How Should Messaging Be Used as a Marketing Channel?

Data Scout is LSA’s series that curates and draws meaning from third-party data. Running semi-weekly, it adds an analytical layer to the industry data that we encounter in daily knowledge building. For LSA original data, see the separate Modern Commerce Monitor™️ series.

The dynamics and effectiveness of any given marketing channel is usually a function of how consumers use it. In other words, TV viewing patterns obviously impact how television is used to deliver brand messaging. And that statement generally applies to everything from mobile search to billboards.

On that measure, new survey data from Sinch (n=2300) uncover consumer behavior in email and messaging… and correspondingly what that tells us about effective marketing in these channels. Sinch is a company that provides messaging tools, so results should be taken with appropriate salt tonnage.

Findings include the fact that consumers ignore email more than messaging. More accurately, they leave more emails unread versus mobile messages. 40 percent of respondents report that they have at least 50 unread emails in their inboxes versus 4 percent who have that many unread mobile messages.

62 percent of respondents meanwhile prefer to confirm service appointments via messaging, while 41 percent do so today. 70 percent prefer banks to alert them to suspicious activity via messaging, though only 39 percent do so today. The gap between aspiration and practice, as always, signals opportunity.

But though these figures clearly position messaging over email as an effective consumer engagement channel, there’s a flip side.  83 percent of respondents are comfortable sharing their email address with a brand, but only 42 percent are comfortable sharing their phone number.

This represents a bit of a double-edged sword for messaging as a marketing channel. The good news is that consumers are highly engaged there. The bad news is that they’re highly engaged there. This makes it sort of sacred territory where there’s less tolerance for commercial messaging.

The way around this is to treat messaging as more of a customer service channel than a push-marketing one. The way brands should think about that is cultivating customer relationships in ways that boost lifetime value and retention. The bar is high for truly valuable messaging versus obtrusive marketing.

Put another way, messaging is tolerated if it’s a true utility in terms of helping consumers with existing business relationships and products they’ve already bought. That can be seen in examples like the bank alerts mentioned above, or using messaging to confirm appointments they’ve already made.

“For many, mobile messaging is still a new ecosystem,” said Jonathan Bean, CMO at Sinch in a blog post about the new data, ‘but the research shows consumers are open and willing to engage with businesses through mobile messaging, so long as businesses provide high-value information that’s personalized,”

This is also well-timed because of RCS. This is a new standard that’s rolling out in Apple Messages, Android and other platforms. It allows brands to do a lot more with messaging, including rich media, and functionality for things like confirming appointments and other communication (see video below).

Beyond messaging, the Sinch survey covered a few other mobile formats to put things further in perspective. Here are a few of them, including behavior and proclivities around app use.

— 80 percent only download apps from companies they know and trust.
— 72 percent are concerned about apps tracking their movements.
— 60 percent avoid putting apps on their phone because they don’t trust how companies use their data.
— 58 perrcent believe they get too many push notifications

We’ll be back in the second installment of this two-part series to talk about a recent report from mobile messaging company Quiq. Like the above data, it informs effective strategies for utilizing the messaging channel as a customer service and engagement vehicle. Meanwhile, see more about RCS below.

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