65% of customers now talk to businesses via chat apps

We’re all used to the idea of catching up with the latest in our Whatsapp group chat, but what about sending brand messages through the app?

It’s not as strange an idea as it may seem, according to new research from global trade body Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) and Mblox. 

The report says that 76% of customers have received an SMS message from banks, healthcare and retail brands and a further 65% have engaged with companies via chat apps.

There is a clear opportunity for growth with 24% of SMS users and 35% of chat app users currently unengaged

Chatbots, apps and to a lesser extent, SMS marketing, are relatively hot topics in the marketing industry at present. The ongoing conversation centres around not how to make your messages relevant, but more how to not appear 'creepy' and intrusive.

The MEF is currently taking a closer look at this trend with its Future of Messaging Programme, which examines the messaging habits of nearly 6,000 respondents across nine countries.

By sector

Financial services are top of the leaderboard when it comes to texting customers, with 33% of those surveyed saying they’d received a text from these kinds of businesses and 22% saying they'd interacted via chat app.

The next two on the list are retailers and eCommerce businesses, with 24% using SMS and 16% using chat apps.

Healthcare's use of messaging is growing, the report says, particularly in the UK and US as 19% of people in these areas say they have engaged with providers via chat apps.

Use of SMS and chat apps

Uses of these messaging services include notification for delivery of goods and last-mile notifications, adding extra touch points for the user.

Some brands are becoming inventive with their messaging - for example, a local beautician whatsapping a last-minute offer to clients they know would be interested in that particular service, based on previous bookings.

But overall, the report password shows that password or account confirmation is the most popular use of application to person messaging (A2P) at 30% for SMS and 25% for chat apps.

The phrase ‘go where your audience are’ comes to mind when the stats also show that SMS is now overshadowed by chat apps. Consumers say they use Facebook Messenger first (56%), then Whatsapp (50%) and finally SMS (42%).

MEF CEO Rimma Perelmuter said the report “clearly indicates” that people around the world are embracing mobile messaging channels, “however, there is a clear opportunity for growth with 24% of SMS users and 35% of chat app users currently unengaged".

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