The good, the bad, and the better of marketing automation: from one-way messages to 2-way conversations

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Dragos Andronic

The good

Marketing automation platforms (e.g. Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Marketo, etc.) are great at sending 1 time emails or messages to individuals, at scale.

You can build really complex journeys that react to user behavior and send messages at different times in the day, with thousands, even millions, of users going through the same automated journey at once.

The bad

One thing marketing automation platforms, however, are not great at is converting these transactional messages into 2 way conversations between businesses and customers.

What if the user wants to act on a message and talk to a representative?

Historically this issue was solved by sending 1 off messages where the call to action was a link to another system: “Your order for an Acme Toolbox is on its way. To monitor its status click or change the delivery info click here” or “New product details are available. Click on this link to learn more”, where 2 way interaction was possible.

But, that puts the burden on the customer to take action. Once a business starts communicating with users on messaging apps (like WhatsApp, Line, Viber, WeChat, etc.) the user doesn’t want to use a different tool to continue the conversation. The  preference is to smoothly transition from a marketing experience to a purchasing/support experience, within the same chat window, even in the same conversation (see the rise of sales and service oriented chatbots as a testament to this).

The better

At MessageBird, we’ve spent years understanding customer communication and developing powerful tools for businesses to create amazing customer experiences: namely with conversations API, Inbox, and FlowBuilder

When you enable a social channel, say WhatsApp, with MessageBird, the entire conversation will happen using our conversations API. Any application listening to that conversation can contribute by receiving and sending messages.

This means that you can start the conversation from one (internal) platform and continue it on another one without the end user ever noticing the transition — providing that seamless marketing - to sales - to support experience, all on the customer’s preferred channel of communication.

What’s possible?

We’ve seen our users (and worked on some solutions of our own) that show off how easily businesses can create these new types of 2 way communication experiences. 

For example, you can construct a journey with MessageBirds’s Salesforce Marketing Cloud plugin that sends a WhatsApp notification to a customer that matches a particular audience. 

A business could send a message to users immediately after signing up offering an easy channel for support, education, and even upsells/more purchases.



FlowBuilder would be listening to this conversation and be ready to handle the user’s reply:


And, where needed, it could smoothly pass this conversation to an agent waiting in Inbox, converting the conversation to a support case (or lead):



What the end user experience looks like

For the user, the conversation happens seamlessly, all inside their WhatApp account and at no point are they aware that they are transitioned between a businesses’ internal tools and platforms.

What the agent experience looks like

For the agent, once a customer starts a conversation they will have the entire conversation history (across messaging channels) as context for any future interactions.


What does the technical configuration look like

This is all possible through a combination of a few of our tools: 

  • A WhatsApp HSM template approved to allow us to send users notification messages 
  • A FlowBuilder flow that automatically handles messages handles for support and channel questions and forwards to an agent for pricing and purchasing inquiries 
  • Inbox as a UI tool for our agents

Conclusion

We hope this was helpful and enables you to create great, conversational experiences for your users. If you want to know more about our marketing solutions, or our products like FlowBuilder and Inbox - let us know!