a customer’s attention? Messaging. Everyone messages every day, but brands were ignoring that channel — to their detriment. We wanted to help brands grab their audience’s attention in a new way, so we launched Spectrm as a way to automate one-to-one content delivery through messaging on the apps where people spend their time, and to get brands talking with customers, not at them. We quickly realized this was a totally untapped marketing channel that solved all of these challenges for consumer brands online.
Five years later, we’ve learned a lot about conversational marketing, and in 2021 alone, we enabled over 30 million one-to-one customer interactions for our customers. Here’s what we learned from helping customers launch and scale their own chat messaging strategy, and how directly engaging with customers creates the personalized experience they seek.
Five Lessons Learned for Optimizing Automated Messaging
We learned a lot from helping Fortune 100 brands design and scale marketing chatbots that not only engage customers but convert to sales. Here are some of the ways you can create a successful automated messaging strategy, and why it matters.
Lesson 1: Start with a Hook
It’s always the biggest question of a marketer: How do I capture my audience’s attention, and how do I connect more personally and offer something that makes them want to engage? First, create a compelling hook that hits on the pain points you’re solving and why they should engage with your chatbot. What value will they get from the experience? Manage their expectations about what they will get from the experience. Then, use direct response copy that guides your customers through the exchange to action.
Why does it matter? Your audience is fatigued with the digital marketing efforts they see every day. They not only want something different but will choose brands that offer a helpful and relevant experience. Our data shows that experiences that directly communicate the value of the experience and that guide customers along the journey with suggested responses have much stronger engagement and conversion performance.
Lesson 2: Give Your Chatbot a Strong Personality
Your customers can tell if they’re interacting with a bot backed by bad technology that gets stuck if it’s asked a question that’s “off script.” It’s not only important to make your bot interesting, but to leverage your conversational data to make them smarter and more responsive. Give your bot a personality that aligns with your brand voice, make it personable, and even use emojis, images, or gifs when conversing.
Why does it matter? Even though they know they’re communicating with a chatbot, consumers want to interact on a personal level with the brands they love. When they message with friends, humor, images, .gifs, and emojis are all part of that interactive communication. Our data also shows that brands with strong bot personalities and likable chat creative have the strongest engagement.
Lesson 3: Track Your Conversations
Customer interactions also capture a lot of data as well. Put conversion tracking and reporting at the heart of your conversational strategy, but take a holistic approach to attribution that ensures you’re accurately measuring the impact of this new marketing channel.
- Telekom had a 9x conversion rate vs their website traffic campaigns.
- Purple got a 4x return on ad spend.
- By utilizing personalized messaging, Ford had a 54% relative lift in consideration and a 38% relative lift in purchase intent — both higher than the automotive industry benchmark.
Why does it matter? Changes to privacy regulations and cookies are limiting the ways marketers can track their digital advertising initiatives. Conversational marketing not only provides a channel through which you can gather declared data directly from your customers, it’s a touchpoint that can be tracked to help you understand your overall ROI. Also, our experience with customers is that they’ve been able to leverage both chat engagement and on-site conversions to optimize their funnel.
Lesson 4: Always Be On
Because customers aren’t just on their phones during your business hours, automated one-to-one messaging can always be available to engage customers at whatever time of day it is. Adopting an always-on conversational marketing strategy shows your audience that you’re available for them.
This is echoed by respondents in our report on the State of Social Conversational Commerce. We found that the top two reasons someone would communicate with a brand through a messaging app are because it’s more convenient because they get to choose when to engage, and it’s faster.
But always being on isn’t just about meeting customer expectations. It’s about thinking beyond campaigns. Having an always-on conversational marketing strategy is the only way to consistently maximize the value of messaging as a channel.
Why does it matter? Brands who adopt short-term, campaign-focused approaches may see some return, but will ultimately lose out to brands taking an always-on approach. Like every marketing channel, messaging should be continuously optimized based on the data you capture in chat. Adopting an always-on approach that scales messaging across platforms enable you to create the most value in the long term. Why? You are building directly reachable audiences on messaging channels you can re-engage to increase customer lifetime value. You’re also optimizing your conversational AI based on the messaging data you capture from customers.
Lesson 5: Use Declared Data for Better Engagement
Declared data gathered from customer interactions, along with ad campaign data and website analytics, can contribute to your overall marketing efforts. It can help you not only better understand your audience and their needs but can help you better segment your audiences, and personalize how you re-engage them on those messaging channels.
Why does it matter? Our data shows that brands who use declared data collected in conversation are also able to create highly targeted segments to re-engage on messaging channels, resulting in much stronger conversion performance. Hyper personalized re-engagement notifications on apps like Messenger get 80% open rates and 35% clickthrough rates on average. That’s huge compared to channels like email, traditionally thought of as the best performing retention channel. Additionally, 78% of customers say they would be more likely to make another purchase from a retailer if their offers were targeted to their interests and needs.
Messaging is Marketing’s Future
A better approach to conversational marketing is through automated one-to-one messaging on the apps where your customers spend their time. It’s what’s going to allow you to become the music in your customer’s life, not just part of the static of other brands in the background.