Whether you work on a marketing, sales, or services team, you've probably heard "messaging app" or "live chat" get tossed around. Throw in new marketing trends like conversations, and it can all get a bit confusing.

Understanding how each of these elements fits into the larger ecosystem of your inbound marketing strategy can help you make educated decisions about which one is best for you and your company. Let's dive in.

What Is a Messaging App?


A messaging app is a chat application or platform that enables users to instant message and connect with each other through their computer or mobile device. Think Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, or Viber. 

Why it matters

With messaging apps, you can connect with potential prospects or customers outside the ecosystem of your website. Rather than just engaging with visitors on your site, you can educate and inspire your online audience on the channels they love and connect in a way they prefer.

By deploying tools like chatbots built to service frequently asked questions and engage with your audience in a fun and interactive way, your business never has to close. This helps you meet your online audience's needs because your company can respond in some form any time a user has a question. 

Use case examples

  • Use ad targeting to bring new leads into a Messenger conversation.
  • Recently sold to a customer? Provide tracking information and updates to your visitors right in Facebook.
  • Use a messenger bot to create fun, interactive quizzes.
  • Build a messenger bot to help your followers find content that is relevant to them.
  • Running a big event for your prospects and customers? Send prospects reminder push notifications directly within the app.

Best practices to consider 

  • Chatbot copywriting is more informal and closer matches the way you would talk to your friends and family.
  • Use shorter, more concise messages.
  • Use rich media, like gifs and emojis, to help your brand express itself, too.
  • Allow users to access educational content for any stage of the buyer's journey. 

What Is Live Chat?


Live chat is a tool usually available through an app or platform that enables your team to directly connect with your visitors. Think targeted instant messaging. Traditionally, live chat tends to skew more toward the sales and services industries, as it connects visitors directly with a member of your team and is best used in places where automation cannot solve for unique questions or situations.

Why it matters

The messaging experience of live chat can be seen as similar to that provided with messaging apps. However, live chat usually doesn't rely as heavily on automation tools like chatbots. While chatbots eliminate customers’ wait time and provide immediate responses for frequently asked questions, they are not universally at a point where they can handle complex or unexpected queries like those you might see in sales or services industries.

Naturally, a team cannot be around 24/7/365. Recent research found that 21% of live chat support requests go completely unanswered. But a visitor may also come to your site with a question that a bot can't answer, in which case it usually directs the visitor to contact your team.

The mentality at this point shouldn't be that you need to choose between messaging apps or live chat. Rather, think about the places both these pieces of technology can be used to create the most holistic and scalable experience. Align your conversion opportunities with a visitor's priorities and what they are trying to accomplish with the buyer's journey. As users look to companies for more personalized, one-to-one interactions, it's important to take into account all the "jobs to be done" your website needs to answer for, closing the loop between the conversational channels of your marketing, sales, and services industries.

Use case examples of live chat

  • Use live chat on your services page to help answer any questions and set the right expectations about your product.
  • Chat with segmented visitors coming to your blog or knowledge base to help figure out how to better optimize your educational content.
  • Collect NPS or feedback conversationally on pages the visitors see after they make a purchase. 
  • Connect visitors directly with your sales team on your pricing pages. Enable these qualified visitors to book meetings directly with your sales team by embedding your HubSpot meetings link in your chat widgets.  

Best practices to consider

  • Set clear expectations of wait times and hours with your live chat tool.
  • Take advantage of crafting canned responses that can be personalized by your chat agents later.
  • Train your team on your brand's voice and tone to save them time crafting responses.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread. You want to ensure your live chat is seen as professional yet friendly. 

Want to continue this conversation? Send HubSpot a note on Facebook Messenger. Tell us what you think the future of communication between buyers and businesses should be.

Leave a comment below about your thoughts and ideas of live chat and messaging apps!

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Originally published Mar 7, 2018 10:00:00 AM, updated October 07 2020