EYE Views: Messaging 2020

Press release – January 23, 2020

By Tim Banks, Mobile Industry Eye.

Mobile messaging has had a big year. Where once email was the preferred way for brands to communicate, it’s messaging that is now proving itself as the most effective channel through which to ‘speak’ to consumers. Not just as a marketing function but at all points throughout a customer’s journey.

Is mobile messaging having a moment? We asked some industry experts about the trajectory for mobile messaging in 2020.  Here’s what they said…

Dan Garner, SVP, Solutions,  IMImobile

As we move into 2020, there is simply no excuse for companies failing to adopt new customer communications channels, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, RCS and Apple Business Chat. Proactive, two-way communication is the name of the game and the evolution of these channels is driving this change. Therefore, companies can no longer rely on traditional communications and development methods.

They need to be able to roll out such services quickly and effectively, maximising the interactive capabilities these channels bring, in a way that complements their existing customer communication channels. At the same time, they must be able to pull together data from these different channels to so they can have a channel-agnostic view of customer interactions. Through adopting a ‘platform approach’ towards customer communications, companies will be able to view and manage all channels centrally while being able to add new ones (and the associated customer journeys) much more rapidly.

Matt Ramerman, President, SinchEngage

Mobile messaging will continue to grow as the centerpiece of enterprise communication throughout 2020. There are many reasons why this is the case.  Firstly marketers, app developers, banks and retailers, and more besides, are keen to engage increasingly fickle consumers in two-way personalized conversation.

This means communicating contextually at appropriate moments in the customer journey and not just at the top of the sales funnel. So, as well as brand awareness, loyalty and incentive campaigns, things like on-boarding, churn points and customer service all have to be considered, personalized and awesome to keep the consumer engaged.

Secondly, where once email was the workhorse of this interaction consumers no longer view it as an acceptable channel. Mobile messaging, on the other hand, paints a different picture. Our own research shows that consumers are 35X more likely to open a message than an email. Add to that personalization and the richness of new formats like RCS and WhatsApp as well as chatbots and personalized video messaging and you open up a channel that is deeply engaging for consumers.

2020 will see enterprises increasingly understanding that CX and mobile messaging are now married and in many ways the primary way to compete for customer attention, loyalty and sales.

David Parry -Jones, VP EMEA, Twilio

Communications and customer engagement are key areas in which incumbents need to catch up with the cloud-native, agile startups that have had responsive, intuitive customer service baked into their model. When you look at the benefits retail and banking giants such as M&S,  John Lewis and ING have gained by applying these lessons and building flexible communications into their customer service models, it’s inevitable that more will start to follow suit and even rethink their strategy as a whole.

With the advent of APIs and cloud-based communications platforms, customers can now be easily reached across a multitude of different channels according to their preference, and call-time vastly reduced through the application of AI, so in 2020 more organisations should begin to ask – why can’t we do this too? And can we really afford not to?

Customers are at the heart of business success, and in 2020 it’ll be vital that businesses apply the lessons we’ve learnt from disruptors more widely.

Matthias Mehner, CMO, MessengerPeople

2019 closes with the end of an era: R.I.P. messaging newsletter! WhatsApp announced to only allow customer care business use cases. But what seemed like bad news to many, is actually a great chance for companies to start focussing on the customer and on personalized service. The focus for the new year? Conversational marketing!

It has actually never been more effective for companies to get in dialogue with their customers, thanks to the huge popularity and spread of messaging apps. Gartner expects the incoming number of customer inquiries via messaging apps to double every year. Imagine five years from now, no company will be able to succeed without offering this convenient communication channel!

In order to handle the ever rising amount of incoming inquiries, virtual assistants (chatbots) are also a key topic for 2020. It is not about AI, it is more about automating 80% of easy tasks while the human agent focusses on the 20% of more complex questions.

And what I believe will really become the game-changer in 2020 is payment integration! Companies can already consult their customers prior and after their purchase via messaging app – what is missing is the decisive link: the purchase itself! Apple already introduced Apple Pay, WhatsApp is still testing and Facebook Pay just recently went live. If paying with WhatsApp becomes as easy as sending a photo, the entire customer journey will soon be displayed in the messaging app and the topic of conversational commerce will be raised to a new level.

Josh Wigginton, VP Product Management, Interop Technologies

Over the past 10 years mobile messaging has become increasingly fragmented as new chat apps offering innovative capabilities have entered the marketplace. The greatest benefit of RCS is that it’s a standards-based messaging service with the ubiquitous power of SMS. Not only does it deliver new experiences for consumers and enterprises, but RCS also enables new business opportunities for mobile operators.

The lack of an immediate business case for RCS has delayed the push aspect of its adoption, but RCS A2P capabilities with plugins, chatbots, and AI has enabled brands to create use cases that are attracting users and proving their profitability.

Early trials of RCS use cases have resulted in much higher open and click-through rates than any other available marketing channel. Now that global Tier 1 operators have committed to launching the service and OEMs are working on interoperability, we should see a significant increase in RCS momentum in 2020.

Tracey Milham, Global Head of Brand, OpenMarket

Brands everywhere are aware they need to use what they know about customers to deliver smooth, personalized mobile experiences. But many don’t have the time or skills to make it happen.

In 2020, setting up mobile messaging conversations that meet the needs of individual customers will start to become easier. Mobile messaging providers will help brands: find out who to contact and why, work out the right moment to connect, use context & AI to determine what to say, use optimal channel & format for that individual.

New mobile CX research I was recently involved with reveals what messaging channels customers favour for business comms. The traditional inbox is still favourite, but there’s appetite for OTT channels too. What’s certain is that increasing numbers of messages will feature video and images in 2020. MMS is growing fast in the US, while businesses’ use of RCS and Apple Business Chat (both rich messaging channels) will gradually ramp up throughout the year.