Jon Hall

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Hi all, I was hoping to find out your opinions on GMB's messaging feature. Now that it's been around awhile, are you turning Google Messaging *on* or *off* or *it depends*?

I have my own biases but I'll bottle them in for now ;) From what I can tell, it hasn't been huge topic here one way or the other.

@Brian Barwig posted an excellent overview of the feature here: New Google My Business Messaging Options And it sounds like Sterling Sky is turning Google Messaging ON: "We believe these are a terrific addition to the GMB rolodex and should be taken advantage of."

But there are also some mixed reviews from those using Google Messaging in different industries, notably the comments on this thread from people turning it OFF: Google My Business Messaging and Metrics are getting a boost

What say you? What say your clients? Are you turning Google Messaging ON or OFF? Thanks ❤️
 
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From an enterprise perspective, it's off, 100%. GMB's interface for dealing with messages is made totally for SMBs. It's not scalable for larger companies, which is a damn shame. If it ever gets to the point where it has an interface which is useful on the enterprise scale, I could see us adopting it. It's important to meet the customers where they are. I can understand the hesitance to use Google's interface versus getting the website traffic but we'd get some good data off the conversations to improve our site and make it answer their questions better. We're implementing an online chat solution this year which I'm hopeful about and having that infrastructure built, the people who answer those messages, would make it much easier to expand into GMB's messaging system.
 

Jon Hall

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Thank you, @Annika Neudecker! I'm really interested in your point about the messaging interface and its utility for larger companies (not least because I'm tasked with building a UI for text messaging used by SMBs, agencies AND enterprises :).

Here are some of the things that I've identified (or which have been identified to me LOL) as important to enterprise messaging use. I'm curious how you'd amend this list:
  • Multiple user (or "agent") access and access control to conversations
  • Clear user "ownership" of individual messages or conversations
  • Conversation "status" setting to have visibility into and filters on open vs. resolved conversations, etc.
  • Contact segmentation to support targeted outreach, re-marketing, etc.
  • Centralized repository of "standard" messaging for the brand, i.e. message templates, automations
  • Hours-based automations that maintain responsiveness when agents are away but stay out of the agents' (and customers') way during business hours
  • Reporting that covers outcomes (leads/sales) as well as KPIs related to use of the channel: response times, customer satisfaction, etc.
I'm big on building companies' own text messaging capacity independent of Google and Facebook products for all of the reasons @MiriamEllis mentions above. But also because we don't have to wait for Google to build the features we need ;) @JoyHawkins and @Nicole Basham above point out specific deficiencies in Google's messaging product, too, which seem to make it hard for brands to fully embrace.
 
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  • Multiple user (or "agent") access and access control to conversations
  • Clear user "ownership" of individual messages or conversations
  • Conversation "status" setting to have visibility into and filters on open vs. resolved conversations, etc.
  • Contact segmentation to support targeted outreach, re-marketing, etc.
  • Centralized repository of "standard" messaging for the brand, i.e. message templates, automations
  • Hours-based automations that maintain responsiveness when agents are away but stay out of the agents' (and customers') way during business hours
  • Reporting that covers outcomes (leads/sales) as well as KPIs related to use of the channel: response times, customer satisfaction, etc.
In an absolutely ideal world, I'd love to have these features:
  • Clear indication of what location the customer is messaging via, including address and store number, to provide context to agents
  • Interplay with internal systems to allow agents to quickly access our own tools - for example, our internal informational site for each location, our CMS, and our reservation system
  • Message history, showing what interactions the customer has had through this channel with previous agents
  • Advanced tagging system for closed conversations which plays into the analytics, allowing agents to select the reason for the conversation and outcome
Some of these might be a little pie in the sky but I can dream, right?
 

Amy Toman

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Late to the party here, but I'm inclined against these for two reasons:

1. If you turn Messaging on and use some categories, you opt into "Get a Quote," and the services listed are not editable. So if you don't provide those services, you disappoint clients.
2. The app issue stated above. If you're an SAB and the message is received on your phone, you may not be able to reply quickly, or from your phone, during your workday.

So while I think there's good opportunities for this feature, I generally recommend keeping it off, or trying it for a bit to see if it works for your business.
 

Jon Hall

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Thanks @Amy Toman! For me, what you really distill down here is the "funny not funny" thing about Google Messaging: it simultaneously opens up an opportunity for businesses AND manages to turn that opportunity into a liability thanks to Google's constraints and control :rolleyes:

No wonder the consensus here seems to be to turn it off or use text/SMS unless your business happens to be able to work effectively within the confines of the Google product. For which I like your litmus test: "try it for a bit and see."
 

Jon Hall

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I started this thread 3 months ago and have pored over the insights since. Thank you @Contractor @JoyHawkins @Eoghan_MFeed @Nicole Basham @MiriamEllis @abrandt @Annika Neudecker and @Amy Toman

I have also since been involved with Google's Business Messages Partner Program. Here is my update:

Google is clearly building Business Messages with intention. My prediction? Google will eventually use Business Messages (adoption and performance) as a significant ranking factor in local. On-site SEO, GMB content, and even customer reviews are manipulable and rife with spam. But messaging presents an (almost) incorruptible private view into a business's reality.

There are flaws, of course. Joy reported on "Request a Quote" messaging exchanges that showed competitors right in the conversation 🤮 CSAT surveys and single-channel visibility give Google only a partial view of the reality it ranks. And of course, Google just recently released a desktop version of Messages for business use which is still, um, lacking.

Still think messaging won't take off? Maybe. But if local businesses get a lift from turning messaging on, you can bet others will follow suit. And then the race is on.

So I want to share with you what I've been working on to meet this future where messaging plays a much bigger role in local rankings. Of course, I'm building a messaging platform, but please consider this a request for collaboration, not a promotion of a product. To allay any doubts, if any of you original contributors to this thread want to use it, it's gratis.

Here's a little demo I just did of how we're handling GMB automation and 2-way messaging with omni-channel messaging funnels and a full-featured inbox:

 

Eoghan_Aircam

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Yep, Google, Apple , Yelp are all changing customer expectations with the hard push of their business messaging features. They don't want to click around your website or call you anymore - just shoot you a text. Once one of your competitors offers the feature, you will soon follow. Same happened when early adopters started doing social customer service.

Won't be surprised if it impacts rank or at least listing CTR as Google highlights the feature more and more.

Your app is well built!
 

Jon Hall

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Exactly, @Eoghan_MFeed. Business owners can have the most principled resistance in the world but it doesn’t serve them if their competitors zoom past them.

We take the pragmatic approach that keeps our principles intact: embrace *any* messaging channel that your customers embrace, but have a strategy and tactics to move those conversations to your preferred channel. That’s the “Switch” in “Switchbird”.

Thanks for the kind words about it too. Means a lot coming from you 😊
 

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