Make an informed buy vs build chat decision by considering these 7 apps and protocols.
May 16, 2023
Adding live chat to your website is a great way to boost audience engagement. There’s just one question: how do you make that happen? Ultimately, there are two paths to take: buy a live chat solution or build your own solution.
There’s no universal solution to implement a chat protocol. As a result, there are at least 11 popular instant messaging and chat protocols available on the market today. Experimenting with all of these different solutions is time consuming. Use this buy vs build guide to save time as you develop a short list of chat solutions.
Some organizations may find it ideal to build (or heavily customize) their chat solution. This approach to live chat makes sense in a few situations.
Must Have Features Are Not Available
You may find that off the shelf live chat software lacks certain specialized features. For instance, you might have an audience that expects a multi-language experience. Or you might have an idea to use AI or cryptocurrency in an unusual way. Building your own solution is a good idea in this scenario.
Engineering Resource Availability
Many companies find that their engineering organizations are fully utilized. That’s not the case everywhere however. You might be in expansion mode and have additional capacity. In that situation, building a custom chat solution for your audience internally may be wise.
Software companies looking for ways to make their products more valuable might want to build their chat solution in house. If you see a chat as a strategic part of a product, it makes sense to build that solution in house.
Buying a live chat solution off the shelf is likely to be the best choice for the majority of brands and publishers. Here are some of the reasons why buying a chat solution might be a good choice.
Chat App Owned By Marketing & Content (No Engineering Support Needed)
Many organizations want to use chat to advance their marketing goals or deepen content engagement. That’s why it is important to seek out a chat app that is made for content, editorial, and marketing teams to run. Ideally, any chat app you buy should be designed to be run by marketing and content specialists with little to no involvement from engineering or product teams.
Some chat apps take minutes to deploy while others can take weeks or even months to tweak and customize. If speed to deployment is important, look for no-code or low-code solutions that can be installed and fast. With the right app, you can have a chat app up and running in less than an hour, which can be especially helpful if you need to create sponsored content experiences for clients under tight timelines.
Focus On Audience Engagement
Lifting audience engagement is a top goal for many brands. A highly engaged audience is more likely to give you first party data which you can use to fuel personalized marketing. If you’re already making efforts to grow engagement, adding a live chat solution off the shelf is a good way to get up and running fast.
Common Chat Features Meet Your Needs
Market proven chat features and functionality may be all you need to achieve your goals. For example, features like chat moderation, social reactions, and private messaging are supported in several chat services. If these capabilities meet your needs, taking the effort to build your own solution may not be a wise use of resources.
Buying a chat solution is likely the best solution for most organizations, so we’ll cover these options in more detail. In the next section, we’ll touch on a few ways to build your own chat solution as well.
Arena Live Chat is a great choice for publishers and brands looking to grow engagement on their website.
Launched in in the early 2000s, Live Chat is a popular website chat service. It is widely used for website customer service.
Olark is a live chat solution design for sales and customer service. The live chat app has also been widely used in ecommerce and higher education.
HubSpot is well known for its email marketing, customer relationship management and related software tools. The company now offers a live chat solution, a good choice for users who already use other HubSpot apps.
Building your own chat app takes more work. Thankfully, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are several chat protocols you can build on and customize for your needs if you have the resources.
RCS is a chat protocol built for mobile phones. It is also sometimes called SMS 2.0. For brands focused on mobile chat, it may be a good choice.
Developed by Google, WebRTC is an open source app that offers several types of voice, video and text communication.
Launched in 1999, XMPP is one of the oldest and best-established chat protocols on the market.
There are chat solution designed for different goals, so you may need multiple tools. For example, use Arena Live Chat to engage your customers and grow your audience. Then, you might use a different app for post-purchase customer service fulfillment. Find out more about Arena Live Chat.