This year an overwhelming 43 trillion messages will be sent by consumers via chat applications – with use of mobile messaging apps now eclipsing traditional social networks. Even more interesting is emoji have emerged as the fastest growing language worldwide. Today, there are 1,851 emoji, which are leveraged by 92% of the world’s online population. These emotive images communicate beyond language, transcending tongues and borders.
In my company’s new 2016 Emoji Report to be released next week, Emogi found that 75% of U.S. consumers are interested in having more emoji options than they currently do (see our infographic here). It’s no surprise that consumers want more emoji. People not only crave more variety and choice, but also emoji that reflect them personally. A number of brands have already tapped into the power of branded emoji from Burger King, Dove, Gatorade, Pepsi and Taco Bell.
U.S. consumers want stronger emoji options (e.g. not just a dog emoji, but dog breeds; not just a coffee emoji, but specific drinks; not just beer emoji, but specific beer brands). In fact, half of U.S. consumers would use a branded emoji as an alternative in messaging if given the option.
And yet despite this demand, the opportunity for brands in mobile messaging to date has been limited by the experience – with people required to download separate emoji keyboards, apps or sticker packs to expand their choices. In other words, despite app fatigue being at an all-time high, brands have previously had no choice but to push more apps to consumers.
Reinvention is needed to effectively reach consumers on mobile. Don’t believe me? Just look at the 400M+ people who have adopted ad block in mobile today.
Source: Internet Trends 2016 – Code Conference. Mary Meeker, KPCB (Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, Byers)
Traditional pop-up ads on mobile simply don't work. Brands have an opportunity to join the conversation and stay relevant, but only if they do it in a way that's natural and salient to the conversations consumers are already having.
Many are touting chatbots as the answer for brands to engage consumers in mobile messaging. For customer service or commerce, chatbots can add a lot of value, helping to automate conversations in real-time. However, our belief is that chatbots will represent a smaller opportunity in mobile messaging as the consumer's primary reason for leveraging a messaging app is to communicate with their peers. The real opportunity is helping brands join those communications in a meaningful way.
Inserting brands in conversations in a powerful way requires the best blend of data, machine intelligence, and creative strategy. Recently Emogi launched Wink, a new platform allowing brands to natively present branded emoji, stickers or GIFs as options to millions of consumers through the text fields on several of the world's most popular messaging apps. Through machine learning, Wink identifies the unique context of conversations where brands can introduce their content natively, without requiring a separate keyboard or app download.
The same insights behind the launch of Wink are paramount to the success of any brand on mobile. Effective communication with consumers in mobile messaging is about creating “pull” for your branded content versus “push”.
Over the past several years we’ve seen an incredible amount of rapid change in the mobile ecosystem and application environment. We’ve gone from a “there’s an app for that” mentality with consumers preferring separate apps to today where a handful of mobile chat apps have emerged as the second home screen for consumers.
To have any success in mobile messaging, brands need to provide ways to enhance the conversation, rather than interrupt it. Stickers in iMessage are shared from one friend to another. They are personal, contextual, viral and emotionally driven and provide the perfect vehicle to spur word-of-mouth marketing. Emoji, stickers and GIFs not only inform how millennials discover and discuss your brand, but ultimately how and what they purchase.
The rise of one-to-one messaging platforms has rewritten how brands today effectively communicate and create word-of-mouth awareness with consumers. We are just now seeing the beginning of a wave where brands will truly unlock the opportunity with mobile messaging and tapping into emoji, stickers, GIFs and other emotive forms of content is critical to success.
About the Author
Travis Montaque is CEO and founder of Emogi, a leading mobile messaging platform that empowers brands to join the conversation through branded emoji, stickers and GIFs. Emogi's mission is to make the power of expression universally available and useful.
In 2016, Travis was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list for his work setting the standard for new strategies and tools for brand engagement. He is a graduate of the University of Miami and a regular speaker with recent appearances at Adweek 2016, Harvard Business School, among others.