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Chatbots are changing the marketing game

by Emily Prust
on 26 Apr, 2017

When you think of the word ‘chatbot’, perhaps the image of an R2D2-like robot behind a messaging app springs to mind. While chatbots aren’t quite as theatrical, you get good points for having a vivid imagination.

The digital landscape of the early naughties was characterised by a lot of search engine marketing and optimisation efforts. As social media platforms began to take root and garner popularity in the early 2010s, brands latched onto networks like Facebook and LinkedIn as part of engagement strategies. But content marketing strategies continue to evolve every day.

Today, we are in the era of chatbots and computerised messaging, and marketers have found a new way to engage in automated interaction. But before we delve further into this revolutionary tool, let’s define what a chatbot is.


What are chatbots?

Chatbots are simplified software programs that engage users in conversations using a lightweight messaging app, artificial intelligence or language-built tools. You can incorporate chatbots into messenger services like Skype or Facebook Messenger.

With this, consumers can spend more time in messenger apps. They can place an order for a Domino’s Pizza without needing to exit the app. This allows for a smooth and uninterrupted experience.

Consumers are becoming more vested in messaging platforms than they are social media networks. Apps like Apple iMessage, Slack, WeChat and Facebook Messenger have been downloaded millions of times in the recent years and have overtaken the four largest social media networks in growth.


What do chatbots bring to the marketing scene?


“Although they are quite basic, today’s chatbots have the potential to develop fast. Their functions will become more sophisticated too” says Brendan Wilde, Online Marketing Executive at FreeparkingNZ.

“For instance, you are planning a group travel to the French Alps; you could invite a travel bot into the online booking process”.

This means that rather than work a menu with multiple options to choose from, you can simply tell your travel bot, in simple terms, each person’s travel preferences. Using the inbuilt engine, it will understand and provide options accordingly.

If you would like to travel to Spain during the summer, but at a particular temperature, the bot will check the weather forecast for that period. It will also use your current location and suggest flights going to Spain on those days.


How chatbots are driving better brand engagement

Your brand can use this feature to promote your services in many ways. Think of the brand-consumer conversations you could have.

Standard online marketing focuses on click-based interaction and is more impersonal when compared to the engaging with a chatbot. The latter is an active conversation which opens more communication channels for brands and users.

Before the release of Zootopia, Disney used the Officer Judy Hopps bot on Facebook Messenger as a teaser to entice potential audiences. Unlike regular trailers which limit people to watching, the Judie Hopps bot took its users on an interactive crime-busting hunt. The user engagement was massive with the average user spending at least 10 minutes on the site.

With a chatbot, your brand consistency and personality are reflected at another touchpoint, helping you build customer relationships and customer loyalty. With the ability to get instant answers, consumers are also faster able to clarify questions about your products or services and this aids in nurturing your leads within the conversion process.

Get more insights: The top 10 secrets for successful brand consistency


The benefits of synchronised dialogue

Previously, we were the ones asking AIs the questions. Today, the conversation is a two-way channel with chatbots designed to ask us questions too. This increases the level of interaction currently limited in traditional ads. A chatbot can ask you questions like, “What news do you want to read today?” or “Should I call an Uber?” These safe interactions take the user-brand relationship further.

Having a chatbot that asks your customers simple questions can help your marketers collect insight for analytical purposes. For example, instead of being limited to quantitative data, you can also get qualitative answers from your customers. This information can explain the “why?” to puzzling statistics that may be obtained from big data. It can also help generate new product ideas and innovative ways to better meet your customer’s needs.


How Chatbots can customise the user experience

It’s no secret that personalisation is the key to an enhanced UX. Marketers continue to seek more effective ways to appeal to their consumers on respective platforms. Chatbots can be used to personalise conversations with users; at a BUILD developers’ conference, organised by Microsoft, a chatbot was used to order a Pizza from Dominos.

Chatbots have also been known to give style tips to users. H&M has a chatbot app that learns your style through previous photos and suggests what to wear. Of course, the personalisation is somewhat basic, but developers are working tirelessly to improve their interaction levels.

Chatbots are intelligent learning robots. The more they pick up information about customers’ behaviour, the better they become at serving them. Who’s up for a pizza? Perhaps it’s time to engage a Tacobot?


Ready for action?

Keeping up with changes in technology is essential for your business to stay ahead of the competition. With the ability for chatbots to automate workflows, gather more insightful data and improve your customer’s experience, there is no doubt they will be a key factor driving change in the marketing game in the years to come.

If you think your business is ready to reap the benefits of this advancing technology, the team at Thirst Creative are here to help. Our skilled team of web developers, graphics designers and digital marketing experts can offer recommendations for integrating chatbots and chat services into your customer experience.

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