Messaging Apps: What They Are and How to Make Them a Part of Your Marketing Strategy

What Are Messaging Apps?

Messaging apps also referred to as social messaging or chat applications, are apps and platforms that enable users to message one another. Many started in conjunction with social networking platforms but the technology has developed into broad platforms. Messaging apps can now enable status updates, chatbots, payments, and ecommerce via chat. Some of the more well-known examples are WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Google Hangouts, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter also offer messaging services as a component of their platform.

Messaging apps are some of the most widely used smartphone apps. WhatsApp (purchased by Facebook in 2014) saw 1.6 billion users accessing their app on a monthly basis as of July 2019. Meanwhile, Facebook’s Messenger had 1.3 billion monthly users. As messaging apps are primarily used on smartphones, they have quickly surpassed the performance of the previous generation of instant messaging platforms (AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, etc.) which is not much of a surprise given that over 3 billion people worldwide use smartphones.



Are Messaging Apps Popular?

Social messaging apps are an inexpensive alternative to operator-based text messaging via SMS. For users who previously could send only a limited number of text messages per month or who were going over their text limits on a regular basis, the unlimited messaging opportunity offered by these apps is perfect. That being said, messaging apps are more than a texting channel.

Companies have attracted new users by diversifying the functions available on the apps. Some have started using them for digital transactions. Chat apps now allow users to do things like make voice calls, send images and videos, play games, and purchase products. Many also offer chatbot automation, integration with other platforms, and broadcast abilities as well.

People are showing an increased preference for the use of messenger apps as the way they communicate with businesses. The Messaging Apps Report from Business Insider says that the combined total monthly active user count of the top four messaging apps grew to 4.1 billion in 2018. They further stated that the top three messaging apps have user bases of 1 billion or more.



Which App is Right for Your Business?

In order to stay relevant and increasingly engage with their target audiences, businesses need to focus on leveraging the opportunities offered by messaging apps. That being said, it’s important to choose the app that is the best match for your brand. Here are some thoughts towards that point:


Understand Your Audience

Make sure you really know your target audience before choosing a messaging app for your marketing strategy. Understanding who they are, where they are located, their interests and hobbies, their challenges and pain points, their age range, and where they hang out online are all key insights. 

Establish Marketing Strategy Goals

With your target audience defined, turn your focus to your marketing goals and overall marketing strategy. Determine what you are trying to promote whether it is a specific product, brand awareness, or a new service your brand is offering. Then, decide how you will promote it. Will you use a platform with chatbot capabilities, like Facebook Messenger? Will you broadcast messages through WhatsApp? Or do you have a time-sensitive campaign that would benefit from a return to SMS? While some may deem that approach a bit old school, it is difficult to argue with a messaging channel that doesn’t require an Internet connection.


Determine Which App Your Target Audience Uses

It is important to establish which messaging app you think you might use but that decision shouldn’t be put into practice until you’ve done a bit more research. Be sure to determine the messaging app that your target audience uses on a regular basis. Depending on the demographics of your audience, one messaging app may be a better fit than another.

You can push out the most fantastic messaging in the world but if you are sending it to a platform where your audience doesn’t exist, it is all for naught. It’s always a good idea to do some testing to determine which app generates the most response from your users. You may find that your strongest approach will be to experiment with more than one app, especially if you have diversified segments within your target audience.

How Can We Best Use Messaging Apps?

Messenger apps are free to use, have no complicated algorithm, and receive excellent open-rates. Online marketers, especially those in ecommerce and online retail sales, have more reasons than ever before to incorporate into their marketing strategy messaging technology that will help them engage their customers. Fortunately, messaging applications have developed tools and features that will assist marketers with this goal. Read on for some tips:


Facebook Messenger Bot

Facebook’s chatbot offers a fabulously flexible option. When someone clicks on your Facebook page, the messenger app automatically pops up. Users can then choose to start a conversation with the bot. Your brand can use Facebook’s chatbots to provide content or product recommendations, to offer support on processes like placing or editing orders, or to provide information on product offerings. You might also choose to use the chatbots to solicit customer feedback or to provide a weekly newsletter.

For more on chatbots, see our articles:

The Latest on Chatbots

What is a Chatbot and Do I Need One?


Customer Service

Social media platforms have become THE place for consumers to either complain or ask for support. Brands can use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or similar app as a way to connect with customers online while limiting how publicly available that conversation is read. By offering an extra channel through which your customers are able to initiate a chat with your brand, you are communicating your desire to provide the highest level of customer service and, at the same time, providing a bit of insulation around those more difficult conversations.


Build Community

You may have utilized a Facebook or Linkedin group from a marketing perspective, but have you created a Whatsapp group? Instead of focusing on the sale of a product, focus on connecting like-minded individuals with one another and offering support. These forums are a positive space in which members can post questions and useful resources and create an online, brand-based community.


Make Your Own Graphics

Creating custom graphics is a common feature in Facebook and Viber, and is fast becoming a standard feature in other social messaging apps. Even something as basic as brand-based emoticons and stickers can keep your brand in your customers’ minds. These custom graphics can be used and shared in public chats as well as private instant messages. Be sure to follow all branding guidelines as you create your stickers and emoticon designs.



Wrap Up

  • Messaging apps are simply apps and platforms that allow unlimited interaction between users.

  • Yes, messaging apps are popular – there are over 4 billion people worldwide that use them regularly.

  • You can determine which messaging app is best for your brand by understanding your target audience, establishing your marketing strategy goals, and determining which apps are most frequented by the various segments of your target audience.

  • You can use messaging apps to increase engagement, provide high-quality customer service, build an online community, and to feature custom, brand-centered graphics.


The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing understand how overwhelming the technology options can be for both novice and experienced companies. We’d love to learn more about your brand, your goals, your immediate and long-term marketing needs, and help you reach the next level, technology included. Contact us today to get started.