If you are even sort of involved in the ecommerce industry, you know about the importance of social media. Article after article details its importance in growing your brand, finding new customers, building your SEO, and the list goes on. While social media is still crucial, there is a new mobile area where people are spending a lot of their time: messaging apps.
While there are still millions of people on social media networks, Business Insider has released data showing that there are more monthly active users on the top 4 messaging apps than there are on the top 4 social media networks.
So, the logical question to ask here is, what does that mean for businesses? In short, the response to this increase in messaging app usage is a new concept called conversational commerce. This concept takes the basics of a messaging app, and applies it to businesses. For example, users currently use apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to chat with friends and family. Conversational commerce aims to open that up to include businesses. Imagine messaging a company that you are looking to buy a certain product in a certain price range. The company gets back to you (either a human or a bot) with a product recommendation and asks if you wish to buy it. This direct company to consumer approach is the newest and freshest way that brands are choosing to interact with their customers, and it would be happening on the platforms that people already use all of the time.
Taking that concept one step further, conversational commerce also has opened the door to personal assistant opportunities. If you need help coming up with a gift idea, want to order food, or schedule a taxi, you could take care of all of that inside a messaging app. Facebook’s M, for example, is an assistant that works within Messenger and uses your Facebook info to help you out with tasks you need to get done. Instead of having to Google an idea, look up a company, select the item you want, enter your payment information, and wait for tracking information in an email, you could text your “personal assistant” and have it do all of the work for you.
All of this may sound very futuristic, but the reality is that this shift is already happening, even if you aren’t aware of it. Every day more tools are developed to tap into this area of communication, especially with the goal of updating more traditional forms of communication between a brand and its customers. For example, Quick Facebook Live Chat allows you to use Facebook Messenger as your live chat feature for your website. Because so many people already use or are at least familiar with Facebook Messenger, this is a great tool that allows you to interact with your customers on a platform they are used to.
Additionally, research shows that live chat has a 73% customer satisfaction rate. With that in mind, ecommerce brands should definitely include live chat as a way to interact with their customers. Utilizing conversational commerce, brands can take that live chat into popular apps that people already have. This shift is all about making shopping and communicating with brands quicker and more convenient for customers.
Capabilities for messaging apps will only continue to expand as this trend catches on and becomes more popular. For example, Facebook Messenger for Business is currently used by a small number of businesses. With this tool, you have tons of added features that aren’t present in regular Facebook Messenger. This system allows you to send shipping details, order confirmations, as well as host customer support.
Sharing content via messaging apps is another way that brands can utilize these platforms to help expand their audience. For example, Buzzfeed recently started including a WhatsApp share button on their articles. Snapchat has also had extreme success with bringing content into their messaging app- both with the Discover feature, as well as with their featured geo-filters.
Because this is where people are spending a large amount of their time, it makes sense that brands would want to find as many ways as possible to tap into this market to get their audience’s attention.
Looking towards the future of this trend, making payments via a messaging app is likely to become a normal feature. Because the goal of conversational commerce is to make it possible for a customer’s entire shopping experience to take place within a messaging app, it only makes sense that there will have to be a way for customers to pay. Currently, Snapchat and Facebook offer ways for people to “make payments” within their apps, but this only works between friends, not businesses. With time, however, it is likely that customers will have the option of making a payment through a messaging app.
Conversational commerce is still a fairly new trend that is only now picking up steam as more and more brands start to realize how important messaging apps are. With technology growing as fast as it is, there are sure to be huge changes taking place this year. Soon, texting your favorite brand a question may seem as normal as texting your friends one. Whether you start introducing your content into messaging apps, or utilize tools that allow you to interact with your customers, getting on board with conversational commerce is sure to help grow your business and get you connected with your customers in more ways than ever before.
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