The popularity of instant messaging services is at an all-time high – apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat have more than a billion active users each. Other contenders such as Viber, Telegram, and QQ are not lagging far behind either. These numbers alone were enough to prompt businesses from all areas of commerce to start exploring instant messaging as a platform for chatbot marketing.
The main challenge of marketing through instant messaging services is the fact that it requires you to hold 1 on 1 conversation with prospects, leads, and customers. And managing individual chat sessions with millions of users is practically impossible. That is if you assume that humans are the ones handling the conversation. But there is another option, which is to use chatbots.
These automated conversation systems are increasingly being adopted by business in order to enhance their digital marketing campaigns. To find out more about chatbots, and how you can use them for digital marketing, read our short primer on the topic below.
The concept of a program that can “speak” dates back to Alan Turing’s seminal paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence, where he described a computational system which could produce output in the form of sentences that corresponds to our everyday language.
The modern chatbot is an implementation of this concept. It is a program that takes sentences phrased in natural language as input, parses and interprets them, and then either produces meaningful output sentences or performs some action that relies on its understanding of the input. A chatbots program needs access to a language database containing sentences and sentence elements, as well as a set of instructions for how to use this data.
Chatbots can be made in a variety of programming languages, with Python being the most popular choice. Chatbot libraries and frameworks such as Microsoft Bot Framework can be used to streamline the process as well. It can also be assembled from pre-existing components using a chatbot creation platform such as Botsify. Finally, chatbot creation can be outsourced to third-party web development agencies, which are increasingly offering these kinds of services.
Chatbots can be hosted on websites, but as we have mentioned in our introduction, instant messaging apps are taking over as their hosting platform of choice.
Chatbot Marketing Strategies
Chatbots can be utilized for a variety of purposes, many of them related to digital marketing. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Conversational commerce – Chatbots act as digital salesmen, giving users the option to place orders on items, book event reservations, or subscribe to services.
- Customer support – Chatbots can support customer service departments thanks to their ability to handle multiple customers at once at the same time.
- Virtual shopping assistants – Chatbots can combine existing customer data with their input to provide meaningful product and service suggestions.
- Brand ambassadors – Chatbots have a history of being used as video game characters, and business is now seizing upon this idea by having them act as mouthpieces for their brand.
- Data gathering – Chatbots can collect conversation data from customers, which can later be used for tracking and retargeting or other marketing-related purposes, or even for improving their conversational capabilities.
Chatbot Usage Examples
Chatbots are no longer a novelty they were only a few years ago. Today, they are being used by companies of all sizes, from small business to leaders in the tech field. Below you can find a list of brands that found great success in incorporating chatbots into their digital strategy.
The music streaming service Spotify started using a Facebook Messenger chatbot to give its customers the option to search for, listen to, and share music. Once a customer starts using the chatbot, they will start receiving playlist suggestions based on their mood, current activity, or genre preferences.
Mastercard’s own Facebook Messenger chatbot enables customers to check their account transactions by asking a simple question such as “How much did I spend in December?”. The bot also facilitates the use of the Masterpass digital wallet within chats, allowing consumers to pay merchants without having to leave the chat window.
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal chatbot can notify readers about trending news stories, stock quotes, and other news items within Facebook Messenger. The readers can customize the kinds of notifications they receive by typing basic commands in the chat.
Whole Foods uses a Facebook Messenger bot to provide its followers with dish suggestions, cooking tutorials, and other kinds of food-related assistance. The chatbot can even parse emojis, a feature which millennials and gen-z youths will appreciate.
We have only begun to scratch the surface of what chatbots are currently capable of, to say nothing of their potential uses in the future. And the sooner your company adapts to the notion of using chatbots for digital marketing and promotion, the better prepared it will be for the future.
A guest post from Angelina Harper, a content writer over at Design Rush.