Webinar: What Is Omnichannel Messaging and How to Use It for Business?

The needs for communicating with customers are evolving quickly. Today, customers expect you to talk to them in the channels that they use, not the ones that your business wants to use. Thus, having an omnichannel approach to your communication is vital.

In this webinar, we're going to talk about what exactly omnichannel messaging is, how to use it for your business, and how Messente can help with that. We've also added a transcription of the webinar below the video.


Yuriy Mikitchenko: All right everyone. Thanks for waiting for a couple minutes, while we let some folks join. Thanks for joining our webinar on our Messente’s latest messaging API which is Messente’s latest messaging API. Let's go ahead, and get started. I just want to introduce our presenters today for this webinar. First and foremost, we have Lauri Kinkar, who's our CEO. He'll be speaking to the 00:25 vision and some of the things that we're doing with our messaging platform. Moving forward, then we have Jaanus Rõõmus, who is our CTO, the brains behind our API in this latest release. I am Yuriy Mikitchenko, the head of Marketing here.

To get started, I wanted to just chat a little bit about what we're gonna talk about, first we want to go over what Omni-channel messaging is to us? Why we chose to pursue an Omni-channel messaging API, as well. Then, why risk communication messaging makes sense for your business? When to use it? When it might be best to still use SMS? Also, some road-mapping on our platform. What's coming in future releases of our new API as well as a demo and some substantial information from Jaanus.

Now to take a step back in understanding. Why we decided to pursue an Omni-channel messaging API? We want to look at the market, right. So, over the last few years, there's been a proliferation of mobile messaging apps for mobile phones. I'm gonna say the roughly but over the last five years, right. This has created a lot more options for people to communicate including businesses. A lot of these new messaging platforms like Viber, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger have opened up their platforms to businesses. Getting these people to have access to brands and businesses.

The one thing to note though is that these different platforms don't create new audiences, there's a lot of overlap here. At the end of the day, anyone that has a mobile phone already has access to SMS plus these other applications. You're not creating new audiences; you are just having different options for the same audience to get to communicate with them. Interesting information from Mobile World Congress last year, GSMA noted that messaging has become the number one use of mobile devices, which is one of the reasons we're pursuing a multi-channel approach to messaging, rather than just one.

One other thing to remember is that SMS still reigns king when it comes to reach. GSMA also reports that there's a bit over 5 billion unique subscribers, unique mobile subscribers that means anyone with a mobile phone also has a capability to receive and send SMS messages. So, regardless of where these applications are going, SMS is still the best way to reach mass amounts of people. But outside of that, we want to go into some of the actual reasons of pursuing an Omni-channel platform. First and foremost, we want to give our clients the options to reach their clients in more than one way. On top of that, it's rich communication messaging that allows these businesses to be more creative, when it comes to a call to action as well as the content that they're presenting to their clients.

But from my opinion, even the most important thing is that, as these messaging companies open up their public API is to companies like us. It gives brands and businesses an opportunity to give their clients an option of how they want to be communicated with. That means that you are able to tell your client, “hey will communicate in a way that you want us to communicate with you”. Whether it's Viber, or whether it's just SMS or anything else that opens up in the near future.

So, what's our API capable of doing today. We've started out with Viber, and a lot of you will go a little bit more into this, but with Viber, it's the idea of Viber OTT platforms is that we want to supplement SMS where it makes sense, right. So, not to replace SMS, but to make to fill the gaps of where SMS can't do some things. For example, SMS is constrained to 160 characters, while Viber can send 1000 characters in the same message. On top of that, you can send images, and there's a branded logo in the messages that sends.

Other than just using shortened links in SMS of the Viber platform allows you to add call-to-action buttons, whether it's for a marketing message or whether it's for a link that you want to redirect your client to a different website. In our API, there's automatic failover built into the system. While you still have to code the logic into the system, so that it goes from Viber to SMS. We'll show how that works a little bit here a little bit. The automatic failure filler SMS is there. So, if a message, a rich content message doesn't make it to a user whether because they don't have a Viber account or because they were not connected to Viber at that moment of time.

There's a separate SMS based message that is sent as well. We have more platforms coming along the way as well as our SES as it becomes more available. I just want to point out that if you guys want to ask questions, go ahead and ask questions in the ‘Go to Webinar’ questions panel. I'll be taking them, and then I'll make note of them, and we will answer them towards the end of the webinar. But feel sure in asking questions whenever you come up with the question. I want to hand it over to Lauri to get into more details on the why’s, the how’s.

Lauri Kinkar: Yeah. Thank You Yuriy. Hi from my side as well. Why did we build it, and what's the direction we're headed to? I think that, well for me the very important thing I want to point out first is that the essence, the backbone of this API is the sequencing, and the fallback mechanisms. So, it creates capabilities to use different channels when businesses reach out to their customers, and whichever they might be. So, the main idea here when we built this API was to build a communication tool that can handle any kind of a mix that a business chooses to use. Out of the box, it has Viber, but there will be other platforms integrated with it as well as we go.

So, the main idea why we built it? To give a variety, and for us it's a step onwards from having an SMS messaging tool to a general messaging tool or a messaging API. Because the phone to phone communication or person-to-person with obviously all of those chat platforms have been around for years. But if we're talking about A to B, or messages or conversations that go between organizations and their clients, or their audience. Then these platforms are just opening up for that kind of communication, and they can be all sort of embedded in this new API. One of the things that the API allows as well is much more personal, or a much more tailored type of reaching out to your audience. By that, I mean that there is always possibilities to segment your client list to know which clients prefer to be contacted by a Viber for example.

Then use Viber with a fallback to SMS for this particular group. For another group use SMS only, or you could even do vice-versa, use SMS and then fall back to fiber if that makes sense. So, I think that the part from being able to use different kinds of communication channels with different functionality, it gives you a possibility to make a very tailored approach. If I'm talking about roadmap that we have, then we will definitely integrate new channels that will be available using this API.

But the focus for us will always be on the channels, which are very reactive messaging, which can be used for, to accompany business transactions and because obviously there's a huge variety to choose from. So, we are mainly talking about the things that we're keeping an eye on obviously WhatsApp in the future. Currently there's no public API from their side yet, also interesting things are happening regarding Google's RCS which Yuriy mentioned.

It is essentially, it is meant to work, and will work, similarly to iMessage, how it works between iPhones. RCS will work between Android phones, so no specific apps needed to be installed, just an out-of-the-box solution. These developments are definitely very interesting for us. I will keep an eye on those, and the bunch more, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and such. Obviously, roadmap wise, we have a lot to do to improve that API, which were now unveiling. Even further, and that has to do with adding more statistics, and reporting tools for the dashboard, also more libraries for developers. So, these all will over time as we head out of beta.

Another thing that I wanted to briefly touch upon some business considerations that I would really advise to any business to take into account when choosing their mix of channels. Basically, my advice here would be not to decide on features alone. You'd always have to consider the context, consider the message, consider the audience. The reason for that is, we in ‘Messente’ we don't see Viber or any chat taps as an upgrade to SMS. Just because there's a lot more features available, the characters you can use in text, there's a lot more of more characters.

I think that every channel of communication is suited to certain types of conversations. So, bear in mind that that people don't use the most advanced featured channel for everything, and much like Yuri said. Everybody has access to all kinds of different channels. We're targeting the same people through Viber, as we are through SMS. If you have a visual component that you want to show, if you have a call-to-action button, and then maybe Viber would be the correct tool for you. If you need the uniformity, if you need the reach, then definitely SMS is worth considering still.

Different channels always have different expectations tied to them as well. If we're talking about any chat app Viber or something else, then bear in mind that in the case of SMS it's much more one way. It's its nature is, it's better suited for one-way communication. So, reminders, alerts and if you send out Viber messages, then I think the businesses should consider that Viber messages can people expect to respond to those messages. Again depending on the context.

So, businesses should definitely be ready for these conversations, and ready to handle these conversations, not only just from the technological standpoint. So, an example where Viber might excel away, might consider Viber, using Viber for example if you send a call-to-action to an existing user base. You have a visual component to include there which SMS is not able to do, and through this call-to-action button. It's sort of like a campaign meant to meant to commercialize something right away.

Think repeated purchases or prolonging a subscription, for example. I think these things are important to take into account when choosing your channel. Before I give it over to Jaanus, maybe a few very practical things to keep in mind have to do with commercial setup as well. If you are going to explore the new API, then obviously the first step is to analyze your audience. That has to do with location as well, and in which markets Viber might have a different sized footprint, different amount of users. When setting it up, the process is approximately like this, that you'd have to have a sender ID, which we will register for you. The process takes about two weeks, so be ready for that.

There are a couple of design assets, if you choose to use them. Visual components and such to prepare. It takes a little bit more preparation from the business that's sending those messages out, and then figure out the fallback sequence, and the content for each fallback tier separately. There's a specific text, and content for Viber. If there's a fallback to SMS is triggered, so that content is 160 characters. It's going to be a little bit different. Obviously from our side, you'll get full statistics about the delivery, and the fall backs which were triggered. I think that this is going to be very interesting to study after your first pilot project. I guess that's it for me. So, I guess Jaanus might be ready with demo and how it works.

Jaanus Rõõmus: Hey everybody. I hope you can see my screen now. First quickly, let's check where to actually find the documentation. If you want to integrate Omni-channel API on our main website. If you check from the docs, you can see the Omni-channel API in the left hand menu. So, here you can have a quick introduction how to get the API’s username and password. Where to make the API calls, how the whole authentication works, or are the response codes, and how does the whole communication work. So, here, this is like a very technical documentation that you can browse, how it actually works out. Let's start with actual examples. So, that we can see how it actually works. First, let's imagine that we're like an airline company, and we want to send notifications to our customers.

In this example, we're going to send an SMS that's defined in this scenario to one phone number, from one Center. We have defined a text here, so that we can actually try it out, and see what happens. On the left of my screen, you can see my phone screen. So, if I send the messages to this number, they should appear here already. So, let's try to see what happens if we send this. On the right-hand screen here you can see the response from the messenger’s API, and you can already see that the message arrives. If we open this up, you can see that in my message content included a link. The phone app conveniently allows me to view the link, but this is likely actually just a plain text link in the SMS.

It's not as interactive as it might be. Checking from the lower of the screen, we can see that this is the delivery report part of Messente API. What it does, if Messente sends an SMS or Viber message, it will tell to your systems that okay now will receive this message, and we actually try to deliver this. First, delivery report tells us that the operator accepted the message, and then the next one is that the message was actually delivered. So, let's try to make the same example using the Viber message. Let's pick Viber, text, this is exactly the same using just a Viber channel.

Let's see how it works. On the right hand screen, again you can see the response from the API, and on the phone first thing that you get if you receive a Viber message from a new contact. Viber will actually ask that is this okay. So, right now here when I say yes, and now you can see the same content. But using the same text with Viber, it doesn't really make sense because Viber has lots of new features. Now, let's try to send the same thing with slightly more data.

In this example, I'm going to send the same text but I'm going to include the image and a button as well. Let's see how this looks on the phone. We're going to send the message, and here you can see. Now, you can already see the image that I provided in the image URL, and the button that allows you to update apply to information for example. This allows your customers to actually do a lot more, and the provides quick links for them for quick actions that you want them to do. If we check from the delivery report side, we can see exactly that the Viber message was correctly delivered. Pretty similar to SMS.

Now, we actually get to the main part of the Omni channel API is that you can provide the fair logos. I have merged these two first examples. I have told API to first to try to send using Viber, and if this fails, try to send this with SMS. I have provided a different number that doesn't have Viber account. Let's see how this behaves, as this is a different number from the one that I showed earlier. This doesn't air on the phone, but checking the delivery reports. We can see that the first Viber message, this failed.

It's says ‘undelivered’, and the phone number specified does not have Viber installed. So, what Omni-channel API does. It automatically sends an SMS, and we can see with the last delivery report that it was successfully delivered. So, there's just a few seconds delay with this failover. But this is pretty regular with SMS, it just takes a few seconds to deliver.

I think this is pretty much covers all the different topics of the Omnichannel API. We can give it back to Yuriy.

Lauri Kinkar: Maybe one thing that I would still point out is that I think, that for everybody, the business-to-consumer messaging using Viber and other chat apps is only starting out. So, businesses are making first pilot projects, and moves using those. If you have any questions at all at any point, we have our team ready to answer all of them. Just a simply consult how these channels might be useful to you. It's far away, ideas if you have suggestions for our roadmap as well. Which challenge would you want us to integrate next, or just in general questions. How do different channels behave, technical or non-technical fire way. We're ready, we're very happy to consult whichever questions you might have. Thanks.

Yuriy Mikitchenko: It looks like we have one more question that came through. I would like to pass this one actually on to Jaanus. So, Jaanus ready question talking about features, does it work similarly WhatsApp [INAUDIBLE 23:06]?

Jaanus Rõõmus: Compared to WhatsApp, as WhatsApp currently does not have the public API like Viber does. So, you can't actually use the WhatsApp API, but if we compare the Viber to SMS, then it has like, it does have some limitations for the text like the 1,000-character limit. You've to limit the text on the buttons, you have some smaller limitations. But it's something that we can't really compare to WhatsApp right now.

Lauri Kinkar: Yeah. So, I guess will know more about WhatsApp limitations, once WhatsApp has their public API were able to launch it with ours.

Yuriy Mikitchenko: All right, awesome. So, it sounds like we don't have any more questions. Thanks again for joining our webinar. We're going to publish this on our YouTube channel, and be up on our website as well. If you want to go back to this, or send to anyone else in organization, feel free to do that. Thanks again for joining. Lauri, Jaanus, thanks for running through the demo, and giving us all this information. So, I appreciate it. Hope everybody has a great afternoon, and a great rest of the week, and weekend.

Taavi Rebane
2018-06-21 00:00:00 UTC