In case you haven’t noticed, the number of smartphone users in Asia Pacific has grown – we estimate that it breached the 1 billion mark in 2014. This is the first time that more people in the region used smartphones than feature phones.

When coupled with the fact that the region is also a leader in innovative messaging apps, such as WeChat, Line, and KakaoTalk, marketing professionals can start to see how Asia Pacific is ripening into a mobile-led commerce and marketing harvest – creating a commercial marketplace where users interact and trade and offering organizations growing sales and marketing opportunities.

However, many B2C marketing professionals today limit that potential by only focusing on promoting flash sales or discounts, as seen on the likes of WeChat and Line. Marketers must consider longer-term use cases to fully mine these apps' potential. Unless a messaging app user is specifically searching for and ready to buy a particular product or service, marketers who continue to pepper the app’s chat room with meaningless discount messages will have wasted their investment. In addition, users will likely move to the next competitive (i.e., cheaper) offering when it comes along, running the risk of marketers facing a race to the bottom with cutthroat pricing.

I argue in my latest report that marketers should link content marketing on messaging apps to the broader customer life cycle. Marketers should think about how they evaluate their content assets and construct topics to suit users' mobile moments. For instance, McDonald’s enhanced its user experience by creating an app for mobile-savvy users in France to order food at their convenience. By letting customers opt into exclusive mobile offerings, McDonald's also obtained detailed customer insights and extended new services from the mobile device to its physical stores. Marketers can use this approach to drive fresh marketing initiatives to tap “lookalike” audiences on mobile.

In essence, B2C marketing leaders should view messaging apps as an extension of their content marketing strategy, not an isolated channel for hard-selling. Do you agree? I welcome your thoughts.