With the proliferation of smartphones across the globe, it comes as no surprise that messaging apps are the heart of the rapidly evolving digital economy. Messaging apps have connected and engaged personal and professional lives via mobile-
- Over 84 per cent of mobile phone users say they cannot do without their phones
- 65 per cent of us regularly use our phones to transact business online
While these percentages are steadily increasing, mobile messaging apps are the primary reason behind the growth.
There is no doubt that, mobile messaging applications are here to stay- messaging apps now have over 5 billion monthly active users worldwide (Source: Hubspot Research). In fact, the number of customers on each messaging platform is mind-boggling. Juniper Research predicted that instant messaging would account for 75 percent of all mobile messaging traffic by 2018. This will be the equivalent of 63 trillion messages.
The Current Landscape …Users Everywhere!
People not only exchange messages via messaging apps but also transfer money, pay their bills online, shop online and do many more tasks.
The launch of the messenger platform with chatbots (Facebook), has allowed businesses to deliver e-commerce guidance, automated interactive experiences, and customer support. Messaging apps now accompany users throughout the day, in every possible aspect- from chatting, playing games, to conducting business, connecting to diverse IoT devices, or even accessing fintech applications.
How are Messaging Apps helping Businesses?
- Integration of messaging apps in day-to-day work is higher than ever before
Use of messaging apps is now common at enterprises that have adopted message-based platforms (Source: McKinsey Study, see figure 2). This message-based communication has made a difference in how teams are communicating across levels, roles, and the entire organisation. When working with team members, especially those who are off-site, group chat sessions have enabled everyone to get the information instantly.
The “easily tracked” part comes from the nature of instant messages- team members can easily go back to previous messages sent, enabling them to know exactly what was said, by whom, and when!
By using messaging app’s SMS platforms:
- More self-organisation is found in teams
- Boundaries between customers, employees and vendors have blurred
- From the bottom up approach, more strategic priorities have been set up
- Messaging works for customer support
Here’s why: 42 per cent of customers expect a response in less than an hour (Source: Edison Research). Also, messaging apps are efficient in reducing Customer Effort Scores to a minimum when compared to the other leading channels (See figure 3).
With the growth of customer-centric messaging apps, businesses have begun to connect with consumers on yet another channel- ‘chatbot integration’. Chatbots are pointing customers to the right information, allowing them self-serve and ultimately allowing businesses to focus on the issues that require a human touch.
- Allowing Enterprises to be more organised
With the built-in ‘to-do list’ feature to help track how things are going with the team, business messaging apps are allowing members to check the progress of important tasks. Members can easily check off things on lists to get a real sense of accomplishment and even pin messages to different channels so that everyone can keep an easy reference to assignments and reminders.
- Messaging vs Social
With the increase in noise levels of social networks, it is challenging for businesses to decipher what exactly the customer wants. However, within a messaging context, customers only contact businesses to ask a question or provide feedback, as no one else is listening.
What does the Future Hold for Messaging Apps?
It will not be an exaggeration to say that the future of messaging apps is the future of mobile. Messaging apps have successfully combined the three keys to powerful relationships in a digital environment: emotional connection, the frequency of use, and convenience. A chatbot is the best example- almost 30 per cent of chatbot users on major messaging platforms use bots to communicate with a business. Soon, innovation in adjacent technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning will blur the lines between messaging apps, bots, and voice-based intelligent agents (AI market is expected to surpass $100 billion by 2025, source: Constellation Research).
By the year 2019, requests for customer support through mobile messaging apps will exceed requests for customer support through traditional social media (as per Gartner). As messaging apps will have more users engaged for more minutes per day, they will become a dominant SMS platform through which users will first experience and refine their expectations of AI-based tools. For instance, based on the time of the day, user location, and weather, the different recommendation of stickers may be made available. It’s a very small example of what is possible with big data and AI inside messaging apps going forward.
‘Audience Segmentation’ using messaging apps will be something that will gain momentum in the coming years (as customers are shopping around the clock and don’t want to wait until tomorrow for answers). In fact, 51 per cent of people say a business should be available 24/7 (according to the 2016 Mobile Messaging Report). This will be possible as marketers will pull an incredible amount of data to segment their users rather than showing the same ads or sponsored content. Apps will use big data to break their users down by demographics like age, gender, and location and then promote their sponsored content based on that data.
Along with payments, and developments with chatbots we cannot ignore the fact that messaging apps can replace operating systems and browsers at the heart of the internet.
The beauty of messaging apps is that they give the business the ability to learn and test different audience segments in an agile way, along with the ability to scale regionally. Only time will tell whether such forecasts will come true, but what is certain is that there is no sign of messaging apps losing speed. The opportunities for businesses who adopt them early will be enormous.
No doubt, messaging apps have shown the ability to combine services from different apps into one platform. So instead of burning through cash to get market share, messaging apps can simply consolidate the on-demand ecosystem.
These applications will increasingly become vital to how businesses interact with one another, provide service and build loyalty.