Messaging: A Story in the Numbers

More than ever, consumers are looking to new channels to contact and communicate with businesses.

Here’s an interesting look at a few ‘statistics’ (and surveys) on how consumers use and think about messaging today, as well as some thoughts about implications for businesses.

The Three 3’s

The average consumer has 3 messaging apps on their phone’s home screen, use 3 messaging apps per week, and send an average of 3 messages per hour.

This statistic (provided in Twilio’s 2016 Global Mobile Messaging Consumer Report) debunks the idea of “one user, one messaging app”, and highlights that messaging is truly one of the primary reasons people use mobile phones.

So will this trend continue? It’s likely that we’ll see two things happen over time. First, there will always be new messaging applications that can capture a sizable number of users by focusing on specific segments — like high schoolers, or professionals in an industry, etc.

However, the number of messaging platforms with truly global scale will probably be limited to a handful (think WeChat, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, LINE, etc.).

It also seems incredibly likely that average usage of messaging will increase considerably over time — given that in many geographies (like the US), consumers are only starting to warm up to the idea of 2-way texting or messaging with businesses.

Many People Prefer Messaging

Messaging ranks as the #1 customer service channel by consumers in South Korea, India, Singapore and the US.

From the same Twilio report, we find this interesting tidbit which asks consumers about which channel they prefer for customer service. There’s clearly a strong correlation to how “wired” (or unwired, as the case may be) a country or geography is to their preferences toward customer service communication.

It’s also interesting to note that many of these countries have very developed ‘desktop Internet’ markets, which may play into the perception of contact channels outside of messaging. Another interesting note is that China doesn’t appear on this list, which is surprising given the popularity of WeChat (perhaps most people in China prefer face-to-face service?).

The implications for businesses here are pretty clear: it’s important to support messaging as a customer service channel, both because consumers want it but also to differentiate from competitors.

Marketing with Messaging

44% of consumers would rather receive product details and other marketing messages through text over any other channel.

This statistic comes from a somewhat older survey done by the Direct Marketing Association in 2008. Consumer sentiment has no doubt changed since the survey was conducted (and it’s likely the DMA has a biased point of view), but there are some interesting things to think about here for businesses.

First, there’s the question of how receptive consumers are to marketing over mobile messaging — whether thats SMS, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, etc. Before the broader launch of the Messenger API (and Facebook chatbot platform), much of messaging-based marketing was centered around SMS/text marketing and mobile app push notifications.

While it’s too early to tell how consumers will ultimately view marketing over social messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, businesses have seen a great deal of success utilizing text messaging, and increasingly mobile push notifications, as a core part of their marketing strategy.

The Future Will Be In The Numbers

It’s an exciting time for business-to-consumer communications, with much of the opportunity still in the early stages as messaging platforms continue to evolve and grow.

We’ve highlighted a few areas that raise interesting questions as we move forward:

  1. Growth in Messaging Usage driven by B2C Communications.
  2. Preference for Messaging as a Customer Service Channel.
  3. Acceptance (and ROI) for Messaging as a Marketing Channel.

One thing that is certain — to gauge the progress of messaging, one must look at the numbers. We’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on the above trends and the statistics that will tell the real story.

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