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40% of us wake up and check our iMessage app prior to opening any other social app on our phones. It’s our daily ritual. In terms of marketing opportunity to find blue oceans, there is a 98% open rate on messaging channels in the US. For brands everywhere, this is a huge opportunity to deliver and serve content in a somewhat diluted space. SXSW 2017 presented “iMessage: The New Marketing Gold Mine” with some of the biggest thought-leaders in the iMessage space; Kelly McCarthy (Senior Director of Global Marketing at Nike), Nick Dunham (Director of Media at Dunkin’ Donuts) and Amanda Moore (Senior Director Social and Digital Marketing at Marriott). Exploring the iMessage and Bot space for our clients is crucial to maintain a competitive advantage. Today, I attended this SXSW session on iMessage marketing with my specific AE clients in mind.

What is iMessage Marketing?

Marketing through iMessage is relatively new  and a somewhat confusing concept to many. Let’s break it down. iMessaging marketing provides an opportunity for brands and fans to directly interact with each other via iMessage. Whether that be promoting deals, specials, or just encouraging interaction and conversation, 62% of Millennials are more likely to engage with brands who work with them on iMessaging. Agency Entourage is already moving forward in this space with Weitzman and is exploring how to provide unique value through interacting directly with fans. For example:

  • If you are searching for a particular pair of shoes, Weitzman wants to be there.
  • If you are looking for a restaurant with Happy Hour on Tuesdays, Weitzman will be there.

Agency Entourage is focusing on injecting Weitzman into their audience’s daily ritual: using their phones.

What are Chatbots?

Our social feeds are overloaded with so much content, and that’s where everyone is looking. Chatbots provide a unique opportunity for brands to serve relevant content in an intimate way that is currently not the norm. For example, Shops of Southlake, West Plano Village, and The Village at Cumberland Park could utilize chatbots in such a way where the bot asks specific questions and finds a store that has what the user needs. Patriot Motorcars could find and suggest specific cars for their audience through bots, resulting in another form of lead gen. Humanizing brands is becoming an extension of our social journey. This session provided much food for thought regarding the new era of bots. However, Kelly McCarthy had some wise words of caution:

Not every brand can be humanized in a natural way, and this may end up hurting your brand rather than helping it.

What’s Next for Your Brand?

While iMessaging is a space to be active in, chatbots are not there yet. The Western World, specifically North America, is around 24-36 months behind Asia in regards to bots and VR. Brands are forever under pressure to adopt new technology and innovations however we need to ensure these are executed to best represent the brand and their brand experience.