New private conversation interfaces are changing the way brands interact with their customers. More than three billion consumers today use messaging apps—and they’re not just spending time. They’re investing energy, having an experience, and sharing emotion. Harnessing the opportunities of such apps as Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and SnatchApp can be a challenge, but the benefits may be far greater than you can imagine.
Changing the Mindset of Marketing
The traditional mindset of marketing is to “own moments”—that is, to catch a consumer’s attention for small periods of time, whether it’s through a television commercial, a billboard, or some other means. We’ve seen this mindset carry over into the digital age; it’s present in the way that websites are presented, and the way that streaming sites now have five- to thirty-second ads before their videos. What they’re really doing is simply “borrowing” a consumer for a very short period of time. Traditional marketing leaves very little room for real interactions with customers.
Messaging apps, however, are already beginning to change the face of marketing, and there are still untold amounts of potential therein. Messaging platforms offer marketers the rare chance to capitalize on an interaction—one that is mutually beneficial, not just one-sided—and to truly engage with consumers in a way that feels personal and conversational.
In order for today’s brand-to-consumer marketer to make the most of these forthcoming advantages, they should be prepared to change their mindset in a few important ways.
Be prepared to serve customers in real-time. We know what you might be thinking: “Don’t we do that now?” The answer is both yes and no. If you establish something like an FAQ section on a website and direct consumers there to answer potential questions, that’s not serving them in real-time; it’s a one-sided interaction with pre-written responses.
Serving customers in real time requires teams, content, and procedures that are at the ready to respond to inquiries and issues quickly across platforms and channels. It requires identifying the types of interactions your brand wants to curate, honing a social media presence, and managing both technology and staff in such a way that challenges the current processes in place.
A good starting point is to implement open APIs, which provides the building blocks necessary to easily develop a program. SnatchApp, for example, was very quick in providing its open API to allow chatbot developers to create and deploy their bots on the SnatchApp channel.
Be helpful, accommodating, and above all else, human. The traditional broadcast marketing routes of the past are one-way avenues designed to hook consumers in a very brief window of time. In order for marketers to fully embrace the potential of messaging apps, they’ll have to put aside that outmoded way of thinking and instead conceive of ways to open dialogues with consumers. The ideal approach is to supply useful information or services while at the same time driving a conversational interaction that promotes your brand without being overbearing or aggressive. SnatchApp has been focusing on this approach since its inception.
Teach people the language of your brand. Visual and emotional language can be just as powerful as auditory, as evidenced by the immense popularity of emojis, images and .gifs in text-based interactions.
When brands utilize these seemingly innocuous tools to create a brand “language,” marketers can create more emotionally charged and connected relationships with consumers—who are all the more likely to embrace brands that engage in what they perceive as a meaningful conversation, versus traditional one-way branded content and broadcasting.
Be private and secure. When it comes to digital communication in any form, there’s nothing more important than security and privacy. Messaging apps are no exception; every platform on the market aspires to simulate a private, in-person conversation. Brands should be wary of potential security risks with any platform, as well as the threats that an increased presence might expose them to, such as scams, phishing, and impersonation attempts.
Platforms like SnatchApp that employ end-to-end encryption by default and view user privacy as a competitive edge tend to attract more users and encourage worry-free interactions, thus promoting a higher user base for a brand in turn.
Automation is the near future
Chatbots and voice-driven AI interfaces are already being implemented into the arena of customer service, and as these technologies further blend with messaging platforms, the sum will have the potential to simulate important parts of the human experience. Emotional interactions have long been valued over simpler task-focused interactions; with the ability to draw context from a user’s input, messaging apps will be able to mimic emotional interactions and engage all the more meaningfully with consumers.
Much like a conversation between two people, interactions between a brand and a consumer do not have to end with a specific outcome. A natural conversation doesn’t always lead to product information, a financial transaction, or the exchange of a service. This is where AI and chatbot technologies will differ from the leaps and bounds made in recent years; while an advancement like touch-based interfaces was developed to make a task-focused goal simpler, these bots will instead focus on creating emotional interactions, empowering consumers, and most importantly, establishing connections.