According to multiple studies, consumers now exchange over a billion chat messages during their engagement with businesses each month. In fact, messaging app users worldwide have exceeded all the social media networks combined with the gap continuously growing. The shift to messaging platforms is changing business communication and chatbots are rapidly becoming an integral part of digital marketing. Today, more and more customers like to interact with brands via messaging for support or queries and many businesses see this as an opportunity messaging platform can provide.

However, businesses that are increasingly turning to messaging to engage with prospects and customer need to realize it is important that they have a sound conversational marketing plan in place in order to achieve the best results and to use messaging platforms to their true potential in conversational marketing.

Here are some reasons why brands need a plan.

1. To Ensure They Provide Relevant Value

These days, most companies cannot afford to provide anything but outstanding customer support. Customers want speedy, relevant and most importantly, personalized. This is where text messaging platforms can aid. Interaction with businesses that make you feel more casual and conversational rather than simply providing transaction information to make customers feel more valued. Businesses should really think about how they can deliver content when using messaging platforms in a personalized and engaging way. The customer experience must be well planned out, and the messaging platform must collaborate with other marketing channels to be more effective.

2. To Maintain Focus on the Goal

Adding texting platform to an existing marketing campaign is thought to be overwhelming and it can be sometimes. This is why it is important for brands to start small and grow their SMS marketing campaigns in lie with the number of interactions they’re receiving. Many businesses usually start with a single offer, or offer a single messaging channel to all their audiences in order to grow adoption rate at a manageable rate.

3. To Define Where Marketing vs Sales Teams Come In

A very common mistake many businesses make when offering customer support via a texting platform is not specifying whether that channel will be used primarily for sales or marketing. On top of that, they often lack a defined work flow which indicates when the marketing team will interact with users before the sales team takes over. This lack of a defined workflow can quickly lead to frustration and confusion for both the marketers and the prospects. It is important to discuss the goal of your presence on the messaging app and what the core benefits are for the brand. This will help you realize how the process can be as frictionless as possible. Then, businesses should lay out the complete process from the initial conversation to the final sale along with its in-depth review before launching to ensure that everyone understands where they come in during the process and how interactions will be tracked through out the sales cycle.

4. To Avoid Over-Automation

The whole point of providing a private messaging service is to enhance the chances of having more personalized and frequent interactions with prospects and customers. However, this doesn’t mean a chatbot or messaging is always the right patch to achieving this goal.  For example, if a brand wants to encourage their audience to download an eBook or other informative materials, there’s little need for one-on-one messaging to accomplish this goal. Encouraging website visitors to interact within a chat will likely feel like an unnecessary step, and could even annoy them. There’s no need to overcomplicate things just because you have the technology available – messaging platforms should be reserved for more fluid, back-and-forth or Q&A interactions. Consumers can sense when they’re being sold to, and will avoid channels that don’t feel authentic.

As noted, messaging platforms are changing the way brands interact with their audiences, and these apps will continue to roll out new tools and functions to help brands reach and monetize new users. From chat bots to built-in payment options, apps like Facebook Messenger and WeChat are helping businesses leverage their platforms in exciting new ways. But with so many options, and varying levels of functionality, brands looking to incorporate conversational marketing into their current campaigns need a plan to be successful.