Chatbots aren’t really a new-fangled innovation anymore. They have been slowly finding their way into our digital lives for a few years and we’re now at a point where in 2020, a lot of businesses have these conversational systems integrated into some part of their business. Typically, the chatbot has been adopted as part of customer service strategies. With the ability to answer questions without forcing you customer to call an agent, there are many experience and cost benefits to be had from such a solution.
Making a Chatbot part of your 2020 Marketing Strategy
November 21, 2019
November 21, 2019
However, an emerging use case for chatbots has been growing momentum. Marketers are now turning to the technology where it can provide a new, smarter channel for their messages to be seen. Customers are continually gravitating to chat technology and it is fundamental that outgoing marketing joins the club.
In this article, we will look at how chatbots need to be part of marketing strategies in 2020 and beyond.
What are Marketing Chatbots?
When talking about marketing bots, it means any sort of software platform used to carry out marketing activities automatically. A marketing chatbot is a form of this automation utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to make a conversation into the end user interface.
The most complex bots can understand detailed requests, personalise responses and evolve over time. They do this on their own, without any form of human interaction. This is why they are so desirable as a marketing tool. As technology continues to develop, chatbot platforms can now be used without being an expert as they don’t even require any code.
Chatting to a bot should be like talking with a shopkeeper who knows you. If an existing customer wants to buy a shirt, the bot should already know their size. If they need to change a delivery or booking, the bot should be able to talk to them about it seamlessly. AI helps the platforms connect to other business systems to make all these things happen.
Chatbot Strategy 2020
Before devising your strategy, it is important to tie down the goals of chatbot development. The chatbot should have a purpose that solves a problem. For example, don’t start sending push notifications to customers if they are not needed. This is one reason that the app market has declined in the last 12 months.
There are many ways that chatbots can be used with a marketing strategy. Here are some of the key elements for consideration.
1. Chatbots as an engagement tool
Although customer service is the most common use case for a chatbot, it is important to realise they are a lot more than that. For example, how many customers does your business lose every day because they cannot find the answers to their questions on your website. At the same time, the online customers have no desire to expend effort making a phone call. Instead they just go to one of your many competitors.
Combined with Big Data, a marketing chatbot can analyse the conversations, pinpointing where your customers could be having problems. The chatbot can proactively reach-out and engage with the customer and stimulate conversation that would not have otherwise been forthcoming. These “push” style chatbots are already being utilised by brands today.
If you think about this behaviour logically. When you walk into a physical store, chances are you will rarely ask a staff a question but instead, go somewhere else when you can’t find an answer. However, if the staff approaches you and opens a conversation, you will respond. The same applies to a chatbot and makes them an ideal way for replicating offline servicing.
2. Lead management and qualifying
A good use for marketing chatbots is in qualifying leads. Imagine a customer has a question about one of your products and goes to make a call to your customer service team. It is no longer cost effective to have people waiting to answer the phone, especially when a marketing chatbot might be able to do the bulk of the work.
For example, the Mitsubishi Motors Singapore chatbot talks to customers about the car model they want, gradually narrowing down the question set to a very specific requirement. Nine times out of ten, this might be enough without needing to speak with an agent but if they do, the person on the other end of the phone already knows everything about what the customer is looking for.
3. Personalised user experiences
Research by Adlucent showed that 71% of survey respondents prefer personalised ads, tailored to their shopping habits. Alongside that, almost half of those respondents were willing to provide personal data if it meant they got targeted communications. There is no reason why that shouldn’t apply to the world of chatbots.
There are a few ways that marketing chatbots can apply personalisation. One of the preferred methods for brands is to ask some simple questions once a customer begins to engage. In knowing the customer’s preference, some businesses can automatically target the right services without anything else.
4. Messenger Integration
Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular chatbot platforms and by its nature, is connected to a lot of social data. Provided customers opt-in, brands can use this data to tailor the chatbot experience in ways that marketing teams have never been able to previously.
Facebook Messenger also introduced the Web Chat plugin for website, which tends to be a favourite of marketing teams for deploying their chatbot. The reason is that it can directly sync with Facebook Ads in a way that the customer never even has to leave the site. The seamless experience is a brilliant way for marketing team to maintain engagement with the customer. Leaving a website is a major reason for loss of business.
For example, Facebook Ads (Click-to-Messenger Ads) can have calls to action that offer the marketing chatbot as a customer resource e.g. “Send Message”. As the customers click, the Messenger bot pops up instantly on the same site, providing a single page experience. Other platforms might force the customers to leave the site they’re on and disrupt the journey.
5. Selling your products
Chatbots have even gone as far as completing a sales process as part of their integration instead of brands needing to interact with third party sites. Bot users can ask questions, find the product that suits them and complete the entire process via a messenger. This fits perfectly in with the channels they prefer to engage with.
Marketing chatbots are also a great way to mitigate cart abandonment. Typically, digital teams would attempt to reunite abandoned customers with an email journey. For example, those who drop out are sent an email communication with a targeted offer to come back to the brand. Combining this with a marketing chatbot has become a powerful tool. Doubling up on channels improves conversion. If a customer misses an email, you still have a chance of reaching them.
A marketing chatbot can act in real-time as the customer leaves a cart. It doesn’t wait for them to find and respond to an email which may be too late. In some cases, the customer might not have entered an email address yet. With a marketing chatbot, this doesn’t matter as it can push out a message without needing a communication address as soon as the customer abandons.
6. Finding out who your customers are
Anyone working in marketing will have been using website performance tools like Google Analytics for several years now. The problem with the insight of such platforms is that it can be limited when working out who your customers really are.
For example, Google Analytics relies on customers logging in via a Google account and there is no guarantee of accuracy. This could mean digital marketers make decision only based on half-truths. Chatbots are different. A marketing chatbot tends to be more personified, usually with a humanlike name. For that reason, customers tend to be more willing to provide information about themselves as compared to a website or impersonal form.
Chatbots can elicit the customers’ attributes and preferences by creating a conversational environment. This could be invaluable when it comes to optimising the messaging journey or making strategic decisions. Moreover, chatbot can do a far better job of recommending the right products to them at scale, far beyond the capability of a standard website or human counterpart.
There is absolutely no doubt that marketing chatbots are part of the future. As they ingest more data, computing power grows and cloud storage is ever more scalable, chatbots give marketers to perfect platform to reach out to their customers. Brands can create convenient and helpful tools that assist their customers with purchasing and servicing at all stages of their journey.
If you are just starting out with a marketing chatbot, it is a wise idea to start small and scale up over time. Build your chatbot up over time using data and combine the communication power with other channels like email, SMS and even direct mail (in some industries it still works).
In conclusion, the most important thing is making sure people know that you have a chatbot. It’s all well and good spending time developing a fantastic conversational channel, but customers need to find it. Drop links into every part of the messaging journey that seems relevant and even within any email communications or social media campaign. Build it, promote it and they will come.