SXSW 2016: Mobile Messenger Apps are the Future of Inbound Marketing

5 minutes read
John - 22.03.2016
SXSW 2016 Shows Mobile Messenger Apps are the Future of Inbound Marketing-1.png

We couldn’t make SXSW this year, but the sheer amount of coverage coming out of the event made us feel like we were there, anyway. That in itself is a story. This year’s South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, shows how integral technology has become in people’s lives since the event first started.

SXSW is an influential event in the marketing calendar, and highlights upcoming and growing technological trends. It’s now in its 23rd year, but there was a time when, to report on an event, a journalist would have to take their notepad, laptop, Dictaphone, camera, and other tools to do the basics of their job. Today, all of those tasks can be done on any common smartphone.

Mobile’s growth has been astonishing, and mobile connectivity has been a key theme at this year’s event, with marketers from across the globe scrambling to get a first look at the next big thing in the world of digital marketing. Unsurprisingly, smartphones have again been the talk of the town.

Responsive Responding Messenger Apps

There’s predicted to be a big rise in quick-response tools and user migration from social media to social messaging sooner rather than later. This is something we’ve been expecting, with Facebook Messenger introducing ads to its services, testing SMS functionality, and pushing Spotify sharing.

Mashable and messaging service Viber are also growing their relationship by giving users stickers and better quick-response options. The rise in messaging apps and the time spent on them is said to be a threat to Google’s very existence, and monetising messaging communications to reach audiences through WhatsApp and other platforms is set to become commonplace in inbound marketing.

“There has been an explosion of messaging apps – 800 million people worldwide use Facebook messenger and one billion people use [Facebook-owned] WhatsApp,” Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa has recently declared.

“Six out of the top 10 apps in the world are messenger apps and it will not be long until brands are integrated into that space.”

She also pointed out that mobile growth is the “most important user trend in our lifetime”, and predicts that soon people will be shopping through messenger applications instead of visiting websites.

See Hear…

With approximately three billion monthly active users – mostly a young, untapped audience – messenger apps represent an enormous, relatively untapped space to put yourself in front of a targeted mobile audience. That audience is also said to be loyal, and effectively ‘always on’, thanks to the immediacy offered by modern messenger apps.

The technology continues to improve, too, allowing for greater interaction. Some of the more popular new apps at SXSW 2016 are social-based and have audio-visual capabilities in common. Anchor, for instance, enables users to share short audio clips, while KnowMe acts like a mini video editor that features voice-activated commands.

Tribe and Shorts are two others that underline the public’s fascination with video creation and sharing. With so many apps picking up traction, new platforms are opening up for creative content marketers to play with, as well as new audiences to target if the install base becomes large enough.

It’s a blessing for the creative inbound marketer who can reach out to a large mobile-savvy audience through creative content, and deliver large-scale campaigns through popular messaging apps. That again underlines the sheer power of the smartphone when it comes to growth and inbound marketing, and how existing channels like Snapchat can only further develop their advertising offerings in the future.

Virtual Insanity

Development is the key word here. Outreach through messenger apps is still a relatively new thing, and with EU privacy updates just around the corner, marketers need to experiment. A campaign has to say all the right things to an audience that uses these apps privately to keep in touch with friends. The creative message has to be spot-on to entice that audience into your overall growth strategy.

Not everything at SXSW has been an unbridled success. There was a big push around virtual reality, and we’re simply still not convinced about its properties for inbound and growth marketing. It’s an interesting platform, yes, but probably beyond the budget of most small businesses. We feel you can also get the same results from Google Cardboard.

More wearables have appeared, too, and we’re again lukewarm on the inbound marketing services they can provide. We’re here to be proved wrong; advertising through messenger apps, though, is set to be the real deal and deliver better returns and leads, allowing your company to attract the right audience to your business to help you grow.

The times are changing, outbound is outdated and in some cases, can be potentially dangerous for your brand financially and in a reputational sense. Big fines are being handed out to serial data offenders. With inbound you can avoid this and get the best from your leads so read our blog “How to create Inbound Strategy Masterclass” for more information.

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