Facebook’s stock price fluctuations following its Q3 earnings report should not worry marketers. The company drew 1.49 billion daily active users and 2.27 billion monthly active users across its desktop and mobile platforms, up 9% and 10% year-on-year respectively. That’s a lot of eyeballs, and brands continue pouring ad dollars into the social network.
Worldwide ad revenue per user (ARPU) increased 2% worldwide, including by 7% in the U.S. and Canada.
Wedbush analysts wrote, “the company’s unmatched scale and ease of use when it comes to its advertising platform suggest that Facebook will continue to represent a core part of digital advertiser budgets.”
One figure should stand out above all others: mobile accounted for 92% of ad revenue, up from 91% last quarter. That points to why you need to devote more of your marketing budget and resources to Facebook’s mobile platforms.
Competition for consumers’ attention is growing fiercer and most of those eyeballs are on their mobile phones.
Facebook disclosed that more than 2.6 billion people use the Facebook family of mobile apps per month, including Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. That number is up by 100 million more people just over the last quarter. In other words, more than 2 billion people a day use at least one of those mobile apps.Facebook disclosed that more than 2.6 billion people use the Facebook family of mobile apps per month, including Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. That number is up by 100 million more people just over the last quarter.Click To Tweet
Those numbers are eye-opening, but only tell half the story of why using push to Messenger and other mobile messaging apps have become so important to a marketing campaign’s success.
As Facebook (and other social platforms) continue to tweak their algorithms, brands are struggling to meet their needs via ads on the Feed. Users’ interactions with brands are dropping following Facebook’s decision to update its News Feed algorithm to prioritize content from users’ friends and family over businesses and media companies. A recent study that analyzed more than 43 million posts from the top 20,000 brands on Facebook discovered that all Pages suffered more than a 50 percent reduction in engagement.
Yes, you can get some customers to follow hyperlinks back to your e-commerce portal or website, but there are better ways to engage customers in a brand journey that improves overall yield. Gone are the days of leveraging hundreds of likes or followers. The best approach is to drive conversion is to start a conversation with customers and prepare them for push-based re-engagement.
Conversational Marketing Works When Done Right
I know what you’re thinking: “oh no, not conversational marketing.” Over the last couple of years, the hype machine has been running in high gear on the promise chatbots hold for both brands and their customers. But so many chatbot developers have rushed half-baked solutions to market that were built on pre-coded, simple phrase mapping technologies.
They may claim they use A.I. to power their platforms, but really they simply resorted to using 1990’s-era technology to perform string matching optimization. As a result, they have failed to deliver on the vision of users holding natural language conversations within their favorite messaging apps, both with the brand and with their friends, family members, coworkers, etc.
But if we place conversational marketing in the Gartner Hype Cycle, I believe we’re starting to climb out of the trough of disillusionment thanks to the rapid advances in natural language processing (NLP) technology and machine learning, that have become more sophisticated and capable of customizing the user experience for brands.
The key to delivering a UX that customers keep returning to is to precisely measure consumer sentiment and intent, so you gain the insight you need to determine how best to engage with your customers. Keep customers locked in a messaging environment, instead of trying to engage them on the cluttered and algorithmically challenging Facebook news feed or your brand’s e-commerce portal. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s critical to draw a higher percentage of them into the sales funnel.
Though there are more users on the Facebook Feed, Facebook Messenger can be tightly integrated into a brand’s call to action, it is less cluttered, the audience is more diverse and more people use Messenger on Mobile.
This also correlates with Facebook reporting that mobile represents 92% of ad revenue. Messaging apps contribute to a higher percentage of the user engagement time vs. traditional mobile apps. Particularly on a mobile device, these apps offer a very valuable opportunity to re-engage a user, even when the brand isn’t necessarily top-of-mind.
Facebook Messenger works on mobile and desktop, but CMOs should think of Messaging as a separate channel due to the definition phase of the new possibilities with user engagement and inherent differentiation around 2-way communication with consumers.
Messaging is a broad umbrella, and not all messaging apps and platforms are as effective as others. Email has become negatively impacted by spam and phishing attacks and isn’t engaging younger audiences as much as it does older demographics.
SMS was poised to assume the mantle of the most popular messaging app, but it is limited due to restrictions on the size of messages, a largely text-only experience, clunky-to-no support for rich media and the fact that it’s being increasingly impacted by spam and phishing attacks.
Rich Messaging solutions such as Facebook Messenger deliver better user engagement and ROI for brands. They are more interactive and allow for measuring and reporting intent, sentiment, and needs of the end consumer.
This enables brands to apply machine learning to collect, analyze and use the ever-growing volumes of customer data they’re collecting (always with the customer’s explicit permission!) to create highly personalized engagements. The resulting “conversations” are the key to driving long-term engagement.
Messaging over Apps
Consider the example set by Quandoo, one of the world’s fastest-growing restaurant reservation platforms globally, with millions of seated diners in over 17,000 restaurants.
Quandoo offers consumers a wide variety of dining experiences from Michelin-starred restaurants to local favorites. Restaurateurs use Quandoo’s reservation management platform to drive transactions and engage with their customers via Facebook Messenger.
The Quandoo-Facebook Messenger combination that offers search and discovery via natural language commands is much easier to use than a mobile app like OpenTable or Yelp!. It also facilitates conversations among all members of a party when everyone’s weighing in on where to eat, when to meet up and how to get there, and when posting reviews. It’s simply a much more engaging experience than what a mobile app can deliver, and that also enables Quandoo to more quickly expand its potential customer base.
The U.S. Is Catching Up
Quandoo is a model for U.S. based companies (if Quandoo doesn’t get here first) and is yet another example of a mobile technology wave that started in Asia and Europe. By the time it gets to the U.S., it’s a billion-dollar opportunity. We saw that happen with mobile devices, SMS, ringtones, music services and now mobile advertising.
This presents the opportunity for U.S. companies to get ahead of that wave by using Facebook Messenger, Apple’s iMessage, Android Messages, etc. to improve initial customer engagement on social media feeds, draw them into your sales funnel and build long-lasting relationships.
As you’re doing that today, you also need to keep an eye on the near future and prepare to roll your conversational marketing efforts across even more options as consumers worldwide embrace WhatsApp, Instagram and whatever future products you can bet the other tech giants like Amazon will introduce.
About the Author: Mahi de Silva is the Co-Founder and CEO of Amplify.ai, the platform which enables brands to leverage AI to automate marketing engagement and extend them into conversations that are immersive and persistent – with tools to measure, optimize and manage the full lifecycle of a brand experience.