Instant messaging for business: Your best options and best strategies in 2023
Communication is an essential part of a workplace, and tools such as Instant Messaging/Business Messaging have made communication more efficient than ever. It has replaced email in many ways when it comes to sales talks, business development, and client engagement — it’s simply faster, more interactive, convenient, and personalized.
Moreover, it is no surprise that business is now using instant messaging/business messaging for having conversations with each other, project collaboration, and improved customer support. Nowadays, businesses have been using the latest Instant Messaging tools to be ahead of the competition and be on the top.
What this means is that about 4 out of the 5 emails that you send over aren’t even opened.
They’ve replaced email in many ways when it comes to sales talks, business development, and client engagement — it’s simply faster, more interactive, convenient, and personalized.
In this article, we’ll review the best Instant Messaging tools for business.
Top 7 Instant Messaging Apps for Business: External Communications
Top 4 Instant Messaging Apps for Business: Internal Communications
The all-in-one solution for all messaging apps.
Top Instant Messaging Marketing Tips & Tricks
Let's delve deep into how instant messaging helps!
What is instant messaging for business?
Instant messaging (IM) is a real-time text and rich-content communication tool among people through a software application. Business uses Instant Messaging or Business messaging platforms to enable quick problem-solving with accelerated team workflow while sharing important information and updates with customers at scale interactively.
Basically, it’s a primary source of communication in this mobile era and has gained traction since replacing emails in most scenarios.
Are email marketing campaigns still effective? Head to this article to find out.
Why should I use instant messaging for business?
Instant messaging is more immediate, shoot from the lip, and collaborative with multiple parties. Many sales agents use instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to reach customers and build a more personalized relationship, and over 77% of customers prefer chats when seeking prompt customer service. It boasts 6x more open rates and 8x more click rates compared to traditional Email marketing, with 2.5x customer engagement with the brands. Instant messaging is a clear winner when you are targeting millennials.
Now that you have a basic idea, let’s find out which instant messaging apps should your business be investing in for both internal and external use cases to stay within the loop!
Top 7 instant messaging apps for business: External
1. Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger, considered to be one of the most popular instant messaging apps for businesses all around the world. The latest statistics show that Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users from all around the world, except China. It is ranked number one in more than 30 countries and is by far one of the best platforms to use for business.
Facebook Messenger allows lead generation through using links & messaging codes, advertising, and customer matching. Messenger has helped various businesses in generating thousands of leads. Messenger even allows generating a dynamic QR code which help businesses in bringing users from offline to online and directly in conversation with the business.
Another feature that Facebook Messenger contains is the Facebook Customer Chat Plugin, which converts facebook visitors into leads. The users can browse as well as send you a message due to this feature. Facebook Messenger Web Plugins are also another feature helping in generating leads. It consists of three variations: Message Us, Send to Messenger & Checkbox Plugin.
Lastly, Facebook Messenger has a free Facebook web chat which is a great and powerful conversational tool. Facebook contains Lightspeed Messenger App which is designed to make Facebook Messenger quick, fast, and light, improving consumer market share.
2. WhatsApp (Business)
It is recent that WhatsApp has entered the market of instant messaging apps for businesses, however, it has great potential when it comes to customer and conversational support and marketing.
Often teams face communication problems with their customers, hence, it is necessary for businesses to use the instant messaging apps that the customers prefer to make their work easier. One such app is WhatsApp.
WhatsApp consists of two variations: 1) WhatsApp Business, for small business owners in mind and, 2) WhatsApp Business API for enterprise instant messaging. You could read our blog: Quick Read: Official WhatsApp Business API and how it is different from WhatsApp Business to know more.
WhatsApp has about 1.5 billion users in 180 countries making it the most popular messaging app in the world — 0.2 billion more than its competitor Facebook Messenger. Moreover, there are more than three million users of WhatsApp Business.
WhatsApp Business is Free to download and has the potential to create a catalog to showcase products and services. Connect with customers by easily using tools to automate, sort, and be responsive to messages. It will provide you with a platform to directly chat with your business.
For a medium and large business, WhatsApp Business API is one of the best Instant Messaging tools. It powers you with communication with customers all over the world and you can connect with them in a simple, secure, and reliable way.
What does WhatsApp Business API pricing model for UK businesses look like? Check out our pricing guide here for details.
3. WeChat (Official Account)
WeChat Official Accounts are drawing a lot of interest these days, as WeChat has risen to dominate the Chinese social media space (Chinese users spend ⅓ of their smartphone time on WeChat).
WeChat Official Accounts are the WeChat equivalent of a Facebook page: they are an interface a brand can use to:
Send push notifications
Redirect them to a website/e-commerce
Most WeChat Official Accounts appear in the “Chat” section of WeChat. This is the section of WeChat which is most similar to WhatsApp/ Facebook Messenger. Upon sending notifications, WeChat Official Accounts are brought to the top (we’ll see nuances about this topic in the section regarding different types of accounts)
Users can then open the account to access a conversation interface where they can either click on push notifications or access information through the bottom menu interface.
WeChat Official Accounts can be found either by social timeline, scanning a QR code, name card sharing, offline payment, ads, or direct search with name.
There are 4 different types of WeChat Official Accounts:
WeChat Subscription accounts (订阅号): can send up to 1 push message per day to their followers and are grouped together in a dedicated folder appearing alongside your friends in the “chat” section of WeChat. Subscription accounts can be created either with a Chinese ID (in which case their features would be limited, especially access to the WeChat API) or with a local Chinese business license.
WeChat Service accounts (服务号): appear as friends in the “chat” section of WeChat. They are extremely visible and have additional features compared to subscription account (in particular WeChat login, WeChat payment, and geo-localization). However, they can only post 4 messages per month.
Enterprise accounts (企业号): are meant for internal management of companies. They require both the account and the follower to approve each other. Their content can’t be shared with unauthorized users. They are perfect for a company wanting to spread an internal newsletter.
WeChat mini-programs (微信小程序): is a new type of accounts launched in January 2017 by Tencent. They are mostly used for offline applications when users only meant to use the APP once. They can’t send push notifications. As of March 2017, WeChat mini-programs seem to struggle to get significant traction.
If you are dealing with Chinese shoppers, you can read our WeChat guide to learn everything you should know about different types of WeChat accounts.
The Line app is a messaging app created in Japan for Japanese people. has about 200 million monthly active users. Although that may seem small globally, in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand, Line is huge. If you’re looking to tackle any of these markets you should give Line some thought.
If those countries are your next destinations to expand, you’ll need to create a Line Official Account.
Telegram only has about 200 million monthly active users, so usually, it might not be the first choice among businesses and owners to use it over its contenders.
Telegram is most famous in Ethiopia, Iran, and Uzbekistan. Moreover, it is a popular IM app in the cryptocurrency community. Telegram Bots provide the users with the information they requested and help to notify them about the prices.
Telegram has also been useful in generating leads using App Search, Links & Scan Codes, etc.
Altogether, we can say that Telegram has been a useful app in the cryptocurrency industry as well as a marketing tool for some businesses.
Viber is another messaging app that is growing globally with 1 billion users worldwide. It is extremely popular in Eastern Europe, but unlike Facebook and WhatsApp, it is not that strong within the business sphere.
However, Viber has features of connecting diverse users from all around the world, a consumer-first platform making marketing easier for brands and personal brand-to-consumer connections.
Currently, the easiest way for a company to make an account is to set up a Viber Public Account or a Viber Bot.
With 562 million users, LinkedIn is all about building networks and connections. The ability to tap into existing connections and grow your brand through word of mouth is the real power of Linkedln. It is also the top-rated social media for lead generation.
It is the perfect place to raise brand awareness, network, promote career opportunities and educate consumers about your products and services.
Linkedln is considered to be a #1 platform where B2B marketers use to distribute content — being around 94%.
Incorporating Linkedln ads is one of the best strategies for social media marketing. Linkedln offers various self-advertising solutions like sponsored content, text ads, and sponsored InMail.
Businesses, time for you to Link quickly!
Top 5 instant messaging apps for business: Internal
“Where work happens”
This tag line perfectly describes this great instant messaging app for businesses, especially if it's an SME. Around 12 million people actively use Slack every day.
Slack puts collaboration at your fingertips through one on one and group chat functions. IIt organizes conversations, shares files and documents, slack integrations with other tools, and even archives up to 10,000 messages.
This app has more to offer, it centralizes all the information from the software being used, cuts downtime spent switching between windows, and smoothes out stilted processes.
Slack Enterprise Grid provides unlimited workspaces given to every group to organize their work while centralized controls give administrators a single point of visibility for the organization. Besides, it has a Slack Bot tool that reminds you of messages on all your devices.
Pro tip: Having a Mac for this software provides you with the interface which gives the best user experience!
2. Microsoft Teams
This app is considered to be one of the best “collaborative apps” for a business. It gets teams on the same page with group chat, online meetings, calling and even web conferencing reducing the communication gap among teams as well as with the superiors.
It provides additional features like collaborating on Excel, Word, or PowerPoint files. Its seamless integration with Microsoft apps and third-party services makes the processes fast and efficient.
Microsoft Teams recently overtook Slack with 13 million daily users and 500,000 organizations have been using it.
3. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a communication channel built by Google for users to initiate and engage in communication through texts, voice & video calls.
It is a known and appreciated app in the corporate world. Employees of a company get to communicate through a platform that is reminiscent of social networks and share information due to its security and protection measures.
Hangouts has a feature called Google Hangouts on Air, which enables Google+ users to stream video calls live via YouTube. Hangouts on Air has proven to be an efficient and inexpensive way for businesses to conduct online seminars and talk shows. Being a Google product, Hangouts has no trouble integrating with popular business applications like Slack, Zendesk Sprint, etc.
This app integrates other Google apps like Google Talk and Google Voice. Through the use of Google Voice, Hangouts users have a feature to call domestic phone numbers through their computing devices.
Google Hangouts is one very good option for businesses as it features other Google apps plus has the brand name, Google, which never really goes wrong!
ProofHub is an all-in-one project management and team collaboration tool with an inbuilt chat feature that lets team members communicate with each other in real-time. Trusted by businesses like Google, Netflix, and Nike and organizations like NASA and the University of Michigan, it enables teams around the globe to communicate and collaborate without the hassle of shuffling tabs.
Unlike many other communication apps that may take up the entire screen just to convey “hi,” ProofHub enables communication through an expandable chat popup window, much like social apps, making monotonous business conversations casual and fun.
Team members can either have one-on-one conversations or group chats with unlimited people where they can refer a specific colleague with "@" mentions (without leaving or blocking the background entirely). They can share updates, ask questions, and get instant replies in just a few clicks. ProofHub also allows users to share files of any type and size through its chat window with a simple drag and drop.
In addition to these features, ProofHub serves as a great Trello alternative, helping your team collaborate, plan for the future, and stay organized in the present.
Additionally, ProofHub provides several other productive collaboration features, such as announcements to share information with everybody in one go and discussion boards for planning strategies, proofing creative assets, and keeping teams and stakeholders in the loop. With custom roles, ProofHub gives users ultimate control to decide who gets to see what.
Flock, again, is a team collaboration, management, and communication app. Flock’s features are quite similar to that of Slack, with group conversations, integrated apps, adding reminders, etc. But what sets Flock apart from Slack is its great security measures as well as the fact that it is cheaper than Slack.
An all-in-one solution to integrate all your social messaging channels
Different from a traditional Instant Messaging app, SleekFlow is a sales, marketing, and service software for all messaging apps. Centralizing everything on one single platform, SleekFlow streamline the work process for handling messages from all different channels.
How does SleekFlow knock it out of the park? A few points to note:
✅ It allows multiple log-in for the same WhatsApp number.
✅It allows a scalable broadcast campaign for WhatsApp, and all the messaging channels. Even the messaging apps do not have an inbuilt broadcast function.
✅It can integrate with your existing platform such as Shopify to fill the gap of your e-commerce CRM.
Top instant messaging marketing tips & tricks
After you gathered all the right tools, you need to do the right things. Here are some quick tips for crafting your instant messages!
1. Ask questions
There’s one simple key to keeping your audience interested in your products and services at all times.
All you need to do is to ask them questions that interest them.
In case you are running an instant messaging marketing campaign, your first step is to understand what your audience really wants.
Say we are just a few days away from Christmas and people’s minds are filled with happiness and grace.
It’s the time of the year when they are looking for their favorite brands to offer them the best deals on the products that they have long desired. And that’s where the fun lies.
Let’s just assume that you are planning to have a secret Christmas sale for your VIP customers in the coming days. In such a case, you shouldn’t send a message that sounds something like:
“It’s Time For Our Secret Christmas Sale. Tune In For The Best Deals”
Instead, you should focus on interacting with your audience in a personal manner:
“Hey Chris. This is Bella from MyConcept. We got a secret Christmas Sale For Our VIP Customers.
Would you like to attend?”
2. Answer queries instantly
Unlike newsletters and emails, people actually read and respond to messages.
As we discussed above, the open and engagement rate, in the case of instant messaging marketing, is SUPER-DUPER high.
Once you begin interacting with your consumers with the help of the different instant messaging platforms, make sure that you stand up to their expectations as well.
Whenever your customers have certain doubts or queries, you need to make sure that you are available to answer them straight away. Your business should be prepared to answer your audience’s inquiries.
That’s the only way you will be able to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers.
For answering your audience’s inquiries as well as doubts, you will need to equip some people on standby. Setting up a chatbot can definitely help!
With the help of this feature, your marketers, as well as sales and support agents, will be able to collaborate and handle multiple conversations in just a single place.
This will, thereby, boost the entire inbound lead generation process.
Wondering how to use social media to sell? Read our guide on Everything you need to know about advanced social selling tools for businesses.
Choose the right tool for your company
Once you have a social CRM platform to centralize your social commerce efforts, your team of marketing, sales and support can start to work wonders.
To wrap this up, the above tools are mostly economical solutions suitable for companies of all sizes. But do keep this in mind, when considering which instant messaging tools best fit your company, you might want to take your target audience into consideration. Last but not least, we encourage all companies to invest in instant messaging strategies.