The Rise Of Instant Messengers: 5 Ways To Do Marketing With Instant Messaging

5 Ways To Do Marketing With Instant Messaging

What is the quickest way to send a message that you know of? Today’s answer is WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, WeChat.

These are instant messaging apps whose average response time is just a matter of seconds. This type of app is increasingly popular and widespread among people, and according to the latest data, it is the fastest growing technology.

So what’s the main reason behind this? It meets mobile’s need for instantaneousness, which is a tool that is also constantly growing: mobile device users were 4.43 billion in 2015 and they will reach 4.77 billion by 2017.

Mobile Users

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More than one-third of mobile device users use instant messaging apps and 49% of them are Millennials, the generation between 18 and 29 years old.

Marketers Must Join the Conversation

People exchange thousands of messages every day, creating conversations about any kind of topic. Among these are also products and services, the brands they use, love and desire. Brands cannot just stand aside: they must take part in the conversation. Instant messaging is a great new opportunity to communicate with your customers. Many apps let you create small target groups for very specific topics, providing a one-to-one channel with a high level of engagement, personalization, and effectiveness. These are features that work very well on mobile communication, thus making WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat or Messenger fundamental for your next marketing strategy.

WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, Telegram: which one to choose?

From these first data and considerations, it is clear how instant messaging represents the new frontier of corporate communication. There are many apps like these, some more well-known than others. All of them have similar basic features but each has its specific qualities. We have chosen four that are sufficiently different from the other in regard to the target market, the number of users and functionality. In this way, we can give you an overview and an idea of ??what might be the best one to choose for your business.

WhatsApp: The best-known and most widely used messaging app

Created in 2009 and acquired by Facebook in 2014, today it is the most widely used instant messaging app in the world with about 1 billion active users. 28% of these users are between 25 and 34 years old while 26% are 35-44-year-olds. As shown in the chart below, its growth rate stands out from that of other apps.

Whatsapp Growth

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WhatsApp allows you to send free texts, videos and audio messages to all your contacts, with no length or frequency limits. It offers immediate reception of content and message open rates as high as 70%. But here’s the catch: you cannot send messages to users who have not added your brand to their contact list. Therefore, it is vital to work on other channels of communication to expand your user list, in exchange for a clear benefit: previews, promotions or an exclusive service. WhatsApp is an immediately effective channel if your brand has a strong social-media presence, which can quickly increase your contacts.

Messenger: Many ideas for marketing

Facebook Messenger UI Update

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Messenger’s mission is to become the best place to communicate with all the people and businesses in the world. It belongs to Facebook, just like WhatsApp, but the intent is to keep these two platforms separated and with their own identity. Messenger has about 800 million users, and it is growing rapidly like other instant messaging apps. The prevailing age group is 25-34 years, accounting for 39% of the total, followed by 33% of users between 35 and 44. According to Facebook’s recent statements, Messenger will provide more and more opportunities for businesses: the option for publishers to send private messages to users with a preview of an article, inviting them to continue reading on the site is currently being tested. Another avenue that the app is testing in favor of the brand is to pose itself as a direct channel to gain access to certain services. Partnership with Uber is also being experimented, which will allow you to book a ride through a simple request via Messenger.

WeChat: The Chinese response to Instant Messaging

If WhatsApp and Messenger are the leading instant messaging apps in the US and Europe, the most important app in China is WeChat: 639 million active users and 570 million people use it every day, with a 49% increase in just one year. Moreover, WeChat is gaining popularity and being widely used outside its native country, with 100 million users located outside China.

In addition to traditional messages, you can do just about anything on WeChat: video calls, read news, play games, make a payment, or order a product. WeChat also offers interesting possibilities to find new people who are not in your contact list. For example, with its “Drift Bottle” option, users can create a message and virtually send it to the community: those who see it can respond and start a conversation. Another option is that of adding contacts by scanning a QR code. There are interesting ideas even for marketing, don’t you think? In addition to these creative features, brands can also pay to advertise their content on WeChat, with Sponsored Moments, which includes description up to 40 characters, a maximum of 6 images and a link to a page hosted on the platform.

Weixin WeChat For Media Buyers

Telegram: Fewer users but close to brands

The last instant messaging app that we’re presenting was developed in Russia and has 100 million active users. These are smaller numbers compared to that of other apps, but this is also why it offers interesting alternative opportunities to marketers: precisely because it is used by fewer people, it creates a more restricted and confidential dialogue with the target. Telegram allows you to send text messages, pictures, videos, and audios hosted in the cloud and therefore accessible from any device.

It offers interesting possibilities of interaction and engagement with users, such as groups with up to 200 contacts or the recent supergroups with up to 1,000 contacts, which you can use to promote an event or an offer. Another interesting feature is bots, allowing you to automate responses based on specific requests by users and they are useful for FAQs related to the brand. Lastly, the channels: a sort of instant newsletter received by all members every time the brand posts an update.

5 Ways to do Marketing with Instant Messaging

After choosing the messaging platform that meets your needs and is closer to your goals, it is time to implement some strategy. The following are some ideas that will guide and inspire you:

#1 Use instant messaging for customer service

Thanks to their immediacy, messaging apps are perfect to implement a company’s or a commercial activity’s customer service. In fact, they allow you to give a response to users in just a few seconds, enabling a valuable one-to-one conversation which increases the positive perception of the brand. But this only works if handled properly: a customer service on WhatsApp or on a similar app must always ensure an immediate response. Otherwise, the boomerang effect is guaranteed.

A positive example of customer service via WhatsApp is that of The brand offers consultations to users who are looking for an engagement ring online: a tough choice and that’s why having a personal consultant can make a difference.

#2 Expand your services

Another way to derive benefit from immediate communication for your marketing strategy is to offer new services, such as allowing direct orders and deliveries in a shorter time. WeChat is already being widely used in this way by catering and food service companies. But there are also interesting cases on WhatsApp, like, a service that helps people complete their daily chores. The site uses WhatsApp as a booking platform to order a cake, flowers, deliver a gift or any other small tasks.

#3 Send geolocated promotions

By combining the potential of direct contact granted by messaging apps to and those of geolocation, you can create targeted strategies that will generate strong user engagement. For example, you can send specific promotions to people in a certain area, like Starbucks campaign on WeChat. The brand used the platform to send a wake-up message to its contacts, rewarding those customers who reached the nearest store within an hour. This effort was repaid with a prize: a 50% discount on breakfast. This is an original way to promote their drinks, offering people something that is concretely beneficial.

#4 Customize the message

As the conversations on WhatsApp, Messenger, and other apps are one-to-one or in small groups, it is very important to give importance to the personalization of the message. It can be a difficult job because it requires studying a strategy for each target, often for a small number of people, and if possible a non-self-referential content should be offered. However, the result is rewarding because people are captivated and respond positively to what they are interested in. Audi was able to achieve this goal in its recent campaign on Snapchat, by sending personalized messages to the fans of the TV series Pretty Little Liars, which contained episode previews and passes to meet the stars of the series. 13% of those involved said they had a better perception of the brand following the campaign, even if the content wasn’t directly about Audi.

#5 Create rich content

For years, the most creative marketers have complained about the 160-character limit for text messages or Twitter’s 140-character limit. Length limits and type of formats are virtually absent on instant messaging apps. Therefore, you must fully exploit this multimedia features and build rich and related content, through an exciting storytelling. Taco Bell often shares videos or a series of photos on Instant Messaging channels. A story is told through brief episodes, which creates much more curiosity and empathy in users compared to simple promotions that are unrelated to each other.


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In conclusion, here’s a question for an instant reply: as a marketer, are you already using instant messaging apps? If yes, which one do you like best? And which app is not for you?

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  • avatar

    I love interacting with users on Whatsapp or Messenger, our company has accounts on both where users can contact us and a person responds to them (not an automated message), it’s actually really fun because any employee can interact with a customer if they want to, they just have to login with the company account.

  • avatar


    Messaging is something that is happening more and more recently, but we need to watch out because there is a difference between messaging and spam. Nothing more annoying than getting to a site and an aggressive pop-up suggesting messaging that people might really not be interested in.

  • avatar

    Interesting stuff, Silvio. We’re still not using instant messaging apps here for marketing purposes, but it’s definitely an interesting field. Although, I might say, not every business can profit from using it, since the target audience is young and interested in specific industries. But, the customer service with instant messaging apps is a great idea which anyone could use, and think customers would like it as well.

  • avatar

    My friends and I are really addicts in Whatsapp and I can only imagine how creep it would be to have some company sending us messages about promotions! I mean, how they got our numbers?!

  • avatar

    It’s very good to see this review of instant messaging services, and how they relate to businesses. I hadn’t realised how big WhatsApp has become, so it’s definitely worth looking into. It’s great if you can segment your audience with geo-targeting to create more response from your target market. Sometimes I wonder if there are just too many options around these days, and it feels like you have to toss a coin to work out which one to use. Either that, or hire someone just to look after the social media marketing.

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