Messenger Marketing: Everything marketers need to know


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Over the past few years, the lines between social media networks and messenger applications have started to blur, particularly when it comes to Marketing. In fact, while you may think messenger apps are only for social contacts, a recent study by Facebook IQ found that 67% of users expect to be able to interact with businesses as well. Not only that, but BI Intelligence found that messaging apps are surpassing social networks in terms of usage, and that their use goes beyond just interacting with friends, with users employing them to frequently access content, connect with brands, or discover new products.

In this post, we’ll dive into the world of messenger marketing to unveil tips for some of the most popular applications, as well as take a look at how brands are using them today.


Monthly Active Users: 1.2 Billion

Originally created as Facebook Chat, Messenger has evolved into a standalone instant message application with its own dedicated webpage: Besides standard features such as chat, video calls, and voice messages, Messenger allows users to play games directly with friends, send and receive money without a charge (US only), order a ride on Uber, or ask M, Facebook’s virtual assistant, for help.


sephora messenger applicationGet the conversation started with the help of Facebook Ads. Ad types include:

  • Click-to-Messenger ads: redirect users from the newsfeed to a private messenger conversation
  • Sponsored messages: re-engage with clients and prospects who have messaged your Facebook page in the past 6 months

Sephora, for example, ran a Click-to-Messenger ad prompting women between the ages of 18-49 to book a makeover. In doing so, they increased booking rates by 11%. Brands can run similar campaigns to share deals, introduce new products or services, or even push bot engagement.

Facebook Bots

Facebook bots make simple tasks and information searches a breeze, so it is no wonder that users are engaging with them more and more, and it’s now easier than ever for brands to work with their own bots. Skyscanner, a travel application, allows users to search for flights and directs you to book directly from Messenger. American Eagle, a casual wear retailer, used their bots to bring in a new audience around the holidays and allowed users to create shopping lists by saving favorites or clicking through to buy. With the help of American Eagle Messenger Marketingtheir bots, they were able to attract a significant number of new users, coming in at 75%, and a click-through rate of 25%.

In order to design a bot that works for your business, make sure it has a clear purpose that will be useful to your target audience. Additionally, don’t neglect to consider how the bot will better the customer journey. Be sure to write scripts reflective of your brand persona and consider and test a variety of responses in order to meet user needs.


Monthly Active Users: 1.3 Billion

Whatsapp, a popular stand-alone messenger application, was originally created to replace Standard Text Messages by allowing users to connect via phone number rather than username from social profiles. After becomingly increasingly popular in Europe, Asia, and South America, now a quarter of the US makes use of this application.

The platform offers three ways in which brands can connect with users:

  1. One-to-one: send messages, call or video chat directly with individual contacts
  2. Groups: send messages, photos or videos with up to 256 people at a time in a custom group chat
  3. Broadcast List: Select a list of contacts and send out a mass message at once. Once sent, messages will appear as individual chats

Additionally, WhatsApp users have the ability to send media of up to 100MB, including: photos, slideshows, documents, PDFs or voice messages. They can also take their experience from the App to the desktop. Download the app straight to your computer or connect to WhatsApp Web via any internet browser.

Whatsapp for Business

First thing’s first, you might be worried about reluctance of your audience to save your contact number to their phone. Don’t worry, Whatsapp has you covered. Rather than having to ask your audience to do so, you can simply post a Whatsapp Click to Chat link in your social networks or on your website in order to allow audiences to connect with you instantly.

Currently there is no way to differentiate between a Business account and regular user on the platform. WhatsApp is currently testing business and enterprise solutions, however, that will open up a lot of doors to brands. Until the big release, let’s take a look at how business professionals are using WhatsApp to connect with their target audience:

Brand Persona

On messenger apps, you want to feel like you’re talking with a friend, and this should be no different just because you’re interacting with a brand. Brands such as Absolute Vodka, for example, have created fictitious characters for users to engage with around the release of new products for more natural feeling engagements.

Customer Service

Allow your clients to connect with your business directly. This may become impractical if you receive a large number of requests per day however, if you’re able to keep up with instant demands, it can be an effective channel for solving problems on the fly. Exploring opportunities to automate interactions using Machine Learning could help you scale.

Broadcast Lists

Create broadcast lists around different topics, offerings or interests to segment your audience and enable you to send appropriate content, such as event invitations or exclusive offers, to specific target groups.

Interactive Experiences

Hellmann’s hosted a practical campaign, connecting real people to professional chefs who could teach them how to use the ingredients they had on hand to make delicious meals. With a small media investment of only 900 dollars behind their campaign, WhatsCook, Hellemans was able to interact with more than 8000 people for an average of 65 minutes each in these one-on-one personalized cooking lessons.


Active Monthly Users: 300 Million

A messenger application built specifically for teens and young adults, 72% of Kik’s user are US based and between the ages of 13 and 23. In order to appeal to this age group, Kik is riddled with emojis, gifs, chatbots and even some old school text features.

Why did Kik design a messenger app for such a young audience? According to their Chief Technology Officer, Chris Best, “There’s one US demographic group—teenagers—that have the mobile-first ingredient. Their first connection to the internet is through a mobile device and they haven’t defined their behaviors yet. They don’t have legacy preferences from the age of the desktop internet, and they won’t necessarily develop them because the phone is their internet. Messaging is their starting point for connecting to the world, and that’s where we see our opportunity.” In other words, young, adaptable audiences provide a world of opportunities for companies such as Kik and marketers hoping to reach them.

Creative ways to connect with Gen Z via Kik


By far one of the coolest features of this app is it’s more than 20,000 available Chatbots. Marketers are getting creative with how they use these chatbots CNN, for example, can be consulted to ask about things as simple as the Weather. Alex Wellen, Chief Product Officer at CNN boasts “Kik has enabled us to reach an entirely new audience of 13-17-year-olds… This resulted in nearly 5 million messages, millions of GIFs, emojis, and stickers, and hundreds of thousands of new subscribers.”

Brands like Sephora are also using their expertise to build meaningful relationships with teens and provide unforgettable experiences. In an ingenious campaign, the brand connects with teens at one of the most monumental moments in their adolescence; Prom. By working with influencer, Helen Philipps, and Facebook live, teens submitted over 1500 beauty questions via the Sephora Kik bot. Deborah Yeh, SVP of Marketing, shares their success story: “We were able to engage in real time with our Gen Z customers, helping her learn, get inspired and play with beauty, for an important moment…With Kik, we are able to participate in her social and mobile experience in a way that’s natural and useful.”


Why type it out? Let GIFs spread your message for you! Kik users speak in emojis and GIFs, so don’t push a foreign tongue, join in on the fun with branded GIFs. Brands such as World Wide Fund for Nature, have experienced over 480,568 GIF shares resulting in over 110 million impressions.

Kik Codes

Kik codes are very similar to QR codes that users can scan to connect with brands. Victoria Secret Pink, for example, posts KIK codes in dressing rooms in order to allow young shoppers to instantly connect to Victoria Secret’s chatbot who can give the customer tips on sizes or styles.


Unlike messenger applications, SMS (short message server or text messages), come standard on most mobile devices, making them a prime channel for marketing communications. Text messages, however, may seem more personal to consumers than other methods of messaging as they’ll be required to share their personal number with you in order to allow you to connect.

To give your target audience confidence, be sure to have an opt-in system set up – whether it allows them to register their number at the cash register or online. Furthermore, make sure consumers know they will receive something other than what they might get via email or other marketing channels, such as exclusive offers, to encourage opt-ins.

Don’t forget that costs may be incurred for users, so try not to overwhelm them with text messages: 2-4 texts a month is ideal (during normal hours!). Just make sure they know additional costs may apply in your initial subscription message and ensure they know how to unsubscribe. For example, “Thanks for signing up for Francesca’s exclusive text deals! Show this text for a 10% discount on your next visit. Test “STOP” to cancel. Msg & data rates may apply.”

Top tips for SMS Marketing:

  • Focus on timing: serving up a special dinner offer? Target your customers at the start of their commute.
  • Short & sweet: get straight to the point and keep your messages under 160 characters (most carriers have a limit). For example, start each message with your offer “Buy 1 get 1 free accessories today only at all North Texas Francesca’s locations!”
  • Shorten links: don’t distract from your message with long links, shorten and track them with URL shorteners such as
  • Ignite action: create a sense of urgency to get the highest engagement
  • Segment: deliver more personalized messages by segmenting your audience correctly.

Messenger Applications from around the Globe

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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing Director. Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.

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