Noticed how your marketing gurus are all talking chatbots and messenger apps?
Well, that’s because in recent years there has been a drastic increase in the uptake of messaging apps. In fact, the usage of these apps and chatbots is actually outpacing that of social media networks. It is predicted that in 2017, the number of messaging app users will be around 2.10 billion. This is indicative of a new trend, as pointed out by Mark Schafer, the rise of the private network. Consumers are changing how they feel about public scrutiny. They’re becoming increasingly afraid of public record and are favoring privacy through apps like Facebook Messenger or Kik.
This is no longer a trend that digitally savvy marketers can ignore!
In 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said,
“Chatbots are the new apps.”
Chatbots are not new, or at least, the technology is not new. The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, took a look at the history of Chatbots in September last year. The technology behind the bots dates back to mid-1960s. AI psychotherapist ELIZA was an early computer program created by scientists at MIT that processes natural language cues to simulate conversations. ELIZA was the first Chatbot! In the 1970s, ELIZA was joined by Parry who mimicked paranoid schizophrenia. Scientists did actually attempt a bot-to-bot conversation in 1972, between this two early chatbots. Parry quickly got lost down a rabbit hole of corrupt horse racing gambling.
1991 saw the birth of the chatbot Olympics with the annual Loebner price. The format of the competition is that of the Turing Test, where a human judge holds two conversations simultaneously, one with the computer program and another with a human via a computer. The judge must then attempt to distinguish between the two.
But marketers are not (yet) concerned with computers passing as humans. Instead, they are interested in the fake! Facebook Messenger, Kik, WeChat (to name but a few), are simulating human interaction, in an unashamedly false way.
Chatbots create real-time conversation, that mirrors chatting with a friend. Expectations are, from both consumers and businesses, extremely high. Consumers are favoring the instantaneous nature of these platforms. They can now get information about products, or questions answered immediately. Chris Messina, the Twitter hashtag inventor, wrote in his blog last year,
“2016 will be the year of conversational commerce … you and I will be talking to brands and companies over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, and elsewhere before year’s end, and will find it…2016 will be the year of conversational commerce … you and I will be talking to brands and companies over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, and elsewhere before year’s end, and will find it normal….I’m less interested in whether a conversational service is provided by a human, bot, or some combination thereof…”
Businesses are witnessing consumers engage more and more with chatbots. It enables companies to engage in real-time with their customers or potential customers. New technology like Cloud Computing has made it possible for chatbot integration. Artificial Intelligence has enabled companies to develop a better understanding of their consumers’ behaviors. With future improvements imminent, businesses will be able to use these apps to have an even deeper understanding, which will lead to smarter business decisions. In fact, one such technological development expected is speech recognition. These will further enhance these pivotal customer service tools. Kia used a chatbot for the release of its Super Bowl commercial this year. In fact, they won the coveted Super Bowl Ad Game with “Hero’s Journey” featuring comedienne Melissa McCarthy.
The huge uptake in messaging apps and chatbots has heralded a new era.
Welcome to the ‘Conversation Marketing’ era!
It’s now impossible to ignore this trend. Chatbots and messenger apps are changing the digital marketing field.
As a CMO, why should you invest in this technology?
In this time of Amazon Prime 2-hour delivery, consumers want everything now, literally. Your consumer will get frustrated if they don’t get timely responses from you and your business. The banking industry suffered from failing to adapt to the consumer desire for service at the time they want it. Don’t make the same mistake.
You’re also way more likely to get engagement within Messenger apps or chatbots than say from your Facebook page. That’s because the communication is 1:1 and 24/7. You aren’t in competition with the hundreds of other marketers who are flooding your target’s newsfeed.
Unique data to create personalized campaigns
Possibly my favorite element of this new technology is the data you can extract. Can you tell I’m a marketer by trade? You can monitor your consumer, gather data and ultimately adapt your marketing to be highly personalized. Marketing has to be personal. The customer should be at the heart of all your content.
What’s also great is that as soon as you engage with someone, you then have the ability to push messages out to them. You can even set automation workflows, just as you would on email.
Chatbots can provide an all-inclusive ecosystem for shoppers. Users can ask questions, receive answers, and based on data you’ve collected, gather recommendations increasing their likelihood to buy additional products.
This technology markets itself. Leads to more word-of-mouth, social sharing, better customer experiences…need I say more?