We’re excited to share another guest post written by Pete Boyle who is the founder of Have-a-word and chief copywriter for jumper.ai and Recart where he’s seeing just how far Messenger marketing can go and what results it can achieve.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working from my hometown. A place where I’ve spent very little time since leaving at 18 years old.

Despite paying for an office here, I spend a few hours every morning sitting in a coffee shop creating written content. Two cappuccinos in and I’ll usually have an article draft ready.

But when I first arrived back in Coventry, I faced a dilemma.

Do I work in the very nice coffee shop that’s on my route to the office, but is on the other side of the city.

Or do I choose the one that is literally a 60-second walk from my rented workspace?

The obvious answer would be the one closest to the office, right? I mean, it’s simply more convenient.

But there are other deciding factors.

The coffee shop that’s near my office also has a loyalty program. For every 5 coffees you buy, you get one free.

Its competitor on the other side of the city has no such loyalty program.

So which, if you had to guess, is the coffee shop I spend 2-3 hours and ~£10 in every single day?

Smart money is on the one next to the office, right?

Well if that was your bet, you’d be wrong.

I spend a few hours almost every day at the coffee shop on the other side of the city to my office. Here’s why.

Loyalty Programs Aren’t a Fix for Poor Customer Service

There are a few reasons why I spend time in the coffee shop without the loyalty program.

1 – The owner and baristas take an interest in who I am. They talk to me and personalise my coffee based on my career, proving to me that I’m not just another customer.

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2 – Just after they opened I spent 2 weeks visiting family. Every day I was in the coffee shop and, despite them being brand new and hustling to survive, they’d give me copious amounts of freebies. I always had an incentive to go back.

3 – The product is simply better. It’s the best coffee and sandwiches in the city and I’m happy to tell that to anyone who asks.

These guys don’t need a loyalty program because they’re building relationships through killer customer service. It’s something so many brands, both online and in brick and mortar stores, seem to have forgotten.

Many brands focus on just getting a loyalty program up and running, offering incentives to get people to come back and purchase time and time again.

What they forget, is that even the most well-designed loyalty program can’t drive sales in the face of poor service.

Successful stores have a mix of a killer product, awesome customer service, and a well-devised loyalty strategy.

Stop Looking for Quick Fixes

Loyalty programs, when implemented well, can 10X your existing success, but you can’t just implement one and expect to see your business change overnight.

In every area of retail, there’s been too much focus on “hacks”, shortcuts, and quick wins in recent years that’s given rise to a belief that success is just one simple change away.

Everyone’s so busy looking for the next minute change that could revolutionise their business that they’re forgetting the fundamentals.

If you want to grow a successful brand I’d recommend you stop looking at tactics and hacks to improve sales, and instead take a look back in time at how brands operated before the advent of digital channels.

In particular, I’d recommend you focus on improving your customer service.

Customer service and brand loyalty are intertwined.

In fact, poor customer service can torpedo an otherwise successful product.

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Customer service is the key to retaining customers and bringing them back for continued repeat purchases.

Once upon a time it was a simple task. You simply talk to customers and offer an incredible in-store experience for them. But what about in the digital world?

What are the key actions you can take to ensure you’re providing users with a similar experience to the merchants of old? An experience that makes them want to tell their friends, recommend your brand, and continue to buy from you again and again?

The Key to Effective Customer Service in 2018 and Beyond

Over the last few years there’s been a trend emerging in the marketing space changing the way online brands operate.

Conversational Commerce and Messenger Marketing are the new most effective ways to build a strong relationship with your customers because they hit one key need in every market.

Until recently, if you had a question or needed advice when purchasing online you had one option, send an email.

That send would often get an immediate response which looked something like the below.

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A 30-second response to tell people they have to wait 24 hours for a resolution. Hardly ideal, right? And it’s been a major sticking point for consumers.

In fact, a lack of information and being unable to find answers are two of the top ten reasons consumers abandon carts.

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The internet has spoiled consumers. We all want answers to our questions and we want them now. 71% of consumers actually expect an answer to any questions within 5 minutes.

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Speed of response is key in building a great customer experience which, in effect, is the foundation of the loyalty you’re building.

How to Offer Prompt Customer Service

Speed of response is key, but what are the most effective ways of offering speedy, succinct responses to your users?

On-Site Live Chat

Helping user’s whilst they’re on your site is of paramount importance. You’ve got to cut out the 24 hour wait time associated with email and offer immediate feedback and assistance.

Fortunately, there’s a number of tools you can leverage for this.

Intercom / Drift / Zendesk

Three tools which are the powerhouses of on-site live chat.

All of which have a Shopify app or can be installed through other means onto whichever platform you’re using.

These tools are incredible for on site support and traffic shaping. You can segment messages by page to give the most relevant experience. For example, let’s say someone has looked at 4 different products in your sneaker’s section. You could send a message that lets them know of the sneaker sale that’s going on or even ask if they need assistance and kick off a live chat.

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An example from Drift

But of course, the major benefit is having live chat.

Any question someone asks comes through to your support team and can be picked up for immediate responses.

The downside is that you will, ideally, need 24/7 support staff.

You can mitigate this somewhat with saved responses and automated sends. It’s not ideal, but it does fulfil the need for an immediate response.

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As seen in Intercom

A lot of brands like to use these automated responses to direct people to their FAQ section. Simply link the two and the user can get a semi-personalised but thorough answer to the question they asked.

The major downfall of these services though is that they only really offer on-site assistance. If you want to re-engage users whilst they’re not on your site, you have to resort to the tried and true email methods.

This is where Facebook Messenger comes in.

Off-Site Chat

OK, so live chat is great for when someone is on your store and looking for assistance. It’s the perfect solution for those in the consideration or purchase stage of the funnel.

However, if someone isn’t yet aware of your products or has abandoned their purchase, you’ve no way to engage with them except for the commonly used methods.

For awareness, that’s organic traffic generation, advertising, or social media marketing.

For cart abandonment, you’re looking at a run of the mill abandonment email series.

Facebook Messenger is the only service that allows you to effectively leverage Conversational Commerce in these common ecommerce situations.

Out of the box Facebook Messenger isn’t yet perfect for driving ecommerce sales (although Facebook have a social commerce related patent in the works), so you’re going to need one of the below tools to ensure you make the most of your Messenger campaigns.

I’ve broken them down by goal type and recommended usage.

General Customer Service and Re-engagement  – Manychat

Manychat is a name almost synonymous with Messenger Marketing right now.

They are one of the key players in the chatbot world, and with good reason. They have some great functionality.

You’re able to create sequences that nurture the user depending on their responses, send pre-written helpful answers triggered by keywords, and more both on site and off site.

Here’s a quick example of the kind of things you can achieve with Manychat.

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If the user clicks “Shop now” they’re then served the below products.

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It’s a great way to ask leading questions that help you understand the customer’s needs and then follow up with relevant products and suggestions.

Cart abandonment – Recart

Despite all the tools available to ecommerce pros, cart abandonment continues to be one of the most damaging issues in the industry.

Recart has taken the tried and true email marketing approach for cart abandonment and applied it to the higher engagement channel of Messenger.

Like Manychat you are able to customise responses, triggers, and timing, but it’s generally fully automated. You can set a campaign, let it run for the week whilst you focus on other areas of growth, and then return back to improve.

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In tests pitting Messenger against email for cart abandonment, Recart found that Messenger is the far more effective channel.

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Top of Funnel Engagement – jumper.ai

jumper is a relative newcomer to the world of Messenger marketing but it’s a tool like no other.

Social media is a key focus for many ecommerce professionals, however, the conversion rates have generally been quite low. You have to get the initial engagement, redirect to your store, have user’s navigate through your purchase journey, and then hope there’s nothing like a delivery fee to dissuade them from completing their purchase.

jumper cuts out a good 80% of that funnel.

You’re able to add an automated Messenger checkout bot to each and every social media update effectively turning your social campaigns into revenue driving machines.

Here’s a look at jumper’s social selling at work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3ly6wqtZo4

However, what should be mentioned is that whilst this incredibly streamlined journey is key to increasing conversions, it’s really only effective for low ticket items. If you’re selling high price items with a long decision cycle, you’d be better off nurturing for a while through other means rather than going straight in for the kill.

Coupling Messenger Marketing with Loyalty Programs

As mentioned before, customer service is the bedrock upon which loyalty is built.

Without it, even the most effective programs to retain and re-engage users are going to fail. The above tools and methods providing swift responses are, however, also incomplete alone.

They might create a favourable image of your brand, but if you’re not then following up with something that also builds loyalty you’re missing a trick.

Hitting users with incredible service should then be followed with a kick-ass loyalty campaign. One alone isn’t going to be enough to get you through.