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eMail Reigns Supreme, But Instant Messaging Has Many Strengths

Instant messaging is becoming a powerful marketing tool, but it still hasn’t become the preferred channel for customers to receive brand information.

Yet, customers’ preferences could change over time due to the many appealing characteristics of instant messaging and new technologies that are being developed.

Just recently, The Consumer Email Report found that 65% of individuals in the UK and 63% of individuals in the U.S. said they prefer to receive brand information via email. Instant messaging ranked considerably lower. Only 31% of those in the UK and 28% in the U.S. said it was their preferred method for receiving communications from brands.

Email, of course, is a popular tool for marketers, but instant messaging offers many attractive benefits that are likely to result in the technology being increasingly used by brands. In addition, new products are making it easier from brands to use instant messaging. Perhaps one of the most powerful drivers behind the use of instant messaging for branding purposes is Facebook’s pilot program for businesses to use its WhatsApp chat service, as reported recently by TechWorld.

With WhatsApp having over a billion daily users, the opening of the service to businesses is likely to have a big impact on the use of instant messaging for marketing. Luxury ecommerce brand Yooz Net-A-Porter has been using the service to communicate with customers, says Gabriele Tazzari, who is director of research and development at the retailer.

By using WatsApp’s enterprise features, Yooz Net-A-Porter has integrated its order management system with the chat service. Yooz Net-A-Porter can now use the messaging service to send notices regarding orders or to confirm shipping.

So far, only 3% of users have asked to be unsubscribed from the service. Amazon is also said to be building a chat app called Anytime that will accommodate businesses, reports Video Conferencing Daily. The company has been asking certain customers to take surveys regarding chat capabilities and to identify which features are appealing. Details for the app haven’t been officially released, but observers believe it could let users share music and videos while chatting.

Various other vendors, meanwhile, have integrated chat technology into their customer service platforms. Ongair, for example, has integrated WeChat with its customer support dashboard Zendesk. In developing chat services for businesses, technology companies and other digital companies are seeking to benefit from the many appealing characteristics of instant messaging.

Unlike email, customers can use instant messaging to engage in real time conversations with customer service representatives. Instant messaging is also appealing to office workers who may fear that calling businesses for personal purposes from their work offices may be viewed as unprofessional.

By using chat services, office workers may appear to be conducting their normal work activities at their computers. Chat apps, furthermore, typically require users to have sign in names and passwords. That allows the technology to track individual’s activities across multiple devices. In doing so, marketers can collect information on users locations.

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