Messaging has exploded as a topic of interest among brands as of late. The app obsession seems to be fizzling out as people realize there are too many apps in the world and not enough people, attention and quality media for your app install campaign to go around. The iMessage App Store part of the iOS 10 update didn't hurt either.
As marketers realize how much time and attention consumers spend in messaging applications, the age-old question pops up: How do we monetize it? Let us not forget - we've been here before. The age of push notifications via SMS was painfully irritating and equally short-lived. What has changed are the messaging apps themselves, allowing technology and brands to interact with people in more valuable and compelling ways.
Rise of the chatbots.
Just a few months ago, no one in digital advertising was even allowed to utter the word "bots" without getting the 'I will cut you' stare from clients and co-workers alike. Now the renewed interest, and subsequent arms race, in messaging has made bots great again. We are slowly seeing the market evolve from basic pre-canned response bot functionality to quirky, one-off, campaign bots to cognitive bots that offer real value by being able to understand your preferences, retrieve information from other apps and/or the web and bring them back into the messenger and even allow you to complete transactions without leaving the messenger app.
The growing sophistication of, and use cases for bots have many industry luminaries saying things like "Messaging will be bigger than social", "Chatbots and chatcommerce will kill mobile web", and "There's never been a bigger promise and a bigger potential of disappointment". That last quote was in reference to us, as an industry, fighting the knee-jerk reaction to spam people in the messenger with coupons, competitive messaging, poorly thought-out geo-fencing tactics and the like. We at AUSAM definitely hope that we don't ruin messaging the way online retargeting ruined the internet.
There's an emoji for that.
Maybe even hotter than bots (if you can imagine such a thing) are emojis. Aside from being fun to build and distribute, brands are starting to experiment with custom keyboards, emojis and sticker packs as a way to leverage mobile as a branding medium. As many are quick to point out, emojis are the ultimate in non-interruptive brand advertising where users share your content, via messaging, with their network earning you incremental reach as well as the implicit "vouch" of the sender. As Coach USA learned, not only is engagement in messaging much higher than in their branded app, this arena also provides an almost instantaneous way to test creative, products, concepts and the like. If users aren't into what you're producing they simply won't share it. And, I mean we hate to keep bringing up Kimye, but you could argue she saw this coming.
Getting to the point.
Overall we can probably agree that messaging could be an attractive opportunity for most brands. As long as we don't ruin it. From our vantage point the commandments (so far) are:
- Be better than basic
- Don't be spammy
- Learn fast and iterate
- Make content specific for each channel
- Think about your user flow (as Marriott learned, if you give users multiple ways to interact with your brand - online chat, email, social, chatbot, phone, etc. you need to think about how you share customer data so that a conversation started via email is seamless if the users follows up with a phone call or chat to your bot)
You know. Messaging is the new botness.