Building an email list is one of the most critical marketing activities an e-commerce marketer or business owner can undertake. It enables you to build an ongoing relationship with people who have visited your site or social pages so you can develop them into long-term, loyal customers.
As important as email marketing is to any business, it does have its limitations. Firstly, you need to entice people to opt-in to receive your emails – email opt-in rates average only 1.95% so there are a lot of people who don’t subscribe. Secondly, you need those people who subscribe to actually open and read your emails. However, email open rates average approximately 22% for retailers. Of course, there’s always the possibility of ending up in the spam folder too.
With 1.3 billion active users globally (and growing) Facebook Messenger offers you a new way to re-engage with your customers. Currently messages sent in Messenger enjoy around 80-90% open rates, almost four times what you get with email. Furthermore, we have seen Messenger opt-in rates as high as 15% for some of our clients, up to seven times what you might get with email.
One major advantage of Messenger over email is reduced friction to sign up, which means you could convert a higher proportion of your website visitors into subscribers.
So why is subscribing in Messenger easier for users than email? Your website visitors don’t have to type in their email address to subscribe, which can be a little painful, especially on mobile devices. Instead, your visitors simply click or press the Messenger button and click another button to authorize the connection. That’s it! The visitor is now a subscriber and you can engage with them on Messenger.
Another advantage of Messenger over email is that your customers don’t need to log in to your site for you to know who they are. People are usually logged into Facebook 24/7 so you have access to re-engage with Messenger subscribers after they leave your site, for example, to send checkout reminder messages if they have abandoned their shopping cart.
We’re not suggesting that Messenger should replace your email list building and email marketing activities. However, Messenger is an increasingly important channel that you should take full advantage of to boost your customer engagement and sales.
We share below eight ways to go about growing your Messenger subscriber list. The more of these that you implement in your business the more rapidly you will grow your Messenger subscriber base.
How to grow your Messenger list fast
Before you start make sure you apply to Facebook for permission to send subscription messages to your Messenger subscribers. Follow our step-by-step guide to apply to Facebook.
1. Add the Send to Messenger Plugin to your website popup
One of the quickest ways to grow your Messenger audience is to add a subscribe popup to your website, which triggers either after a certain amount of time your visitors spend on site or upon exit intent. It’s almost identical to an email subscribe popup you would be very familiar with.
You also have the option of keeping your existing email popup and adding a Messenger subscribe option to provide your visitors a choice. For example, Maisie integrates with popular providers like Justuno and Privy so that you can grow both your email and Messenger subscriber lists.
2. Insert the Send to Messenger Plugin to your order confirmation page
Adding a Send to Messenger button to your order confirmation / thank you page gives you another opportunity to capture customers who ignored or blocked your popup.
The rationale for customers connecting to you on Messenger will also be different post-purchase – you can offer them the option to receive their order confirmation and shipping status updates directly in Messenger. Platforms like Maisie, which integrate deeply into your ecommerce software, handle all this automatically for you.
You might ask why you should bother adding a Messenger opt-in post-purchase as you would have collected a customer’s email address during the checkout process. The reason is that some of your customers might prefer to engage with you in Messenger rather than via email or are more likely to open and read your message in Messenger than your email. I also believe that the more points of contact you have for a customer the better as people might prefer to engage in different channels at different times or for different use cases.
3. Install the Checkbox Plugin on your product pages
Installing the Messenger Checkbox Plugin to your product pages provides another opportunity for you to get your site visitors to opt-in to Messenger. The plugin can be inserted beneath your Add to Cart button so that it doesn’t interfere with your key product details or prevent people from adding items to their shopping cart.
You could invite your visitors to subscribe to get product updates or special offers in Messenger or you could incentivize them to subscribe with a discount on their next purchase.
Using this plugin is a great way to both build your list and remarket to subscribers who add items to their cart but do not complete purchase. You can send them up to 2 checkout reminder messages in Messenger to get them back to your site to complete their purchase.
4. Include your m.me link in your emails & other marketing assets
A m.me link is a URL shortener operated by Facebook that enables you to easily share with anyone the link to your Messenger account. Clicking on the link on a mobile device will open up a person’s Messenger app and start a conversation with your business. On a desktop clicking the link will open a new Messenger browser tab.
Your link is simply your Facebook Business Page handle added after the m.me URL.
You can use your m.me link anywhere to invite people to connect with your business on Messenger. For example, you could include it anywhere on your website, in your marketing or support emails, in any printed materials, on your packaging, etc.You can find your m.me link by visiting your Facebook Business Page, clicking Settings in the top right navigation then clicking Messenger platform on the left menu.
Scroll down the page until you see your Messenger m.me link.
5. Add the Message Us Plugin to your website
On your website you might prefer to use something nicer looking than the m.me link discussed above. Facebook offers a button called the Message Us Plugin that you can insert onto your website pages.
Similar to the m.me link clicking on the button on a mobile device will open up a person’s Messenger app and start a conversation with your business. On a desktop clicking the button will open a new Messenger browser tab.
Setting up the Message Us Plugin will require a few small changes to your website html code. You can read Facebook’s setup instructions here.
6. Run Click-to-Messenger Ads
If you’re happy to invest in some advertising Click-to-Messenger ads might be an option worth testing. Click-to-Messenger ads are the same as your typical Facebook or Instagram ads except that instead of people clicking through to your website they click through to your Messenger bot to engage in a conversation.
This can be a cost-effective way to boost brand awareness and capture new subscribers that you can re-engage on Messenger and eventually convert into a sale. Click-to-Messenger ads offer the following advantages over the usual ads where people click through to your website:
Most people use Facebook, Instagram and Messenger on their mobile devices so clicking through to your website on a small screen might not be the best way to engage with the customer and generate a sale.
Clicking through to your Messenger bot enables the user to easily engage in an automated chat with your bot and because it’s automated you do not need to provide human resources to support your ad campaign.
To create a Click to Messenger ad campaign visit Facebook Ads Manager and create a campaign in the usual way. When creating your ads Facebook offers you the following options for how you would like to have a conversation with people who click on your ad.
Select one of the three options above and click the Create chat button. You will see the following screen where you can build your own automated mini-conversational just for this ad campaign.
7. List your business in the Messenger Discover tab
Discover is what Facebook calls its Messenger app (bot) store, where people can browse and find Messenger bots, nearby places and businesses to message. People can access the Discover tab by pressing the icon in the bottom right corner of the Messenger app.
Whilst there are lots of bots and businesses already listed in Discover it’s worth your time to list your business as well – it’s reasonably straightforward and you never know what new customers it could bring you. To get listed in Discover visit the Messenger settings screen for your Facebook Business Page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page until you see Discover settings.
Click the Set Up button to reveal a form that you must complete.
Once you have completed the form click the blue Submit button. Also make sure Discover visibility is set to Show or else you won’t be visible in Messenger discover (although people can still find you through search). Allow at least a couple of weeks for Facebook to review and approve your submission. Once approved you will be listed in Messenger Discover.
8. Send Messenger invitations with Customer Matching
It goes without saying that Facebook has collected a LOT of cell/mobile numbers from its users, either from their use of the Facebook mobile app or as a way of providing an extra layer of validation and security when signing up to or logging into Facebook.
If you have collected a list of your customers’ cell/mobile numbers, say during the checkout process or as part of your loyalty program, customer matching can be a great way to quickly boost your Messenger subscriber list.
The customer matching feature will enable you to send invitations to your customers to connect in Messenger where you have a cell/mobile number for that customer. The customer can choose to accept, ignore or reject your invitation to connect. If they accept your invitation they will be subscribed to your Messenger bot so you can re-engage with them.
Note that the invitation message you send must not be promotional in nature. Also not that Messenger invitations will not be sent where the customer has already subscribed to your Messenger bot or where there is no match between the mobile number held by you and that held by Facebook.
Unfortunately customer matching is in closed beta so unless you have a US-based admin for your Facebook Page and spend quite a bit on Facebook ads you probably won’t be able to use this feature quite yet. If you think you might be eligible for customer matching you will need to contact your Facebook partner manager or representative to learn more. We’ll keep you updated as soon as customer matching is made widely available.
In May 2016 Instagram announced the launch of business accounts and they claim that over 25 million businesses have created business accounts (as at November 2017). If you, like many small business owners, are still running your Instagram posts through a personal account, we recommend that you upgrade to a business account as soon as possible. The good news is that it’s free and very easy to make the switch.
Why you should switch to Instagram Business
There are a number of reasons why a business account is better than a personal account. However, you might be concerned that switching might hurt your profile or engagement levels. From what we have seen, there doesn’t appear to be any reason to worry – switching doesn’t seem have any negative impact on your engagement levels or your existing Instagram followers, posts, likes, etc.
On the flip side there are quite a few benefits to upgrading to a business account.
1. Supercharge your Instagram profile
Firstly, you will be upgraded to a Business Profile page, which enables you to add additional information about your business that is not available to a personal account.
In the example above you can see that in addition to your profile description and website link you can add your business address, a link to your Instagram shop, your business phone number, email address and driving directions.
Why should you do this? Because consumers have short attention spans. Why risk losing a prospective customer by making them tap on your website link to go through to your website and tap again at least once to view your contact details? Providing your business phone number will make it very easy for a prospective customer – all they have to do is tap on the call link and it will automatically launch the dialler on their smartphone. Similarly, providing your contact email means a customer can tap on the email address link and it will launch the email client on their smartphone.
2. Get smarter with Instagram Insights
A second reason for switching to a business account is that you will get access to Instagram Insights.
Instagram Insights lets you view and keep track of useful data such as:
How many people have visited your Instagram profile
The number of people who have seen your posts and stories (“reach”)
How many times that your posts and stories have been seen in total (“impressions”)
How many impressions each of your posts and stories have received
How many clicks to your website you have received
The number of followers you have and how many you have added or lost in the past week
The demographics of your followers covering gender, age range and geographic location
The hours and days when your followers engage with your posts and stories
Note that you require at least 100 followers to see detailed information about your followers (items 7. and 8. above).
Having access to all this insights data will help you better understand which types of stories and posts are working best with which audiences and at which times so you can get smarter with your future posts and stories to maximise your reach and engagement.
3. Increase your business visibility with Instagram Ads
Thirdly, having a business account gives you full access to Instagram Ads and ad insights.
I hear you ask “why would I want to pay to advertise on Instagram when I can post for free?”. For the simple reason that posting to Instagram doesn’t mean your post will be actually seen by your current followers let alone new prospective customers.
So even if you have a lot of followers you will only be able to reach a minority of them with each post or story. To reach more of them and find new followers or customers you need to advertise. Instagram (Facebook) likes it that way!
Now you know it’s a no-brainer to upgrade to an Instagram business account, we’ll show you how to go about switching.
How to change your Instagram personal account to a business account
If you don’t already have an Instagram account you should first download the Instagram app to your phone or tablet from the App Store, Google Play or the Windows Phone Store and sign up for a free account. Once you are logged in to your Instagram account:
1. Go to your Instagram profile and tap (iPhone) or (Android) in the top-right corner to open up your settings.
2. Scroll down the settings screen, make sure that Private account is switched off and tap Switch to business account. Note that private accounts can’t be changed to business accounts.
3. Tap Continue on each of the four screens that follow.
4. Tap Choose Page and select the Facebook page you would like to connect your Instagram account.
5. Confirm your business contact details. These will be imported automatically from the Facebook Page you connected. You may edit these as you see fit. As discussed at the top of this article it is smart to include your business email, phone number and address/city to make it easy for people to contact you directly from the Instagram app.
That’s it. You’re done! You should see a welcome message as shown below.
If you would prefer to watch how to set up a business account, Instagram has a video walk-through for you.
Without a doubt Instagram is huge. Around 800 million people use it every month and a staggering 500 million people use it every day. So if you want your business to be seen by this huge audience you need a strong presence on Instagram.
However, with over 95 million posts being published on a typical day – generating 4.2 billion likes – it’s easy for your posts to get lost in the noise.
In this article we show you how to use hashtags properly to give your Instagram posts the best chance of being seen by your prospective customers.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a simple way for users to categorise (“tag”) the images and content they post on Instagram to make it easy for others to find. Anyone can create their own hashtag if they wish. However, posts are more easily discovered by new customers when you use existing hashtags.
To create a hashtag you simply type a pound sign / hash (“#”) before the text you want to tag. So if you wish to use the hashtag ‘shoptillyoudrop’ you would simply type ‘#shoptillyoudrop’ in your Instagram post and any Instagram user following that hashtag could discover your post.
We have provided below a post from StyleTread, an online shoe retailer, which has used 28 hashtags to promote their post for women’s Cielo Chelsea boots. The hashtags are displayed at the bottom of the post in blue text.
How do I find hashtags to use on my posts?
That’s a very good question. It’s worthwhile investing some time upfront to research the most appropriate hashtags for your business. We’ll show you how to do it in our step-by-step guide.
First, before you start, it is a good idea to create a simple spreadsheet or document to list all the hashtags you are about to collect. You can use this spreadsheet over and over again for your posts and add to it over time.
Step 1: Find popular hashtags
Open up the Instagram app on your phone or tablet and press the magnifying glass icon in the bottom menu of the app to start a search. In the search box at the top of your screen type a word relevant to the products or services you sell and press on TAGS . In the example below we have searched for hashtags relating to shoes.
The Instagram app has displayed hashtags including the word “shoes”, sorted from the highest to the lowest number of posts (although not always!). You can see that #shoes has over 76 million posts that have already included this hashtag. The next hashtag listed is #shoesaddict with over 1.6 million posts. If we select this hashtag we will see the hashtag feed for #shoesaddict.
The hashtag feed is a relatively new feature of Instagram. In the feed you will see a summary of the hashtag showing the number of posts, related hashtags and top and recent posts that have used that hashtag. You can now follow any hashtag you like in order to easily keep on top of what’s being posted.
Now you should do a search for hashtags relating to your business or one of your products. Add the results of your search into your spreadsheet, recording each hashtag you think is relevant along with its associated number of posts.
Step 2: Find related hashtags
Next, select one of the hashtags listed in your search results so you can view the feed for that particular hashtag. In our example below we have selected the #shoelovers hashtag:
You should see a grey bar with around 10 related hashtags listed. You will need to scroll the grey bar to the left to be able to see them all. We suggest taking the time to select each relevant hashtag and view its feed to see whether you think it is appropriate for your business. Each time you view a new hashtag you will also see more new related hashtags that you can investigate. Record all the relevant hashtags you find, together with their associated number of posts, into your spreadsheet.
Step 3: Review competitor hashtags
Now your hashtag list should be starting to look good! Next, it’s a good idea to look at your competitors’ Instagram profile pages (“feeds”) to see which hashtags they are using on their posts. In our example we have opened up StyleTread’s feed and can see how many times they have posted and how many followers they have. We can also see all their posts – simply click on the images at the bottom to open up individual posts.
It’s probably best to focus mostly on those competitors that post frequently and have a good number of followers. Open up their posts and record any hashtags your competitors are using that you think are relevant and are not already on your list.
Step 4: Review follower profiles (optional)
You have probably collected enough hashtags to get you going for now. However, as an additional step in the future, it would be worthwhile taking a look at several profiles of the followers of both your Instagram feed and those of your competitors. To do this simply press on the followers number at the top of each feed and you will be shown a list of the followers of that profile page or feed.
Simply press on the name of one of the followers to view that user’s Instagram profile page / feed. If the user has set his or her account set to private you will not be able to see their posts.
Next, press on the following number in the top right corner to see a list of the Instagram accounts and hashtags being followed by that person.
As hashtag feeds are a new feature not many users appear to have started following hashtags at this stage but that will change quickly over time.
So which hashtags should I use to have the greatest impact?
After completing the steps above you should have a list of at least 50 hashtags, which might look like this:
However, Instagram sets a limit of up to 30 hashtags per post so you can’t use all of the ones in your spreadsheet in one post. The first StyleTread post above contains 28 hashtags. Don’t be afraid to use the full 30 hashtags but you have to be selective. You might be tempted to use, say, the top 5-10 hashtags in your search results and be done with it. However, we think that this approach won’t help you get the most exposure from your posts – these hashtags are far too popular and will likely result in your post failing to get any attention at all.
We believe that the smartest strategy is to select a variety of hashtags of different levels of popularity and targeting. We typically adopt the following strategy:
10-15 popular hashtags for broad reach: Choose 5-8 hashtags with 100,000 to 500,000 posts and 5-8 hashtags with 20,000 to 100,000 posts.
3-5 niche hashtags for audience targeting: Choose 3-5 less popular hashtags with up to 20,000 posts that you think are most relevant to your target audience and niche.
1-3 brand hashtags: Choose up to 3 hashtags that represent your brand and/or campaign. For example, StyleTread uses #styletread and #australiaslargestonlineshoestore (way too long for a hashtag!) in this category. If you were running, say, a summer sale campaign you might want to include #summersale as well.
If you are posting during a well known shopping event like Cyber Monday and you are having a special promotion you might want to include #cybermonday and related hashtags as well. If you are promoting a brand name product you sell like Nike you should search for some brand related hashtags to include as well – for example #nikepegasus.
As you need to post regularly to start seeing some results from Instagram, you should experiment using different combinations of hashtags on different posts and compare the results in terms of likes, new followers added and visits to your website.