Why Businesses are Messaging More to Boost Engagement
By CEQUENS Team
Today's consumers respond more than ever to authentic engagement with brands. But the way customers seek that engagement is different from previous generations.
For example, millennials are over two times more likely than older generations to prefer messaging over talking on the phone.
Younger millennials and gen-z are the first humans to have grown up with an internet-enabled lifestyle. The ubiquity of digital communication platforms during their lifetime has allowed young people to develop a more flexible style of communication than previous generations.
Digital communication has led to an ever-increasing demand to stay up-to-date with rapidly developing information. To cope with this demand, young people have adopted asynchronous communication that allows them to process information and respond on their own time.
Even though customers of these and future generations prefer the flexibility of digital communication formats, they are still driven by an innate need for personal interaction.
As more companies turn to digital media marketing strategies, they risk ignoring the personal connection that drives the most successful campaigns.
Social platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow instant contact with millions of potential customers and offer astonishingly effective tools for targeting and personalization. Still, younger customers are fluent in these platforms and inherently understand that a bot almost certainly created any personalized marketing message they see on Facebook.
To harness the profound power of digital marketing, while preserving the personal touch of face-to-face interactions, leading marketing strategies today harness the power of messaging through SMS, WhatsApp, and other messaging platforms.
In this post, we explore three reasons that messaging is essential for successful communication in business.
Messaging is the Fastest-Growing Means of Communication
In the last ten years, WhatsApp and other messaging platforms have become ubiquitous in the Middle East and Africa. These tools are now prevalent in all forms of communication.
The ability of SMS and WhatsApp to work across international borders makes these platforms very popular in places like the Middle East. Many people communicate daily with friends and family in other countries and messaging makes this easy and inexpensive.
Across the Middle East and Africa Region, there has been a steady upward trend in businesses using messaging platforms marketing in recent years. Some reasons for this increased popularity are:
- WhatsApp has 2 billion users worldwide.
- Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users worldwide.
- WhatsApp is used by 77% of internet users across the Middle East.
- SMS open-rates are as high as 98% worldwide.
Due to the enormous popularity of these platforms the use of messaging in business communications has seen a marked increase as well in recent years.
Customers Crave Intimacy and Hate Talking on the Phone
Two seemingly opposed concepts show why millennials are messaging more for business.
Millennials Hate the Phone
In the words of the prototypical millennial: phone calls are the living worst.
Millennials have grown up with ubiquitous access to on-demand data:
- Internet-based teaching tools like MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) have provided affordable, on-demand access to learning that was once only available in a brick-and-mortar classroom.
- Streaming video platforms bring instant gratification to users with an incredible variety of content.
- Distributed office environments have satisfied the millennial preference for asynchronous, on-demand communication in their work life.
While past generations preferred communicating over the phone, millennials would rather receive an SMS, WhatsApp, or other form of messaging that allows them to process and respond on their own time.
Intimacy in the Digital Age
Total immersion in an internet-based lifestyle leaves many millennials craving more personal engagement and authentic relationships with brands.
There is no question the ubiquity of the internet has had an impact on intimacy that's left many young people feeling isolated and craving personal connection.
When access to the internet is everywhere, our day-to-day tasks no longer require constant face-to-face interaction. For many people this is one of the biggest benefits of the internet.
The downside is that a digital lifestyle leaves our innate need for personal interaction largely unsatisfied. If there's an upside, it's that it creates an opportunity for marketing campaigns to step in and fulfill that need.
Personalized messaging campaigns provide social engagement by satisfying a craving for intimacy.
Even if a customer knows that they're chatting with a bot, hearing their own name evokes a biological response satisfying our need for human-to-human interaction.
Establishing Credibility Through Active Responses
Even though millennials don't use the phone, they still demand direct communication with brands and fast response-times to customer service inquiries.
Research has shown that 89% of consumers expect a business to respond to messages within 24 hours.
Engagement is everything, and direct messaging is the way to provide it.
The problem is scalability. When a customer messages a company, they expect the response to be similar to what they would receive when texting a friend or family member. That is: they expect a prompt and personal reply.
Even with a small customer-base, the resources required to deliver personalized responses are likely out of reach for most companies.
Using AI to Boost Personal Engagement
While it may seem counter-intuitive, automation solves the problem of personal engagement in messaging campaigns.
Even though an actual human may not have written it, an SMS or WhatsApp message sent by a good AI chatbot provides a human-feeling touch. The personalization offered by chatbots can't be matched by even the most targeted social media post.
AI-enabled chatbots are a considerable improvement over static customer support pages or FAQs in many ways:
- They address the customer actively and on a first-name basis.
- They allow seamless integration of case files, account information, and other unique data into the conversation.
- Chatbots never get tired or frustrated, and they're cheap compared to a live customer service agent.
The effectiveness of chatbots is illustrated by their incredibly extensive use in every aspect of business, from location-based marketing to customer service. Chatbots are even used in some medical applications.
Over 300,000 active chatbots are used on Facebook Messenger. Meanwhile, more companies across Africa and the Middle East are using these versatile tools every day for customer service, marketing, and support.
The Flexibility of Business Messaging in an Evolving Market
One significant benefit of messaging over traditional marketing strategies is its inherent flexibility.
Traditional marketing campaigns may take months to complete market research, design, and distribution. Campaigns that rely on static demographics risk becoming obsolete before they're even launched.
Messaging strategies that use AI to speak directly with customers can quickly pivot by:
- Adapting to social trends.
- Geo-targeting messages based on an individual customer's current location.
- Tailoring copy that reflects moment-to-moment changes in the market.
How Are Businesses Using Messaging Today?
A 2017 report shows that almost 7 in 10 businesses think their communication strategies are working, while only 2 in 10 customers said the same.
The report also says that 9 out of 10 customers would like to communicate with brands via messaging.
This data suggests that a carefully planned messaging campaign using WhatsApp, SMS, and other messaging tools is essential for reaching customers in today's rapidly evolving market.
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