KLM Extends Customer Service Bot To Twitter And WeChat

What Happened
Dutch airline KLM was one of the first airlines to create a chatbot for Facebook Messenger, now the airline company has expanded its bot action to Twitter and WeChat as well. Rather impressively, the bots are fluent in 10 languages, helping KLM to better serve its international customers. They can provide booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding passes, as well as flight status updates to any customers who checked in through KLM.com and elect to get their info through Twitter DM or WeChat.

What Brands Need To Do
This extended chatbot support underscores KLM’s commitment to using bots as a customer service tool to help streamline the flight check-in process. Messaging apps has become a channel for brands to effectively reach mobile customers, and bots can be a powerful and cost-effective tool for handling basic information requests, managing business bookings, and facilitating direct purchases. More brands should be coming up with a conversational strategy that includes not only how to use bots to improve their brand messaging and services but also how to properly promote the bots.

KLM is also smart to expand their chatbot support so as to better serve their international customer base. Different messaging apps enjoy varying regional popularity, as Facebook Messenger is most popular in the U.S. whereas WeChat dominates the Chinese market. Twitter DM is a good solution to cover the other global markets. For more in-depth analysis how brands can leverage global mega-channels and niche micro-channels to effectively reach key audiences across the world, check out the Global Culture section of our Outlook 2017.


Source: MarTech Today

Starbucks Previews Chatbot Service; Partners With WeChat For Mobile Gifting

What Happened
After turning its U.S. stores into sponsored locations in Pokémon Go to drive visits, Starbucks is doubling down on its mobile initiatives with two big moves. First, the Seattle-based company previewed a conversational chatbot service called “My Starbucks Barista,” which uses MindMeld’s AI engine to understand and place complicated orders in natural language via text or voice. The mobile pre-order service is set to roll out in Starbucks’ mobile apps starting early 2017.

Meanwhile, Starbucks also forged a strategic partnership with Tencent to tap into mobile commerce in China, an increasingly important market for Starbucks. The two companies launched a new social gifting feature on WeChat, the No.1 messaging app in China with over 846 million monthly active users, allowing customers to give Starbucks products to friends using WeChat. The partnership also includes payment integration, which lets Chinese customers pay for Starbucks purchases both online and in-store with WeChat wallets.

What Brands Should Do
These two initiatives indicate Starbucks’ ambition in conquering mobile by building user-friendly conversational services that are growing prominent in consumer-brand interactions (read more on this trend here). The partnership with Tencent to leverage WeChat to reach Chinese consumers could be a strong indication of what it has in store for U.S. messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger. The upcoming chatbot service leverages the power of AI to make mobile ordering more convenient and user-friendly, which should significantly improve its customer experience on mobile. As mobile becomes integral to the customer journey for most brands, more brands should take notes and start exploring how incorporating conversational interfaces may help improve the customer experience.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about reaching consumers on mobile messaging apps and building branded chatbots. The new NiroBot we build in collaboration with Ansible for Kia delivers comprehensive product information about the all-new Niro model via friendly chats. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: GeekWire & China Daily

Michael Kors Launches Casino-Themed WeChat Game For Alibaba’s Singles’ Day

What Happened
Friday is Singles’ Day, the biggest day for online shopping in the world championed by China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba. With a massive sales volume that keep breaking its own records, many U.S. brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Crayola, and Beats have jumped on board for a piece of the pie. In particular, fashion brands including Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Coach, and Calvin Klein are offering special deals on Alibaba’s T-Mall this year, discounting products as much as 60% off.

Among all the participating brands, Michael Kors stands out with an innovative approach. The company launched a casino-themed game on popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, which offers players random discount codes to use on Singles’ Day after they play some digital poker and slot machines. Kors promoted the game with GIFs posted to its official WeChat account and a casino-themed shoppable blog post.

What Brands Should Do
This campaign from Michael Kors should be of interest to many U.S. brands trying to crack the code for social commerce. Using aptly Casino-themed mini-games to engage with mobile shoppers and reward their interactions with discount offers. this campaign serves as an intriguing example of how brands, especially retailers, can leverage popular social and messaging platforms to engage with and even sell directly to consumers.

To learn more about how brands can use chat bots to better serve customers via messaging interfaces, check out our Fast Forward feature on this topic.


Source: AdWeek

Lead image courtesy of Michael Kors blog

Facebook Messenger Sets 24-Hour Reply Window For Bots, Tests Subscription Messaging

What Happened
Facebook has updated its Messenger platform policies to force chatbots to be more active and responsive. Chatbots on Messenger now only have 24 hours to respond to a message from a user. To sweeten the deal, Facebook is also allowing Messenger bots to send users promotional messages unprompted, but only within the 24-hour window of the last user interaction.

Moreover, Facebook is also testing a new Subscription messaging feature for specific use cases, including bots for news delivery, bots for productivity management, as well as bots that track fitness, health, and personal finance information. Subscription messaging must be opted in by a recipient and will have limited functionality. Unlike regular Messenger accounts, Subscription messaging allows brands to message users outside of the aforementioned 24-hour period, but promotional content is not allowed. These rules are very similar to WeChat’s business account rules.

What Brands Need To Do
As Facebook Messenger starts testing a similar model that divides Messenger accounts by use case, brands need to be aware of the distinction, learn from other brands’ successes on WeChat, and choose the type of messaging that best suits the objectives of their Messenger bots. Brands also need to be aware of the new 24-hour reply window for re-engaging users.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about building chatbots. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Marketing Land

Dior Dabbled In Social Commerce On WeChat

What Happened
Dior has become the first luxury brand to dabble in social commerce by hosting a flash sale on China’s leading messaging app WeChat. The French fashion brand launched its WeChat shop on August 1st and promoted a limited edition of its Lady Dior bag via its official WeChat subscription account and WeChat Moments, a Facebook News Feed-like stream of social posts that WeChat integrated into the messaging app. The bag, priced at 28,000 yuan ($4,210), sold out within a day.

Social commerce is one of the leading features of WeChat, and it has taken off remarkably among Chinese mobile users. Dior is far from the first brand to host a successful flash sale event on WeChat. Previously, local brands such as smartphone maker Xiaomi and skincare brand WIS Professional have seen great results from their social commerce efforts on WeChat.

What Brands Need To Do
Although messaging app-based social commerce has yet to take off in the U.S., leading messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and Kik have been working to emulate WeChat’s success and building out social commerce features in their apps. Some brands, such as fashion brands J.Crew and Madewell, have started experimenting with flash sales on Instagram. As more and more consumers are opting for messaging apps as their main communication channel, brands need to follow the audience and start experimenting with social commerce to sell directly to consumers.

For more information on how brands can effectively reach consumers on messaging apps and other conversational interfaces, please check out the first section of our Outlook 2016.


Source: China Daily


Why Kik Raised $50 Million From Tencent

What Happened
Tencent, one of the biggest internet company in China, has invested $50M in Kik, the Canadian company behind the messaging app of the same name. By working with Tencent, maker of the immensely popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, Kik will no doubt benefit from WeChat’s experience building the most sophisticated messaging platform in the world and aggressively pursue similar strategies. The competition with Snapchat and Facebook Messenger will get more intense.

What Brands Should Do
As the messaging apps continue to diversify their services and revenues, brands, especially those eager to connect with the millenials and younger audiences, would be wise to realize the vast potential that messaging apps hold as full-fledged media platform, and develop a communications strategy for messaging platforms.

Last year, the Lab developed a campaign on Kik for Sony Music to promote a new album launch of popular boyband One Direction, which later earned us a Smarties Award from the Mobile Marketing Association.


Source: TechCrunch

Why Messaging App Tango Launched In-App Shop

Read original story on: TechCrunch

Mobile messaging app Tango is taking a page out of WeChat’s playbook with the launch of an in-app commerce service called Tango Shop. Initially available in the US, Tango’s e-commerce platform is powered by two retail giants, Alibaba and Walmart.  The Tango shop features a wide variety of items that can be purchased without leaving the chat app. Payment and logistics are handled by the two retail partners.

Messaging apps have enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, emerging as a major platform in the mobile ecosystem. As of the third quarter of 2014, 616 million global users were using chat app and mobile instant messengers, spending 7.6 hours per month on them on average. Accordingly, mobile messaging commerce has been seeing some early success in Asia markets with LINE in Japan and WeChat in China, where it has become the de facto mobile Internet platform in China, particularly for retailers.

However, messaging app-based mobile commerce has yet to take off in the U.S., where the relatively high usage of iMessage and persisting popularity of SMS has made it harder to build a mainstream audience for chat apps. Still, if the recent success of Snapchat, with its relentless push towards original content, is any indication, messaging app-based mobile commerce could certainly take off in the U.S. market sooner rather than later.

Facebook To Expand Its Messenger App Into Multifaceted Platform

Read original article on: TechCrunch

Taking a page straight out of WeChat’s and LINE’s playbooks, Facebook has unveiled its plan to expand its Messenger app into a full-fledged media platform by allowing third-party integration with content, information, and new functionality. Until now, the Messenger App has basically been copying the monotonous messaging experience on Facebook, and it should be interesting to see how it will experiment with new developer capabilities to offer new functions for users and new opportunities for brands.

Global Watch: Apple’s Big Bet On The Chinese Market

Yesterday’s Apple Event brought a few surprises, such as a skinny gold MacBook and a new SDK for medical researchers. One thing, however, was clear from the start—Apple is really going after the Chinese market.

From the prominently featured Chinese consumers in various promo videos shown throughout the event, down to the deliberate choice of Tencent’s WeChat in the on-stage Apple Watch demo, Apple is sending a clear message to the Chinese market. And the Cupertino-based company certainly has good reasons to do so. As the biggest global market with over 520 million active smartphone users, China has become the fastest-growing and third-biggest revenue source for Apple, partly thanks to its recent retail expansion in the country.

Even though the gold Apple Watch Edition is already being widely ridiculed for its $10,000 price tag, luxury experts are pointing out the target market that Apple has in mind could very well be the 2.4 million newly-minted Chinese millionaires, a number that’s expected to double by 2018. Add in the fact that Chinese culture has a longstanding appreciation for gold as status symbol, Apple might just hit jackpot in China with the gold watch.

WeChat Opens Up Advertising Platform To Brands

Just over a week after introducing the Ephemeral Messaging feature, WeChat, China’s top messaging app, launched an open beta of its advertising platform on Monday for official brand accounts with over 100k followers to reach users via its self-serve advertising platform. These ads, however, do not show up in personal messages, instead only show up if users click through to read full-page posts from the official accounts that users subscribe to. Even then, the ads only appear at the bottom of the page.

This is just the newest effort from WeChat to create a “sticky” e-platform to monetize on its 400 million active users, aiming to encourage purchasing behaviors without its users leave the app. As WeChat continues to expand its ambition in e-commerce, we expect to see more functions and features fleshed out in all messaging apps in the near future.