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From the front lines of the conversational revolution 
February 21, 2020

A conversational newsletter from Zendesk

For the past few years I’ve written a big annual report on the state of messaging

The first one was an experiment. I had recently joined Smooch (which was acquired by Zendesk last year) and my job was to help grow the messaging startup’s brand awareness and credibility. 

It was still early days but lots happened in 2017 to make us believe the conversational future our founders envisioned was finally around the corner. 

WeChat had launched its “mini-program,” an ecosystem of chat-based apps that made it possible to do everything from order food to play games within the conversation — at least in China.

Meanwhile, both Apple and WhatsApp announced plans to let businesses connect with users on their popular chat apps in the coming year. 

State of Messaging 2018 featured expert insights from leading software makers like Oracle, Slack, and Uber. 

Including other companies in our report  — some customers, some partners, some quasi-competitors — was our way of proving we weren’t the only ones who believed it was just a matter of time until messaging with businesses was as easy and commonplace as messaging with friends and family.

Here was Drift CEO David Cancel’s prediction: 
 

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2018 will be the year messaging starts to integrate and become seamlessly interwoven with all of the other communication channels businesses are using to talk to leads and customers.

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Turns out we were all a little ahead of ourselves.
 

Baby steps 🐥

That first report resonated with early adopters, but it was still early. 

It was only in the year that followed that messaging platforms started delivering. WhatsApp made its Business API available (in early access) and Apple began rolling out Business Chat. Google doubled down on RCS, the long-suffering successor to SMS. Slack prepared to go public. 

Our second State of Messaging report was more substantial, featuring insights from venerable brands like LVMH and well-funded messaging-first startups like SnapTravel and Jetblack (which was shuttered by Walmart last week, sadly). 

But to paraphrase Shakespeare, these past reports were just prologue. 

 

Messaging goes mainstream 📰

This week we proudly launched State of Messaging 2020. The quotes from big name companies — Google! Twitter! Hootsuite! — are still there, but this year’s report also draws upon original Zendesk customer data, and features an embedded chatbot experience built on Sunshine Conversations (formerly Smooch). 

There was no shortage of things to cover this year, either. In the past 12 months, messaging has dominated global headlines, sparking political protests, privacy debates, cryptocurrencies, mergers and acquisitions and, a chat-ton of server traffic. 

Facebook announced just last week that WhatsApp surpassed 2 billion users, up from 1.5 billion in 2018. It’s hard to say how many of those users are chatting with businesses, but here's one indication, as mentioned in the report:
 

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We saw the number of WhatsApp messages flowing through Sunshine Conversations grow by more than 3,000%.

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State of Messaging 2020 also covers the rise of in-chat payments, the battle over discovery, the increasingly competitive voice assistant market, and many other stories from the front lines of the conversational business revolution. 

Okay, enough chit-chat. Check out the full report: 
 

Too Many Messages

Dan Cain went to the post office earlier this month to pick up a statement for a student loan he and his wife had taken out for their daughter’s college tuition. 

When he arrived, the Ohio man was told he had 79 bins of mail waiting for him.

As CNN reports, Cain had to pick up the bins from the back door of the post office, and schlep them home in two trips. 

Turns out the bins contained 55,000 copies of the exact same letter. 

The student loan company explained there had been a glitch in their outgoing mail system, which CNN estimates cost them as much as $11,000. 

Adding insult to injury, the letter(s) listed the wrong payment amount. Luckily, Cain seems to be taking it all in stride:
 

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"I just hope it doesn't happen again," he said. "I might have to return to sender."

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👋 Thanks for reading! Heads up that The Message (and I) will be heading back on paternity leave for the next couple months.

Your biweekly newsletter will return in the spring. Until then, you can send me your feedback, questions, and parenting advice by responding to this email. 

Dan Levy
Editor-in-chief
@danjl


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