As we’ve seen in our recent study, Planet of the Apps – How messaging apps conquered the world, Messaging apps are growing in popularity and it isn’t hard to see why. As public social channels become over-saturated with advertising, videos and news content; these are platforms which place an emphasis on the personal, the private and the uninterrupted. This is by no means a new concept but one that seems increasingly relevant and important in a world where we are inundated with content.
Nevertheless, the cycle continues and as these apps become more popular, they also become more significant opportunities as new marketing channels for brands and businesses. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (the biggest names in the game for the western world) have both recently launched tools which make it easier for brands to edge into these spaces.
No doubt it will be very interesting to watch how these new features are utilised but this is far from the beginning of the story when looking at how brands have engaged with these apps. Despite limitations in functionality, there are a multitude of interesting applications of messenger apps which have already been explored.
Here, we will take a closer look at three of these areas of application and the tangible projects our clients have already executed within them.
One of the foremost challenges of any research and insights project is platform. You need to find somewhere that the participant can communicate with ease, where their responses are kept private, where conversation can flow naturally between researcher and participant rather than feeling forced or automated, where there is no frustrating sign up process to go through. When all these factors are taken into account, along with the far reaching usage of messaging apps in terms of geography and demographics, it’s simple to see why these apps are a natural fit for this kind of project.
We have conducted a number of different insights projects for our clients using messaging apps in many different sectors from automotive to education to entertainment. One such project was completed earlier in the year for an innovative FMCG company.
Client: Reon Energy
- Objectives: To collect feedback on their events app and gain further insight into the needs and habits of their desired audience.
- Challenge: To elicit honest, genuine opinions and perspectives from their target audience, in order to effectively inform their direction and business decisions regarding the app.
- Innovative use of messaging apps: We used WhatsApp to communicate with the participants directly and set them unique missions each week, testing out the latest version of the app as well as sharing their opinions and ideas.
- Results: As a result of using WhatsApp as the platform for our research, we were able to be very agile and react accordingly when the results we received weren’t exactly as anticipated. By altering the nature of our planned questions and inviting our participants to share their own creative ideas based on their experiences, we were able to take away some important lessons for the brand. At the end of the project, the brand chose to take a step back from the app concept and look for other areas in which their investment may be best placed. The results of our research helped to inform this valuable business decision and put the brand on a better path to success.
Messaging apps also represent an interesting opportunity for creative campaigns. The sheer novelty of using messaging apps as a platform for a campaign can result in higher engagement and participation from the audience, giving your campaign that added “wow” factor. Short term campaign activations also make for the ideal testing ground, allowing brands to dip their toe into new platforms without making a long term investment.
An excellent example of this in action was a strategic campaign we executed for Toyota in Spain, raising awareness of the new AYGO model among target audiences using WhatsApp.
- Objectives: Promote the launch of the new AYGO and reposition the Toyota brand in the eyes of a new generation of car buyers.
- Challenge: Create an innovative and strategic campaign promoting the new model that would have impact and cut through with a younger target audience.
- Innovative use of messaging apps: We developed a unique campaign inviting users to flirt with the car on WhatsApp for a chance to win their very own Toyota AYGO. The audience exchanged videos, photos and messages with the car’s profile and in return, the car would send funny, suggestive messages and media.
- Results: The campaign generated more than 8,800 pieces of user generated content. 84,900 messages were exchanged with more than 3,300 participants. The unique nature and convenient platform of the campaign caused the audience to engage heavily with the campaign.
3. Customer service
Perhaps the most obvious application of messaging apps for brands is customer service. Just as Twitter and fellow cohorts have already transformed consumers expectations of digital customer service, it’s likely that messaging apps will have a similar effect. Do consumers not deserve the ability to communicate directly to a brand with the same ease as they communicate with their own friends and family? Through the same channels?
One of the most basic principles of marketing is to go to the consumer, rather than expecting them to come to you. This simple concept is especially true for customer service, where you’ll find that an email address or support links on your own website no longer suffice. And as the platforms for service change, expectations of business hours and response times alter alongside.
This creates some interesting implications and challenges for brands. Our clients such as OpenBank, Inditex and Lexus are all facing these challenges head on and exploring the opportunities that lie with messaging apps for engaging with their audiences in new ways, not just with existing but also potential customers and even potential employees.
Messaging apps are redefining the role that brands play in the lives of consumers, allowing these companies into new and more personal consumer-oriented spaces. It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of this transition will be and how long before the presence of brands in these spaces becomes commonplace.
To learn more about messaging apps and the business opportunities they present, we invite you to download our study here.