The Future of Messaging Apps

From Line’s IPO to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy or Snapchat’s latest offerings and Facebook Messenger’s bots, messaging apps make the headlines.

Two years ago, Forrester made the claim that mobile was the new face of social. With more than 3 billion users worldwide, messaging apps have become one of the fastest-growing online phenomenons and have even surpassed social networks. The reach of these apps is huge, which presents a strong relationship promise for marketers.

Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, said he is expecting messaging apps to play a key role throughout the customer life cycle, but more specifically to enable brands to deepen conversations with their customers during the retention phase.

“Messaging apps combine the three keys to powerful relationships in any digital environment: frequency of use, emotional connection, and convenience,” he explained.

“All these messaging apps like WeChat and Facebook Messenger will soon collide with bots and intelligent agents like Apple Siri and Amazon Echo and introduce a paradigm shift for marketers where interactive and contextual conversations will replace ad broadcasting. New conversational interfaces will drive deeper relationships between consumers and brands.”

Husson further suggested that innovation in adjacent technologies, especially machine learning and artificial intelligence, will blur the lines between messaging apps, bots, and voice-based intelligent agents.

But because messaging apps have more users engaged for more minutes per day, they will become a dominant platform through which people will first experience and refine their expectations of AI-based tools. These new conversation interfaces will capture and mediate consumers’ digital moments and change the relationship that B2C marketers have with customers.

Together, these tools will create a new computing interface that will change how users interact with each other, with the connected environment, and with brands. Voice and SMS will stop being features and simply become the interface augmenting messaging-platform-based mobile services. Text-based interactions with bots and voice-based interactions with intelligent agents will progressively merge, opening up new ways to engage in dialogue, Husson outlined.

In other words, new conversational interfaces will drive deeper relationships between consumers and brands.

To make the most of messaging apps right now marketers have to tap into these apps to engage customers and realise that there are currently two forces that they need to be paying attention to: Asian messaging apps and Facebook.

With 806 million monthly active users, WeChat has become the dominant digital consumer platform in China and offers by far the most advanced features among messaging apps, while Facebook, according to Forrester’s new report, is currently the only global competitor to advanced Asian messaging apps due to it’s combined reach of WhatsApp and Messenger.

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