Direct messaging as a form of marketing is on the rise. Take a look at how Ashton Kutcher and Gary V recently took a crack at using text messages to reach out to their audiences. But is bulk texting using SMS really the best way to practice conversational marketing?
Is it the best way to build a relationship with your fans? And how do automated customer care conversations using chatbots relate to direct message marketing?
In the following post, we will define the successful messaging sweet spot; the Goldilocks-zone of direct message marketing.
Text Marketing: Ryan Leslie, Ashton Kutcher, and Gary V.
As early as the late-90’s, people were using text messages to send out spammy, scam advertisements, luring their targets into hard to get rid of text message subscriptions.
We're sure you remember those 😒
Then, in 2013, hip-hop artist and entrepreneur, Ryan Leslie, set up a text messaging service to create direct channels with his fans - a service that eventually grew into a company called SuperPhone, a self-professed CRM for SMS.
Apart from harkening back to those days of SMS spam, Leslie’s service was eerily interested in personal information and, to be fair, its contents not much different from those messages trying to sell you horoscope subscriptions on your Nokia in 2003.
Then, at the start of this year, we saw Ashton Kutcher jump on the text message marketing bandwagon, using an automated text messaging service called Community.
That all started with this since deleted tweet:
Texting Ashton directly lead to the following autoreply:
Again, instead of a revolutionary direct way to talk to a celebrity, we get someone pretending to be available for direct contact, in order to scrape their fans' personal information.
The above auto-reply prompted WIRED-author Caitlin Kelly to text back:
“Ashton … Are you launching a social media platform or a phishing scam?”
Most people would reply the same to something quite obviously disingenuous and looking to drive traffic to an external link via text messaging.
So why did entrepreneurial influencer Gary Vaynerchuk decide to do the exact same thing, two months later, after seeing Ashton Kutcher fail at his text message marketing experiment?
Because, let’s face it:
For most of us, text message marketing’s history is simply too blemished by its spammy origins.
Dishonest data scraping versus transparent marketing
First of all, the above examples of text message marketing all share the same characteristic: an automated message pretending to be a real person.
Having your marketing campaigns based on dishonesty, in the long run, will lead to bad publicity for your brand.
At the same time, coaxing people to give you their personal information, without telling them what you’ll be doing with it also doesn’t inspire much customer trust.
Finally, the combination of text + an external link seems, at most, a bit thin, content-wise. Until RCS reaches its full potential, text message marketing is, basically, the most limited version of messaging there is.
In 2019, sincerity, responsibility and authenticity are among your best marketing tools. If initial premise of your marketing is lying about who/what you are, you’re off to a bad start.
At I AM POP, we advise all our clients to phrase their Messenger marketing channels as being “the [client x]’s official Messenger channel”.
There’s a fine line between adopting a conversational tone of voice for your Messenger marketing, and pretending you’re talking to your subscribers in person.
Take this into consideration!
Messenger marketing also allows for a double opt-in, the importance of which we repeatedly address.
Besides from not knowing what you’re signing up for, we wonder how clear and easy it is to ‘unsubscribe’ from the services Leslie, Kutcher and Vaynerchuk are employing.
After all, a marketing service is only as good as how easy it is to unsubscribe from it.
Be transparent about your marketing goals, make sure users know exactly what they’re signing up for, what you’ll do with their data, and make it easy to unsubscribe from your services:
These things will work wonders for your reputation, and keep unsubscribe rates as low as possible.
Customer care chatbots
On the other side of the automated messaging spectrum, there’s the customer care chatbot. Chatbots can potentially be a great addition to your customer care team.
That doesn’t mean that customer service chatbots always succeed, or lead to a positive user experience.
The fact that natural language processing and artificial intelligence are still underdeveloped or unavailable to the general public means building chatbots can be extremely costly and even then, aren’t guaranteed to deliver on their promises.
Aside from being expensive, for marketing purposes, they can be quite…
If we look at the type of direct-to-fan marketing Leslie, Kutcher, and Gary V are trying to do through text messages, there’s one essential thing to keep in mind:
You shouldn’t treat your fans like customers.
There’s a massive difference between trying to solve a customer’s query as quickly and efficiently as possible using a chatbot, and building a relationship with your true fans through a one-on-one communication channel.
If you’re attempting the former, be prepared to spend a lot of time, effort, and resources to build something that might not even work.
If you’re attempting the latter, try not to send boring text messages and a URL to scrape personal info while pretending to be an actual person reaching out through SMS.
Somewhere in between, there’s something we like to call...
The Goldilocks-zone of direct message marketing: the successful Messenger marketer’s sweet spot
To make sure you succeed at Messenger marketing, you need to understand that there’s a sweet spot in between these two things:
- Spamming people with messages in order to get their personal info or sell them something
- Trying to build an overly complicated automated chatbot that fails to deliver on its promises.
That sweet spot is:
Delivering high quality exclusive content that your fans actually want to receive.
Try following these tips and tricks:
- Share content in an interactive way. Make use of your messaging channel’s native rich media features. You will delight your subscribers and foster your relationship with them in the process.
- Be authentic and transparent about your goals, make it easy to unsubscribe to your marketing service, and try not to waste resources building something that breaks.
- Start off by building a second opt-in in your Messenger channel’s introduction flow, so new users no exactly what they’re signing up for.
- Make use of all of the Chat-editor’s components to create a rich media experience for your users. Try using Quick Replies to keep things interactive, and add unique visual assets to your broadcasts.
- Link to external content using buttons instead of text-based URLs, and only link to external content your subscribers expect or would enjoy.
- If you’re going to ask your users for their data, ask nicely, and let them know what you’ll be using it for.
- Make sure you remind your users once in a while that they can unsubscribe to your messages in case they aren’t happy with them. Facebook Messenger’s persistent menu has a ‘subscriptions’ option active by default. This lets users manage their subscriptions.
Follow these points of advise, avoid other Messenger marketing mistakes and we promise you:
You’ll be a successful Messenger marketer in no time!
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