Opinion

Are brands meeting customer expectations in messaging apps?

Editor's note: The following is a guest post from Jason Kapler, ‎vice president of marketing at conversational marketing platform LiveWorld.

People are spending more time than ever in messaging apps. Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Skype, WhatsApp or Viber, consumers are online and ready to connect. In fact, a recent study found U.S. smartphone users spend an average of 23 minutes and 23 seconds daily on messaging apps — and that’s growing every year.

Smart marketers are leveraging messaging apps to engage in personal, direct and private dialogue their customers want, where and when those customers want to have them. Redefine how customers connect with your brand and drive engagement, transactions and customer loyalty through the one-on-one, two-way private conversations that messaging apps offer.

Use messaging apps to reach customers where they are

The four leading messaging apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber) have more monthly active users than the top four social networking apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+). Clearly, there is not a shortage of communication options consumers can use when trying to connect with companies. The fact that people are increasing their time spent on messaging apps reflects that they prefer the immediacy of the engagement in these channels as opposed to slower, more time-consuming options like online, email or phone. If consumers are using messaging apps, then brands should too.

The key is to find the right channel so your company can be where your customers are. The average smartphone user uses just four to six apps per day. According to Statista, 72% of people use less than seven apps per day. With the right messaging channel, you can provide direct conversations and personalized offers in such a way that your customers are going to see them and want to respond to them. Brands can increase engagement and win coveted loyalty by conversing with their customers in their preferred messaging channel while respecting the customer’s need to receive transaction or tracking updates on a different channel, such as SMS texts.

Be available when your customers demand

Many consumers don’t believe in strict store hours anymore and are now demanding that businesses be available anytime, anywhere. According to the 2016 Mobile Messaging Report, 51% of people say a business should be reachable 24/7.

Now that we live in an on-demand world, how can brands rise to the challenge and be available to quickly respond at all hours of every day? To effectively put messaging to work, a combination of chatbot auto-responders and live agents blends the benefits of immediate response and scale with human empathy and context that only a real person can provide. Chatbots enable a brand to quickly scale engagement and reduce costs of adding human teams to handle the constant flood of multilingual, incoming and outgoing communications.

Connect with new audiences

Messaging apps are one of the best ways for marketers to reach and engage new audiences and better understand existing customers.

Each messaging app and social media channel attracts a unique audience segment that's important to brands. By connecting with these respective segments, brands now have the opportunity to support more of their customers in their preferred digital communication channels.

Enrich customer profiles for more personalized messages

From a marketer’s perspective, one of the greatest strengths of messaging apps is the ability to know who each customer is and then customize the message accordingly.

Brands can use messaging apps to increase and measure their engagement and interaction metrics over time as well as sentiment and topic or segment popularity. For example, one brand saw a 60% lift in engagement and a 75% increase in interaction since launching its chatbot program on WeChat. The brand was also able to identify which products had the most positive sentiment and which were negative, while correlating the results for various age groups. The client used the information to amplify promotions around its product and rethink its approach for targeting millennials for certain products.

With the right tools, brands can now link customer profiles from all touch points. This enables marketers to better track their customer engagements across social media and messaging platforms, improve their understanding of consumer preferences, observe dialogue patterns and personalize interactions.

Conversational marketing brings two-way dialogue back to how brands engage with consumers and how customers engage with brands. Now, marketers have the ability to directly connect with their customers one-on-one in the moments they need them most and are also able to easily access customers' profile information to create better, more informed conversations.

Filed Under: Apps