Here’s Why Chatbots Should Be Your Next Marketing Bet

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Deena Zaidi
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Conversational bots or chatbots are changing the pace at which businesses market their products.

For starters, chatbots allow brands to create deeper, interactive connections with their consumers.

In recent times, firms are using chatbots for most aspects of marketing - right from advertising and promotion to selling and getting feedback. 

Such automation is not only cutting down firms’ costs and reaching a wider audience but also creating an efficient 24/7 experience for users.

1. Advertising and Promoting

No one enjoys promotional emails when they are irrelevant.

But a chatbot inclusion in a brand’s marketing strategy ensures that customers see only what they are interested in. To boost customer experience, personalized ads are becoming increasingly popular and forming an ideal advertising strategy.

According to New Adlucent Research, 71% of respondent in a survey prefer personalized ads, with 44% willing to share information details like names, email ids etc. for customized advertising.

Brands like eBay and 1-800-Flowers have been the early adopters of the automated systems, especially for data collection for personalized marketing. 

With the help of IBM Watson, North Face’s chatbot can help you find the perfect jacket for an upcoming adventure. The outdoor clothing retailer allows the shopper to speak to it openly on the phone, with Watson-powered shopping assistant engaging in quick Q&A, to help figure out what’s needed. In its two month-testing period, some 50,000 people used the chatbot, generating 60% click-through rate on the product recommendations.

2. Instant Customer Service

The conversational abilities in a chatbot make it ideal for customer service. For business survival, bots need to adapt to changing consumer demands and above all – deliver a good user experience. 

So a well-strategized marketing plan would have a chatbot that will understand the customer requirements (without being intrusive) and provide instant support. During the 2017 Gartner Digital Marketing ConferenceCharles Golvin, research director, Gartner for Marketers, said, “Marketers need to move with their customers. There are first-mover advantages for the taking now, but if you don’t take advantage of them, a competitor will.”

In 2016, Macy’s started testing its own chatbot for improving customer experience. By adopting the digital trend, Macy’s aims to efficiently answer customer queries, specific to the individual store location. This allowed Macy’s to get instant feedback. Its chatbot is powered by IBM Watson through Macy’s mobile app. 

IBM Watson also developed the pilot of ‘gift concierge’ for 1-800-Flowers.com.

3. Efficient Transactions Through Integration with Messaging Platforms

So far, service bots have allowed users to ask basic questions but brands are quickly finding ways to create a more authentic environment. 

As of now, this means integrating bots with messaging platforms.

In 2016, eBay ShopBot integrated with popular messaging platforms like Messenger to gain access to more than 1 billion per month. Netatmo, a smart home recently launched a Facebook Messenger Bot that lets users chat and operate their smart home appliances, heaters, lighting etc.  simply through text commands.

This gives the consumers the convenience of using chats for instructions instead of traditional navigations through the various options.

Though fairly new to marketing, voice agents also provide a more promising approach when it comes to multichannel marketing. Without touching the screen and using voices, chatbots are allowing the customer to execute transactions like ordering coffee etc.

Voice activation and natural language processing technologies are already being used in the form of Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant. 

In 2017, Starbucks launched its Alexa Skill for customers to make orders by simply speaking to the Echo. The Seattle-based coffee giant’s Starbucks app then integrates with the echo and automatically configures the stored pickup location through the app. Last year, eBayteamed with Google Assistant app to make ordering simpler for shoppers through the smart speaker, transforming the entire shopping experience.

4. Pushing Sales Independently

Chatbots are also independently selling products and boosting web traffic. The interaction with chatbots helps customers find the right product, saving time and simplifying choices.

Chatbots like Kik are already being used for selling products on messaging platform. The Canadian based app Kik is the official chatbot of H&M, Europe’s largest apparel retailer and is a great example of chatbot that sounds more of a human than a bot. After the selection of the item, the chatbot can create outfits for any occasion and if it looks good, the user can order and pay for it online.

Along similar lines, StubHub chatbot allows one to buy event tickets using FB Messenger and intends on making the entire experience more personal than an app– without being too intrusive. The feedback lets StubHub gather important data to help make the StubHub chatbot smarter.

5. Surveys and Customer Feedback

To understand consumers and build a brand, feedback acts as a strong record and helps in chalking future business strategies.

North Face’s chatbot, the feedback showed that 75% of 50,000 users said that they would use the chatbot again for shopping. Interestingly not only retail but also the education industry is employing chatbots for teachers. 

Hubert is a chatbot is meant to replace feedback surveys teachers used in order to improve their teaching. Hubert chats with students on digital platforms and interprets the student’s feedback using AI and machine learning.

The Bottom Line

It will not be wrong to say that the use of chatbots remains in its nascent stage and the scope to evolve remains huge.

For chatbots to become an ideal marketing tool, it is important that brands understand that being first may not always guarantee success and longevity. Chatbots need to get more engaging and personalized for customers, allowing integration on other platforms easy.

Only then can a brand fully unleash the full marketing power of a true chatbot.

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Published by Deena Zaidi

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