Social-based marketing is a complex process. We’ve certainly written a lot on the topic! Between all the different platforms and features, there are many different angles to explore. And social media is continuing to evolve at a blisteringly fast pace.
But up until now, one crucial aspect of social media has been all but ignored by most companies. It’s a big component of social media. It’s used more than social media itself. And it’s an amazing tool for connecting and building relationships with users:
As of 2016, messaging apps were being used more than social media platforms themselves. And users are logging in to them not only to chat with their friends, but also to connect with brands.
Before this, you may not have given much thought to messaging apps as a marketing tool. “Our customers can message us if they have questions or need assistance,” you’ve said. You may have even posted it on your feed a time or two! But there are much more proactive ways that insurance agents can use messaging apps to engage with their audience, build relationships, and increase conversions.
Here we’ll focus on Facebook’s Messenger, one of the top messaging apps in use today.
Messenger reaches billions of people
Figures from 2017 showed that Messenger currently boasts 1.3 billion monthly users, and the app is continuing to grow. It is the top cross-OS (operating system) messaging app in the United States and Europe.
Think about that. When you log in to Messenger, you have a direct line to 1.3 billion users. But don’t let that kind of power go to your head! With great marketing potential comes great responsibility. You must use Messenger wisely.
Below are some exciting strategies for engaging with your audience through messenger.
Use chatbots for marketing on Messenger
The word “bot” may conjure up images of cold, emotionless automatons. But chatbots are just the opposite. They are simple tools that provide pre-formulated responses. And they take some of the pressure off your customer service staff by helping you manage things like subscribers and appointments.
Chatbots can be used to answer simple questions such as, “What are your business hours?”, “Where are you located?”, or “What information do I need to set up a policy?” You know your customers, and you know what questions they ask again and again. You can create a bot to answer these types of queries, and remove some of the frustration for your customer service staff.
You can also use bots to let customers book appointments, subscribe to your content, or submit forms. We’ll explore some of these options a bit more below.
Bots are easy to set up and link to your Facebook page. Essentially, they are bits of code that you connect with your Messenger app, and they are triggered by certain user actions. They are completely customizable, and easy to tailor to your agency’s needs.
Marketing on Messenger by delivering your content
Of course you share your content with your followers by posting or tweeting updates on your social media profiles. But how many of them get to see it? They may log on at the wrong time, or they may accidentally scroll right past it.
But using Messenger, you can deliver it directly to them.
Does that sound a little strange? Trust us here.
A common strategy for many years has been for businesses to get their customers to subscribe to email newsletters. As a consumer yourself, it’s something you probably still run into all the time. Think about how often you visit a business, and they ask you to share your email to receive updates and offers. Or when you click on a website, a pop-up asks you to sign up for their newsletter. At this point, it’s likely something that you’re pretty comfortable doing.
Think of Messenger as the new email. Looking at your own inbox, you probably have multiple unread emails from brands. How many of them will you actually read? Yeah, we thought so. In contrast, everyone gets excited when they hear that familiar “ding!” notification from Messenger.
So it’s time to bring these two ideas together: Content subscriptions and Messenger. But just like you wouldn’t just start sending clients email newsletters out of the blue, you need to give your followers a chance to opt in.
Getting Your Clients On Board
A business page can message a user who has messaged or commented on the page in the past. Looking through your page’s message history, you already have a list of people who are interested in your agency. By reaching out to them, you can give them the chance to have your updates delivered directly to them via Messenger. This is a lot like having customers who enter your office sign up for an email list.
How can you go about reaching out? Just keep it simple and straightforward. The conversation may go something like this:
Agent: Hello. We noticed that you’ve shown an interest in our agency. Would you like to receive some of our latest content directly on Messenger?
User: Yes, that would be fine.
Agent: Great! How often would you like to receive updates: Weekly or monthly?
Agent: Okay. We look forward to presenting you with new and exciting weekly content. If you wish to unsubscribe, just reply “Cancel.”
Of course, you can handle subscriptions like this one of two ways: You can message users manually, and keep track of subscribers via a list. Or you can create a chatbot, as described above, to manage subscribers and content distribution for you. Since we’re all for making things simpler, we recommend automating the process using a chatbot!
Marketing on Messenger by connecting with your followers during events
Has your agency ever hosted an event? Perhaps it’s been a seminar, a talk at a local university, or a fundraiser for a local charity. Events like these can be a great way to connect with your community. And creating event pages on Facebook is a great way to help folks in your area learn about what’s happening. The platform’s events feature makes it easy for people to find events in their area that are relevant to their interests. This means that even people you don’t know and didn’t invite can find and attend your event.
How can you use Messenger in conjunction with events? We’re glad you asked.
From Invitation to Post-Event
If you’ve hosted events in the past, you may have sent emails to attendees containing important information such as schedules, time changes, special guests, etc. You can use Messenger in much the same way, with a few handy extra features.
Invite people to opt in for Messenger updates when they first RSVP to the event. You can do this with a post to the event page, or, if attendees RSVP by other means, in a confirmation email. The message should include a link to a Messenger conversation with a bot you’ve created for the event, asking them to opt in for event updates. You can also create QR codes for attendees to scan when they arrive at the event. When attendees scan the QR code, it will open up the Messenger app with your bot asking them to opt in for updates. Convenience like this is often the key to increasing engagement with your agency.
Once attendees have opted in, they can receive any automated updates you’ve created. These could include updated schedules, links to transcripts or recordings of talks, companion content, or anything else you find important to share.
Finally, it’s a great idea to use messenger to follow up with attendees who opted for event updates through messenger. A few days after the event, reach out to them with questions such as, “Did this event meet your expectations?”, “What could we improve for future events?”, or “Did you find our updates via Messenger to be useful?” Again, you can create a chatbot to carry out these interactions with attendees.
Using Messenger in this way is a great way to add value and convenience to an event in which you agency is involved.
Marketing on Messenger using ads
A messaging app may seem like an odd choice for advertising. However, advertising via Messenger isn’t quite what you think. There are two ways to advertise via Messenger.
Click-to-Messenger ads are exactly what they sound like. Instead of ads that appear within the messaging app, they appear as normal advertisements on a user’s newsfeed. When they click on the ad, instead of going to the company’s website, it opens up the Messenger window with a bot offering more information. Depending on the bot’s specifications, it may ask the user which product they are interested in, if they would like to connect with a real person to talk about the product, or how the product might fit into their lifestyle.
Click-to-Messenger ads are easy to set up, and are a great way to initiate conversations and build engagement with prospective customers.
Sponsored messages, on the other hand, allow your page to reach out to any user who has messaged your company before. As we mentioned above, pages can only directly contact users who have sent messages to them in the past. This is actually a good thing, because it means your agency already has a reason to reach back out and re-engage with these users.
For example, if a user messaged your agency previously asking about your office hours but never stopped by, you can create a sponsored message letting them know that they don’t need to stop by to get a quote–all they need to do is visit your website. You can even do something similar for existing clients who have communicated with you on Messenger, advising them of policy review offers that could find new discounts they qualify for. Chatbots can easily be created to deliver these messages and record responses.
Marketing on Messenger using forms
You may use Facebook ads to generate leads for your agency. It’s a common strategy. When a user clicks your ad, it takes them to your website and has them fill out a form. However, it’s possible to do this without even making the user leave Facebook.
Similar to a click-to-Messenger ad, lead-generating ads can instead open up a Messenger window requesting information from the user, such as phone number, email address, etc. This “form” can easily be created as a chatbot to collect the user information.
Hubspot did an experiment with this type of lead generation, and found that it resulted in a 477% reduction in cost per lead. That’s a really impressive result! It turns out that Facebook ads used in conjunction with Messenger can be extremely beneficial to a business.
Marketing on Messenger by providing real-time customer service
Being available to chat online with customers in crucial in the modern business world. It offers convenience and a low-pressure experience for the customer, and can make a big difference in conversions. We’ve talked at length before about the value of customer service chat for insurance agencies.
However, customer service chat is convenient because it’s right there on your website. Potential clients who visit your website can easily click on it to talk to you. So what about the customers who have never visited your website, and only interacted with your company via Facebook? For those clients, Messenger is an extension of your website’s customer service chat: an easy and low-pressure method of communicating with your agency and getting answers to their questions.
Use Messenger the same way you would use your website’s customer service chat: Be sure to check it regularly, and respond to messages as quickly as possible. Additionally, if customers comment on your page with concerns or complaints, invite them to take the conversation to Messenger where it can be handled privately and efficiently.
Messenger is a simple and effective way to provide customer service while letting users stay in their comfort zones.
Messaging apps are an unlikely candidate for insurance agency marketing, but the prevalence of the platforms means that marketers need to pay attention. If used correctly, Messenger in particular has great potential to generate leads, grow engagement, and increase conversion. Do you think you might use some of these strategies for your Facebook page?
–By Mallory DuPuy