There’s a good chance that most of your customers spend at least some time engaging with people they know using messaging platforms. Many are also using these tools to communicate with brands. This has allowed companies to market to and provide support for their customers at various stages of the customer journey.
When messenger interactions work well, everybody benefits. Customers can interact with brands in real time, enjoy better shopping experiences, and receive the support they want. Brands can use messaging apps to create new opportunities to engage with customers.
There’s no doubt that messaging enhances interactions between brands and customers. That leads to an important question. So many tools are available to support conversational interactions — but which is the best one for your business?
Here, we will compare three of the most popular options:
When you’re done reading, you should have the information you need to determine which messaging package is best for your team. Additionally, we’ll explore when it’s easier to bypass messaging in favor of a different channel, such as email.
What Is Messenger Marketing?
Messenger marketing is using native or downloaded messaging apps to engage audiences with marketing information. These are some common examples:
- Sending broadcast announcements for events or sales
- Engaging customers in interactive campaigns using shortcodes or keywords
- Communicating with customers in store
- Distributing coupon codes and other special offers
- Answering brand- and product-related inquiries
- Engaging customers and prospects in chat
- Reengaging with inactive customers
- Making and responding to urgent support requests
- Sending onboarding materials
- Delivering links to relevant content
Activities covered by messenger or text marketing tend to involve smaller amounts of information, faster response times, and brief, conversational interactions.
What Are Messenger Marketing Goals?
Businesses adopt messenger marketing to accomplish one or more of the following goals:
- Maintain an instant-response communication channel
- Improve customer retention
- Improve incident resolution times
- Engage customers with personalized messaging
- Remove barriers associated with other forms of outbound engagement
- Conduct market research
- Increase the availability of sales and support teams
- Nurture relationships with prospects and customers
- Broadcast information to customers quickly
- Provide low-funnel customers with actionable information to increase conversions
All of these things are possible through messaging tools because of the widespread adoption of online conversational interactions.
What Are the Benefits of Using Messages for Engagement?
The primary benefit of instant messaging is that communications are virtually guaranteed to reach the user. These messages are not subject to spam filtering. Nor will they be hidden due to any sort of algorithm. As long as the recipient has opted in and hasn’t actively blocked communication, your content will arrive.
Additionally, people tend to check messages quickly. This makes messaging a channel with a fast response time and real-time engagement. Brands are able to receive responses quickly. Customers who have questions or concerns are also able to receive responses immediately.
Will Messengers Replace Email?
Email is another popular tool for outbound marketing and support. However, messenger marketing has certain advantages over email marketing.
For example, messaging campaigns tend to be less expensive. Prospects are more likely to opt in to receive marketing texts than they are to subscribe to emails. Finally, email response rates are lower than SMS response rates.
Despite all of these advantages, messengers won’t be replacing email anytime soon. Instead, it may be better for brands to view messenger marketing as a tool that can be used along with emails to make marketing campaigns even more engaging. For example, a brand can send follow-up messages after releasing marketing or support emails.
Also, there are some communications that are simply better suited for email. Some customers prefer not to be contacted by text. Digest-style marketing newsletters that are lengthy and contain multiple links are also better sent via email.
Marketing and Engagement with WhatsApp
WhatsApp has become a popular engagement channel for many businesses. There are three versions of this messaging software available.
The first is the app, which is widely used for social communications. There is also a business app geared toward small businesses. Finally, the WhatsApp API is an enterprise-level offering. This allows larger businesses to integrate the ability to communicate via WhatsApp into their software packages.
There are some undeniable benefits to WhatsApp. The first is that it’s widely used. It’s also popular in countries around the world. It tends to be more prevalent outside of the United States. This is helpful for global businesses that want to use the tool to engage with customers and would benefit from something that has widespread adoption.
WhatsApp also has rich media capabilities. The app can be used to send images, videos, and GIFs. This versatility creates some great potential for sharing engaging marketing materials and can also prove useful in customer support scenarios.
There are some negatives to consider as well. The small business app is not completely GDPR-compliant. The app comes with a limited number of seats, and those must be associated with the same phone number.
While the enterprise API doesn’t have these issues, it is costly. There is a subscription fee and a small charge per conversation. This kicks in after a specific number of engagements have taken place.
Viber for Marketing Outreach and Support
Viber is an instant messaging app that also includes VoIP. There is a version available for individual use as well as Viber for Business.
Many users who are happy with Viber cite its ease of use. It is also a flexible tool with both marketing and customer support applications. Viber offers a live chat feature as well as in-app messaging. There’s a built-in analytics tool as well.
However, Viber users have expressed some complaints as well. The app lacks integrations, and there are performance concerns associated with iOS devices.
Using SMS for Customer Support and Marketing Engagement
SMS and MMS (used for multimedia messaging) is a native messaging app that is available on all mobile phones. SMS can be used for outbound marketing, customer engagement, and support.
There are some key benefits to using SMS for marketing and support. Most importantly, it’s widely used and available to anybody with a smartphone.
Unlike other platforms, a business doesn’t need to ask customers to download an app to engage with them. That eliminates a barrier that exists for pretty much every other messaging alternative. In fact, if a company adopts a messaging app to communicate with customers, they may also need to adopt SMS along with it.
SMS can also be used for both broadcast and SMS capabilities. It’s also an inbound channel that allows customers to respond to and initiate communication. When paired with the right platform, SMS campaigns can include analytics, reporting, and audience segmentation.
The potential drawbacks are that SMS can seem spammy if marketing teams aren’t careful with message content and timing. There is also a length limit to SMS texts. Communications that surpass this limit are likely better suited to email.
What Is the Best Messenger Tool for Your Business?
When it comes to messenger marketing and customer support, you have several options beyond WhatsApp, Viber, and SMS. These are among the most popular tools for conversational engagement between customers and brands. However, there are many more messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram.
Before you choose a messenger tool, ask yourself the following questions:
- What messengers are most popular with my target audience?
- Will prospects and customers download a messenger to engage with me?
- Does the messenger I’m considering have multimedia capabilities?
- What is the learning curve that comes with adopting the messenger?
- How do the costs compare?
Of course, no decision should be made until you have clearly articulated your goals. Ultimately, your messenger of choice should align with what you are trying to accomplish.
It is very common for businesses to adopt more than one conversational channel to engage with their customers.
For example, a company might use targeted emails for longer communications and marketing materials that are sent at regular intervals, such as newsletters.
SMS might be the company’s preference for urgent communications, frontline customer support, simple market research, sales announcements, follow-ups for other channels, and special offers. WhatsApp could be used for promotions and eCommerce.
The Importance of Campaign Management and Support
It is of vital importance to select the right messaging platform for your business goals. However, the success of your conversational marketing campaigns and customer support efforts depends on more than the technologies you choose.
You also need strong marketing strategies, analytics, and tools that allow you to take advantage of features such as customer segmentation, broadcast messaging, automation, APIs, and so on. Many brands also require a solution that allows them to integrate messaging with email and other marketing campaigns.
At Contact Consumers, our text messaging and email marketing platform allows you to reach customers for outbound marketing, support, chat, and appointment management. All of this can be done from a user-friendly web-based portal that makes digital marketing significantly easier, freeing up you and your team to focus on branding and content.