The remit of private messaging channels has moved beyond keeping in touch with friends or resharing excellent memes - there’s a real benefit for brands to use them for customer engagement.
They can be slotted into every stage of the customer journey to improve CX and build better brand/consumer relationships, ensuring better CLV. Customer acquisition is far more cost-effective and produces higher conversion rates using CTM adverts for Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. It’s also a far more satisfying experience to be kept proactively updated tracking a delivery or getting flight status info on your mobile than constantly checking emails to make sure you don't miss anything.
In 2021 there are 6 private messaging channels that dominate the market, each with distinct features that appeal to different brands and audiences. Here’s a rundown of each of them.
1. Google's Business Messages
Google processes over 3.5bn searches a day, so more than 40,000 every second. It’s where 92% of the world goes when they want to find something out and this makes Google’s Business Messages (GBM) the private messaging channel with the biggest potential audience.
Why use Google's Business Messages?
The entry point to GBM is when a customer is at their highest intent, either with a Google search or Maps. At that point in time, they are either looking for exactly what your brand does or specifically your brand. By offering a direct line of communication at the earliest possible stage in their journey, you can ensure exceptional conversational experiences straight away.
Google's Business Messages for Customer Experience
GBM is built for automation and combines the world of seamless and rich UI with purpose-built bots to answer common questions or quickly complete tasks, while offering a clear path to a live human agent who can handle more complex issues.
2. Instagram Messaging
It’s the place for B2C brands to engage the younger demographic, of Instagram’s 1bn users, 70% are under 35. Even more follow at least one business account - 900m users to be precise - and they aren’t doing it to troll brands, 66% use the app because it allows them to interact with them.
Why use Instagram Messaging?
The platform’s large and dedicated following makes it an incredible place to showcase products and engage with customers. Using tags in feeds or stories means consumers can easily discover products they’re interested in and when a follower tags your brand across the platform it’s possible to respond directly over Instagram DMs. Customer engagement is built into the platform.
Instagram Messaging for Customer Engagement
It’s a mobile-first shopping experience, with the addition of customizable storefronts available to all brands. It moves Instagram on from a purely social media platform to being a one-stop shop for eCommerce. (In-app purchases are currently only available in the US but there is a global rollout planned.) The entire customer journey, from discovery to delivery tracking, can take place in-app, maximizing the opportunity for engagement.
3. Facebook Messenger
Messenger’s audience is huge - there’s 1.3bn monthly active users and more than 40m brands are using it for communicating with customers and its popularity is only set to grow, with an expected 2.4bn using the platform by the end of this year.
Why use Facebook Messenger?
There are so many ways to deflect a customer conversation into Facebook Messenger. At the acquisition stage; Click-to-Messenger adverts, where consumers can be taken to an automated sign up or purchase flow direct from the advert. Messenger can also be integrated into your website, as a superior alternative to live chat and even features a guest mode, so a customer doesn’t need to be signed in to have a conversation.
Facebook Messenger for Customer Engagement
Messenger combines the best elements of traditional digital customer engagement channels and updates them for the mobile era. Customers have a ‘persistent identity’ as they’re always logged into their Messenger account, giving brands access to their full customer history, which in turn personalized proactive notifications and interactions with customer service agents.
4. WhatsApp Business
For worldwide reach, WhatsApp’s difficult to beat. There’s over 2bn users and the market leading messaging channel in 180 countries means it should be a serious player when brands consider which channel is best for their audience. The lack of market penetration in the US is a bit of an outlier, dominating the private communications of most of EMEA, Latin American and Asian countries.
Why use WhatsApp Business?
With the privacy concerns surrounding social media and modern communications, WhatsApp can boast industry-leading end-to-end encryption for brands and consumers. Payments can be taken and personal information shared with total confidence in its security on this platform.
WhatsApp Business for Customer Engagement
In addition to the secure encryption, brands must have a verified business account and show it on their profile, so there’s full confidence for consumers about who they’re talking to. There are also measures in place to stop users being spammed or receive messages not relevant to their relationship with the brand - businesses can only proactively engage with a customer outside of the initial 24-hour conversation window and are limited to a few templated messages. The onus to engage lays entirely with a customer.
5. Apple Business Chat
They may not quite rule the mobile OS world, but nobody can compete with Apple for sheer number of global devices. They can boast 1.5bn worldwide, and nearly 50% of smartphone users in the US have an iPhone. It’s no surprise that brands like Lush, T-Mobile and Marriott are using Apple Business Chat for customer conversations.
Why use Apple Business Chat?
Apple Business Chat (ABC) uses the iPhone’s native messaging app for rich user experiences that work seamlessly with other Apple features to create exceptional CX within a private messaging conversation. Among the other tools wrapped into the channel are Apple Wallet and Pay, Augmented Reality (AR) and Maps, which work across all iOS and MacOS devices.
Apple Business Chat for Customer Engagement
Often mobile shopping experiences are websites not optimized for small screens and endless forms to fill in, not with ABC. The Pickers feature allows brands to lay out products in an easily navigable and user-friendly way, so customers can keep their entire shopping experience in-app.
I’ve spent the rest of this article talking about how many billion devices or users the other platforms have, but none really compare to the reach of SMS. There are an estimated 15bn mobile devices worldwide, or around 2 for every person, all of which have SMS capabilities.
Why use SMS?
As stated above, it’s universal. There’s no need to worry if a customer has an Apple or Android device or whether they are logged into Facebook, SMS is device agnostic. It doesn't rely on good 4g or Wifi because it’s sent over mobile networks. It may not be the sexiest way to communicate but it’s definitely the most reliable.
SMS for Customer Engagement
Unlike many messaging vendors, SMS on Conversocial’s platform offers a two-way conversation, rather than one-sided push notifications. Conversations are asynchronous and brands have access to previous interactions, which informs every future message and proactive notification, creating a bespoke experience for each customer.
Reach Your Customers Where They are
There are so many modern methods for digital customer engagement, all with different features that suit a brand or particular audience best. Rather than trying to be across every single one, Conversocial helps brands first choose a unichannel approach to maximize the impact of an initial use case. You can find out more about how we can help your brand integrate private messaging into your CX strategy.