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New Facebook Report Highlights Rise of "Conversational Commerce"

New Facebook Report Highlights Rise of "Conversational Commerce" Blog Feature

John Becker

Revenue and Features Editor, Co-host of Content Lab, 15+ Years of Writing and Teaching Experience

September 27th, 2019 min read

Facebook recently released a report about the growing importance of connecting with customers the right way on the right platform.

Messaging apps aren't just another tool for promoting your latest products and sales to consumers. They represent an important group of platforms where large markets of consumers spend their time, gather information, and make their purchasing decisions.

The impact of messaging apps has become so significant that it's the basis for a new type of commerce: c-commerce. 

What is c-commerce?

Conversational commerce, or c-commerce, is one the biggest trends that has snuck up on consumer markets. While the rise of chatbots on websites, automated responses over phone lines, and easy communication through social media posts has been breaking down barriers between customers and companies, it's left out one key area: messaging apps where consumers already spend a lot of their time.

One out of every three consumers say that they message businesses to learn more information. They might stick to simple questions like general prices, hours of operation, and other questions chatbots can answer. But many customers ask complex, personalized questions that need immediate attention to keep that conversational connection going.

Watching how consumers interact with companies through general chat platforms can help your marketing team decide if you want to develop a stronger presence in these same spaces. There's a great deal of value in having an active customer service and sales presence where the action is: your target market's preferred messaging apps.

How to harness messaging apps for reaching new markets

For approximately 40% of consumers who prefer c-commerce, they started shopping online through messaging. Chats and personable engagement techniques put a more human face on the online shopping experience. 

So what can you do to reach these potential customers?

Chatbots and live chat on your site is an important start, but this introduces an additional barrier of consumers having to use a search engine to find you. Focus also on building out your pages on popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, and having a dedicated customer service team that can immediately answer questions.

You can also dabble with chatbots on Facebook Messenger if you have a small team.

Customers are looking for personalized advice that machine learning can't create. If leads feel like a real person is answering their questions and they're getting immediate attention, they're more likely to make that first purchase.

How to use messaging apps to strengthen ties with current customers

Don't stop at just one purchase. C-commerce, especially when it's done with people instead of just chatbots, can encourage customers to develop brand loyalty. Customers enjoy the instant interactions, customized advice that suits their needs and previous purchases, and relationships with brands that c-commerce fosters. This is for a couple of reasons:

  1. Both sides benefit from nuanced recommendations. If your company's messaging presence can make recommendations that truly fit the customer's styles, needs, and spoken preferences, they're much more likely to buy the product. Even if the product was slightly outside their budget or an additional item beyond their primary query, the sale is still more likely.
  2. Positive experiences make consumers come back. Once you have established a positive rapport with a customer, they're more likely to come back to make a second and third purchase. With the proper setup, you can make the experience better each time because of the increased pool of knowledge about the consumer. Meeting their expectations for convenience, responsiveness, and engagement creates a long-lasting impression.
  3. Shopping habits are still habits. Selling through messaging apps is primarily successful because you're reaching new audiences where they habitually spend time. But establishing an open channel of communication that customers enjoy entrenches that habit. Instead of being multiple screens and a search query away, all customers have to do is reopen a chat they have used before.

Key takeaways about the impact of c-commerce and messaging apps

Revamping your marketing and customer communication strategies is hard. But monitoring critical developments in the world of online communication will keep your company ahead of the pack. If messenger apps have been on the periphery of your marketing strategy — or off the table entirely — remember these key points:

  • The top four messaging apps have more active users than the top four social media platforms. If you aren't directly speaking on these apps, you aren't reaching your target markets where they spend their time.
  • Your brand has to be easy to reach to succeed. Messaging apps aren't important for their own sake. They're useful because customers can easily ask questions, get answers, and build relationships. Being hard to reach makes your company seem untrustworthy or inconvenient.
  • C-commerce creates customers who spend more money. Being available on more channels of communication doesn't just give your sales team access to a larger group of potential customers. It encourages existing customers to trust your brand and, because of that, become repeat customers.

As we head into the holiday season, evaluate your conversational marketing approach and look for ways to improve. Now is one of the most critical times to make sure you're effectively reaching customers!

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