‘New metrics will develop’: Brands face marketing challenges with messaging’s rise

With more than 3 billion consumers on messaging apps, brands are coming face-to-face with a whole new set of marketing opportunities, and even bigger challenges. Call it the rise of chat tech. Messaging apps — Facebook Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp and Line — are forcing companies to consider how to collect, measure and analyze consumer data from these increasingly important channels.

This month, Messenger and Kik launched chatbot platforms so that brands and publishers can create automated, and hopefully useful, interactions with consumers. These new kinds of experiences — robots offering sales assistance or content recommendations — can open up new customer acquisition and sales opportunities, but they also require the same technological underpinnings that have become standard across digital.

Anywhere brands are pushing content and talking with customers, they want to quantify those interactions. “If you are an advertiser, and say you’re in the business of e-commerce, it’s important to understand how many commercial transactions are done through the mobile app or through your website, and now with this new burgeoning field of chatbots, how many transactions are happening through the chatbot interface,” said Charles Manning, CEO of Kochava, a mobile analytics platform.

Kochava is just one of the marketing technology companies getting started building for messaging. Salesforce is opening a messaging channel in its customer relations management platform. The startup Snaps built content-management tools for publishers and brands to post more easily to messaging apps like Kik.

“We think this is certainly the beginning of an interesting transition, and it’s not going to be overnight, but we do think chat and messaging will take a lead role engaging between consumers and brands,” said Manning “We want to be early to how measurement can be applied in that context.”

Brands will try to crack how chat and messaging impact their bottom lines. Are consumers more apt to buy a product through a messaging app or are they just there to do research? “Unless you measure things like this, you simply don’t know,” Manning said.

‘Read within minutes’
ReplyYes, a startup that sells vinyl records, built its sales engine through text messaging. Not too long ago, it might have relied more heavily on email to reach customers, CEO Dave Cotter said. “While an email might sit in a customer’s inbox all day, a text is read within minutes, making it much more likely a user will take action,” Cotter said.

ReplyYes sends a daily recommendation to users to buy a vinyl album, and the consumer sends back “yes,” if they want to order. The text marketing messages get viewed 98 percent of the time, while an e-mail is opened 20 percent of the time, Cotter said.

The company tracks everything from its interactions with 50,000 members — engagement rates, conversion rates, unsubscribe rates. “You have to because if you don’t, you’ll mess up the customer experience if you’re not listening to them, and listening to that many customers means looking at data,” Cotter said.

The startup Snaps runs mobile content publishing technology and helps brands manage messaging and emoji campaigns. Snaps tracks engagement rates, time spent in chats with brands, and how many people return for more.

“We’re constantly looking to optimize for brands, and a lot of that comes down to how compelling their content is,” said Christian Brucculeri, CEO at Snaps.

Snaps has applied its analytics to another new marketing frontier, emojis. People exposed to one branded emoji campaign, from a consumer goods brand, were three times more likely to purchase the product than people who had not seen the emoji, Brucculeri said.

Snaps would not name the brand. Still, it showed how brands need to understand these novel marketing channels and their attendant emojis and chatbots.

Eyal Pfeifel, CEO of Imperson, builds brand experiences through chatbots. He has worked with ABC on a Miss Piggy chatbot that talked with people on Facebook Messenger as the character from “The Muppets.”

Making meaningful data connections, being able to identify a consumer across channels and map their digital trail, is still a tall order, Pfeifel said. “If you look at chatbots today, some services do not even acknowledge that you visited yesterday. Not only is it not cross-platform, but even the messaging bots don’t maintain a history of the user,” Pfeifel said.

Even if cross-platform tracking is still rudimentary, chat and messaging could open new areas of measurement that would be useful to marketers. Messaging marketers want to keep a close watch of how long people are engaging with their bots and the sentiment driven by the experience. With an ad you measure click-through rates but not how happy it made someone feel, which is something you want to know from a chat, Pfeifel said.

“A new set of metrics will develop over time around these new kinds of experiences,” Pfeifel said.


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