3 min read

Why track customers when you can engage them instead?

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Does your business have a mobile app that tracks user data? 

Well, then, you might be pretty concerned about the recent changes to app tracking rules. 

In the past, app developers could use a number of tools to track user data and activities within a mobile app. Businesses with these apps could then sell that data, coordinated with similar data from similar apps as well as mobile sites from around the web, to create user profiles.  Advertisers could then use these profiles to target those users with specific advertisement opportunities as well as sell those profiles to other businesses.   

There has been some industry pushback to stronger privacy policies, with some noting the potential of fluctuating ad delivery. There could be a decrease in addressable audiences since – let’s face it – many customers might opt-out of app tracking.   

That said, there are better, more creative ways for businesses and brands to engage audiences than tracking, anyway – options that can also help you differentiate yourself from your competition! 

One of our favorite creative methods is to turn to more messaging-based solutions. Conversational messaging is a great start, and these channels can show you how your audience responds with extreme clarity.   

Think about it: There are over 5 billion users of messaging – from SMS users (practically everyone with a mobile phone), WhatsApp and other non-SMS messaging apps, MMS, and RCS. Gartner has noted that by the end of 2021, 50% of businesses will spend more on conversational applications than on mobile apps. So don’t be left behind! 

Furthermore, with a 4x higher open rate than email, and greater than 50% of users who rank messaging as their preferred way to interact with brands, conversational messaging is simply the best way to reach consumers.  You don’t need to potentially violate their privacy or be part of some details sharing ecosystem.  (What’s more, if you do, you run the risk of chasing away good customers!) 

When we speak of conversational messaging, we mean two-way messaging between the brand or business and its customers.  It’s easy to send this type of message thanks to today’s AI-enhanced chatbots, further supplemented with interfaces to real humans using a contact center or live chat capability. And there are so many channels available: SMS and MMSWhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, ViberRCS, WeChat, even Instagram DMs.  

The best-case scenario is of course that the customer initiates the conversation – but it could also be prompted by the business, as long as the customer has opted in to receive messaging from the company. The beauty of this type of consumer engagement is that it uses the consumer’s choice of channel and follows the consumer’s timeline.  It can be short or long, based on the consumer’s choice. 

Of course, all of this takes place within a messaging app on the mobile device – no business or brand-specific mobile app necessary.  In many cases, a well-done, chatbot-enabled conversational messaging implementation, through a rich channel such as RCS or WhatsApp (or even MMS), can completely replace the need to support a mobile app (and all of the baggage that comes with apps).   

And it gets better. Messaging channels can provide significant personalization for each customer that interacts with your business. Using the customer’s telephone number, your business can gain a better understanding of how they interact with your brand via conversational messaging.  Businesses can personalize messages so that the customer feels better about providing information. 

With chatbots, especially those integrated with AI-based Natural Language Processing (NLP), a brand or business can let the customer respond with a variety of answers to questions, as well as pose their own questions.  Coupled with rich channels such as RCS or WhatsApp, as well as Instagram and others, the business is set to interact with the consumer through the channel of their choice. 

As part of the enhanced privacy features that are now on devices, email gains additional protections.  Email is still a common channel for marketers to build user profiles, based on using invisible pixels to collect information, such as when users open their email. The enhancements mask the user’s IP addresses, so they may no longer be linked to online browsing or app activity. 

While email is still a good way to reach consumers, it can also be used in a limited capacity to encourage users to opt-in to a more robust messaging channel.  With messaging, the consumers are still protected – messaging metadata is always kept strictly private and is not shared with other marketers. However, brands can still gain a better understanding of how the user views the business’s products.  Additionally, conversational messaging is the perfect medium to engage the consumer for support – either through a bot, or a handover to a live person. 

The bottom line is that businesses should not fear these new privacy policy changes – they just need to adapt and look at different strategies to better communicate with and understand their customers. 

Today’s consumers are extremely mobile-motivated.  It’s time to move away from tracking browser usage and email to a more user-friendly, messaging-based engagement. Once you adopt these new strategies, you’ll wonder why it took you so long in the first place!