Update 2/13/19: Google recently changed their Message feature for Google My Business and, unfortunately, it no longer supports texting landline, VoIP and toll-free phone numbers. Instead, the texting option is routed through a number owned by Google, and when a customer sends a message to that number, it’s received in the Google My Business app. We at Zipwhip are against this change because we feel it creates confusion for consumers, creating yet another number they have to keep track of for your business. In addition, it decentralizes businesses’ customer communication, requiring them to check messages from customers in several places. We are currently petitioning Google to bring back the ability to send messages to business phone numbers.
Today, Google officially launched their new Message feature for Google My Business accounts. This feature allows customers to initiate text conversations with businesses directly from mobile search results. Google My Business users can activate this feature immediately from their dashboard. Google has been testing this feature since last November, and we here at Zipwhip are thrilled to see it go live.
Following Instagram and AdWords, Google My Business is the latest adopter of conversational texting to connect customers with businesses. This new feature is available on a national scale in the U.S., with no word yet on worldwide availability.
How does it work?
Log in to your Google My Business dashboard, and select “Turn On Messaging” from the Home section or Messaging tab on the left. Enter your phone number, and you will receive a verification code from Google.
Once activated, your customers will see a “Message” icon when they search for your business. If they tap on that icon, they will be taken to their native messaging app where they can compose a message to your business. You can set an automatic welcome message that customers will receive when they text you.
Although Google does not publicly display the business phone number you’ve provided, customers’ text messages will automatically forward to the correct number.
You will be able to view certain analytics under the Insights tab, such as average response time or number of clicks to message. As of now, customers will have the option to message you at any time. Google does not provide the option to turn it on or off based on business hours. You can however manually toggle the Message feature on and off through your settings. When you turn it off, the Message icon disappears from your Google search results listing.
What does it mean?
With today’s release, business texting has never been more relevant, and the customer demand for texting is higher than ever. Zipwhip customers can easily activate this Message feature through their Google My Business accounts and continue using Zipwhip software to respond to incoming texts, schedule auto-reply messages, and add specific keyword responses. For those business owners wanting to implement this new feature but not wanting to use their mobile number, Zipwhip offers the perfect solution by text-enabling your existing business landline or toll free phone number.