Messaging apps have more than 3 billion active users. Their broad use represents strong opportunities for brands. The battle that Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are fighting over technological innovation on these touch points (chatbots, artificial intelligence, rich interactions) proves it. In September 2016, Forrester Research published one of the first reports on the subject. Here are 5 insights from the report you should keep in mind:
#1 Facebook is currently the only global competitor to Asian Messaging Apps
With more than 800 million monthly active users, WeChat is by far the most advanced messaging app worldwide. The app is specifically more advanced for customer acquisition actions: taxi bookings, in-app payments, advertisement, etc. With WhatsApp and Messenger, Facebook still remains the leader with the highest the number of users. 2015 brought the Messenger and bots deployment and enabled brands to have direct contact with their customers.
#2 Messaging apps play a real role in customer retention
Messaging apps combine these three components of customer loyalty better than any other communication channel:
- Frequency of use: 55% of the Chinese open WeChat more than 10 times a day. A similar thing happens with Kik users in the United States (they open the app 8 times a day).
- Emotional ties: emojis and stickers have become the new way of communicating. This communication method meets the universal need for expression.
- Simplicity of use: it’s the number one objective of messaging apps, being able to attract brands by promising them to have easy access to qualified customers.
Forrester notes that social media remains the first channel to acquire customers in a one-to-many logic. Messaging apps have a role to play in the discovery (think about the success of Snapchat), exploration and purchase phases. Users are particularly expecting Messenger to have integrated payment options in 2017.
#3 Messenger is becoming a customer service staple
Beyond the conversational aspect of messaging apps, they can play a central role to enable brands to learn more about their customers. This role depends on the capacity of sharing data with marketers and their ability to integrate omnichannel strategies. In the banking and telecommunication industries, sectors where customer interactions are very common, chatbots will help cut down costs. To avoid any frustrations, Forrester advises brands to find a balance between chatbots and human interactions.
#4 Messaging apps & intelligent agents: conversations become the new computer interface
According to Forrester, the conversational revolution is coming soon. Within three to five years, messaging apps and intelligent agents will become inseparable. Semantic research, visual and vocal recognition, artificial intelligence: they will all create a brand new computer interface which will change our interaction habits with our environment (the Internet of Things) and brands. Our mobile phones now have the advantage on all of our interactions.
#5 Human interactions and real-time answers are key
Human interactions and real-time answers were already at the center of business relationships in the past. But here’s the good news: they will also be part of the fundamentals of the post-digital world. More than ever, messaging apps engage brands to deliver useful and contextualized interactions and demonstrate their marketing promise. Forrester recommends that brands master real-time customer service before even thinking about offering messaging apps to their customers.