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Messaging Channels

The Most Popular Chat Apps in the U.S. (2021 Update)

U.S. consumers use chat apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends, family, and their favorite brands and businesses. The demand for over-the-top chat apps grows every year. Which chat apps do consumers prefer today? And most importantly, which makes sense for your business? Today, we’ll compare the most popular chat apps in the U.S.

What Are Chat Apps?

Chat apps enable users to instant message on mobile devices and computers. 

As mobile devices became ubiquitous, so did the availability of digital communication channels. Worldwide, 2.52 billion people use messaging apps on mobile devices, with usage expected to reach 3 billion by 2022.

Over-the-top (OTT) chat apps let users communicate without incurring data charges. As long as a user has access to a WiFi connection (rather than a mobile network carrier), chat communication is usually free. 

OTT messaging apps are now the most popular smartphone apps, with almost 90% of global smartphone users utilizing at least one messaging app. 

Communicating through mobile apps has all but replaced voice communication as the preferred means of distanced dialog between people. Businesses have also jumped on the bandwagon, using chat apps to engage with customers, improve service, and drive sales. 

Top 5 Chat Apps in the U.S. 

Are you interested in pursuing chat marketing for your business but unsure which app is best for you? Let’s review the top five chat apps in the U.S. today.

1. WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp is the most-used chat app, delivering approximately 100 billion messages per day to two billion users worldwide. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014.

Use Cases:

  • People use WhatsApp to text, call, and share pictures and videos with family and friends.
  • Companies use WhatsApp Business to establish a direct line of communication with their customers. It’s also used to showcase products and services and provide customer support throughout the customer journey. 

Top Features:

  • Group chats accommodate up to 256 people at once. 
  • Chats can be synced to all devices for convenience. 
  • Voice, text, and video calls are free — even internationally.
  • End-to-end encryption secures messages and calls.
  • Can handle documents, PDFs, slideshows, and spreadsheets up to 100 MB.

2. Facebook Messenger 

With 1.3 billion users, Facebook’s Messenger is the second most popular OTT app worldwide. 

It’s also the most popular chat app in the U.S. and the second-most downloaded app of all time.

Use Cases:

  • People use Messenger as a separate utility, enabling them to converse in or out of Facebook, Instagram, Oculus, and Portal.
  • Businesses use Messenger to promote deals and allow customers to easily make reservations or chat with support right from the app. With Messenger, brands can also advertise, sell, and recruit brand advocates.

Top Features:

  • Watch movies, videos, and TV shows over video chat.
  • Use fun augmented reality (AR) effects, message effects, and selfie stickers.
  • Choose themes and colors to personalize your chats.
  • Unlock Messenger with your fingerprint ID or face.
  • Send and receive money securely by adding your PayPal account, debit card, or reloadable prepaid card.

3. Apple Business Chat

Apple’s Business Chat is a powerful new contender in the business chat app world, creating a rich user experience for iOS customers.

Use Cases:

  • People can schedule appointments, ask for information, and make purchases through their iPhone or iPad messages. Customers’ personal information (like name and phone number) remains private until they choose to share it with you.
  • Business Chat lets your brand engage with active users of Apple devices using iOS 11.3 or higher.

Top Features:

  • Connect directly with iOS customers via web, in-app, social media, Apple Maps, iOS Search, or phone using iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.
  • Make purchases without leaving a conversation using Apple Pay.
  • Resolve calendar conflicts before scheduling appointments since Business Chat is built into iOS.
  • Reach your customers anytime and anywhere. An SMS fallback feature starts if there is no internet connection available.

4. Twitter Direct Messages

Consumers turn to Twitter to discover news and information more than any other platform, making it a great chat platform for consumers and businesses alike. Twitter boasts 63 million users in the U.S., sending 500 million tweets worldwide daily.

As the fourth most popular social networking app in the U.S., Twitter is a critical piece of any omnichannel marketing strategy. 

  • People tweet publicly and use Direct Messages (DMs) to have private conversations within Twitter, individually or in groups. 
  • Businesses use DMs to connect with followers on a more intimate level than sending general tweets or simple mentions.

Top Features:

  • Send custom content, including videos, images, and buttons to your Twitter followers. 
  • Promote new products or services, answer questions, and encourage open communication.
  • Generate leads and grow your networking circle by starting private conversations with individuals and other businesses. 

5. Google Business Messages

Business Messages by Google lets companies send SMS and mobile messages to Android users, creating powerful experiences that drive sales. By April 2020, Messages had more than a billion installs.

Use Cases: 

  • Android users can use “Hey Google” for helpful information right from their conversations.
  • Businesses benefit from a comprehensive messaging solution on Android devices and Google Maps on iOS.

Top Features:

  • While online, customers can start a conversation with you on Maps, Local Search, or just tap or click your name.
  • Route calls to chat, increase customer satisfaction, and improve sales via data and customer feedback. 
  • Display customer wait times and answers to FAQs.
  • Upsell products and services via photos, carousels, and suggested replies.

Why Are Chat Apps Important for Businesses?

The importance of mobile-first marketing is undeniable. Americans spend nearly 3 hours on their smartphones each day.

OTT chat apps enable you to reach customers anytime and anywhere. They provide your business with a cost-effective way to solve support issues, promote products and services, and automate answers to common questions, saving you time and money. 

WhatsApp and Messenger boast 30% year-over-year growth, outpacing social networks in usage and popularity. Additionally, one survey found that 69% of U.S. consumers say that directly messaging a business (and getting a response) helps them feel more confident about the brand. 

Are you ready to explore what chat apps could mean for your business? CM.com’s web integrations for Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger help set you up for chat marketing success.

If you use multiple OTT chat channels to converse with customers, CM.com has several all-in-one solutions that allow you to consolidate and manage your conversations across channels. Check out Mobile Marketing Cloud and Mobile Service Cloud to find your ideal solution, or contact sales for a custom demo. 

Interested in accessing a single channel? Learn about CM.com’s APIs for Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat and more. 

connects tens of thousands of companies with millions of consumers via their mobile phone each day. Behind the scenes, from our innovative platform, CM makes sure companies can use these millions of messages, phone calls and payments to become part of people’s lives.