How Should Messaging Be Used as a Marketing Channel? Part II

Data Scout is LSA’s series that curates and draws meaning from third-party data. Running semi-weekly, it adds an analytical layer to the industry data that we encounter in daily knowledge building. For LSA original data, see the separate Modern Commerce Monitor™️ series.

As we wrote last week, the dynamics and effectiveness of any given marketing channel are a function of how consumers use it. In other words, TV viewing patterns obviously impact how television is used as a brand messaging vessel. That statement generally applies to everything from mobile search to billboards.

With that same thinking, the act of texting businesses is growing as a function of millennial proclivities for messaging as a communication channel. Comfort levels are high in personal and social contexts, so messaging is naturally opening up as a channel for company marketing and customer support.

According to Quiq’s recent report, The Future of Customer Conversations, 65 percent of consumers have engaged with brands over SMS or messaging apps. 70 percent have done so at least twice in the previous month. And 44 percent of survey respondents say that they initiated messaging dialogues with companies.

Going one level deeper 43 percent of customers reach out to companies for billing-related inquiries and issues. 42 percent initiate conversation for account-related inquiries and issues; 26 percent want to troubleshoot product issues; 24 percent want to check order status and 17 percent want to initiate a return.

In terms of how well the activity is resonating, 75 percent of survey respondents reported being satisfied with the experience of messaging with a company in the above contexts. Only 10 percent weren’t satisfied.  The expectation for messaging is meanwhile highest with banking, e-commerce and telco services.

This affinity for messaging represents a bit of a double-edged sword for its utilization as a marketing channel. The good news is that consumers are highly engaged. The bad news is that they’re highly engaged. This makes it sort of sacred territory where there’s less tolerance for commercial messaging.

The way around this is to treat messaging as more of a customer service channel than a push-marketing one. The way brands should think about that is cultivating customer relationships in ways that boost lifetime value and retention. The bar is high for truly valuable messaging versus obtrusive marketing.

Put another way, messaging is tolerated if it’s a true utility in terms of helping consumers with existing business relationships and products they’ve already bought. That can be seen in examples like those reported above: things like bank alerts, product troubleshooting or initiating a product return.

“Companies have the opportunity to build customer loyalty, decrease costs, and increase revenue potential through upsell opportunities,” the report states. “[They] can easily improve the customer experience while enhancing brand perception by expanding their availability to SMS/text or social media messaging.”

This is also well-timed because of RCS. This is a new standard that’s rolling out in Apple Messages, Android and other platforms. It allows brands to do a lot more with messaging, including rich media, and functionality for things like confirming appointments and other communication.

As those technological capabilities roll out, there will be lots of strategic implications for how businesses utilize available tools to deepen customer relationships. That could be everything from alerts and calendar integrations, to more immersive forms of engagement such as product try-ons via augmented reality.

We’ll be watching closely as all of the above unfolds. Meanwhile, you can view the Quiq report in full here. We’ll also state the standard disclaimer that Quiq is a company that provides business messaging services. The survey methodology seems legit but, as always, results should be taken with appropriate salt tonnage.

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