- Category: April 2015 - Social Media
The cloud communications company Nexmo announced the world’s first API that allows brands to engage consumers one-on-one on their preferred chat application.
“Chat applications present a new opportunity for brands to instantly and genuinely engage with their customers via their preferred communications channel”, said Chris Moore, VP of Chat App Hub Business at Nexmo. “We’re coming to an age where companies are beginning to focus their brand less on individual apps and, instead, reach customers in chat applications. We will help those brands realize this future by helping them connect with customers however and wherever they are in the world.”
Mobile messaging evolution
SMS text and voice are currently the dominant form of mobile communication and will continue to be a significant marketing opportunity for years to come. In fact, according to industry analyst firm Transparency Research, the global application-to-person (A2P) SMS market is expected to grow from $53.07 billion in 2013 to $70.32 billion by 2020. At the same time, chat apps are surging with popularity and will be extremely important for brands as they continue to evolve beyond instant messaging platforms and add features like voice, video and commerce.
According to Forrester Research, adoption is already very high in Asia, and there are currently more than one billion users combined on WeChat, Line, KakaoTalk, Viber and WhatsApp. Not to mention that mobile customer experience will fuel this digital transformation even more.
IDC believes that chat applications are the future of social networking, stating: “Pricing, privacy, sociability and rich media features are driving world adoption rates to grow more than 300%.”
“Chat applications present a massive opportunity for brands to have a presence on highly trafficked platforms and engage with consumers one-on-one on their preferred communications channel,” said Mark Winther, Group Vice President and Consulting Partner of Worldwide Telecommunications at IDC. “As brands rush to these communication channels, those who will win will figure out how to hold genuine, one-to-one communications on as many platforms as possible.”
Helping brands navigate the future of communications
Each chat app is used differently and has unique features, creating a barrier for many brands who would have to build and maintain dozens of APIs for each application. Additionally, making sure these APIs comply with marketing, sales and service platforms, is cost prohibitive.
Besides, chat applications have massive online presence, but change drastically from one another in terms of features, technical requirements and cultural uses. While one application may communicate only through images, another may have rich features like video support or in-app payments. And of course, every chat application is geographically and culturally defined– for example, Kakao Talk has 93% market share in South Korea, but is not dominant in other regions, while WeChat has been incredibly popular in China and is just beginning to gain a presence elsewhere.
Regional restrictions also dictate how brands can communicate with consumers, affecting chat applications in many different ways, and all of these hurdles are changing on a week-to-week basis, as the chat app market matures at an incredible pace, making it nearly impossible for brands to tackle them on their own.
Nexmo’s Chat App API solves all these problem by automatically and seamlessly connecting chat applications to brand marketers via their preferred service platform, and helping them consolidate all chat messages into their existing communication platforms by eliminating the need to manage communications manually over individual chat applications. The Chat App API will do this by automatically detecting and connecting brand messages with the appropriate chat application in real time. This enables marketing, sales or customer support professionals, to send one message and have it appear on all relevant chat applications at once.
Nexmo is also working directly with each chat application to ensure messages appear correctly on all platforms. In addition, the company informs brands about available features, not to mention the cultural restrictions that have to be considered. Currently, it seems, only Nexmo has the expertise to help brands navigate all the technical, legal and cultural obstacles that prevent brands from easily engaging consumers on all chat applications.
Although Nexmo is operating in the voice and SMS business for just four years, the company s already working with over 80% of all chat apps, connected with over 1,700 wireless carriers and scales to serve over 9 billion API calls per year.
“We live in an always-on world, where customers expect to be engaged anytime, anywhere and on their preferred channels,” said Nexmo CEO and co-founder, Tony Jamous. “This means the bar for customer engagement has risen dramatically. At the same time, solutions that are put in place need to be scalable, near real time and cost efficient, and that is where we see the tremendous opportunity for the Chat App API. Adding the Chat App API to our portfolio of industry-leading messaging and voice APIs transforms Nexmo from a company helping brands navigate the current landscape of mobile communications to a resource that brands can come to as customer communications dynamically changes shape.”
To no surprise, high-volume communication companies such as Alibaba, Airbnb, Line and Viber send millions of messages per month using Nexmo APIs already and Gartner recognized Nexmo last year as Cool Vendor in Communication Services.
Currently, the Nexmo Chat App API supports just messaging on WeChat and Line, but will add more chat apps, service platforms and new features in the coming months.
For now, brands can immediately sign up for beta access to begin engaging with their customers via WeChat and Line through one easy-to-use cloud API.