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Messaging could be the answer to campaigns’ declining email open rates. Yes, those 160-character text messages, abbreviated stanzas in Facebook Messenger, and emoji-laden replies from iMessage. That kind of messaging.

We know that voters and donors are mobile. Yet it’s harder and harder to see results from web pages, and even email, on the mobile phone. At the same time, Facebook is the leading ad network for driving traffic, but all of those visitors are mobile as well. Messaging is the marketing channel for mobile.

Still, Messenger is a new space, with new rules and best practices in flux. Below, we’ve outlined how campaigns and causes can stand up a messaging outreach program.

Build a Conversion Funnel on Facebook Messenger, and Connect it to a Facebook Ad

Digital marketers can use automated conversations in Facebook Messenger to collect the same data as a webform. Think of it as a conversation funnel. It’s possible to build the automated conversation, and then set Facebook Ads to route clickers into the conversation instead of routing them to a landing page/web form. The resultant conversation flow drives higher conversion rates than when a clicker is sent to a landing page.

A/B Test

If the campaign has launched some conversation funnels, the next best step is to A/B test them. This is pretty simple. Take the same ad that’s driving conversations, duplicate the ad and with the second version drive people to a page that collects the same data or drives the same action.

The goal of the test is to understand the value of sending a clicker into the conversation and compare that to the value of sending the clicker to a page. Results from this test should take the form of cost per email or cost per donation in both tests.

One key finding is that once the conversation starts, response rates are usually consistent. In most cases, the best way to increase the results of the campaign is to focus on the Conversation Rate. That means starting more conversations per ad click. In later steps will also search for other ways to start conversations.

Climb the Engagement Ladder

The defining feature of messaging is a high user response rate. The strong inclination that people have to check their phones and write back is great news for marketers. On a web page, if a user is confused or objects to a question on the form, they will leave the page. But users don’t bounce from a conversation, and the progressive nature of the funnel caters to this fact. Initial requests for information such as email addresses or phone numbers are usually met. Because these asks are straightforward, a user that has engaged over Messenger is likely to respond.

Later in the conversation is where higher-level asks take place. Examples might be asking the user for a donation amount or to volunteer. These tougher questions are the place where a user might respond with an objection, question or request. At this point, the user has most likely provided contact information and can be counted as a lead. These off-script messages offer an incredible context for grassroots or social teams, as well as an opportunity to engage directly with the user.

The campaign can respond directly, one on one via Facebook Messenger when supports go off-script.  The social team is ideal for this interaction because they are already responding to similar messages on Facebook comments. In Messenger, these conversations are private and direct.

Build Your List

Building an opt-in list allows an organization to re-engage users that have messaged the brand. The organization is continuing the conversation on a channel where the user has already chosen to connect. The objective is to deepen the relationship and use Messenger as a true CRM channel. When a user visits a page and provides contact information, it’s expected that the organization will follow up.

This is a similar approach with messaging. The value of a Messenger opt-in is multiplied if email or phone number is also collected during the initial conversion conversation. The metrics around subscription messages are incredible. Open rates and response rates are extremely high—as much as 10 times the rates of email. Users are very likely to reply when prompted and provide more data or insights. The idea of a subscription extends the conversion window and the value of the original ad buy.

Facebook allows for subscriptions on Messenger, but this capability requires a specific approval, and there are well-defined limits for subscriptions on Facebook Messenger. It’s important to create use cases that fit into the Facebook Policy.

Use Social & Web to Start Messenger Conversation

The results are incredible, when a campaign starts Messenger conversation. So an obvious question is, “How can we start more conversations?”

Ads can work well, but adding organic options can really help to amplify results. Facebook is releasing many new features that that help users start conversations with a Facebook Page. These include:

A) Short Links to Messenger Pages, which can be added to pages or emails.

B) Web Chat Plugin that replaces the live chat popup on a website.

C) Comment responders - when someone comments on a Facebook Post, the page can respond in Messenger.

D) Many more features.

The benefit is that Messenger works extremely well to collect data and drive action. Starting a conversation with a user, albeit an automated conversation, is more valuable than a visit to a webpage, especially mobile. It’s exciting to see Facebook driving users to conversations. With more conversations starting in more contexts it’s an amazing opportunity for campaigns looking for an edge in 2018.

Michael Sabat is the founder of @Mssg, a firm that offers a technology platform that automates conversations over Messenger that focus on data collection, engagement, donations and activation.