What Conversational Messaging Is and Why It's Essential for Brands

May 4, 2022

Your customers likely expect a lot from your brand: quick and easy interactions for instant gratification, 24/7/365 support and authentic, personalized experiences. Since they know all of this is possible for brands to deliver on it’s probably why almost 78% of them move onto a competitor if engaging with you proves to be too difficult.

Although the pandemic accelerated the “digital revolution” for brands in many ways, services feeling impersonal to consumers has actually grown 5% between 2020 and 2021.

But the pandemic wasn’t the first catalyst to drive brands to elevate the customer experience. Consumers have expected a lot from brands for quite some time. Nordstrom, Virgin Airlines, The Ritz Carlton. For those that have had the pleasure of doing business with any of these brands, they know that they are the gold standard when it comes to exceptional and personalized service.

That’s because they are committed to making the customer experience all about the individual in an authentic, non-intrusive way. And it makes interacting with their brands genuinely personal and enjoyable.

So to do this right as a brand, you need to stop talking at your customers and invite them to have a dialogue. Welcome them into a conversation that shows them you’ve been listening to their needs.

What Is Conversational Messaging?

Conversational messaging is interactions that occur between a brand and their customers that drive the customer journey. While it helps to drive purchases, conversational messaging is far more than just transactional. These interactions also help drive brand awareness as well as elevate the post-purchase experience.

Conversational messaging paves the way for you to achieve building authentic 1:1 relationship with your customers. And what better way to build a meaningful, personal connection than through the inherently conversational SMS channel.

Consumers See and Respond to Their Text Messages

Consumers are highly receptive to SMS as evidenced by text messages having a 98% open rate. But it doesn’t stop there: 60% of consumers read and respond to a text within 1-5 minutes. This strong engagement is likely driven by how extremely personal a text message is – we use it every day to talk to our family and friends – which drives consumers to look at their texts constantly.

SMS is not only personal, but it is also exciting because it’s a text message coming from someone they personally know and want to hear from.

By using SMS messaging as a brand, you unlock this exciting and intimate world that exists on the most personal device everyone wants to engage with the most. A world that is often reserved for just family and friends.

Personalized Interactions From the Start with Contact Cards

With SMS you also have the ability to send out your brand’s Contact Card, a feature that allows you to create a personalized contact ID, helping to further solidify you as a known entity so that your customers always recognize who is messaging them. The cards are delivered via SMS so that your customers can easily save your information in their Contacts just like any other contact is stored.

Once you’re a known contact that’s locked into your customer’s consideration set, it’s time to start building thee customer : brand relationship through conversation.

But conversational messaging doesn’t just mean two-way text messaging either. Let’s break down a couple of other ways you can create an ongoing dialogue with your customers that drives engagement and builds trust.

Picking Up What Your Customers Are Throwing Down

The customer is often the one responsible for opening the dialogue with the brands they like. In the case of mobile engagement it happens once they’ve agreed to sign up for your mobile program. They want to hear from you, but a lot of times they expect you to know them and understand what they want without them having to explicitly tell you.

SMS as a channel helps you begin to grow and maintain customer relationships through garnering insights from customer behavior in order to deliver subsequent relevant content that they care about.

For example, if you’re a retailer whose most loyal customers are budget-conscious shoppers you can send them discount codes and special offers.

Or let’s say you’re a quick service restaurant who has local limited-time offers for your lunch hour: with SMS you can target by zip code and include customized copy for different locations so that segment knows how long their specific offer is available.

Need to increase sales on a certain product or product line? Target your SMS subscribers based on their past purchases, promoting the products only to those that would be likely to buy.

In other words, SMS has the ability to deliver an intentional, personalized experience by observing behavior and understanding customer preferences so you can target them with the right content.

You can send personalized, targeted text messages based on a wide array of custom attributes including:

  • Message views and clicks

  • Location

  • Demographics

  • Consumer behavior

Elevate the Relationship with Interactive Experiences

In certain instances a fun and interactive brand experience, like a text-to-win contest, layers on as part of this conversational dialogue. For your customers it’s another way to drive up engagement in a fun way that keeps their levels of interest up. What benefits you are the insights you gain into their preferences and activity to help you retarget them effectively.

Text to Vote

You can take the approach of asking your customers to vote as a means of introducing new products or services.

You can ask your customers to vote on something product related, using that engagement data to follow-up with similar products they might like.

By prompting customers to respond to a question, you can create a tailored experience for them when they do respond.

Reveals

Consumers seek out rewarding shopping experiences, and it’s unlikely they’d turn their backs on an interactive, gamified one. Couple this with the element of a good surprise and you’ve got their attention.

Don’t just give out offers, prompt your customers to play to uncover a reward for themselves. You can capture the attention of your mobile subscribers by texting them a gamified experience, such as a swipe-to-reveal or spin-to-win interaction.

Providing a playful mobile experience is engaging and helps to build brand loyalty, which is evidenced by brands seeing an average 15% engagement rate* on mobile experiences they deliver to their customers through SMS.

Trivia

As much as consumers like to be delighted, most are competitive by nature as well even if it’s competition with themselves.

You can use SMS to engage with your customers by texting them trivia questions, using their responses as a means to collect shopper preferences to help you create relevant segments to better target going forward.

Through a few simple keywords, you can use the different responses to help guide different subscribers to personalized recommendations.

When conversational messaging is done right, you’ll have created a dialog over time that feels genuine to your customers and empowers them throughout their buying journey, which helps you increase revenue and sales.

So what are you waiting for? I bet your customers can’t wait to hear from you and have a chat.

Mara Miller — Director, Content Marketing | Vibes

Heather Zynzcak 
More Content by Mara Miller

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*Results based on Vibes customer data

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