More than just chat: which Messenger apps should I use?

Main illustration: Kelly Carpenter and Danny Jones

With our redesigned Messenger, businesses can do so much more than chat. The next generation of messengers will be built to help businesses accelerate growth by actually helping teams do work, like process payments or schedule meetings.

From what was once an interface solely designed for conversation, the Messenger becomes a front desk for your website or app— surfacing a collection of apps that drive outcomes.

Intercom app store

For marketers like me, this is an incredibly powerful concept. It means messengers are no longer just for customer facing teams. With apps on the home screen, we can use messengers to drive conversion rates throughout the customer journey, like targeting certain prospects on the website or nurturing customers within our app.

In the new Messenger, it’s more about creating a customizable experience for different types of visitors and customers.

But knowing what apps to use and feature is also probably a bit daunting. We experienced this ourselves when considering which apps to use on our own Messenger Home screen on launch day. What if we got too many replies, wouldn’t that just create a lot of noise? How should we stack rank our apps? Which apps should we show website visitors versus in-app customers? With so many options, the considerations are similar to building an entire landing page!

To help you get started, here are a few tips on how we decided which apps to feature in our own Messenger Home:

1. Assign an owner for your Messenger

Having someone responsible ensures that there’s always someone looking after your Messenger and keeping it up to date. At Intercom, we decided to have our Demand Generation team look after Messenger on our website and our Product Marketing team look after Messenger inside our app. We did this because it aligns with each team’s goals. Our Demand Generation team optimizes the website experience for our prospects (which is the bulk of our website traffic), and our Product Marketing team looks after customer communication.

2. Define your goals

In traditional business messengers the goal is pretty straightforward: chat with (most) everyone! In the new Messenger, it’s more about creating a customizable experience for different types of visitors and customers. When launching our Messenger, we wrote down what we wanted it to achieve:

  • Make our Messenger a helpful destination for new prospects and existing customers
  • Demonstrate best practices for using Messenger
  • Encourage visitors to engage with our brand and content

3. Match the apps to your goals

With our goals defined, it was time to figure out what Messenger apps to feature on launch day. For our website visitors, our most important goal was to put product demo resources front and center. So we lead with the Article Search app and a content showcase of our product tour videos.

Intercom app store

Next, our blog is a popular destination for website visitors, so we wanted to spotlight a subscription form. (Fun fact: we roughly doubled the number of newsletter subscribers from this new channel in the first two weeks!) And finally, to support our product announcement on launch day, we ended with a little plug that highlights the new Messenger on Product Hunt:

Product Hunt app

Our Messenger apps for visitors:

  • Position #1 Article Search app, integrated with our help center
  • Position #2 Content Showcase app, linking to our product tours
  • Position #3 Mailchimp Capture app to capture blog subscribers
  • Position #4 Product Hunt app to promote our new Messenger launch

For our in-app users, we kept a similar line up of Messenger apps, with the exception that we swapped out the app for capturing newsletter subscribers with the StatusPage app. Because we’re a SaaS product, displaying our uptime to customers is critical.

Our Messenger apps for users:

  • Position #1 Article Search app, integrated with our help center
  • Position #2 Content Showcase app, linking to our product tours
  • Position #3 Product Hunt to promote our new Messenger launch
  • Position #4 StatusPage app, which broadcast system updates

4. Continue to iterate

One of the best things about Messenger apps is how quickly you can update and customize the experience. For example, the day after we launched our new Messenger, we took down the Product Hunt feature and swapped it out with a content showcase that leads to a product landing page. This ensures we’re always putting the most important piece of content or call to action in front of our customers.

One pro tip: don’t feature too many apps on your Messenger Home. We added four apps, but take it from me, we are definitely pushing the upper limits. The more apps you feature, the less engagement you’ll get for each app. So choose wisely, and remember you can always refresh the Messenger Home to keep the content and apps nice and fresh.

This is just the beginning. Like you, we’re starting to experiment with what combination of apps works best. I’d love to hear what you’re trying out and learning. Leave me a message below. :)

If you haven’t seen our new Messenger, you can give it a free spin for 14 days.