On July 29 Yahoo announced a new mobile app called “Livetext” which is designed to serve as a text message but in a video format. Compared to services like Snapchat, Skype and Vine, Livetext’s distinct difference is there is no audio. While this product is currently aimed at consumers, we spotted some potential benefits B2B firms can tap into if this app takes off.
How Livetext Works
Livetext is one-to-one video messaging, meaning the message is not sent until both parties agree to become connected. After users start the app, they verify their phone number and give Livetext access to their photos and camera. Users can then manually add Livetext IDs or sync their contact lists to see who else is using the app.
It’s key to know that as soon as you select a person to send a message to, you’re on camera. The recipient is sent a message notification and he or she can accept the message. It is silent video, but you have the option to overlay the live video with text to enhance the message, similar to other short-messaging services.
The Verge describes it as “somewhere between a Snapchat and a GIF.” Messages are deleted once the session is finished.
Arjun Sethi, Yahoo’s senior director of product management, describes the app in a Tumblr post, as “…a new way to communicate that blends the immediacy, simplicity and ease of texting with the expressiveness of video, without the audio. We see video as a way to make your conversations more authentic.”
Texting as a B2B promotional tool
SMS has increasingly become a promotional tool for B2Bs. Not just one-way messaging, since it is limited in scope; many B2Bs are looking at “pushing two-way SMS to the forefront of B2B marketing communications.” With this approach, an app like Livetext can potentially come into play.
At this time Yahoo has reportedly not ruled out group sessions as a feature down the road. If this happens, opportunities for B2B professionals may open up. Firms can do outreach to build their contact lists and, with an opt-in list, and audiences would be comprised of people who want to keep up-to-date on what businesses have to offer.
It will be interesting to see if customer service could be supported beyond the usual phone or email or live-chat. Could LiveText enhance the customer service experience by showing buyers video of how to fix a technical problem, for instance?
Potential of Livetext for B2Bs
In the Livetext announcement, Sethi also noted Yahoo sees silent video as a “way to make your conversations more authentic” and views text as a communication channel that is “quick and non-intrusive.”
From a marketing perspective this can be a perfect marriage. Adding imagery to traditional texts can increase marketing message appeal through higher levels of customization. Think of the SMS content you can potentially enhance, bringing your firm’s personality to the message:
- Product demos
- Offer buyers a glimpse inside your daily operations
- Live notification of new product or service arrivals
- Sales or other special offers (embedded text noting promotional codes, etc.)
- Let customers know you on a more personal level
Marketing via SMS has a tendency to encourage and increase brand loyalty and helps to build stronger relationships. Can an app like Livetext do the same?
Since it’s opt-in, B2B firmss can send targeted messages with confidence – consider the benefits of an audience that wants to receive advertising. Also, since Millennials are increasingly making B2B decisions, combining text and silent video could be an appealing marketing channel.
“A lot of companies are needing to millennialize, and this [Livetext] is a step in that direction,” Nicole DeMeo, chief marketing officer at mobile ad technology platform Glispa, told CNBC.
Yahoo has been testing Livetext in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Ireland and claims the feedback to date has been positive. On July 30, Livetext made the app available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and France for both iOS and Android.
Will this app catch on across the globe? Time will tell. It could provide some interesting and creative marketing approaches if it does.
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