New and improved. Google said today that it was expanding the business categories that would have access to messaging. It was also adding product features: “smart replies, visual product carousels, and unique welcome messages.” Google says that messaging on its platform (Android and Maps for iOS) can also smoothly transition from automated replies to a live agent if needed.
Messaging in the GMB Profile (Search and Maps)
In the above example, I searched for Walmart through the Google app on my iPhone. I clicked on a location in the three-pack and it opened a messaging window in Google Maps. Here’s what that looks like:
Google Messaging Examples
In the above example there’s a custom welcome message and a horizontal carousel of buttons, which are shorthand for FAQs. Users can either text their questions the traditional way, or tap one of the buttons to trigger a pre-written response.
Integration with CX vendors. Another key development, there are a large number of third party customer service/experience vendors that integrate with support Google business messaging, enabling the brand or retailer to manage that process entirely from inside its vendor platform. By contrast, SMBs are compelled to use the Google My Business app (rather than their own phone’s text capabilities). Partly as a consequence, messaging has been unevenly adopted by “local businesses.” (About 90% of GMB accounts qualify as SMBs.)
Third Party Vendors Integrating with Google Business Messages
As previously discussed, text messaging is the most effective marketing channel most retail brands aren’t using. There are dozens of studies and surveys that support the idea that brands and retailers should be texting with their customers. Benefits include better engagement and open rates than email and improved loyalty, among others. In addition, a large segment of the buying public wants to have a text relationship with preferred brands.
Why we care. Given the centrality of Google Search and Maps in the consumer purchase journey, it makes no sense for consumer-facing enterprises not to do this. It also appears to be entirely free.
Brands and retailers cannot afford to ignore channels that their customers want to use. And done correctly, messaging will increase engagement and loyalty. It will also potentially grow e-commerce sales — off of Google Maps.