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Customer Contact: Best Practices For Common Communication Channels

Posted by Drew Melendy on Feb 13, 2020 3:41:08 PM
Drew Melendy

Facebook and Instagram comment sections, Facebook Messenger, email, SMS texting, and mobile app push notifications have all become standard communication channels in multi-channel retail today.

Learn how to deliver better brand experiences with best practices for each. Discover the permissions required, their recommended frequency, and what to be mindful of when sending through each.

CommentSold's auto-replies guide a customer to checkout on Instagram.

Facebook & Instagram auto-responders

Auto-responders are automated messages that respond to certain trigger words or phrases within the comment section of your Facebook and Instagram posts. Auto-responders can act as customer service and shopping virtual assistants, and they can even help facilitate ecommerce transactions.

Since auto-responder messages are relevant, helpful, and always timely, they greatly enhance the customer experience. Additionally, they don’t require an opt-in since customers initiate the first contact.

When using an auto-replies, be upfront about their functionality. Your post should instruct users on how to comment to activate a response from it. Always include a clear call to action in your post description or video.

As for the auto-reply messages, keep them short and sweet at 160 characters or less. Craft these messages to sound friendly, human, and helpful. If you already use a system that has auto-replies (like CommentSold), you can customize their messaging templates to add brand personality.

Inspire Boutique uses a Facebook Messenger blast to inform customers of a coupon code for Small Business Saturday.

Facebook Messenger Blasts

Similar to email blasts, Facebook Messenger chat blasts are used to contact customers in masse. Not only do they make it easy to reach all your subscribers at once, but they also have tremendous engagement rates.

Your average chat blast will see 10x the average email open rate and 4x the email click-through rate! Chat blasts are perfect for announcing big news, directing followers to your Facebook Live Sale, or marketing other sales channels.

However, if you use these, you must be very intentional, considerate, and clear about their purpose. Facebook Messenger blasts used for marketing fall under the CAN-SPAM Act. Customers must opt-in to receive these messages, so you want to be respectful in return.

If you start pestering them, they’ll begin to block your messages, and Facebook will consider your messages spam. High block rates on Messenger can get you thrown into Facebook Jail, so use Messenger blasts with caution.

Inspire Boutique uses a Facebook Messenger blast to inform customers of a coupon code for Small Business Saturday.

Facebook Live

While the Facebook Live platform has given brands the ability to have intimate two-way conversations with their target audience, it’s also created additional consumer expectations.

When conducting a Facebook Live broadcast, you should not only greet your audience but also continuously interact with them. Addressing incoming comments can quickly become a difficult task, especially when multistreaming to Facebook pages, Facebook groups, and mobile apps.

In a pinch, you can assign staff members to help you work the crowd and answer inquiries. Ideally, it's best to use software to pull incoming comments to one dashboard. The host can then keep up with them as they come in. 

CommentSold’s Talent View makes this easier by showing a centralized view of incoming comments from everywhere you’re streaming. Whether or not you choose to use software, be ready to make your live video personal, fun, and engaging by communicating live or in the comment section.

Effective communication becomes even more vital when conducting Facebook Live Sales. Customers need to understand how to purchase from your videos. Some retailers use tags and verbal instructions for this.

Related Reading: Hot Tips to Work The Crowd While Conducting Live SalesFor the best customer experience, use software to create an overlay with purchasing instructions directly on your video. CommentSold’s Overlay feature will display clear purchasing instructions, prices, and product photos directly on your video. This makes the shopping much easier for your customers and takes the burden of repeating instructions off of the Live Sale host.

Live Sales are also most successful with the addition of auto-invoicing software, which can instantly invoice your customers when they comment “Sold”. They can check out when they’re ready instead of waiting on a staff member to calculate and send an invoice. Otherwise, they may get frustrated and abandon their purchases.

Woman holding credit card reads an automated marketing email giving her a discount on her first order.

Email Marketing

To send marketing emails, you must stay CAN-SPAM compliant. Only send emails to contacts who have opted in, include a sender name that reflects your business, and provide a way to unsubscribe. Once compliant, you’ll need to consider the content itself.

Your customers are getting dozens of emails a day, so you need to make your message quick and appealing! Use compelling and descriptive subject lines that provide relevant information or exclusive offers. Keep your emails short and use legible fonts for easy reading. Don’t forget to give a clear call to action at the end.

It’s acceptable to send bulk marketing emails once a week. Your business should not send more emails than this unless they provide a high degree of personalization for individual shoppers. Use email marketing software that leverages marketing automation to do this.

Related: How Automated Email Marketing Wins Customers & Increased SalesBrandon Kruse, CEO of CommentSold, explains- “Marketing Automation is exceedingly good at turning ‘lurkers’ into first-time customers and retaining and building loyalty with existing ones. The biggest players in the eCommerce industry use it to send highly-personalized emails since they are triggered and based on shoppers’ behaviors.”

Young woman smiles at her phone as she gets an SMS text message from her favorite boutique about their new arrivals.

SMS Texts

With SMS texts, businesses can send a single message to thousands of subscribers’ phones at once. 

It’s one of the most direct and immediate lines of communication with customers, which means it needs to be treated carefully and with a great deal of respect. It's not just a matter of courtesy. It's the law.

In fact, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), was modified to include SMS text messaging so that marketers won't abuse it. If you’re using SMS texts, it is your legal obligation to follow them.

The basics of this law include gathering consent, providing data disclaimers, including privacy policy and terms and conditions, and providing an easy way to opt-out out. Find an SMS text provider that is well versed in the laws and takes them seriously. 

Next, consider the content and frequency. Each SMS text should be 160 characters or less. Be strategic with these. Craft clear messages that provide exclusivity, interest, and value. SMS texts are best suited for important, time-sensitive messages, such as announcing a limited time sale.

The recommended frequency of texts varies from business to business, but they should not exceed 6 per month. You don’t want to annoy your customers with too many. 

While you’re scheduling your texts, be mindful of their timing. There’s no point in sending messages at a time where no one is available to engage. Consider what their schedules look like and which timezones they're in. Nobody wants a business to text them at 5 AM.

A mobile push notification pops up on a phone to inform an app user that there's a limited time sale.

Mobile App Notifications

One of the most significant advantages of having a mobile app for your business is the fact that you can bypass your customers' inboxes. Instead, you're sending send push notifications directly to their lock screens.

To send notifications to your app users, they must agree to receive them. Fortunately, the opt-in process is not complicated since many apps ask the user to do this at its initial download.

How often should you send them? Again, mobile devices are a very personal space to occupy. Because of their intrusive nature, you must be extra cautious about the amount you send. Never send more than once a day. 

The only exception to this rule is if your app triggers notifications specific by individual user behavior, such as leaving something in their cart. These highly personalized push notifications are much better received than generic notifications.

Choose a time when you know your target audience will be most engaged. Customers are the most receptive to these during their leisure time -- the morning, the evening, and the weekends.

The Takeaway

Though each channel has specific best practices, the overarching goal of all is to provide value to your customers without annoying them. 

Each time you contact them, they have an experience with your brand. Follow these best practices to create one that is enjoyable each time you press send.

Topics: Marketing, Business Strategy

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