It’s hard out there for a Peach

Peach App - Popbox Digital
 

The highly fragmented messaging app space is loud, crowded and pushy. No place for a thin-skinned newbie, or is it?

Described as “Twitter meets a group messaging app” Peach is built for close friends and family with some quirky surprises. Think Path – infused with the spirit of Slack and a splash of Snapchat. Experienced leadership, UX innovation, and strategic WOM are some of the things that give Peach its juice.

Founded by Dom Hoffmann (co-founder of Vine), Peach launched to big buzz at CES 2016, then cleared the gauntlet of the “Tech Twitter” community barely bruised. Investors, entrepreneurs and journalists helped the app quickly attain top rankings in the App Store. Innovation around “magic words” and embrace of the Product Hunt community also drove downloads.

By typing the “magic words” draw, shout, gif or song, users can doodle, share what song they are listening to or post a gif to share how they are feeling.

New words like: here, goodmorning, goodnight, battery, weather, move, meetings, safari, dice, time, date, movie, tv, and game are being added – a critical element to keep the “magic” alive and a fairly frictionless approach to engagement.

Peach app - Popbox Digital

 

In February, Peach introduced gaming to the platform. Users can start a game of Peachball by typing the word “play” for five chances to get your peach in the basket. The most innovative gaming experience ever? No, but mildly entertaining enough and always just one word away. Never underestimate the power of proximity.

Assuming you’ll be able to soon play against your friends, this aspect of the platform has tremendous revenue potential following Asian messaging apps like LINE, Kakao, and others where the majority of high margin, recurring revenue is from games.

The on-boarding process for Peach is quick, simple and punctuated with a push to invite your three closest friends, a move likely to boost the viral co-efficient.

Increasingly a common Word-of-mouth metric, the viral coefficient is a quantitative measure of virality calculated as the average number of invitations sent by each existing user, multiplied by the conversion rate of invitations sent. A viral co-efficient greater than one sparks growth.

Peach has an advantage here, the closer you are to the people you invite, the more likely they are to sign-up. That said, one can estimate Peach’s viral coefficient to be approximately 2.099, assuming three close friends are invited per user (spouse, friend, sibling, parent, etc.) with a 70% likelihood of sign-up. Plausible, considering these are close friends and family only.

Following the trajectory of messaging app momentum, Peach is poised for significant growth given its rising profile which now includes Android and a web platform. Short term funding won’t likely be a problem, things get tougher a bit further out when apps like Slack, Messenger, iMessage, Peach and Telegram all start to feel the same.

If Peach keeps innovating and stays true to crafting a compelling UX, it has a real shot at becoming an industry leader, and not just another flambe in the pan.

 

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

Luxury brands and bots – A bespoke fit?

popbox digital luxury digital

Leaders in the $20 billion global luxury market are leveraging the rise of messaging apps to thrive in the conversation economy – leaving laggards without much to say.

High touch service at scale is no longer the purview of the wealthy. 2.5 billion people use messaging apps daily, with projections rising to 3.6 billion by 2018 according to advisory firm Activate.

The good news – luxury brands already understand the value of customer intimacy and proximity. The bad news – smartphones are commoditizing both.  Thought leaders like Nordstrom are already a few steps ahead.

Nordstrom’s personal shoppers work closely with the brand’s most exclusive customers. They know their sizes and tastes well, with many talking and texting like old friends. Sensing an opportunity, Nordstrom launched TextStyle in the summer of 2015, a messaging app to strengthen their already strong customer connections.

 

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TextStyle allows personal shoppers to message with customers and make purchases directly from the conversation without having to enter a credit card or complete a form. This strategy leverages technology to reinforce two classic luxury brand attributes: proximity (being accessible from any smartphone), and customer intimacy (always knowing what to recommend).

 

“The service is part of a push to use technology to preserve the close relationships Nordstrom sales associates cultivate with individual customers.” – Nordstrom CIO, Dan Little

 

Delivering stellar service will only become easier as software continues eating the world – personal shoppers included. Facebook’s M, is an early form of artificial intelligence that marries human-like engagement and deep subject matter knowledge. Cortana, Siri and Alexa are voice based assistants that may be clumsy now, but no doubt getting smarter with every stumble. Platforms like Messenger for Business are fast tracking chat based customer service to 800+ million users.

 

Digital already influences three out of four luxury purchases and will soon impact 99% of sales, according to McKinsey and Business of Fashion.

Everlane was one of the first luxury brands to team up with Messenger to deliver customer service and track shipments and returns. Approximately 200 request come in daily, handled by 1-2 employees according to Frerk-Malte Feller, leading Business on Messenger at Facebook.

 

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These are early days but within the next 12-24 months luxury brands need to define new ways of serving customers via mobile in every way possible – and deliver flawlessly. Classic luxury segments like travel and yachts are already teaming with IBM to bring a new breed of AI sales assistant to life.

 

IBM’s Watson is quite the seasoned traveler paired with WayBlazer, billed as “the first cognitive travel platform.” WayBlazer uses IBM Watson’s natural language processing services to dynamically present hotel recommendations based on natural dialogue such as: “Where are the best hotels in the Caribbean for my honeymoon in June” or “Best hotels with pools on the Amalfi Coast for a stay at the end of August.”

 

With 81% of luxury buyers planning their own trips, according to a study from Leading Hotels of the World, advanced services like WayBlazer could become the norm for a demanding new generation of mobile-first consumers.

 

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Yacht Harbour is another Watson powered platform that brings artificial intelligence to high-end vessel sales. Personified via “Brook” (i.e. Siri for yachts), this Yacht Harbor AI helps buyers navigate the daunting vessel purchase journey. An enhancement likely to bring a shorter sales cycle and higher margins.

According to L2, a leading digital benchmarking firm, 80% of future growth in the luxury category is tied to digital – giving early leaders a strong advantage in growing market share and deepening loyalty.

Some of the old guard luxury brands may have missed web 1.0, or even the social wave, but those ignoring messaging as a platform to better serve customers risk being left out of the conversation.

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital and brand Storyteller with C Space.

Driving revenue – it’s all about the journey

Popbox Digital Customer Journey

 

Every customer interaction sparks a data point that brands can learn from. 

CMOS, agencies and brand managers are now mapping these insights against the customer journey as a strategy to drive conversions and deepen brand loyalty. Fine tuning the signal-to-noise ratio is the tough part.

Three trends are converging to help brands know what to focus on including: rising value of customer service data, context driving conversions, and the rising importance of customer journey mapping in a channel and device agnostic world.

Call centers get more respect

As a source of brand engagement data that quite literally defines the customer experience, call centers top the list. The speed and efficacy of customer service in most organizations will improve significantly in the next few years powered by more customer-centric algorithms. 

The push to a customer-obsessed model is quite real according to Forrester Research and can bring measurable ROI. Insights that improve critical touchpoints benefit the entire organization. 2016 will likely be the year consumer brands start diving a little deeper here.

“In 2016, the gap between customer-obsessed leaders and laggards will widen. Leaders will tackle the hard work of shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model; laggards will aimlessly push forward with flawed digital priorities and disjointed operations. ” – FORRESTER RESEARCH

Customer experiences will be further enhanced as tools like IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor, that uses natural language and understands context, get smarter with each use. 

 

Context drives conversations, conversations drive conversions

Given the rise in content marketing, the time, place and tone in which messaging is delivered is even more critical. Understanding “mobile moments” in context allows for the right content to reach the right person at the right time.

Since the ultimate test of context is conversation – Facebook’s new digital concierge service called M is spot-on for how Millennials want to engage with brands.

Guided by David Marcus, Messenger flew past the 800 million user mark in 2015, adding real time customer service integration for firms like FedEx, Everlane and the USPS. The notion of “conversation as interface” has many brands re-thinking how they engage and serve customers. Messaging platforms like Snapchat and What’sApp will expand their efforts towards brand engagement. Emerging media like Periscope will enter the mix more often in 2016, especially for entertainment and youth brands. 

Artifical intelligence offerings like Amy, a digital assistant birthed by impressive NYC startup, X.ai and bot platforms built on messaging apps like Telegram are powered by context seeking algorithims. Mark Zuckerberg has another dog in this fight, he’s racing to build a real world version of Iron Man’s sidekick, Jarvis. The race for human-like engagement across channels is on – so make sure your brand can carry a conversation.

Customer journey mapping becomes foundational for marketing

Customer journey mapping is not new, but when powered by a range of emerging mobile and social data points, the tool is more powerful than ever – especially for brands seeking rapid growth.

The process starts with mapping and optimizing marketing efforts for each phase of the customer journey (i.e. Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Influence). Messaging must then be mapped by channel and synchronized to drive conversions along the path to purchase. A/B testing creative along the customer journey speeds optimization.

In 2016 we expect advertisers to map marketing contexts to an integrated consumer journey so that sales and brand-building content complement rather than compete with each other. – Duncan Southgate, global brand director for Digital at Millward Brown

At each of the four stages, customer journey maps outline actions, motivations, questions and barriers to overcome in the path to purchase. Knowing what prospects are thinking, and targeting creative by stage, drives higher conversions and customer lifetime value.

Insight driven efforts to improve the customer experience will be a growing narrative in 2016. Brands taking the extra step of optimizing their messaging along the customer journey are likely to lead in revenue and innovate ahead of the competition.

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

Messaging app valuations might not be so overblown after all

With Snapchat raising a new round that would have it valued between $16-19 billion, it sounds like we’re once again approaching the irrational side of exuberance, but don’t count your bubbles before they burst.

messaging app valuations

Messaging apps are transforming into mobile versions of 90’s era portals with the added benefit of social, mobile, commerce and big data to boost. Every element of the value stack is active and full of profit potential. When you consider the monthly active user base (MAU) of the top messaging apps, they rival the telcos in scale. China Mobile and What’sApp for example both weigh in at 700 million customers.

ACCORDING TO VENTURE BEAT, “USER BASES OF THESE APPS ARE INSANELY LARGE, THE TIME-IN-APP NUMBERS ARE INSANE, AND THE GROWTH RATES OF MESSAGING APPS CONTINUE TO SLANT UPWARD”

That said, don’t be surprised when these messaging apps transform into robust platforms that serve a variety of needs and connect brands to consumers in entirely new ways.

Snacp

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

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