Why Facebook Messenger Will Dominate 2018

Opinion: If the ability to send messages is opened up, it might very well replace email

Messenger's customer chat plugin
Facebook

When Facebook released Messenger in 2011, most people weren’t aware of the capabilities and benefits it would eventually have. Fast-forward to 2017: There are more than 1.3 billion users and 60 million businesses using Messenger.

In just the past few months, we’ve seen groundbreaking developments including the introduction of the customer chat plugin, which brings the Messenger experience to retailers’ websites; a new app that makes it easier and safer for kids to video chat and message with friends, Messenger Kids; Pinterest’s bot integration, merging the Pinterest and Messenger experiences; and much more.

If the end of 2017 is any indicator, 2018 will be the year that Messenger becomes the single most important channel for brands, companies, retailers and individuals to interact with their audiences. Here’s how:

Outbound marketing

The future of outbound marketing lies in Messenger. Mobile phones are becoming the primary source of media, with average phone time now exceeding five hours per day. Most of that time is spent social networking and messaging in mobile apps, with 1.2 billion people using Facebook Messenger for these purposes.

If brands want to communicate with consumers, they must be accessible and proactive—in a smart way—in mobile messaging channels, especially Messenger. Brands that successfully and quickly implement mobile messaging strategies will tap into an explosive opportunity to communicate with consumers in more direct and relevant way than ever before.

What does a successful implementation look like? Brands should view mobile messaging as a primary communication channel to send relevant information and offers to customers. In some ways you can think of this as email’s smarter, stronger, more potent new counterpart.

As customers engage with a company on Messenger, they are added to that company’s list in much the similar way an email list grows. Some of the potency comes from the channel itself: Our data at Headliner Labs shows that people are 3.5 times more likely to open a Messenger message than a marketing email.

The power of this open rate is compounded by the substance of the message and the response capabilities. This is a two-way channel where users can actually respond and move down a funnel (all the way through purchasing), dictated by their preferences and responses, instead of a one-way megaphone for a company. Messages can include relevant images (like what was abandoned in cart), videos (like product tutorials) and other relevant content dictated by customer segmentation.

Mobile messaging is also inherently mobile-optimized, delivering messages most native to regular behavior—through short-form, text messages. We have seen astounding results across our retail customers—up to 63 percent increases in direct digital sales, with four times better open rates and click-through rates than email marketing. And when viewed as part of an ongoing messaging strategy, the conversion rate continues to expand.

The use cases are endless, but across our platform, we have seen astounding success using Messenger as a conduit for product refill alerts (e.g., “Hi, you might be running low on your shampoo. Can we send you a new bottle?”), abandoned cart messages (“We have top left in your size! Grab it now.”) and new product releases (“We know you love our indigo jeans, here they are in a new lighter wash!”).

On-site Messenger chat

It’s not far-fetched to think that 2018 will see the rise of the Messenger icon across websites. This small, round, blue Messenger widget hovering dutifully in the corner of a webpage serves as a direct conduit between anonymous website traffic and the entities behind the site—whether it’s a retailer, brand, service provider, hotel, airline, etc.

Messenger’s customer chat plugin, unveiled in November 2017, allows web visitors to initiate on-site chat that simultaneously activates a conversation inside that user’s own Messenger inbox. The user can then navigate away from the site and, when an agent is able to reply, the user sees it as a message coming into their Messenger inbox, the same way they get messages from friends.