Chatbots are the newest hot topic in the world of tech and marketing. Facebook’s recent announcement about Messenger supporting chatbots and that they want to open a chatbot store shows how they view the future of social interactions. This could be a huge change in how businesses interact with consumers.
As with every new tactic in regards to consumer relations, marketers have to determine how it’s going to fit with their current strategies. Before you rush over to your local chatbot developer, be sure it makes sense for your business, and plan how it will improve your consumer’s experience.
Does Your Business Need A Chatbot?
The first question you have to ask is whether a chatbot would benefit your marketing efforts. Just because it’s shiny and new doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you. There are a few standard uses for chatbots that may, or may not, work for you business.
Automating customer service is a natural fit for chatbots. With an advanced enough artificial intelligence, chatbots could easily talk with people, identify what problem they have, provide a solution and answer trivial questions. If a chatbot cannot answer a question, a human customer service rep can be alerted and seamlessly slide into the conversation to help out.
Having a customer service chatbot means reliable customer service is available 24/7 for consumers. If one of your business’s big selling points is great customer service, chatbots are definitely worth looking into it. Chatbots can give consumers fast access to a service “rep” that can answer their questions, instead of waiting minutes or even hours for help.
Great customer service means happy customers, which in turns means better reviews and reputation. Many businesses brag about great customer service, but backing it up with powerful chatbots and personable customer service reps can take you to the next level.
A Personal Assistant or Shopper
One big improvement with chatbots today over artificial intelligence in the past is the ability to learn what people like and dislike. While the current chatbot’s aren’t great at this, we know the technology is possible and will come.
If your business provides a large range of products and services, some consumers may be a bit overwhelmed and unsure what to get. A chatbot could help guide them to the perfect fit for their needs. As it holds a conversation with them, the AI could identify the needs and wants of the consumer and develop a well rounded profile. Then, as they make a purchase, the chatbot can identify what about the product connected with them, and recommend products that make sense to accompany it. No more are the days of purchasing a vacuum and having every targeted ad or product recommendation be more vacuums.
Customer Engagement and Interaction
Right now, there are only a few ways consumers directly interact with businesses, mostly through email and social media. It can be difficult to having meaningful conversations with large numbers of consumers through these channels though, and often automating these processes make your business come across as impersonal.
Chatbots could revolutionize how marketers automate following up with leads and customers. Marketers want to automate these processes because they don’t have time to follow up personally with each person, but still want consumers to feel special when outreaching to them.
Chatbots can accomplish both of these goals. It frees up marketers to do other work, while still being able to keep an eye on the follow ups, and having the ability to jump in at a moment’s notice if needed. The chat method engages with consumers on a personal level, especially if your chatbot knows a lot about them and uses casual language. By combining your chatbots with your leads database, they can then reach out to people, ask if they have any questions, and personalize each conversation to the individual. If you match up leads with personas, you can even personalize the type of questions they’ll ask, so it feels like a real person who took the time to learn about them.
Get Ready For A Lot More Data
To marketers, analytics data is like gold. It can help predict future trends, identify important customer buying patterns, and shape what marketing strategies you execute. As people use your chatbots, you’ll gain new insights into your target market’s buying habits, how they shop differently using your site vs your chatbot, and how your brand should interact with consumers.
If you do decide to utilize chatbots, be prepared for a tidal wave of new analytics. Taking this data and creating functional plans off of it can give businesses a competitive edge in today’s market. From the beginning, plan to capture meaningful data (whether that means getting new software or not) and how you’ll analyze it. From there, use the data to improve both your chatbot and your other marketing strategies.
Because each chatbot session is like a conversation, treat each interaction like an interview with a member of your target market. Use what you learn to better craft your buyer personas and in turn improve all of your marketing.
A New Emphasis on Mobile
Chatbots are another indicator of consumers doing more shopping on mobile devices. As the chatbot market develops in the future, how we use our smartphones could drastically change. Instead of searching in Google for the daily news, they might have a chatbot that delivers a curated list of articles to their smartphone first thing in the morning. When they have a question, they might use a chatbot to scour the internet for the best answer instead of using a search engine.
Chatbots will have an impact on your marketing, whether you use them or not. Businesses that rely heavily on content marketing for visitors and leads will especially be impacted. Instead of ten or more results being seen on Google for a relevant search, chatbots may only pull answers from the most authoritative or top ranking sites. If your site doesn’t meet these type of conditions, you could lose a lot of traffic.
This is also a call to get the mobile version of your site up to par. If a chatbot does refer people to your site, it will probably be on a mobile platform. If they don’t like the site and return to the chatbot for another result, that chatbot might log your site as unhelpful and not show it to consumers in the future.
Be Prepared, Even If It Doesn’t Catch On
There are no guarantees that chatbots will catch on, but Facebook’s recent push into AI and their announcement of a chatbot store shows their emphasis on the idea. Even if you decide chatbots aren’t for your business, you need to plan your marketing to account for their influence in the world. By looking to the future and preparing for it, you can ensure you don’t miss out on great opportunities.
What are your thoughts on chatbots? Are they going to be the next forgettable fad or will we all be using personal assistant chatbots in our everyday life? How do you think chatbots could be used for better marketing? Let us know in the comments below.