Messaging apps started out as an alternative to text messaging, and they have evolved into multifunctional apps that can satisfy every possible digital need. Now you can share content, play games, watch movies, send your exact location, and even order food via chat.
A report from BI Intelligence shows that the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks.
A research by Hubspot confirms the data: messaging apps now have over 5 billion monthly users worldwide.
A Facebook-Nielsen Messaging Survey discovered that 67% of people who message businesses plan to message with companies even more within the next two years.
The massive user base and their willingness to use a chat app to interact with businesses are two good reasons to include messaging apps into your marketing strategy.
But how do you know which messaging app is going to work best for your business? This post can help!
Mark Zuckerberg admitted in a public Q&A back in 2014:
Messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking.”
That’s what’s happening now. Instead of broadcasting their lives all over social media, users are more inclined to share their news with a refined circle of people. A messaging app is ideal for that.
So, are social networks starting to fall by the wayside, giving way to messaging apps? That’s what this Business Insider report suggests:
The 3 main factors that are helping propel messaging apps growth are: falling data prices, cheaper devices, and improved features. But what’s next?
The first stage of the chat app revolution was focused on growth. In the next phase, companies will focus on building out services and monetizing messaging apps’ massive user base”.
The experts at BI Intelligence continue:
Popular Asian messaging apps like WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE have taken the lead in finding innovative ways to keep users engaged. They’ve also built successful strategies for monetizing their services.
Media companies and marketers are still investing more time and resources into social networks like Facebook and Twitter than they are into messaging services. That will change as messaging companies build out their services and provide more avenues for connecting brands, publishers, and advertisers with users“.
You don’t want to be left behind, do you? And you also want to maximize your marketing budget, right?
So let’s dive into the specifics of each messaging app and see how they stack up against each other and what’s the best choice for you.
Tl;dr? Click here and head straight to the infographic that will sum it up for you.
Famous companies like IBM, Hubspot, AdRoll, and Shopify are using Slack for effective internal communication.
So if you’re a B2B company, Slack would be a good choice. According to iDatalabs, Slack is most often used by businesses founded in the United States, with 10-50 employees, and a volume of revenue between 1M-10M dollars.
To hit it out of the park: create Slack communities.
Slack Pro Tip #1 – Create a community for potential clients
Dan Norris, a serial entrepreneur and the author of 7 Day Startup and Content Machine bestsellers, created a Slack group for entrepreneurs on the go. He wanted to help the members get solutions to their problems fast, and he thought that a Slack community was perfect to do that.
Because most entrepreneurs you might be wanting to contact are already on Slack most of the day, this is the perfect platform, so they don’t have to go to Facebook or elsewhere to find an answer.
And, when relevant, Dan could promote his books and other resources he created.
What we can learn from Dan here:
- Create value. Share insights, data, resources, and guides that can help the members of your community.
- Include links to your product/website ONLY when you feel it will help add to your point.
2. Slack Pro Tip #2 – Create a community for existing customers
ProdPad, a software provider for product managers, used Slack to nurture better relationships with their customers.
Andrea Saez, their head of customer success, said they built a community to:
- Help the customers solve their issues.
- Collect feedback
- Let customers communicate with each other to share tips and ideas
- Have an open discussion with the customers about their upcoming features.
Being this transparent and willing to receive feedback, when communicating with their customers, ProdPad managed to reduce the number of their plan cancellations. 99% of the cancellations came from the clients who weren’t a part of the Slack community.
Hands down, when it comes to informal communication, this instant messaging app is on top of the game right now.
According to the “Mobile Messaging Report” by Mobile Ecosystem Forum, a study of 6,000 people in 9 countries, Messenger is the most popular regularly used app.
11% of the world’s population use the app monthly.
So if you’re a B2C company, targeting consumers all over the world, consider employing Messenger.
What can you do to maximize your business results with Messenger? Build a chatbot!
When asked how some of their clients’ chatbots performed, Dmitriy Kachin from Chatfuel, a chatbot creation platform, said that:
bot experiences with more engaged audiences are getting 80-90% response rates”.
There are tons of opportunities to create one for Messenger: if you have coding skills, use Facebook Messenger Platform. Otherwise, there are a plethora of tools that allow creating a bot without coding a single line. Chatfuel and Manychat are just some of them.
By the way, Facebook Messenger probably has the biggest number of online platforms available for building a bot without coding, compared to other messaging apps.
Here are some ways to use a chatbot for Messenger.
Messenger Pro Tip #1: Use Messenger chatbot to deliver content
HubSpot has been using a Messenger chatbot to deliver their latest blog posts to subscribers.
When they compared the performance of an email newsletter vs. that of a Messenger newsletter, here’s what they found out:
The open rate of the Messenger newsletter has turned out to be 242% higher than that of an email newsletter.
Messenger ProTip #2: Use Messenger chatbot to boost the engagement of participants during an event
For their Four Days of Facebook event, instead of having attendees fill out a form, HubSpot introduced the opportunity to sign up through Messenger.
The attendees received reminders before the event, updates on each day’s talk during the event, and a follow-up message at the end of it.
Extra tip: use a chatbot platform like ManyChat to create subscriber lists and broadcast your messages.
Messenger ProTip #3: Use Messenger chatbot to drive sales with Facebook ads
To generate leads on Messenger, first of all, you have to get people to connect with you there. An excellent way to do that is Facebook ads.
- Click-to-Messenger ads lead the reader from the News Feed to a Messenger chat with you.
- Sponsored messages allow initiating a conversation with any person who has previously contacted your Facebook page.
Let’s see how exactly these two work on a couple of examples.
Valassis, a media agency, used click-to-Messenger ads to help drive sales for the local auto dealers of Feldman Automotive Group.
When a user clicked on the ad, they were taken to a Messenger conversation with a chatbot. There a prospect was asked a series of questions with options to answer.
The user could also eventually speak with a sales rep.
The campaign resulted in the reach of 100,000 prospects and helped generate around 50 sales monthly.
Sponsored messages, unlike click-to-Messenger ads, appear directly in the Messenger. They can ONLY be sent to people that have previously contacted you. Choose this type if you’d like to re-engage customers.
Digital Marketer used sponsored messages to promote their offers and got the read rate of 67% to almost 90%.
Extra tips: chatbots and Facebook ads will only work if you use smart targeting (location, age, etc.) and add a human touch. In some cases, a real person should take over the conversation to close the sale.
1.3 billion people are using WhatsApp monthly, with 70% of them checking the app daily.
This huge user base should be a good enough reason to start marketing on WhatsApp.
Historically, WhatsApp has mostly been popular in developing countries. But to be more accurate, it’s a #1 messaging app in many European countries as well.
So if that’s where you’re targeting consumers or businesses, WhatsApp would be your app of choice.
How do you boost your business with WhatsApp?
WhatsApp Pro tip #1: Leverage one-to-one messaging capabilities
Since WhatsApp doesn’t allow third-party bots and doesn’t sell ads, you can take advantage of the most basic feature – text messaging. Create a targeted and personalized campaign to communicate with a client as a real person would.
Hellman’s Brazil nailed this approach by creating WhatsCook, a live service, that connected users with real chefs via WhatsApp. A person had to take a picture of their fridge contents and send them to WhatsCook. A chef would then reply with WhatsApp messages, sending detailed instructions with photos and videos.
8,000 users signed up in less than 2 weeks. And with just $900 of investment, the campaign reached 4 million people.
WhatsApp Pro Tip #2: Make use of WhatsApp Status feature
300 million people use WhatsApp Status daily. So it’s an excellent opportunity to get some exposure.
In their Status users (and businesses too) can upload videos, images, or simply lines of text that disappear in 24 hours.
Here’s a simple, yet vivid example of how a company can use this feature.
Toyota promoted their offer by asking users to post the word “Hybridized” into their WhatsApp Status and register on the company website. Then, every week for a month an iPhone was raffled among the participants.
What you can do with your WhatsApp Status, is showcasing discounts and loyalty programs, send reminders about events and limited time offers, or even announce the launch of a new product.
WhatsApp Pro Tip #3: Create WhatsApp Groups
You can create groups of up to 256 people. And this is more than on any other messaging app.
Start a group-chat with your customers to:
- get feedback on your products;
- send reminders for your events;
- notify about discounts and special offers.
Here’s what to remember when marketing with WhatsApp: since there are no chatbot/ad opportunities, make your communication with consumers as targeted and personalized as possible.
4. Kik Messenger
Many of you, maybe, don’t even know that Kik exists.
If you were born before 1990 don’t worry, you’re excused!
But if you are a teen or anyway didn’t blow your 31 candles yet, you have no excuses!
So Kik will work best as a business messaging app if you’re targeting teenagers in the US.
How can you leverage Kik?
Teens love texting, emojis, and GIFs. So make them work for you!
Here’s how Paramount used every possible Kik feature to promote their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
- custom chatbots for every turtle;
- custom emojis, with each of them reflecting a turtle’s main trait.
The average turtle chat duration was 7 minutes and sometimes went up to 20 minutes. The campaign resulted in 400,000 additional trailer views.
Kik offers extensive support for bot features, and Kik’s Shop has one of the most developed and comprehensive bot discovery systems.
By creating a chatbot for your business, you will have plenty of opportunities to grow sales, increase engagement, and raise brand awareness.
If your audience is millennials, marketing on Snapchat could be a good idea.
Yet only 1% of marketing specialists use this channel.
So it turns out, Snapchat is an untapped opportunity for growing your brand awareness, as the competition is at its lowest.
Here’s how you can use Snapchat.
Snapchat Pro Tip #1: Use unpaid promotions and influencers
- Use snaps and stories to showcase discounts and coupons
- Increase event engagement by sending multiple stories:
- Before the event (to build anticipation and/or remind about the event)
- Notify users about any change in the schedule
- Showcase the link to guides and videos available online
- Partner with a Snapchat influencer to grow brand awareness.
L’Oreal teamed up with Lauren Riihimaki, who had up to 250,000 views per snap on Snapchat, and grew their sales by 51%.
L’Oreal’s effort ran from August through October last year, as Riihimaki and the rest of its army of influencers pushed the company’s new skincare brand Pure Clay Mask. Encouraged to “clay the day away” with the detox cream, they posted photos, reviews, and videos to Snapchat and the other social media platforms. More than 500 stories were posted to Snapchat.
Across all six social channels, 741,000 consumers were reached with 5,800 pieces of content as social conversations jumped 53 percent, according to BzzAgent and L’Oreal. A match-market test showed a 51 percent sales lift for Pure Clay Mask.
Rebecca Cutbill, a product manager for L’Oreal, commented:
We’ll continue to explore Snapchat for everyday influencer campaigns in the future.”
Extra Tips: try to be as creative as possible with your stories and snaps to catch the viewers’ attention. Say something when filming or taking a picture, use texts, emojis. Experiment with length, but remember that it’s best when a snap is 5-15 seconds long, and a story – 1-2 minutes long.
Snapchat Pro Tip #2: Use all the advertising options
Let’s do a quick recap of what Snapchat offers:
- Snap ads are 10-second videos that users can view in their Discover panel. (40% of Snapchat users check their Discover panel daily)
- Sponsored Geofilters might come handy if you need promotion in a specific location
- Sponsored Lenses are photo modifications that you can use when marketing a certain product or idea.
When Netflix started streaming Gilmore Girls in 2016, they decided to promote it by recreating Luke’s cafe from the series.
200 coffee shops were engaged in the campaign. They gave away free coffee in branded cups with Snapcodes, which, after being scanned by the visitors, took them to the custom filters. The filters included a sign from Luke’s and a toaster, and the users could apply it to their photos.
As a result, the filter was viewed 880,000 times, and the campaign reached about 500,000 people.
Text messaging doesn’t offer the luxury of exchanging photos and videos. And it’s not free. But in some ways, this downside can be an advantage for marketers.
When you receive a text message from a business, in fact, it carries a sense of urgency.
Because, today, when so many apps are available, if someone still sends you an SMS message it means they want to reach you fast.
Text messaging doesn’t need an Internet connection. That’s one of the reasons why, according to the Mobile Messaging Report, it remains 3rd concerning global usage.
When should you use SMS for your business?
1. Time-sensitive promotion campaigns
According to this case study on American Express Open Forum, an old-fashioned pizzeria suffered from a lack of customers on Mondays.
The problem was solved when they sent out the following text just before lunch on Monday: “Today only! Buy any 2 slices, get 1 drink free!”
2. Notifications and alerts
Any client-based business has experienced a no-show problem some time in their practice. A simple text, reminding a customer about the place and time of the meeting can save you from the losses of a no-show.
SMS can be a quick way to survey your clients. Of course, it should be combined with some other means of collecting feedback.
But still, when it comes to response rates, SMS surveys have 10-15%, while it’s 7-9% for emails.
Extra Tips: while a text has the limited capacity of 160 characters, you should still try to make it personalized for every client.
Wrapping it up
Each of the above-listed apps has its specifics, geography, prevailing audience.
Yet, if you’re targeting, for example, millennials, you shouldn’t just stick to Snapchat.
Create Sponsored Lenses on Snapchat, and launch a chatbot newsletter on Facebook Messenger. Maybe support that with an SMS campaign.
To achieve the desired results, you will have to try out different things on different messaging apps before you see which one works best for your business.
To make things easier for you, we have put together an infographic. It sums up all of the key findings and saves you the trouble of sifting through the article above over and over again.
Just click on the preview below and you can see it all (and download it for FREE)!
Anastasia Sviridenko is a content marketing manager at TextMagic, a bulk text messaging solution.
She creates visuals and writes about how messaging can be used for taking your business to the next level.
When she is not in pursuit of new content ideas and ways to promote them, you can find her writing, watching sci-fi, and baking.
Follow her on Twitter.