This article will discuss about where do chatbots fit into a modern online marketing strategy.
The general perception of chatbots is in an interesting place. Raise the topic with someone who doesn’t follow the tech world very closely and hasn’t used a chatbot in recent years, and they’re likely to bring up weak efforts to pass the Turing test: in other words, online bots trying to feign humanity but failing miserably. It’s a dated view, but it’s still out there.
What those people haven’t noticed is how far the world of chatbots has come in a relatively short timespan. They’re now in widespread use in the business world, powered by natural language processing technology that can parse a remarkable amount of everyday talk — and they get better (and more accessible) with each passing day. The question, then, isn’t whether they’re worth using, but how you should be using them. In this post, we’re going to look at one area in particular — namely online marketing — and consider the role that chatbots have to play in today’s online world. Let’s get started.
Chatbots can provide vital direction for inbound marketing
Owing to the advances of technology, a smartphone is an ever-updating globe-sized map, and a marketing podcast doubles as an MBA in your pocket. In short, you need to do less research because vital data is at your fingertips — but what of the other actions that are often necessary for business? What of customer service, for instance? It’s certainly a core component of online marketing given the role of inbound marketing (cultivating interest from those seeking you).
To be clear, we’re talking about service of actual and prospective customers, just as dismissive treatment of a browsing shopper in a brick-and-mortar store (someone yet to buy anything from you) is still classed as part of customer service. If you have someone’s interest and you don’t take advantage of it, it can quickly fade away: the online world has plenty of distractions.
When someone finds your business site, chatbots can ensure representation regardless of the time of day (or night) and level of activity. They’re best used in a hybrid configuration through systems capable of fielding common queries but passing complex matters through to human support assistants who can capably handle them. Take the chatbot by Crisp, for example, which enables its users to build conversational ‘paths’ that route the more intricate queries to the relevant agents.
Chatbots can collect invaluable shopper insight
Great marketing requires broad insight into what people are looking for, because you can’t fulfill shoppers’ needs if you don’t know what they are — and chatbots are incredibly good at collecting relevant information. After all, they need to be capable of solid NLP (natural language processing, something that’s more common than you might think) to be functional at all, and the manner in which they parse the queries they receive (how serious they are, what topics they concern, etc.) can easily be recorded.
You can then review that information at your leisure and use it to bolster your general marketing campaign strategy. Throw in the ease of A/B testing through chatbots (an example: define two greetings, run them in equal numbers, and see which one performs better) and you have a fantastic option for steering your tactics.
This isn’t to say that regular support assistants can’t yield relevant insight, of course: the conversations they have can still be recorded and used for this purpose. But since their contributions can’t be as strictly regimented (even with scripts, they’ll inevitably mix things up somewhat, with typos at a minimum causing issues — HelpDesk has some useful points on this topic), they can’t be as useful when you want to run direct comparisons.
Chatbots can represent your brand on various platforms
Great inbound marketing does more than keep you covered on your website: it ensures that your brand is there wherever someone searches for it, and chatbots can do this across social media platforms in particular through widespread integrations. Through deploying your chatbots in such a manner, you can capture interest from many angles simultaneously.
Having brand ambassadors not only monitoring those channels but also responding to queries would be costly and inconvenient, particularly in this time of international retail being commonplace. You never know which time zone the next prospect might be living in, so they could reach out in the middle of your nighttime. Is it worth paying people to deal with those requests when you could simply use automation instead?
Increasingly, chatbots are also capable of multilingual interaction, meaning they can meet international users not only in their preferred time zone but also their language. For brands that operate across multiple geographies with several different languages, multilingual chatbots are pretty essential — especially since 72% of shoppers are more likely to purchase a product if it’s presented to them in their native tongue.
Chatbots can personalize the customer experience
The majority of businesses already recognize the value of personalization when it comes to boosting customer engagement and generating leads. Nowadays, consumers expect (you might even say demand) personalized experiences when interacting with brands over the web: indeed, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers a personalized experience over one which offers a generic, impersonal one.
On the one hand, chatbot software enables you to customize your messaging depending on the channel you’re interacting with your users through. For instance, you might opt for a different tone of voice — or offer alternative conversational logic — when interacting with a customer through Facebook Messenger or Instagram than you would through your own website. In this sense, chatbots enable brands to meet their customers precisely on their terms, providing tailored solutions that meld seamlessly with their preferred platforms.
On the other hand, chatbots are also capable of tailoring solutions specifically to an individual customer based on their anticipated needs and preferences. The most sophisticated chatbots use machine learning — a subfield of AI which enables a computer program to ‘learn’ from past experiences — to store information about previous interactions with users, and use this insight to offer the most relevant solution to the user’s query. In an age where personalization is an essential element of any online marketing strategy, chatbots perform a crucial role.
Wrapping up, the answer to the titular question is that they should be featured heavily at the enterprise level. The greater your business ambitions become, the more important it is that you leave no stone unturned in your effort to represent your brand — and only through the unrivaled efficiency and economy of chatbots can you achieve that in a practical way.