Two people standing in front of wall showing each other ads by pointing at their phones


How to engage leads at each stage of the funnel using click-to-message ads

June 16, 2023

Enterprise businesses collectively spend hundreds of billions on ads1 each year. But many don’t see the returns they want. Gartner reports that less than 30% of organizations2 show success in marketing operations — meaning many companies aren’t creating marketing that drives growth and are spending too much on their ads.

In this climate, it’s worth asking if your ads are paying off. For brands using click-to-message ads, the answer is easy — yes.

What are click-to-message ads?

Click-to-message ads are promotions that direct consumers to conversations with brands on messaging apps. The ads typically appear on Facebook and Instagram.

Once a consumer clicks on a click-to-message ad, a chat opens in a messaging app with a brand. The business can set up automated templated messages and replies to appear, so customers can start the conversation right away. For example, a brand might set up an automatic first message that says, “How can I help you?” with pre-set options—like “Explore products,” “Ask a question,” and “Chat with an agent.”

Click-to-message ads work because consumers love messaging tools. People see these apps as a way to communicate with friends, family, and brands. In Kantar’s BusinessMessaging Usage research, 66% of consumer respondents3 reported they would be more likely to buy a product from a brand if they communicated via messaging.

These promotions are also sustainable because messaging platforms have plenty of features to help brands save resources, like automations and chatbots. Four in five marketers reported in our internal study that they expect business messaging solutions to have a positive return.4

But to take advantage of messaging apps, you first need to let your customers know they can reach you via messaging. That’s where click-to-message ads come in. Read on to learn how you can use these promotions throughout the marketing funnel to generate leads and nurture customers.

Person sitting in cafe with coffee, smiling, while engaging with a click-to-message ad

Awareness: Introduce yourself with an ad

Click-to-message awareness ads are like a first date with potential customers. They should pique leads’ interest so they want to go on a second date with your brand — or in this case, start a conversation with you.

The ads might highlight your company’s value proposition or they could direct leads to educational resources that build their trust in your brand. Whatever the ad’s focus, the goal is to give potential customers a reason to connect with your business.

But you’re not just highlighting what makes your brand great and sending leads to a product page — where they may lose interest. In-chat conversations let you gather useful info about your customer, so your team can nurture and convert them.

And if the lead isn’t a great fit for your brand? You’ll find that out right away through your chat questions instead of wasting time down the road nurturing a lead who will never buy.

What’s an example of an Awareness click-to-message ad?

Say you’re a marketer for a bank, and you want to create a click-to-message ad that attracts people who need help buying a home. You design a Facebook ad with a picture of a couple on the front lawn of a home. The text says, “Looking to buy your first home? We’ve got tips.” A “Learn more” CTA leads to a messaging app where a chatbot for your brand sends potential customers an e-book for first-time home buyers.

Or, the Facebook ad could say, “Looking to buy your first home? Pre-qualify for a loan today.” The “Learn more” CTA leads to a messaging app chat where an agent or chatbot asks the potential customer questions to learn more about their banking needs.

How do I set up targeting for click-to-message ads at this stage?

At the Awareness phase, you want your ad to reach as many people who match your ideal customer personas. Facebook Ads lets brands target audiences like their current customers through Core and Lookalike audience targeting.

With core audience targeting,5 you can create a targeting group with similar characteristics to your ideal customer — including location, gender, age, interests, and behavior. Lookalike audience targeting6 directs your ad towards people who match an existing audience source — like a list of your current customers. This option is best if you have an existing audience source with 1,000 to 5,000 customers.

Two people sitting in living room while interacting with a click-to-message ad

Consideration: Encourage potential customers to ask questions

Have you ever walked into a shop and told a clerk you’re “just browsing”? Except 10 minutes later, you decide you actually want to talk to a clerk about an interesting product. Online shoppers are often the same. Give them the option to ask your brand questions with click-to-message ads that drive the middle of your funnel.

These promotions typically invite prospects to contact the brand with a CTA button that says, “Start a conversation.” Once a potential customer reaches the messaging app from the ad, your team member or chatbot can address any doubts they have by answering their questions.

What’s an example of a Consideration click-to-message ad?

Going back to our bank example, say you want to create a click-to-message ad that encourages shoppers exploring your brand to apply for a credit card.

You create a Facebook ad that shows someone holding a credit card. The ad text says, “Does [bank name]’s credit card really have zero fees? What about APR rates? You have questions. We have answers.” The “Start a Conversation” CTA takes potential customers to a messaging app conversation with an agent who can answer their questions about opening a credit card.

How do I set up targeting for click-to-message ads at this stage?

People at the consideration stage have been introduced to your brand but haven’t made a purchase yet. Target these potential customers by using Facebook’s retargeting options.7

You might direct your Consideration promotion to everyone who has visited your brand’s Facebook page, Instagram profile, and website. You can also tell Facebook not to target people who have made a purchase, so you’re focusing on prospects instead of current customers.

Two people laughing while sitting against couch and one is holding a credit card

Purchase: Entice shoppers with a first-time customer offer

Even after chatting with your brand’s agents and chatbots, prospects may still be unsure about taking the next step and converting — whether that’s opening a bank account or buying a product. Help them make their final purchase decision with a click-to-message ad that offers an enticing discount or reminds them of a product they left behind in their cart.

When the shopper clicks on the ad and opens a chat, you can make it easy to convert by giving them the option to purchase in chat. Buyers can also ask any questions they have about your product or service right in the messaging app.

What’s an example of a Purchase click-to-message ad?

Let’s say you want to motivate potential banking customers to start an account by giving them a special offer. You might set up a click-to-message ad that tells prospects they’ll get $250 if they sign up for a banking account and deposit $2,000 or more.

When consumers click the ad’s “Get offer” CTA, a chat in the messaging app appears. An automated message from your brand tells the shopper that they’ve accessed the deal and provides a link where they can apply for their banking account. The message also reminds them they can ask your team questions at any time.

Beyond sending discounts, click-to-message ads can also encourage conversions by reminding buyers about their abandoned carts. This concept doesn’t apply to banking, so let’s switch to e-commerce. Say you’re a marketer for an online makeup store.

You create a click-to-message ad that targets consumers who leave items in their carts on your online store. The promotion shows a picture of the product they almost bought and says, “Looks like you forgot something!”

The ad’s “Shop now” CTA takes prospects to a chat where they can buy the product without leaving the messaging app. You might offer a 10% discount to the shopper in the chat to make the order even more enticing.

How do I set up targeting for click-to-message ads at this stage?

Use Facebook’s retargeting feature6 to direct your Purchase click-to-message ads at people who have shown an intent to buy but haven’t completed an order. Using Facebook’s pixel, you can track who has clicked the “Add to cart” button and visited the Cart page on your site but hasn’t made a purchase.

If you sell your products on Facebook, you can also target people who added items8 to their cart and initiated checkouts but didn’t purchase anything on the social platform.

Person sitting on stairs outside while smiling at phone

Care: Address issues to build lasting relationships

Once a prospect converts, the hard work of retention begins. Click-to-message ads can help by encouraging customers to solve any problems with your brand by reaching out to support. Promotions aren’t a typical channel for bringing customers to support, but they’re a great option if there’s little to no awareness of your service agents.

These ads typically have text that welcomes customers to reach out over messaging if they have questions about your product or service. Customers who click on the ad can get answers right away by chatting with a support agent or chatbot, who can share links to help center pages, product pages, tutorials, and more.

What’s an example of a Care click-to-message ad?

Let’s return to the example of a marketer for a bank. You want to invite current customers to interact with your support team, so you create a click-to-message with the text, “Have questions about your [bank name] account? Our agents are ready to help!”

A checking account customer who’s been thinking of starting a high-yield savings account clicks the ad’s CTA “Contact Us” button and is redirected to a messaging app. In the chat, the customer asks an agent about the bank’s savings account interest rates.

You can also take a proactive approach to Care click-to-message ads by sharing a product tip first, and then inviting customers to start a chat if they want to learn more. A bank’s ad might say, “Before applying for a mortgage, you’ll need to gather the right paperwork. Message our team today to find out what you’ll need.”

How do I set up targeting for click-to-message ads at this stage?

Use Facebook’s retargeting feature6 to direct your click-to-message ad at those who have visited your website’s purchase page (meaning they’ve completed an order). If you sell your product on Facebook, you can also target people who purchased your product7 on the social platform.

Person laying on couch while looking at a Facebook ad on phone

Loyalty: Reward customers with ad-based offers

It’s easy to just focus on unhappy customers, but loyal shoppers need nurturing, too. Give your best customers a reason to stick with your brand by offering special deals through click-to-message ads.

You could send loyal customers a discount through another channel, like email, but you’d miss the opportunity to have a conversation and strengthen your relationship with the shopper. Loyal customers who engage with a click-to-message ad can ask questions about the offer, and your team will have a chance to thank them for their loyalty.

What’s an example of a Loyalty click-to-message ad?

As a bank marketer, for example, you know that your loyal customers are more likely than other users to recommend friends and family to your bank, so you send a click-to-message ad encouraging referrals.

You target the ad at customers who have used your bank for at least 10 years. The promotion offers these loyal customers $300 if they send a referral and the person starts a banking account.

When loyal customers click on the ad, they’re directed to a messaging app chat with your brand. An automated message from your brand appears that thanks the customer for their loyalty and includes a link to a referral form. If the customer has any questions about the referral process, they can ask them in the chat.

How do I set up targeting for click-to-message ads at this stage?

First, gather a list of loyal customers based on your brand’s criteria, like shopping with your business for a certain number of years or having a certain average order value. If you use an e-commerce platform, you should be able to filter your customers by this criteria and export the list in just a few clicks to a CSV file.

From there, use the CSV file to create a Custom Audience9 on Facebook. The social platform will try to find your customers based on the identification details in your list so that you can target your click-to-message at these users. Just keep in mind Facebook only lets brands upload Custom Audiences with users who have given the business permission to use their data.

Small business owner standing in storefront while smiling and looking at phone

Turn business messaging into a scalable marketing channel

As you consider implementing click-to-message ads, you might wonder if you’re ready to bring so many customers to your messaging app. Will your team have enough resources and staff to support so many chat conversations?

The answer is yes. Messaging app platforms offer plenty of features — like chatbots and automations — to save brands time, so your team has the capacity to keep customers engaged throughout the funnel.

Learn more about reaching your customers with business messaging with our recent article on maximizing your marketing spend with messaging.

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