In the last 15 years, I’ve lived in 3 cities at 10 different addresses in two time zones.  Or perhaps I should count them by which mobile provider I used?  In order: Verizon (2 years) T-Mobile (3 years) Sprint (2 years) AT&T (2 years ) Verizon (5 years) and recently back to AT&T.  Despite that change, you’d have had no trouble reaching me by voice or SMS in that period – I’ve kept my number the same.  The basic utility of SMS has always been its universality, but usage peaked in 2011 and then began its decline.

Texting turns 25 - via BusienssInsider

(photo credit: BusinessInsider)

The debut of iMessage in 2011 is one likely culprit. In 2011, Facebook Messenger became a standalone app, and in 2013 Instagram launched Instagram Direct.  Each of these has grown in importance in consumer-to-consumer communications.  When Facebook acquired Whatsapp in 2014, Whatsapp alone claimed to have a larger daily volume than all of global SMS.  In the background, most US carriers stopped charging separately for text and even voice – data remains the primary metered element in mobile usage.

People aren’t communicating less via mobile, it’s more.  So where are they going? Facebook’s Messenger, Apple’s  iMessage, WhatsApp (Facebook), and Skype (Microsoft) are now pushing to be the touchpoint of choice for businesses to communicate with consumers.

Recent Gartner research found that Facebook Messenger is ubiquitous across age groups (see Use Natural-Language Technologies to Converse With Audiences at Scale – client subscription required )

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The challenge  is no longer to get a single phone number or messaging channel to be a permanent consumer touchpoint (like voice or SMS) – but to adapt to consumer behavior across a wide variety of devices, and different stages of the customer journey.  According to Gartner’s 2017 Channel Survey, mobile messaging is a top contributor at every stage of the customer journey (see “Multichannel Survey 2017: Marketers Succeed by Leveraging Mobile Throughout the Buying Journey” – client subscription required).

As for rich messaging apps, more than 20 million businesses are using Messenger (Facebook Q3 2017), and Facebook reports developing similar capabilities for Whatsapp.

In this landscape, marketers must keep their own efforts and strategic priorities in balance.  Consumers don’t need another place to opt-in to your promotions.  Develop new and delightful experiences through virtual personal assistants, context-sensitivity and triggers to place the information at the fingertips of your audience just as they are likely to need it. (see Use Natural-Language Technologies to Converse With Audiences at Scale – (client subscription required).

A two-speed model is helpful for breaking away from a campaign-centric planning model, where marketers can re-engage with consumers to provide content and offers that Mobile messaging. (Synchronize Campaigns and Continuous Engagement With Two-Speed Marketing  – client subscription required).

To locate messaging apps on your overall mobile marketing , and place your investments in context, you will want to dig deeper.  See “Moving Up the Mobile Maturity Model: Unlock the Business Value of Advanced Mobile Techniques” (client subscription required).

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