You may have heard of chatbots before but you’re probably not sure what it is and how it benefits our digital existence. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Thanks to the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, chatbots have emerged to be one of the most ingenious tools that can help make our day-to-day processes easier and faster.
Not only are AI-powered chatbots beneficial to end users, you can even use it as part of your digital marketing strategies to easily move customers down your sales funnel.
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a computer program designed to automate specific tasks or perform actions by chatting with a user. Generally, it is powered by Artificial Intelligence through predetermined rules or programs. It helps to analyze complex inquiries, create customized responses, and enhance interactions in the future.
From sales, billing, to customer support, chatbot aims to solve a number of issues in business processes in diverse industries such as banking, healthcare, e-commerce, media, entertainment, and insurance. Some of the successful chatbots that are making waves:
- Baidu’s Melody In 2016, Baidu launched Melody, an AI-powered chatbot assistant that chats with people by assisting them with healthcare treatment and providing doctors with important patient data. It is designed to create a highly personalized doctor-patient interaction.
- Starbucks Thanks to text messaging or voice command chatbots, customers will find it easy when ordering their favorite beverage and snacks at Starbucks. These chatbots are inside the Starbucks app available on Android, iOS and Windows devices.
- Poncho is a “cat” chatbot that delivers daily, personalized weather alerts on popular chat apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Viber. With it’s vibrant and colorful interface, it makes weather forecasting more fun and less boring.
Chatbots for Digital Marketing
If you’re a business owner or marketer looking to widen your audience reach, you’re seriously missing out a lot if you’re not leveraging on chatbots. According to eMarketer, around 1.82 billion active users worldwide will regularly use messaging apps when 2017 ends with 15.5% increase in usage.
So, this comes as no surprise why more brands are now taking advantage of A.I chatbots on these messaging apps to engage with their customers.
As personalization and targeting capabilities continue to improve, chatbot marketing will be sought after by marketers to optimise customer engagement and lead generation. Just like marketing automation, it has the capability to target a large number of people with specific needs. Here are some ways you can integrate chatbot into your marketing strategy:
- Personalize Customer Experience
Want to integrate a human-like engagement with your customers? Chatbots have the ability to make every customer interaction genuine and personalized. Use chatbots to address customers by their first name or use the data gathered from customers to promote products based on what they are searching on and the response they provide.
You can take inspiration from Nike with their chatbot called “Stylebot” which lets users (mostly women) choose a style or create a sneaker that suits them. Customizing your own shoes encourages customers to get their creative juices flowing. It also creates a possibility that they will purchase their creation.
- Target Qualified Leads
Targeting the right prospects for your products is not always easy but it’s a necessary process to ensure that you don’t waste time promoting products to people who are not interested.
With chatbots, you can save time by asking prospects with qualifying questions on which products are right for them. Once a prospect has been qualified, the chatbot will transfer them to the sales team for follow up–helping them stay productive by focusing on the right people.
- Learn More about your Customers
Another thing that’s great about chatbot is its ability to understand more about your customers’ buying behaviors and habits. By gaining an insight into your customer’s buying patterns, you can determine what products or services are suited for them and find out what problems your customers face with these products or services.
Chatbots can also learn from previous customer interactions so you can better equip it to answer questions and upsell products in the future. It allows you to effectively market your products to your customers.
- Improve Engagement
Customer engagement is an essential element to every marketing initiative. The more you can engage your customers with your brand, the more they are likely to purchase something from you. Engagement is defined by actions or responses like clicking on the CTA button, watching your video, liking or sharing your blog post, etc.
Chatbots have the capability to understand the user’s language, including pop culture (e.g. emoticons), and predict a user’s objective through complicated algorithms. Use chatbots beyond simple questions or inquiries. Consider using it to improve relationship with customers and to grow your brand.
Chatbot Platform Tools to Start your Own Chatbot
Creating your chatbot may seem like a daunting task which is the reason why some businesses choose not to integrate them. The truth is, it’s actually easy to make one and even people with limited IT background can understand and create one. Here are the top chatbot platforms that help you to build your own chatbot in a few minutes.
Facebook Bot for Messenger
Facebook is one of the most widely-used messaging app which boasts more than 1.2 billion monthly users. Facebook provides a platform for businesses to develop their own chatbot so they can effectively reach their customers. The chatbot works by starting a conversation with people based on their contact number along with a permission to be contacted. Check out their Quick Start Tutorial for steps on building your very first Messenger bot.
Microsoft Bot Framework
Another platform where you can start creating your chatbot is Microsoft’s Bot Framework. You can build your bots to understand language, learn speech recognition and conversion, incorporate knowledge extraction and make web search capabilities smarter. Here’s a comprehensive overview of Microsoft Bot Framework and how you can design one for your business.
The Telegram app is a cloud-based messaging service that is operated by software, not people. It has the capability to process almost any tasks-- search, play, teach, connect with other apps and provide instructions to Internet of Things. You can start by reading the Telegram’s FAQ section before creating your own chatbot with them.
With Chattypeople, you can build a Slackbot or Facebook bot without any coding or programming. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, Chattypeople is a full-featured platform that allows you to create, test, deploy and manage bots. It works with Magento, OpenCard, WooCommerce e-commerce platforms. With their premium plan, you can get customer support, auto updates, unlimited comments reply and many more.
The Pandorabot platform enables businesses to build and host their customized human-like chat bots that can do text or voice chats with customers. Licensed under GPL, Pandorabots AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language), an XML dialect for creating natural language software agents.
The Future with Chatbots
For brands looking to elevate their brand and build an authentic relationship with customers, it’s time to consider implementing chatbots as part of your next marketing strategy. It is a great tool to gather insight into your audience, personalize product promotion and engage with customers on a personal level. Are you already using chatbots for your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.