Major moves in the social space were made last week; Twitter upped its character limit to 280 for all users and Tencent bought 12% more of Snap. But the most interesting move was actually by Facebook, and it spans far beyond social.
On November 7, Facebook announced Customer Chat, a new Messenger plugin that lets businesses have conversations with customers on their own website. This move not only further strengthens Messenger as the top partner for brands to expand and serve their customer base through conversation, it also places Facebook head-to-head against B2B Silicon Valley darlings like Intercom, Drift, and Salesforce.
What sets Messenger apart is its incredible pivot from offering a no-frills chat functionality in 2008 into an end-to-end communications platform while acquiring 1.2 billion users along the way – a trajectory competitors can only dream about. As chatbots continue to become more elegant, personalization is quickly becoming the next main pillar of marketing. This is the perfect time for Facebook to transform Messenger into an immensely lucrative platform for businesses the same way it capitalized on the news feed to become the global leader in the digital advertising industry.
This is only the beginning of what will be a complete overhaul of the way marketers approach their digital strategies. The adoption of what is now both website and mobile integration for Messenger paves the way for Facebook to provide a platform that measures engagement and leads with pinpoint precision – not unlike their current Facebook Ads platform that analyses every digital aspect of ad campaigns to maximize effectiveness. Salesforce and competitors should be wary; when it comes to adopting trends for the convenience and support of brands, Facebook leaves no stone unturned.
The data backing up the transition is there. According to a report by Twilio, 90 percent of people said they prefer messaging directly with a brand. However, for many brands building an audience through paid and earned media can be an uphill battle. With the release of Customer Chat, brands can take advantage of their websites and acquire new customers for free.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the #1 most important factor in customer loyalty is reduction of customer effort. Having an evergreen, automatic chat solution on-site can significantly ease this process. For example, after launching Facebook Messenger for customer care last year, Sprint saw an increase of 31% in private messages in only 3 months time. Simply by being where customers are can increase NPS. The days of collecting email addresses are becoming obsolete; customers prefer to communicate instantly and receive real-time updates and notifications instead of filling out lead-gen forms and be left unclear when they will get a reply.
Most importantly, with Customer Chat, brands can use the Messenger channel as a way to truly personalize marketing, going beyond just a new customer acquisition channel or customer support channel. When a person chats with a brand on Messenger, the brand immediately gets relevant information like their name, photo, and location. If the brand builds an intelligent messaging experience from that first Customer Chat (meaning asking questions to better understand users), the brand can re-market to individuals at a future time. Using AI or a conversational marketing automation engine to segment and engage customers eliminates future one-to-many blasts and tailors conversation. When brands incorporate automated personalization in chat, engagement can reach rates up to 80% WoW.
Platforms like iMessage are perfect for launching social messaging applications (will be exciting to see Apple enter the B2B battle with Business Chat in 2018) and Slack is uniquely situated for at-work messaging. But as the Chat Wars continue, this strategic move from Facebook Messenger continues to position them as a leader in every front.