Why Facebook Messenger Will Dominate 2018


When Facebook released Messenger in 2011, most people weren’t aware of the capabilities and benefits it would eventually have. Fast-forward to 2017: There are more than 1.3 billion users and 60 million businesses using Messenger.

In just the past few months, we’ve seen groundbreaking developments including the introduction of the customer chat plugin, which brings the Messenger experience to retailers’ websites; a new app that makes it easier and safer for kids to video chat and message with friends, Messenger KidsPinterest’s bot integration, merging the Pinterest and Messenger experiences; and much more.

If the end of 2017 is any indicator, 2018 will be the year that Messenger becomes the single most important channel for brands, companies, retailers and individuals to interact with their audiences. Here’s how:

Outbound marketing

The future of outbound marketing lies in Messenger. Mobile phones are becoming the primary source of media, with average phone time now exceeding five hours per day. Most of that time is spent social networking and messaging in mobile apps, with 1.2 billion people using Facebook Messenger for these purposes.

If brands want to communicate with consumers, they must be accessible and proactive—in a smart way—in mobile messaging channels, especially Messenger. Brands that successfully and quickly implement mobile messaging strategies will tap into an explosive opportunity to communicate with consumers in more direct and relevant way than ever before.

What does a successful implementation look like? Brands should view mobile messaging as a primary communication channel to send relevant information and offers to customers. In some ways you can think of this as email’s smarter, stronger, more potent new counterpart.

As customers engage with a company on Messenger, they are added to that company’s list in much the similar way an email list grows. Some of the potency comes from the channel itself: Our data at Headliner Labs shows that people are 3.5 times more likely to open a Messenger message than a marketing email.

The power of this open rate is compounded by the substance of the message and the response capabilities. This is a two-way channel where users can actually respond and move down a funnel (all the way through purchasing), dictated by their preferences and responses, instead of a one-way megaphone for a company. Messages can include relevant images (like what was abandoned in cart), videos (like product tutorials) and other relevant content dictated by customer segmentation.

Mobile messaging is also inherently mobile-optimized, delivering messages most native to regular behavior—through short-form, text messages. We have seen astounding results across our retail customers—up to 63 percent increases in direct digital sales, with four times better open rates and click-through rates than email marketing. And when viewed as part of an ongoing messaging strategy, the conversion rate continues to expand.

The use cases are endless, but across our platform, we have seen astounding success using Messenger as a conduit for product refill alerts (e.g., “Hi, you might be running low on your shampoo. Can we send you a new bottle?”), abandoned cart messages (“We have top left in your size! Grab it now.”) and new product releases (“We know you love our indigo jeans, here they are in a new lighter wash!”).

On-site Messenger chat

It’s not far-fetched to think that 2018 will see the rise of the Messenger icon across websites. This small, round, blue Messenger widget hovering dutifully in the corner of a webpage serves as a direct conduit between anonymous website traffic and the entities behind the site—whether it’s a retailer, brand, service provider, hotel, airline, etc.

Messenger’s customer chat plugin, unveiled in November 2017, allows web visitors to initiate on-site chat that simultaneously activates a conversation inside that user’s own Messenger inbox. The user can then navigate away from the site and, when an agent is able to reply, the user sees it as a message coming into their Messenger inbox, the same way they get messages from friends.

This game-changing feature ensures that the company can communicate with the high-potential user long after the user has closed the on-site conversation and left the website. This frees companies from the long-standing Rule of 30 Seconds—the prevailing industry wisdom is that if an agent doesn’t respond to a chat inquiry within 30 seconds, that lead is lost.

Headliner Labs’ early data implementing customer chat reveals its power: Conversations persist for an average of six hours and 28 minutes, but as long as 3.5 days; they involve an average of 14.3 messages exchanged between the user and company; and they provide an opportunity for future direct communication with that user in Messenger rather being an isolated, non-replicable communication as most on-site chats are. This is a high-value win-win for both customers and companies.

Customer service automation

On-site chat is great for handling complex questions, or for giving customers extra TLC when available, but the majority of customer support queries can be solved by providing users with the right information, with no human needed.

In the last year, Facebook Messenger has streamlined the process of getting users this information by enabling a powerful chat interface, Messenger bots. Essentially, website visitors can chat on site and instead of waiting for human agents, Facebook can pull from a company’s existing knowledge base (frequently asked questions). This is a powerful option for automating support and, similar to customer chat, it enables a human brand agent to follow up with a customer after they’ve left the site.

Messenger Payments

As mobile commerce explodes, growing by more than 50 percent in 2017, consumers are looking to fast, easy modes of purchasing online. Messenger has a beta Payments feature, a single-click payment option that has been in beta for some time, but new improvements make it seamless, simple and powerful. Integrated with Stripe or PayPal, Payments enables companies to accept payment inside of messages sent between them and customers. This means that a customer can search, discover, and buy products inside of a chat.

More important, customers can convert with a single, seamless action off of effective messages sent to them by their favorite retail brands. Companies can send out messages to customers with shoppable units, and a customer simply has to hit “pay” to complete a purchase—no friction, no load time, no delay.

One note: Right now, companies are limited to sending messages within 24 hours of a user first interacting with them on Messenger, and then they can send one additional message. After that, any outbound messaging is considered a sponsored message, a recent Facebook ad unit enabling a company to access their list beyond the 24+1 regime. Early data from Headliner Labs’ platform suggests that the open rate on these messages will be an astounding 75 percent, with CTR approaching 24 percent—an astronomical number when compared with analogous email campaigns.

If Facebook opens up the ability to send messages, Messenger might very well replace email.

Platform accessibility

Because of all of the above, Facebook Messenger is perhaps the highest-opportunity channel for retailers to connect with customers. New platforms are offering a seamless, optimized, no-coding-needed interface for brands and companies to set up these tools on their own sites. In a matter of minutes, brands can get up and run with a suite of tools that directly increase sales and engagement by leveraging said platform, from on-site chat to smart retargeting and customer-service automation. There are also bot analytics companies and build-your-own bot platforms, furthering the ability for individuals and companies to leverage the Facebook Messenger platform.

Much like the Facebook ads ecosystem, the Messenger ecosystem has matured to meet the tremendous opportunity it presents.

Source: Why Facebook Messenger Will Dominate 2018

Snapchat’s Ecommerce Strategy Hit a New High When It Sold Out the New Air Jordans in Minutes



Snapchat’s latest viral filter didn’t include a puppy face or a dancing hot dog. Instead, it focused on a life-size Michael Jordan augmented-reality filter promoting the new, unreleased Air Jordan III Tinker sneakers, which went on sale exclusively via a special QR code within the app.

The stunt, which Snapchat pulled off over the NBA All-Star Game weekend in partnership with Shopify, Darkstore and R/GA, demonstrated how augmented reality, ecommerce and old-fashioned hype for a sneaker could come together to present a whole new shopping experience.

What we launched with Snapchat and the Jordan Brand was a preview of what will become a paradigm,” said Lee Hnetinka, CEO of Darkstore. “Imagine an ad on a bus stop with a Snapcode or a Snapcode on an advertisement or next to a product in a store, and it is delivered within hours. That’s what Snapchat [and] Darkstore enables.”

So, how did it all work exactly? Snapchat users around the Staples Center Sunday in Los Angeles, where the NBA All-Star Game was taking place, saw a special 3-D AR world lens of Jordan circa 1988, taking off from the free-throw line in the slam dunk contest. Users could then walk around the world lens to check out Jordan and tap to see him change into this year’s All-Star uniform along with the new AJ III Tinkers (coming out officially in March).

Later, at a Jordan brand special event, Snapchat revealed the QR code users could scan, take into the Snap Store powered by Shopify and buy the sneakers. Users could also receive the shoes in less than two hours, thanks to Darkstore, a company that specializes in offering ecommerce companies same-day delivery.

The sneakers sold out in 23 minutes—Darkstore and Nike declined to share how many were sold—and the special world lens averaged more than 80 seconds of play time per user, compared with a national average play time of 15 to 20 seconds for sponsored lenses.

“What I love so much about [the world lens] and about ad products in general and AR, is it marries the ability to drive business impact in a way that’s insanely engaging and innovating,” said Jeff Miller, global head of creative strategy at Snapchat.

The entire campaign, which showcased the potential ecommerce capabilities of Snapchat, started coming together in December, when R/GA set out to create “an unexpected experience” for fans of the Jordan brand.

“Integrating ecommerce into the Snapchat experience with a brand like Jordan and the demand and attention that comes along with that opens an opportunity for Snapchat to partner with other brands to deliver a new way of accessing and purchasing products,” said Ben Williams, vp executive creative director at R/GA.

Shopify’s vp of product, Satish Kanwar, said the partnership is an example of how online and offline shopping continue to merge.

“Social commerce and unique shopping activations are new ways to reach more customers and will continue to be an investment area for a lot of retailers and brands alike,” Kanwar said.

The campaign also shows there’s still room for growth in the ecommerce space, apart from Amazon.

“Snap’s willingness to prove there is a meaningful, native approach on their platform is both welcomed and exciting,” said Justin Marshall, vp of emerging platforms at Possible. “It also proves innovation in connected commerce more broadly is still in its infancy, and if brands aren’t investing in transforming how media activation and commerce intersect, they will be left behind.”

Source: Snapchat’s Ecommerce Strategy Hit a New High When It Sold Out the New Air Jordans in Minutes

The rise of personal searches: How can content marketers take advantage?

The rise of personal searches: How can content marketers take advantage?

by Emma Derbyshire

As marketers in the ever-changing world of digital, success depends on knowing what consumers want and expect from us. After all, it’s the only way we can deliver. So, it’s interesting to see that a recent data release from Google tells us that personalized search is becoming more and more prominent among internet users.

So, it’s interesting to see that a recent data release from Google tells us that personalized search is becoming more and more prominent among internet users.

No longer are they turning to friends and family for personal advice and recommendations, but search engines too.

Of course, we already knew that… that’s why we work so hard at getting to know our audience and understanding their micro-moments and pain points, delivering the right content at the right time, in the right way.

But what Google is telling us is that rather than searching, “How often should you wash your hair?”, we are now searching “How often should I wash my hair?”. Changing those two little words is making the way that we use search engines far more personal than ever before.

And the data suggests that consumers now truly trust that their most specific needs can be answered by content on the web. In fact, in the last two years Google has reported that mobile searches using “…for me” has grown by a huge 60% over the last two years.

On top of this, they have also seen an 80% increase in mobile searches including “…should I?”. As a result, we really are treating search as one of our best, most trusted friends.

And that’s great news for content marketers.

For those of us working in motor, beauty, finance, fitness and pet care, it seems that this new insight is especially relevant – these are the industries in which users are most frequently turning to Google to solve their personal pain points.

How can we prepare and optimize our content for these types of search?


Creating calculators and tools is a brilliant way of targeting personal search terms and providing our users with the personalized response they are looking for. Let’s use a fitness example to demonstrate this:

This recent data circulation from Google suggests that users are starting to search for something like, “how much water should I drink each day?” in higher volumes than something like, “how much water should you drink per day?”.

Now, most of us know that the answer to this question will depend on a number of different factors including gender, body composition, activity level and so on.

What our audience is expecting from this search is a personalized answer that takes all of these things into consideration and tells them exactly how much water they should personally be drinking each day.

A water consumption calculator would do this well, and if the user wants the specificity of an individual result, they will be willing to fill in the necessary personal details to retrieve it. A blog post that simply states the average recommended fluid intake for a man or a woman as recommended by the NHS is no longer user focused enough.

Case studies and testimonials

Providing personalized content will not always be easy, and at times users may need encouragement to spend a little longer on a page to find the personalized answer they are looking for. In this instance, case studies and testimonials are a great way to push users further through their journey in the right direction.

For example, “How much money do I need to retire?” is a more complex question than our fitness example. There are so many variants that could alter the accurate and personalized response to this question, so it’s difficult to answer it quickly in a personalized way.

However, if we provide users with a testimonial or case study at the right stage in their journey – one that was created after a lot of persona research and uses someone or a situation that will resonate with them – they are likely to engage with the content.

Creating engagement via a case study will increase the likelihood that they’ll enquire with your brand for a more personalized answer, continuing their journey on their way to the personalized answer they are looking for.

Hygiene content

Informational content (something we refer to here at Zazzle as ‘hygiene content’) is absolutely essential in light of this evolution of search.

It’s critical that all the informational content and resources on your website are up to date, and as specific to the different types of users you’re expecting to visit your site as possible. Not only this, but ensuring that on-page content is optimised for longtail search (tying back to your personas) is a must.

Moreover, having a clear call to action that points the user in the direction of personalized answers to their questions is also important. It isn’t always possible to answer their query in an individualized way using written content, but pointing the user towards a ‘contact us here’ call to action could make all the difference in their user journey, and ultimately, whether they end up with you or your competitor.   

Thought leadership and expert content

Finally, with consumers turning to search like a trusted friend or family member more than ever before, you need to ensure that the content you’re putting out there is seen as being the most reliable. Therefore, it’s never been more important to be viewed as a thought leader within your field.

Expert content will naturally help to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship. It also means that when you are appearing in SERPs, your expert reputation will stand you in good stead when it comes to users choosing which ‘friend’ they want to seek advice from.

We can’t wait to see how the evolution of search changes the way that Google is rewarding and penalizing brands’ content. The above is just a start, but we are certain we will be kept on our toes as time goes on!