How messaging can drive small business recovery and growth

- May 10, 2021 2 MIN READ

Australia is well and truly on the road to recovery following a tumultuous year of economic uncertainty in 2020. As we charge into a ‘new normal’ things are looking up for small businesses owners with recent research from Facebook showing that Australian businesses have the highest confidence when it comes to future outlook, writes Mel Petrunoff, Head of Scaled/SMB at Facebook.

How messaging apps have forged connection

In 2020, in lieu of in-person interactions, Aussies turned to messaging apps, like Messenger, to connect with their local small businesses directly. By providing an avenue to inquire about products and services, businesses were able to maintain connections with their customers and even identify new customers while restrictions were in place.

Now, businesses have the opportunity to further this trend by tapping into the new and existing customer connections built throughout the past year over messaging apps to aid in their recovery, ultimately boosting sales through new and existing avenues.

Loyal customer connections are your key to success

With more conversations taking place over messaging, businesses have the potential to grow their customer base and build stronger customer relationships. In fact, the State of Connective Media: Business Messaging research found that as many as 71 per cent of Australians who engage with businesses via messaging apps believe it helps to build a relationship with the business. One-on-one interactions build trust and a feeling of loyalty for customers that, if nurtured, will continue to be pivotal to small business recovery moving forward.

I’ve seen first hand how communication with customers through messaging has helped keep conversations and businesses alive. For example, Leoni Bolt Photography, a Brisbane based wedding and portrait photography business, saw a significant drop in customers as lockdowns were enforced across the state. Throughout the restrictions, Messenger was the main communication channel for customers, with four in five interactions taking place on the app. Leoni’s business survived and thrived online, and despite the challenging circumstances of 2020, as of September last year the business had seen a 65 per cent increase in sales compared to the same period in 2019.

This highlights the importance of personalised conversations as part of a broader digital presence. And while messaging was a much-needed channel through the pandemic, it will only continue to grow in relevance as customers have new expectations of how they engage with businesses online.

Don’t leave your valued customer connections behind

As Australian restrictions continue to ease and we return to pre-COVID-19 conditions, business owners need to focus on building and implementing recovery strategies that won’t leave behind those newly formed bonds created over the past year.

Hillbilly Scrappin, an art and supply shop based in Victoria, used Messenger to continue to keep in touch with customers well into 2021. In fact, the team saw an incredible 70-80 per cent conversion rate on sales via Messenger inquiries because of their continued efforts to stay in touch with customers even as lockdowns were lifting.

While it may be easy for some small businesses to shift their focus back to strategies centred on reviving their bricks and mortar businesses, those looking for stronger recovery should consider a hybrid approach that fosters growth on both accounts.

Despite positive outlooks in Australia’s economic recovery, building rapport with customers over messaging apps helped Australian small businesses through the pandemic and will greatly tip the scales for those businesses looking for a strong recovery in the next 12 months. For those looking to start a small business, lead the way through digital conversations.

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