A new trend is taking the tech-world by storm, one that is primed to reinvent the modern state of consumer-business communications: the soon-to-be mighty chatbot (otherwise known simply as “bots”).
Think we’re being a tad bit hyperbolic? Okay, maybe you’re right, but that doesn’t mean bots won’t become integral to how businesses interact with customers and how we communicate with each other. In fact, in many ways, the shift towards the use and importance of chatbots has already begun.
To try and get a handle on just how huge an impact bots will have in both the commercial and social realms, lets dive into some of the most interesting statistics on the current messaging-climate in North America and around the world.
The Current State Of Social Messaging Apps
Integral to bots are the messaging apps they are integrated into, with the most popular examples being Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat. Are messaging apps popular enough to make bots a major success in the tech industry? The short answer is, yes.
When comparing six of the most popular social messenger's monthly active users (specifically WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn), the Internet Trends Report 2016 found that between 2014-2015, messaging apps saw an exponential growth. At the top of the chart, WhatsApp reached over 1 billion monthly active users by 2015, with Facebook Messenger and WeChat trailing behind.
Certain businesses have already gotten smart to the benefits gained by using messaging apps to reach their customer base. In late 2015, both Hyatt and Rogers Communication implemented a customer service line through Facebook Messenger, the former receiving +20x more messages in the span of a month and the latter seeing a 65% increase in customer satisfaction.
It’s important to note, though, that neither Hyatt nor Rogers Communications’s customer service line through Facebook Messenger were bots. Still, we can see how much of a positive impact the integration of commerce and messengers can truly have, AND hypothesize that bots aren't too far off for these messaging early adopters.
But why would two giant corporations like Hyatt and Rogers implement a new line of communication with customers through Facebook Messenger? Isn’t WhatsApp more popular worldwide? That may be true, but in North America, Facebook Messenger is king.
Facebook Messenger: North America’s Most Popular Messaging App
Since launching in August 2011, Facebook Messenger has garnered 1 billion users and an incredibly strong user-base in the US market. In contrast to WhatsApp, who's users are worldwide, folks in America are definitely more devoted to Facebook Messenger, by far.
The Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s Mobile Messaging Report 2016 delved into the messaging trends of the US market, specifically looking at how much the average user communicates via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
Somewhat surprisingly, only 9% of US respondents said they regularly use WhatsApp.
Whereas 65% stated they frequently use Facebook Messenger.
In a worldwide context, America has the highest percentage of Facebook Messenger users.
Vero Analytics conducted a similar study which also showcased that Facebook Messenger has the largest mobile reach in America at 53%.
Even users who prefer other social apps like Snapchat were shown to still frequently use Facebook Messenger, with more than 75% of Snapchat users still using Facebook Messenger regularly.
On the other hand, less than 29% of Facebook Messengers were shown to also use Snapchat.
So why does the immense popularity of Facebook Messenger matter? Well, for one, it demonstrates how messaging apps are already an integral part of every day life, but secondly it shows just how many people will be using bots once businesses adopt it en masse.
Interestingly, we can already predict what will happen once North Americans gets savvy to the use of bots in messaging apps. To do that, we need only turn our heads away from America and look east, to China.
China, WeChat, And Consumer Trends
Much like how Facebook Messenger dominates the U.S. Market, in China, WeChat reigns supreme. Actually, WeChat is even more prevalent in China, with the messaging app used by a staggering 93% of China's Tier 1 cities populations.
But to call WeChat a “messaging app” would be reductive. To once more turn to MEF’s Mobile Messaging Report 2016, WeChat is more of a “proxy for the whole internet” to users, or as Connie Chan, a partner at VC Andreessen Horovitz puts it “WeChat is more like a browser for mobile websites, or, arguably, a mobile operating system — complete with its own proprietary app store.”
WeChat’s transformation from simple messaging app to full-blown operating system arguably occurred in the last several years, when numerous bots from wildly different businesses were on top of the app.
Watch this video by Jonah M. Kessel and Paul Mozur at the New York Times or read Smooch + WeChat: talk to customers in Asia, your way to understand the amplitude of WeChat's popularity and functionality and why so many people consistently use WeChat for everything.
Realm of Conversational Commerce
Simply put, the messaging boom is among us. Messaging is second nature for most and first nature for younger generations. Weaving commerce into messaging is the natural progression for consumers, businesses and employees. Need more fun facts and statistics for proof? Here you go!
- A full 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can directly message
- 63% of consumers are more likely to message a brand today more so than two years ago
- 56% foresee themselves messaging businesses more and more in the next two years
- SMS open rates are 98% and 90% of people read an SMS message within the first three minutes of receiving it!
- 1 in 4 people have yet to text with a business (because not enough businesses make it easy?)
- 70% of people would store their favorite brand's messaging information in their phones
All in all, the general public is ready to take the leap into the realm of commerce through messaging and thereby, bots. The tech world is already making this happen: movers and shakers are creating the tools for businesses to operationalize messaging, VC's are finding funding to back the space, and early adopters are seeing great success. Bring on the bots!