Mobile Messaging Apps' Turn to Shine

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Marketers should pay attention to a particular type of app: mobile messaging apps, advised Forrester Research Data Scientist Nicole Dvorak. Yesterday, at Forrester Research's annual Forum for Marketing Leaders in New York City, Dvorak pointed to behavioral research that suggests mobile messaging apps have become one of the most used applications on consumers' smartphones.

Marketers should pay attention to a particular type of app: mobile messaging apps, advised Forrester Research Data Scientist Nicole Dvorak. Yesterday, at Forrester Research's annual Forum for Marketing Leaders in New York City, Dvorak pointed to behavioral research that suggests mobile messaging apps have become one of the most used applications on consumers' smartphones.Based on users who agreed to have their smartphone activities tracked, "we believe mobile messaging should be the most important part of your mobile strategy," Dvorak said. EMarketer reported similar findings. The research firm estimates that by 2018, the number of chat app users worldwide will reach 2 billion and represent 80 percent of smartphone users.

And within mobile messaging, push notifications are gaining traction. Roughly 57 percent of users took action after receiving a notification, Dvorak noted. But even though many smartphone owners use mobile messaging, 90 percent of them opt out of receiving notifications, she added.

This reality indicates that "very few companies are communicating effectively over mobile messaging," Dvorak said. As is true with any channel, the challenge is to provide relevant and useful information. Tech firms like Facebook are trying to make it easier for brands to engage consumers through mobile messages. Facebook recently introduced bots on its Messenger Platform that are designed to help brands provide fast, intelligent services alongside human workers.

But marketers face a steep hurdle given that consumers are accustomed to using messaging platforms that are virtually free of branded messages. Indeed, even when people opt into receiving branded messages, they've been largely promotional messages, noted Tim Jenkins, CEO of 4INFO, a company that pivoted from a SMS publishing company to a mobile advertising firm."Relevancy is key," Jenkins told me. "It's very easy to build a messaging app but the distribution and relevancy [of information] is the challenge."

Marketers have the best chance of engaging consumers on messaging platforms by using contextual data, Dvorak noted. "You have to know who your customers are to have the privilege of communicating with them," she said.

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