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Interactive messaging is new paradigm for conversations, commerce: exec

NEW YORK – A executive at the MMA SM2 Innovation Summit 2016 stressed the need for brands to leverage interactive messaging – such as chatbots, instant applications and messaging platforms including WhatsApp – to foster conversations with consumers and drive commerce.

During the session, “Crossing The Mobile Chasm: The Void Between Apps and Bots,” the executive highlighted four upcoming areas in technology – messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, the advent of chatbots and artificial intelligence, instant or micro apps and real-time mobile interactions. Using these technologies will help a brand maximize its return on investment and maintain customer retention.

“It’s the convergence of these four technologies that will really transform the way businesses reach customers across the entire life cycle,” said Phil Gordon, president, founder and chief product officer of

Customer life cycles
Interactive messaging has the ability to influence all stages of the customer life cycle – marketing, acquisition, sales, support and retention.

Since mobile traffic has now overtaken desktop traffic in terms of volume, marketers must leverage the latest mobile-first technologies to keep up with consumer demand and offer seamless experiences.

“We have reached the point where mobile is no longer an option, but is mandatory,” Mr. Gordon said.

One way to foster better conversations – and consequently, more business – is to use natural language processes to communicate with customers.

Many of these platforms can be accessed in tandem with SMS – one of the most ubiquitous mobile capabilities.

“There is one killer app for mobile, and that app is SMS,” Mr. Gordon said. “Ninety-seven percent of consumers use SMS every day to send an average of 15 text messages.”

He pinpointed four reasons contributing to SMS’s popularity – timeliness, specificity, asynchroncity and universality.

Ninety-seven percent of texts are read within three minutes of receipt, making it one of the most effective communication mediums. It is also typically spam-free, unlike email.

Delving into AI
Artificial intelligence and chatbots have one major benefit for brands struggling to respond to high volumes of messages stemming from customers.

“With AI and chatbot technology, you have a shot at deflecting some of that early messaging volume in an automated way,” Mr. Gordon said.

After witnessing the unstoppable shift toward mobile consumption, more brands are exploring chatbots for the express purpose of offering live chat capabilities to app users and site visitors.

A Home Depot executive at the MMA SM2 Innovation Summit 2016 revealed that mobile and tablet usage make up 50 percent of the retailer’s online traffic, a significant number that has prompted it to explore other mobile commerce initiatives, including beacons and chatbots (see story).

Additionally, in an effort to cash in on the chatbot craze and expand its own digital ordering service, Domino’s is now allowing customers to order pizza through a Facebook Messenger chatbot (see story).

“Most businesses want to move to messaging, but need a way to do it in an automated way,” Mr. Gordon said.