Google My Business Messaging & The Future Of Business Communication

google my business messaging

Google has been hard at work with a bunch of new updates and offerings. Just a few weeks ago, we talked about Google Posts, Google Jobs, and Google Home Services – which got a lot of attention from contractors. This week, Google is rolling out another beta test to the public – Google My Business Messaging.

Author’s Note – This article was updated based on further review and testing of the new Google My Business Messaging system – See UPDATE (07/17/17) and UPDATE (08/17/17) toward bottom of article.

NOTE – As of July 2017, Google My Business Messaging is only available in the United States.

What Is Google My Business Messaging?

GMB Messaging creates an avenue for mobile users to message you directly from your Google listing or a Google search of your company. Their message then arrives to the phone of your choosing in SMS / a text message.

Why is Google My Business Messaging important for businesses?

When capturing lead information and communicating with clients, you want to have a few hurdles as possible while still ensuring quality communication and lead information. That’s why we always recommend having call-to-action and communication options for both phone calls and online forms. Having the ability to message directly from Google while still maintaining some basic privacy is a great thing – especially for clients with premium placement in Local Map Packs. Answering messages in a timely manner also allows you the opportunity for a little “pop-up” that notes your business usually has prompt response times to online messages.

How Do I Set Up Google My Business Messaging? A Step-By-Step Guide

If you’re already a client of Footbridge Media, simply communicating with your Account Manager will ensure that your business listing and Google My Business Messaging is correctly set-up. Otherwise, you can follow these simple steps to set up your own Google My Business Messaging.

  1. Log Into Your Google Account and visit google.com/business – You’ll see a new box called “Chat” under near the top of your browser. Click the “Turn On Messaging” button
  2. google messaging splash welcome

  3. Identify the cell phone that you would like to receive your Google My Business Messaging communication on and make sure it is nearby. Enter your phone number as instructed
  4. google messaging select phone number

  5. You’ll get a text message with a confirmation code – Enter that code on the page as instructed
  6. google messaging confirmation code

  7. When the confirmation code is correctly entered, chat will be enabled. Add your “Welcome message” in the field as suggested – this will be the first message a user will get when they try to contact you via Google My Business messaging. At this point, you also have the option to download Allo on your device if you would rather use that instead of your SMS or text messages.
  8. google messaging enable chat and welcome message

  9. Now it’s time to test – Do a search for your company name and the physical location of your business ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE. Sometimes, you can just search your company name and address – So long as your Google My Business listing is correctly set up, you should see a new “Message” icon and “Send a message” option when viewing your Google My Business on your mobile device
  10. google messaging what it looks like to customers

  11. You can send yourself a test message from a different phone to see the format in which you will receive
  12. google messaging received message

What shouldn’t I use Google My Business Messaging for?

Common sense applies here. Per Google My Business Messaging Documentation – don’t request or provide sensitive information via the GMB Messaging. If you wouldn’t want that info on a billboard, don’t send that info via Messaging.

How Does This Change The Way I Communicate With My Clients Now

The reason why this is a potential game changer is because of how much of a wall this tears down in regards to how people communicate with businesses. This allows your business to chat directly with users via texting or chatting and have the opportunity to immediately communicate. This is great for people who hate dealing with email when on the road or on the job site – now this communication can be handled in short bursts via text message. And anytime we can make the communication process easier on both ends is a good day!

What don’t we know yet about Google My Business?

Given how brand new this rollout is – and given that there will be hiccups along the way – we have a lot of unanswered questions, some of which we will be trying to review and uncover ourselves.

Questions we don’t have answers to yet…

  • Do the “business hours” on the listing correlate to when “Messaging” will be available?
    • If YES – then it is important to have the correct hours and a designated contact person on that phone at all times – especially for 24 hour emergency service providers.
    • If NO – then that means your phone can go off at 1am even if you don’t want to provide service at that time – And that would negatively affect the “response time” pop ups?
    • UPDATE (07/17/17) — Based on our basic testing – your business hours don’t matter. Just like how an end user can call you at any time they like by tapping the “Call” button on your listing – they can do the same and message you whenever a prospective client likes. So if you’re not a 24/7 emergency service contractor or if you’re a small operation working off of your business cell phone and you don’t want a text at 2am – set up your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” options appropriately.
  • Do you need to have a Google Account to using “Messaging”? Or will spammers use this?
    • We’ll be testing this as well, I would assume that Google would have the ability to gatekeep which users have access – but will users be able to hijack messaging and spam your texts?
    • UPDATE (07/17/17) — You don’t have to be signed into a Google account to have the option to message, which means that your Google Account likely won’t be used as a way to gatekeep users. So long as the device has 1) SMS ability or 2) Google Allo, it appears that the device can message a business. The nice thing here is that users never actually have access to your actual phone number via SMS – it passes through Google for the sake of tracking your response time. But so far as I can see in our basic research, there is no easy way to block a user either
  • Will Google My Business Messaging have any communication management options in the future?
    • Google’s vision for the messaging is focused on small business by its design. While you can opt to use an Google’s newest messaging app – Allo – to chat instead of SMS, it is still tied to a specific phone number and Allo is only available via Apple and Google Play app stores for mobile devices (at least for the time being). So based on this set-up, if you wanted an office staff to handle “Google Messaging” communication, your front office staff would have to pass around a cell phone. I imagine that, in the future, Allo will get a Chrome extension much like Hangouts did – but until then, managing Google My Business Messaging will require the handing off of a physical device.
    • UPDATE (08/17/17) — You can now access Google Allo via the web, but only on Chrome so far. It also still requires a mobile device, as you must scan a QR Code on your Chrome browser to create a connection to the mobile device. It also requires that the Allo app is active on your phone and that your phone has reliable access to the internet. This pairing also only works on Android devices right now – iOS pairing is noted as “coming soon”. You can review Google’s full documentation for using Google Allo on your computer. While messaging via your computer is slightly more convenient than using a phone to type out messages to reply to online messages, this is still dependent on having a mobile device.

How will you implement Google My Business Messaging? Let us know in the comments, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

About 

Chris Lonergan is the President of Footbridge Media.

With a background in web design, print design, and online marketing, Chris is focused on providing quality marketing and business solutions in the construction and service industries - helping small business owners to more efficiently manage their company and grow their operations.

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