Marketing Advice from a Chatbot.

We all need advice at times. Whether we admit to it or not. I seek it out multiple times a day. And yes – often from a chatbot. Why not! They listen to me.

What is a Chatbot?

Let’s start simply. It’s a piece of software that you chat with to get answers. Or to be entertained. As defined by Chatbots Magazine, a chatbot is a service, powered by rules and artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface.

We’ve all seen these guys. And most of us have engaged with them. They can live in any major chat product, such as Facebook Messenger. Sometimes they annoy us, sometimes they make us happy. But regardless of how we feel about them, it’s worth noting that 1.4 billion people interacted with chatbots even back in 2015. And this number continues to rise. Particularly in text based chat bots.

How Do They Work?

There are a few different approaches.

  1. Chatbots based on certain rules.
  2. Chatbots based on machine learnings.

Or some might say dumb bots versus smart bots.

With rules, a chatbot is somewhat limited because it can only respond to specific commands. It’s only as smart as you make it.

When chatbots function using machine learnings, they have an artificial brain. These chatbots understand your language. And just like humans, they get smarter the more they take in.

There are companies out there that help you set up your chatbots. On Facebook Messenger, as an example. They handle the AI part, you simply help guide them. You may set up some simple conversational rules to start (as one example), and then the bot will get smarter over time and keep those rules evolving for your brand.

Why Chatbots?

As we kick off our early days of 2018, chatbots are certainly becoming increasingly wide spread. Why? Because everyone is beginning to recognize such things as:

  1. They’re efficient. Chatbots can service a vast number of people in real time, more so than human interaction can.
  2. They make sense. Chatbots simply feed into the cultural shift that has already happened – we text and message all the time – we’re comfortable with it.
  3. They’re more flexible than an app. You don’t need to “install” a chatbot. You just search for it within your messaging app. Seconds versus minutes – and we all know how important that is these days.

How Can Chatbots Influence Your Marketing Strategy?

I just wrote about the importance of staying human in marketing. And now I’m discussing the value of chatbot technology in marketing. A disconnect? Nope. Chatbots, in many instances, can allow your customer service team to be engaged in more meaningful dialogue with your customers. They can arm your team with intelligence they might not otherwise be privy to. They also allow your team to spend their time doing other important marketing tasks that can’t be automated.

I’m beginning to hear more organizations inquire about bots – but not solely as a customer service application (although they are AWESOME in this capacity). Companies are now interested in how they can assist with their marketing strategies. More of a “hey – this could be a cool introduction to my company” or “man – we could capture information with this and repurpose it in other ways.” Chatbots for marketing. Yes!

So how can you use this technology to influence your marketing strategy? Think of such things as the following:

  1. Customer insight. Chatbot technology is constantly gathering insight on your audience. And more importantly – on your engaged audience! It can store information, and allows you to understand what types of questions your customers are asking – which can drive your content strategy, audience personas and so much more.
  2. Product sales. Let this technology be available to sell for you when you’re not available to do so. Chatbots can also track purchasing patterns which then help you understand things like which products to market more and those you might need to look at a bit differently. They can help feed your sales strategy.
  3. They’re more natural and engaging than websites or forms. They basically act as personalized ads – and they can even create personalized ads based on the information they are gathering. And they’re proactive.
  4. Lead qualification. We all have to do it. So why not let a chatbot help you ask some of those qualifying questions right from the get go?
  5. Lead nurturing. You can then use the information gathered along the way to create a custom messaging strategy to help guide the buyers journey.

So – marketing advice from a Chatbot? Why not. They may just know more than we think.