How instant messaging can make you the sale

A bit of backstory

When I’m not busy designing websites, sharing up a storm on social media, or helping students and businesses strategize their marketing, I’m a ballet dancer.

Just like most people with hobby, I’ve got a ton of brand loyalty to my favourite dancewear brands. I follow them on social media, I’m on their mailing lists, and I frequently research on eBay and plain ol’ Google to see if I can scour out a sale.

One of these companies, Ainsliewear, is a dance fashion boutique known for it’s amazing quality of leotards and gorgeous prints and patterns. Ever since I bought my first Ainslie leo, I’ve pretty much never gone back to another brand. Ainsliewear releases new collections of dancewear a few times a year, but my favourite collections have routinely been the holiday collections. But it seems that every single year, I miss out on getting all of the gorgeous new designs, either because I’m in between sizes and they no longer fit, I’ve waited too long, or my size was no longer available. (That is of course until this year when I ordered 3 leotards from the holiday collection the day it was released).

I’ve been coveting some of the older collections of dancewear online for a while now, particularly from 2014/15. The holiday collection had some gorgeous champagne/gold lace and a Queen of Hearts design that I find looks so classic and elegant. I had to have it. But alas, I found out about the collection many years too late.

Ainsliewear Holiday 2014 Collection banner (from the Ainsliewear website)

I would say I’m a pretty good online researcher, and after searching for a while for these elusive limited edition leos, I finally found them at a dancewear store about 5 hours away.

Now, I’ve reached out to dancewear companies about similar limited edition Ainsliewear leotards in the past, only to get a curt “they’re no longer in stock” message back. This is from stores that show the product on their site, but don’t have an option to add products to their cart to purchase them (otherwise I would’ve just done that).

But one company went above and beyond, and that was Mirena’s Fashions. They didn’t have an e-commerce store set up yet, but they had the leotard I was looking for (front right in the photo above). I went to their Facebook page and saw that they usually responded within a couple hours. I messaged them hoping that they still had the leotard in stock, but not expecting much because of the previous stores I had messaged.

I got a response within a couple hours answering all of my questions (for sizing, styles, and shipping). I even got a picture of the leotard I was looking for (which wasn’t on the website)!

The staff at Mirena’s Fashions really took the time to make sure I was getting the full experience someone in the store would be having. They sent me multiple pictures of all the dancewear they had in stock in my size, and only required that I call into the store when I was giving my credit card information.

When I received the package (a day later, I might add), it had a nice official letter saying that I was their first online customer, and a request for pictures in my new dancewear for social media (ummm, of course!) They even included the matching gold lace headband as a gift, which was so thoughtful of them.

What Mirena’s Fashions did right

#1: They were available on social media

If I hadn’t have seen that their Facebook page had been updated recently, and that they usually responded within a couple hours, I don’t think I would have messaged them inquiring about the leotard.

Even if your website hasn’t been updated in a while, or is missing an ecommerce option, it really costs you nothing to be available on social media.

I would much prefer talking with a brand over Facebook messenger or Instagram than calling into their store. Not only does it give the opportunity for us to share photos (which helped in my case seeing the leotards “in person” to make sure they were the ones I wanted), but it lets customers feel like they’re not being intrusive.

I see phoning into a business as a demand for their full attention. I want an answer right now to my questions, and I don’t want to wait on the phone or be put on hold while they find an answer.

With social media and instant messaging, both parties can respond when they have a chance. I know that I won’t be their top priority, but that’s completely fine with me because I don’t feel like I’m being intrusive or demanding.

#2: They delighted the customer (me!)

Once I knew they had the leotard I was looking for, I was pretty much sold. Let me give you my credit card info ASAP and I’ll be out of your hair. But Mirena’s Fashions kept giving me information that delighted me, even after I had paid and was waiting for my package to arrive.

First, there were multiple leotards from that collection available. It could’ve just been easy for them to say there was one and be done with it, but they checked around the store for me for anything that fit my vague description of “older collection Ainsliewear” and sent me pictures of everything they could find.

They also sent pictures of all of the dancewear they had that matched my description so that I could see if it was the one I wanted. It would’ve been easy for them to say “yes we have that style in stock in the lark lace” (Ainsliewear has the same style of leotard with different lace options available continuously, but only lark lace was available for the holiday 2014 collection in that style), but the fact that they sent me the pictures of it hanging in their store made me trust them even more.

Next, ⅔ of the leotards I ordered were on sale. That was just an added bonus that I wasn’t expecting, but it sure made me happy. This could have also been the time when they could have taken the red tags off and charged me full-price since I wasn’t seeing the leotards in person.

To make it even better, I would be getting free expedited shipping, which was set to arrive in 2 days (but came the next day).

When I opened the package, I received the matching headband as a gift. The staff at Mirena’s Fashions could have easily up-sold me the headband as well during the process, but instead waited and gave it as a gift.

I loved how when messaging with them, I felt like I was being looked after in-store. Like I just had to sit there while they came out with options for me. Now, I wouldn’t usually expect this level of service at a dancewear store unless I was trying on shoes, so it felt even more special.

#3: The high level of service extended to when I called into the store

I have to admit, I’m not one for calling people. Like I said earlier, I don’t want to be intrusive or demanding of someone’s attention unless it’s urgent, so I really appreciated that they were able to compete almost all of the transaction through Facebook Messenger.

When I called into the store and introduced myself (“Hi, it’s Hannah. We’ve been talking on Facebook”), the employee immediately knew who I was and put me on speakerphone so the other employees could hear too, since they had all been talking with me on Facebook Messenger. It was so easy to send them my shipping information through Facebook Messenger, too, and there wasn’t any worry of my address potentially being wrong because I said it over the phone.

Implementing instant messaging into your business’s marketing strategy

Instant messaging, and social media in general, are becoming essential parts of any business’s marketing strategy. These platforms are free to get started with, and your ideal customers are already using social media practically every day.

The great thing about social media is that it allows for 2-way communications. Unlike print ads or TV campaigns, social media allows your customers to talk back with you and have a conversation.

That being said, it’s important that you are aware of this opportunity and foster it for growth. Like in the case of Mirena’s Fashions, I would never have thought to call the store and ask if they had that specific leotard in stock, but sending them a quick message on Facebook was super easy and had practically no risk for me.

Implementing instant messaging into your social media strategy can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. By having the button on your business’s Facebook page be “Message now” CTA, your customers and potential customers not only know that messaging is an option, but that you’re actively recommending it. Respond to all the direct messages for your Instagram account, and remind your followers to DM you their questions or product photos on your Instagram stories.

The more avenues for communication you make available, the more your customers will talk with you! Some people like phoning into your business, but a lot of your potential customers (like me) might feel that this is too intrusive and opt for another form instead. It’s all about knowing your customers and paying attention. Quick response times are always best.

Want to take the next step in delighting your clients?

Contact me today to get started with an e-commerce store that’s easy to manage! Let’s work together to create a social media strategy that will help attract your perfect customers without overwhelming your already-busy day.