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Mobile messaging for retail: your key to customer engagement

Just a couple of years ago, a store was the primary location where a retailer could meet their customers: a mall, a corner store, or a high-end boutique. Today, two-thirds of people worldwide have smartphones with at least one messenger app (or more) on which they spend a significant portion of the day. Millennials depend on their smartphones just a little less than on oxygen.

Vitalii Androsiuk, OTT Services & Projects Manager at GMS, explains why and how to use mobile messaging for retail and gives advice to those planning to launch a messaging campaign.

– Why should retailers use messenger apps?

– First of all, it’d be a missed opportunity to ignore such a large audience. The total number of Whatsapp users has exceeded 1.5 billion users, making it the most popular messaging app worldwide. Facebook Messenger dominates the US market, being the second most popular messenger app in the world.

Moreover, messaging apps offer more functions than SMS text messages. A Viber message can be as long as 1000 characters, whereas SMS is limited to 160 (Roman script) or 70 (Cyrillic script). Viber users can receive pictures, videos, click on buttons with embedded links, download branded stickers. The analytics suite is flexible and offers easily accessible reports.

«METRO started using Viber as the primary communication channel over SMS, which led to a 10% increase in customer attendance. COMFY has boosted its marketing campaign conversion rate by 10% by adding Viber to its list of communication channels.»

In actual fact, Viber messaging is cheaper than SMS. Viber has recently implemented a division of its traffic: a transactional message in Viber is cheaper than SMS, whereas an advertising one is more expensive. However, the text of an advertisement usually takes up at least 2 SMS messages (could even be 3 in Cyrillic), which means that using Viber often still turns out cheaper than SMS.

Viber also allows one to reap the benefits of two-way communication. Brands can engage their customers in a dialogue, follow up on orders, carry out surveys, and receive customer feedback. And chatbots in retail are a real treasure which can boost customer experience by keeping shoppers digitally engaged and happy overall.

Finally, people find messaging apps convenient and familiar. Which is a strong argument for companies that care to create a favorable customer experience.

– Are messaging apps secure?

– This is a highly debatable topic. Viber end-to-end encryption ensures that the encryption keys are only stored on the end users’ devices. In other words, even Viber itself has no access to its users’ messages.

«People find messaging apps convenient and familiar. Which is a strong argument for companies that care to create a favorable customer experience.»

WhatsApp has built end-to-end encryption into the app since April 2016. It’s implementation relies on Signal’s (generally considered to be the most secure messenger in the world) library.Telegram offers two types of encryption: one for regular chats, another for secret chats. Pavel Durov, Telegram’s creator, went as far as promising $200,000 to whoever hacks the encrypted messages.The banking sector has been quick to put messengers to use and today actively uses them for transactional messages as well as notifications, which indicates a substantial degree of security.

– How much more effective are messaging apps when compared to regular SMS marketing?

– There are a lot of targeting options offered by Viber for business. Effective segmentation of messenger users allows sending relevant offers to Viber users and garner higher response rates. When it comes to open rate, Viber business messages are at an advantage, too. A recent example of mobile messaging optimization: COMFY registered a 30% higher open rate for messages communicated through Viber, compared to SMS. Another case of optimizing mobile messaging for retail: METRO. The company started using Viber as the primary communication channel over SMS, which led to a 10% increase in customer attendance. This, in turn, increased the number of purchases, yielding more profits. COMFY has boosted its marketing campaign conversion rate by 10% by adding Viber to its list of communication channels.

Working with Global Message Services gives you access to a web interface which provides detailed real-time statistics. Know exactly how effective your marketing campaign is at any moment in time – in just a few clicks.

– Is there a limit on the number of contacts for Viber messaging campaigns?

– There isn’t. It can be two people, or two million. The main rule here is that you bring in your own contact database. Viber does not allow sending of Viber Business Messages to Viber contact base. This is something offered by another Viber service: Viber Ads. As Viber’s official partner, GMS is ready to answer all your questions about this service. Contact our managers to learn about the Viber services GMS provides.

And of course, customers must give their consent to receive messages. Before launching the service, Viber always requests that the client fills out their application with GMS where the following information is provided: name of the company, site, relation to a trademark, signed contract guaranteeing that the client shall abstain from spamming, etc. Should complaints of spam arise, Viber contacts GMS and requests to see proof of the complaining customers’ consent to receiving messages.

– A few tips for those who are going to launch a campaign.

– Some mobile operators have their own restrictions on mobile advertising. For example, in many countries mobile operators regulate which hours advertising messages can be sent: 8 pm to 9 am on workdays and 6 pm to 11 am during weekends are off limits for advertising. This is a so-called curfew when businesses cannot spam their customers.
Sending more than two messages a week is usually intrusive and annoying. Instead, make every message count.

Big retailers prefer to communicate with customers on Thursday/Friday to encourage them to visit stores over the weekend.

We also suggest prolonging ad messages’ TTL to 24 hours. This increases the chances of delivering a relevant message to your customer.

Messaging apps are a convenient and cost-efficient tool for mobile marketing to optimize your mobile marketing strategy. We will regularly be sharing industry best practices and explaining how to get the most out of GMS OTT services in our blog. Subscribe to receive relevant and interesting articles by email in a format that’s convenient for you.

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