Messaging apps show potential as mobile advertising and customer service tool – here’s how to do it best

Anne Freier | December 21, 2016

Mobile Advertising

Messaging apps are fast becoming the new mainstream. 53% of consumers are now using messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with businesses. That’s according to a poll of 2,000 UK and French consumers by Kenshoo, the marketing company.
The growth in messaging apps has led companies to adopt new marketing strategy. For example, Hyatt Hotels lets customers use Messenger to check room availability and make reservations as well as order room service. Apps such as Messenger have adapted accordingly and now offer sponsored messages which are basically ads or promotional messages. Brands can also include images and links for consumers to see. However, messages can be blocked for the future which means that brands have to be careful when approaching consumers.
So which messaging apps do consumers use the most? Kenshoo found that Facebook’s Messenger was the top app (51%) overall. However, the UK prefers WhatsApp (50%). Snapchat and Skype were also widely used (20%).
Top messaging apps
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Generally, consumers are open to communicating with brands on messaging apps. Only 28% of app users aren’t interested in speaking to brands. Among Messenger users, 59% said they’d be happy to interact with brands on the app.
The benefits are clear. 51% of consumers said they found messaging to be faster and a more immediate way to interact with companies. 48% find it less of a hassle than voice calls.
Consumer willingness to interact with business via mobile messaging
However, one of the drawbacks of using messaging apps is that consumers worry their personal chats may become flooded with promotional messages. Another 24% felt it a positive experience to use the same app for friends and family as well as businesses. Kenshoo says that this may increase pressure on brands, because bad experiences can be shared faster with contacts.
Matt Vignieri, Managing Director for EMEA, Kenshoo, says:
matt vignieri

“Mobile messaging presents a new opportunity for businesses to connect directly with individual consumers – and potentially build long term customer relationships. Many consumers can see the advantages too – but their expectations are high. They expect timely responses and will want communications to be personal to them and in context. If businesses get it wrong, then messaging could quickly turn into a channel for complaints. And because users can easily share negative experiences with their contacts, things could easily get from bad to worse.”

So what are the top scenarios when consumers may want to use messaging apps for brand communication?
Loyalty schemes and special offers are a great way to entice consumers to open their messages. Almost half of respondents (46%) admitted they’d like to interact with brands if it entailed exclusive offers or deals. Absolut Vodka, for example, has been running a Messenger campaign in which consumers in the US can chat to a bot and claim a code for a free drink in a local bar.
Gamers and entertainment fans are open to taking part in competitions via messaging apps (35%). Pepsi has previously rolled out a Messenger game that lets users exchange unwanted gifts with friends after communication with a branded chatbot.
The true advantage for brands is that they can use messaging apps to deepen a relationship with their consumers. 24% of respondents said they would not mind receiving updates from companies.
Messaging apps for brand interaction
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In conclusion, if brands can meet consumer expectations and ensure a smooth messaging experience, then WhatsApp and Co are a great way to stay in touch with customers, showcase new products and deals.

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