Leveraging messaging platforms for marketing

Marketing has evolved from being personal to being generic and finally onto algorithmic personalization today. Marketing culture today is obsessed with digital technology. People are just data points and subsets of various online communities, profiling logic, databases etc., The outcome of such micro targeting has still been a hit and miss. Going forward, this could be a thing of the past. Messaging platforms are expected to make marketers do a U turn and get up close and personal with their customers (or consumers rather!!). There is afterall a huge difference between algorithmic personalization of an e commerce site (based on past purchase recommendations and items viewed) and the personal interaction being attempted via messaging platforms. There are a number of platforms out there like whatsapp, facebook messenger, snapchat etc. They are part of everyone’s personal life, and most of us spend a lot of time on these messaging platforms. Smart marketers are all set now to leverage these messaging platforms to manage branding, e-commerce, advertising and customer service.

In China, 650 million users use wechat (similar to whatsapp), and companies are already using wechat to enable e-commerce. Typical messaging platforms are feature rich and allow a variety of media to be exchanged. Besides, what happens on such a platform is personal. It is a conversation. If the customer stops the conversation, it means she is no longer interested. It allows brands to connect customers with experts and enable an intelligent and rewarding conversation (as in, say a travel site connecting a customer with a guide who can offer tips). It also opens up a whole new door for content marketing allowing brands to really fine tune their content, get creative, and explore the art of a contextual conversation. This allows brands to collaborate with experts and get conversational and personal with the customer. It will also weed out the brands that do not really care, because customers will just log off, the moment they get inundated with broadcast style messages. Recently, there was a WhatsApp promo doing the rounds. It mentioned that Reebok and Amazon have come together to gift away shoes. All we needed to do was re send the message to 10 other groups in our contacts. I presume they collected the contracts of all the ten groups. They then allowed us to download an app to complete the transaction. The app wasn’t from the play store. I of course panicked at this point, thinking of malware “Godsend” and we aborted. There will always be intrusive attempts. It’s up to us to get creative and innovative (while still being mindful of customer privacy and sensitivity issues) in using messaging platforms to reach out to our customers. It could open whole new avenues.