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Messaging means business: Why people are turning to messaging

Fares Akkad

With the Middle East’s e-commerce sector estimated to reach a market volume of $50 billion by 2025[1], we are witnessing a seismic shift in consumer behaviour.

Everything, from discovering and purchasing products to splitting bills or hailing taxis now happens online. As consumers, this has meant that constraints of distance and language make way instead to an array of choices.

And thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and the Middle East’s young, tech-savvy population, this train isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

For businesses that understand and embrace this shift, the sky’s the limit. After all, borders and language differences simply melt away in this new techade.

It isn’t enough for businesses to simply be available online, though. Customers, now spoiled for choice, expect businesses to not just be available at their fingertips but to also engage with them in real-time. Consumers now expect quick responses and solutions to their queries.

In days gone by, the resources to enable this would have put a strain on even the biggest of companies, never mind your local grocery stores and family-run start-ups.

The modern Middle East, though, has digital solutions just waiting to be leveraged, and arguably foremost among these is messaging.

Today’s customers don’t want to wait on hold to talk to a business, or send an email without knowing if it’s been read – they just want to engage with a business over a message and get a quick, personalized response.

In fact, at least six out of 10 adults globally say they prefer messaging over emails or calls.[2]

This affinity has seen messaging evolve from a channel reserved solely for personal conversations into a place where people and businesses get things done.

Whether it’s resolving queries, seeking recommendations, or arranging a delivery, the immediacy and ease of messaging fosters a sense of convenience that was previously unmatched.

A desire for authenticity also underpins the shift toward business messaging.

People want to engage with businesses in a more human and relatable way and at an unprecedented scale, which is perhaps why 600 million people are already messaging with a business each day on Meta’s platforms globally[3].

On the other side of the equation, messaging allows businesses to connect with customers instantly, address inquiries, and facilitate transactions, giving them a competitive edge in an increasingly noisy and crowded market.

Even those businesses that cannot afford to build their own customer support teams.

Messaging enables them to build meaningful relationships with their customers, and as a result Meta’s Business Messaging (WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram Direct) has seen brands achieve a 61 per cent higher conversion rate vs email[4].

The rise of business messaging is perfectly suited to the broader consumer landscape.

The Middle East has seen significant improvements in internet infrastructure and smartphone owners, which combined with its young population makes it well suited for business messaging.

By offering the ability to communicate in multiple languages and dialects, messaging ensures that businesses can reach a broader customer base, removing traditional geographic and linguistic barriers without firing up apps or getting on websites that would otherwise have limited their ability to scale.

Businesses of all sizes are able to build quick, direct and meaningful relationships with their customers through messaging — where large corporations benefit from scale and ease in reaching customers, small businesses can optimise their resources effectively.

In a sense, messaging apps are a great equaliser, by which smaller businesses can reach and service markets that were previously the sole domain of massive companies.

Small retailers from the remotest regions, who may never have discovered an affluent audience for their trade have managed to find customers all through the reach of messaging.

One of the most effective ways to generate and instantly connect with leads today is through click-to-message ads, which bring customers from various platforms such as Facebook and Instagram into a personalised interaction with businesses on messaging services.

It’s little wonder then that people overwhelmingly want to discover and interact with businesses through messaging.

Surveys show that about six in 10  global customers are more likely to purchase a product if contacted via message.

With the region’s e-commerce market volume doubling in five years[5], the demand for seamless and convenient communication channels will only intensify.

This is not just a trend but a fundamental shift in the way businesses connect with their customers, making messaging an imperative for success rather than an option.

As necessary as it is for businesses to adopt messaging, the shift will have its own growing pains but as time passes the evolution will become faster and seamless, and this highlights the need for digital upskilling to enable today’s entrepreneurs to embrace tomorrow’s tools.

For more information about Meta Business Messaging, please visit this link.

By Fares Akkad, Country Director, Meta in Middle East and Africa

[1] Statista ; [2]  Business Messaging Usage Research by Kantar. (Meta commissioned online study of 5,504 online adults in BR, MX, ID, TH, VN, UK, DE, ES, FR, IN, US), April 2022 ; [3] Source: Meta data, February 2022 ; [4] Source: Meta Business Messaging for Marketing and Sales, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Meta, December 2022 ; [5] Statista