BT in the UK is the world’s oldest and world’s first nationwide communications company, tracing its existence all the way back to The Electric Telegraph Company which was incorporated in 1846. They have serious longevity.

Advertising spend globally across all mediums is on track to hit $600 billion and while Amazon may be the biggest advertiser on Earth with an ad spend of $11 billion (Source: campaign), some companies invest exponentially less and still have truly memorable ads. Think BT who spends less than 1% of the amount Amazon does.

30 years ago, BT’s ‘It’s Good To Talk’ commercials hit the screen. The whole premise behind the campaign made no mention of them being a technology business with a dominant market share, instead it focused on the simple concept that the exchange of ‘confidences’ between human beings leads to better communications and, in turn, deeper relationships. What a simple, big, brilliant, and market re-defining thought that was. Many telecommunications companies followed suit and have been running with similar themes ever since. It most certainly is good to chat.

Putting their arms around the very essence of (two-way) communications is what builds trust and cements relationships between enterprises and their customers. Chat by its very nature is not only good but when used correctly, profitable. Therein lay the attraction for many companies to move into this world and now yet further, into the B2C domain.

Chat Apps: Not as recent as you think

Chat apps (WhatsApp, Viber, etc.) may seem like fairly recent constructs but the reality is they have been around 40 years, ever since CompuServe released CB Simulator back in 1980. The explosion in smartphone penetration and mobile internet access over the past decade provided the foundation for amazing growth possibilities for mobile messaging applications.

The key to growth is a clean, fast and secure (private) chat service that works flawlessly. And this is what Jan Koum and Brian Acton did in 2009 when they founded WhatsApp. Who could have thought that within five years of the spark of an idea (the solution to not missing iPhone calls at the gym), that over 500 million people would be using WhatsApp monthly, the service adding more than one million users per day. 70% of WhatsApp users were active daily. This, in particular, prompted Facebook to shell out almost $22 billion for it in 2014. Today WhatsApp has 2 billion users and a global presence with only 25 countries in the world where it is not the market leader

Shortly after WhatsApp launched, Viber Media surfaced. At the same time, Facebook was making moves on WhatsApp, Rakuten from Japan swooped in and purchased Viber. Today it has about 250 million monthly active users and a loyal user base across Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and some Asian markets.

How Chat Apps integrate with your SMS strategy

SMS built its position steadily over the past quarter of a century, becoming the central pillar of mobile engagement. Unobtrusive, ubiquitous, and easy to grasp for even the most unsophisticated of mobile subscribers, nobody can accuse it of being exciting though. Lacking dynamic content and being a bit grey and ‘flat’ are incontrovertible facts. This is where the likes of WhatsApp and Viber come in.

Chat app engagement rates are high today, averaging 70-80% within 60 minutes of successful delivery. Younger people appear to have more of a natural affinity with communicating via apps and with chat apps making strong moves into the A2P domain, this channel should not be ignored.

When used in complement with SMS (and its 98% open rate) chat apps are a fantastic way to build out your overall multi-channel communication strategy. Instead of choosing one, a better application would be focused on when and where you want to connect with your customers. A holistic approach is required to really succeed with mobile engagement, so embrace the diversity now available to you with Mitto Conversations.

Efficiently manage two-way communications across WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SMS and more within a single pre-built, no-code platform. Get started.