5 Ways To Build Brand Loyalty Through Conversational Messaging
January 30, 2023
Every ecommerce business is in competition for customer loyalty and trust. You earn both by providing your customers with an experience that they can’t get elsewhere.
But many ecommerce companies today are struggling to provide these loyalty-building, exceptional experiences. According to Accenture, nearly two-thirds of consumers “wish companies would respond faster to meet their changing needs,” while 88% of executives say that “customers are changing faster than their business can keep up.”1
This begs the question…how do you elevate customer experience and build brand loyalty with rapidly changing customer expectations? The answer is through conversational messaging.
What is conversational messaging?
Conversational messaging refers to two-way communication between businesses and consumers—often for the purpose of solving customer problems or collecting their feedback. It’s a key opportunity to nurture customer relationships in a one-on-one setting.
Live chat is not the same as conversational messaging. The former ends when a customer and/or brand closes the live chat window, while messaging can happen on an ongoing basis—like texting back and forth with a friend.
With conversational messaging, your brand isn’t just another business on the other side of the screen. It’s a friendly resource that’s just as easy to reach as a family member. It doesn’t matter if your customers are online during business hours or not—your brand can offer tailored recommendations and answer questions instantly whenever needed with conversational messaging.
Let’s take a deep look at five ways to use conversational messaging to elevate your ecommerce customer experience and turn one-off customers into long-term brand loyalists.
1. Meet buyers where they are
Ecommerce customers face constant digital bombardment. To make your voice heard, you need to connect on their preferred channel—and for many customers, that means messaging.
Almost two-thirds of consumers think being able to text a business would “increase convenience,” and over 40% of customers would switch to a different business or service provider if it offered messaging communication.2
Keep your customers around by making your ecommerce businesses available on all of the platforms they regularly use, so they can choose which one they want to use to initiate conversation. This convenience and flexibility are particularly important when customers are reaching out to discuss an issue with a product. They may be more forgiving if they feel like your brand is readily accessible.
Choose messaging platforms based on where your customers are communicating—whether that’s SMS, social media, or messaging apps. Segment your communication data by channel to see which platforms are used most, and ask customers what their favorite channels are by survey. Online shoppers connect with brands in quite a few places over the internet, so you can’t rely on guesswork here.
2. Personalize the shopping experience
Personalization isn’t just a nice-to-have for ecommerce merchants—it’s a critical, if not essential, way to build trust in your products. Your online shoppers can’t see or hold the product in person, so they want guidance before making a purchase—whether that’s a personalized recommendation or support ticket.
The vast majority of consumers want to shop (and continue shopping) with brands that personalize, and nearly 80% say they’re more likely to refer family and friends to those businesses.3
Send tailored outreach that feels personal, based on your customer data. For example, you can use targeted advertisements based on the customer’s behavior, like the option to pick up where they left off last time in their shopping process or recommendations for upsell/cross-sell products.
You can also use message templates that can be automatically personalized. Pre-set your template to include information that helps your message stand out in a market that is over-saturated, like a reference to your last conversation with a customer or a follow-up on an order they placed recently (something like, “How did the T-shirts you ordered work out? Were they to your liking?”). These templates can standardize the follow-up process while still providing a personalized touch for your customers.
You can also make your messages feel more casual with emojis and GIFs to keep things fun and light. These visuals might not be specific to individual customers, but they do create the feeling of one-on-one personal conversations.
3. Build trust
Building trust with online customers over a screen has never been easy. It’s especially difficult today as the last few years have been rife with shipping delays and inventory issues. With messaging, you can nurture potential customers without pushing purchases on them to build a foundation of trust.
You might send them educational resources about topics they’re interested in while they’re still getting to know your brand. Or you can share important updates such as order confirmations, shipping information, or other reminders—all of which engender a trusted connection with your brand.
To build trust, be as transparent as possible in your messaging. No one likes the feeling of thinking they’re talking to an agent, only to realize moments later that it’s a well-trained AI.
So, if you’re using a bot, make that clear in your pre-set responses. Customers will likely appreciate it and feel valued.
Give your customers the option to opt out of messages at any time when you’re the one starting conversations. This gesture shows customers you respect them and their time.
4. Proactively engage your customer base
In today’s ecommerce climate, playing offense pays huge dividends for both you and your audience. And when it comes to conversational messaging, offense means reaching out to customers.
Customers who opt in to conversational messaging might receive ecommerce exclusives like an online-only annual sale or a social media giveaway. These customer perks help your business by gathering input and encouraging sales.
Think of clever ways to engage your customers with messaging.
If you’re a clothing company, you might send customers messages with seasonal fashion tips and outfit ideas based on their past purchases.
If you’re a fitness company, you might suggest daily or weekly workout routines (or tips on common mistakes to avoid).
If you’re a project management app, you might suggest team-building activities, productivity tips, or opinion polls about popular project management strategies.
Above all, make sure your messages to customers are helpful. Don’t push your product until you’ve offered some sort of value—and even then, keep your product mentions subtle.
5. Provide seamless customer support
What better way to wow your ecommerce customers and build brand loyalty than with fast, hassle-free customer assistance—all without sending an email or calling a helpdesk?
Real-time support through messaging means clear, consistent two-way conversations and fast resolutions for customers. They can receive speedy responses without having to wait on hold or listen to automated messages (or, worse yet, wait for a response via email).
Even if a support agent can’t respond to a message right away, you can set realistic expectations about response times. If a customer sends a message to support outside of business hours, you could set up a reply that says something like, “You’ve just missed us! We will be in the office bright and early and will get back to you then. Our hours are Monday-Friday, 8 am-7 pm PT. Talk to you soon!” As long as you’re straightforward about when someone will get back to them, any delay falls under the understanding umbrella of asynchronous communication.
You can provide 24/7 support through automated messaging. Vodafone’s AI bot TOBi can understand 250 different customer intents and read complex documents like your bill or contract to process issues via WhatsApp. The AI bot will escalate an issue to an agent if it can’t find a quick solution, but Vodafone found that 52% of monthly WhatsApp transactions didn’t require escalation to an agent or a hotline, so it may not be as necessary as you’d think.4
And unlike a phone call, the chat itself provides customer history—giving agents instant contextual info without the customer needing to re-explain themselves.
Messaging also gives agents plenty of room to provide helpful support. They can include videos in messages if customers need product demonstrations or tutorials, follow up more easily on open cases, and avoid transferring cases to other agents (or at least avoid the customer experience of having your case transferred).
Plus, customer support messaging leads to more sales. According to a July 2022 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Meta, both medium and large companies receive about 3.5% of their total orders based on customer care messaging, and messaging increases the average order value of those orders by 20%.5
Whatever the request, conversational messaging makes the support process easier and more manageable for both agents and customers.
Deliver compelling conversational experiences with WhatsApp
Today it’s harder than ever to break through the noise of so many online retailers and build a personal relationship with your customers. One of the best ways to build brand loyalty and community is to give your customers a proactive, helpful, and personalized shopping experience through messaging and conversations. WhatsApp’s Business API uses smooth conversational messaging that works globally to take your brand loyalty and customer engagement to the next level.
Learn how to get started on your conversational commerce journey with WhatsApp.