The business space is rapidly transforming into a battle of technologies. Startups like Chrous.AI – in AI powered CRM, and Conversable – a chatbots platform are making massive leaps in the marketing space. In this guide, I’ll specifically focus on chatbots, and how any digital and retail marketer can leverage them to implement super smart marketing strategies in 2018. Chatbots are being touted as the next big thing for businesses and with good reasons.
- Personalized Content to Achieve Super Normal Engagement Rates:
The real power of chatbots lies in their power of engagement. By personalizing the content in each conversation, chatbots can drive engagement rates higher.Botanalyics is a perfect example of how chatbots can work with user group analytics and understand how individuals are interacting with the bot. With knowledge of the kind of content that engages them, and knowing their attrition points, chatbots are able to create highly personalized content experiences for individuals.
Several pioneering brands have started using chatbots for personalized content experiences for end users already. Sephora, a French cosmetics retail store chain, for instance, launched a chatbot on Kik; this bot shares makeup tips and tutorials considering each user’s individual preferences in mind. It also uses the user’s demographics, known personal details, and previous purchase and search history to fine-tune its content.
Similar chatbots can also be integrated to deliver highly personalized experiences to end users.
- Measuring Conversions and Other Performance Parameters for Chatbots:
Engagement, unfortunately, doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t lead to conversions. Chatbots, thankfully, solves this marketing quandary. Traditional content, such as text, video, and images – all are one-way communication, with several attrition points for the user in the content experience. While interacting with a chatbot, however, users are more likely to feel engaged, and that’s because of the natural language processing capabilities of these bots.
Disney recently launched Facebook Messenger campaign with the Officer Judy Hopps chatbot, for instance, showcasing average engagement time of more than 10 minutes, and many of them sharing their achievements with friends and family, using an in-messenger share option.
Often, ROIs of using chatbots are cited as a concern by brands that are still reluctant to take the leap. To answer their questions, chatbot platforms are getting aligned to the idea of ROI measurement. Facebook Messenger and Botanalytics, for instance, provide sophisticated dashboards that help brands measure engagement and conversions.
- Use Human-Bot Hybrid Experiences:
It’s rather early to expect chatbots to completely manage end to end conversations with humans, without some sort of human control. Hybrid human-bot experiences are the right blend of automation and control, at least till the time enterprises can stabilize their chatbot implementations.
In most customer service instances, chatbots are made smart enough to route questions to human support wherever they estimate that the level of confidence of their potential answer is not high enough. Also, sensitive issues, for instance, product returns are best handled by a human, to infuse the emotional element into customer support. Reply.ai, for example, is a platform that delivers hybrid chatbot options to businesses.
- Reduce Customer Service Costs:
AI advancements and proliferation of messaging apps have fuelled the chatbot era. From helping a user order a new pair of shoes to helping them assemble their furniture, chatbots can perform a huge portion of the traditional customer service person’s job.
It’s estimated that 29% customer service jobs in US alone can potentially be replaced by chatbots. Here’s a pretty useful visual to remember to append in any pitch you make for the next chatbot at your enterprise (it highlights potential annual cost savings on customer service).
- Enhance In-Store Experiences for Customers and In-Store Personnel:
Another terrific advantage that companies have from chatbots is that these applications can integrate with store execution management technologies, using the same databases to help employees, store managers, and operations managers to get quick answers to process related questions. E-commerce platforms have also incorporated Facebook Messaging into the mix. For instance, a store manager could deploy Facebook Messenger chatbots in conjugation with Shopify POS, to help customers as well as store personnel to get product info, usage instructions, stock availability checks, etc. in an interactive manner.
- Segmentation and Targeting:
Conversation steps are the core building block of a chatbot experience; each round of back and forth communication completes a ‘step’. These steps become the chatbot’s database to segment users on. So, a chatbot can create several micro segments, entirely unrelated to broad and generic segments conventionally used by marketers (for instance, demographics, purchase history, etc). These small segments can then be effectively targeted by marketers, by making the chatbot smart enough to know which kind of products, promotions, and discounts to show to which kind of users. Coupling the power of chatbots with local influencers can raise the chances of conversions. Investing in influencer marketing is necessary as influencers can help to attract your target audience towards the chatbots and then your virtual agents can do the rest.
The Bright Future for Conversational UIs
At their very core, chatbots are conversational UIs. These UIs are more sophisticated than merely being layers that recognize voice. Enterprise interest in the technology is rising because it can help them get a natural language understanding of the intentions behind users’ words. Combines with voice technologies, AI, and machine learning, these can generate tremendous contextual awareness. Also, conversational UIs work across desktops, smartphones, and even smartwatches. You don’t even need a screen to interact with a conversational UI (Amazon Echo, for instance).
The kind of process automation, elimination of repetitive tasks, enhanced customer experiences, and value added customer support that chatbots can deliver to any business is sufficient to get any digital marketer excited. 2018 is all set to be the year of chatbots, and I hope this guide helps you prepare well for the ride.