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mGage JuanJuan Ageitos, senior marketing manager at mGage, says messaging is at the heart of conversational commerce and that SMS has a key role to play in it

When Samuel F.B. Morse sent the very first commercial telegraph message in 1844 saying “What hath God wrought,” he must have been hinting at his expectations of what was to come. Fast forward to present day, one must presume that modern messaging with the internet and smartphones would have surpassed even such a pioneer’s wildest dreams.

For consumers, messaging is the preferred channel of communication, 20bn SMS messages are sent daily; to put that in perspective, it is 40 times more messages than the 500m daily tweets. Messages are short, non-intrusive and even the least tech-savvy amongst us feel comfortable with them.

Recently, the shift to personal messaging for enterprise has grown, and is predicted to boom this year. By 2017, people are going to be talking with brands through WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger and a plethora of other platforms. The transition will happen on platforms we are so used to that users won’t even notice! The new channels will become invisible to the user.

Transactional Messaging
Transactional Messaging is a system that companies use to create conversations and gain data, they are built using set rules from CRM systems. The rules increase in complexity over time leaving the host able to segment an audience to an individual level. At companies using Transactional Messaging, sales teams wax lyrical about artificial intelligence and the dawn of a new day; in reality, most of these systems are built on these simple, effective CRM systems.

The rules can be based on information that users provide, if users check into a hotel, they might receive a text welcoming them back, asking if they would like to hear new additions since they last visited. Replying ‘yes’ then unlocks a new level of the CRM that tells them about the hotel’s new gym. These ‘event-based messages’ are now being adopted by marketers as ‘marketing automation'.

As the process becomes second nature to the consumer, companies will glean large amounts of data on their users to improve the processes moving forward, but will also use the technology for more than just surveys. Uber has already integrated into Facebook Messenger, allowing consumers planning to meet up to discuss where and, mid-conversation, order a car without leaving the message thread.

It is important that corporations remember this policy. As the late IBM director of marketing Buck Rodgers once put it: "Every employee has been trained to think that the customer comes first.” The good news is that companies adopting this future will cut costs and drastically speed up processes, all the while crafting a more personal connection with their consumers.

Next up, conversational commerce. On Medium, Chris Messina discussed the importance of comfort, when you go on Facebook Messenger from anywhere, any device, it looks and feels the same, you pick up where you left off.

Messina then discusses the language used in the same Medium article, which is friendly, rarely using technical language traditionally used within desktop apps. Again, allowing users to become part of a new world of eCommerce without knowing it. Neo got the choice of the red or blue pill, here the pill changed colour overnight and users forget that there was a previous system.

Benedict Evans summed it up perfectly in a Tweet: “Old: all software expands until it includes messaging. New: all messaging expands until it includes software.

In a world where people are comfortable allowing machines do the mundane tasks, bots can organise customised notifications which are more user friendly and efficient. When was the last time you were happy to hit a switchboard to get through to the wrong person? For the company - costs savings are huge.

From BBM to WhatsApp, there is so much competition in and so much conversation about the messaging marketplace, people overlook a platform that we all have, are all used to and all use daily… SMS, the most personal of all platforms. SMS is not the new kid on the block, but is here to stay and overnight could grow your business, creating conversational commerce in a new age of happy, connected users.

Juan Ageitos is senior marketing manager at mGage. This article first appeared in the February 2016 print edition of Mobile Marketing. You can read the whole issue here.