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Rethinking messenger marketing – what now after the WhatsApp newsletter ban?

Messenger marketing: the end of WhatsApp newsletters has put dialog center stage.

What does the WhatsApp newsletter ban mean for messenger marketing?

Messenger marketing is set to change significantly over the coming months and years now that newsletters can no longer be sent out via WhatsApp. Previously, the channel was predominantly considered an attention-grabbing and effective tool in the marketing mix for reaching target groups in a private environment via newsletter. User statistics clearly illustrate the significance of this recent WhatsApp decision for messenger marketing. In Germany, WhatsApp has around 58 million daily users, while Facebook “only” has some 23 million and Instagram 25 million.

“E-commerce platforms and media in particular that have increasingly geared their business models towards push marketing via WhatsApp in recent years will now have to urgently consider their future strategic direction,” explains Matthias Mehner, CMO at MessengerPeople, the leading Software-as-a-Service provider for messenger communication. This may also tie in with a strategic pivot towards conversational marketing: “With its Business solution, WhatsApp is creating many new opportunities for dialog with customers, moving away from content marketing and towards personal communication and a full spectrum of services,” says WhatsApp expert Mehner.

Messenger marketing: what options are available following the WhatsApp ban?

Now that the WhatsApp newsletter avenue has been closed off, companies have two different options for future messenger marketing: use alternative apps or switch up the marketing strategy.

“In contrast to newsletters, conversational marketing – the use of WhatsApp and other messaging platforms as dialog and service channels – offers direct access to customer needs and wants,” emphasizes Mehner. The 41-year-old regards this as no less than a sustainable and profitable paradigm shift in messenger communication: “In the medium term, companies will struggle without a messenger service channel, as this is clearly superior to hotlines and email in terms of technology and efficiency.”

Marketing newsletters: decreased reach and conversion with alternative messengers

“In many cases, switching to a different messaging platform for newsletter communication would result in a significant decline in reach and conversion, as the markets are often much more fragmented there,” clarifies Mehner. However, there are alternatives for those who still wish to use a different messenger service:

  • With some eight million active users in Germany, Telegram is the best alternative in Mehner’s view. With options similar to WhatsApp’s previous offering for companies, this messaging service with its simple interface especially appeals to a young, tech-savvy audience.
  • In the case of Facebook Messenger, media companies will need to register as official news pages in the News Page Index by 15 January 2020. After that, unregistered companies will be prevented from sending free broadcast messages.
  • Apple Business Chat is installed on all iOS devices and allows notifications to be sent free of charge. Pro: in addition to many commerce features, Apple has already integrated payment functionality as well. Con: Apple Business Chat is only suitable for target groups with mostly iPhone users.
  • The Notify app, a WhatsApp alternative developed by MessengerPeople, combines the previous push communication with advanced dialog options that facilitate in-depth conversational marketing. Since the launch of the app in October 2019, it has already been downloaded over 200,000 times and is being used by more than 500 well-known companies and organizations (including ALDI, Bayern Munich, Eurowings, the ADAC and the CDU).

Opportunities presented by modern conversational marketing

“The shift from newsletters to conversational marketing holds enormous potential for companies. WhatsApp’s systematic expansion into a service channel will allow businesses to increase conversion rates and customer satisfaction while saving time and money,” says a convinced Mehner. With brands and products now largely interchangeable and prices comparable worldwide, customer service is often the only area in which it is possible to stand out from competitors.

This is where modern conversational marketing via different messaging platforms comes in, opening up completely new opportunities across the entire business relationship in interactions with customers – from one-to-one advice and recommendations, ordering and payment through to complaints and after-sale customer support. Messenger marketing that is aligned with modern forms of dialog is especially suitable in the B2B area, where there is often already considerably closer personal contact with a generally smaller target audience.

What is conversational marketing?

Conversational marketing focuses on dialog with customers and covers all conversations conducted in the context of conversion and customer retention. The boundaries between marketing, sales and customer service are blurred in customer communication that is as integrated as possible. The strong growth of messenger apps and targeted use of chatbots in particular are paving the way for new and efficient forms of dialog. The focus is on the customer’s actual needs, which are actively expressed and then dealt with on a case-by-case basis in line with what is needed.

Conversational marketing: personal advice and chatbots go hand in hand

To reap the benefits of conversational marketing on messaging platforms, Mehner recommends getting the balance right between real humans offering advice and chatbots: “Many inquiries that companies receive are often similar in nature and can be easily bundled and automated. As service staff can work on several queries simultaneously via messenger applications, they are approximately 60 to 70 percent faster than via other service channels. Significant additional time savings can be achieved by using chatbots to handle some other aspects of customer communication.”

Tip: Chatbots have been shown to be particularly useful for getting answers to standardized questions in advance of a human speaking to the customer. Service staff can then access the information directly and start the session well prepared.

“More and more companies are recognizing the significant benefits of focusing on one-to-one dialog and customer service in messenger marketing: they no longer send their customers to a landing page, but specifically to a chat feature,” reports Mehner. “Modern conversational marketing with its technical possibilities takes customer service to a whole new level. In this respect, the end of the WhatsApp newsletter also represents the jumping-off point for a sensible move away from content marketing on messaging platforms towards personal conversations. Companies will have to adapt to this,” says Mehner in summary.

Daniel Dodt
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