The accelerating growth of Messenger, combined with its launch of chatbots and introduction of Messenger codes and plug-ins that enable richer interaction with companies and products (e.g., contextual services, product recommendations), have all contributed to making messaging the fastest growing channel for branded conversations worldwide.
According to David Marcus, vice president and dead of Messenger at Facebook, brands are not only taking notice of Messenger’s new capabilities, they are increasingly active. About 100,000 bots are available within Messenger and “out of the 70 million pages/businesses that are active on Facebook, nearly 20 million of them are responding to messages actively on a monthly basis.”
Convenient, helpful, emotionally connected conversations that scale
Messaging apps and chatbots provide the opportunity to communicate one-to-one with consumers and engage them in a more meaningful way than typical broadcast or one-to-many channels can facilitate. Whether using human agents, automated chatbots, or a combination of the two, messaging apps can help brands drive deeper relationships with customers through interactions that are convenient (when and wherever the user happens to be), helpful (on-demand problem/need resolution), and emotionally connected.
Chatbots allow brands to provide in-context suggestions for useful products or services, and stand instantly available to assist and resolve customer service inquiries. Advances in AI will only enhance this capability. Gartner predicts that by 2020, a customer will manage 85 percent of his or her relationship with a business without interacting with humans. For now, brand marketers are thinking about how to monetize these advantages over existing methods like retargeting. “Conversations between users and companies inside Messenger have a 30 percent better return on investment than retargeting ads on the web,” says Facebook’s Marcus.
For contextual conversations and recommendations to be effective, however, and to accrue the positive perceptions that emerge from them, brands will need to not only engage via messaging but be available and highly responsive in its practice. In a recent survey of 150 brand marketers conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, “only 16 percent of marketers feel their organizations are extremely responsive to the consumer.”
Meanwhile, emojis, introduced by Line in Japan and initially thought to be limited to Asian culture, demonstrate the way in which visual content allows users and brands to be more expressive and establish an emotional connection. In fact, forward-thinking brands are taking visual content one step further, designing their own visual language that invites their customers to use as their own and “speak in their brand.”
Messaging apps are the preferred method of communication for consumers and the fastest growing channel for branded conversations. This represents a huge opportunity for agile brands to build meaningful and lasting customer relationships.
Jason Kapler is vice president, marketing at LiveWorld. Connect with him @JasonKapler on Twitter.