Messaging apps are growing rapidly and they are used by practically everyone. They have thrown the conventional way of sending text messages or SMS via the telecom service provider overboard primarily because they allow the users to send messages for free using an internet connection. And yet, Line marketing for business is a product that is more than just an app. Youngsters especially prefer these apps over email, since they allow them to send and receive instant messages.
These messaging apps have become a dynamic channel of expression. Since users spend so much time on these messaging apps, they serve as a huge customer database with accurate insights into the customers’ mind-sets and needs and are going to determine the future of the marketing strategies of businesses worldwide.
Line is a free instant messaging app that allows users to communicate via texts, images, audio, video, and also conduct free VoIP calls. It was launched in 2011, by Naver Corporation in Japan. Within 2 years Line had reached 200 million users and became Japan’s leading social network surpassing Facebook and Twitter. It was launched as a disaster response when Japan took a huge hit from an earthquake which destroyed all telecommunication systems, leaving internet-based resources as the only means to communicate.
Line marketing for business started gaining more popularity by the release of stickers depicting original as well as well-known characters. These stickers could be bought at 2-3$ a dozen and acted as large-sized emojis making the app quiet a hit among then Japanese population and worldwide. In 2015, the company generated revenue of $1.1 billion, up to 40% of which came from the sale of stickers. It is now the world’s seventh largest chat app and has moved from being just a chat app to much more.
The Evolution of Line as a Marketing Tool
Within two months of its launch, Line released paid emoticons which generated a revenue of 350 million JPY. This profitability is a reflection of its rising popularity. The popularity of its stickers also stands to denote that brands will be able to launch their own stickers on Line. Apart from stickers, Line has launched several in-app purchases. The ‘Line It’ button enables users to share websites with friends and groups. Line also stood apart from other messaging apps owing to its gaming and built-in camera app with filters.
Line has also launched Music Streaming services in Japan. In October, 2016 it also released its stand-alone video app. The new app called Line Moments includes simple mobile-first editing tools as well as filters and sharing tools. All these features have given Line a very loyal user base. The marketing potential of Line basically lies in its fun ways to engage the youth, with most of the users falling in the 18-29 age group.
Since the massive success of stickers, Line has now set its eyes on being more innovative in a way that brands and publishers would be able to deliver their content using personalised GIFs or bots. With the use of bots marketers will now be able to send personalised messages to users including updates for shipping, order confirmations or new arrivals etc.
It aims at providing an ecosystem for brands to interact. Since, Line has access to a large customer base with knowledge of their interests via their chats, it will be possible for brands to reach out to their targeted customer and offer customised solutions. However, being a closed system, there is no need for users to worry about identity being leaked. Line has emerged as more than a messaging app with great potential as a promotional and marketing tool.
Line Marketing for Business
In February 2015, Line released it Line@ app designed for professional and business users. Using this app, users can connect to their customers or fans by creating an official account. They can send mass messages to followers, or batch messages for promotion and also chat one-to-one. It also lets you set an autoreply for when you are unavailable. A random is allocated to the users for free.
For those who want custom IDs, they can purchase it at an initial premium of $24, post which a recurring yearly fee of $12 is applicable. With a free account, users can send up to 1,000 messages a month, while with a post-paid plan of $50, the limit is 50,000 messages a month. Messages outside the 50,000 limit will cost $0.01 per message. All of these payments can be made using the Line Pay system.
The Line home feature lets you pull statistics related to timeline posts, number of friends added per day and block rates etc. Like any other social media website, Line@ allows businesses to create a page displaying business information and news and also post updates.
The Line@ for PC admin page offers additional features for creating a PR page with official materials and a Rich page for posting questions and surveys for customers and enhance their engagement. With all these features, Line intends to turn the messaging app into a smart portal as a part of its ‘Closing the Distance’ strategy. Since, users already have accounts with Line, it is expected that there will be a higher purchase rate as compared to conventional e-commerce websites.
Line Pay – The Other Line Marketing for Business Product
Launched in 2014, Line Pay laid the foundations of Line’s offering for businesses. Initially this was limited to making payments for purchasing stickers and themes but slowly expanded into much more. It is a next-generation payment application which allows users to make purchases using their mobiles or PCs. In addition to this, it also allows users to make cash transfers to each other without the need for any bank account information. The cash comes from binding credit cards or pre-paid cards to Line Pay. It works with several cards such as American Express, Diner’s Club, JCB, Master Card, and Visa as well.
Two of Japan’s largest financial institutions, Mizuho and SMBC have already joined hands with this initiative. Line Pay can also be used to make payments for Line taxi. The goal is to enable users to make payments using Line’s chat app. In the future, it also aims to enable users to make payments for goods purchased offline. Line makes use of a 7 digit password which users will need to input for transactions for security. This is authenticated via their mobiles or a password if the user is using a desktop. Line Pay substantially eliminate the use for maintaining bank cards and makes payment options more convenient lowering the payment barrier.
Line Taxi – Yet Another Line Marketing for Business Product
In 2015, Nihan Kotsu, Japan’s top private car firm in collaboration with Line has launched its Taxi service in Japan with 3,300 cars on the roads. There has been some tough competition from Uber and the British rival Hailo, which Line combats by offering lesser wait times, better coverage and several other options as compared to Uber. The pairing of a messaging app with a taxi service might come across as a little odd, but there is already a proof of concept in China, where WeChat has implemented the same.
There has also been a talk that Facebook might integrate messenger with Uber. Integration of several on-demand and offline services into a messaging app will certainly prove beneficial for Nihan Kotsu. Line taxi is a game changer for the fact that it does not need a separate download. Line is slowly proceeding into several Business niches helping them expand their businesses and get more exposure for more profits through its messaging app.
Line’s Delivery Logistics
Line has partnered with Woowa Brothers, Korea’s largest food delivery app, to launch Line Wow, a food delivery service. Woowa Brothers has been a successful company in Korea and has now been able to enter the Japanese Market by joining hands with Line. It started out by extending its services in the Tokyo Metropolitan area allowing popular restaurants to deliver premium lunchboxes and will expand into more extending its delivery radius and adding more restaurants and menus.
In Thailand, Line has launched Line Man in partnership with another logistics startup, Lalamove. This enables shoppers have their products delivered to them by a driver on a motorbike just like their own personal butler would do. Several small and medium sized businesses have started utilising this service to deliver their products. Line Man offers delivery services for food from restaurants, groceries as well as parcel transport using Lalamove’s fleet of motorbikes.
Line Maps for Indoor
It will allow users to check out updates from retailers in shopping malls nearby.
Line Launches Business Platforms
At the ‘Line Conference Tokyo 2016’ held in March, Line announced the opening of its business platforms on the Line@ app. It is aimed at allowing the users to make use of Line for business services and products and also help businesses offer a more convenient and enjoyable service and communicate with the customers more easily to promote their brand.
Later in 2016, it had also launched its Make-up app which includes 33 filters including one for men so that the users can try and buy make-up. The filters include real products from popular cosmetic brands like Clinique, 3CE and Etude House. The year 2016 saw the release of several other features for businesses like the Line Live, a streaming content distribution platform which gained 198 million hits from users within 3 months of its launch.
Big brands like Disney and Maybelline have already started to tap Line’s ‘Fun and Expressive’ pool of users. Disney published its mobile puzzle ‘Tsum Tsum’ with Line and it has been downloaded 14 million times. Disney had also launched the Mickey Mouse sticker on Line in 2012. This was the first time Disney and Line had worked together launching a sticker pack. It was followed by the launch of 50 more such sticker packs which featured several characters from Disney cartoons, Pixar, Marvel and the Star Wars Classics.
Line’s Stickers: Line Marketing for Business Product
The success of the stickers led to both the companies collaborating for launching the game which was a blockbuster and grew more quickly than anticipated. The characters of Tsum Tsum were also launched as plush toys in stores, monetizing in the sale of over 2 million units.
Maybelline also launched a one-day flash sale and sold 500 lipsticks in 5 minutes in an beyond successful attempt to bring its latest product to the Thai market.
Even before the Maybelline, Line held its first flash sale in Thailand when it sold company branded iPhone cases were sold out in 25 minutes.
It is not just limited to big players like Disney and Maybelline. Line, the app, has created an account called Line Hot Deals wherein users can get information about all the hot deals in one place. This has been very beneficial to small businesses. A fashion e-commerce site called WearYouWant offered a sale for FailyDrop Cosmetics, and 700 units of New Year Gift Sets were sold out in less than half a day. According to WearYouWant, the conversion rate from visitor to buyer was more than expected and with this result they plan to launch weekly deals on Line Hot Deal in the future.
Many e-commerce businesses in Thailand have also reported that 30% of their traffic comes from mobile devices which also accounts for 20% of the transactions. E-commerce is now essentially transforming into m-commerce and businesses must prepare for this and leverage it to the best.
Line Account Features for Business
Line has released 3 features for a more convenient business platform.
- Reward Cards: This feature aims at replacing points and stamps which take up space in your wallet or tend to be forgotten at home. Using the Line app, users can now collects points and stamps at their favourite stores and exchange them for rewards. Users can view a list of their cards and find stores that issue the reward cards. You can search for these cards by store name or look for them in your vicinity.
- Coupon Book: You can now manage coupons issue by various vendors using the Line app. It also displays recommendations, popular coupons, coupons in the vicinity and coupons from businesses you ae following. Coupons that are about to expire are displayed on the top, so that customers can utilise them in a timely manner. Coupons can also be saved in the favourite items making it easier for them to be found and to receive expiration reminders.
- Commerce: To help e-commerce businesses a new online store feature is being added to the Line@ account. There is no monthly or usage fee, however, a service charge of 4.98% is applicable on sales. With the increase in usage of smartphones, there has been a rise in providing users, access to products and services using their smartphone which is a new high in the e-commerce sector. Line has already made some of these services like food delivery, Taxi booking etc. available and continues to expand as more businesses sign up.
All of these features make it very easy for users and businesses to come together and serve as a wonderful tool for promoting businesses and generating profits. The e-commerce industry, especially could grow in leaps and bounds by offering their products and services through Line.
Line Business Platforms for Web Services
Line has created web services known as web apps, by tuning and upgrading its already existing platforms like Line NEWS and even Line Part Time Jobs. These official web apps are linked to Line accounts, the accounts now becoming a channel for generating new users, and redirecting existing users to perform specific tasks.
Users can enjoy the benefits of quick and easy access to various services, without having to install separate apps or signing up for a service. They can use the Line App to access all of these and use the auto login feature to befriend these accounts. Users can make reservations, purchases and fill up inquiry forms easily with the personal information already saved on their Line accounts, by consenting to the same. The use of these Official web apps allows users to receive personalised information and services through the Line App. As they do so, they can also accumulate Line Points and Reward Cards.
For Corporate Clients, a service called Line Business Connect, offers them an API which allows them to access different Account Features easily. Line Business Connect, Auto Login, Profile+ and Line Pay can be connected together by partners and integrated into their services. It will bring more ease of use and hence better conversion rates. Personalised push messages can offer hassle free reservations and purchases. The conversion can be further enhanced by clubbing these services with Line Points and Reward Cards. By offering services with such easy to use features, the Official Web Apps gain more exposure meaning they will be listed at the top.
Several companies like Tripadvisor, Domino’s Pizza, American Eagle Outfitters, Million Carats, etc. are already on-board.
Line Business Platform for SME Aggregators
Small and medium sized businesses can utilize the features of Line@ Business account using an SME Partnership program being implemented by Line. This can be very useful for the likes of restaurants and small retail shops. About 14 such businesses including some big names like Tabelog in restaurants, and Goo-net in cars, have signed up for this service. This initiative will help small and medium sized business communicate easily and conveniently with users, bridging the gap between users and stores.
Businesses that provide web services benefit and Line will prioritize implementation. They will be able to make use of three services:
- Inquiries on Line: Line@ based chat system will facilitate communication between users and businesses.
- Line@ Integration: Line@’s messaging API will be developed and integrated with the SME Partners’ in-house systems.
- Account Plug-ins: The SME Partners’ solutions will be promoted and integrated with Line’s account plug-ins and content.
As these features are developed, it will allow users to check for waiting times and availability of tables, make reservations, get coupons and limited-time sales and from their favourite stores, make enquiries about apartments and cars for sale, all using Line. It may also give them access to user specific coupons, for their next one for services such as hair stylists, nail salons or spas.
When services become easy to access, it will certainly lead to a rise in sales and reservations. More plugins wil add to additional functionality into Line accounts like Reward cards, Coupon Books and Commerce do.
Integrating Marketing Strategies into Line
58% of the population that uses messaging apps is concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region and Line is one of the most popular ones in Asia. Marketing strategies on Line are beyond ads or sponsored content, because that would destroy the user experience. It is about utilising Line as a space where the users are already comfortable talking, to set up interactions directly with the customer, by the use of bots. Messenger by Facebook has already started using these and though it is a major competition, Line is still not that crowded a space and also has a loyal user base which can urge brands to become early adopters.
Line has recently unveiled its new messaging API which offers better support for chatbots on the platform. These chatbots will be compatible with group chats so that businesses can share information and content with multiple users at a time. It also includes the capabilities of sending notifications to users by connecting Notify, another one among its API based services, to the chatbots. The new API supports 3 kinds of messaging:
- Confirm: which lets the user respond in a simple yes or no
- Button: Which combines pictures, texts and other action buttons
- Carousel: A horizontally scrolling format that displays several pieces of content
The API is supported with an SDK supporting five languages viz Java, Go, Ruby, PHP and Perl 5. A trial version of the API, with limited functionality was launched in April last year and was used to create close to 20,000 bots. It was made freely available to the first 10,000 people along with Line Beacon to connect physical businesses to customers in the vicinity. The BOT API kit that was released in the summer of 2016, not only allows for exchange of messages using Line, but also offered the ability to develop CRM systems linked to IoT or existing systems.
Line Beacon aims to enable the reception of Bluetooth Low Energy Data using Line. Stores will be able to set up beacons which will send coupons and product information to users who visit the store.
Chat Al Plug-in
Line plans on engaging third party developers, to further develop its proprietary Chat Al Plug-in. The aim is to have an intelligent and responsive tool which will be able to handle customer inquiries using the chat platform. This should be out very soon. The chat plug-in will have pre-set FAQs and other content programmed into it, and will also use the data from other chats between customers and businesses. It will also be able to offer recommendations and answer inquiries accurately. This will greatly reduce the cost of hiring human operators and setting up infrastructure for the same. This opens up the potential of Line Official accounts to be effective CRM and marketing tools.
Line Advertisement Distribution Platform
Along with Line’s Business Platform, its ad distribution platform will also be expanded. This expansion goes beyond its previously used one-way mass delivery system that could only be used by large businesses. The new version will be suitable for use by any business size who will now be able to send more relevant and personalised advertisements which will lead to better conversions.
Line will use the statistical data from activity of the users in Line Family apps like Line News, Line Music and Line Manga. User’s engagement with the brand and official accounts of celebrities will provide information on user’s areas of interests which can be put to productive use to create advertisements which are more relevant to the user and the business niche. However, it doesn’t pull sensitive and personal data. The data will only be statistical and not personal, in keeping with Line’s Policy of not providing any personal data of users to third parties including advertisers.
Optimised advertisements with M.T.Burn
Back in 2015, Line conducted a trial run on its timeline. They partnered with M.T.Burn, for advertisements based on demographics and user interests. The results were very good with users receiving these advertisements very well. Line will now transition into an advertisement distribution system. It is similar to what you find on Hike, which is owned by M.T.Burn and is a native advertisement platform. It has now begun releasing optimised Timeline advertisements based on demographics and areas of interests. New advertisement locations will be introduces in Line NEWS, Line Game services and Line’s More Tab.
Creators’ Stickers for Businesses
Line has seen some massive success with stickers. The stickers have a personality of their own. These stickers including the sponsored and direct ones along with Line’s won stickers, have been a great promotional tool for large corporations. Line has now launched its SME sticker service, which makes it way more easier for restaurants, stores, and other SMEs to offer stickers. Line’s sticker portfolio now has additional ‘Creator’ Stickers. The ‘Creator Stickers for Business’ Program allows small and medium sized businesses the right to purchase promotional stickers which they can offer as rewards for service purchases and incentives.
They can use Line Creators Market Platform to implement the same. Businesses will now be able to promote their characters at lower costs. It also offers an opportunity for growth to creators of stickers. Paul McCartney was the first to experiment with these when he released 8 exclusive stickers for sale on the platform using his Line account as the users were bonding with these stickers, the likes of which were never seen with emoticons or emojis. After Paul McCartney, several other celebrities have created their own stickers and launched them on Line and gained more popularity as cartoon versions of themselves.
How Brands can Expand Customer Service through Line
Line is transforming the customer service industry with the launch of its Line@ account. Brands are making use of this service for personalised and real time conversations with their customers. They can also invite customers to reach out to them in case they have any questions or concerns. They can even bolster in store customer service to buyers if they have any questions on the sales floor. The privacy of the app even helps customers keep their purchases a surprise. Hotels can receive booking and reservation requests through this app helping them expand their business by more user reachability and ease of use.
It helps promote sales by giving businesses the convenience send out messages to the targeted demographic about new product launches, special offers etc. Geolocation data helps stores reach buyers in the vicinity largely increasing their database of quality clients which manifests into more exposure and hence more profits. Line continues to strive to become a one stop solution for all B2C communication and these are a few steps that can help it achieve that.
Line steps into International Markets
With its sight set on the NYSE, Line marketing for business certainly has huge plans for expansion which it is bringing about by supporting several businesses via its messaging app and plans to take on the western market as well. Several of its services have already been released globally while some are still restricted to Japan and other Asian countries. The foundations of this IPO were laid down by Line’s release of several features like Line Moments, Make-up AR app etc. Line unveiled, in July 2016, what could be the largest tech IPO valued at $5.5 billion in a dual-initial public offering in both Tokyo and New York Stock Exchanges. Line is positioning itself as a Lifestyle tool among consumers while it builds its base as a marketing tool for brands.
Spain is the biggest market for Line outside Asia, with Line hitting the Spanish Television and gaining over 10 million users in Spain as well as Latin America. Coca Cola used Line’s sticker features to start a campaign in Spain. The campaign was based on highlighting memories made in bars to friends and was a huge hit. Line is leveraging its strength in messaging to become an all-encompassing consumer platform by turning communications into commerce.
The Era of M-Commerce – Line marketing for business
The year 2013 saw 5.5 million users participating in flash sales orchestrated by Line in Thailand with orders coming in every 20 seconds. In 2014, Line announced its C2C platform. Line Mall allows users to purchase products without any listing fees. This saves users up to 10% on certain products. The first mobile advertisement campaign was also started in Thailand in 2014 on the Line Platform.
The emergence of m-commerce flash sales as seen with the sales of Maybelline and iPhone cases is just one example of how messaging apps are becoming useful in increasing businesses’ outreach to customers. Users get access to products which are not yet released or new before the general population, and that makes the sales spike like never before. The logistics of such flash sales are handled by aCommerce which takes care of warehouse, customer service, returns and the supply chain management overall. Businesses are able to tap into humongous customer databases using such sales. The partnership between Line, a Commerce and businesses has paved the way for success of the m-commerce platforms.
Line has paved the way for m-commerce in south-east Asia and is all geared up for expansion into the global market. Big brands are already looking forward to utilise Line and its database of loyal users. It’s a great opportunity for businesses to grow and the timing couldn’t be better since Line presents an unexplored market which is not yet crowded by service providers. The elimination of product lists serves as a huge advantage to brands. It uses a streamlined process of daily push deals and promotions which seem to be enticing customers quickly.
Line marketing for business – What’s in the Future?
As the use of smartphones continues to grow, so does then need for an all-encompassing platform, which Line has built steadily with the incorporation of mobile payment platforms, user friendly interfaces, and logistics for delivery. Line is the new arena and a hotbed for all kinds of businesses ranging from grocery stores to large FMCG brands.
With its m-commerce platform, Line marketing for business is certainly blurring the line between the physical and online worlds which is proving to be rewarding for consumers and businesses alike, allowing even the more expensive products to sell well. . Line Hot Deal will allow the entry of more e-commerce startups into its m-commerce space.The combination of Line and m-commerce is certainly an equation for success