As every marketer knows, customer engagement strategies can help build strong relationships and loyal customers. Unfortunately, providing engaging experiences for your customers is more of an art than a science. There are many different approaches that you can take, none of which are foolproof. Furthermore, it is quite likely that if you find the perfect strategy for your company, innovative technologies will leave at least parts of your strategy obsolete. The increased use of messaging apps is expected to be the next game-changer for marketers who want to enhance their engagement efforts. Messaging apps and chatbots are already being used by numerous companies for "conversational commerce." Three of the best-known are Facebook Messenger, Amazon Echo and Siri for AppleTV. Users can order flowers, request a Uber ride and conduct many other secure transactions from within Facebook Messenger. Amazon Echo can browse the user's purchase history, place orders, control home devices or handle a multitude of other tasks. Siri's integration with AppleTV allows users to search for and purchase specific movies, check the current weather or perform other search and buying activities.
Why Messaging Apps Are Important
The use of messaging apps is exploding. According to Business Insider, hundreds of millions of people are active on the largest mobile messaging apps. In fact, the top four apps have more combined users than the total user base of the four leading social networks. Messaging apps also have higher usage and retention rates than typical mobile apps.
Much of the growth of messaging apps is due to proliferation of mobile devices. As consumers have become more comfortable with and adept at using mobile for the various steps along their purchase journeys, marketers have discovered new ways to leverage mobile apps for the delivery of marketing messages. Mobile offers the ability to deliver timely, immediate, relevant messages that can help create a truly engaging experience for your customers.
Mobile also plays an important role in social media marketing. The social media platforms offer marketers a variety of ways to enhance customer relationships. However, social media is not appropriate for posting sensitive information or handling transactions. For example, customers should know better than to post their home addresses or credit card number on Facebook. Sensitive information aside, your customers might not want to publicize what they are ordering or have ordered from your company, especially if the customer is planning to surprise a family member or friend with a special gift.
How Messaging Apps Close the Gap
Messaging apps give marketers the opportunity to connect with customers through both private and public applications in a seamless manner that can provide a complete picture of the customer's activities. An increasing number of companies are turning to messaging apps to enhance the customer experience. Marketers can use messaging apps to tell their brand's story, offer product recommendations, view tutorials or provide real-time customer support. For example, hotel chains can use messaging apps to allow users to check vacancies, make reservations or even order from room service. Airlines can use messaging apps to allow users to research flights, make reservations, research seating assignments or receive automatic updates about any flight delays. The possibilities are virtually limitless.
Messaging apps can be powerful additions to marketing strategies. However, marketers need to ensure that they use them properly. Users like these apps because they are immediate and intimate; users appreciate the personalization, but they will quickly spot contrived or forced communications and rebel. Marketers should use a natural tone to deliver a clear, personal message for which there is a genuine purpose or benefit to the user.
Although it might take time to master the art of messaging apps, the rewards could be significant. Increasingly, customer journeys are encompassing multiple channels, and the lines between social, mobile and messaging are becoming less distinct, making it more difficult to ensure that customers receive a seamless experience and to reach them with the right content at the right moment. Messaging apps can help marketers engage customers across platforms and channels to demonstrate the company's commitment to focusing on customer relationships. After all, in today's competitive environment, companies who ignore the importance of relationships will find success becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.