“There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
If there’s one area where you can gain agreement across the entire c-suite, it’s in initiatives that save the organization time and money. Unemployment, at the time of this writing, is 3.7% – the last time we experienced this level of employment was in 1969.
Labor Costs are Spiking as the Economy Rebounds
Lower unemployment equals additional competition for labor. Competition for labor involves salary boosts and other enhancements that make every employee more expensive. And in a world where the face of entrepreneurship is changing, employers can’t afford to make the 9-5 any more of a grind.
As labor costs rise, saving time becomes more and more of a priority. Saved time equals reduced labor costs. And, as I’ve mentioned previously, you’ll gain the most support for your marketing strategies if you can communicate real costs and benefits to the parts of your organization that hold the purse strings.
The good news is that it’s never been easier for marketers to communicate and deliver cost-savings to the keepers of the purse. Let me explain:
Virtual Reality Can Replace Local Showrooms
I’ll start with the most mind-bending development in content marketing: augmented reality. Say goodbye to fancy showrooms and product demonstrations from coast to coast. Instead, the product showroom of tomorrow will be delivered virtually.
Amazon and other ecommerce giants helped prove that consumers are more than willing to hit the Buy Now button without physically interacting with a product on the shelf.
The hottest VR campaigns this year are leveraging VR to deliver an experience to consumers – primarily via the Oculus Rift platform. Coca Cola and Adidas are leading this charge. But, in order to experience it the right way, the audience will need to invest in an Oculus Rift headset.
Our smartphones are becoming the new frontier for accessible VR. Honda has been leading the charge in pushing the boundaries of mixed reality product promotion. And in 2017 their dealers got in on the game by providing virtual test drives of the 2017 Honda Civic – something that’s compatible with affordable VR gear that utilizes your smartphone and specialized VR goggles.
We’re on the cusp of witnessing an evolution in how product benefits are communicated to consumers, and it’s going to be far more affordable than a national network of product showrooms.
AI Powered Chat Bots Offer a Guided Marketing Opportunity
VR is a really exciting way to generate some buzz, gain social followers and allow enthusiasts to sink their teeth into specs and capabilities. But, let’s switch gears to an AI phenomenon that is helping Fortune 500s reduce the cost of handling inbound customer inquiries: AI powered chatbots.
There are two key time wasters that your customer service team needs help with. One is the tedium of answering the same questions over and over. Another is the percentage of inbound requests via phone calls and emails from customers that want to kick the tires, ask a ton of questions but aren’t ready or able to pull the trigger.
This might sound like we’re leaving the realm of digital marketing, but this is an opportunity for savvy marketers to leverage their digital marketing chops. Imagine telling your customer service director that your AI tool chest can reduce the number of unqualified leads hitting their team, and filter out easy-to-answer, repetitive questions from their call queue?
Don’t make the mistake of believing that AI chatbots will replace customer service reps. Instead, think of AI bots as a powerful tool that customers can use to better navigate your website. They leveraged AI to help their customers find the self-service assets that they needed to resolve their own issues – resulting in more than $1,000,000 in savings from the reduction in customer service emails alone.
Digital marketers need to look at ways to blend AI bots into their content marketing strategy in 2018 and beyond. If a visitor lands on your website, what are you doing to ensure they feel completely satisfied with the experience? Based on their landing page, you’ll already know a great deal about user intent. AI is a powerful tool for specialized, customer-facing inquiries. The more narrowly defined the need is, the better it will deliver a compelling customer experience.
More than half of US shoppers reported canceling a planned purchase because of a bad customer service experience. If you lead a potential customer through a sales funnel and they end up on an extensive hold or waiting days for a simple email to be returned, you’ve lost them.
It is in the best interest of every stakeholder to allow the content marketing side of the house to take a bigger role in implementing AI chatbots to handle specialized sales requests – at least initially. And, once they have the information they need, they can more efficiently connect them with human help that is ready to handle their concern and close the sale.
The Goal: Reach the Digital Fingertips of Your Market
As we reach the end of the year, consumer habits are rapidly evolving. They want to self-educate themselves through search (increasingly voice search). The brands that best position their product benefits at the digital fingertips of their customers will continue to win. VR presentations and AI bots allow companies to scale new products much more efficiently – and that’s something everyone can get behind.