What is the quickest way to reach out to friends and family nowadays? Instant messaging! Gone are the days of sending texts via a mobile network. According to a recent report by eMarketer, nearly 1.4 billion people use private messaging apps, a figure expected to breakeven with the social media population by 2019.
The GlobalWebIndex Survey notes that the speed of communication is what is revered when it comes to the success of messaging apps and Cathy Boyle of eMarketer notes how younger people prefer the private and immediately gratifying experience of these apps.
Research by Gartner predicts that messaging apps are the emerging channel of communication between businesses and customers and this has led producers to consider them as a front-runner of future digital marketing that will reshape e-commerce.
1. Effective Tool of Digital Marketing
Whether it’s a social media company in Dubai or advertising agencies of South Asia, the world of marketing has rapidly adapted itself to the transformation of digital media. Messaging apps are being recognized as tools of persuasion used my companies to reach out to their customers.
Analysis of recent engagement patterns clearly show that digital marketing through private communication is on the rise and producers are flirting with the idea of altogether replacing Facebook and Twitter with instant-message apps in order to garner the attention of contemporary customers, not only at a low-cost but through dynamically efficient methods of innovation.
KLM, a Dutch airline, held a Q&A session last year with members of their frequent-flier program via WhatsApp. Spokesman Joost Ruempol commented on how it’s important for the airline to be where its customer base was: “We see people moving from traditional social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to new platforms, such as WeChat in China and WhatsApp.”(Reference:https://www.usatoday.com/)
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Like social media services Dubai have banned the calling feature of WhatsApp, China has banned Facebook. Since WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook, the success of the app is limited in China leading to the rise of another messaging app that is now globally recognized- WeChat. Reportedly having 550 million monthly users, WeChat’s app-within-app functionality not only lets consumers purchase online tickets, make medical appointments, order Uber and even get pizza deliveries but is also an exemplary model of how companies can promote their services through messaging apps.
2. Segmented audience
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Segmentation of the target audience helps digital marketers share content with only one person, one group or a small group of people.
Categorization of customers is an integral part of targeting audience for marketing reception. WhatsApp allows the creation of unlimited groups with a limit of 100 members in each. The small size of these groups forces the companies to add meticulously selected customers who will be of great value during a marketing campaign. Moreover, the option of broadcast lists is an example of time-saving, effectual method of advertising.
An example of effective segmentation are sponsored snapchat stories that add a new horizon to the panorama of digital marketing by targeting millennials and even specific countries. TV shows are beginning to use snapchat for releasing promos and sneak peeks. A tuition center would compartmentalize by targeting students while insurance companies would seek an elder age demographic.
3. Personalized Interaction
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According to the nudge theory of behavioral economics, presenting consumers with choices leads to more favorable outcomes. In the context of messaging apps, it can be said that personal communication has the power to be more persuasive than overt media campaigns.
The traditional one-to-many nature of media marketing is inverted to one-to-one communication which is more informal and private with companies acting like their customers’ friends. This leads to people feeling more comfortable with a company they can freely interact with as compared to the daunting money-making monsters they are often thought to be.
The CEO of fashion retailer, Rebecca Minkoff, observes that by using messaging apps to connect with consumers, companies are able to successfully energize a group of people who can proceed to become loyal customers.
This brand loyalty is a major reason why marketing through messaging apps has become such an attractive option and even led to the coining of a new career-social media strategist-which almost all companies are now hiring.
4. Immersive Interaction and Engagement
It can be argued that people no longer take TV commercials seriously. They have become background noise for viewers; something that people easily tune out and don’t pay much attention to. With this changing behavior, ads through instant messages may be the best way to capture curiosity and engage consumers. This is evidenced by the high conversion rate of 80% reported by Reliance Brands after the WhatsApp promotion of their products. (Reference: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/)
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The British shoe brand, Clarks, experimented with WhatsApp in order to trace their company’s history though a captivating story using three different virtual identities to interact with people. The company was able to create an interactive experience for its customers through the use of images, videos, emojis and GIFs.
5. Effect on Consumers
The digital marketing opportunities promised by the vogue of instant-chatting are exciting and promising. The prospect of companies being able to effectively carry out promotions at relatively low costs sounds almost too good to be true. However, an important question that must be addressed is how this will affect active users of messaging apps. Do consumers want their private messaging experience disrupted by ad campaigns? Some might argue that people will prefer this over traditional penetrations of advertisement via TV, radio and billboards while others point out that a consumer’s right to choose is compromised if digital marketing eventually mimics the norms of traditional marketing.
Invasion of privacy is another potential problem. If brands are sending out tailored messages, it means they have access to data about consumers that people might not be comfortable with. A common apprehension is that if we’re not paying to use messaging services, do consumers unknowingly become the product with their private data to be used by companies in order to target sales?
The variables involved in determining the success of web chat marketing should all be considered carefully. The use of messaging apps depends on a company’s target audience and the product they are trying to advertise. If a company’s target demographic aren’t active users of messaging apps than the marketing will prove futile so relevant research is imperative on the business’s part. The fact popularity of messaging apps has regional variations is also very significant. Though Facebook is considered universal, other apps are specific to some countries such as LINE in Japan and WhatsApp in Europe.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that if companies adopt creative techniques of marketing that are informal and user-friendly, they can have a positive influence on consumers that will boost sales. Time must be given to see whether these alterations in digital marketing will prove to be ‘all sizzle no steak’ or a triumph of effective advertisement.