Best practices around bringing this consumer social staple into your customer conversations

It doesn’t matter if you’re a hotel chain, a retailer, an airline, a financial services firm, or any other type of company—your digital experiences have to be sticky.

The shift away from brick-and-mortar, face-to-face business has made engagement more difficult. There were always specific strategies for increasing foot traffic and keeping customers in a store. But what happens when all it takes is one click for a user to abandon your mobile app or website?

Messaging is a great way to foster 1:1 relationships with customers and make digital experiences more engaging. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to messaging.

If you dig a little deeper you can make subtle changes that positively impact engagement. This is where typing/activity indicators come in.

Making Asynchronous Communication More Engaging

By definition, asynchronous messaging doesn’t occur in real time. This is a great benefit for user experience because it doesn’t introduce the kind of friction that phone calls include. It’s also an engagement challenge because you give customers the freedom to disconnect from the experience as they please.

Just because you’re embracing asynchronous communication doesn’t mean you can’t engage users. With typing and activity indicators, you can add a real-time component to the asynchronous channel by making recipients aware that a message is coming soon.

The sense of anticipation that comes along with typing indicators increases engagement and makes your messaging stickier. And when you can keep customers engaged with the in-conversation experience, you can ensure faster message delivery times, faster replies, and close the communication loop more efficiently.

It may seem that the benefits of a typing indicator stop when customers leave the messaging experience. This might not be the case, though. Think about how Snapchat is changing the way people think about typing indicators in messaging.

With Snapchat’s messaging feature, users receive push notifications (more on these in a later post) when a friend is typing. Even when Snapchat users are outside of the conversation experience, they’re pulled back in and the messaging app becomes more engaging.

The Snapchat approach might not be the best idea for every situation, but it gives you something to think about as you implement typing indicators to improve engagement.

The Simple Do and Don’t of Typing Indicators in Messaging

If you want to break the typing-indicator conversation down into two simple rules, keep these ideas in mind:

Do display a dynamic, in-app indicator when one user is typing so recipients can expect a message. If users are expecting a message, they’ll spend more time within your experience.

– Don’t surprise recipients with messages that pop up out of no where—it’s a missed opportunity for engagement.

You’d be surprised how much of a difference these typing indicators can make for your messaging experience. But still, they’re just one piece of the conversation experience.

If you want to learn more about how you can design the most engaging messaging experience, check out our full Messaging Best Practices guide today.