On January 26, 2022, GSMA and Rakuten Viber hosted a webinar about business messaging for brands. The event featured Limor Bailey, Partnerships Account Director at Rakuten Viber, and Fredrik Nyman, Chief Commercial Officer at LINK Mobility, one of Europe's leading CPaaS providers. The discussion was moderated by Zehra Chudry, Director of Events Marketing at GSMA. The webinar focused on the challenges and trends of business messaging and how brands can use this type of communication to improve their mobile marketing strategies. This is Part 1 of our recap of this webinar. Use this link to watch the full webinar.
A new era for brand communication
The pandemic has changed the way people interact with brands: the ethics people expect of companies, the preferred tone of voice, and, of course—how and through which channels customers choose to engage with brands.
The pandemic's challenges have not been distributed equally, either: LINK Mobility saw a negative impact on air travel, brick-and-mortar retail, and hospitality; however, some industries boomed, such as vaccination, government traffic, and e-commerce, to name a few.
Fredrik Nyman talked about other trends they'd observed over this period at LINK Mobility:
"The shift from in-person to digital communication has arrived with even higher customer expectations," Mr. Nyman summarized, "and we're in the middle of a megatrend that will persist regardless of the pandemic."
Viber's observations confirmed these trends. In 2020, instant messaging boomed even more than in recent years as people were forced to turn to digital means of staying in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. This spurred most brands to accelerate the implementation of business messaging into their communication strategy, while those yet to dip their toe into the messaging apps space—had to dive right in.
Messaging apps are very popular among users—based on a recently released Digital 2022 report they have already overtaken social media platforms in the percentage of internet users.
The message, Limor and Fredrik agree, is clear: brands need to engage customers in real conversations that bring value. Those who do—experience substantial growth, whereas those who ignore the trend will struggle to succeed in the long run.
Real talk: how to engage customers in a two-way conversation
So, what are the prerequisites to building a two-way communication strategy? Limor and Fredrik talked about a few foundational facts to keep in mind:
1. Multichannel communications.
Customer conversations are happening everywhere, and customers appreciate being engaged through the channels they prefer. This means the brand has to be wherever its audience is and makes it crucial to streamline communications across channels and ensure a seamless experience for the customer.
2. Dialogue, not monologue.
Customers show a clear preference for brands that can build two-way communication and accept their feedback. According to Salesforce, 71% of users want to communicate with companies in real time. Chatting through a messenger allows a business to instantly respond to customer requests and increase its so-called "customer lifetime value" (this indicator reflects the correlation between building relationships with a customer and the company's net income).
3. Value and relevance.
Brands need to be there when needed and initiate communication—when they have something to say that the customer perceives as useful or valuable. Two-way communication makes these two components work in synergy. When customers seek help or information, a chatbot or a quick chat with a representative can solve their issue quickly. Customer feedback, in turn, informs business’ mobile marketing strategy and helps the brand better understand the audience to determine what communications the customers would appreciate.
4. Authenticity and personalization.
There is a difference between simple transactional messages and a more genuine, personal connection that nurtures brand loyalty and advocacy. Building authentic relationships takes time and effort, but customer engagement and personalization are key. AI and NLP can help make your offerings more personalized, tailor the post-purchase experience, and assist with basic queries—at customer convenience.
Listen to the webinar to learn more about real conversations and analyze good mobile marketing examples.
Viber for Business: solutions and features to help brands connect with their customers
To help facilitate the dialogue between customers and businesses, we are constantly developing and rolling out new features. Limor highlighted a few helpful features in Viber Business Messages:
These developments streamline the communication flow between customers and brands via Viber Business Messages and help users chat with brands as easily as they would with their friends.
"Thank you, Limor and Fredrik, for the productive discussion. It is now clearer than ever that messengers are not just apps for private and group messaging, but a great platform for building meaningful relationships between users and brands," summarized Zehra Chudry. "What I got from your discussion is that, throughout the pandemic, there has been a significant shift towards using business messaging by brands and that brands can leverage messaging apps to meet users' needs for personalized, engaging, meaningful, and two-way communication."