If you haven’t been encouraging your prospects and customers to slide into your DMs, it might be time to start. Private messaging is one of the most popular ways people communicate socially. Direct messaging gives buyers the opportunity to interact personally and one-on-one with brands they like, like your print shop. In the DMs, you can connect with prospects and customers to build better customer experiences – and stronger long-term relationships.
“People like doing business with companies they like, know and trust,” says Kristine Shreve, director of marketing and outreach at Applique Getaway. “Having one person, or a few people specifically tasked with answering questions and replying to DMs allows your customers to get to know those people – and your shop. Don’t underestimate these connections that help new customers feel connected to your shop and trust they’ll be supported if they ever have a problem.”
If you’re wondering how to use direct messaging in social platforms like Facebook or Instagram, we’ve got you covered with this DM etiquette tips from the experts.
What Are DMs Anyway?
As the name implies, a direct message lets you talk directly to a person using a platform such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter in a chat or text setting. What’s especially effective is that you’re meeting them where they hang out.
For example, 200 million Instagram users look at one or more business profiles everyday. About 70% of those consumers on Instagram report that they use the app to discover new brands. More than 375 million people use Instagram Direct Message, and 75% of consumers want to interact with brands using DMs vs. phone or email. Using DMs is a powerful way for you to make connections with your customers.
Here’s an exciting stat: Instagram DMs are the most efficient way to increase income from sales at 56.8% — compared to 17.9% of sales due to follows, 10.3% to likes and 4.2% to comments. That’s because if a customer reaches out to you via direct messaging with a question or a problem, you have the opportunity to authentically connect with them, address any concerns and move them toward a sale, if they’re happy with their interaction.
How Does Direct Messaging Help My Apparel Shop?
If you’re not sure if DMs will help you reach new customers and nurture your current clients, consider the following:
- DMs allow you to build connections by showing your customers your shop isn’t some “faceless online t-shirt business” that just takes orders.
- DMs also let you increase brand loyalty by letting prospects see you as more of a solutions provider who’s there to help them achieve their marketing goals.
- DMs allow people to place orders directly, even if you don’t already have an online shop. This, in turn, will increase your overall sales.
- DMs also let your customers check up on orders that they’ve placed or ask questions about orders they’ve received. Some shops even use DMs to send artwork approval links to customers who prefer to communicate via direct messaging.
- Finally, DMs allow you to connect with prospects and to overcome their objections or worries that keep them from becoming regular customers.
At first, it might feel a little bit cringey messaging into a follower’s DMs, or speaking to them in a manner with the ultimate intention to sell. But, neglecting this feature is doing you, your shop, and your bank account a major disservice. “SImply start by asking your customers how they like to communicate with you,” says Marshall Atkinson, business consultant at Atkinson Consulting and Shirt Lab Tribe. “If they prefer DMs and texting, then commit to what platforms you’ll use to interact with them, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.”
So, How Do I Connect With My Customers and Leads?
When you’re using direct messaging to chat with potential and current clients, keep these tips in mind for the best possible outcome:
- Be available. “If you put out the marketing message that you want to interact with people on social media, you should absolutely have a rep monitoring your DMs on Facebook or Instagram,” Atkinson says.
- Don’t barrage the recipient with message after message. This makes it feel like pestering at best and spamming at worst. Instead, send a couple of high-quality messages to draw in the reader as opposed to dozens of light, meaningless messages. “No one likes a pushy salesperson or customer service rep,” Shreve says.
Pro tip: “Always let your prospects make the first contact,” Shreve says. “Never DM someone who hasn’t given you permission to message them.” However, if a person comments on one of your public posts expressing interest or a question, you can respond to their comment asking if you can DM them. If they say “yes,” feel free to DM them to start a conversation.
- Don’t make your message all about a sales pitch. Your first goal should be to make a personal connection and see if you can help them solve a problem. Let the sale grow organically out of that. “Plus, don’t make assumptions about who the person is or what they want,” Shreve says. “Ask questions, so you can get to know them better.”
- Take your convo cues from your prospect. “If they’re short and to the point, follow suit,” Shreve says. “If they have lots of questions and want lots of information, supply it. Aim to build rapport and make the prospect or customer feel comfortable. Don’t be fake, but be adaptable.”
Don’t Break the Cardinal Rule: Always Respond to DMs
Not responding to someone’s DM is the equivalent of ignoring someone who comes into your shop and wants to ask a question or place an order. The way to keep in front of your direct messages is to have one more more staffers assigned to monitor incoming messages.
Atkinson recommends giving your reps the right tools to interact efficiently in the DMs:
- Pre-written answers to frequently asked questions.
- A freebie white paper or video that teaches prospects how to build their business with decorated apparel and products (showing your work and case studies, of course).
- A Calendly link with days/times you’re available to chat with a prospect about their project via Zoom or phone if they’re ready to convert.
- Art approval links to send via DM for current clients.
- Easy access to your order system to check on a status or make changes for current customers.
But how can you field all the questions all day, every day? Try auto-responders. Almost every social media platform has its basic version of auto-responders, with Instagram Messaging automation having a more robust offering. This is a good place to start and spend some time, since on average 70% of incoming messages on social media are “pre-purchase.” The auto-responders provide basic information and collect personal details before transferring the prospect/customer to a live agent.
“When you automate responses, you can serve clients when they reach out and then connect them to a human when they’re ready to make the next move,” Atkinson says. “There are plenty of tools to manage DMs to interact with prospects and prospects, both automated and in person. This is an additional piece of the customer experience that you can assign to a rep.”
What Organic Ways Can My Shop Initiate DM Convos?
Not sure how to strike up a conversation with a total stranger on social media? If you’ve decided to use your social media accounts and direct messaging as a way to connect with prospects, it’s a smart idea to have a staffer interact with companies or people you’d like to have as clients. Here are a few ways to start a potential sales conversation with an ideal client.
- Respond to their stories! This might be the most natural way to start a new conversation with an ideal client. You should already be following a lot of your top prospects, so spend at least 10 minutes a day scrolling through their stories or posts and responding to them. You can send a reaction emoji if you prefer. The more personal and thoughtful the response you leave, the better you’ll create a rapport.
- Thank them for following your profile. Let them know their “follow” or “like” doesn’t go unnoticed and feel free to ask an open-ended question to get a conversation going in the comments.
- DM them instead of commenting on their most recent post. Did their caption resonate with you? Tell them! Love the way they edit their photos? DM them about it. Sending a private DM as a fan, not as a cold call, is way more personable than leaving a generic comment on your ideal clients’ Instagram posts.
Use DMs to Benefit Your Print Shop
You can capitalize on DMs to enhance your customers’ experience and keep them loyal to your shop, including:
- Answering prospects’ general questions about your shop, products, services and more.
- Connecting with your ideal prospects in one-on-one conversations.
- Allowing customers to place orders directly through DMs, even if you don’t have an online store.
- Moving the order process along, including sending art approval links.
- Responding quickly to customer comments and complaints.
- Establishing potential partnerships with other businesses or with influencers who can help grow your shop’s online reach.
“Mention your social media profiles in every promotional or marketing piece and feature them prominently on your website,” Shreve says. “Don’t be afraid to tell people that the best way to contact you is through social media messaging. Then respond promptly when you are contacted via this method, and watch your loyal customer base and sales grow.”