It’s already apparent how important bots are in keeping users in touch with brands and businesses: the Facebook Messenger app is used by 68% of app users, putting it in the spot for third-most-used app after Facebook and YouTube. Considering most consumer stick to only five apps, that’s pretty important. In an increasingly mobile world, they’re not spending their time in their email; they’re on their favorite messaging app, and that’s where you should be, too.
Bots are essential to marketing’s future because they’re immediate, yet hold consumer’s attention into the future. They let users act on micro-moments and micro-decisions encountered throughout the day, always ready to help with the push of a button from their favorite mobile apps. 47% of shoppers are open to buying from a chatbot, and message open rates are at an astounding 98% — much higher than email’s humble 22% open rate.
The Benefits to Integrating Chatbots into Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing has long been about segmenting consumers and leads into demographics and interest groups, then tailoring the message to them based on those interests and needs. Personalized, hyper-targeted messaging is a chatbot’s bread and butter; with a chatbot, you can offer individualized messages to users at scale, segmenting them automatically over the course of conversation. Through natural language, the bot can learn about the user — who they are, where they live, what things are important to them — then deliver product recommendations or media related to those needs. And because people change over time, your bot can adapt users’ profiles as it talks to them.
One brand that does an excellent job tailoring itself to individual interests is Harper Collins. It has two bots, Epic Reads and Book Genie, which help users discover the next best book they should read. The former is focused on younger audiences, featuring media-rich messages (expect lots of gifs) and recommendations from the publisher’s young adults demographic. Book Genie, on the other hand, is a general book recommendation bot for all ages. Both ask users about their preferences, then come up with a good recommendation on what to read next — just like asking a bookseller, librarian or a bookworm friend.
Second, chatbots grab user attention and don’t let go. Chatbots offer a greater potential for retention than other forms of marketing. A video on a timeline might be a great way to engage a consumer, but once it’s finished, they’ll just continue scrolling by. With a chatbot, you can continually engage with your audience after they’ve consented to receiving messages from you. This way, you retain a connection between brand and user.
When National Geographic wanted to promote their show Genius, chronicling the life of Albert Einstein, they came up with a novel marketing campaign: they enlisted marketing agency 360i to design a chatbot that assumed the famed physicist’s identity. Users could ask the bot questions about Einstein’s life, which it answered with humorous responses in Einstein’s trademark voice. By providing an immersive, second-screen experience, the Genius chatbot held user attention throughout the airing of the show, accomplishing quite a bit more than a commercial could.
Next, chatbots are an essential tool in market research. Customers often don’t want to spend time filling out consumer surveys unless they’re given incentive to do so. But with chatbots, you can easily collect feedback and insights naturally throughout a conversation. Michigan State University in collaboration with YouGov performed a study in which participants were asked to take a survey using the typical YouGov platform or via a Facebook Messenger chatbot on their smartphones. Only about a third using the YouGov platform completed the survey, and more than three quarters completed the same survey on Messenger. Those who used the chatbot rated their experience significantly higher than those using the web platform.
What does this tell us? The Messenger interface — a platform with a large adoption rate and which offers quick response buttons to make it easy for users to answer questions as quickly as possible — is a superior tool in collecting market research data from mobile users than with traditional platforms. Aside from chatbots specifically for surveys, sophisticated bots could pepper in questions here and there throughout a conversation, integrating feedback naturally into the experience.
Between collecting user feedback essential to market research, enabling hyper-niche targeting and retaining user interest beyond the initial campaign, it’s easy to see how chatbots are the future of digital marketing. If there’s anything that chatbots excel at, it’s forging deeper relationships with users. With a chatbot, talking to your brand can feel just like talking to an always in-the-know friend, whether that be the beauty brand portrayed as a BFF style guru, a cookbook brand transformed into a chef who’s always available for cooking advice or more. The possibilities are endless, and we’re just getting started!