Marketers need to go where their customers are, and according to Business Insider, 2015 was the first time we saw the top four messaging apps such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp surpass the monthly active users on the top four social media channels.
How do you reach customers via messaging platforms? Chatbot marketing. The explosion of the technology as a marketing tool is a trend that will undoubtedly continue into 2017 and beyond. According to VentureBeat, Facebook Messenger now supports over 11,000 chatbots with more than 23,000 accounts created for their Bot Engine tool. Consumer conversations have shifted from sometimes painful customer service calls to the ease, excitement, and curiosity of 1:1 AI chat interaction.
For Brand Engagement
While social media engagement can mean anything from a like on a post to a comment on a photo album, (all things which a human on your team should respond to) this technology is useful to increasing deeper engagement through conversation and improving the omnichannel experience in the process.
Moreover, rather than selling products, or troubleshooting issues, you can also engage through entertainment. Disney recently released a mystery solving bot-game based on the movie “Zootopia.” According to MobileMarketer, the game was a hit and drove awareness before the release of the movie to DVD and Blu-ray.
Finding your inbox stuffed with subject lines reading “50% OFF ALL FALL BOOTS” can be disheartening, but online conversation bots can make sales more enjoyable, and less salesy. In addition to a promotional email, what about getting a message from your favorite store saying:
“Hey, Sarah. Have you found those perfect fall boots yet? Maybe I can help. Here are 10 great pairs we have in your size, and they are all on sale this week!”
This kind of personalized assistance mirrors what sales associates provide with the in-store experience, and should prove an effective way to interact with consumers as the lines between online and instore experiences continue to blur.
For Online Ordering
1-800-Flowers and Pizza Hut are two spectacular examples of how chatbots can improve the ordering process. If you already have an account, it can be as simple as “I’d like a large pepperoni pizza” and after confirming your details, it’s on its way!
Despite doubts as to whether the technology would really drive traffic, 1-800-Flowers CEO McCann said 70% of their chat related orders have been from new customers.
In cases of ordering functionality, many chatbots forego natural language recognition in favor of more robot-like commands. In this case, it can be preferable to offer consumers buttons or options as responses vs. free-form conversation to avoid confusing your bot and frustrating your customer.
For Customer Service
When 51 percent of people say a business needs to be available 24/7, it’s clear that online chatbots have a place in the customer service and omnichannel landscape. This technology allows customers to immediately interact and get simple problems solved without ever having to sit on hold, or wait for their emails to be answered. There are, however, some unitended problems that can arise.
Frustrating chat experiences can be just as damaging to your brand as lackluster customer service. If the AI messenger can’t figure out that it’s time to send you to a real person, customers may end up walking away before anyone is aware there was a problem.
Numerous companies across industries have incorporated this exciting technology into their digital strategy, and the tactic is positioned to have a significant long term effect on sales, customer service, and brand engagement.