Mobile-messaging – understand the use of direct messaging in customer relations strategies – is one of the fastest growing trends this year. Customers become increasingly demanding about their questions being answered, particularly in terms of speed and accuracy. Within the last few years, Facebook and Twitter have made community managers customers go-to persons, for questions and / or complaints. A growing number of brands have added direct messaging to their set of customer relationships management tools; using this as an opportunity to give a more approachable and reactive image to their service but also to boost sales.

What is direct messaging marketing

Direct messaging marketing is a mix between mobile marketing, community management and social selling. It consists in using direct messaging, social media and text messages to either sell or provide helpful pre- and after-sales services.

With direct messaging, marketers create a direct point of contact with their customers. It is the 2016 hotline. Less advanced brands use it as a direct after-sales tool to meet the rising demand for immediate and personalised answers. Providing basic answers via a FAQ page to the most common questions seems no longer adequate. Customers have become more proficient with online searches for easy troubleshooting. They now expect to speak with real people, to whom they will ask precise questions about their very specific issues in order to get immediate and personalised answers.

In 2016 customers are not willing to wait for or struggle with perfunctory answers anymore.

The tools of direct messaging are text messages, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and, more and more importantly, messaging apps such as WhatsApp or WeChat.

Mobile, tablet and social purchase the power behind Mobile messaging growth

On an average day, smartphone owners use their device an hour and a half – a figure obviously increasing every year. Tablets and smartphones have long since closed the gap with desktop or laptop computers in customer preferences. If for a long time customers had been a little hesitant to trust their mobile device to purchase online, lately things have changed drastically. Last year, the use of mobile devices for online purchases has increased by 63% in Europe, putting mobile devices at the forefront of brands online sales strategies.

This new-found trust in mobile devices shows brands have to adapt to take advantage of the new opportunities at hand. Indeed, contrary to personal computers, handhelds follow customers everywhere and as such they are a direct and unbroken line of communications, bearing both opportunities and challenges.

Direct marketing in CRM opportunities and challenges

Brands have already been using mobile marketing for a while, as an extension of emailing and regular promotions to announce sales and private events. This first use of mobile marketing barely brought anything new to the table and failed to take advantage of the immediacy and the convenience of text messages and direct message apps.

The next level of direct messaging use is after-sales services. As was just explained above, customers are now expecting immediate, personalised answers to their questions and they are really quick to voice their displeasure online. That “direct messaging” approach is particularly useful to prevent public backlashes while proving your efficiency and customer care.

But some brands are taking the lead towards a more proactive use of those tools, taking advantage of the direct access to customer. Through these platforms, they create a privileged relationship with their customers and bring in-store experiences to online purchase.

For instance, brands like German shoes distributor Zalando and American retailer Nordstrom offer a personal shopper service via through text messages. Customers can send a text to their platform explaining their needs, even allowing them to send pictures of the items they want to match their purchase with. The personal shopper provides a selection of items that customers can either try in-store or effortlessly, seamlessly buy from within the same conversation, making this whole process sales performance-oriented.

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These conversations are obviously a great way to create more personalised relationships with your customers and to better your image. But it is also a great way to gather insights on their needs, questions and tastes, which ultimately helps you create the best products and services and eventually provide a better experience for them – which in turns drives more sales and increase your bottom line.

Moreover, with mobile messaging you use the means of communication that feels the most natural to your customers, making them comfortable and making their purchase journey easier.

By gathering real time information just like if you were speaking to them face to face in one of your stores, the actual risk of uncomplete buying process – the much feared abandoned cart – decreases. Mobile communications throughout the buying process takes on the biggest challenge on online purchase: the lack of contact and advice one would get in-store. Easy online experience, with an in-store feel. 

Next step: text only busineses and bots

As mobile message marketing is only beginning in Europe and just a tad more advanced in Asia and the US, some brands are already convinced that it will play a big role in the future. They create ambitious concepts to go at this the best way possible.

Stefan Head, a Brooklyn-based company is going one step further and offering a mobile-only service of “text selling”. They suggest a weekly selection based on customers’ preferences. Once you entered your size and tastes, you only need one text to actually validate the selection and get the product(s) shipped to your address.

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Another evolution that is gradually gaining speed is the use of bots. With artificial intelligence, customers may think they are in a conversation with human beings, whereas algorithms are doing the work of advising. And this, with increased accuracy and efficiency.

More on that soon…