Customers aren’t email addresses, or phone numbers, or WhatsApp handles. They’re individuals, making different choices. Whether it’s inbound or outbound, real-time or delayed, people’s communication preferences span a variety of moods and modes. Because they’re not thinking channels—they’re thinking goals.
And what do customers want to reach those goals you might ask? They want to communicate on the channels they already use in their daily lives. Whether that’s via WhatsApp, SMS, Apple Messages for Business, or even when calling. Nobody wants to download another app to get in touch.
Every channel comes with its own strengths, and most customers use more than one channel. Send automated updates via SMS. Let a chatbot respond on WhatsApp Business. Or swing in an agent when the conversation needs a human touch. The goal is to keep the conversation connected as a user switches between platforms. It’s known as omnichannel messaging.
So how do you choose which channels are the right fit for your business? Let's discuss the conversational channels CM.com's cloud-based Business Messaging API currently covers.
With 2 billion users, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging channels on the planet. WhatsApp Business API allows you to interact seamlessly with your customers in real-time whilst using the rich media features that the channel provides.
Now separate to the main Facebook mobile app, Facebook Messenger has some subtle differences to WhatsApp Business despite both being owned by the same parent. Facebook messages tend to be closer to email than WhatsApp’s real-time chats. With a more social aspect than WhatsApp, there’s also a high proportion of bots, with hundreds of thousands of companies using AI to answer common questions and kick off conversations.
By enabling Instagram Messaging, businesses are able to provide 1-on-1 customer care and have personalised conversations with consumers that reach out to them via their Instagram Business Profile, Stories or Shop. With over 1 billion active Instagram users, Instagram Messaging provides businesses a great opportunity to provide customer care and drive sales.
Apple Messages for Business
Apple Messages for Business adds value to your omnichannel messaging strategy. How? It’s threefold: the profile of the Apple user, the way it integrates other Apple apps, and its rich features and entry points. Its advantages include higher-value conversations with higher-value customers. In Apple Messages for Business, all conversations are started by the customer, reaching out to your business. And once they do, Business Chat users are at an advantage: fewer websites offer it as an option, funneling more customers into your space if you offer it.
The original mobile notification channel, SMS has been around since 1992—and is perfect to send customer service updates and delivery advice. It’s a native channel that 1.5bn people still use every day—meaning it’s unlikely to go away any time soon. It lets you communicate reliably with every phone in the world—and there are more of those on Earth than there are people! Of course, you may be using it already—but unless it’s integrated into your broader engagement strategy, it’s not delivering all its potential.
RCS —Rich Communications Services— is an unfamiliar acronym to consumers, but millions use it every day without knowing: there are some 430m active users. Unlike others, it’s not so much an app as a set of protocols that companies can build messaging apps on. Google Messaging App is one of these. With a large audience and less market recognition, RCS is an interesting addition to any omnichannel messaging strategy.
Google’s Business Messages
Enable consumers to chat with you directly from Google Search, Maps and across your owned channels with Google’s Business Messages. It offers you a great opportunity in guiding and supporting customers when they need it, anywhere, anytime. With direct access from Google Search, Maps or across your owned channels, you can deliver helpful, timely, and rich experiences to your customers, across the entire customer journey.
Twitter for Business Direct Messages
Twitter for Business lets you use Twitter as a stage for your products and services. Spread your message, promote your business and grow your audience. Direct Messages takes Tweets up a notch. It’s a promotional tool letting you send one-to-one custom content—not limited to 160 characters— to individual Followers, without the message appearing on their public Twitter feed.
Another app with global reach is Viber. A new name to many in North America and Western Europe—which is the whole point: it’s common in countries outside these markets, including over a billion monthly users in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. It offers businesses two services: Viber Business Messages and Viber Chatbot. Viber Business Messages works for outbound messages like (opted-in) promotions and offers. For customer service, Viber Chatbot lets you answer user questions automatically and pick up the conversation after, switching to a human agent as needed.
And More Conversational Channels to Come.
CM.com’s API for conversational channels offers you the opportunity to connect with your customers on their preferred channels. It's an essential asset to growing your business online.
Attract customers with marketing messages, keep them in the loop with service notifications, and update them at every step of the customer journey. The API lets you engage more deeply across media, with one-to-one chats that solve queries and answer customer service issues.
You can start small- even with a single channel- and add others as you scale. And as new conversational channels emerge, they’ll be added to the API, ready for you to integrate into your own processes.
Interested in reading more about conversational channels? Read our guide to conversational messaging or learn more about the different essential messaging channels.