What if you had a marketing team at your disposal 24 hours a day, every day, without an increase in overhead? A member of your team who didn’t require lunch breaks, vacations or sick leave? This is the promise of chatbots—by surfacing content and automating customer interactions, they’re enabling digital marketing teams to amplify the impact of existing assets and scale customer-brand relationships in entirely new ways.
The rise of the messaging apps
Messaging apps are becoming a necessary part of the digital marketer’s arsenal—mainly due to the simple fact that more people use them than social media apps. Social media and mobile advertising executive Jim Tomanchek noted that there are more users of messaging apps than networking apps. The top messaging apps have almost 3 billion users combined, whereas popular social networking apps have around 2.5 billion users.
It’s clear that messaging apps offer huge reach, but we’re still in the early days of users wanting to converse with brands. Just because your target buyer actively chats with her friends on Facebook Messenger doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to do the same with Steve Madden—but as consumer expectations change, there are signs that brands that don’t enable real-time conversational interactions with customers will get left behind.
Next-level brand engagement
Chatbots are useful in digital marketing because (1) they enable real-time interaction, and (2) they generate incremental engagement from content your team has already spent time developing. Nowadays, companies have to constantly be aware of how their brands are perceived, and they have to build an online presence to maintain their status. Chatbots allow marketers to interlink their accounts across multiple channels so they can update them easily.
Another way chatbots benefit marketers is through the ability to analyze vast amounts of data, which helps advertisers to promptly identify key metrics pointing to an emerging trend.
Finally, bots have the potential to engage with customers on a whole new level because they can reply to customers’ concerns aptly. Many companies operate online globally, across multiple time zones. When a large company is dealing with lots of requests from customers, it can be a challenge for a human to reply swiftly. Bots can answer quickly, helping to prevent a negative customer response.
What else could a marketing bot do?
Marketing bots also have the ability to interact with clients in real time and can execute tasks—from helping shoppers find their perfect pair of Chelsea boots to booking the right medical appointment based on a user’s symptoms and health information.
Depending on how sophisticated the use case and technology are, a bot may move into a deeper conversation after it responds to a query, such as asking if you would like your favorite soda with that pizza you just ordered.
The case for bot content as better content
Are you not sure what content should be published on your site? No problem. Just ask Blossom, an intelligent bot built by the New York Times to surface and share relevant content on Slack. Adding a twist to content discovery, Blossom chooses the most apt posts or articles for social sites based on a host of variables, including reader engagement metrics and what’s trending.
One of the developers of Blossom, Colin Russel, noted that the bot is working well so far—in early test, posts selected by the NYT bot got 380 percent(!) more clicks than posts chosen by a human.
In a nutshell, bots make 1:1 marketing easier. And with experts projecting that digital marketing bots will generate $600 billion in revenue by 2020, businesses have few choices beyond embracing the revolution and reaping its profits.