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How chatbots are changing the way we communicate

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 13 Jun, 2017
Essential Essential topic

Chatbots are now key to increasing engagement rates and motivating users to buy

Whether you’ve realized it or not, it’s very likely that you have spoken or corresponded with a bot at least once in your life. In fact, chances are you’ve had long and insightful conversations with a bot, some of which you couldn’t possibly have had with a member of the human race. Chatbots are on the rise, and it seems that in 2017 they’re becoming more effective, more engaging, and easier to use than ever before.

The rise of bots could be plainly attributed to an increasing usage of messenger apps and is built on the premise of instant messaging. Predictions show that by 2019, more than one-quarter of the world’s population will be using mobile messaging apps, with the majority of them supporting chatbots. It’s no wonder then that the global chatbot market is expected to grow exponentially by 2023.

From the Messaging App to the Rise of the Bot

Understanding the marketing potential in chatbots, several companies, brands and even news organizations are building bots on popular messaging apps, including Messenger, Viber, Kik, Telegram and others. The shift from human-based support systems to chatbots has a lot to do with the speed and direct correspondence consumers have gotten used to due to social media platforms and messaging apps. In turn, consumers can now contact companies directly and demand immediate responses. Ironically, prior to the introduction of chatbots, support teams were trying to get back to as many users as quickly as possible without sounding too robotic. Today, in more ways than one, bots are able to pick up the slack and engage in a highly responsive, personal and immediate relationship with customers.

With statistics showing that 80% of companies will integrate bots into their businesses by 2020, it’s no wonder bots are beginning to take over. Nowadays, businesses that have already incorporated bots into their support system have them corresponding with their customers, giving them efficient and quick responses. This is, of course, beneficial to marketers as it improves their UX and helps them get better insights into their customers’ interests and requests. It’s important, however, for companies to remember that users will not use bots just for the sake of it — they will only use bots if they provide an easier or faster way to access a service.

The Poncho chatbot on Messenger, Kik and Viber gives users personal weather forecasts based on their specific location, and can even supply them with morning and evening forecasts to help them better prepare for the day. The bot also supplies a weather report for runners who’d like to better prepare for the outdoors.

Another engaging bot marketers can learn from is Foxsy on Viber, a matchmaking chatbot that introduces users to new people and potential love interests. As a means of helping people find friends who share their common interests, the bot presents the users with different profiles and allows them to connect with other users directly within the chatbot by sending them a letter. What makes this app stand out within an array of dating apps, is that it is capable of giving users the added personalized value that they’ve been missing.

A Powerful Marketing Tool

The more personal bots are becoming, the more important it is for businesses to integrate them into their marketing efforts. As powerful tools that provide content, facilitate a purchase and connect with their consumers, chatbots contain everything a business needs to become a new channel for sales, marketing, distribution and engagement.

As such, chatbots are most beneficial to service-oriented brands and companies that are more reliant on curation. These include travel companies that can use bots to expedite bookings of flights and rooms, as well as fashion and home goods brands that are looking to close a sale. If you’re contemplating adding a chatbot to your brand’s marketing efforts, simply ask yourself whether you’re constantly communicating with your consumer, and if you are, a bot may be the way to go about reaching a different level of communication with your targeted audience.

And if you’re still on the fence, wondering what chatbots can do for your marketing strategy, let us remind you that unless you have a team of hundreds of people working on maintaining high engagement levels with your consumers, you’re only one person. As a Forbes article puts it, “It may not be possible to clone yourself, but when it comes to marketing, Chatbots can get pretty close, allowing you to (finally) be in multiple places at once.”

Chatbots can be used by marketers not only as a means of generating sales, processing payments and increasing engagement. They can also play a large role analyzing customer data and optimizing sales and marketing strategies in light of this analysis. They can even help you monitor your customer's patterns, so you can discover which products or services they prefer.

If your business has a human-like chatbot that works properly, you can create personalized ads that will be specific enough for each of your consumers. Once the customer reaches out to your chatbot with a question, the chatbot greets him or her while gathering initial information on that person. The chatbot then asks them to wait for a moment, at which time the information collected by the chatbot is used to generate personalized ads.

Connect with Your Users on a Deeper Level

As a means of growing your brand’s engagement and personalizing your brand, chatbots are also able to allow you to connect with your users on a deeper level, get to know them by asking them specific questions and make them feel that they are in command of the conversation. The Christopher Bot on Messenger, which was surprisingly created by a 14-year-old named Alec Jones, does just that. The bot helps students keep track of their homework by sharing their schedule with it, thus creating an ongoing correspondence. It then sends messages at the end of each lesson asking users if any homework needs to be done, all while empathising with them over the fact that they have to do it.

And in case you need another example of the ways in which bots are becoming users go-to friends, assistants and guides, just take a look at this adorable video of a 2-year-old conversing with Google’s Siri as if they were the best of friends.

There’s no doubt that there is still a lot to figure out in terms of bots’ performance and measurement. However, it seems that we’re well on the way to replace human relationships with technological ones, and bots are proving to be just the tool to make the shift happen sooner than we ever imagined. With hundreds of thousands of people greeting Alexa each morning, and the bot receiving over 250,000 marriage proposals and love confessions from users, it is evident that bots are capable of supplying businesses with the one thing they’re missing that is, a personal and deeper connection with their users.

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