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The Definitive Handbook on Business Instant Messaging

The concept of using instant messaging for business has been gaining traction over time. While Facebook chatbots introduced this idea to the western world, in China, WeChat had already established itself as a crucial communication method for both brands and consumers. Similarly, WhatsApp has played a significant role in markets like India and Latin America. With many individuals already using personal messaging accounts for business conversations, it’s essential to explore why and how we can leverage instant messaging for business in a manner that is both efficient and scalable.

In recent times, a surge of live chat companies has revolutionized how we interact with businesses. Engaging with brands on their websites through live chat is a positive experience. However, a potential issue arises when a visitor leaves the website. While attempts can be made to reengage them through email, inboxes are often inundated with messages, making it challenging to stand out. This begs the question: can messaging apps serve as the bridge between live chat and email?

This article aims to guide you through the process of adopting instant messaging for business, focusing on external conversations. For those seeking advice on internal messaging apps, we have a dedicated guide available. Throughout this post, we’ll delve into various aspects, such as:

Why Use An Instant Messenger for Business?

When it comes to communicating with customers, messaging apps like Messenger or WhatsApp offer distinct advantages over email and live chat.

Email, for instance, is known for its reliability and versatility. You can trust that it will be delivered, and it can be formatted to serve specific purposes. However, receiving and reading an email can sometimes be a cumbersome process, requiring the recipient to open it and sift through content to find the relevant information.

On the other hand, live chat provides a different experience. It offers concise, specific responses to queries without the presence of large paragraphs or formatting obstacles. While live chats are quick and engaging, there’s a level of uncertainty about who you’re conversing with, when they might exit the conversation, and why.

Messaging apps strike a balance between the two. You’re communicating with a registered account, providing a level of assurance that you’re interacting with the same individual. Additionally, conversations can be picked up or dropped at any point, akin to email. Yet, the experience is remarkably swift and engaging, much like a live chat. If you’re convinced of the benefits, let’s proceed to the next section. If not, there’s further evidence to support the efficacy of instant messaging for business.

Messaging App Audience Size

We’re currently in a messaging-centric era, with over 3 billion users of messaging apps worldwide. This statistic suggests that it’s highly probable that your customers are actively engaged on one messaging app or another. In fact, for younger demographics, messaging apps might be one of the most reliable and direct channels of communication.

Users of Messaging Apps 2018 | Source: Statista

Messaging App Engagement Rates

The strategies we’ve been employing for business growth, such as lead magnets for email collection, have been part of our repertoire for over a decade. However, with email marketing, open rates and click-through rates have dwindled to historic lows. This trend is unlikely to reverse and is poised to become even more challenging.

Emails Newsletter vs Facebook Messenger Newsletter Results

Transitioning to messaging apps provides a fresh avenue to access the same audience, and the results are remarkable. For instance, utilizing Facebook Messenger for newsletters can boost open rates by a staggering 613%. Imagine the impact of a 600% increase in open rates on your business.

Don’t Miss Out On Dark Social

Dark social refers to sharing that occurs outside of public social platforms like Facebook. Many of us share engaging content directly with friends or in private groups on messaging apps like WhatsApp. Consider the portion of direct traffic on Google Analytics that originates from links shared within messaging apps. By initiating sharing within private groups or messages, you can effectively stimulate further sharing.

Given these compelling advantages, it’s clear that adopting instant messaging for business is a strategy worth exploring. In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve deeper into the specific messaging apps and how they connect businesses with their customers. We’ll also discuss the top messaging apps by country and examine some niche contenders in the messaging app landscape.

Top Messaging Apps By Country

When incorporating a new communication tool into your business strategy, it’s crucial to understand the demographics and geographical considerations. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of the top three messaging apps in each country, offering a detailed overview of their user bases.

Most Popular Messaging Apps By Country

The Top Three Messaging Apps Worldwide

The three messaging apps discussed here collectively reach approximately 3 billion individuals worldwide. It’s advisable to start with one of these platforms for your business communications. Each of these apps has its own unique strengths and widespread popularity in specific regions.

Facebook Messenger: Widely popular globally, except in China and Iran, Facebook Messenger has a significant presence in the United States, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, and Vietnam.

WhatsApp: As the most popular messaging app worldwide, WhatsApp boasts an extensive user base across Europe, Latin America, and parts of Africa. Notable exceptions include Argentina, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Sweden, where Facebook Messenger holds sway.

WeChat: This app is particularly crucial in China, and it’s also highly engaged with Chinese expatriates worldwide. If your target audience includes Chinese consumers, WeChat is indispensable, as many other messaging apps are inaccessible in China.

The Niche Contenders

While the aforementioned three apps dominate the market, there are unique circumstances where niche messaging apps may be more suitable for specific businesses. Here are some noteworthy contenders:

Telegram: Predominant in Iran and Uzbekistan, Telegram is more than just a regional preference. It has been used as a tool for subverting strict government controls on information flow. Additionally, Telegram is favored in the cryptocurrency industry.

Line: Originating in Japan, Line holds sway in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. The company itself has identified these markets as their primary focus.

Viber: If your target audience is in Eastern Europe, Viber is an app to consider. Initially conceived as a Skype alternative, Viber is rapidly gaining traction in this region.

Kik: Although not the leading messaging app in any country, Kik is immensely popular among the youngest generation in the United States. If your brand aims to create awareness among this demographic, Kik should be on your radar.

Instant Messaging Accounts for Business

With an understanding of the key messaging apps and their regional popularity, the next step is creating the appropriate business accounts. Different messaging apps have varying procedures for this, ranging from straightforward form submissions to more complex approval processes.

Instant Messaging Business Accounts

For instance, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Viber, and Kik allow relatively straightforward account creation through form submissions. Facebook, however, requires additional information for certain functionalities.

WhatsApp and Line, on the other hand, have more intricate processes. They offer two tiers of business accounts, catering to both smaller companies and larger brands. WhatsApp Business App, designed for smaller businesses, necessitates an Android phone and SIM card, as the account is tied to a phone number. The WhatsApp Business API, currently in early access, is available to larger brands by approval.

Creating a WeChat for Business account is the most demanding. All account types (WeChat Official Account, Subscription Account, and WeChat Service Account) require approval, and business registration documents, as well as personal IDs of responsible individuals, must be submitted. The approval process for a WeChat account typically takes around four weeks.

Understanding the Messaging App Funnel

The messaging app funnel is a structured approach that comprises three essential stages:

1. Acquire Contacts

The first step in this process is gathering a pool of potential leads. Unlike email marketing, where you can simply compile a list of addresses, messaging apps require explicit opt-ins from users. This means you’re not just gaining access to an email, but to a direct line of communication with an actual person.

2. Onboard & Segment Contacts

Once you’ve acquired contacts, it’s vital to categorize them based on their interests, preferences, and behaviors. This segmentation ensures that your messages are highly relevant and engaging to each group.

3. Reengage Contacts With Targeted Mass Messages

With segmented contacts, you can now send out tailored messages to reengage them. This is akin to email marketing, where you deliver content that speaks directly to the interests of your audience.

Generating Leads with Instant Messengers

Before you can embark on any sales or marketing activities, you must first acquire contacts. There are three primary methods for getting users to initiate contact:

Requirements to Start a Chat Between a User and a Business Account

Search

Search functionality allows users to find your business account either by searching for your business name or by looking up relevant topics. While smaller businesses might not see as much traffic from this source, it’s crucial for larger brands.

Can Users Find Your Business Account Using In App Search?

Links & Scan Codes

Direct links and scannable codes provide a means to convert existing traffic into instant messaging contacts. These are particularly effective for website visitors. They serve various purposes, from customer service inquiries to lead magnet requests.

Direct Linking Capabilities Across Instant Messaging Business Accounts

Advertising

Utilizing messaging apps for lead generation through advertising can be a game-changer. Instead of redirecting users to a landing page, they’re directed straight to a messaging chat, allowing for instant interaction. This can lead to a significant increase in leads compared to traditional landing pages.

Managing Leads and Customer Interactions

As leads start pouring in through your messaging app business account, it’s crucial to handle the volume efficiently. Response time is a critical success factor in this process. Swift responses not only leave a positive impression but also set the stage for fruitful interactions.

Meeting Response Time Expectations

Setting accurate expectations for response times is paramount. Greeting messages can serve as an initial point of contact, and away messages can communicate your regular hours of operation. Tools provided by platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Line allow for this functionality.

Collecting Data and Building Segments

Similar to email CRM, enriching contact profiles is crucial for future analysis and personalized messaging. While some automation may not be available through the instant messaging platforms themselves, manual organization is possible. Tagging and custom fields can be employed to categorize contacts.

### Reengaging Contacts with Targeted Messages

With a pool of leads at your disposal, the next step is reengagement. Like in email marketing, it’s crucial not to overwhelm contacts with excessive messages. Some platforms offer robust broadcasting capabilities, enabling you to send targeted messages based on tags or other categorizations.

Comparison of Greeting & Away Messages Across Instant Messaging Business Accounts

Leveraging Instant Messaging for Customer Support

Messaging apps offer a unique blend of email and live chat, making them a potent tool for customer support. However, it’s important to keep all conversations within a single thread to ensure a comprehensive view. While some limitations exist within the tools provided by messaging app companies, platforms like Facebook Page Inbox offer a robust interface for managing customer interactions.

In a landscape where personalized, real-time communication is paramount, instant messaging for business presents an invaluable opportunity. By understanding the nuances of this medium and effectively integrating it into your business strategies, you can forge stronger connections with your customers and propel your business to new heights.Visit our website today!

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