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Messaging as Channel and Metaphory

Originally published by Gartner, in August 2018 and written by Mike McGuire 


Are you a multichannel marketer struggling to connect with customers or prospects at the right moments to get them to engage or re-engage with you?   I have one word for you: messaging.
Connecting with customers or prospects at the right moments is a persistent challenge for marketers.  Surmounting this challenge has led to investments in analytics, journey building, mobile and social marketing, search and etc.  Messaging can play as crucial role in connecting with customers and prospects at the right time.One of the persistent misapprehensions I see marketers laboring under is that messaging – SMS, in-app or push-notifications – is only about immediacy and a real-time engagement.   While realtime is a key benefit, messaging engagements have traits that other channels miss. They are: asynchrony and persistence.  Meaning that a messaging session does not always happen in real time.  They can extend over long periods of time.

And this is where messaging morphs from mobile channel to metaphor.  We’re already seeing this in China where WeChat has exploded from consumer messaging app to a multi-function app.  Metaphor? The messaging interface back-and-forth conversations, is moving into consumer service scenarios and, ultimately, I think to almost any engagement with a brand.

As chatbots have emerged as an important tool in customer service, they’ve also popped up in mobile apps, enshrining the messaging metaphor as an important interacting with a brand subscription required).  Chatbots require a natural-language-processing capability that relies on accessing rigorously structured data in able to allow the chatbot getting anywhere close to being able to respond intelligently to queries. (Check out our “Cool Vendors in Conversational Marketing” note here.)

In the coming years, we’ll start seeing messaging metaphors extending into all forms of marketing, particularly mobile marketing engagements, not just customer service.  Many obstacles remain, particularly the need for companies to invest in structured data efforts. Investing now in messaging – in all its forms – puts a marketing team in a better position to finding the right moments to engage now. It puts them in an even better position to take advantage of the opportunities to extend the messaging metaphor.  


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