Looking for a convenient alternative method to engage with your customers? Google My Business (GMB) Messaging is the answer to visitors who are searching for your business on Google Search or Google Maps. In this guide, we’ll explain what is Google My Business Messaging, the types of accounts available, and best practices when messaging customers.
If you’re interested in connecting Google My Business Messaging API to respond.io please help us speed up the integration process by upvoting the feature request.
What is Google My Business Messaging?
People have been using Google Search and Google Maps to find business information for over 10 years. While finding the location basic info listed in their Google My Business (GMB) profile is easy. It hasn’t been easy to actually contact the business, until now.
With Google My Business Messaging, visitors can message you directly from your Business Listing on Google Search or Google Maps. They’ll no longer have to search through your website for a way to contact you.
Google My Business Messaging Used SMS Before
Interestingly, Google My Business Messaging was launched in 2017 using SMS. This enabled customers to send an SMS that would appear on the GMB account dashboard. In March 2019, SMS messaging was removed and replaced with IM-like messaging.
This means users can message from Google Search or Maps, the message travels through Google's own infrastructure, and businesses could now answer with the newly released Google My Business App.
Google My Business Messaging has two separate products. Google My Business app, for small businesses to answer messages on the go and Google My Business Message API for large businesses that want to integrate into their stack.
With the GMB API, businesses are able to manage their inbox across multiple listings. For now, the API still in closed beta and is only available to a few Partners. You can join the waiting list here if interested.
Should I Use Google My Business Messaging?
Is it worth setting up Google My Business messaging for your company? We definitely think so. Today, Google has more than 90% of the world's search engine market share and for businesses with physical locations, it’s a convenient way for clients to reach you.
In fact, the only 7 countries that are not Google-supported are Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and China. Although, there are also countries where Google is not the primary search engine like China (Baidu) and Russia (Yandex).
Search isn’t the only reason to use Google My Business chat feature, another reason is Maps. People use Google Maps to find the closest location of a brand. Imagine how easy it will be for them to contact you by messaging you directly from Google Maps.
Interested in setting up GMB messaging or send Google Business messages? In the next section, we’ll tell you about the types of accounts you can open and what types of businesses they’re good for.
Google My Business Messaging: Accounts
To enable Google Messaging for Business, you'll need a verified Google My Business Account. In this section, we'll discuss the best type of Google My Business Account for you, how to create the account, and how to enable messaging on it.
Types of Google My Business Accounts
Google offers two types of Google My Business Account. A Google My Business App account which is totally free and a Google My Business API account which is currently in closed beta.
Google My Business API is designed for large multi-location businesses. Since it is in closed beta it is only available through official Google Business Messages Partners for now and each partner can create their own pricing for this product.
For single-location businesses, using Google My Business App is a no-brainer. It’s free and easy to set up and if you want to migrate to an API account later a Google Partner will be able to do that for you.
Let’s review how to sign up for a GMB App Account, verify your business, and enable your customers to start messaging you from Google Search & Google Maps.
How to Set Up Google My Business
Before signing up, you’ll need to download the app for iOS or Android. Then, create an account with a Gmail or Google Workplace address. Be sure to complete your GMB profile with up-to-date information like operating hours, address & website, etc.
Once you've completed your Google My Business Profile with the information required, verify your GMB account and enable your Google My Business Messaging tool.
Enable Google My Business Messaging
Since Google launched Google My Business App, businesses can no longer enable or use messaging on desktop. You can only enable Google Business Messaging via Google My Business App.
To start, go to Settings > Messages. Then turn on the Messaging toggle and edit your welcome message.
The welcome message appears automatically to any visitors who click the Message button on your Google My Business Listing. Once done, your messaging setup is complete. Next, we’ll discuss the best practices when messaging your customers.
Google My Business Messaging: Best Practices
Google has its own guidelines for businesses when interacting with customers on its platform. In this section, we’ve outlined GMB best practices for starting a chat and replying to messages with Google My Business chat feature.
Google My Business Messaging: Starting a Chat
There are three ways for people to find your Google Business Listing and start messaging you - through Google Short Names, Google Search and Google Maps.
Google Short Names are shortened URLs that direct users to your Google My Business Listing. Verified businesses can customize a Short Name of up to 32-characters max. For example: g.page/businessname.
By adding this link to your website, social media or email newsletter you can direct online users to your Google Business listing. Users can then click Message and ask questions about your business.
For businesses with physical stores, one way to funnel customers to your chat is by placing a QR code of your GMB Short Name at your storefront. Simply convert the Short Name URL to a QR code with an online QR code generator and print it out.
Alternatively, the more conventional method is to search for your Business Listing directly on Google Search or Google Maps. Once the user finds your Business Listing, they can then click on the Message button to start a chat with you.
The Message button is only available on mobile phones and tablets. Oddly, there's no Message button on Desktop. Be sure to specify the difference when promoting the Google My Business Chat Feature or it can be confusing for your customers.
Google My Business Messaging: Answering Chats
Now that messages are coming in, we'll discuss the best practices when replying to your customers. In this section, we'll explain the messaging rules, how to answer via Google My Business Messaging App and a little information about Google My Business API.
Google My Business Messaging Rules
At the moment, businesses are only allowed to chat 1:1 with a customer and there is no group messaging or broadcasting function with the app. The customer has to initiate the conversation first and businesses can only reply to inbox messages.
Like WhatsApp Session Messaging, Google Business Messaging also enforces a 24-hour messaging window. Whenever someone starts a chat, businesses must reply to them within 24 hours or Google may deactivate their Google My Business Messaging tool.
Thankfully Google My Business App supports multiple users, unlike WhatsApp Business App. Each owner and manager have access to the inbox and can help with answering messages within the 24-hour window whenever you are busy or away.
Also, it helps to know that GMB App Messaging is unlimited. Which means you can send and receive unlimited messages. However, the type of content supported is limited to just text and images for business users and visitors are only allowed to send texts.
This was somewhat different from other messaging platforms where sending and receiving rich media content is generally supported. Thankfully, rich media content is supported by the API account.
Lastly, businesses and visitors are informed of their messages’ status with sent and delivered receipts. When a message has been sent, the sender will receive a sent receipt. And once the recipient receives the message, the sender gets a delivered receipt.
Unfortunately, there is no read receipt to show if your message has been read after it's delivered. We thought this was the most important receipt but Google left this out for some reason. Hopefully, we'll see this feature included in GMB's future updates.
Answering Google My Business Messages via App
Now that you know the messaging rules, let’s look at answering messages with GMB App. With every new message, you’ll get a push notification. Your messages will also appear in the Customers tab. Clicking on a chat opens a Chat panel with your customer.
Unfortunately other than the customers’ name and profile picture, you won’t get any additional information like their email address. Similarly, customers can only see your business name, profile picture and the admin who replied to them.
As a business, you’ll want to keep track of your conversation history. Starting from September 2020, first-time Google My Business Messaging users will have their GMB chat history saved to their account.
However, deleting a chat from one device also removes the history from all linked devices. To safeguard your messages, consider exporting and downloading your conversations.
Lastly, we’ll discuss a little bit about Google My Business API for those who are interested in the service.
Answering Google My Business Messages via API
We have not experimented with messaging using the API account ourselves, but we could envision the GMB Messaging API to be a game-changer for many businesses once it's released.
Businesses can then connect the API to a CRM platform like respond.io to streamline their sales and support funnel. It allows large businesses and those with multiple locations to manage a busy inbox and assign contacts to team members with ease.
That’s all about Google My Business API for now. We'll update this space again once we’ve added the GMB API to our platform and test its function for ourselves.
Google My Business Messaging Infographic
To know more about Google My Business and use business messaging for sales and customer support, check out these articles: