Gone are the days of email enquiries sitting unanswered in overfilled, unmanned inboxes or customers phoning in and waiting on hold indefinitely while listening to the same tune on repeat. Digitally savvy consumers want their questions answered here, now, and instantly.
One of the most impactful developments in the brand-consumer relationship is the rise of business messaging as an efficient, direct, and personalised way for consumers to interact with brands. In Asia-Pacific especially, business messaging is already an important part of daily life, as evidenced by the Meta ecosystem through its popular Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger platforms. In APAC, it’s already a way of life — according to a joint whitepaper from Meta and BCG, at least 1 in 3 consumers are currently chatting with businesses at least once a week.
As business messaging becomes an increasingly essential tool used by both brands and users, how can marketers encourage better conversations with consumers?
In the final quarter of the year, Mega Sales season is in full swing and the landscape is ripe with opportunities for brands to maximise their marketing. Leveraging AI-driven solutions has been a hot topic, and the evolution of AI has led to the first AI-powered Mega Sales season.
With Christmas approaching and Lunar New Year on the horizon, marketers in Southeast Asia are in an advantageous position to use business messaging to supercharge their Q1 campaigns and drive spending intentions ahead of one of the biggest annual opportunities for regional markets. Consumer research and data analytics company Milieu’s recent study identified two major takeaways to provide a deeper understanding of the holiday period:
Positive outlook: 81% of the respondents are optimistic that their financial situation will improve or remain the same in the coming six months — this gives hope to the fact that shoppers can spend freely as their economic circumstances are stable.
Confident spending: 91% of those surveyed have answered that they plan to spend the same amount or even more this Lunar New Year, supporting the above key finding.
While the medium can be applied across the entire marketing funnel to influence the consumer journey from discovery to purchase and even re-engagement, business messaging can prove especially useful in the pre-purchase phase when shoppers still have doubts, questions, or are exploring the products they are interested in. A study conducted by Kantar revealed that 69% of prospective customers are more likely to buy from a company if they are able to reach them through business messaging. This demonstrates that responsiveness yields rewards, and brands can take advantage of such interactions to directly engage potential buyers.
Many consumers are already familiar with using digital platforms and messaging to fuel their daily habits and consumption activities, be it to chat with friends and family, make reservations, research products and services, or communicate directly with businesses in a casual and timely way, and the rise of AI-powered chatbots supplements this behaviour.
“People want to communicate with businesses the same way they communicate with friends and family,” says Dhruv Vohra, managing director of GBG Mid-Market, APAC at Meta. “71% of consumers find it easier to message a business than navigating a traditional channel such as a website. 81% of people also feel more connected to a business they can message directly.” Meta internal data reveals that more than 600 million conversations between people and businesses are happening every day across its platforms, and over one billion people connect with a business account across its messaging services every week, highlighting consumers’ desire for richer engagement experiences. Brands that embrace business messaging and AI are able to provide even greater service to users.
Remaining “always-on” through business messaging is not the only way to maximise this tool for the upcoming Lunar New Year period. Vohra emphasises the importance of integrating “ads that click to message to turn conversations into opportunities to grow your business by personally connecting with potential customers where they already spend time.” To capitalise on business messaging in the upcoming festive period, Vohra recommends the following:
Say hello: Although it sounds elementary, greeting consumers at the beginning of the interaction is a non-negotiable part of the overall messaging experience to help set the tone for the conversation — it shows that “you are available and ready to engage with them,” says Vohra. Marketers can level up their messaging with features such as Messenger’s instant reply, FAQs on Instagram Direct, or an automated greeting in the WhatsApp Business app.
Be connected: Vohra suggests for companies to streamline their customer experience and improve their online presence by linking Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram accounts to make it easier for customers to find and connect with your business. Linking accounts also helps brands manage their platforms and campaigns — Vohra explains that doing so can improve the delivery of click-to-message campaigns, as the system can intelligently and efficiently send users to the most suitable app out of multiple messaging destinations.
Set it up: Choosing the right campaign objective when creating ads helps Meta “find people most likely to start a conversation with your business using messaging” and “direct your audience to start a conversation,” says Vohra. Optimising creatives, such as making assets mobile-friendly through vertical formatting and creating short-form videos, also helps to “improve CPA on average by 16.9% for click-to-message advertisers in APAC.”
A campaign by baby food brand Baanraya illustrates the full-funnel applications that business messaging can bring. In a bid to boost campaign performance and spark conversations with prospective customers, Baanraya launched a series of Facebook video ads which click to Messenger to draw the attention of a wide audience, generate interactions, and test out new creative assets made using the Meta Business Partner Pencil, a machine-learning platform. Baanraya’s mobile-optimised video ads welcomed users to speak with the brand and, once in the chat window, prompted them to ask questions about the products. As a result of the video ads, the brand was able to benefit from 14% more Messenger conversations, 17% lower cost per message, and 23% lower cost per purchase.
Baanraya’s campaign demonstrates that AI-powered solutions can effectively and efficiently drive lead generation and customer interaction at scale so brands can focus their resources on quality leads. As Meta grows its ad solutions to meet advertising needs, brands can rely on a supportive ecosystem that includes Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp so marketers can combine ads with paid automated messaging to encourage conversations. Businesses can also continue to engage with and retain customers post-purchase through messaging.
With increased AI support, diverse digital solutions, and improved communication experiences, business messaging can be a powerful tool for marketers to amplify their campaigns during the upcoming Lunar New Year sales period, and working with a Meta Business Partner to identify the right solutions is the first step. Vohra believes that Meta can enable “businesses and consumers to meaningfully connect across the consumer journey and through the entire funnel of discovery, consideration, social interaction and purchase.”