Messaging Apps: Engaging versus Intrusive Marketing 

Communicating directly with consumers isn’t something that is new or ground-breaking. Door-to-door sales have existed for a long time; cold calling is still something that is practised to this day; when phone technology advanced sufficiently, it started the advent of advertising through text message; and finally with the introduction of the Internet, came emails and newsletters. However, despite the progress it has seen, there has never been a method that toed the line between being engaging and being abrasive.

Consumers never appreciated brands or products being pushed in their faces, so cold calling and door-to-door approaches did more harm than good. Mass texting and newsletters seemed impersonal and were all about reaching as many people as possible instead of reaching the right people.

However, the new messaging platforms and apps borne off the back of the social media explosion seem to have had more success in bridging that gap in comparison to its predecessors. The success it has had could be attributed to the level of comfort the general population feels with the current social media climate.

For example, the Facebook Messenger app has ridden the wave of the main Facebook site, making it a safe space for marketers to utilise and a more personal way of reaching out to users. Additionally, it had a push in popularity due to its functionality – apart from using the desktop version of Facebook, messaging can only be carried out on Messenger.

Even with its initial leg up, the app does seem to be doing quite well on its own.  So much so that testing on a Customer bot plugin has been taking place – a clear indication of the success it has had in connecting with connects with users. In addition to that, advertisers have benefitted from the feature of  Stories, a direct result of competition with other mobile apps, Snapchat. Its success has seen Instagram consider its own standalone messaging app, testing it on a small group of users.

Even without the boost from an original website, other messaging apps have seen a similar pull to their platform. A good example of this is Whatsapp.  Even prior to being acquired by Facebook, and without chatbots or plugins, it became a go-to platform for many businesses. Some using it as means of communications with its customers without actually meeting in person. More than that, Whatsapp has become a platform for marketing campaigns. For example, in 2015 famous shoe brand, Clark, used Whatsapp for the execution of an interactive storytelling campaign, promoting its popular product, ‘Desert Boot’.

It remains to be seen if this will become the mainstream method of one-to-one marketing, but its success and the role it has played so far will continue to make it an imperative platform in the industry.



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