The Most Effective Ways to Engage Your Customers in 2019

05 Dec

Over the past several years there's been an explosion of all new marketing channels. New technology is opening up more possibilities and is changing customer expectations.

As such, in an effort to outpace competitors, businesses are adopting more marketing channels and technologies than ever before.

But how do you know which channels and tech are going to be the most effective for your business or organization?

As we move into the future, one thing is certain. Customers expect to be able to engage with your brand in a way that is personal, helpful, and intuitive.

To help you make the right marketing decisions, we’ve curated a list of the latest and greatest channels and technologies purpose-built to create powerful and engaging conversations with prospects and customers in 2019.

If you want to connect with your audience in a meaningful way, then you should look at adopting these high-powered marketing channels and building deeper relationships with your customers.

#1 Text Messages

Texting has become one of the most effective and easy marketing platforms to reach your customers.

Text messages are personal and relevant to each person. Messages arrive easily into the palm of their hand through their phone.

There are thousands of potential use cases:

  • You can send alerts about the status of their account - such as billing reminders for outstanding payments or renewal reminders for subscriptions.
  • You can provide customers with targeted promotions based on purchase history.
  • You can utilize it for customer service by allowing them to text you with questions and respond.
  • You can send reminders about upcoming appointments or other relevant events.

The savviest of business owners will also infuse text message marketing with other related marketing channels.

For example, a business might include a texting short code and Keyword in with an email campaign. This is an easy way to cross-promote texting and get customers really engaged.

The fact is, 95% of text messages are opened within the first 5 minutes of being received. This direct form of marketing communication reaches your customers instantly.

Restaurants have been utilizing text message marketing effectively to do some pretty cool things.

To inspire you, here are some examples of some successful campaigns that restaurants have used.

The Domino’s Pizza Franchise at UNC-Charlotte

The area director, Ryan Swanson, started his text message campaign with two goals.
  • He wanted to market his Facebook group
  • He wanted to grow his SMS marketing list in a way that was measurable

He identified the students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s campus as being an important group to reach. He also saw the school's basketball arena as the ideal place to promote his pizzas. Each game attracted over 3,000 students, so he knew they were a captive audience.

Ryan decided to utilize text message marketing with EZ Texting’s software to build a more intuitive way for the students to interact.

He created an ad to display on the arena screens. He offered a free pizza to anyone that texted 49ER to 313131.

Anyone that texted received the following response:

To get FREE pizza join our facebook group at UNCCDominos.com once you join post a message (I GOT A TEXT) & you will get FREE pizza code Reply STOP 49ER 2 Optout

  • Roughly 10% of the 3,000 students that attended the game had texted him within just a few minutes.
  • Another 5% texted him before the night was over.
  • This resulted in nearly 600 opt-ins, and approximately 350 students had joined the Facebook group by morning.

Almost all of them redeemed the offer.

Since then, he has run similar campaigns multiple times at subsequent games. Every time he saw an additional 100 to 200 opt-ins with nearly all of them joining the Facebook group to get the deal.

By the end of the semester, the Facebook group collected nearly 2,000 fans. They had also added over 850 students to their SMS list.

By utilizing his coupon codes, Mr. Swanson can measure the effectiveness of his campaigns. Each SMS campaign has seen redemption rates of around 20 to 25%.

One SMS blast that he sent looked like this:

49er Fans get 50% OFF ALL MENU PRICE PIZZAS & Bread Sides All day TODAY for playoffs! Coupon Code (FACE50).Call us at -------

That particular message reached roughly 500 or so students. The cost of sending this message using EZ texting was only about $25, and it resulted in 125 new orders.

Let’s Eat!

Let’s Eat! is a meal-assembly store based in Atlanta, GA. They're a mix between a grocery store and a restaurant. Customers can order meals in advance from the store.

They will do all of the prep work like cleaning meats and chopping vegetables. All of the meals are prepared fresh and then frozen and include simple cooking instructions right on the packaging. This lets their customers enjoy the convenience of restaurant-quality meals but at home-cooked prices.

Most customers order in advance. However, Let’s Eat! does offer refrigerated meals for pick-up. Due to limited refrigeration space and short shelf life, they can only prepare a limited number of these meals each day.

The owner started looking for a way to reach customers on-the-go with his daily meal availabilities. He knew that if more people were aware of this easy dinner option, he would be able to sell more meals each day.

The owner knew that emails couldn't be timed to reach them before dinner every day. Plus, he also knew that he couldn't make personalized phone calls because he just had too many customers to make that feasible.

He knew that text message marketing was going to be his best opportunity. He set up his first campaign in EZ Texting and fired off his first email to announce his new “Dinner Tonight” program.

He invited them to text LETSEAT to the number 313131 to sign up for the program. He told them to expect no more than five messages each week.

  • These messages would include three to five daily specials
  • They would allow customers to know exactly what meals they could purchase that were ready to cook for that evening
  • He sent a message to them around 4 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday so that it's timed perfectly for their drive home after work 
  • He tracked responses by using a 5% off coupon in the text messages that customers redeemed inside the store.

These campaigns are so successful that he was able to make this small part of his business one of the most powerful ways to generate lasting customers.

#2 Chat Bots

When it comes to conversational marketing, chatbots are definitely at the forefront of recent innovations. The sophisticated computer programs are able to engage with customers around the clock while giving their human counterparts the ability to focus on other aspects of the company.

These bots can handle most minor service requests and marketing-related tasks. They can answer questions about package shipping, inform customers about current promotions, and a lot more. Bots can be programmed to have conversations with customers inside of apps they already use like Facebook Messenger. They make the experience incredibly intuitive.

According to HubSpot, 71% of people are willing to use chatbots to get customer service assistance because they know that their problem will be resolved more quickly and efficiently.

Thanks to the proliferation of Chat Bots, e-commerce has recently experienced an influx of click-throughs and conversions:

Aerie

For example, American Eagle Outfitters launched a bot for their clothing and lingerie spin-off company Aerie on the Kik messenger service.

The bot was programmed to let you browse their products based on your personal preferences. One feature that customers found particularly appealing was the this or that option.

They were shown two different styles of clothing or lingerie and were able to pick the image of the item that they liked the best. After a few rounds of this and that, the bot was able to customize item recommendations and make suggestions on clothing they would enjoy.

Their bot was able to acquire more than double the average number of users across all social channels combined within just a few weeks.

Nike

Nike’s StyleBot also helped the company find a new avenue for success. They were able to use it to create a more engaging experience for their customers.

Their bot gave customers the ability to style their own shoe designs as well as view previously uploaded versions to inspire them. Customers loved having the ability to mix-and-match, create their own styles, and then share their designs with their friends on Facebook Messenger.

When the campaign ended,

  • Nike determined that their average click-through rate was 12.5 times higher than their other campaigns.
  • They also noted that conversions were four times higher than their previous brand average.

eBay

It's not that surprising to see the eBay made this list. They began their chatbot in an experiment using Facebook Messenger to alert users about events related to their auctions. For example, their bot would tell you when an auction listing was about to end so that you could put in that last bid if you wanted to.

Since that early experiment, they have ventured into more uses of their Chat Bot.

ShopBot was released as a shopping assistant that would help you find items that you were interested in at a price that you're willing to pay.

  • You could do things like tell the bot that you wanted a woman's coat for under $100.
  • The bot would ask you a few questions about the brand, color, and other relevant factors.
  • It would then make a recommendation on products that you might enjoy based on your responses.

eBay found that users were three times more likely to ask questions about products with the bot available to answer.

Building an Effective Bot

The important thing to realize when using a bot is that technology is secondary to the conversation.

You want to make sure that whatever you program the bot to do focuses on the user's experience. It should help them access additional information, build a relevant experience, and engage them in a way that is natural and intuitive.

The hard part about using a bot is understanding the conversations that your customers want to have with you. After you know how to speak to them, only then you can worry about the technology that you will use to do it with.

#3 Slack

Slack is designed to make team collaboration faster and more efficient. When it comes to customer communication, their channel setup can get kind of messy pretty fast, especially if new channels are opened up for each customer.

The biggest advantage that Slack has is in boosting your team's responsiveness. Responsiveness is what customer support is all about.

It is not a very effective channel for direct communication with your customers. Instead of using it to have conversations, you should utilize its ability to integrate with other software that you’re already using to communicate with customers.

After you set up those integrations, your team can use Slack as a central location to monitor all communication and respond quickly.

Your customers can live in those other software platforms, while your team lives in Slack and receives notifications about events that are happening. This is especially valuable if you are utilizing multiple different software platforms to interact with your customers.

Help Desk Integrations

Most of the bigger help desk Solutions such as Zendesk, Help Scout, and Groove are going to provide integrations with Slack.

Your team will receive instant notifications about new tickets, assignments, updates to tickets, and more.

Live Chat Integrations

Even though you aren’t chatting with your customers directly in Slack, you can integrate your live chat software so that you can receive chat event notifications.

Services like Chatlio integrate fully with Slack. This allows you to add live chat to your website without needing additional software.

Your customers can start the chat on your website, and you can respond directly inside of Slack. Other team members can even join you to help provide additional support.

Email, Twitter, and Facebook Message Integrations

As you utilize more and more marketing channels, your customers will find ways to connect with you through those channels. Slack can allow you to receive notifications for those inquiries in a central location.

For example, MailClark lets you send and receive emails, Facebook Messages, and Twitter posts without having to leave Slack.

HubSpot Integrations

If you're utilizing HubSpot CRM, you can connect it to Slack to monitor a variety of different communications that are happening.

You can do things like:

Turn a Slack conversation into a task for yourself inside of HubSpot. You can be alerted about activities that are happening inside of HubSpot CRM. This includes notifications like reminders, mentions, follows, document views, form submissions, and so much more.

 

#4 Augmented Reality

Augmented reality has brought an onslaught of innovation to the way that businesses can market their products.

For example, some furniture retailers and manufacturers are adopting its capabilities to allow customers an opportunity to preview furniture in their home. With the swipe of an application, consumers can visualize that piece of furniture living exactly where it will be after they purchase it.

Increase Your Revenue

Your customers can experience your products in a whole new way. These interactive 3D experiences increase customer understanding and engagement.

You gain a new competitive advantage.

Customers are more willing to buy what they understand. If they are happy, then your revenue opportunities increase.

Shorten Your Sales Cycle

Product descriptions and images on your website and in a brochure can't tell the full story. AR helps customers gain unique insights into your products.

They can see things clearer and understand hidden features, workflows, and processes more easily. This allows them to gain confidence in their purchase decisions very quickly and shortens your sales cycle.

Reduce Your Costs

You can greatly reduce your costs associated with developing and maintaining prototypes and printed sales materials after each release or update to your products.

By using these digital models and experiences, you can make updates quicker and get them in the hands of your customers.

Increase Your Customer Satisfaction

Interacting with your products in augmented reality helps your customers know exactly what they're going to be purchasing. This can be especially important in situations where you’re manufacturing items direct-to-order.

They can create their order and interact with it before ever making the purchase and before you ever begin manufacturing. This increases the chance that they'll be happy with the final product.

#5 Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is making a huge wave across a variety of applications to interact with customers and businesses every day.

From a business perspective, they are used to understand customer behavior, buyer purchase patterns, and provide a level of attribution and predictive capabilities to help businesses create hyper-targeted personalized marketing.

One way that you've probably encountered these is when you’re shopping online in stores like Amazon. Machine learning powers features like suggestions based on your past purchase history, email marketing that makes recommendations on products, and much more.

As we move forward into the future, we will see machines take a much bigger role online and even offline and helping improve customer interactions with companies.

Pepper Robot for Sales & CRM Applications

Pepper is a humanoid robot that interacts with customers and can perceive human emotions. It is used as a customer service representative in a variety of different types of stores.

Pepper achieved

  • 50% of Neo-pen sales were attributed to Pepper at b8ta Santa Monica
  • 40% increase in customer engagement
  • 70% increase in foot traffic in Palo Alto

When Pepper was at the apparel store the Ave,

  • They experienced a 98% increase in customer interactions
  • A 20% increase and foot traffic
  • A 300% increase in Revenue.

Conversica Virtual Sales Assistant Closes the Gap between Sales & Marketing

When your sales team has more leads than they can follow up with, or they are having trouble finding the time to qualify all of the leads, an artificial intelligence virtual assistant can be a lifesaver.

It acts as a friendly customer service representative that can identify opportunities for sales. Unlike your human staff, it will respond to every internet lead. The messages that it sends appear to come from a real person. Because of this, the engagement rate is very high.

It can work to get the best phone number, the best time to call, identify purchase criteria, and get sales feedback.

At Conversica, they found that their AI virtual assistant, “Rachael,” has engaged most of their opportunities. She connected with:

  • 63% of their created opportunities
  • 54% of their won opportunities

She is so lifelike that they actually created a LinkedIn profile for her. They said that she has been such a good assistant that she gets regular job offers.

The Future of Communication

There’s no disputing one simple fact — technology will continue to shape the way businesses interact with prospects and customers. However, it’s one thing to stay on top of the latest marketing innovations — you need to get ahead of the curve. EZ Texting makes it simple and easy to send text messages to prospects and customers. In just five minutes, EZ Texting can help you upload text marketing contacts, construct a high-powered text message, and send — it’s that easy.

The best part about EZ Texting is that you don’t have to be a marketing expert to get started. Moreover, EZ Texting customer support teams are available to answer questions and point you towards text message marketing success. There’s a reason why EZ Texting is trusted by more than 50,000 industry-leading businesses and organizations.

Start your text message marketing journey with our FREE guide: 9-Step Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing.

 

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