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The State Of Messaging 2018

Laying down the track

We spoke to 17 product leaders from some of the world's biggest tech companies to get their perspective on the state of conversational technology in 2018.

With 9 out of 10 customers declaring they were ready to engage with brands through messaging, businesses made their move this year. As the top messaging apps — led by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and, very soon, Apple Business Chat — shored up their platforms with bot-ready, business-friendly features, industry-leading software companies and brands realized it’s time to get serious about true omnichannel communication. While the messaging landscape remains fragmented and complex, 2017 was the year businesses laid the groundwork for B2C messaging to go mainstream.

1.82 Billion

people worldwide projected to use a chat app in 2017.

Source: eMarketer

2017 Messaging Highlights

The biggestmessagingstories of 2017


Chatbots rising

Big Tech embraced chatbots, with Facebook expanding its bot platform, Twitter introducing branded bots within DMs, Google launching chatbot analytics and Bing integrating chatbots into its search results.

2017 also saw some major acquisitions, starting with Cisco scooping up MindMeld, followed by LogMeIn acquiring Nanorep and, perhaps most notably, HubSpot purchasing Motion AI. Add Oracle’s new intelligent bot platform and Drift’s $32 million raise to the mix, and it’s clear chatbots are here to stay.


of businesses say they want chatbots by 2020.

Source: Oracle


Messaging finds its voice

Once the new kids on the messaging block, voice assistants entered millions of households in 2017.

Google Home launched globally and Amazon’s Alexa introduced notifications and other monetization tools for businesses. Apple acqui-hired the team from messaging assistant Init.ai to work on Siri, while MessageBird raised a $60 million Series A to build out a voice API. Meanwhile, smaller players like Viber and Skype improved their offerings for Windows 10.


of people have had their voice assistants for less than a year


believe they’ll still be using them in 5 years.

Source: IFTT


Conversational commerce comes of age

Conversational commerce has been hyped for half a decade now, but businesses are finally putting their money on the table.

Brands ranging from Burberry and L’Oreal, to Betterment and Uber innovated with interactive bots, web messengers and mobile apps, while platforms like Facebook (Customer Chat plugin), WeChat (mini-programs) and Smooch (Conversation Extensions) introduced new tools to help turn the hype into reality.


more users make a purchase when they receive push notifications from brands

Source: eMarketer


Messaging at work

As businesses discovered that messaging can be a productivity enhancer rather than a distraction, a number of software companies challenged Slack’s dominance in the internal messaging space.

The team behind OKCupid launched Teams, with security and privacy at its core; Atlassian came out with Stride, a slicker version of HipChat; Microsoft revealed plans to replace Skype for Business with Teams; and Facebook continued to nip at everyone’s heels with Workplace, the enterprise version of the ubiquitous social network.

330 million

people used Messenger to contact a business for the first time this year

Source: Facebook


Text me the money

Payments came to messaging in a big way.

WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger all launched or expanded options for users to transfer money through chat. Meanwhile, financial messaging app Symphony received a $1 billion valuation and Kik launched its own cryptocurrency, proving the old adage that if you want to know what’s going on, just follow the money.


Marketing gets the message

It was only a matter of time before marketers discovered messaging’s ability to reach the right customers at the right time.

Facebook and Google added messaging capabilities to their social and search advertising platforms, respectively, while both WhatsApp and Messenger explored offering proactive messaging opportunities to businesses, at a premium.


of IT businesses are using real-time messaging to start sales conversations

Source: Drift/Clearbit


Have chat, will travel

Travel and hospitality brands were at the forefront of the messaging revolution this year, embracing the technology’s potential to heighten the customer experience.

Historic hotel brand Four Seasons launched an omnichannel chat platform across its global properties (built on Smooch), while the Venetian Las Vegas pioneered social booking through Facebook Messenger (with an assist from Microsoft). In the airline world, Delta, JetBlue, KLM and Air New Zealand all brought their inflight messaging offers to new heights.


Messaging for good

Proving its potential to bring the world more than profit, messaging technology was used for a number of innovative and socially-responsible reasons this year.

Activists, not-for-profits and social entrepreneurs deployed chatbots to help tenants in London exercise their rights; support first generation college students; assist with refugee applications; and even to take on Seattle’s sex trade.

The Conversation Persists With more than 5 billion messaging accounts worldwide, we have come to rely on this transformational technology to keep in touch with the people and things we care about most deeply.

It’s up to software makers to harness the power of conversation to build a more human customer experience for all.
We can’t wait to see the future of messaging take shape!