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Keeping Business
Personal

Businesses are built on relationships

New technology has always offered the promise of enhancing and growing these relationships, but its eventual exploitation has led to just the opposite.

Here are four short stories that illustrate how business went from personal to overly transactional, and why we’re being thoughtful about what’s next for messaging.

Telephone

For the first time, businesses could express themselves in real time from a distance

“Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” In the late 1800s, Alexander Graham Bell (eventually, AT&T) overcame Western Union’s telegraph monopoly to start the first commercial telephone network.
Businesses were the earliest adopters of the telephone, embracing it as a highly personal way to provide support and sales.

To scale this approach, businesses introduced efficiencies that left consumers in the cold

  • Call centers for scaling 1:1 customer support
  • Cell phones and voicemail for 24/7 availability and business efficiency
  • Robocalling

By then, we’d stopped picking up our phones

Scam likely Scam Likely

Email

For the first time, businesses can send targeted messages to a mass audience

The most effective marketing email ever sent? In 1978, Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) mass emailed 400 potential clients. His email resulted in $13 million worth of sales and highlighted the potential of marketing through mass emails. Every business copied this tactic.
Gary became known as the “father of spam.”

Over time email got more targeted. But personal? Eh

In the early days batch and blast was the most effective form.

Email marketing lists got segmented by the marketers.

Dynamic content marketing offered marketers a direct connection with customers.

Big data is used to anticipate future behavior and customize content based on past actions.

Agile email marketing introduced real-time email personalization.

Businesses automated email to a point where we’ve invented things just to block it!

  • Spam folders
  • Block buttons
  • Block lists
  • Unsubscribe button
  • Dummy email accounts
  • Priority inbox
  • Unroll.me
  • Filters
  • Spam block apps

etc.

etc.

Websites

For the first time, business is no longer confined to location

The first thing ever sold online was a CD of Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales, in 1994 by a 22-year-old. The next day, it was reported in the New York Times. The headline read, "The Internet is Open."
That year, Jeff Bezos launched a website where one could order books online.
In 1995, Pizza Hut launched a website and pioneered online food orders.

Business websites evolved over the years

1990s
“just throw something on a website!”
2000s
enter the e-brochure: lots of info, zero engagement
mid-2000s
blog-style websites and lead forms come in vogue
late-2000s
websites get “personal” with responsive content catered uniquely to you...r cookies

Over time, businesses optimized for clicks, not customers

Search Metadata Conversion rate optimization Paid Google Title Tags Ranking Traffic Search Traffic Hacks Organic Clicks SEM Keywords Redirects Microsites Linkbait Affiliate marketing Crawling Bots Sitemaps Indexation Backlinks Analytics Navigation Breadcrumbs Algorithm
Search Metadata Conversion rate optimization Paid Google Title Tags Ranking Traffic Search Traffic Hacks Organic Clicks SEM Keywords Redirects Microsites Linkbait Affiliate marketing Crawling Bots Sitemaps Indexation Backlinks Analytics Navigation Breadcrumbs Algorithm
Search Metadata Conversion rate optimization Paid Google Title Tags Ranking Traffic Search Traffic Hacks Organic Clicks SEM Keywords Redirects Microsites Linkbait Affiliate marketing Crawling Bots Sitemaps Indexation Backlinks Analytics Navigation Breadcrumbs Algorithm
Search Metadata Conversion rate optimization Paid Google Title Tags Ranking Traffic Search Traffic Hacks Organic Clicks SEM Keywords Redirects Microsites Linkbait Affiliate marketing Crawling Bots Sitemaps Indexation Backlinks Analytics Navigation Breadcrumbs Algorithm
Search Metadata Conversion rate optimization Paid Google Title Tags Ranking Traffic Search Traffic Hacks Organic Clicks SEM Keywords Redirects Microsites Linkbait Affiliate marketing Crawling Bots Sitemaps Indexation Backlinks Analytics Navigation Breadcrumbs Algorithm

Messaging

Messaging begins to restore the personal in business to consumer communications

What hath God wrought? — In 1844 Samuel Morse sent the first “message” via his invention, the telegram. What used to take weeks by train and horse suddenly took minutes, triggering our thirst for faster, better communication channels.

Fast forward over 150 years. With the launch of ICQ in 1996, messaging went from a niche academic setting to the mainstream. Dozens of variations followed: AOL IM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Kakao, WhatsApp, etc.

2011: the golden year of messaging

  • Apple introduces iMessage (nice knowing you, SMS)
  • WeChat combines the power of messaging with the convenience of apps. For example you can find and book movie tickets directly in WeChat.
  • Intercom (that’s us!) launches the first business messenger and introduces the concept of in-app messages, which lets businesses chat with customers while they're logged into their apps.
  • Facebook Messenger adds free messaging to the world’s largest social network.
  • Snapchat gives rise to ephemeral messaging, a concept mimicking the temporal aspect of real-life communication.

After 2011, messaging exploded. It surpasses social media, SMS, phone and email as the way consumers want to talk to businesses

Global monthly active users for the top 4 messaging apps and social networks, in millions.

Messaging will continue to grow– but we’re approaching real human limits

Bots are key to unlocking the full potential of messaging, but they've been repeating the mistakes of the past...