Messaging apps have consistently beaten social media in the number of global monthly active users since 2015, and developments underway by the likes of Facebook Messenger are likely to push this divergence much further.
That is according to James Gilbert, APAC marketing director for in-bound marketing company HubSpot. Speaking in Sydney, Mr Gilbert said the power of messaging apps for business marketing and customer engagement is yet to reach its full potential. Although, big things are already under development.
According to Mr Gilbert, businesses have typically believed they needed an app to stay connected with mobile customers. However, he said that messaging apps allow businesses to tap into an app already used by around 1.3 billion people globally.
Not only that, he said that Facebook Messenger, in particular, is looking at ways to commercialise the app, which means more tools for businesses to engage with customers.
“You could pay your restaurant bills, book your Uber and buy products – all things that you can already do on the internet, but through this one app,” said Mr Gilbert.
By doing so, businesses avoid the need to develop costly apps that fail to get downloaded – citing event apps as a prime example.
Other benefits of Facebook Messenger, he said, have something to do about abandoned checkouts, where businesses can directly engage with a customer about why they abandoned the transaction – allowing them to resurrect it, answer questions or upsell related or alternative products.
Mr Gilbert said this would be much more effective than email follow-ups, which typically have low open rates, lack immediacy and tend to be impersonal.
He said that as a company, “Facebook has a huge incentive here” to stop spam and dodgy operators, by acting as a gatekeeper for the information sent to the customer, “which has never existed for email”.
Sellers could also potentially tap into the data being captured along the way, such as what other purchases the customer has made.
To maximise the effectiveness of using Facebook Messenger, Mr Gilbert said it was “super vital” to connect the app to a CRM, so that all information is captured and not left “siloed”.