With the invention of the internet and email, connecting with people across the world has become as simple as penning a letter to your neighbour next door. Thanks to smartphones, this has been simplified even further, as people can now talk or text with anyone from any part of the world.
Powered by mobile internet and smartphones, instant messaging apps like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger have become a powerful tool that virtually every smartphone owner uses. These apps ultimately offer the ability to communicate without an SMS cost that mobile carriers charge.
As of August 2021, more than two million Snapchat messages and almost 700 thousand texts on Discord were shared globally in a single minute. It’s in our human nature to connect and share our thoughts with people we love that makes these apps so popular.
Despite the availability of various messaging apps over the years, there’s a visible gap in these platforms that needs to be bridged by newer and more innovative custom messaging apps to properly address the needs of users.
If you are looking to invest in a new business, starting out with an instant messaging app is as lucrative as any product or service that could earn you remarkable revenue. In this article, we have outlined some major attractions of messaging apps in 2022, and why the market for messaging applications is far from saturated. We’ll also explain how you can build your own custom messaging app and guide you through market considerations and practical revenue models.
Keep reading to learn more.
What You’ll Learn In This Post
- Messaging app market trends
- Popular messaging applications in 2022
- Features that make a messaging app stand out
- Step-by-step breakdown of how to build a messaging app
- Market considerations before building a messaging app in 2022
- How to monetize your messaging app
What Is a Messaging App?
A messaging app is a type of software application that is designed to allow users to communicate with one another through text or multimedia messages. These messages can be sent and received over a variety of networks, including the internet and mobile phone networks. Some popular examples of messaging apps include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat. In this article, we are specifically going to talk about
Instant messaging apps that run on smartphones powered by the wonders of the internet.
These applications have evolved enough to allow users to not just exchange text messages, but media like pictures and video. Instant messaging apps also offer the ability to make phone and video calls with people from different parts of the world without incurring any additional telephone charges.
Messaging App Market Trends
Messaging apps are more popular in 2022 than ever before. While people still use email for official information exchange, there are productivity-based messaging apps that connect employees on a single platform to share ideas and keep track of projects they are working on.
However, people do not want to keep switching between applications for messaging and connecting with their friends and loved ones. Stats show that smartphone users spend 77 percent of their screen time on three of their favorite applications, with 50 percent of that time being spent using a single application. Currently, the leaders in messaging applications are companies like Meta with their WhatsApp and Messenger applications.
Right alongside Meta are Snapchat, Telegram, Signal, and WeChat, which all serve different purposes and bear unique functionality that makes them stand out in this competitive market.
It was reported that in the first quarter of 2022, messaging and chat apps were utilized by 95 percent of adults who use the internet. This shows that messaging applications are arguably the most popular applications among Internet users, followed by social media platforms, which themselves provide messaging apps and services as an integrated or standalone functionality. It is astounding that more than 43 percent of these internet and smartphone users rely on social media and messaging apps to research and form an opinion about popular products, brands, and news articles worldwide.
It goes without saying that there is a huge potential for new and existing messaging applications to reach a wide range of audiences, given they target the specific needs of people who use these services. Human beings by nature are always on the lookout for better and easier options, and if a new messaging application cashes in on this, there’s no reason they can’t prosper as a tech business in a short amount of time.
Top 3 Messaging Apps
There are some chat and instant messaging apps that are quite popular among users worldwide. While some provide audio, video, and text messages exchange, some also allow users to make purchases and payments from within the application. We have outlined three such messaging applications that have shaped our society in terms of communication.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging applications that has dominated the messaging app industry for years. Owned by Meta, the same group that owns Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp is used by millions of people around the world on a regular basis.
The app allows users to send and receive text, audio, and video messages, as well as share images and other media. WhatsApp is available on a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows, and can be accessed on both smartphones and desktop computers.
One of the key features of WhatsApp is its end-to-end encryption, which ensures that messages are only readable by the sender and the recipient. This helps to keep conversations private and secure. In addition to messaging, WhatsApp also offers features like group chat and voice and video calling.
2. Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger is another highly popular messaging app that is owned and operated by Meta. Messenger started out as an integrated chat feature of Facebook, but soon evolved into a standalone messaging and chat application. Today, users don’t even need to own a Facebook account to take advantage of Messenger services, which has only contributed to its popularity.
Messenger lets users send and receive text, audio, and video messages, as well as share images and other media. Facebook Messenger is available on a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows, and can be accessed on both smartphones and desktop computers. In addition to messaging, Facebook Messenger also offers features like group chat, and voice and video calling.
One of the key features of Facebook Messenger is its integration with other Facebook services, such as the ability to view and respond to Facebook notifications within the app. With their latest update, Meta has integrated chat systems between Instagram and Facebook, allowing users to see and respond to Instagram chats within the Messenger app.
Just like any other Instant messaging application, WeChat allows users to send and receive text, audio, and video messages. It is cross-platform and runs on a variety of smartphones and computers. In addition to messaging, WeChat also offers a number of other features, including the ability to make voice and video calls, access third-party services and games, and pay for goods and services using WeChat Pay.
One of the key features that makes WeChat so popular in Asia is its integration with other services, such as the opportunity to link your WeChat account to your bank account and make payments directly from the app. Additionally, WeChat doubles down as a Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and a messaging app in China, eliminating the need to use separate banks, wallets, and messaging apps for your daily needs.
Popular Features of a Messaging App
Instant Messaging apps are made popular by the features they supply to their users. While all messaging apps basically allow text messaging between users, customizability and advanced features are what make people choose their favorite from the sea of options.
Although some messaging apps focus on work and productivity like Slack, Discord and Teams, others like Telegram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and WeChat are popular among regular users for their day-to-day communication. However, all of these platforms have some core features that make them popular in their own fields. It’s a good idea to keep these features in mind as you create a messaging app of your own.
Privacy is a major concern that comes with internet use. With the development of technology, fraud, breaches, and hacks have also become more prominent. That’s why protecting sensitive information and user data is a must when it comes to messaging apps in 2022.
Fortunately, message encryption can be used to protect the privacy of digital messages by encoding the information they contain so that it can only be read by the intended recipient. This is typically done using a mathematical algorithm and a secret key, which is known only to the sender and the recipient.
When a message is encrypted, it is transformed into a scrambled, unreadable form that is called ciphertext. In order to read the message, the recipient must use the secret key to decrypt the ciphertext and convert it back into plaintext. Message encryption is an important security measure that is used by many messaging apps today to protect the confidentiality of the users and the information being exchanged.
Data persistence refers to the ability of a mobile application to retain data even when the phone is disconnected from the internet or turned off. This is a must-have feature, as users should be able to access previous conversations even when they aren’t connected to the Internet. Data persistence can also help save both network and battery use as you go about doing your daily tasks on your favorite messaging apps.
While the need for mobile applications with total offline support is the newest challenge faced by messaging apps, data persistence can be achieved by storing the data on a remote server that is supported by caching data and media on the local device for easier access.
Light and Dark Mode
Light and dark modes are two different color schemes that many mobile and desktop applications now use. Messaging apps also bear this feature, allowing users to switch between Light Mode’s bright background with dark text and Dark Mode, which inverts the color scheme for low-light environments.
Since people constantly use messaging apps throughout their day, having the option to choose between the two modes provides a sense of personalization and comfort in viewing. Dark Mode, for example, is very popular among young users who use their phones to chat with friends and family during the night, as it can reduce eye strain and make it easier to read the text on the screen.
In addition to brightness, many messaging apps also offer the ability to customize the background, select themes, and set default stickers and emojis. This further promotes a concept of customization and personalization, and ensures that the application resonates well among its users.
Audio and Video Calling
Audio and video calling are features that are commonly found in instant messaging apps these days. These features, which have now become a necessity, allow users to make voice or video calls to other users of the app, either individually or as a group. Audio and video calling can be useful for staying in touch with friends and family, as well as for conducting business meetings or other discussions.
This feature utilizes the smartphone’s built-in camera and microphone to make Internet calls possible without using the cell network. Many messaging apps also offer additional features and functionality for audio and video calls like the ability to share screens, record calls, or use virtual backgrounds.
User invites is another must-have feature of messaging apps. This refers to the app’s ability to allow users to invite other people to join the app. User invites are typically done by sending an invitation link or code to the person being invited, which they can then use to download and install the app on their own device.
This feature can be useful for growing the app’s user base, and can also make it easier for people to connect with their friends and family who are already using the app. Some messaging apps may offer incentives or rewards for users who successfully invite other people to join, such as additional features or credits for in-app purchases, making these apps even more lucrative.
6 Steps to Build an Messaging App
Now that you understand how messaging apps work, how popular they are in 2022, and how there is a huge potential for innovation in the instant messaging application market, it’s time to explore how you can tap into this potential by successfully building a messaging application of your own.
1. Determine Niché
Before starting the process of creating an application, it’s important to first determine your audience and set a target. Building a messaging application for the web is no different. Since there are some key players in the market that are difficult to budge, it’s best practice for newcomers to determine a niche and set their eyes on a portion of people to focus their services.
There are many distinct groups of people that could be served with a messaging and chat application of their own. This includes doctors, IT workers, gamers, artists, chefs, and restaurant owners. If you design an application that allows people of any of these professions to communicate with their peers seamlessly, there’s no shortage of success for you.
For example, if you create a messaging app dedicated to chefs and restaurant owners, people from the same area could list and participate in food-related events by interacting with an integrated map like Snapchat. Users could also trade recipes, talk about their interests and cooking methods, and ask for help in gathering ingredients. This type of platform could gain massive popularity in the food community. After all, who doesn’t want to engage in exciting conversations with like-minded people?
2. Conceptualize Functionality
The next step is to conceptualize the necessary features of the application. As we just mentioned in the earlier point, you must know your audience and include some key functionality within your messaging app that will resonate with its user base. If your application is going to target doctors and patients, for example, you could include features like matching up patients with doctors nearest to them.
An application must-have features that keep the users engaged. Interactive messaging, the use of custom emojis and stickers, and the ability to see and interact with people physically around you are some attractive features that could be used to make your application more appealing to users. Determining key functionality based on your target audience’s expectations is what makes an app stand out, so it’s essential to address those needs with your messaging app.
3. Design Messaging App
Designing a successful messaging app involves coming up with a fluid user interface (UI) that gets people hooked upon first use. Distinct layouts, menu spacing, fonts, and complimentary icon colors are some other key points to consider. On top of that, letting people keep up with their conversations with tabs and threads is a feature that must be included.
Designing an application means you get to put your creativity into full force and come up with a beautiful product that you, as a user, would love to use every day. This should be done while incorporating the full functionality of the application that you had previously envisioned.
4. Develop Messaging App
After outlining the functionalities and coming up with a working design, an application then needs to be developed. App development is a process of coding software using programming tools. This can require some level of knowledge about coding computer and mobile applications, so it’s recommended to hire a team of professionals who have the relevant experience. Of course, you should always research a developer’s portfolio and learn about their rates and post-release support options before hiring.
A good developer will incorporate all your ideas into the working model of the app and present you with a product that works just like you envisioned. They will also consider important aspects of app development to ensure that you are getting the max out of your app’s potential.
5. Test App
Once an application is designed and developed, it must undergo heavy testing to make sure all features and functionalities are working as they’re supposed to. A testing team also checks for any bugs and errors that may arise in any part of the application to prevent malfunctions when the app is released for the public to use. If an application is buggy or unstable, people are unlikely to use it regularly. So, it’s very important to polish your application before releasing it.
A good idea in testing your app is to form a team of beta testers who will rigorously examine your newly built mobile app and use every functionality, play with every feature and button, and give you feedback on what’s working and what’s not. This testing could also bring in some important new ideas that could be implemented before the app’s final release.
6. Deliver and Refine App
After going through the above-mentioned intensive steps, your application should be ready to be launched in the marketplace. Launching an advertising campaign to align with the app’s release is a surefire way to gain extra reach and momentum in the early weeks.
However, things don’t end after releasing the app. You must continue collecting user feedback and comments and fine-tune your application for the days to come. Refining an application by pushing updates to include or exclude features, and increasing stability and support by fixing bugs and glitches is what any good application builder must focus on long after delivery.
Messaging App Development Cost
The cost of developing a messaging app can vary widely depending on a number of factors. This includes the complexity of the app, the number of features and functionalities it includes, the platform it is being developed for, and whether it’s a cross-platform or a native application. In general, a messaging application development could cost from a couple of thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, based entirely on the factors outlined above.
Your project should have a cost estimation before starting, which could give you an outline of the functions and usability of your application. Maps integration, payment system integration, database and servers are some factors that affect the functioning of the app, and all of these come at different costs.
The cost of developing any application depends on what platforms the application is intended to run on. In 2022, the two key platforms in the mobile app industry are Android and iPhone. It is generally the economical option to create a cross-platform app rather than two native apps for Android and iPhone, as it can be developed using a single codebase for multiple platforms. This means that the development team only needs to write the code once, which can save time and resources compared to developing two separate native applications from scratch.
However, a native application developed specifically for a particular mobile or web platform using programming language and tools that are dedicated to that platform can result in better performance, stability, and a more seamless experience for the user because of better hardware integration and support.
It’s only natural that the increased functionality of a mobile app can have a significant impact on the cost of its development. Simply put, the more complex and feature-rich a messaging app is, the more time and resources it will take to develop.
Developers determine the cost of the project by estimating the time it would take them to incorporate all functionality into the app while building it. This means that an app with many functionalities will take more time to develop, increasing the overall cost of the project. On top of this, some functions require paid APIs and integrations, which can further incur development costs.
Building an MVP
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a way of building an application with only a basic set of required features. This is a cost-efficient option because you only need to build your application with its basic functionality in mind, not allowing much room for unnecessary expenses on clickbait-like functions. An example of such a feature is Snapchat’s Spotlight.
A compact and purposeful messaging app doesn’t have to be bloated with features. A well wrapped application with Instant Messaging, Conversation History, Group Chats, Audio/Video calls and Media Sharing with a tightly knit security system is more than enough to get you started. For a new mobile application that’s entering the market, building an MVP saves you cost, time, and resources, while allowing you to deliver a clear and concise product to your target audience.
There are a lot of things to consider before you enter the mobile app industry. Only building an application and launching it on the app stores is not the end of your app development campaign. There are certain components that need to be taken care of post-release if your application is to gain popularity and reach its target audience.
App Store Optimization
Similar to Search Engine Optimization, App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of optimizing a mobile app to improve its visibility and ranking in app store search results. This includes keyword optimization, ratings and reviews and user engagement. App Store Optimization will ultimately increase the chances that users will discover and download an app, which can help you leave a footprint in the market and increase revenue via in-app purchases, sales, and advertisements.
Google Search Ads
Placing pay-per-click ads on Google can also increase the exposure of your messaging app significantly. When people search for specific terms that relate to your application, Google will show an ad for your app to the user to increase traffic to your application page and the overall likelihood of your application getting downloaded. This is a kind of paid promotion, and results show that businesses generally profit from these kinds of advertisements.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is probably one of the most influential forms of marketing in 2022. A huge portion of smartphone users utilize various social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. These platforms also serve as the primary source of information for a lot of people.
Paying to promote your post on these platforms through pay-per-click ads means you can get your word heard by a wide range of audiences worldwide. You can also customize and target your posts to the portion of the demographic that is your ideal audience. Apart from that, social media can be used to spread information about your messaging app without any additional costs. These organic posts have a better reputation among viewers, which makes the brand more trustworthy.
Word of Mouth
The good old word-of-mouth marketing still bears huge significance when it comes to products, especially in the IT industry. People love talking about applications they use and sharing the amazing features that make the application stand out. This way, more people are likely to start using the application in order to not miss out on the cool new thing on the app store. A referral scheme that gives bonuses and in-app purchase tokens to users for every successful invite is a good way to spread the word about your application.
Another effective method to organically advertise your app is to ask your users for permission to access saved contacts and send out an invite via the user’s phone to all the contacts. Kick is an example of an app that tried this and gained significant popularity over time. Messaging apps like IMO also apply this technique as their prime mode of advertisement.
Once you’ve launched and marketed your mobile application and gained a considerable user base, you can leverage this into making money for your business. There are a lot of ways apps earn money from their users, including paid emojis, a subscription service and showcasing local businesses.
One simple way a messaging app can generate money from its users is by providing in-app purchasing facilities like paid emojis and stickers. People love customization and are willing to pay money to get an emoji that resonates with them. Line and WeChat are some apps that collected massive revenue by selling customized stickers. If a product is limited, it automatically becomes more attractive. Releasing a bunch of limited edition stickers and emojis, and allowing users to create their own within the app for a small price, can go a long way in sustaining your messaging app business.
A messaging app could also employ the SaaS model to increase revenue for itself. Software-as-a-service is a model of IT business in which a company charges its users for the features they want to use. This strategy lets users access some features of the software for free, but prime features are withheld to encourage paid monthly subscriptions.
Spotify, for example, incorporates ads between songs in its free version, but enables users to pay a small price every month to upgrade to an ad-free experience. Social/Messaging apps like Snapchat also implement this idea by giving their customers an option to opt for Snapchat+ which basically gives them access to newer features, pre-released updates, longer expiration time on stories, camera borders and tons of other cool features.
Show Business Ads
Another way to monetize your messaging application is by linking up with local businesses. For example, you could have local businesses and stores listed in your application’s integrated map, allowing users to find and locate restaurants, gift shops and other places of interest.
This kind of synergy with businesses could be beneficial for both you and small businesses that need exposure. Not just small, even large corporations do this as a form of organic marketing. Recently, we saw McDonald’s and Uber heap praises of one another via Twitter, increasing both their credibility and popularity among users.
Idea Maker’s Experience In Messaging Apps
Idea Maker has the knowledge, skill, and creativity required to fix any challenges faced by businesses worldwide. We have been performing exceptionally in the application development sector for the past five years, and have completed many different successful projects for a variety of industries, including hospitality, education, health care, real estate and social media.
We developed the social media and messaging app Quick Friends, which is aimed at getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people in real life. The custom cross-platform app offers integrated maps, friends list management and event hosting capabilities for local meetups, ensuring that the platform stands out among the competition.
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the waters of the mobile app market, we are here to guide you through the process step-by-step. Idea Maker prides itself in being an advocate for tech awareness, and envisions a world where individuals with zero or minimal knowledge of the IT industry and app development process can use their ideas to come up with applications and software that leaves an impression.
With our team of expert analysts, designers and developers we build products for you that encompass everything you imagine. Idea Maker guides your business to success with our unique innovation. Idea Maker is the business solution that can take your idea and actually make it happen.
If you want to own your own messaging app or any other application, schedule a call with us today.