According to a new study from the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) more consumers are now using messaging apps such as WhatsApp to chat to businesses. 76% of consumers have received communication in the form of SMS from businesses before, whilst 65% engage via chat apps.
Based on the answers of 6,000 respondents the Mobile Messaging Report 2016 highlights the importance of these new mobile communication channels to reach customers.
However, there are a few local variations with WhatsApp showing some of the most significant differences. Compared to competitor WeChat, WhatsApp captures just 4% of the Chinese market. In strong contrast, 82% of South African users have installed WhatsApp.
The French on the other hand prefer Facebook Messenger (67%) and SMS (70%) compared to other messaging apps.
Worldwide, Facebook Messenger leads with a 56% adoption rate, followed by WhatsApp at 50% and SMS (42%).
Mobile communication apps worldwide
The study also found that businesses still prefer SMS over chat apps. 33% received a text from their bank, compared to 22% receiving chat messages. When ordering goods, companies also preferred SMS (23%) to chat (16%). The reason for a strong SMS preference among businesses is simple: anyone has a mobile phone, but not everyone may own a certain app. In addition, SMS has a 98% opening rate and offers greater neutrality, whilst WhatsApp is a more private app.
Sending or receiving SMS versus apps
Financial services are the clear winner when it comes to text communication. 33% of respondents said they had received at least one text over the last 12 months from their financial institution, compared to 26% receiving eCommerce promotions and 24% on web/emails.
Sending/receiving SMS and messages over last 12 months
Interestingly, more and more consumers are also adopting communication via messaging with their healthcare providers. This offers some serious advantages as texts cannot be missed compared to calls. Medication pick-up notifications are made simple and appointment reminders can be sent out. 15% of respondents have previously received or sent a text from/to their healthcare provider. 12% have used special messaging apps to do so.
The UK is at the forefront when it comes to A2P messaging for health with 33% of Brits communicating in this way.
Retailer communication is slightly different. UK, US, Germany and South Africa prefer to use email over SMS, since that’s a less personal means of receiving an order or offer. China leads when it comes to communicating with retailers on messaging app communication (19%) or SMS (19%).
Communication with retailers
However, fraud is an important topic. MEF found that only the UK was doing more to prevent fraudsters than other countries. 55% of Brits reported fraudulent SMS messages whilst 36% deleted them. Across all other countries, the preference is to simply delete a message.
Messaging fraud tactics
Rob Malcolm, Senior VP of corporate development, Mblox, concludes:
“The report shows that consumers prefer OTT apps for person-to-person communications and SMS for enterprise-to-consumer communications. Consumers have come to expect companies to communicate with them in real time about every aspect of the service lifecycle and mobile messaging continues to lead the power of that engagement.”