Over 3.09 billion mobile phone users use messaging apps to communicate, likely including you. While most people use them to keep in touch with family and friends, did you know that they can also prove advantageous for your business?

Safe to say, the whopping number mentioned above includes most of your prospects and customers. Keeping this in mind, you need to find ways to use direct messaging to generate sales. In this article, we’ll take a look at the basics of selling through DMs.

What is a direct message?

A direct message (DM) is a private communication between social media users. In a business context, it happens between a brand and its customers. Messaging channels are often integrated into most online platforms. Think Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

These social media platforms aren't just helpful for content marketing. Their free direct messaging features can also help you cultivate long-term customer relationships.

Businesses, particularly burgeoning ones, can use these channels to promote their products, respond to inquiries, and resolve conflicts discreetly. But to do so, you must first learn how to poke the right audience with your DMs.

Is selling through DMs a good idea?

Yes, selling through DMs is a good idea. For one, direct messaging isn't subject to algorithms that can limit your visibility. While a Facebook post may be likely to engage just 1 out of every 1,667 followers, your recipients can see your direct messages 24/7.

Considering that only 15% of Facebook users actively seek out products, a well-crafted, unique message can help to convert the other 85% of quiet followers (and impulse buyers) into customers.

Another benefit is that you can automate DMs by setting up a bot to handle the work for you when you don’t have the time to respond right away. This comes in very handy — especially as 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately upon contacting a brand.

Which platforms are best for selling via DMs?

The following are the best social apps for selling via DMs. We’ve also outlined their key features and restrictions:

  • Instagram Direct. About 63% of Instagram users say the platform allows them to foster meaningful connections with brands. It lets you exchange threaded messages with one or more people, as well as posts from your feed and Stories. While there’s no exact limit, if Instagram detects spam messages, it may temporarily block you from messaging.
  • Facebook Messenger. The platform has at least 999.8 million active users globally. Despite this, you can only reach your target customer through a verified business page. You can send 1,000 to 100,000 messages every 24 hours, depending on your verification tier. It also has a chatbot for greetings and auto-responses.
  • Bonus feature: Meta consolidates both Facebook and Instagram Direct messages in one place.
  • Twitter Direct. 53% of Twitter users are more likely to be the first to buy new products. Brands can capitalize on that with Twitter’s welcome messages and quick reply prompts. However, it has a daily account limit of 1,000 DMs to followers. You may also be unable to message an account that doesn't follow your profile, which means you will need to prioritize growing your Twitter following as well.
Source: Twitter

Regardless of the platform, the way you position and craft your message defines the success of your direct messaging efforts. Follow the strategies below as you observe and experiment your way through.

7 tips for driving more sales via DMs on social media

DM marketing can be tricky. When not done properly, you might end up overwhelming or frustrating customers with a barrage of messages. Use these best practices to decide when and how to roll out your direct messaging campaigns.

1. Build your contact list with your target audience

The number of social media followers you have doesn't always determine the success of your strategy, but this element is pivotal when getting started with DM marketing. Most platforms have privacy settings that restrict direct messaging to only followers. For this reason, getting on their radar requires learning more about them.

Use advanced tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to get an in-depth picture of your audience demographics. You can also join and participate in groups where they typically hang out or post content that reflects their preferences and behavior. Then track your progress using an analytics tool. Investing in marketing efforts that attract the right people ensures success.

2. Foster customer relationships to avoid spamming

Two-thirds of customers want to be treated like individuals — not numbers — by companies. In short, be more human. Avoid sending copy-paste messages without genuinely connecting with them. Share valuable content and solve their unique problems to build a strong foundation.

Consider posting engaging and enticing content that will encourage them to comment or tag their friends. Or you can ask questions and occasionally react to their comments. Then, you can woo them easily without getting too carried away.

3. Don’t ignore existing customers as you grow your following

Don’t focus on acquiring new customers so much that you neglect your existing customers. Research suggests that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

So invite your existing customers to follow you on social media platforms if they haven't already. Assuming some of them already follow you on Facebook, you can encourage them to follow your Instagram account. The more channels of connection you have, the better your likelihood of staying in touch with them.

Do you have new releases and product upgrades? Message them about it. Is it a Monday morning? Wish them a great week ahead. It doesn't have to be stuffy. Even asking about their day can help you establish rapport with them.

4. Use the FB and IG Story features to elicit responses

If your Facebook or Instagram Story catches your customers’ attention, they can swipe up on the story and open a conversation with you in seconds. This is an effective tool for DM marketing, as evident by the 62% of users who become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.

The majority of customers prefer Stories that feature sales and promotions or introduce new products. So if done right, this type of content can help you garner more replies.

Here's how we at noissue used a Story to introduce our new Custom Recycled Boxes. We also use Instagram Highlights to extend its function beyond 24 hours, allowing new visitors to view old, popular stories.

You can also tweak your stories and achieve consistent visual branding using creative stickers and emojis.

5. Engage followers more with product inspiration, polls, and quizzes

Most of us use social media to find inspiration or kill time. Nonetheless, the time users spend online continues to climb, with the daily average increasing by 4 minutes per day (+1.0%) over the last year. Make the most of this opportunity by sharing interactive posts and Stories that can boost customer responses.

Product inspiration, polls, and quizzes are the best examples to keep inquiries and replies coming. That's because answering them only takes a few seconds. And the app consolidates all responses in one place, making it easier to contact all respondents.

Check out how noissue engages followers with fun polls and quizzes about our Custom packaging products. This way, viewers can respond on the spot, and we can pitch our products via DM.

6. Customize send-message CTA buttons on ads

Customizing the call-to-action buttons on paid ads can also generate more leads and stir meaningful conversations. Normally, personalized CTAs convert 202% higher than regular CTAs. So imagine the number of inquiries you’ll get if your CTA is a customized message button that redirects customers to their preferred messaging channels.

This feature is available on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Use it to create an overall experience that encourages customers to message your account. After all, adding them to your DM contact list is much easier when they initiate the conversation. Here's an illustration from Meta showing two different ads with the same call to action.

Source: Facebook

You can also do the same on Twitter by using the direct messaging chatbot. Whenever someone clicks on your ads, they will be greeted with a default welcome message and receive instant answers to pre-set questions.

Source: Twitter

7. Keep the conversation going with product recs and coupons codes

Is your foundation strong enough? Are your ad campaigns already up and running? Then it's time to make your pitch.

About 77% of online shoppers are said to follow their favorite brands on social media to be aware of upcoming offers and sales. So if you want to outsell your competitors and convert more leads into sales, regularly DM your new and existing customers with fresh, unique offers. You may consider the following:

  • Monthly voucher codes
  • Referral discounts
  • Abandoned cart offers
  • Free shipping coupons
  • Pre-launch promotions
  • Custom bundle deals
  • Seasonal and holiday sales
  • Customer loyalty incentives

Pro tip: Prepare direct message templates and FAQs to speed up your response times.

As you put these tips into practice, don’t forget to read the terms and conditions of the platforms you're using. This will keep your business account from getting banned and reported over time.

Wrapping it up

Direct messaging is a marketing approach that allows you to gain an in-depth understanding of your customers. Whether you have an eCommerce or a brick-and-mortar shop, it’s a viable tactic for growing your repeat customer base.

Do you want to catch more eyes as customers scroll through their feed? How about personally presenting them with an offer they can’t refuse? Leverage the tips mentioned above to make that happen with direct messaging and exceptional branding.