From SMS to WhatsApp: The Evolution of Business Communication in MENA
Mokshita P.
10X Technology

From SMS to WhatsApp: The Evolution of Business Communication in MENA

MENA region witnesses rise in voice and video apps, with WhatsApp leading, while businesses adapt to diverse messaging platforms for customer support and marketing, posing challenges.

Recent research analysing over 473 billion digital communications interactions in 2023 has unveiled surprising insights into the changing dynamics of customer-brand interactions in the MENA region. This study, sheds light on the impact of conversational customer experiences and generative AI on the relationship between people and brands.

In a turn of events, the study revealed a shift towards conversational messaging channels, marking a significant departure from traditional modes of communication. Voice and video applications surged by 184 percent, while mobile app messages saw a rise of 146 percent. Particularly noteworthy was the 51 percent increase in the utilisation of WhatsApp, indicating a preference for seamless connectivity and engagement in the Middle East.

However, this shift has not been without its challenges. While conversational support has gained traction as businesses strive to deliver effective customer experiences, there has been a growing trend towards the diversification of channel mix. Despite WhatsApp remaining a preferred channel for conversational support, with 90 percent of support messages being sent over the platform, there has been a significant increase in the usage of other chat apps such as Messenger, Viber, and Line, signaling a shift towards various platforms for customer support.

Conversational marketing has also seen a rise in prominence as brands endeavour to engage customers on their preferred channels. Notably, there has been a 29 percent increase in mobile app messaging for marketing compared to the previous year. WhatsApp continues to reign supreme in this domain, led by new features that enable seamless purchase journeys within a single chat window. However, the landscape is evolving, with increases observed in messaging apps like Telegram, Line, Viber, and Messenger, reflecting a diverse messaging ecosystem.

Moreover, while SMS remains an important channel for business communication, its usage is undergoing a change. Businesses are increasingly using SMS alongside chat apps, with 25 percent choosing to combine SMS with WhatsApp. However, concerns linger regarding the changing role of SMS in the face of evolving communication preferences.

The research highlights the rapid proliferation of conversational experiences across the Middle East and the world, with businesses embracing new communication technologies to perfect the end-to-end customer journey. Yet, amidst the optimism lies the challenge of navigating this evolving landscape and ensuring seamless connectivity while adapting to changing consumer preferences.