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THE FUTURE OF ECOMMERCE

Episode 3 - The Future of Messenger Marketing for Ecommerce

Messenger marketing is a fast-evolving industry that brings a real revenue boost and strengthen brands, but where is it all heading?

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Mary Kathryn Johnson
Consultant at Safety for My City | #ChatBotMom
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Podcast transcript

I'm Derric Haynie, your host. Please email me with your feedback, requests, questions, problems, or if you'd like to be on an upcoming episode, it's derric@ecommercetech.io.

TRANSCRIPTION

Highlights:

Derric Haynie, Chief Ecommerce Technologist, Ecommercetech.io:

Messenger Marketing has evolved from its inception as a communication channel from peer-to-peer to being open for businesses to message every single person that's ever opted in, including anyone that has ever commented on a Facebook post.

To today a more closed platform you could say where you have limitations on the type promotional versus non promotional messages and the frequency that you can message your list. It's because of these changes, these restrictions and Facebook's famous path to restriction for business that this channel gets a bad rep and many businesses are hesitant to invest.

Meanwhile, brands like BlendJet, Sephora, Pura Vida, and even Nordstrom are raking in the rewards by thoughtfully executing a clear channel marketing strategy for Messenger. So what should you do?

Spoiler alert. My advice is that you should be on Messenger, you should be on this channel. But let's dive real deep into the past, present, and future of Messenger Marketing and make sure that you understand why and how and what to expect as the landscape continues to change because we're definitely not done yet.

Let me show you the future of Messenger Marketing for e-commerce in all of its glory.

Presumed vs Expressed Consent (02:00)

Intro

Today's episode is brought to you by OmniSend and more about them later in the show.

Presumed vs expressed consent...

Did you know that in 1979 Spain passed the Presumed Consent Organ Donation Law, which basically means everyone in the country is an organ donor unless they specifically opt out of donating their organs.

Organ donation is a complex question that people have to ask themselves and by opting everyone in automatically, most people just leave the box checked, so to speak.

The Sweetest Growth Hack of All Time That Doesn't Work Any More (2:26)

So right now I want to tell you about one of the sweetest growth hacks of all time. The presumed consent Messenger checkbox. That is opt in, checked, automatically for you.

Sadly, and rightly in my opinion, this is no longer a thing. But back in the day, two to five years ago, you could put a Facebook widget on your site which said "Send to Messenger" and it would show a picture of you if you were logged into Facebook as millions of people are, and there would be this checkbox next to it that started checked.

If you clicked any button on the page such as adding a product to the cart or even visiting the next page of the product detail page, you'd be added to the Messenger list and opted in for marketing. One brand I worked with had this checkbox in the footer of their three or four page long homepage.

Well out of sight from the above the fold call to action that most people clicked on, it would generate thousands of new Messenger subscribers a month if people click that button as well as thousands of "how did you get my message" and "please unsubscribe me" and confused and upset customers. But who cares about that when we're making over $50,000 a month to attract revenue for Messenger marketing? Am I right?

No, nearly 10% of new customers were converting from this channel, from the abandoned cart messages that came from this channel through this less-than-white-hat strategy.

You could call that the heyday of Messenger marketing, but I'd call it more like the Wild Wild West. Watching dark and black hat marketers ruin the channel and abuse tactics like this. This was back when you could send that opt in subscriber a message anytime you wanted for any reason.

So what happened? Facebook realized that it was leading to a negative customer experience and intervened and naturally all of these brands and Messenger marketing pros were upset and probably now people like you were thinking, what will they take away next? But I want to tell you a little bit of a different story.

The Truth About Messenger Marketing (4:19)

You see Facebook in this case is the regulator of a market. The market is the Messenger channel which consumers use to communicate with each other and Facebook monetizes through ads. Which means they are incentivized specifically to keep users on the platform. More users, more ads, more revenue.

As a regulator of the market, they want to make sure that companies are acting in the best interest of consumers and they have the job of protecting the consumer and the consumer's rights. So you see in the beginning, Facebook kind of sucked or perhaps they were a little bit naive and how easily this one tool could be abused.

It also took them a while to make the adjustment, probably because it actually had some positive metric correlation going on with it. Thousands more messages being sent by brands that looks good on paper until you realize how they were opted in was a little bit nefarious. More messages always seemed like a good thing. Right?

Next, they realized that brands were sending these really annoying sales-y messages, so-called promotional messages and that a lot of consumers were hearing from brands weeks or months after the last conversation that would complain unsubscribed market as spam. They just didn't understand why the brand and how the brand was allowed to message them.

So again, working in the best interest of the consumer. Facebook changed the rules again specifically around promotional messages. Side note on this, it wasn't just the best interest of the consumer.

Facebook has an ad placement known as a sponsored message, a promotional message that appears from the brand in the consumer's inbox. They probably felt like they were getting ripped off because this message literally made zero sense. As long as you could send promotional messages for free, why send a promotional message by paying Facebook money instead of just sending it for free? It makes no sense.

Originally if they were "on your Messenger list" so long as they didn't opt out, you can message them whenever you wanted. Now you can only send certain types of non promotional messages after 24 hours of the consumer communicating with the brand.

How Messenger Marketing Works Today (6:20)

There's approximately 16 different types of messages to be approximate. Things like a community alert, which seems very vague. An event reminder, shipping update support, ticket update or a payment update. So a receipt as an example.

And here's the kicker on that. If someone engages with your non promotional message, that 24 hour window for sending promotional messages, that starts again, so now you can send promotional messages. So there is a sort of work around here created by Facebook almost on purpose where you can start with questions or engaging content that is a sort of non-promotional subscription message which is allowed. Meaning they are subscribed to receive non-promotional updates.

It really is quite a gray area if I'm being honest, and that may be something like, "We released a new blog post on health and nutrition, want to read it?" If they respond, "yes." They get the promotional message.

The History of Messenger Marketing, Should it Scare You? (7:18)

This has been a bit of the history of Messenger marketing going from wide open, Wild Wild West to a better user experience, which is absolutely better for you. Remember, Facebook is the regulator. (Facebook) Largely made these changes to keep more people on Messenger to serve the interest of the consumer.

Now that you must stay within the new regulations and all other brands must stay within the new regulations, you can rest assured the experience is better than the past. There are more Messenger users than ever before, and while you do have to pay for that sponsored message, at least all of the bad actors in the market are no longer spamming your customers.

But I get your concern. You are worried that you are going to dive into this channel, start sending messages and it might even work, for a while, and then Facebook's going to change the rules again. Maybe they'll force you to pay for messages.

SMS vs Messenger Marketing (8:25)

Well, guess what? SMS charges between $0.005 and $0.07 a message already. And brands are making a killing at it. So even if Facebook changes the rules, again, there is so much more room for growth. The opportunity far outweighs the costs and the risks.

It is true, the future is already upon us. Many Messenger tools have already spread into SMS. In one way this makes sense, very similar style of message, the flow builder and so you've got this platform, you just need to add the channel.

On the other side, it doesn't make sense if Messenger marketing was a be-all-end-all platform. If people thought that Messenger would eventually replace SMS, why build it at all? But of course we don't actually think that. No one thinks SMS is going away. Meanwhile, some people do see a world without Messenger exactly in its current state working for business.

Not me. I think it'll last. I just don't think it will be the same market share as SMS. My prediction is that Messenger will always exist as smaller market share than SMS because everyone has a phone, but not everyone has Facebook Messenger.

Perhaps now is a good time to pause and briefly outline a couple of key differences between SMS and Messenger:

  1. First, it's the information. When you message a brand from Messenger, they see your profile and photo and your name. Not true for SMS. Also since Facebook has some other data points on you, there's some cool auto-populate field things you can do. For example, getting people to one-click send their email address as opposed to typing it all in.
  2. Messenger can exist on both mobile and desktop, although it's mostly mobile. SMS, maybe it can be read on desktop but 99.9% not.
  3. Messenger is easier to embed images, gifs and graphics. SMS calls those MMS messages or multimedia messages, which really is an archaic term. And it costs more to send MMS than SMS.
  4. Messenger allows you to create quick replies and buttons that make it easy for a user to navigate a sort of chat bot or choose your own adventure type of thing. Some of this is possible in SMS, but not to the same extent. For example, SMS, you can have someone respond with a certain word which will trigger your response, but now that word is tied to that one response, so the word better not be. Yes, for example.
  5. SMS has some heavy regulations around opt-ins, like federal laws and things that you don't want to violate. Messenger doesn't come with quite the same amount of legal baggage.

Messenger Marketing vs Rich Communication Services (RCS)(11:03)

As you get a feel for the current differences, there is one final thing worth mentioning which is called rich communication services or RCS. This is poised to eventually take over SMS in a very similar communication medium really as Messenger. Perhaps more similar though to WhatsApp or Apple Business Chat.

RCS will likely allow similar flows as to what you have now in Messenger. The ability to embed a calendar, or carousel, or buttons, and incorporate your stored payment options. And the rollout of RCS is currently underway with Google leading its efforts in many major providers making progress, but at the same time this channel has been predicted to roll out for over two years. So let's see what happens.

Even if RCS takes over SMS, you still have an opportunity within Messenger because of its unique tie to Facebook and the Facebook platform and almost certainly all major Messenger platforms, especially the ones that also have SMS, which will instantly move into RCS as it rolls out.

The Future of Messenger Marketing is Omnichannel Marketing(11:46)

Which brings me to my first point. The same point I always make. The future isn't Messenger or SMS or RCS. It's Omni channel. Given the appropriate budget your company simply must be on any relevant channel.

If your customer is there, you are there. It's the best way to ensure the deepest brand connection possible.

Sponsorship Segment presented by Omnisend (12:08)

This point is brought to you by Omnisend. The point is sponsored. It's my show. I can do what I want and that doesn't make it any less valid of a point. Omnisend, the all-in-one marketing automation platform truly built for that Omni channel experience. Check out how they incorporate Messenger SMS, email, web push, and more into their platform at ecomtech.link/omnisend.

CEO of Omnisend on the Future of Messenger Marketing for Ecommerce (12:42)

To further hammer this point of omni-channel, let's bring it over to a Rytis Lauris, the CEO of Omnisend, who explains how you get the customer to choose the platform in which they want to communicate on.

Rytis Lauris, CEO Omnisend:

"Just allow the customer to choose the channel they prefer. Messenger can be effective. SMS can be effective. Email can be the most effective, for that particular customer.

"So the key message that we want to educate our customers like Omnisend customers is that: allow your customers to choose which channel is doing it for fair Sofia for having different channels on the one. Yeah, in one tool. Is it a beneficial cause that that enables you to, you have all those consents in one place? Yeah, according to a, to all the regulations you have to, I get different permissions to kind of blend it into one permission or the one big box. But yeah, so just allow your customers to choose which channels they prefer."

Consent Management (13:40)

Derric:

And that is the one challenge with using multiple tools to manage multiple different individual channels. That right. This is pointing out here.

You need a checkbox for each channel for each opt in for each channel, for one person. And you can imagine how frustrating that can get if somebody has to check six check boxes if you want to communicate with them on six channels.

And so there is a clear benefit to having one platform that can manage all of the consents in one place because as far as I know, there's no standalone consent management platform that just makes sure that people are properly opted in.

And so having an all in one solution like our sponsors of the day Omnisend really does help control your channel management and improve your lifetime value, improve how you communicate with customers and improve that relationship and connection with the customer.

The Value of Chat bots in Messenger Marketing (14:45)

Now let's move on to one of the most important features of Messenger marketing which you can utilize really today in your business to engage and convert customers. It is the chat bot.

Chat bots have been a sort of buzz word for the past few years and many people have had a lot of success implementing these intricate sequences and flows that engage customers and get them to spark up conversations, sometimes leading to conversations with real people on your team and then converting them directly into a customer.

But at the end of the day, there is a clear strategy and reason this works. It's lowering trust barriers. It's increasing the information the customer has and it's really designed to help them, which in turn helps you make more revenue.

So I met with Mary Johnson who is a chat bot teacher, trainer, coach, and has made dozens of chat bots for her clients getting millions and millions of subscribers into them and converting them to customers.

Here's how she thinks about building the chat bot. Starting with the conversational design.

Mary Kathryn Johnson, Chatbot Mom, CEO and founder of Messenger Funnels and Bot Accademy (15:55):

The conversational design is the, the strategy, the design of the conversation you need to have from start to finish with your customer in order to get them to convert.

So there are many facets of that design.

  1. Obviously you know about lead generation.
  2. Then you know about building that conversation.
  3. Then you know about iterating that conversation and scaling it and then you know about converting the customer. The most difficult part for people is that building and iterating. That is the messy middle that most of us give up on.

So the, the design is the entire strategy and then the conversation happens within that messy middle because that's what you have to iterate as people go through it and understand what people want to hear and what they don't want to hear, where they drop off, where they're very excited and then where they finally convert.

Derric (16:52):

So you're, you're talking about looking at an existing Messenger flow seeing, okay, when people ask this question, it tends to lead to conversion. When they ask this question, we don't have an answer for that. So we need to adjust. Is that, is that right?

Mary (17:06):

Oh, definitely. But I would go much, much deeper than that. When we iterate the conversation after we build a flow, let's say, or a conversation that we think customers need to have in order to decide if we are the solution to their problem, we then go in after customers or after prospects start navigating that conversation.

We go into every single text block, every single button and we look at the conversion from one message to the next. If most of the people click the click through rate is say 80% on one message and the next message, the click through rate is 40% then there's obviously something wrong with that message.

We have to go iterate the copy, iterate what it is we're asking, look at what might be not working and change it so that we get that next button up as high as we can. 40% is typically the minimum I look for, anything under 40% we've got to iterate and if the previous message was 60 or 80 then 40 is too low.

Derric (18:07):

And Mary continues on talking about how content brings the user, the customer together for the know, like and trust factor that we're all looking to bring to our customers.

Mary (18:18):

In terms of content itself, most entrepreneurs, most companies have content online already. So we're not talking about creating new, you can, obviously we have to continually do that as business owners, but taking that content and putting it into this new dynamic container.

But if you're starting to look at these flows and the conversational design, the number one thing we want to do is awareness, right?

We know that that's where they have to start. Are they aware of you? And once they're aware of you, we have to go through the, again, that messy middle of know, like and trust. There's where all the magic happens. What do you need to present next to get them deeper into the know, like, and trust of you and your brand. There's where the content happens, but if you're going to start developing a Messenger flow, let's say, you need to start with conversion, where are you headed or do you want them to buy a particular product?

Then once you know what your conversion is going to be, you need to work backwards from that. What do they need to know about you, like about you and trust about you in order to actually buy that product and then an only then you look at lead generation, and then you look at where are the people who need this product and now you have the adventure built for them.

So the lead generations easy. You can then just drive them straight to this adventure in hopefully and then iterate as they go through it to see where their conversion is going to be.

Messenger Marketing for Lead Generation and Quizzes (19:41)

Derric:

And I really want to make sure and bring you into something that I think it's been around in Messenger marketing and in business for a long time, but truly is under utilized by all brands, I think.

It's the lead generation quizzes, the quizzes and surveys, the questions and polls that can drive awareness. But also they can drive conversion because they are building this like know, trust factor,

Mary Johnson (20:07):

Quizzes, polls, those kinds of data gathering and fun. They have the potential to be very fun. We use quite often. So the first thing in the quiz that's kind of more of a lead generation tactic, right?

We make it fun and relevant to wherever we're trying to lead people. But the quiz is usually the fun aspect. It's, it's not, you know, asking too much. People enjoy participating in it and then we bring them in and go through the adventure. And then part of that adventure is a pole is a, is a true data gathering.

The queries we can gather, gather data as they're taking it, but it's, it's much more surface data. Yeah. When we really get into the details, we want to do a poll, we want to ask them specific questions, you know, do you, is your, what is your profession?

Or how often do you do X, Y, Z? Or those kinds of questions are a little more dry, not as fun as a quiz, but they are absolutely imperative once people get into your world and feel comfortable with you enough to answer them. And then your actual people through that adventure, they'll tell you whether or not they're comfortable enough answering questions. For example, there was a relationship, a person that we worked with and one of, just as an example, one of the questions we asked too early on was, are you single, married or divorced? People didn't want to answer that. 20% of the people answered that.

Whereas the previous question, they answered, 80% of the people answered it. So obviously we had to change that question. It was too early. So we changed it to have you had your heart broken? Yes or no? Well, obviously, boom, up to 90% of people answered that question. It was safer. It was more fun. They could, you know, dish on whatever they had to say and then continue through the adventure.

So those kinds of questions are quiz questions. And then when you get into the polls, hopefully there'll be warmed up enough to be able to answer more detailed deeper data analysis types of questions.

Messenger Marketing Empowers Conversational Commerce, Which is The Future of Ecommerce (22:06)

And that brings us to our second biggest takeaway here, which is something that we will always be talking about on the show, I'd imagine. Conversational Commerce and the act of really using those channels, those conversational channels like Messenger, like SMS, like WhatsApp and the list goes on in order to have a conversation with the intention of that conversation, nurturing a relationship, helping answer questions, guide the customer towards that purchase that we're looking for. And probably a sub point of Conversational Commerce is the quiz, the lead quiz, the lead generation quiz, how quizzes, polls and questions end up nurturing that prospect into the know, like trust factor in order to convert them into a customer.

Optimize for Lifetime Value (22:54)

And one final takeaway that is perhaps slightly off topic, but I feel like Messenger as a channel really helps with this. And I just want to give it right back to write us because he said it better than I could.

Rytis (23:07):

"We still, we, I mean marketers, we still think too much in campaigns and too less in lifetime value. So we are measuring campaigns and like doing a single campaign, the key metric which we should be following, right? Is it lifetime value of a customer? And we have to follow a customer life cycle especially that usually the first or sometimes even the second purchase is ROI negative in general for, for the company because we have invested much more to acquire that customer and we need our to get back.

"So it's again, one of the benefits having having cool using Omni channel tools which have a lot of data about your customers, each much easier to have a view of what is your customer lifetime value from which channels? Does money come from that specific customer cohort, let's say, et cetera? It's a tricky thing to convince ourselves, I mean marketers and then to convince our bosses. But the future is definitely about the lifecycle about the lifetime value, not about separate standalone campaigns."

The Future of Messenger Marketing, Final Thoughts (24:16)

So where is it all heading? Certainly it's not just about Messenger. The future is not Messenger marketing takes over the world.

The future is Messenger. Marketing is an integral part of your omni channel marketing strategy where some of your customers have chosen to interact with you on this key channel. And if you haven't yet started moving into Messenger you, that means you are definitely leaving money on the table.

It's not going to be as important as email. It's not going to be as important as SMS, but at some point you're going to look at your growth strategy and realize this is an untapped channel.

The future is going to be about having a conversation. You can test out those conversations on Messenger marketing.

You can get started today and please do take a look at Omnisend our partner and sponsor for today at https://ecomtech.link/omnisend.

This is a great omnichannel marketing tool where you can incorporate Messenger into your Omni channel strategy.

And if you're looking at other Messenger marketing tools, if you want to understand the landscape, you can go over to our blog where we have discussed the top Messenger marketing tools for e-commerce. That's https://ecomtech.link/blog.

For the show notes of this podcast, you can go to https://ecomtech.link/podcast.

I'd love to get your feedback. I'd love it even more if you could give us a review on your favorite podcasting listening platform.

My name is Derric Haynie, founder of Ecommercetech.io. I am happy to talk with you at any point about how you can incorporate Messenger marketing into the rest of your business and what other tools and opportunities you might be missing from your tech stack. That's it for me and I will see you.

How to Get Involved

And if you’d like to get involved in the show, if you’re a brand or you believe you have a unique vantage point on the future of Ecommerce, email me, I’m derric@ecommercetech.io, or you can go to ecomtech.link/podcast.

I truly value your advice and feedback. Listen, enjoy, review, and let’s have the most in-depth and public conversation we can about the future of Ecommerce.

 

Thank you to our intro soundbyte contributors:

Sharon Goldstein - Limespot

Robert Rand - JetRails

Kurt Elster - Ethercycle and The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Jason Anderson - Andzen

Ben Parr - Octane AI

Ty Givens - The Workforce Pro

Phil Roireau - Gorgias

Jill Liliedahl - Inventory Planner